Whilst watching the Spanish Grand Prix with keen attention Badger has also been keeping an eye on other events in the world of racing this weekend. Join us now for our weekend racing digest, where we cover everything from Indy 500 qualifying through to the amusingly-named Superstars Series.
In Indycar news, Alex Tagliani has scored a shock pole position for this year’s Indy 500. The Canadian veteran – who has sometimes shown flashes of stellar speed but tends to find himself a midfield runner – beat 2008 race winner Scott Dixon to P1, with Oriel Servia joining them on the three-wide front-row. Title favourites Will Power and Dario Franchitti start fifth and ninth respectively. 2006 race winner Dan Wheldon was the top Brit in sixth, a strong result on his first Indycar outing of the year.
However there were some big scalps on Sunday’s Bump Day, as Andretti Autosports stars Ryan Hunter-Reay and Mike Conway both failed to make the 33 car grid. Hunter-Reay has subsequently snunk in to the field via a few dollars being thrown the way of Foyt driver Bruno Junqueira – the second time this has happened to one-time Williams tester Bruno in three years.
Also, we’ve got to give a huge shoutout to Swiss racer Simona de Silvestro. A terrifying firey shunt last week could have ruled her out of the race altogether, but the 22-year-old went above and beyond the call of duty to qualify for her second 500 despite burns to her hands that left her in obvious pain following her run. Bug respect to the fastest woman in this year’s field.
This year’s 500 runs next Sunday. Between that and the Monaco Grand Prix we’re in for an unbeatable day of motorsport.
On to the F1 support bill, and in GP2 scruffy-haired Charles Pic scored feature race glory in Spain for the second successive year, leaping from third to first during the pitstops to beat Barwa Addax team-mate Giedo van der Garde to victory with Britian’s Sam Bird (iSport) completing the podium. Title favourite Romain Grosjean (DAMS) took fourth on the road but was disqualified for a technical infringement post-race.
Sunday’s feature race was also won by the same driver who triumphed in 2010, with Swiss racer Fabio Leimer (Rapax) leading from lights to flag. Local lad Dani Clos (Racing Engineering) took second, with Marcus Ericsson (iSport) completing the podium. Davide Valsecchi (Air Asia), Bird and Fairuz Fauzy (Super Nova) completed the points, leaving van der Garde and Bird tied for the championship lead as we head to Monaco. Read our exclusive interview with Sam here.
A level further down we have GP3, and here the win was taken by – and we’re not making this up – a 16-year-old. MW Arden’s Mitch Evans scored pole for the feature race and calmly converted this in to victory, a superb result for the much-vaunted series rookie. The sprint was won by Hungarian Tamas Pal Kiss, also from pole, but it is Dutchman Nigel Melker who continues to lead the standings following a
Join us as we move away from single-seaters now, and on to the wacky world to tin-top action. In Australia’s V8 Supercar championship two-time title-winner Jamie Whincup strengthened his grip on this year’s crown with a win and a second place at Winton. The Triple Eight Engineering driver moved in to second place 13 laps in to race one and then leapfrogged Steven Johnson during the pitstops before edging away for a comfortable win, his fifth of the campaign.
Race two victory went to Brad Jones Racing’s Jason Bright, who remained on track longer than the majority of his rivals and emerged from the pits with far fresher rubber. He only rejoined eighth, but a stellar charge through the field saw him pass Whincup for victory just a few laps from home. However it is Whincup who continues to lead the championship, the 28-year-old now holding a mammoth advantage in excess of 250 points over team-mate Craig Lowndes.
It was the annual All-Star on Saturday night for NASCAR, the annual event for race winners in the last 12 months to duke it out for a prize of $1m. Pole man Kyle Busch failed to make his speed count and lost out to Carl Edwards in the last round of stops and couldn’t get within drafting distance in the closing laps. Seeing as Busch spends his race weekends competing in all three disciplines of NASCAR, we’ll let him off for being only slightly off the pace. Edwards victory celebrations didn’t exactly go to plan either, damaging the front of his car while pulling onto the grass area to attempt a doughnut. He still managed his customary Victory Lane back-flip from the car though. There were no points on offer for this round, but with such a massive payday for the winner, we don’t think it really matters.
In other American news, former F1 favourite of Badger Kimi Raikkonen made his highly anticipated NASCAR Truck debut in Charlotte Friday night. Although appearing to struggle in terms of all out pace – qualifying a lowly 31st – he managed to get a better grip of things in race conditions to rise up to 15th at the flag. With a touted debut in the Nationwide series next weekend, after only a single race, could it be case of too much, too soon for the Finn?
In Argentina’s TC2000 touring car series points leader Matias Rossi scored victory in San Juan, beating former grand prix racer and reigning champion Norberto Fontana in to second. Mariano Werner was third, completing a clean sweep of the podium for Toyota machines.
Superstars is probably an overly-grandiose name for the Italian touring car series we move on to next, but being as former F1 racer Johnny Herbert – long-time hero of POP author Tess Tarossa, who once named a goldfish after him – was racing we can’t help but cover it. Sadly for Johnny it wasn’t a good weekend at Portugal’s Algarve circuit, the Brit taking 15th in race one and 18th in the second event.
Victory in both went to reigning champion Tomas Biagi (who once tested a Minardi, we think), who now leads the standings by nine points. The other ex-grand prix racer in the field was Swiss-born Andrea Chiesa. The man who started three races from ten attmpts in a Fondmetal nearly two decades ago scored points in both races, with ninth in the first run and sixth in the second. Now wasn’t that worth knowing?
In next weekend’s digest we tackle the 100th anniversary Indy 500, GP2 and Formula Renault 3.5’s Monaco shenanigans (expect shunts – lots of ’em) and anything else remotely worth covering in the world of motorsport.