A weekend without Formula One doesn’t mean a weekend without racing, here’s a quick round-up of everything we can think of in one handy place.
Starting alphabetically with Auto GP at Donington, the famous British summer that brought a damp grid at Silverstone the weekend previous also brought the same conditions for race one. Super Nova driver Jon Lancaster showed his class in the rain to chase down teammate Luca Fillipi – who at one point was four seconds ahead – and pass him for a stunning victory.
The other story in race one was A1GP champion Andy Carroll, who promptly showed there was no rust in his racecraft to secure pole position in his first outing for Campos. The Irishman fell foul of the wet conditions in the race though, pitting last of the whole field for wets and rejoining last, but battled back to eventually finish in fifth place.
Race two was more of a processional affair, with Samuele Buttarelli winning from pole, and Carroll taking his maiden podium in the series in second place. Buttarelli now lies third in the standings, behind Kevin Ceccon and veteran Italian Luca Fillipi.
Also in action at Donington was the WTCC, with the crowd swollen by the chance of home victory for points leader Rob Huff. Alas, although it was Chevrolet who took home the spoils, it was all for Huff’s teammate Yvan Muller. The reigning champion took both poles and both race wins to cut the points lead of the Brit down to 15 points. Huff could only manage runner-up spot in both races.
Moving away from tarmac and onto slippier surfaces, Juho Hanninen returned to the IRC after sitting out the last round to win the Rally Azures in Potugal by nearly 43 seconds. The current IRC champion battled hard with fellow Skoda driver Andreas Mikkelson until Hanninen showed a burst of speed in tricky conditions to pull 10 seconds clear.
Mikkelson backed off to preserve a strong second place after that, with Hanninen now returning to the top of the standings by four points over Bryan Bouffier.
Over the Atlantic, the NASCAR circus rumbled into Loudon, and for the first time since 1989 a team claimed both positions on the front row and a 1-2 finish. It wasn’t all plain sailing for the Stewart-Hass Racing team, as eventual winner Ryan Newman and second place man – and team owner – Tony Stewart both had to manage their fuel loads to the very end. Stewart passed Denny Hamlin thanks to stopping later than most of the front runners, while Newman had recent pacesetter Kurt Busch on his tail before the latter dropped back by running his Penske too dry. Younger brother Kyle, who was points leader heading into the weekend, suffered a burst tyre and thanks to lengthy repairs could only manage last. Carl Edwards regained top spot in the Sprint Cup standings thanks to finishing in 13th place.
Formula Nippon travelled to former Japanese Grand Prix venue Fuji this weekend for round three of its 2011 campaign and saw German racer Andre Lotterer score his second win of the season. Lotterer triumphed in the Suzuka opener back in May but missed last month’s race at Autopolis due to his Le Mans commitments with Audi (he was at the wheel of the winning car). Back and brimming with confidence, he reaffirmed his quality with another win at Fuji, beating Kohei Hirate and his team-mate Kazuki Nakajima. Former Williams F1 driver Nakajima still leads the championship but Lotterer will be keen to put that right when the series arrives at Motegi next month.
Scott Malvern has been destroying the competition in British Formula Ford this season, wracking up ten wins during the 2011 camapign including the last nine on the bounce. As such it was little surprise that the Brit was totally dominant in this weekend’s Formula Ford Eurocup event at Zolder, scoring wins in both race one and race two. That simple really – Scott was never troubled, always seeming to have pace to spare at the Belgian circuit. So that’s seven Eurocup wins from eight races – probably time for the lad to get himself in a Formula Three car.
We usually have a lot of time for the DTM – it gave Paul di Resta his big break and kept Mika Hakkinen busy after he’d left Formula One – but we aren’t too interested today, because the series spent the weekend faffing about in a football stadium. Maybe it was fun to watch – though we’re told by several that it wasn’t – but we’re just not fussed. All that’s worth noting is that David Coulthard hit a wall, Ralf Schumacher hit a wall and we hit the ‘off’ button pretty early on. Zing!
Also on track were 1990 FIFA World Cup-winning footballers Andreas Brehme and Karl-Heinz Riedle, who piloted VW Scirocco R-Cup racers in a celebrity race. Oh, and they had actresses we’d never heard of in the cars with them, navigating. This is how a Volkswagen press release put it:
“The winning pairing, Karl-Heinz Riedle/Anne Wis, exuberantly celebrated their success and accepted the trophies from comedian Atze Schröder.”
We’ve never heard of him, either. German readers, help us out.
Moving on, we switch to football-nation-themed series Superleague Formula. Craig Dolby won the opening race for England, leapfrogging Kiwi racer Chris van der Drift during the pitstops to take a well deserved win. Belgium’s Neel Jani also got ahead of van der Drift during the stops, and the New Zealander would face further misery as Luxembourg’s Frederic Vervisch passed him on the final lap to nick third.
The reverse grid race two saw Andy Soucek lead early on only to be hit with terminal problems in the pits. The win would eventually go to Australia’s John Martin, who charged through the field and passed Tristan Gommendy (who was about to get a drive-through anyway) to assume the lead. Max Wissel and Mikhail Aleshin completed the top three.
But there was heartbreak for Dolby: his gearbox packed in and ended his hopes of making the Superfinal, a real shame at a circuit he truly excels on.
Wiping the tears away, we move to the Superfinal. Vervisch had the pole and looked set for a comfortable win in the five-lap event, with Martin and Jani busy battling behind him.
But on the penultimate lap rain began to fall, causing Vervisch to slow whilst Martin pushed on relentlessly. That saw the Aussie close right on to the Luxembourg car’s tail, Vervisch even slithering off track and across the chicane as he struggled for grip. The Belgian-born racer held on for the win – just –
British Formula Three: it’s probably the best F3 series in the world right now, with recent champions including the likes of Daniel Ricciardo, Jaime Alguersuari and Jean-Eric Vergne, not to mention past champs with names like Senna and Hakkinen.
Waffle over, let’s talk about the weekend. The series was at Paul Ricard, France (British F3, remember) and saw two wins for Felipe Nasr. The Brazilian is now marching towards a comfortable title triumph, just as Vergne did last season. Whilst British F3 may be of a high quality it’s also a bit dull, championship-wise. Nasr won the opening run before Buller grabbed victory in the reverse grid race two. The final race saw Kevin Magnussen (son of Jan, no less) leading on the final lap, only to be punted off by Antonio Felix da Costa. Nasr slipped past both for a very lucky win with da Costa second – later relegated to 11th for his nurf on Magnussen. Buller thus completed a great weekend with second and Jack Harvey completed the podium in third.