This week’s racing round-up has it all: a tenth GP3 winner in ten races, Luca Filippi celebrating his GP2 century with a victory and a two-wheeled Stoner on a corkscrew. If you’re not laughing at the moment we give up…
The IndyCar racer with one of the most brilliant names in sport, Will Power, showed his impressive prowess on street circuits hasn’t deserted him to win in Edmonton Sunday night. After two non-finishes in the last two rounds the Aussie was desperate to get his title challenge back on track, but it wasn’t without a fight from eventual podium finishers Helio Castroneves – his Penske teammate – and title rival Dario Franchitti. The top three finished almost nose to tail at the chequered flag. Power is sill second in the standings, but is now only 38 points behind reigning champion Dario Franchitti.
The early laps were led by former F1 cult favourite Takuma Sato, who had started from pole for the second time this season. For 19 laps the Japanese driver held off many of the regular front runners before brake problems made him run wide, allowing Power, Scott Dixon and Franchitti all through in one fell swoop. He would also lose another place during the first round of stops, before a yellow flag period bunched the field up. At the restart, Sato pounced and made not one or two places up, but a full three to retake second behind Power. His heroic afternoon would end prematurely on lap 39 when Ryan Hunter-Reay punted him into a spin and put him a lap down.
British racer Oliver Webb popped up in the supporting Indy Lights event this weekend – without or prior knowledge, incredibly – and did an awesome job to score a podium in race one. That was won by Esteban Guerrieri, who beat pole-sitting team-mate Josef Newgarden to the victory. Newgarden got his own back in race two though, taking his fourth triumph of the season (below) to open up a 63 point championship advantage over the Argentine. Whether or not that excuses the pose he’s pulling below we’ll let you decide. The race two podium was completed by Brit Stefan Wilson (brother of ex-F1 and now Indycar racer Justin) and Irishman Peter Dempsey.
Fairytale stuff in GP2, which is usually more associated with broken dreams and bankrupt parents. Luca Filippi started his 100th race in the series on Saturday, a number that reflects his position as a very competent driver who has never been deemed capable of F1. He’d switched teams for it (from Super Nova to Coloni) and qualified second on the grid. All very promising, but Luca has a history of shunting – surely he’d end the race in a gravel trap.
But, would you believe he went and won the thing, beating poleman Charles Pic and Romain Grosjean to take a popular victory. Soppy old GP2, aye? Next we’ll have Michael Herck winning a race. Actually we won’t. Ever.
Sunday’s sprint race was won by Grosjean, who passed Jules Bianchi on the penultimate lap to secure glory. He’s now 18 points clear in the championship and looking increasingly likely to be an F1 driver again next year – or perhaps even sooner.
Speaking of F1, you may well know that it has had four winners from ten races this season, which isn’t bad going (if you ignore the fact that one of those drivers has won over half of the grand prix).
But if you want real diversity of winners look no further than GP3, which travelled to Germany with eight winners from as many races.
So what happened at the Ring? We got to more race winners of course, as Rio Haryanto and Valtteri Bottas scored their first victories of 2011. Indonesian Haryanto triumphed in the feature race, passing Scot Lewis Williamson late on, whilst Bottas leapt from sixth to first on the opening lap of the Sunday’s sprint event to take a deserved maiden series win.
Other stars of the weekend included Alexander Sims – who took second from 12th on the sprint race grid – and countryman James Calado. He was tipped in to a spin early in Sunday’s run but made astounding progress from dead last to take the final point. Sims leads the standings from Williamson and Kiwi Mitch Evans, but right now that means very little in a series that has become impossible to call.
Mirko Bortolotti continued his march towards the Formula Two title at Brands Hatch, though he didn’t score a win. Nevertheless fifth in race one and runner-up in the second run meant he comfortably outscored Christopher Zanella, his only real title rival. With three double header rounds remaining the Italian has a 37 point championship advantage, and his supremacy over Zanella seems to increase on a weekly basis.
Of course, we’re not forgetting the race winners from Brands, both of whom took their maiden series wins. Jack Clarke triumphed in the first, where he was chased home by Ramon Pineiro, before the Spaniard triumphed himself in race two. Lovely stuff.
Also on the Brands bill was the European F3 Open, which is not to be confused with F3 Euro Series, Golf’s Open or the Eurovision Song Contest. Race one was won by series debutant Fahmi Ilyas, with Niccolo Schiro second and British F3 runner Yann Cunha. The second run saw victory for Brazilian Victor Correa, with Schiro again second and Cunha again third. Swiss racer Alex Fontana (quick fact: he wears a Welsh flag on his helmet) still leads the standings after taking a fifth and a fourth at Brands.
A few quickies to finish. The Cytosport Team Muscle Milk car of Klaus Graff and Lucas Luhr won the LMP1 class as the ALMS visited Canadian venue Mosport. Ex-F1 driver Jan Magnussen and Brit Oliver Gavin took GT honours, finally ending the RLL-BMW’s dominance of the 2011 campaign. Nuff said on that.
Meanwhile in the F1-supporting Porsche Supercup reigning champion Rene Rast won his fourth successive race to extend his points advantage. At least one German lived up to his pre-race favourite tag and won on home soil this weekend…
We close with MotoGP, which was at the awesome Laguna Seca last weekend. If you don’t know Laguna Seca – and therefore don’t know what the Corkscrew is – you’re missing out bigtime: it’s like some mad racing rollercoaster in a desert.
The title battle manifested itself on-track at the California venue, with poleman Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) leading from Casey Stoner (Honda). There were two scenarios for Casey: play it cool, take the points for second and watch his advantage over Lorenzo ebb away a little more or throw caution to the wind and make a pass. He chose the latter, sweeping round the outside of Lorenzo on the approach to turn one and going on to secure his fifth win of the campaign. Lorenzo was second with the second Honda of Dani Pedrosa third.
Casey now leads Jorge by 20 points but, with eight grands prix left to run, this championship still has plenty of twists and turns left in it yet.