We kick of with Sky Sports’ flagship racing championship: Indycar. The series was at Mid Ohio this weekend where proceedings got off to a bad start when Brit Justin Wilson sustained a fractured vertebrae in a practice crash, ruling him out of the event (and almost certainly the next few). He was replaced by (the very, very talented) Simon Pagenaud. With no practice the Frenchman put the car 18th on the grid and took a very respectable 13 in the race.
Kiwi racer Scott Dixon lined-up on pole with Aussie Ryan Briscoe alongside him on a very antipodean front row. Having watched team-mate Dario Franchitti score four race wins this season, whilst scoring none himself, Dixie was determined to take the win.
And, despite falling behind impressive rookie James Hinchcliffe and later Franchitti – both due to caution periods – the New Zealander wouldn’t be denied. Second to Dario on the final restart, he surged past his team-mate and immediately began to build a commanding lead. Dixon went on to score a well-deserved first win of the season and keep his slim title hopes alive. In truth, however, Franchitti looks nailed on for Indycar championship number four. His chief rival, Will Power, was hit hard by not stopping before the final caution and dropped to 14th at the flag. He’s now 62 points shy of Dario with Dixon a further 31 back.
The other stories from Mid-Ohio included Ryan Hunter-Reay’s second podium in three races as the American recovers from a nightmare start to the season; a career best P4 for Takuma Sato; another top-five for Tony Kanaan, who now sits a brilliant fourth in the championship; and a third successive top-ten finish for Sebastien Bourdais, driving for minnows Dale Coyne Racing. Next up it’s New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
The American Le Mans Series was also at Mid Ohio, running on Saturday evening, and saw a late-race onslaught of rain cut the race 15 minute short. Lucas Luhr and Klaus Graf won the LMP1 class for the horrifically-named Muscle Milk team, passing the Dyson team’s polesitting car with an hour left on the clock. In the GT class several drivers fell off the road in the rain, Wolf Henzler doing the best job to keep the Porsche he shares with Bryan Sellars on the road and grabbing the win.
Indycar support series Indy Lights wasn’t on the Mid Ohio bill, but rather ran a standalone event at Trois-Rivieres. The best thing about this? Listening to American broadcasters trying – failing, in fact – to correctly pronounce Trois-Rivieres, stumbling about like French was some strange martian language. Brilliant.
Anyway, on to the racing, which was utterly dominated by Argentine hotshoe Esteban Guerrieri. The Sam Schmidt driver took pole, the fastest lap and the win to edge a smidge closer to team-mate and championship leader Josef Newgarden. He was third in Trois-Rivieres with Gustavo Yacamán splitting the Schmidt boys in second. Newgarden leads by 45 points with four rounds left on the schedule.
We don’t just have one NASCAR report for you this week, but thanks to the finish at the lower tier Nationwide Series, we just had to bring you the finish to the U.S. Cellular 250. With just yard to go, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. looked set to ease his way to his second win of the season when his engine let go with on a few hundred yards to go. Sprint Cup regular Carl Edwards, in second place and catching, had nowhere to go, and literally pushed Stenhouse J. over the line.
And the brilliant thing about it all? Stenhouse and Edwards are teammates. Surely the winner of bizzarest 1-2 in motorsport history.
On to the Sprint Cup, and after a rain affected red flag, it took a brave drive from Brad Keslowski to take his second win of the campaign. The Penske driver overcame a broken bone in ankle – sustained through a testing crash at Atlanta only last Wednesday – to hold off a charging Kyle Busch. Further back, Busch’s older brother and other Penske driver Kurt was involved in a scrap for the final podium position with reigning champ Jimmie Johnson, which ended with Johnson damaging his car and falling back. He wasn’t happy, and shared his emotions in the pit-lane after the race. Carl Edwards still leads the series, but Brad’s win puts him firmly in the top 20 AND gives him a wildcard opportunity for the Chase at the end of the season. Not bad considering he was on one leg.
The BTCC put tyres to tarmac in anger at the newly revised Snetterton circuit this weekend. The excitement that has lit up the championship so far in 2011 continued. In race one, contact between points leader Matt Neal and champion Jason Plato decided the race, with the former’s Honda getting nudged into a spin and ending 18th, and the latter’s Chevrolet taking the win.
Race two was almost the same in terms of events. While holding off Neal’s teammate Gordon Sheddon, as well as his own Alex MacDowall, Plato was clipped by the Honda early on the first lap and fell behind. This collision allowed James Nash through to second, and the Vectra proved to be too much to get past. The win put Sheddon on top of the points standings….
…which he then lost to Mat Jackson in race three! With the grid being a reverse of race two’s finishing positions, 8th place man Dave Newsham in his SEAT Leon got pole, and after Jackson took him on lap 2, promptly scampered off into the distance. Newsham became a roadblock for other drivers, with only Paul O’Neill on lap six, and Plato and Neal on the very last lap. Just to recap, that’s three different points leaders over the course of a day. It doesn’t get much closer than that!
In Formula Renault UK runaway championship leader had a rare moment of brain fade in race one. As he was pushing Jordan King for the lead on the penultimate lap Lynn put a half-hearted move on Jordan King and hit his rival. King was eliminated and Lynn dropped to fifth, though he was later excluded, received three points on his license and a £250 fine. Cypriot racer Tio Ellinas thus took a fortuitous win. Normal service was resumed in race two as Lynn took the victory and now holds a 66 point championship lead. Meanwhile Josh Hill was eighth and fifth so, being as he’s famous, here’s a picture of him in action.
In the Clio Cup UK – largely famous for being the racing home of Nicholas Hamilton – race won was taken by James Dixon who beat Luke Wright and Josh Files. The second run saw Irishman Aron Smith triumph from Jack Goff and James Colburn. Hamilton was 14th and 13th so, being as he’s famous, here’s a picture of him in action.
The DTM was at the Nurburgring this weekend for a disappointing weekend of racing. Swede Mattias Ekstrom (ABT-Audi) took pole ahead of Brit Jamie Green (HWA-Mercedes) and Abt team-mate Mike Rockenfeller.
The race was not a classic. Autosport described it as ‘horrendously short on action and overtaking,’ and who are we to argue? We particularly appreciate the use of the word ‘horrendous,’ implying as it does that the lack of competition was somehow horrific to watch. The horror – the horror!
Anyway, Ekstrom converted his pole in to the win whilst championship leader Bruno Spengler (HWA-Mercedes) climbed to second. Rockenfeller took third and, much further back, F1 race winners Ralf Schumacher and David Coulthard had a coming together on lap two that put the German out and sent the BBC commentator in to the pits. He finished a lap down and both were hit with post-race penalties – men of their age should know better. Spengler continues to lead the standings, seven points clear of Martin Tomczyk.
The Formula Three Euro Series was also in action at the Nurburgring, bringing its rather sad 12-car grid to the German track. The event would turn in to a Prema Power Team rout, as their Spanish drivers Roberto Mehri and Daniel Juncadella swept the board. Race one saw Juncadella on pole but it was Mehri who grabbed the win and the fastest lap to boot. Mehri won again in race two, Juncadella this time scoring the fastest lap, before Daniel cleaned up in race three, taking pole, the win and fastest lap. Mehri has thus increased his championship lead,
On to everyone’s favourite eco-friendly one-make series featuring a grid of Volkswagen Sciroccos raced by drivers you’ve probably never heard of – yes, it can only be the VW Scirocco Cup, which completes our Nurburgring round-up. Championship leader Mateusz Lisowski won it, ahead of Britain’s Daniel Lloyd and Indian racer Aditya Patel, but sadly no one fell over on the podium this weekend. Boo!
Formula Nippon was at Motegi this weekend where reigning series champ Joao Paulo de Oliveira finally kicked off his title defence with a first win of the season. The Brazilian beat Andre Lotterer by a little under two seconds with former Williams F1 man Kazuki Nakajima continuing his perfect podium record in the series with third. The Team TOM’s pairing of Lotterer and Nakajima now share the championship lead – tied on 28 points – with the German ahead by dint of his two race wins. Oliveira is a close third on 24 in what’s looking like a very tasty battle for the title.
Former F1 man and (Badger’s own Tess Tarosa’s childhood hero) Johnny Herbert was in action this weekend, competing in the Superstars Series (a misleading moniker, we can assure you) as it traveled to Spa. Johnny was P3 in the first race of the weekend, which was dominated by Andrea Bertolini. He took both wins at the Belgian track to edge within just ten points of championship leader Luigi Ferrari. Next up for the ‘Superstars’ is Hockenheim.