In this week’s racing digest we’ve got last lap collisions between team-mates, airborne Dutchmen and a nod to seventies kids show The Hair Bear Bunch. Enjoy!
It was all down to fuel consumption at Kansas for this week’s foray into NASCAR. Penske driver Brad Keselowski won thanks to conserving his fuel over the last nine laps while being chased down by last week’s unlucky loser Dale Earnhardt Jr. Keselowski’s team-mate Kurt Busch had led from pole for 152 out of the 267 laps, but his strategy gambled on the appearence of the safety car that never came. Brad had stopped 5 laps after Kyle, so had to eek his fuel out to the end while not ultimately dropping too much pace. Earnhardt Jr., who had tried the same at Charlotte at the previous round and failed within 500 feet of the flag, had enough gas but ultimately couldn’t quite catch up and extended the wait for another Sprint Cup win to 105 races. Carl Edwards still leads the points, but reigning champ Jimmie Johnson has moved up to second place in the standings. Keselowski’s win means he is still in the run for a wildcard entry for the Cup Chase by finishing in the top 20 at the end of the season.
Kyle Busch’s brother Kurt, while running in the Truck series, had a weekend to forget. Struggling with a bad set-up, he spent the race battling for 5th place and losing out to Richard Childress Racing’s Joey Coulter. Busch felt that the racing had been a little on the rough side, getting his point across by swiping Coulter on the cool-down lap. This did not sit well with Childress, who marched into Busch’s garage after the race and a “physical altercation” occurred. NASCAR has fined Childress $150,000, but it’s yet another black mark for Kurt Busch’s record, adding to the fisticuffs with Kevin Harwick the previous month.
The World Touring Car Championship was in Hungary this weekend, much to the delight of local hero Norbert Michelisz and his adoring public. Race one saw a dominant victory for Alain Menu with Michelisz coming home second to the deafening cheers of the crowd. Seriously, it was loud.
The battle for the final podium spot raged throughout the race as Javier Villa chased veteran Gabrielle Tarquini. On the final lap Javi made his move, forcefully muscling past the Italian in to turn one. Villa spent the rest of the lap on the brink of tumbling off the road but held on for P3, with Rob Huff and Yvan Muller also sneaking past the struggling Tarquini. Classic tin-top action!
Michelisz then made a horrible mess of the start to race two, ploughing up the inside and slamming in to Kristian Poulson. A torrential downpour halted proceedings shortly after, but when the action did resume it was Yvan Muller who took the spoils, heading team-mate Rob Huff in a Chevrolet one-two. Huffy retains the points lead as the series heads to the Czech Republic with Muller second and Menu third.
Fresh from becoming the youngest ever driver to compete in GP2 Kevin Ceccon sealed his first Auto GP win in the WTCC support event in Hungary, beating Adrien Tambay and points leader Giovanni Venturini to victory in the first of the weekend’s two races. Russia’s Sergey Afanasyev triumphed in the second run, beating GP2 veteran Luca Filippi and Spaniard Bruno Mendez. Venturini leads the points, four clear of Ceccon.
On to the always-wacky world of British Touring Cars, which pitched up at Oulton Park this weekend. Honda’s Gordon Shedden took victory in a drizzly race one (what else would expect of Britain in June), beating Jason Plato and Alex MacDowall to victory. At this point it was all smiles for Shedden – but it wouldn’t last.
Because race two ended in unmitigated disaster for his Honda team. Despite a car heavy with success ballast Shedden led throughout, but his team-mate Matt Neal (who was ballast free) carved his way through to run second. Neal obliterated Shedden’s lead as a one-two became almost guaranteed. But, with the team already on the pitfall to cheer their cars home, it all went wrong, as series veteran Neal got too ambitious in to the final corner, running Shedden off the road and himself slithering in to the gravel. That allowed a very grateful Plato to slip through and take a very fortunate win. Shedden was relegated to sixth, Neal registered a DNF.
“I am mortified for the team and have actually told Gordon if he wants to take me round the back of the truck and take a swipe at me he’s welcome – I deserve it,” Neal said afterwards.
Mat Jackson won the weekend’s final race with Shedden second, the Scot having enjoyed stunning pace all weekend.
Superleague Formula has a new theme for 2011 (more nations cup than the old football schtick) and now runs all three races within a two hour period. Manic!
Race one saw a cracking closing segment, as Yelmer Buurman passed fellow Dutchman Robert Doornbos for the lead and went on to take the win. The latter broke his front wing as he ramped off the kerbs but managed to fend off Andy Soucek (who spun trying to make a pass) and Frederich Vervisch but couldn’t contain Craig Dolby, the Englisham sweeping through from fourth to second in one move. Vervisch completed the podium. Race two was won by Surrey-born Duncan Tappy (oddly enough representing Japan) before Dolby won the quick-fire final. Next up it’s Belgian venue Zolder.
Back to the tin-tops. The DTM rocked up at the Red Bull Ring this weekend as the former F1 circuit (you may know it better as the A1 Ring, just as you may know once have known Red Bull Racing better as Jaguar or Red Bull and vodka as ‘some spirit and that weird coloured energy drink’) kicked off it’s post-redevelopment era.
Anyway, a soaking wet qualifying saw martin Tomczyk take pole, his first in the series for nearly two years, which he converted in to his first DTM win in about the same amount of time. It was also his team’s first victory in 11 years, so a happy day all round. Second was Ralf Schumacher, who now seems to be getting the hang of this DTM lark, with Britain’s Ollie Jarvis third. Still no points for David Coulthard however – he came home ninth. Bruno Spengler, who finished fourth in Austria, still leads the standings but has seen his advantage over Tomczyk slip to just three points.
The generation of young Spanish racers inspired by the success of Fernando Alonso is now in full swing, with Robert Mehri and Daniel Juncadella sharing the spoils at the F3 Euro Series‘ Red Bull Ring event. The Prema team-mates are now one and two at the top of the championship – which continues to struggle to attract decent sized grids – with Mehri 28 points clear of Juncadella.
Completing the Red Bull Ring action we can report that the Volkswagen Scirocco R-Cup race was won by Italian Stefano Proetto, who beat Mateusz Lisowski and Dennis Trebing to seal victory. Now, don’t ever say this isn’t the most complete result round-up available.
One a side note, is it just me whose first thought upon hearing the name ‘Red Bull Ring’ is of the Birmingham-based shopping centre overrun with early twentieth century communist forces? It is? Seriously? Alright, moving on…
.. to Japan’s premier single-seater championship, namely Formula Nippon, from where we bring tidings of joy for Kazuki Nakajima fans. Yes, all six of you will be thrilled to learn that the former Williams man took his maiden series win in this weekend’s race at Autopolis and thus leaps to the top of the points standings. Nakajima held off Kazuya Oshima for the win with Kodai Tskukakoshi (try saying that after a few glasses of Sake) completing the podium. The series resumes at Fuji on July 17th.
Like a duo of bears at the circus we close on two wheels – it’s Moto GP! Marco Simoncelli (who closely resembles Hair Bear from seventies kids cartoon The Hair Bear Bunch) started on pole, but then seemed to bottle it at the start. World champion Jorge Lorenzo snatched the lead but was soon passed by Casey Stoner. That was that. The threat of rain provided potential spice, but it never came. Casey held on to win from Lorenzo with Ben Spies taking a much needed P3.
And, in the words of another cartoon character, that’s all folks.