A bumper weekend round-up sees action from the Hungaroring, ‘The Monaco of Germany’ and Mugello to name but three. We also travel to America, report on British F3 at the Nurburgring and have a good old laugh as a man slips on champagne.
We kick off with Formula Renault 3.5‘s trip to the Hungaroring, not least because it was the scene of Hispania newboy Daniel Ricciardo’s first race since being confirmed as the Spanish squad’s latest temporary seat warmer.
But we’ve got very little to say about Ricciardo, because whilst the attention may have been on the Aussie it was his fellow Red Bull junior Jean-Eric Vergne who triumphed in race one. After dominating practice and taking pole Vergne was never likely to be troubled during the rain-effected Saturday run. He briefly slipped behind Daniil Move in to turn one but was back in front just as quickly, from where the Frenchman led the entirety of the race to win by 17-seconds.
Behind him were Alexander Rossi, the American taking a much needed podium after a bad run of results, and the ever-improving Sergio Canamasas. Points leader Robert Wickens finished fifth whilst Ricciardo – y’know, the F1 driver – crashed on his way to the grid. That may be a good tactic for a Hispania pilot.
Canamasas scored pole for race two, narrowly pipping Vergne to P1, but that didn’t last long. The Frenchman got the better launch, beating Canamasas in to turn one, and despite some early pressure from from Spaniard eventually pulled way for a comfortable win.
Canamasas and Wickens were second and third on the road but both took post-race penalties to drop to fourth and seventh respectively. That promoted Albert Costa to second whilst third went to single-seater journeyman Adam Carroll, who was making his series debut in Hungary.
All of this means that Vergne now leads the championship heading in to the series’ six week summer break, four points ahead of Wickens. Kevin Korjus is third with Rossi fourth. See you at Silverstone!
Across the Atlantic, and NASCAR returned to Daytona for the second time this year. David Ragan, unlucky not to have taken his maiden win at the 500 earlier in the season, was pushed to victory by Matt Kenseth for his first win in 163 attempts. Yep, you read that right,pushed by his team-mate. You’d be fooled into thinking that you were watching the action scenes of Talledega Nights after that, but with a smatter of Days of Thunder thanks to several multi-car pile-ups behind the leaders throughout.
Carl Edwards lost the points lead thanks to a brush with the wall early on that cracked an exhaust. Kevin Harwick inherited top spot after finishing 7th in the chaos.
They call the Norising circuit ‘The Monaco of Germany,’ despite the venue being absolutely nowhere near the sea, only slightly more twisty than an oval and populated by Germans rather than the assortment of eurotrash that washes up on the Monegasque shore. Still, Fränkisches Monaco does sound cool.
The DTM rocked up there for round five of their 2011 championship, and it was pre-season title favourite Bruno Spemgler who took the win, the Canadian overcoming heavy rain to score his second triumph of the year. However there was no presentation by a royal afterwards, what with Germany having been a republic for the best part of a century. The Monaco of Germany indeed.
Brit Jamie Green was second and Martin Tomczyk third, promoting Spengler back to the top of the standings, three points clear of Tomczyk. The title battle is shaping up to be a duel between these two men.
Also in action at the Norisring was the VW Scirocco R-Cup which, in all honesty, we have very little to say about; the only reason it’s found its way in to this round-up is that race-winner Ola Nilsson fell over on the podium – and that’s funny!
The increasingly-redundant F3 Euro Series (ouch – take that F3 Euro Series) was also on the DTM, support bill, and saw wins for Nigel Melker, Marco Wittmann and the latter triumphing twice at the German circuit. That’s allowed Wittmann to close on points leader Roberto Mehri, but with the Spaniard taking second to Wittmann in races two and three the gap remains at 31 points. Melker is third, 50 adrift of Mehri.
On to a rather more competitive Formula Three series in the shape of the British variant, which, oddly enough, was also in Germany this weekend, racing at the Nurburgring.
Well, we say competitive – it’s actually one-way traffic as far as the title’s concerned, with Felipe Nasr (quick fact: his girlfriend is Nelson Piquet’s daughter) once again edging away from his rivals at the Nurburgring. Kevin Magnussen won race one, with Nasr second, before Brit Jack Harvey scored his maiden series win in the reverse grid race two.
Nasr then triumphed in the final run of the weekend, profiting from technical problems on Magunssen’s car to score his fifth win of the 2011 campaign. The Brazilian is now 75 points clear at the top of the standings with five of ten rounds complete and all signs point to a comfortable run to the title.
Formula Two is becoming a two-horse race, with Mirko Bortolotti and Christopher Zanella pulling further clear at the head of the field during the weekend’s trip to the Nurburgring.
And it was Italian Bortolotti who really did the business in Germany, scoring pole for both races and winning both whilst also setting the fastest lap. That’s what you call a perfect weekend. Zanella was runner-up in the first race, with Jack Clarke third, before Will Bratt finished second in race two with Zanella third. Bortolotti now leads Zanella by 22 points behind with third place man Miki Monras now 44 points shy of the Italian. Like we said, two-horse race.
The six hours of Imola may sound like a particularly dull mid-2000s F1 race at the San Marino Grand Prix circuit, but sportscar followers will know that it’s actually an event on both the ILMC and Le Mans Series schedules. Yes, both. And yes, that is confusing. Don’t get us started on that one.
Pole for the six-hour event went to the #7 Peugeot of Anthony Davidson and Sebastien Bourdais, Ant having set a blistering quail lap. The former F1 drivers backed that up with a comfortable win, heading team-mates Stephane Sarrazin and Franck Montagny in the #8 car. The lead machine did slip in to second following a poor pitstop before Davidson chased down Sarazzin and re-took the lead at the next stop. Job done, Peugeot called off the fight and cruised to a one-two with the Audi of Timo Bernhard and Marcel Frassler third.
MotoGP‘s trip to Mugello looked like being another Casey Stoner victory, particularly after the Aussie took pole in the rain-effected qualifying session.
And when Casey pulled out a comfortable gap early on you’d have been forgiven for writing the race off as a contest. But no! Through came reigning world champion/possible child pretending to be a man Jorge Lorenzo, who rode from fifth on the grid to take the lead with ? laps remaining. The Spniard went on to take his second win of the campaign.
Behind him Honda actually allowed their riders to race! Despite Stoner being firmly in the title battle and team-mate Andrea Dovizioso having little hope of the championship Dovi was allowed to steam up the inside of his fellow Honda, and scored second with Stoner completing the podium. It was the sort of ridiculous sporting behaviour you wouldn’t see in F1. Casey still heads the standings, 19 clear of Lorenzo.
The Chevrolet dominance continued as the WTCC in Porto, with race one’s sweep of the podium by the manufacturer a taste of pretty much the season so far. In race one, Alain Menu led from the start and thanks to the squabble between team-mates Yvan Muller and Rob Huff, won comfortably ahead of them in that order.
In race two, Huff chased down a gap of over two seconds to catch and pass Muller into one of the chicanes, albeit with a bit of paint-swapping in the process. That’s how the race finished, with one time Jordan driver Tiago Monteiro taking the third position. Menu could only manage 6th after starting 8th on the race grid, a display of just how hard it was to pass on the Portuguese circuit. Rob Huff is now 29 points ahead of Muller in the standings, next stop Donington Park on July 15th.
Next week we’ve got F1 support action in the shape of GP2 and GP3, plenty of Americanism in NASCAR and IndyCar and, if we’re very lucky, more people falling over on podiums.