This was a pretty busy weekend of racing, as there were sports cars and open wheelers and stock cars racing pretty much everywhere. Iconic circuits and ovals and street courses and dirt. If you’re into some kind of motorsport, there was something there for you to watch. I was busy naffing off with a bunch of Porsche owners in Santa Cruz, so I didn’t get to watch much racing, but I’ll do my best.
Read along to see what good stuff happened this weekend. Summer is winding down a bit, and the racing is running to the end of the championships, so we’ll do our best to help keep your finger on the pulse. Just be aware of the fact that this post is filled with spoilers. Giant carbon-fiber, multi-element, DRS-equipped, Gurney-flapped, Spoilers! Oh, and in case you missed it, I am also hosting a new motorsport podcast these days…
Formula One Goes For Waffles and A Spa Day
IndyCar’s Texas Time Travel
IMSA Gets GT With It At VIR
NASCAR is smitten with the Mitten
Supercars in Sydney
XFinity Right And Left For America
Trans Am Gets Even More American
ELMS for tea at Paul’s
Blancpain Sprint is Hungary
Super GT @ Suzuka
BTCC Rocks Rockingham
GRC Gambles on Atlantic City
TCR in Buriram (“Hey, where’s Buriram?”)
Stuff You Should Watch
Stuff You Should Read
Formula 1 – Spa Francorchamps
After the last few months you’d be forgiven for thinking that Lewis Hamilton was just going to walk off the rest of the season with another championship title, but Nico Rosberg isn’t content to just sit back and take it. This weekend he notched up his first Spa victory and closed the championship points tally to single-digits again. Hamilton’s start-from-the-back didn’t help, but Lewis certainly wasn’t going to go down without a fight.
Within six laps of the start, 5 cars were retired from the race, and Renault’s Kevin Magnussen was in hospital. Magnussen’s car pummeled the barrier at Raidillon as a result of ‘taking too much curb’ at the exit of Eau Rouge. The race was red-flagged for barrier repairs. Kevin says he’ll be fit for the next race, so apparently his bell wasn’t rung too hard.
Hamilton’s climb through the field was actually pretty astonishing, and by lap 18, he moved past Hulkenberg into third with a pass into Les Combs. Even with a slow pitstop later in the race, Hamilton managed to salvage a podium position, and keep a 9 point lead over Rosberg in the standings.
IndyCar – Texas Motor Speedway
In a race that started back in June, James Hinchcliffe held the lead going into the rain stoppage, and 76 days later was given the lead of that race at the restart just yesterday. IndyCar decided to postpone the June race finish until this weekend after the night race was rained out all those months ago, and boy did they get the finish they were looking for. Hinch led the race from the restart, and was at the front for a total of 188 laps in commanding fashion, but lost everything by inches at the finish to a last-lap divebomb by Graham Rahal. The margin at the line was just 0.008 seconds, making it the 5th closest finish in series history. This was Honda’s second victory of the season, with only the Indy 500 as their other.
Meanwhile Simon Pagenaud played it safe and finished 4th to extend his points lead over Will Power out to 28.
Graham Rahal on his victory:
“James did a great job tonight; he deserved to win it, honestly. It was pretty intense. If Texas Motor Speedway didn’t love that, they don’t love racing. I’m so proud of this team.
We started to lose maybe with five or 10 to go but I knew I was going to be better than everybody else. I was just only concerned about TK on the fresh rubber. I didn’t realize after he had pitted he’d be allowed to get all the way back up to us. I thought he’d be stuck behind the lapped cars and I thought it would come down to a duel between Hinch and I, but we fended him off. My car, my god, what a machine tonight.”
IMSA WeatherTech Sports Car Championship – Virginia International Raceway
It was Just GTs at VIR this weekend, as the Prototype and Prototype Challenge classes took the weekend off.
In GTLM, it was All-Corvette all the time, as they took their third straight class victory with a relatively commanding run at the front. The race started with a Corvette front row lockout, and ended with a one-lap shootout following a late race yellow and Antonio Garcia taking the checkered flag over the No. 66 Ford GT (Mueller/Hand).
In GTD, it was the Paul Miller Racing Lamborghini that broke through the pack to take the squad’s first class win. Bryan Sellers took a one and a half second win over Lawson Aschenbach’s Stevenson Motorsports Audi R8. The #44 Audi of Magnus Racing initially finished in third, scoring valuable class points, but those were later stripped when the car was found to be running too low for regulations.
NASCAR – Michigan International Speedway
Kyle Larson took his first major NASCAR victory this weekend with a speedway win at Michigan. The lead was exchanged at about the halfway point with Chase Elliott taking over when Larson had a long pit stop. Elliott looked like he’d take the victory until a late race caution for Michael Annett’s blown tire. The race was mostly caution free, and that final restart got Larson up into the lead until the end. Elliott did fall to third at the restart, but raced his way back to second and tried to pressure on Larson.
Kyle Larson dedicated his victory (in his 99th Cup start) to the late Bryan Clauson.
Blancpain GT – Hungaroring
Race 1 –
In the qualifying race, Enzo Ide made his Team WRT Audi as wide as possible to hold off a hard-charging Tristan Vautier late in the running to take the win for himself and teammate Chris Mies. Felix Rosenqvist took the start from pole in the Mercedes he shares with Vautier. When Felix pitted to hand over to Tristan, Chris Mies passed the pair with a quicker pit stop having not changed drivers. By the time Ide got in the car, Mies had pulled enough of a gap to make the driver change without losing the effective lead. Great race. well won.
Race 2 –
Maxi Buhk and Dominik Baumann took their first Blancpain victory of the season this weekend by taking the Main race win. Buhk took over the lead of the race early on, and was aided by a 9-minute caution period to pull the Garage 59 McLaren and Phoenix Racing Audi out of the gravel. Once in the front, the Mercedes AMG duo kept their lead for the entire race, winning over the Vanthoor/Vervisch Audi.
Virgin Supercars – Sydney
Race 1 –
Shane Van Gisbergen took a thrilling win in race 1 at Sydney. The Red Bull 888 team has been astonishingly quick lately, and it always seems to be a fight among them at the front. This week was no different. Chaz Mostert had the pole positiont, but SVG and Jamie Whincup quickly moved past him on lap one. Shane had the better pit stop strategy of the two, pitting 3 laps earlier than Whincup. Jaimie rejoined in 4th.
It didnt’ take Whincup long to clear Scott McLaughlin or Craig Lowndes in front of him, and was soon back on Shane’s tail with better tires. After 10 astonishing laps of battling, van Gis took the win, preventing Whincup from his 100th for another day at least.
Race 2 –
Whincup finally took his 100th Supercars win. Jamie spent the first half of the race following in the tire tracks of teammate Lowndes. Whincup made his move in the pits, jumping Lowndes on the lane. From then onward, Whincup led the race to the finish, but couldn’t shake Lowndes, who clung to his rear bumper like a shadow. Congrats to the veteran on his 100th.
NASCAR XFinity – Road America
Michael McDowell won the road course race on Sunday after leading 24 of the final 25 laps. Domination.
McDowell was forced to hold off his Childress Racing teammate for two late race cautions, one of which was a GWC that pushed the race out to 48 laps from the scheduled 45. Alex Tagliani led the race away from pole and contact with McDowell spun him into turn 6. Alex maintains that the contact was deliberate and he was taken out because he had the fastest car and presented the biggest threat.
Trans Am – Road America
The race at Road America this weekend was plagued with flood-level rain. Tony Buffomante won the TA2 class, while Cliff Ebben won the TA category. The TA cars were running well faster than the NASCAR XFinity cars this weekend, and the TA2 cars were near IMSA GTD pace. Quick stuff considering their ancient technology. This was Buffomante’s third race of the season, while Ebben’s rain win was his first victory in nearly 3 years.
ELMS – Paul Ricard
Thiriet TDS took their third win in a row this weekend after a dominant performance at Paul Ricard. Pierre Thiriet, Matthias Beche and temporary runner Mike Conway took the race win by taking advantage of a yellow flag pit stop and insane pace. Starting from pole, the team initially had some battles with the Dragonspeed car. Conway managed to keep Nicolas Lapierre behind him even on older tires during that first stint. After pit stops, Lapierre swapped out for Henrik Hedman, who could not keep up with Thiriet, who had taken over for Conway. The team quickly moved out a 15 second gap.
In LMP3, the Graff car won. GTE saw the JMW Ferrari take the win.
Super GT – Suzuka
The ZENT Cerumo Lexus RC F (Tachikawa/Ishiura) moved up from 8th on the grid to win the long-distance 1000KM race. Conditions during this race were marginal with rain falling at the start, a drying middle-section, and more rain at the finish of the event.
Ishiura on his win:
“I was really baffled when the rain started falling again at the end of the race. In the last chicane I wasn’t able to stop. But, I am glad that I was able to get to the checkered flag first.
Until now, this has been a difficult season for us, but I kept telling myself that with Tachikawa-san as my teammate there is no way that we can’t win, and I kept trying my best. I am really glad that we were able to get this win.”
BTCC – Rockingham
Race 1 –
Gordon Shedden led race one from lights-to-flag to take the win.
Race 2 –
Sam Tordoff moved his BMW up from 10th on the grid to take the Race 2 win.
Race 3 –
Aron Smith started from pole and had to defend from a hard charging Honda with Shedden onboard, who in turn had to defend from Colin Turkington’s Subaru. Smith eventually built up a 3 second lead, which was neutralized by a caution period. At the restart, Shedden had 3 laps to try to get by Smith, but could not.
GRC – Atlantic City
Scott Speed is on a roll lately, having won the last three rounds of Global RallyCross. Mirroring his DC victory, Speed won all of his preliminary heats to sit on pole for the final, and won that outright, as well. With an aggressive first lap, Tanner Foust and Speed were up front swapping the lead a number of times. Foust established himself as leader, but then Speed found some extra to close the gap, pass, and stretch his own gap as the race came to a close.
Patrick Sandell, who had saved his Joker lap until the final lap, jumped all the way up into second place. Faust had a tire debead and had to settle for fourth, hurting his season points. Brian Deegan muscled past Steve Arpin to take the final spot on the podium. All of this happened on the final lap.
TCR – Buriram
Race 1 –
Pepe Oriola took the race 1 win in a lights-t0-flag run, and his Seat teammate James Nash made it a 1-2 finish. Gianni Morbidelli rounded out the podium
Race 2 –
James Nash wasn’t going to settle for second best in race 2, however. Morbidelli had a crash that took him out, and Oriola had contact that forced a pit for repair. Nash managed to steer through all of the issues to come out on top looking fresh as a daisy. This was the driver’s second win of the season, and with Oriola’s poor showing, vaulted him to the top of the points championship by 7 points.
Stuff You Should Watch
Suzuka 1000K full race broadcast –
Full IMSA race broadcast –
Bryce Menzies Big Jump onboard –
Bryce Menzies Big Jump from outside the truck –
Graham Rahal on his win –
Gunnar Jeannette Onboard Helmet Cam – Porsche Elva 4-cam
Bruce Canepa Onboard Helmet Cam – Porsche 917K
Mazda’s 16 Rotor Symphony
Gunnar Jeannette Helmet Cam – Porsche 908/2 Flunder
Jaguar’s New Formula E Car Testing –
Bill Auberlen Onboard Cam – McLaren F1 GTR
Skylar Robinson Onboard Cam – Porsche 962