This last week was packed with great races and great racing. There was an endurance race in Germany, F1 in Hungary, IMSA headed to historic Lime Rock with a bunch of great cars (no prototypes, though), Supercars headed to Ipswich, Super GT was super, and NASCAR did a dirt day at Eldora in the trucks (which was awesome).
Read along to see what good stuff happened this weekend. We’ve got it all. Summer is in full swing, and the racing will only continue to get hotter from here, 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 1 Is Hungry
WEC @ N-ring
NASCAR Goes Indy
IMSA Lime Rock & Roll
Supercars Get Ipswiches For the Ipsbitches
GT Masters Gets Some Red Bull
Trucks Get Dirty At Eldora
World Endurance Championship – Nurburgring 6 Hours
My personal favorite race this weekend was the WEC event, as it was about 5 straight hours of action. I had been up until about 1AM Saturday night celebrating the last birthday of my 20s, and had to set my alarm for 4AM Sunday to catch the start of the race. I was exhausted, but I still managed to stay up the full 6 hours to watch the whole thing, that’s how exciting it was.
Porsche won the race, though bad luck nearly took them out a few times, and some poor traffic management nearly took them out a few other times. While the #2 car was actually the faster of the two, it was the #1 car that won the race, their first win of the season thus far, and Porsche’s 10th victory with the 919 Hybrid (including 2 Le Mans victories). Audi started on pole and were pretty much on par with the Porsches on performance threshold. Timo Bernhard started the Porsche #1 and hounded the leading Audi for almost his entire stint, but couldn’t make it past. At the first pit stops, the Porsche moves into the lead. During the second stint, a vibration and sub-optimal tire pressures put the #1 back to third with Brendon Hartley at the wheel. Porsche played the Full Course Yellow periods late in the race much better than Audi did, and managed to take the win by almost a minute. The #2 looked strong, and even managed to pit as an FCY came out and retained the lead when the Audis were forced to slow down. It was excellent strategy, but it was all for naught, as they had their rear ‘legality’ panel ripped off by a collision from a following car, and were forced to pit in the closing stages of the race to repair that. Porsche nabbed 1 and 4, Audi finished 2-3, and Toyota ended up 5-6, and were really nowhere near the pace of the German manufacturers. I think Le Mans was their one shot to actually win this year, and we all know how that went…
Signatech Alpine is making the rest of the P2 grid look bad, making it 3 wins in a row with a victory this weekend. Nicolas Lapierre, Stephane Richelmi, and Gustavo Menezes took their victory by 16 seconds over the RGR Sport entry of Filipe Albuquerque, Bruno Senna, and Ricardo Gonzalez. G-Drive had the pole of the race, and led early, but transmission issues put them out of the race in the third hour.
GTE Pro –
It was a Ferrari 1-2 victory in GTE Pro with Bruni/Calado finishing ahead of Bird/Rigon. The Aston Martin team led most of the race, but late race pit stop strategy issues had them pit under green while the Ferraris both took service under yellow flag conditions, giving them an edge. The big story in this class, however, was the Ford GT nearly burning to the ground in the pits. The word on the streets is that the Aston Martin team informed the FIA that the Ford was leaking fuel from the breather on the grid, but no action was taken. Luckily nobody was hurt, that could have been nasty.
GTE Am –
Where Aston didn’t succeed in GTE Pro, they dominated in GTE Am, taking the victory with a decent margin over the KCMG run Porsche 911 RSR. Paul Dalla Lana, Pedro Lamy, and Matthias Lauda ran a great race and executed perfectly. Their car stayed out of trouble, and pitted when it was prudent. Unfortunately for KCMG, they were not allowed to keep their second place finish, as the car was penalized for a ride-height infraction. This promotes AF Corse Ferrar to second (Perrodo/Collard/Aguas) and Larbre Competition Corvette to third (Yamagishi/Ragues/Ruberti).
Watch the race highlights here –
Formula 1 – Magyar Nagydij
Mercedes ran a dominant 1-2 race from start to finish with Lewis Hamilton winning out over Nico Rosberg. Hamilton started from second, and leapfrogged into the lead at turn one. From then on, he ran out front and took the victory. This was the Briton’s 5th victory from the last 6 races, and moves him into the lead of the championship for the first time this season. Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo finished a distant third. Jenson Button only managed to make his McLaren Honda finish 10 laps, while teammate Fernando Alonso was able to drag his car up into the points, finishing 7th.
IMSA WeatherTech Sports Car Championship – Northeast Grand Prix – Lime Rock Park
IMSA ran at the diminutive circuit in the Northeastern US this weekend, using just three of its four classes; Prototype Challenge, GTLM, and GTD. Even with a smaller limited grid, the race was an absolute mess, with contact, desperate moves, and a lot of beating and banging. The guys who ultimately won their classes were the ones who avoided all of that nonsense.
Prototype Challenge –
Starworks Motorsport fielded the winning car with Alex Popow and Rnger van der Zande aboard. The start of the race was actually waved off twice due to contact and flying body panels from this category. PC is known for having a few boneheads piloting cars, so having a driver pairing that is quick yet conservative is a boon. The Starworks team gained the lead with tidy pitwork, and in the final moments they had a lot of pressure from a faster PR1/Mathiasen car, but traffic management and prudent use of the accelerator got them to the finish line first, but only just.
Team Corvette managed to take their 100th victory this weekend, which is a major accomplishment. Congratulations to them, it’s awesome that a company like GM has been this dedicated to GT racing for as long as they have. I hope they keep it up forever.
Elsewhere in the class, the BMWs were pretty quick around the sub 1-minute lap track. Unfortunately both the 100 BMW and the 25 BMW were taken out by Fred Makowiecki in the 912 Porsche, and then Earl Bamber in the 912 Porsche respectively. Both Porsche drivers made the same exact move down the inside of turn 7, which just plain doesn’t work. The 100 BMW got smashed up badly, and the entire front of the car was essentially gone. It’s a good thing nobody was hurt.
The Audi R8 of Magnus Racing managed to survive the kerfuffle to come out on top in the GTD category. There were a number of cars that looked like favorites to win the class, but one by one they were knocked out of contention with contact and other issues. Stevenson Motorsports pulled their Audi up to second to make it a manufacturer 1-2, while the Riley Motorsports team salvaged third in their damaged Dodge Viper.
Andy Lally on his team’s victory –
“We had the best car in the field, hands down. We put like 80 degrees of wing in the thing so we still had grip when the tires burned off. The Audi was amazing, but our guys did an amazing job to make this car fast.”
Watch the full race here on YouTube
IMSA Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge – Northeast Grand Prix – Lime Rock Park
IMSA’s lower tier production-based race series put on an excellent show this Saturday at Lime Rock, showing up with more cars than the previous round, and a lot of competitive drivers. This season is just awesome in CTSCC. If you aren’t watching, you should be.
Grand Sport –
The Ford Mustang GT350R-C versus Porsche Cayman GT4 battles have absolutely come to loggerheads lately, with both cars trading the lead a number of times this season. This event was green flag running for the entire 2 hours 30 minutes, and that really helped the Fords, as they have much faster pit stops than the Porsches do. The Caymans are hampered by their abysmally slow fuel delivery rate, and that lost them a lot of time in the pits. On track, the Caymans were faster, running the Mustang down in the final stint. At the start, Scott Maxwell’s Ford got the jump on pole sitter Danny Burkett, but just a few laps later Burkett got the lead back and started building a huge margin. After the pit stops, however, they lost all of that advantage in the pits, and teammate Marc Miller (Porsche) couldn’t run down Billy Johnson (Mustang). Ultimately it was the Multimatic team that took the victory. At the final stop, the CJ Wilson Racing Porsche fell back almost 30 seconds, but by the finish Marc had hauled back to within 5 seconds. It was a good effort, but not enough.
Street Tuner –
The Freedom Autosport Mazda MX5 was pretty dominant at LRP, qualifying on pole and staying there the whole race. Tire preservation was key to this race, and Freedom drivers Stevan McAleer and Chad McCumbee did a great job of that. The track really favored the lightweight Mazdas, as they finished 1-2-3 at this race. The next race on the calendar, Road America, McCumbee insinuated, will not be so easy on them.
NASCAR Sprint Cup – Brickyard 400 – Indianapolis Motor Speedway
After dominating the XFinity race on Saturday with a Pole and a dominant win, Kyle Busch took the pole for Sunday’s Brickyard 400, and then went on to a dominant win.
Busch led a record 149 of the eventual 170 laps, essentially only losing the lead on pit stops. Four cautions in the closing laps made things difficult for Busch, with one of them resulting in a red flag as 7 cars wrecked behind him. Busch ultimately became the first NASCAR driver in history to sweep both races in the same weekend.
Busch on his historic weekend:
“It’s so cool because it hasn’t been done before. I’ve tried and been successful at being able to do a lot of things that others haven’t been able to do before. I guess I give myself more chances than others because I run more of those races.
It helps you, and when it helps you win on Sunday, that’s what makes everything so worthwhile on those Saturday races. The guys on Saturday do a good job, too, helping prepare me and being able to do this stuff on Sunday.”
Virgin Supercars – Ipswich
Race 1 –
Shane Van Gisbergen won this event in smashing style, making it a tight three-way battle between he and his Triple Eight racing teammates Craig Lowndes and Jamie Whincup. Chris Pither took his first pole of his career, but was quickly swallowed up by the 888 boys. By stopping some 9 laps later than Lowndes and Whincup, Van Gisbergen managed to use his better tires to power by both of them, starting his charge about 7 seconds behind both of them. Whincup had led most of the race, and was looking for his 100th career victory, but ultimately didn’t make it at the finish. Still the team was happy with a 1-2-3 finish.
Race 2 –
Starting from second on the grid, Lowndes made an excellent pass on Whincup at the start, and then basically ran away with the 200 KM sprint, effectively leading all 66 laps from start to finish, and never under any real pressure.
Lowndes on his win:
“It’s not often to get a really nice easy car to drive in a race like that. It was really important to get a good start, we were able to do that and sort of control the pace. It’s very rare you get an easy, sweet car to drive.”
Super GT – Sugo
I’m very happy that Super GT has returned to English commentary tracks on YouTube. Rejoice for this is excellent. (Now only if they would do the same for Super Formula…). Unfortunately we’ve missed the first three rounds already, as this is the 4th round of the championship.
This is an excellent race, with lots of change of position. In fact, in the GT500 class, the Forum Engineering Nissan (Sasaki/Yanagida) came from 9th on the grid and used a no-tires strategy to win in a brilliant come-from-behind victory. The GT300 class was won by the Toyota Prius (Saga/Nakayama).
NASCAR Trucks – Eldora
This was last Wednesday night, and it was amazing. I had a grand time watching this race as it unfolded, and keeping an eye on Kyle Larson was amazing, as he was just plain hooked up all night.
Larson started the night’s feature by running up to the front and staying there. He suffered a cut tire from the lead and spun the truck around in order to call out the caution. NASCAR penalized Larson a lap for intentionally causing a yellow, but he was allowed to pit for a tire without doing it under green and losing a few laps. It might be subterfuge of the ruleset, but I applaud him for thinking on his feet. Once a lap down, Larson was given a ‘lucky dog’ pass back onto the lead lap during one of the next cautions, and then set about his run to the front. Bobby Pierce, leading at the time, then started to have a transmission issue where he was stuck in 4th, and lost some time from that. With 30 laps to go, Larson was back in the lead, and he stayed there through the finish despite a fight from Pierce (that ended with Pierce in the wall), and another fight with Chris Bell. Excellent race, and now Larson can put his Golden Shovel (the trophy for this race) on the shelf next to his Daytona 24 Rolex watch.
GT Masters – Red Bull Ring
The presumed race-winning Audi (Stoll/Vanthoor) was disqualified, gifting the victory to Gounon and Keilwitz, their third season victory in the new Callaway Corvette GT3.
Here is the race, as called by the GT Masters PR office:
In the second of two races at the Red Bull Ring, the field of 33 super sports car emerged from the first corner unscathed, and there were initially no changes in the first six positions. Pole-sitter and current championship leader Daniel Keilwitz in a Corvette C7 successfully defended the race lead from the challenge of Audi man Laurens Vanthoor and Daniel Abt in a Bentley for most of his stint at the wheel. It was shortly before the mandatory pit stop that Vanthoor pulled off the ultimately decisive pass.
After the driver changeover, Keilwitz´s team-mate Jules Gounon responded immediately by putting pressure on new race leader Florian Stoll. Two safety car deployments in quick succession for recovery of stranded vehicles brought the field back together again. At both restarts, race leader Stoll kept his cool, defended his lead and crossed the finish line one second clear of the field. The Audi was then disqualified when it failed the technical inspection after the race. The result of the eight race of the ADAC GT Masters remains provisional.
Meanwhile, race-winners Gounon and Keilwitz were extending their overall lead in the championship, and behind them, Jordan Pepper and Daniel Abt were jubilant about securing their first podium of the season. Third place was enough for reigning champions Sebastian Asch and Luca Ludwig in their AMG-Mercedes to hang on to third place in the 2016 drivers´ standings.
Rolf Ineichen (38, CH) and Christian Engelhart (29, DEU, both GRT Grasser Racing Team) put in yet another solid performance in their Lamborghini Huracán to finish fourth. Fourth place gave Ineichen another win in the Trophy class reserved for gentlemen drivers. The Corvette of Remo Lips/Sven Barth, which originally finished fourth, was given a 30 second time penalty after the race and subsequently classified 17th.
The winners of Saturday´s race, David Jahn (25, DEU) and Kévin Estre (27, F, both KÜS TEAM75 Bernhard) progressed in their Porsche 911 from P14 on the grid to fifth. An even more spectacular charge up the field was staged by Connor De Phillippi (23, USA) and Christopher Mies (27, DEU, both Montaplast by Land-Motorsport) who gained nine positions to ultimately be classified sixth.
Things You Should Watch
FIA WEC SLO MO
Night Racing With Nissan
A quick interview with Marc Lieb
Audi drivers compete against their mechanics to build an R18 Lego
Things You Should Read
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