Racing and racing and racing this weekend. There was so much to cover and so little time. Let’s get cracking, we’ve got Formula 1, Indycar, WEC, NASCAR, Moto GP, WTCC, VLN, and the 24 Hours of Barcelona to cover. There was some great on-track action this weekend, and some that is a little bit on the ‘egregious’ side of the scale, absurd even. With all of this racing, what did you have time to watch this weekend? Personally I focused on the WEC race, the NASCAR truck race, and IndyCar.
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, Capice?
Jenson Button & Felipe Massa Announce Retirements
IndyCar Goes Galloping Through The Glen
NASCAR Dances With The Lady In Black
Meanwhile, Trucks Tango At CTMP
MotoGP Has High Tea With The Queen
World Touring Cars Go Motegi
A Full Day Of Sports Cars In Barcelona
VLN Does 6 Hours Again
Stuff You Should Watch
Stuff You Should Read
World Endurance Championship – Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez
In a race that nearly nobody wanted to actually win, Porsche managed to overcome attrition to finish in the victory spot with their #1 car with Mark Webber, Brendon Hartley, and Timo Bernhard. The #1 car led the race for the majority of the running, taking the lead in the second hour, but lost out when they had a drive-through penalty for aborting a pit stop and crossing the blend line to rejoin the track.
The #8 Audi took the lead back at this incident, and was leading until the rain started to fall. Oli Jarvis was on board when his front wheel bearing failed and the car went careening into the wall. One of the Toyotas was penalized for avoidable contact. The other retired in the second hour with a hybrid system failure. The other Porsche was forced to settle for fourth with diminished pace compared to their team car.
The race start was dominated by the RGR car, with Bruno Senna stretching out an impressive lead over the competition. Unfortunately their Am driver Ricardo Gonzalez lost out during his stint at the wheel and moved the car down the grid. Putting Filipe Albuquerque behind the wheel for the closing stages was a smart move, as he was able to rally the car toward the front again. They were aided by then-leaders G-Drive Racing and Rene Rast suffering a brake failure that moved them back to 8th in class with just 35 minutes remaining in the race.
GTE Pro –
Aston Martin was dominant all weekend, putting up speeds and times unmatched by any of the other runners. It would appear that the FIA’s calculations on turbocharged cars was a little conservative when they were balancing the advantage of altitude in the Mexico City race, as the Ferrari and Ford runners appeared to be slightly disadvantaged, particularly in regards to top speed. Richie Stanaway and Darren Turner managed to take Aston’s first GTE Pro win since Spa of last year. This was another case of BoP dictating the narrative, and as a sports car fan, I’m getting a little sick of it.
GTE Am –
With the rain helping them out a lot, what with their rear-biased weight distribution and less low-end torque than the competition, the Porsche of the Abu Dhabi Proton Racing team (Khaled Al Qubaisi, David Heinemeier Hansson, and Patrick Long) took the win in GTE Am.
Here is a gallery of beautiful images from DailySportsCar.com.
Formula One – Monza
With the title chase closing ever tighter, Lewis Hamilton V. Nico Rosberg is more important than it’s ever been. Hamilton nabbed the pole position from his teammate in qualifying, but then a bungled start procedure saw him drop to fifth on the opening lap, and he couldn’t ever catch up. Rosberg nailed his start and led into turn one with Sebastian Vettel following close on his heels. Hamilton then set about working his way back to the front. He immediately made quick work of passing Daniel Ricciardo, and four laps later he was caught up to Valtieri Bottas, but it took until lap 10 for Hamilton to take third. The Ferrari runners started the race on super-soft tires, and had to pit earlier than the Mercedes, which chose the softs as starters, moving Hamilton up into second. By this point, Rosberg was already well clear of Hamilton in the lead.
Jolyon Palmer was hit by Felipe Nasr, and Nasr was penalized.
Fernando Alonso ran the fastest lap of the race in his garbage McLaren-Honda, but downplays the one-lap pace, as both McLarens finished out of the points in Italy.
Retirements – Jenson Button and Felipe Massa
Massa on his retirement (in a column for Motorsport.com):
Life presents us with many choices and I think for me it has got to the time where I have to go and do something different. Maybe you will see me again at the wheel of a race car, but at the moment the only certainty I have is that I will have a lot of time to decide on what I do in the future.
No announcement has yet been made on who will replace Massa at Williams.
Jenson on his retirement:
I love McLaren-Honda – I firmly believe it’s made up of the best bunch of people I’ve ever worked with – and I have no intention of ever driving for another Formula 1 team.
To be clear, I’m very definitely not retiring. I’m contracted for both 2017 and 2018, I intend to work hard on car-development, and I’m sure I’ll get behind the wheel of the new car at some point.
McLaren have announced that their young protege Stoffel Vandoorne will fill the Button-vacated seat for 2017. Jenson will remain with the team in what appears to be an advisory role. Personally, I’d love to see him in some McLaren GT3s while he’s got some spare time.
Formula 1 For Sale
In somewhat unexpected news, it would seem that American Liberty Media company is to buy all of CVC’s shares in F1. The deal is believed to be close to complete, and if completed, Ecclestone could be replaced by some dude named Chase Carey, current executive vice-chair of 21st Century Fox.
Christian Horner had this to say:
“There is obviously a lot of speculation going on, and I sincerely hope it is not Bernie’s last race. I don’t believe it will be. We will all wait to see what the news is over the next couple of weeks regarding the ownership or shareholding of F1, and if there is any change or redistribution. But there is an awful lot of speculation at this time. I think it is obvious that there are discussions going on, but until something is signed and finalized, everything is pure conjecture to that point.”
NASCAR – Darlington
It’s a holiday, and I don’t really care about this race, so here’s the video…
Oh, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. will be sitting out the rest of the season due to his concussion. His seat will continue to be filled by Jeff Gordon and Alex Bowman.
NASCAR Trucks – Canadian Tire Motorsports Park
NASCAR has packed a whole lot of great road-course racing into the last few weeks, and this excellent race at Mosport ended in an absolute sh*tf*ck display of NASCAR’s inability to officiate a road-course race. They treat road courses the same as they treat ovals, including shitty bump-and-run allowances that scuppered the lead for Alex Tagliani last week in the XFinity series. This week it was a more egregious display of that same thing that saw John Hunter Nemechek win out over Cole Custer. Nemechek was very aggressive in the final corner and first shoved Custer from behind before deliberately turning him into the wall and pinning the throttle. The checkered flag waved with both trucks in the grass at the side of the track with their throttles wide open aiming for the line. Custer’s truck was pinched between Nemechek and the wall, and he lost by mere millimeters. It was an egregious display of officiating, and NASCAR should be ashamed of themselves. Unfortunately, this is probably what their fans want to see, and they’ll do nothing about it. Stupid. Absurd. Asinine.
IndyCar – Watkins Glen
Scott Dixon had the perfect weekend in New York. He led every pre-race practice session, he set a new closed-course road course average speed lap record in Qualifying to take pole, and then went on to win the race by leading 50 of the 60 laps. Not only was he fast, but Dixon in typical-Dixon-fashion was able to save fuel in the final stint in order to avoid pitting for a splash while still gapping the field. This was Dixon’s 4th career victory at Watkins Glen. Being the good guy that he is, Dixon donated all of his race winnings to wilsonghildrensfund.com in memory of Justin Wilson to help support his children.
Dixon on his win:
“Super happy. It was a fantastic weekend for us. The car was phenomenal. There was nothing we couldn’t do. This car helped you roll through the corner. I think I had the Chevy Volt engine, the electric one (laughs). It’s been almost a sweep this weekend and you don’t get them too often. I will definitely remember this one.”
WTCC – Motegi
Race 1 –
Norbert Michelisz led a Honda 1-2-3 to victory in race 1, and the first victory of the season for the Factory Honda team on their home track. Michelisz started from pole in the race and got a great start ahead of teammate Rob Huff. Meanwhile Honda-runner Tiago Monteiro started 7th on the grid, jumped a couple runners at the start, and managed to pull himself up past Tom Chilton and Thed Bjork to finish in third.
Race 2 –
Citroen racer Yvan Muller took the race two victory as a thank-you from teammate Jose Maria Lopez. JML led the race from the start, and looked set to run a lights-to-flag victory lap to put past to his 2016 WTCC title chase. In the closing segment of the race, the two Citroen teammates were well in front of anyone else, and Lopez moved over and allowed Yvan into the lead of the race to take his first 2016 season victory. Lopez is leaving the Citroen WTCC team to move into the DS Virgin Racing Formula E team for the upcoming 2016/2017 season.
Lopez had this to say:
“For me, it’s a way to say thank you to Yvan. For me, it’s not easy to give up a victory, but for me, the person deserved it, so thanks to him.”
MotoGP – Silverstone
The big story in MotoGP this weekend was the fact that Suzuki won a Grand Prix for the first time in nearly a decade. Someone named Maverick Vinales took his first GP victory after the race was red-flagged early for contact. In the opening laps, contact between Pol Espargaro, Loris Baz, and Danilo Petrucci saw Baz and Pol leave their bikes and were both carried from the track on stretchers. Both racers have been noted as conscious , and Espargaro is “more or less unscathed”.
The race was restarted and given a slightly shorter run length by one lap to just 19. Maverick moved from his third place on the grid up past Valentino Rossi at Stowe and Cal Crutchlow at Becketts. With that move, he was leading the GP and was able to modulate the run from the front for the remainder of the event. The scrap for second place allowed him to extend his lead and win by a margin of 3 and a half seconds. Suzuki last won at Le Mans in 2007 in a very wet race. This was Suzuki’s first dry win since 2001.
The 24 Hours of Barcelona
This was Precote Herberth Motorsport’s third 24H Series race victory in a row, marking yet another endurance win by the mythical “White Porsche”. There is something to the idea of just pounding out trouble-free lap after trouble-free lap, that’s more or less how you win one of these 24H Series races, as proven yet again by this run in Spain. The car, at the finish, is dirty, but unscathed. No body damage, no excess time in the pit lane, and drivers that aren’t necessarily the fastest, but they can keep the car out of trouble. That’s the recipe. Daniel Alleman, Alfred Renauer, Robert Renauer, and Ralf Bohn took their Porsche to victory by 6 laps over the Barwell Motorsports Lamborghini Huracan of Mark Poole, Richard Abra, Jeroen Bleekemolen, and Joe Osborne.
Full results can be seen here.
VLN – Nurburgring
The VLN series ran their longest race of the season with a 6 hour taking place this weekend. In the closing laps an incredible battle took place between the Manthey Racing Porsche GT3R and the Haribo Racing Mercedes AMG GT. In the end it was Jorg Bergmeister and Patrick Pilet taking the 6-hour victory in their Porsche over the Merc of Uwe Alzen, Lance David Arnold, and Jan Seyffarth. This was Porsche’s first race win of the season, and in doing so, they set a new distance record for the 6-hour race, completing 43 laps of the infamous Nurburgring.
Things You Should Watch –
Video of the new Formula E contenders!
Full GT Challenge IMSA Race From VIR –
Old but good, 906 Carrera 6 Hillclimb Sound
Goodwood Revival Onboard Lotus 24 Test
Porsche is Restoring the 924 GTP!
Lancia D50 Grand Prix Onboard!
Porsche’s LMP1 Run At WEC Mexico City
6 Hours of Mexico Full Race Highlights
Driving a Vintage Matra-Ligier F1 car in the FIA Masters Historic F1
Onboard KTM XBow GT4 At Spa
Cobra Vs. EType
Things You Should Read
Hinchcliffe Unhappy With IndyCar’s Ability To Read Their Own Rulebook
New Pictures Unveiled of Porsche’s LMP2000 project “9R3” at Racecar Engineering and Mulsanne’s Corner
FIA as yet undecided on direction of 2017 GTE Am category. Accept 2016 cars and potentially lose grid strength, or retain 2015 runners for stability?
GTE Am Teams Prefer A Regs Freeze
Toyota Designing New 2017 Spec LMP1 car, Hoping For 3 Cars At Le Mans
NASCAR Internal Documents Show Fan Complaints From 2008, Absurd And Strange