Motorsports Weekend Guide: April 4 to April 6

MWG

Last weekend, IndyCar and Pirelli World Challenge both kicked off their seasons at St. Petersburg with fantastic races while a former F1 champion took his first victory of 2014 and the reigning British Touring Car champion captured two of the series’ first three races of the year. To boot, the reigning V8 Supercars teams champions swept all three races in Tasmania while at one of the classic NASCAR tracks, a sometimes-maligned figure capped a long comeback with a win.

This weekend, variety is the spice of life with tire smoke, top-tier technology, Japanese tin-tops, and a whole heck of a lot more on tap. Read on to see who’s racing what where. 

Formula_D

Formula DRIFT: Long Beach

The slideways action of professional drifting opens its season at Long Beach just ahead of the Long Beach Grand Prix next weekend. The drift course uses the final four turns of the Grand Prix circuit, starting on Seaside Drive and ending just after the famously supertight hairpin. After a somewhat controversial 2013 year and with drifting still growing in the U.S., Formula Drift should be one of the motorsports to watch in 2014. Keep an eye out for coverage from Hooniverse’s own Drift Idiot.

Website: Formula Drift siteEvent page with schedule.
Live coverage: Live streaming here, apparently.

 

Formula One: Bahrain Grand Prix

Formula One looked a bit more like the F1 people expected last weekend in Malaysia as reigning champion Sebastian Vettel found himself in the mix with Red Bull’s cooling issues sorted. Mercedes continuing their strong start and the backmarkers, well, look like backmarkers. What should one expect in Bahrain? I have no idea, but attrition hasn’t been quite the factor some had expected. Will Mercedes continue to dominate or will the other teams start to catch up? The race will start at dusk local time and end under full nighttime conditions, so that’s neat.

Website: F1 website. Bahrain GP site
Supporting series:
GP2.
Live coverage: NBC Sports @ 10:30 a.m. EST on Sunday (TV); Live timing here

 

Japanese Super GT: Okayama 300km (Okayama International Circuit)

The Super GT series opens its season on the 2.3-mile course at Okayama. The top GT500 class cars share a brand new common chassis with the German DTM series while the GT300 feature a mix of purpose-built Japanese racecars and European GT3 machinery. Super GT draws most of Japan’s top sportscar drivers and also some familiar names to those who have followed European sportscar racing: Oliver Jarvis, Bertrand Baguette, James Rossiter, and GT Academy winner Lucas Ordonez are four from the continent in the series. I’ll be on the lookout for live coverage because Super GT is fantastically entertaining despite (because of?) Japanese-only commentary.

Website: Super GT site. Entry list.
Live coverage:
Unfortunately, I haven’t found any live coverage options stateside. Link in the comments section if you know where to find it.

WRC_Portugal

FIA World Rally Championship: Rally de Portugal

The top performance rally series heads to the Iberian Peninsula, where both the crowds and jumps are huge. Just three points separate championship leader Sebastien Ogier from his Volkswagen teammate Jari-Matti Latvala, each of whom as almost double the point total of third place Mads Ostberg. The rally traverses a pretty significant amount of the country, starting in Lisbon and traveling throughout the Algarve region. Unfortunately, early-week reconnaissance and shakedowns have been stymied by flooded stages. Hopefully, the waters clear enough to let the rally commence.

Website: WRC website. Rally de Portugal site. Entry list. Full schedule. Maps!
Live coverage: Live stage results and splits.

 

V8 Supercars: Winton 400

The Aussie brutes come off a big weekend in Tasmania for the Red Bull Racing Australia duo of Craig Lowndes and Jamie Whincup. They and their 21 compatriots head to on of the country’s oldest race circuits for a three-race weekend, dueling around Winton Motor Raceway’s 1.26-mile circuit. That’s a small course with a lot of power, which is a great recipe for touring car races.

Website: V8 Supercars website. Winton site. Event page.
Live coverage:
Live streaming on V8 Superview (Subscription service). Live timing here

 

NASCAR: Texas Motor Speedway

And still NASCAR marches on. Six races into the season, no one has repeated as race winner, which could make it interesting if somehow more drivers take race wins than there are spots in The Chase. The Camping Trucks series gets the weekend off while Nationwide gets a coveted primetime spot Friday night.

Website: NASCAR site. TMS site. Full weekend schedule.
Supporting series: Nationwide
Reasonably named races: Duck Commander 500 (Sprint Cup), O’Reilly Auto Parts 300 (Nationwide)
Live coverage: 
Sprint Cup on Fox @ 3 p.m. EST on Sunday (TV) and on Performance Racing Network (radio). Nationwide on ESPN2 @ 8:30 p.m. EST on Friday (TV) and on PRN (radio).

nurburgring

ADAC: 24 Hours of Nürburgring Qualifier (6 hours)

I’m still not entirely clear what teams will be “qualifying” for with this new event, but the 24 Hours of the Nürburgring organizers will host a six-hour race on the Nordschleife. All of the ‘ring’s promotional copy seems to indicate this as something of a tune-up for teams and a spectator event. The entry list is full of stacked GT3 teams—the BMW squads in particular look completely bonkers—while some of the lower classes have some interesting names. Former F1 driver Stefan Johansson in a Mazda MX-5 with Team Jota’s name on it? Sounds like a recipe for entertainment to me and the prospect of that already has me salivating for the 24-hour race that happens to end on my birthday.

Website: Nurburgring site. Event page. Entry list (Downloadable PDF). Full schedule.
Supporting Series: Drifting of some kind.
Live coverage: There should be a live stream of the race here.

 

SCCA U.S. Majors Tour: Mid-States Region, Hallett Motor Racing Circuit

The SCCA heads to Hallett, a gorgeous track tucked away in the middle of the country. More than 140 drivers have signed up, including ALMS driver Gaston Kirby and his son Conner, who will be in Star Mazda. SCCA’s Spec Racer Ford also continues to draw big fields with 24 of the little sports racers signed up to run.

Website: Majors Tour site. Hallet site. Event page. Entry list. Weekend schedule
Live coverage: Live timing here and on Race Monitor app for smartphone.

 

NASA Western Endurance Race Championship: Buttonwillow Raceway Park

The National Auto Sport Association’s WERC holds its second 2014 round at Buttonwillow. The three-hour races draw some tremendous competition, many of whom will compete in the (non-points-scoring) 25 Hours of Thunderhill in December. Still, if you want to keep your finger on the Thunderhill 25H pulse this year, keep tabs on this series’ five rounds. This race begins at 6:30 p.m. and ends well into the night.

Website: WERC Facebook pageButtonwillow siteEvent schedule (PDF).
Supporting Series: Full NASA weekend.
Live coverage: Race Monitor app for smartphone.

 

SCCA RallyCross National Challenge: Brianne Corn Raceway

The SCCA’s rallycross series shares part of a name with the high-dollar, high-horsepower Global RallyCross series, but they are very different beasts. Consider the SCCA version more of a mud-laden autocross with a characteristical cross-section of club racing car types. This is the first of nine regional Challenge rallycrosses this year and tiny Brianne Corn Raceway near Austin, TX, will play host.

Website: RallyCross National Challenge site. Event page.
Live coverage: No official live coverage, but Hooniverse commenter ninjacoco will be there flogging some kind of rallycross rental.

 

ChumpCar World Series: Autobahn Country Club

ChumpCar makes its maiden voyage at the Chicago-area country club, which I would be covering in person if I weren’t unfortunately otherwise engaged. Midwestern crapcans tend to include a good mix of types and the racing is usually very tight. Expect nothing else in either of the weekend’s two seven-hour races.

Website: CCWS siteAutobahn siteEvent schedule and additional information (PDF).
Live coverage: Live timing here or race Monitor app for smartphone.

 

[Lead image copyright 2014 Hooniverse/Eric Rood. All other images: Formula Drift; Best of Rally Live on Flickr; Porsche photo]

 

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