Monthly Archives: April 2014

Indy Lights: An interesting battle is brewing between two young Indy hopefuls


An intriguing rivalry has emerged in this year’s Indy Lights series between Zach Veach and Gabby Chaves. Both drivers are a cut above the others but it’s fascinating how the their results are split straight down the middle.

Chaves took pole position for the first race at St Petersburg but Veach got ahead at the start and produced a dominant victory. Two weeks later at Long Beach the roles were perfectly reversed. Veach had pole but Chaves took revenge when he led into the first corner and stayed there to level the score.

The next round in Alabama consisted of two weekend races. Veach took pole and dominated on the Saturday. Chaves took pole and dominated on the Sunday. A beautiful mirror image.

One of them will surely be crowned 2014 champion but it’s interesting that neither can yet maintain an advantage over the other for an entire weekend.

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WTCC: Sebastien Loeb has the chance to do something truly amazing


Sebastien Loeb’s performance in the third race of the WTCC season was quite spectacular. After taking pole position he was sent to the back of the grid for a technical infringement, but in wet conditions Loeb stormed from 17th to 3rd in just seven laps and ended up with the championship lead. He is a genuine contender for the 2014 title and if Loeb is successful it will be something incredible that all motorsport fans can celebrate.

Loeb is best known for winning nine WRC titles in a row (a mind-blowing achievement that is put into context here on but he has also won Carrera Cup races, FIA GT races, the X Games, the Pikes Peak Hillclimb, and also finished second outright at Le Mans. If he can add the WTCC title to that list it will give him the very unusual distinction of being a World Champion in two different disciplines – something that hasn’t been achieved in this modern era of global motorsport.

That would be an amazing piece of racing history and, given his current speed and racecraft, it’s not totally out of the question.

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Moto2: Nakagami’s near misses will make his first victory a huge moment


Takaaki Nakagami is yet to win a Moto2 Grand Prix but his first win can’t be far away. It’s going to be a huge moment when he reaches the top step of the podium since Nakagami has come agonisingly close to victory on several occasions. Last year he was able to string together four consecutive second place finishes (and a swag of pole positions) but developed a knack for losing the lead of a race in the dying stages. It was heartbreaking stuff.

Two weeks ago Nakagami produced another strong performance at the front of the Moto2 race in Qatar, and once again he was passed in the final laps. This time he missed out on victory by just 4 hundredths of second in a frantic sprint to the finish line. With the new season underway, Nakagami still couldn’t close the deal on track.

Assuming the 22 year old eventually does take a win, it will mean so much more to him because of those close calls along the way. Nakagami might also find that shedding that monkey off his back is worth a few extra tenths.

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F1: Ricciardo should still be delighted with 2014 despite the poor results


Daniel Ricciardo was disqualified from the season’s first race in Melbourne, had all sorts of problems that culminated with a DNF in Malaysia, and has already picked up a grid penalty for the next Grand Prix in Bahrain. However, despite the difficult start to 2014, Dan should still be delighted with how things have played out.

2014 is not about results or championship points for Daniel Ricciardo. It’s about establishing himself as a top line Grand Prix driver and marking out some territory at Red Bull. During the first two races he took some big steps towards to achieving those goals. Ricciardo qualified brilliantly in Australia in tricky conditions, pulled a great move on Lewis into the first corner, and set consistently quick laptimes on his way to the podium (even if his car was using too much fuel). In Malaysia he displayed more controlled aggression at the start and put some manners on Sebastian Vettel during their brief battle together. Ricciardo could’ve been harsher when Vettel eventually did get by, but he still went defensive and showed his teammate that he was no pushover.

This coming weekend in Bahrain could be good as well. Ricciardo will probably be starting from around 15th on the grid so will have a chance to hog some TV time as he carves through the field. A spectacular drive from 15th to 5th could be better for his reputation than a solid performance from 4th to 3rd.

Ricciardo is smashing personal targets even though he isn’t scoring points. There is no reason to think his famous smile isn’t genuine at the moment.

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FE: The heavily criticised Beijing circuit may not be that bad

The new Formula E street circuit in Beijing has copped a fair bit of criticism on social media for lacking imagination. It’s an easy point to make – the straightforward layout doesn’t exactly conjure up the magic of Spa or Suzuka.


However, that doesn’t necessarily mean the racing will be boring. In fact, if it wasn’t for those pesky chicanes the track would be brilliant. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with simple circuits at all. You will often find the fewer squiggles they have on a map, the better they are. Some of the most revered circuits of all time (like the old Spa, Osterreichring, Reims, and even the old Silverstone) look incredibly basic when viewed from above, so there is still hope for the new Beijing circuit.

It’s just a shame about those chicanes.

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V8SC: FOM has an interesting relationship with the V8s in Melbourne


There was an interesting comment about the relationship between Formula One Management and the V8 Supercars buried in a recent article.

The article about the Australian Grand Prix stated that a new race contract offered by FOM “compromised the future of V8 Supercar support races …. in order to appoint more global partners and not be commercially restrained from local arrangements.”

The V8 Supercars recently signed a new $240M TV deal (in a country with the same population as greater London – that’s epic!) and that has resulted in a push to make next year’s Grand Prix support races a full blown championship event. It seems like FOM are now keen to nip that idea in the bud.

The V8s are immensely popular in Australia and the Grand Prix organisers do everything they can to accommodate the series. This includes V8 specific garages in pitlane and a unique deal with FOM that allows V8 teams to sell their own merchandise within Albert Park. That’s a commercial luxury most support categories do not enjoy.

With FOM seemingly keen to put more restrictions on race promoters to squeeze a few extra bucks out of “global partners”, the V8 Supercars might abandon Albert Park altogether instead of turning it into a championship round. The V8s use the Melbourne event primarily as a sponsor networking opportunity, but they don’t need it as much as the event needs them. In fact, in 2007 the V8s didn’t show up because their demands had not been met.

It will be interesting to see what the future holds for the future of the V8s participation, and if that has an impact on contract negotiations with the local government who constantly demand value for money.

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MotoGP: The Rossi-Marquez battle in Qatar will be remembered as a famous MotoGP moment


Valentino Rossi’s fight with Marc Marquez in Qatar was a great example of top class MotoGP racing, but there was far more significance to it than just a battle for victory.

Valentino Rossi has defined motorcycling greatness for the last 15 years, whilst Marc Marquez has every chance of defining it over the next 15. It’s very rare to see greats from two different eras fighting against each other for race wins, but that’s probably what we witnessed in Qatar.

Importantly, this was no Pete Sampras v Roger Federer exhibition match for charity, but was an all-out fight for Grand Prix victory (and the World Championship lead). We got to see both riders pushing each other to the limit. Rossi used to be famous for stalking his rivals until the very end of a race and using the element of surprise to overtake when it wasn’t expected. That was the old trick he played on Marquez. Similarly, Marquez is famous for risking it all with aggressive overtaking manoeuvres, and that’s exactly what he did to retake the lead from Valentino.

In years to come we might look back on that battle and will fondly remember the time we saw two greats of motorcycling, from different eras of the sport, trying their hardest to beat each other. It was a rare racing treasure.

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F1: There is a problem with the new F1 noise but it isn’t volume


Music is proof that everyone has a different idea of what sounds good and what doesn’t. That’s especially true of the new F1 engines where opinion is harshly divided about the noise. Personally I quite like the new sound. It’s different, it’s quiet, but it’s also interesting and we’ll all get used to it.

However, there is still a problem with the noise, and it isn’t volume.

When you’re standing trackside it’s now very difficult to tell when a driver is pushing hard. The new engines have so much torque that drivers are exiting corners in higher gears than before and don’t have to max out the RPM. As a result, they’re short shifting quite frequently and accelerate at lower revs. When they do that it sounds like they’re just cruising on their way back to the pits even though they could be pushing quite hard.

The introduction of shorter ratios also means that drivers can choose a variety of gears in some corners. This results in each driver going past you in a different gear which makes it sound like some of them are pushing much less, or that some have got it totally wrong. It is very deceptive.

One of the great joys of visiting a Grand Prix is watching the drivers up close whilst they push themselves to the limit. The noise, which reveals throttle input, has always been a big part of that excitement but now it’s lost. That matters to me much more than volume, and I just hope that I can get used to it as well.