Monthly Archives: April 2015

WEC: The 2015 World Endurance Championship is as fast as Formula One (almost)

WEC

The speed of the World Endurance Championship has increased this year (thanks to three manufacturers pushing new technology) and the leaders recent laptimes at Silverstone were only a few seconds off Lewis Hamilton’s winning pace at the same circuit. The LMP1 machines were actually quicker than some of the F1 tailenders, which is amazing because they’re notably heavier and are designed to run at that speed for 24 hours.

The cars run again this weekend at Spa Francorchamps, another Grand Prix circuit that will provide an interesting comparison.

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IndyCar: Ideas for new international events to start the IndyCar season

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IndyCar officials are keen to expand the short North American season with international events and have hinted they’re looking towards Europe. Series boss, Mark Miles, believes IndyCar can offer circuits a viable alternative to a Formula One Grand Prix, and with F1 races proving too expensive for many traditional venues, now could be the time to pounce.

If the IndyCar season did start with a string of international races (grouped to minimise freight costs) it could theoretically look something like this:

Round 1: Adelaide – As discussed previously on Motorsport Snippets, Adelaide could be a great place to start the IndyCar season and local organisers might be interested.

Round 2: Qatar – A night race in Qatar adds a bit of sparkle to the flyaway events and would suit an afternoon TV audience in the USA. Qatar was originally rumoured to feature on this year’s calendar, so the country is already on the radar, and it fits geographically between Australia & Europe which makes freight less of a concern.

Round 3: Imola – A world class circuit in the heart of Europe’s racing culture that can no longer afford F1. It suits IndyCar’s brief perfectly.

Round 4: Nurburgring – Suitable for the same reasons as Imola, and could easily be run just a week later.

Round 5: Rockingham – The current owners at Rockingham have little interest in using their oval but the banked circuit is still the best venue for a superspeedway race in Europe. ChampCar’s two visits 15 years ago were beset by problems (the first race was a disaster and turned people away from attending the second) but with a stronger championship ready for expansion, and with lessons learned from the past, an IndyCar race on the Rockingham oval could be a viable event. It’s a shame the potential of such a grand venue is otherwise wasted.

It’s unlikely to happen, but it doesn’t hurt to think big.

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Moto3: Danny Kent made an interesting piece of history (twice)

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In 2014 the average winning margin in Moto3 was just four tenths of a second. The series always produces close racing because the small capacity bikes stick together like cyclists in a peloton – at Brno last year the top 16 riders finished within 2 seconds of each other! With that in mind, the fact Danny Kent has won the last two races by more than 8 seconds is amazing. Nobody has pulled away from the pack like that before, ever, let alone twice in a row. Danny Kent is making Moto3 look like a different championship in 2015 so it will be interesting to see if he can keep his record streak going. It will also be interesting to see who ends up emerging from the pack as his biggest rival.

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MotoGP: The Rossi-Marquez crash was a huge moment for MotoGP

The crash in Argentina between Valentino Rossi and Marc Marquez adds spice to a rivalry that’s already quite special. Rossi is one of the greatest motorcycle riders of all time and the tail of his career is overlapping with that of Marquez, the sport’s new superstar. Rossi is essentially fighting a younger version of himself and the racing between them is spectacular. This amazing rivalry turned a little bit nasty with the crash in Argentina and it now has all the ingredients to become something truly epic.

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NASCAR: Erik Jones has just done something incredible

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Erik Jones was watching the NASCAR race at Bristol on Sunday when, during a rain delay, the 18 year old was told to put on a helmet and get ready to drive. Jones had never driven a Sprint Cup NASCAR before but was drafted in as a surprise mid-race replacement for Denny Hamlin who retired with neck spasms. Incredibly, with absolutely no experience and no preparation, Jones finished the race in 26th place and scored 18 points for the team. Amazing.

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Utes: A driver is banned from racing in 2015 for causing this intentional accident

Australian race officials have taken a commendable stand against drivers who deliberately ram others when they’re angry. Geoff Fane has been banned from competition for the rest of 2015 following the below crash where he deliberately turned into another driver (and verbally abused him afterwards – a real class act).

Pastor Maldonado famously committed similar offences in F1, and only last week Olivier Pla hit a sportscar rival during practice at Sebring. Both got away with relatively minor penalties, so hopefully this lengthy ban will help drive a change in attitudes across all series. It sets a great precedent because there’s no place in any sport for professional fouls of this magnitude.

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F3: Felix Rosenqvist overtook 51 cars in 36 laps

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Felix Rosenqvist currently lies second in the European Formula Three Championship, which is quite amazing because there have only been three races so far and he started two of those from last on the grid! At the recent Silverstone round Rosenqvist surged from 35th to 7th in race two, and made it up to 12th in race three, giving him the distinction of passing 51 cars in 36 racing laps (and making him a championship favourite). Great stuff.

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IndyCar: The Grand Prix of Louisiana was a particularly bizarre IndyCar race

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The first ever IndyCar race at NOLA Motorsports Park was strange if not somewhat shambolic. 75 of the last 80 minutes were spent behind the Safety Car and during that time only one full lap was completed without any yellow flags. Officials made six attempts to restart the race after a caution period on lap 16, but every time they tried, drivers would spin or crash almost immediately and the procedure would have to start again.

James Hinchcliffe (who started 16th) won the race in an unfancied car because he stayed on track when most other drivers stopped for fuel. This gave him the lead, and because the race never restarted properly, Hinchcliffe made his fuel stretch to the finish and nobody got a chance to overtake him. It was an odd strategy that worked perfectly for such an odd race.

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Moto3: 15 year old Fabio Quartararo is the real deal

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Keep an eye out for a French teenager called Fabio Quartararo. The 15 year old has already won six junior championships, including the last two Spanish Moto3 titles, and is now competing in the Moto3 World Championship. He is the youngest rider on the grid and was only allowed to compete because organisers changed the 16 year age limit to accommodate him. This has thrust Quartararo into the spotlight but he is living up to the hype. He set new lap records to dominate winter testing and when racing got underway in Qatar last week he was able to fight with the leaders for victory. Quartararo hit the lead in the dying stages of his first Grand Prix, and although he wasn’t able to hold on for the win, he did enough to prove he belonged with the best in the world. Fabio reportedly has a very strong work ethic, a fierce training regime, and seems to remain calm under pressure.

This kid is the real deal. His first Moto3 Grand Prix win – which could come before he turns 16 – will be a huge moment for the sport. Remember his name and keep an eye out for him as he gains experience because the next Marc Marquez could be on the way.

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