Monthly Archives: July 2015

ATC: The Asia Talent Cup is producing some incredible races

ATC4

The Asia Talent Cup was created in 2014 with the aim of helping young riders on the path towards MotoGP. The championship is organised by Dorna so features on the support card for most of the Asian MotoGP and World Superbike rounds (including this weekend’s WSBK race in Malaysia). The riders are all in their mid-teens, the low capacity bikes are closely matched, and the races can get a little bit crazy.

In addition to the incidents and unorthodox manoeuvres that you’d expect from a field of young riders, the competition is incredibly close. At the most recent race in Qatar the top 7 riders were separated by just 4 tenths at the finish. That would be mighty close after qualifying, let alone a 30 minute race. Incredibly, the previous race was even closer. A photo finish was required to split the first four riders past the chequered flag because there were only 43 thousandths of a second between them. Where else can you finish 0.043 behind the winner and not get a podium!?

Yuki Ide led most of last year’s championship but lost the title when he crashed in the final race. He entered 2015 as favourite but is only 11th in the standings at the moment. That helps show how competitive the series is so if you catch the live stream on YouTube this weekend, be prepared for some wild racing.

Advertisements
Tagged , , , ,

GT: BMW have done a great job modifying a GT3 car for Alex Zanardi

Zanardi

Alex Zanardi lost both his legs in a CART accident 14 years ago but will race this weekend at the Spa 24 hours in a BMW that has been specially modified for him. Zanardi will share the car with Timo Glock and Bruno Spengler which has presented BMW with a number of interesting technical challenges.

Although Zanardi has raced in cars modified for him before (such as the one pictured) he has never shared a seat with other drivers and has never had a cockpit customised for him as thoroughly as this. BMW have done a great job because there is a lot more involved than just adding hand controls to the steering wheel.

  • There are two (connected) brake pedals. The first of these is the standard pedal for Glock and Spengler, whilst the second is actually a pin that slides into Zanardi’s prosthetic leg. Zanardi’s pedal/pin is on the far right of the footwell, as opposed to the conventional left, so he can more effectively use his right leg for braking. There is a fixed divider next to the pin so the other drivers don’t accidentally bump it during the race.
  • The clutch is activated by a lever on the steering wheel. The space that was previously occupied by the clutch pedal is now a special footrest for Zanardi’s left prosthetic leg so that he has more stability in the car.
  • The pedal box has been moved lower to help Zanardi with braking.
  • Zanardi has his own steering wheel that will be changed during the pitstops. This has a ‘throttle ring’ attached which is a bit like a massive upshift paddle behind the wheel that he uses instead of an accelerator pedal.
  • Since losing his legs, Zanardi has been forced to take extra steps to regulate his body temperature. As such, BMW have installed air conditioning because this will be more effective than the cool suit he used previously.
  • Engineers will adjust the car’s setup to accommodate Zanardi when he takes over from the other drivers. They will change the engine mapping to cater for the different type of throttle input and will also adjust the brake ratios because Zanardi applies less pressure than Glock or Spengler.

BMW are aiming to be in contention for outright victory.

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Vale Jules Bianchi

The news that Jules Bianchi has passed away at the age of 25, after spending nine months in a coma, is deeply saddening and upsetting.

Thoughts are with his family and loved ones. May they now start the road to finding peace.

Bianchi

Tagged ,

MotoGP: Don’t rule Marc Marquez out of the 2015 championship just yet

MM93

He might be 65 points behind Valentino Rossi in the 2015 MotoGP standings but Marc Marquez can still edge himself back into championship contention.

Mathematically, Marquez would be champion if he won each remaining race and the two Yamaha riders evenly split the other podium positions between them. Although that’s not a realistic scenario, Honda is improving and that sort of result could become a trend during the second half of 2015. If Marquez returns to his winning ways, and the Yamaha riders hit trouble, he could get a sniff of a third consecutive championship.

Marquez sensationally won the MotoGP title in his rookie year. Then he broke all kinds of records by dominating the 2014 season, but an epic comeback over the next few months would be an even greater achievement. It’s hugely unlikely but don’t rule him out just yet.

Tagged , , , ,

WTCC: Vila Real was a great addition to the calendar

New street circuits aren’t usually that exciting but the World Tour Car Championship has found a beauty in Portugal. This weekend the WTCC visited Vila Real for the first time which was rightly described by one driver as a cross between Macau and the Nordschleife. The circuit has been used in different configurations since 1931 and incorporates plenty of picturesque residential streets, long sweeping corners, and fairly significant elevation changes. It looked spectacular.

Although the FIA demanded an extra chicane, and also stipulated that armco barriers must replace the stone walls that previously lined the circuit, it didn’t lose much of it’s old-school character. The race attracted huge crowds, proved to be a hit with drivers, and was undoubtedly a great addition to the WTCC calendar.

Tagged ,

F1: The German Grand Prix might’ve died with the old Hockenheim

HOC

Formula One teams have a bit of extra time next week to prepare for the Hungarian Grand Prix as they won’t be making their traditional June trip to Hockenheim. The German Grand Prix was cancelled this year because the Hockenheim circuit couldn’t sustain the financial losses that came with hosting the event. As highlighted earlier on Motorsport Snippets, F1 ticket sales in Germany had become disappointingly low in recent years.

There are lots of reasons why German fans might’ve lost interest in F1 over recent years. Increasing ticket prices are likely to be a big factor, and so is the end of the Schumacher era. Another interesting theory suggests that part of Hockenheim’s decline started in 2002 when the venue was completely remodelled. The long 6.8km circuit was effectively cut in half and a new modern facility was built in its place. One of the motivations behind this upgrade was to improve the spectator experience. The idea was that a shorter circuit, where fans got to see more laps and more sections of the track, would be a better outcome for racegoers.

Maybe that assumption was wrong. By cutting the track down, officials removed most of its history and character. The high-speed low-downforce blast through the German forest was replaced by a generic Herman Tilke circuit that could’ve realistically been built anywhere in the world. They removed the famous long straights, the old campsites, the wild forest parties, and they removed the pent up excitement that came from cars entering the stadium. Rather than maintaining Hockenheim as a unique venue on the calendar, they made it the same as everywhere else.

Perhaps the features that made Hockenheim unique were more important to spectators than better facilities.

Tagged ,

World RX: The last corner of the World Rallycross final in Sweden was fantastic

The World Rallycross Championship always delivers great action but the final corner of yesterday’s final at Holjes was pretty special. Timmy Hansen made a wild lunge for victory, and although he wasn’t allowed to keep the win, it was still worth it for the entertainment value. Great stuff.

Tagged , , ,

IndyCar: Incredibly, there were 2,537 passes for position during the Fontana IndyCar race

FON2

Yes, you read that headline correctly. Last Sunday’s amazing 500 mile race at the Auto Club Speedway featured 2,537 on-track passes for position. That’s more than 10 moves per 33 second lap!

This incredible situation came about because officials mandated an increase in downforce prior to the race. The idea was to make cars easier to drive but the result was that everyone got bunched together like cyclists in a peloton. Drivers regularly found themselves four or five wide coming down the back straight and there was never a moment for them to relax.

Although it can be thrilling to watch, pack racing like that puts the drivers at greater risk of a massive chain-reaction accident and plenty of them were unimpressed. Safety concerns are likely to ensure that downforce settings are tweaked to prevent a repeat so the new record of 80 lead changes in one race might stand for some time.

Tagged ,