Archive for Race Reports

Goodwood’s hill tamed by Subaru and Noble

The 1.16 mile Goodwood Hillclimb saw the spoils go to Time Attack and Pikes Peak machines again this year, with a winged Subaru taking the ultimate prize.

On Sunday, Britain’s Olly Clark, son of four-time British Rally Champion Roger Clark, won the Top 10 Shootout in his 769bhp Subaru Impreza. Dubbed “Gobstopper II”, the time attack car did it in 44.91 seconds.

Second and third respectively went to Jean-Phillippe Dayraut in his Mini Pikes Peak, and Rod Millen in a Toyota Celica Pikes Peak.

In the Supercar Run on Saturday, Anthony Reid took the win in 51.33 seconds in a Noble M600; 0.78 seconds faster than Chris Ward’s Lexus LFA. Third went to the Aston Martin GT12 driven by the carmaker’s Chief Engineer of Vehicle Attributes, Matt Becker.

All comers still have a long way to go to beat the course record, set in ‘99 by Nick Heidfeld in a McLaren Formula One car (when McLaren was fast), with a 41.6.

Lap times banned at The Ring?

The Koenigsegg One:1 is admittedly an insane car. One would need to be quite the driver to tame both it and the Nurburgring Nordschleife in the one run, and also aim to beat the Porsche 918 Spyder’s sub-7 minute lap time. But is the very thought enough to scare Ring management into banning the attempt, and future manufacturer attempts at the Ring production car record?

According to a production company setting up a doco on the Koenigsegg attempt, they are. The documentary crew were set to fly out when Ring management called to veto the attempt

Speed limits have been put into operation at parts of the track as a reaction to a spectator losing their life after the Nissan GT-R of Jann Mardenborough became airborne in a recent VLN race.

While it may just be the speed restrictions that stay in place rather than an outright banning of all record attempts, it still could be the end of an era - and the end of bragging rights for manufacturers - at the famous Nordschleife.

Race director spanks unruly F3 drivers, cans Monza race

The race directors and driving standards observers at race meetings have a heck of a job trying to keep racer egos in check while enforcing the rules of sportsmanship. They wield great power from the control room, and their decisions can dictate the direction of a race like no other.

But it is very rare that they see such atrocious driving, that the race is canceled altogether.

This is precisely what happened at last weekend’s Fia F3 European Champs round at Monza. In an embarrassing move, the race was shut down completely by the stewards after three races over the weekend went from bad to worse to downright terrible.

By all reports, the first Saturday race was tame and uneventful, however the second saw two rollovers and the safety car deployed three times, ending the race under the red flag with only half of the laps completed.

A driver’s briefing followed, with all competitors warned by the race director to pull themselves together for the Sunday races. Unfortunately, some seemed not to heed this advice. After two safety cars in only nine laps, the race was red flagged. It was a big call, particularly as race director Nils Wittich was a stand in for the usual series’ director.

“During the briefing we informed the drivers that it was not acceptable or the way we want to present F3,” Wittich said in an interview with Autosport. “I was talking with the stewards and they said this is the only way to do it – you could see pushing on the straight and overtaking manoeuvres off the track.”

Consider your wrists firmly slapped, young would-be F1 upstarts!

Formula 1 hits reverse on refuelling

Following a spate of sadly boring races so far this year, Formula 1 is again looking to change their rules and regs to keep the crowds interested.

A number of changes for the 2017 season have been voted on by F1’s Strategy Group, including the re-introduction of mid-race refuelling.

While the latter is undoubtedly exciting, it was taken out of the F1 show five years ago to reduce costs or the teams. Flying fuel rigs and specialty staff around the world was a cost many could do without, particularly the second tier teams who still struggle today.

However, much criticism has been thrown at the current regs; with teams only allowed the fuel they start with, the starts themselves are slow with the cars fully laden with gas, plus the conservation tactics needed to finish mean the longer races are more reminiscent of enduros than sprints. The fastest cars and drivers in the world should be doing just that: going as fast as they can.

The new turbo sixes, which are slower than the previous generations of cars, will also get  “aerodynamic rules evolution, wider tyres and reduction of car weight” to whittle off the seconds, plus higher rev ranges and exhaust freedoms to make more noise.

These are still only proposals, which now need to go through the F1 Commission and the World Motor Sport Council and meet approval before they will be enstated.

Miller Motorsports Park to close in October

While it is not necessarily the end of the road, it’s not a good sign; Miller Motorsports Park will cease operations as its namesake in October this year (on Halloween, no less).

The Utah track, which always boasts a deliciously rich and diverse calendar, not to mention driver training and race coaching, will be let go by the Millers, who have decided not to renew their lease of the property with the land owners. The decision has been left to the late Larry H. Miller’s wife, following his passing in 2009.

Hopefully another wealthy motorsport lover will jump on the lease and keep the track alive - particularly as the track, originally conceived as a $5 million project by Miller 10 years ago, grew into an $85 million investment with some of the best corners in the country.

OFFICIAL RELEASE: (May 8, 2015) – The Larry H. Miller Group of Companies has elected not to renew its lease with Tooele County and will cease operation of Miller Motorsports Park at the end of the racing season on October 31, 2015. A full schedule of racing events, driving schools, public karting and group activities will be held this summer as planned.

Gail Miller, owner of the Larry H. Miller Group of Companies, stated: “On behalf of my family, I would like to thank all of those who have supported the track over the years, both locally and worldwide, for their enthusiasm and use of the facility.”

GTs banned from racing the Ring after fatality

Authorities have revoked the licence allowing GT3 and GT4 cars to run on the Nurburgring Nordschleife following a tragic accident in the opening round of the VLN Endurance Championship last weekend.

Jann Mardenborough’s Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 flipped over a crest and hurled into the crowd, killing a spectator on the hill. The horrific crash was captured by several spectators and uploaded to Youtube - out of respect, we will not post it here.

The governing motorsport body Deutsche Motor Sport Bund (DMSB) has suspended the license for categories SP7, SP8, SP8T, SP9, SP10, SP and SP-Pro-X until further notice, with DMSB General Secretary Christian Schacht stating: “We can not and will not be business as usual after an accident of this kind. We are all still deeply shocked and our thoughts are with the family of the victim.

“The security of the participants and especially the spectators must be a top priority. Therefore, we need to analyze the details of what happened, discuss and then implement the necessary consequences. Only after that vehicles can get back on the Nordschleife…”

Marussia given last-minute lifeline

After many had written it off as lost to the 2015 F1 season (including us), the Marussia Formula One team will indeed line up on the grid in Australia next week after finding a backer.

Now called Manor Marussia, the team was thrown the lifeline by OVO Energy founder Stephen Fitzpatrick. With Jules Bianchi sadly still in hospital after his crash in the Japanese GP, and Max Chilton going to Euro endurance racing, the two licences are to be filled by Will Stevens, who made his maiden race debut late in 2014, and a yet to be named racer - likely another junior with financial backing already aboard.

“The last few months have been a bit of a rollercoaster, to say the least, (but) we are ready to go racing,” said continuing team sporting director Graeme Lowdon.

“We haven’t just taken a 2014 car and shoved a different nose on. It’s a new car with a high degree of carry over and safety upgrades.”

Marussia has passed the mandatory FIA crash tests, and are currently on the boat to Oz for the season opener in Melbourne on the 13th - 15th.

Scuderia Ferrari fire up F1 design discussion

Ferrari Concept F1

After the past year of the ugly, phallic-nosed F1 cars, you may suppress a small shudder when you hear of a marque sketching a future F1 car.

However, free from aero restrictions and strict supp-regs, Scuderia Ferrari has managed to give us an impression of the future that is, quite frankly, Formula porn.

This Concept F1 sketch was the brainchild of in-house studio Centro Stile Ferrari, and apparently, the design could be built as-is without pushing or voiding the current F1 regulations.

While F1 is all about performance, Ferrari admits this design study is all about looks: “Our challenge was to create something that was – to put it short – better looking.” And it is at that.

Marussia joins Caterham on the F1 sidelines

A last ditch attempt to save Marussia F1 team has apparently failed, leaving the team to ponder bankruptcy alongside Caterham on the 2015 sidelines.

Earlier this year, Caterham F1 finally admitted defeat (despite a fantastic crowdfunding project to get them on the grid for the last race of the 2014 season) and listed their cars, garage gear and manufacturing equipment to the highest bidder.

Marussia was still fighting, however a “Formula One Strategy Group” gathering in Paris this week to discuss the fate of Marussia may have finally sealed it.

The small team was asking to run its 2014 car in this year’s Championship. Obviously without the time or funds to develop a 2015 car, the decision essentially came down to the other teams in the field.

And of course, it was Marussia’s main competitors that blocked the petition - not the front-runners, who seemed to be supportive of their appeal, but rather the lower and smaller teams. Needing unanimous support from all teams at the Strategy Group meet, it was the final straw on the proverbial camel’s back.

So despite paying the entry fee and working with the banks to stave off bankruptcy, it would seem Marussia will join Caterham on the sad sidelines this year.

Add to that the tragedy of the still-comatose Jules Bianchi, who has reportedly not regained consciousness since his collision with a recovery vehicle at the Japanese GP last October, plus the accident with test driver Maria de Villota, who in 2013 died as a result of her Formula One test crash at Duxford airfield in 2012, theirs is a very sad tale indeed.

Mini takes top Dakar honors


It may have struggled in the WRC, but there is one rally that the Mini marque undeniably dominates; and it’s one of the toughest in the world.
For the fourth year straight, Mini has taken out top honors in the Dakar Rally, this year with 2011 winner and WRC regular Nasser Al-Attiyah at the tiller.
Following two weeks and 5,600 miles across three South American countries, from dunes to volcanic rock to the sea and back, Quatari Al-Attiyah and French codriver Mathieu Baumel came home more than half an hour ahead of nearest rivals Giniel de Villiers and Dirk von Zitzewitz in the debuting Toyota Hilux.
“I promised last year when I was on the podium that I’d be back to win, and now I’m here,” he said. “It was very hard to lead the race from the very beginning and to continue keeping this position on the long distance.
“Also because the race was really hard. I’m very happy about this great result and I want to thank and congratulate all mechanics and the team for the great job they have done during the two weeks. The MINI ALL4 Racing is an incredible car and it was again very nice to drive.”
The pair won more than half the stages to take the podium in the car category, with Minis also finishing in third, fourth and fifth (Krzysztof Holowczyc, Erik van Loon and Vladimir Vasilyev).
In the other categories, the insane Truck group was again dominated by the Russians, and notably the Kamaz team, who took top honours for the third year in a row. KTM rider Marco Coma backed up his 2014 win with the top podium spot in the Motorcycle category, while Poland’s Rafał Sonik won in the Quad class.