Category Archives: Saison 2015

MotoGP World Championship – Aragon Grand Prix

Morbidelli consolidates his leadership

With a fine eleventh place in Aragon, Franco Morbidelli consolidated his status as leader in the “Rookie of the Year” rankings. The good performances by Alex Marquez and Joan Mir in Moto2 moved them together into the top six.

The Races

Despite a penalty imposed during the practice test sessions that forced him to start from the back of the grid, Franco Morbidelli performed creditably on the Motorland circuit of Aragon. Fourteenth by the fifth lap and waiting in ambush behind Bradley Smith and Takaaki Nakagami, the Italian soon attacked to take eleventh place. A position he kept until the finish. His teammate, Thomas Lüthi, for many laps believed he was going to score his first points of the season. Unfortunately, the degradation of his rear tyre at the end of the race did not allow him to do better than seventeenth. In Moto2, Alex Marquez fought it out with Brad Binder before loosing pace in the last kilometres. “I attacked too early in the race: on this circuit, when you use the slipstream of your opponents, you can save your tyres,” said the former Moto3 world champion. “That was the problem. I am still happy I gave everything during I had the race even if I missed the podium at the finish.” Fourth under the checkered flag, Marquez finished two places ahead of his teammate, Joan Mir, who paid his modest fifteenth place on the starting grid in the race.

The Championship

Now with thirty-one points in his pocket, on the eve of the tour of the four overseas races of October Franco Morbidelli is 16th in the MotoGP championship and heads the “Rookie of the Year” ranking. In Moto2, Alex Marquez has dropped back to fifth place in the Championship, just ahead of Joan Mir. Two tiny points separate the two riders of Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS.

The Background

A MotoGP team today means around twenty people. Among them are the “tyremen”, responsible, as their name suggests, for tyre management. At Marc VDS, their names are Nacho Lorenzana and Martin Zabala. To begin with, their tasks include the regular maintenance of the rims that must not cover more than 2000 km in the races. Checking, cleaning, tightening brake discs and pressure sensors … Every day, both of drive their rack to the Michelin tent where the tyres that their team has chosen for the day are mounted. Two hours before the motorcycles take the track, the “tyreman” starts to warm the wheels under electric blankets. Slick tyres are heated to ninety degrees, rain tyres to forty-five degrees. Then, throughout the day, the tyre pressure is controlled by the sensors placed on the rims. A pressure that must constantly be fine-tuned according to the temperature of the track, but also the weather conditions, the wind, the air temperature, and so on.

Wales Rally GB 2015

OGIER WINS, BUT EVERYBODY’S THOUGHTS WERE ELSEWHERE

Sébastien Ogier led the rally from start to finish and ended the season with his eighth victory marred by the tragic events in Paris. Kris Meeke scored a superb second place ensuring the same position for Citroën in the world manufacturers’ championship.

A sad final

It looked like there was going to be a close fight between the two Volkswagen drivers as Ogier was only 8/10th of a second in front of Latvala at the end of the first stage. However, in the second corner of the next one the Finn made a mistake that led to his elimination. Even if Meeke managed to hang on to the Frenchman throughout the first day, the latter gradually pulled away. The tragic events in Paris on Friday night cast a pall over the rest of the rally, which continued nevertheless. The three-time world champion, deeply affected by what had happened, did not make any mistakes and scored his third victory on the bounce in the Wales Rally GB. Meeke too put on a brilliant, faultless display, and did not wilt under the pressure exercised by Mikkelsen in the closing stages to clinch second place in front of the Volkswagen driver.

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Mission accomplished

The two Hyundai drivers Dani Sordo and Hayden Paddon, who were very consistent all weekend, saw the flag in fourth and fifth places despite being under constant threat from M-Sport’s Elfyn Evans. Mads Østberg went off in the 11th stage when he was battling with this group, but recovered to score the points awarded for seventh place consolidating the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team’s second position in the manufacturers’ championship. The French make had other reasons to be satisfied as Norwegian driver, Veiby, won in the Junior WRC and Quentin Gilbert wrapped up the title in WRC 3!

Yves Matton (Citroën Racing Team Principal):

“Now is not really the time for celebrating, given the circumstances. Obviously, our thoughts are with the victims of the Paris attacks. The sporting result is secondary, but i wish to say thank you and well done to the team for their hard work throughout the year. We have achieved all our targets with second place in the Manufacturers’ World Championship, a Junior WRC rally win and the WRC 3 title, which shows that we are still leading the way in promoting talented young drivers. I would also like to thank Mads Østberg, Jonas Andersson, Kris Meeke and Paul Nagle for their commitment throughout the season”

 Next round: Monte Carlo Rally (22-24 January 2016)

Grand Prix of Malaysia (Sepang) 01-02 August 2015

Rea ready for the title

Jonathan Rea was only a wheel away from taking the Superbike world champion title after the race at Sepang. Beaten by Chaz Davies in the second leg by less than a tenth of a second, the Kawasaki rider will have to wait until September to carry off a crown that seems promised to him today.

The Races

It was another great weekend for Jonathan Rea in Malaysia. The championship leader won the first leg before losing to Chaz Davies by 0.091 seconds in the last race.

“I almost had a twin-win,” grinned the Kawasaki rider. “I was catching up Chaz quickly at the end of the race, and I realized I could overtake him in the last lap. It didn’t take much, but we collided and I even almost crashed. He prevented me from winning the title at Sepang, but in the end it’s probably better that way: my wife was not with me this weekend, and she wouldn’t have spoken to me for several days if I’d won the title without having her by my side.”

For a long time the leader in the first race, Tom Sykes fell back to fourth place near the finish after a sudden deterioration of his rear tyre. The result of the second race was even worse, the Kawasaki rider crashing after accidentally colliding with Max Biaggi shortly after the start. Nonetheless the former world champion was still able to get back on his bike to take the two points for fourteenth place. In Supersport Kenan Sofuoglu also experienced technical problems.

“We had trouble with the bumps,” grimaced the championship leader. “The bike came badly out of the turns, and I also found braking difficult.”

Sofuoglu nevertheless finished fourth, while for his first outing in Malaysia, Marco Faccani finished in sixteenth position, just outside the points.

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The Championship

One win, one second place, and twenty podiums in a row. That’s Jonathan Rea’s provisional track record for the 2015 season, with three events to go in the championship. After chalking up 452 points, the frontrunner in the overall classification now has a lead of 144 points with no more than 150 points left up for grabs. Suffice to say that unless there’s a real turn of events, the Brit should win his first world champion title on 20 September in Spain. Unlucky in the second race in Malaysia, Tom Sykes has lost his second place. He’s now third overall, 13 points away from Chaz Davies. In Supersport Kenan Sofuoglu has kept his leadership, but Jules Cluzel is only 13 points away from the Kawasaki rider.

The Background

World Supersport Championship leader Kenan Sofuoglu is currently crossing one of the most difficult periods of his life. The Turkish rider recently lost his son, Hamza, after a brain haemorrhage, in a personal tragedy that has obviously affected the entire Kawasaki team. Hospitalized early in May and operated on a few days later in Istanbul, Hamza Sofuoglu passed away just before the departure of his father for the Sepang circuit.

“I wondered what I should do,” admitted the triple world champion. “My wife and family encouraged me to race in Malaysia. My son fought for weeks to stay alive, now I have to live up to his memory. I cannot give up my job. In any case I would like to thank all those who have supported me.”

No doubt Kenan will overcome this new tragedy, having already lost two brothers in tragic accidents.

Rally of Finland (Jyväskylä), 01-02 August 2015

ØSTBERG CLINCHES TOP-3 FINISH

The Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT helped Mads  Østberg to third place in the legendary Rally Finland behind Jari-Matti Latvala’s and Sébastien Ogier’s Volkswagens.

Latvala doubles up on home turf

Jari-Matti Latvala from Finland was neck and neck with the world no. 1, Sébastien Ogier, his team leader, right from the start of Rally Finland. His performance on Saturday made the difference and on Sunday he was able to hold off the world champion from France. It was Latvala’s second victory in Finland on the bounce and the third in his career. However, it wasn’t enough to prevent Ogier from consolidating his lead as the 2015 championship is about to enter its second phase.

A record average

The Finn triumphed at a remarkable average of 125.44kph, eclipsing the previous best of 122.89kph set at the same rally in 2012 by Sébastien Loeb.

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Meeke goes off, Østberg shows his class

On Saturday Kris Meeke’s hopes of a top-3 finish were shattered when he hit a tree. Mads  Østberg  immediately took up the chase and clinched third place in the rally in his DS3 WRC. This performance has helped the Norwegian to hold on to his third place overall in the world drivers’ championship and the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team to retain its second position in the manufacturers’ classification.

Yves Matton (Citroën Racing Team Principal): “We let our drivers decide on their own strategy for this weekend. They showed their ability to drive very fast on these roads, which are regarded as something of a benchmark in the World Championship. Both Kris and Mads showed that they were capable of being among the frontrunners in Finland with the DS 3 WRC. The work done by the entire team has clearly paid dividends. Kris’ mistake does not call this approach into question. Both drivers will be able to decide upon their own tactics in Germany and in Australia. Another podium finish is also further proof that the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team is making progress and it gives us confidence for the rest of the season.

Rallye of Portugal (Vila Real) 12 July, 2015

Lopez consolidates his lead – Ma scores his second win 

In Portugal the Citroën Total team dominated proceedings. The Argentinean world no. 1 won the first race and his Chinese team-mate scored another victory in the second.

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Pechito shows who’s the boss!

The reigning world champion scored his fourth pole position of the season. While Sébastien Loeb, alongside him on the front row, looked like he might give the Argentinean a run for his money, it was never the case and Jean Maria Lopez went on to clinch his sixth victory in 2015. In race 2 he finished his fifth consolidating his lead in the world championship. 

Ma scores no. 2

Last year, Ma Qing Hua made motor racing history by becoming the first Chinese driver to win a race in an FIA world championship when he triumphed in Russia. In Villa Real he scored his second victory in the WTCC in race 2 in front of another Citroën C-Elysées driven by Frenchman, Yvan Muller. 

Yves Matton, Team Principal Citroën Racing:

“We end this first long portion of the season with everything looking strong; 14 victories in 16 races, our four drivers leading the World Championship and a nice lead for Citroën in the manufacturers standings… We are delighted with the performance of Ma Qing Hua, who solidified this increase in performance with a win. Our four drivers have all won this season, and we can head to the Asian swing with confidence.”

Next Round: Japan (Motegi, 11 – 13 September)

France (Castellet), June 28, 2015

Citroën Racing holds its own on home turf!

The French team consolidated its leadership in both championships with the C-Elysées WTCCs scoring a one, two, three, four in race one after which José Maria Lopez  clinched victory in the second heat.

Loeb’s premier!

Sébastien Loeb racked up his very first pole position in the FIA WTCC and took full advantage of it to win the first race, his third victory of the season and his fifth in the WTCC. Following him home were Yvan Muller, José Maria Lopez and Ma Qing Hua as the French Citroën Total team filled the first four places after a superb display. Loeb wasn’t as fortunate in the second heat as he went off and retired.

Auto - WTCC Paul Ricard 2015

“Pechito” gets back on top

In the last two meetings the reigning world championship and 2015 leader saw Muller making huge inroads into his lead. “Pechito” fought back and put things right in race 2 with a victory that helped him open up the gap over his Alsatian rival to 39 points. Ma Qing Hua was also on the podium, his first top-3 finish since Marrakech.

Sébastien Loeb: “First of all, I was really pleased to be starting from pole position for the first time in the FIA WTCC. I didn’t get a great start. I didn’t handle the clutch well and I found myself battling to hold on to my position in the first lap. After pulling a few lengths clear thanks to the scrap between Yvan and Pechito, I was able to drive with greater peace of mind. I got a good start in Race 2 but I made a stupid mistake. There was just too much damage and I had to give up. Despite notching up my third win of the season, it’s not been a positive meeting for me overall, as I’ve fallen further behind in the Championship.”

Next Round: Portugal (Vila Real, 10 – 12 July)