Race of Austria

Lopez breaks clear

With respective first and third places in both races of the Austrian event in WTCC, José-Maria Lopez more than ever tops a table where Citroën still dominates after another brace of wins on Sunday.

WTCC Austria

the facts

WTCC’s Central Europe’s tour continued this weekend with a spectacular stop at the Salzburgring, Austria, an uncommon layout with long straights and hairpins. The Citroën C-Elysées again got the upper hand early despite their ballast.

Soon the qualifying, the Chevrons left their march on the front row through poleman Muller, heading Sebastien Loeb. However, Gianni Morbidelli set the fastest time before enduring a penalty.

In Sunday’s, Lopez’s consistency would bear fruit. In the first race Pechito produced a great start to take third to Muller and Tom Coronel, and head Loeb.

The second was for him the most profitable. On one hand he pocketed a third win this season, on the other he son his main rivals falter. Muller retired following a contact at the start and Loeb finished no better than seventh.

The figure

185.99 km/h – Muller average speed in qualifying round was the highest in the history of the WTCC.

The quote

“it just kept picking up speed on straights!” Lopez, the big winner of the weekend, was full of praise to his car. If it could speak, his C-Elysées would tell the same of his driver, who was faultless under
pressure..

The story

In spite of a 60-kg ballast, Citroën sat on front-row, but the fastest
time was down Morbidelli driving his Chevrolet Cruze. The Italian was hit by a grid penalty and lost five places to have clocked his best time under yellow flags in Q1.

GP of Monaco

Another podium for Ricciardo

Daniel Ricciardo invited himself onto a second consecutive podium with his third place finish in Monaco. Lewis Hamilton held him at bay at the end of the race. Mercedes remains in a league of its own after six of the season’s nineteen races.

F1 Monaco

The facts

Having started on pole, Nico Rosberg triumphed in the Principality as he did last year. His team mate Hamilton, who started beside him on the front row, kept up with him before easing off towards the end of the race, suffering from a problem affecting his left eye and vision.

The British driver was seeking his fifth victory in a row. Mercedes seemed once again a cut or two above the rest and it took a ravening Ricciardo to catch up with and hassle Hamilton late in the race. The Australian managed to make a comeback after a poor start and benefited from the misfortunes of his closest rivals, beginning with team mate Sebastian Vettel who was forced to withdraw on the 7th lap due to a mechanical failure. The driver from Perth only missed finishing second by four tenths of a second.

In the Lotus garage, the race began badly with the withdrawal of Pastor Maldonado. Stranded on the grid at the start of the formation lap, the Venezuelan attended the race as a spectator, in the stands. He watched his team mate Roman Grosjean take 8th place just ahead of his compatriot Jules Bianchi who (as did his team Marussia) notched up his two first points in Formula 1 at the end of a race from which 8 drivers withdrew.

The figure

141 – Red Bull is lying second in the Constructors’ Championship after six races, with 99 points as against 240 (already!) for Mercedes – a gap of 141 points.

The quote

“That’s Monaco!” Romain Grosjean knew that his only hope lay in a chaotic race. The Frenchman remained on track while many others were dropping out or having accidents, and was rewarded with an eighth place finish. “If I’m honest, Canada scares me a little,” he added.

The anecdote

Vettel was competing in his 100th Grand Prix with Red Bull this weekend, but it was a weekend to forget after his fantastic comeback in Barcelona. The quadruple World Champion was the first to pull over following the start, his RB10 losing power.

Next up

Canadian Grand Prix (6-8 June)

RESULTS SUPERBIKE UNITED KINGDOM

Sykes Comes Back in Style

 Struggling to keep his place in the last two events held in the Netherlands and Italy, Tom Sykes got back track at Donington. With his second twin-win of the season, the Kawasaki rider is in back in control of the championship.

The Races

As in Aragon in April, Tom Sykes and Loris Baz offered the Kawasaki team a twin-win in both races at Donington. In the first, the French rider led the field for most of the race before being caught up by his teammate. In a fight to the finish for the last three laps, Sykes crossed the line just ahead of Baz. “That was maybe the best race of my career,” said Tom at the finish line. The second round was easier for the Brit. After a better start, he quickly took control of the race to cross the finish line more than three seconds ahead of the rider from the Savoie region in France. “I don’t know what Tom ate between the two races, but he really was way ahead of us all in the second,” mused Loris afterwards. David Salom finished tenth in both races, but is the leading rider in the Evo class. In Supersport, Kenan Sofuoglu seems to be plagued by bad luck. Then when he thought he was back on a winning streak the Turkish rider was forced to slow down because of a new technical problem. He still managed to finish in fourth place.

Superbike UK

The Championship

Having already bagged fifty points, Tom Sykes has taken over from Jonathan Rea in first place overall. The Kawasaki rider has taken over the reins of the championship and now has a twenty-six point lead over Baz and Rea, wheel-to-wheel together behind the defending champion. Leader in the Evo class, Davis Salom has taken twelfth place overall with an eight-point lead over Niccolo Canepa. Finally in the Supersport category, Kenan Sofuoglu is now in seventh position with thirty-eight points.

The Background

After two complicated events in Assen and Imola, where he was forced to let his opponents snatch up a lot of points, Tom Sykes recovered well during the British leg of the Superbike World Championship. As he did last year, on his home turf, the Brit rider won both races with an expert hand. But it wasn’t all as easy as it sounds for the defending champion. In trouble during the practice test sessions in the rain, Sykes only qualified for the third line. “And to make matters worse, I screwed up my start,” said the Kawasaki rider. “I found myself fighting it out with Rea and Haslam while the leaders were getting away. As everyone had new tires, it was difficult to make the difference. I had a moment of panic but I finally took control of myself.” And of the race, by catching up the leaders. “At the time Loris was leading the race,” said Sykes. We crossed the finish wheel to wheel, and I just managed to squeeze ahead.” The second race was more easily won by the Kawasaki rider. He once again beat his teammate, but this time with a lead of more than three seconds. With a second twin-win in five events, the reigning world champion has move back up to first place overall, and now has a twenty-six point lead over Baz and Rea.

Results MotoGP France

Twin Win for Marc VDS Racing

Mika Kallio notched up his second win in a row and Tito Rabat made it to the third step of the podium. Repeating last year’s performance, the Marc VDS Racing Team scored a superb twin-win on the Le Mans circuit.

cr1-motogp-France-2014 

 

 

 

 

The Races

Proudly flying the Elf flag, Mika Kallio and Tito Rabat once again made a sensation at the Grand Prix of France. With two wins each, the riders from Finland and Spain helped the Marc VDS Racing team win four of the first five Grand Prix races in the championship. In Le Mans, Kallio showed off his style again to beat Corsi and Rabat. It was also a good result for Tito, who suffered all weekend from renal colic problems. In MotoGP, Stefan Bradl completed the first two laps in second position. For a long time in the leading group, the LCR Honda rider finally took the chequered flag in seventh position. In Moto3, Miguel Oliveira finished twelfth and Arthur Sissis seventeenth. Livio Loi had to settle for a twentieth place, due to his lack of confidence in his Kalex KTM.

The Championship

The key players at the start of this season, Tito Rabat and Mika Kallio have taken the lead of the Moto2 World Championship. Seven points separate the two men, thirty points ahead of Maverick Viñales. In MotoGP Stefan Bradl confirmed his sixth place, while in Moto3 Miguel Oliveira slipped back to thirteenth position, just ahead Livio Loi who has not scored a single point since his fourth place in Argentina.

The Background

There was a time when going into hospital for surgery meant pulling out of the following race. Stefan Bradl clearly demonstrated in Le Mans that medicine has made progress. The rider of the LCR team underwent an operation by a German surgeon just after the Spanish Grand Prix. “I had to solve the problem of cramp in my right forearm,” explained Bradl, who found himself in trouble at Jerez. “I already had an operation for compartment syndrome in 2012, but the incision was not deep enough. So since I had to have another operation, it was best to have it as quickly as possible.” Back on his bike ten days later, Bradl was not really bothered by the effects of the operation. Fourth in the qualifying session, the LCR rider completed half of the GP of France in the top five before slipping back to seventh place – but not because of his arm. “We made some changes to the bike after the warm-up but we took the wrong direction,” he explained. “I lacked grip coming out of the bends and I was unable to brake late enough to catch up the time I lost when accelerating. As far as my arm is concerned, I had a little pain at the end of the race, but no problem in controlling the throttle or the brake.”

Results Superbike Italy

Upsets in Italy

The fourth race of the season at Imola was not Kawasaki’s best. Blame it on a new rear tire and tuning difficulties. After the twin-win by Jonathan Rea, Tom Sykes slipped back to second place in the overall classification.

cr1-Superbike-Italie-2014

 

 

 

 

 

The Races

Unused to be qualifying only for second row on the starting grid, Tom Sykes was never in sufficient form to claim victory on the Imola circuit, where he won a superb one-two last year. This year, Jonathan Rea won the day’s two races. The reigning world champion was able to save a spot on the podium in the first race, but he had to settle for fifth place in the second. “We were not up to our usual level,” regretted the Kawasaki rider at the finishing line. “After the free practice sessions, I didn’t think the gap would be as big. We were unable to use the new Pirelli rear tire properly, so we have some lessons to learn from this difficult weekend.” Although starting from a modest seventh position on the grid, Loris Baz did better in the races by taking two fourth places. “I didn’t expect to do as well,” said the French rider. “We improved the handling of the motorcycle during the warm-up, but I was still struggling coming out of the bends. I lost ground each time I accelerated, and it was very difficult to get myself into a position to overtake. The second race went a little better, and if I hadn’t lost time behind Giugliano, I could have made it to the third step of the podium. It was a tough weekend, but we’ll be on more favorable circuits from now on, and the season is just starting.” Despite chatter problems and severe pain in his wrist, David Salom managed to finish in twelfth and thirteenth place. In Supersport, Kenan Sofuoglu was forced to retire once again due to a technical hitch when he was in the lead.

The Championship

After losing ground in the Netherlands, this time Tom Sykes lost the lead in the championship. Now in second place, the Kawasaki rider is still only four points behind Rea’s Honda. Loris Baz has moved up to fourth position just twenty points behind the leader. In the Evo category, David Salom has taken first place. Finally, in the Supersport category, Kenan Sofuoglu – who has only scored points in Spain when he won on the Aragon circuit – has slipped back to ninth place overall.

The Background

Imola is the circuit of the Costa family. Checcho was the father and creator of the Italian track, and Claudio, his son, founded the legendary mobile clinic after discovering his vocation in 1957, when coming to the aid of Geoff Duke who had crashed on the Romagna track. Twenty years later, Dr. Costa fitted out a Fiat van to monitor and assist riders on the Continental Circus. Having become a mainstay of Grand Prix and World Superbike paddocks, the mobile clinic has changed hands this year. After nearly thirty years of good and loyal service, Claudio Costa has decided to pass the baton to Michele Zasa and Guido Dalla Rosa Prati.

“Sometimes people who occupy positions of responsibility do not always have the opportunity to appoint a successor,” said Dr. Costa. “Or they only do so when they are too old. I will soon be 73 years old and that is why I have decided to appoint someone to continue the work I started in 1977 with my father Checco. I’ll attend fewer Grand Prix races, but I’m sure my successor will do a great job. He speaks several languages and already has extensive experience with the riders.”

Race of Slovakia

Citroën unsinkable in wet Slovakia

In spite heavy rains washed Slovakia Ring on Sunday Citroën remained unchallenged in WTCC, as Sebastien Loeb took the first and only race of the weekend.

The facts

Following an eventful Hungarian weekend, paddock operated the short hop to cross the Slovakian border head east of Bratislava to Slovakia Ring. On Saturday, the French team threw down the gauntlet as Jose Maria Lopez was on pole ahead of Loeb and Yvan Muller.

The next day, a bright sun gave way to a dark skies over central Europe and it did not take long before rainstorm poured on the circuit. It was not enough to scare Loeb, who overtook his teammate when lights went off and lead from start to finish. The two produced a faultless race, a must in such tricky conditions.

Later in the day marshall played it the safe way by canceling the second race as the track was flooded. Lopez then retains the Championship lead this soaked weekend.

The number

323. – The tally Citroën already has under its belt in the manufacturers Championship. Almost as much as the sum of it two opponents, Honda (204) and LADA (131).

The quote

“I made a mistake at the star.” Even the best screw it up once in a while. It happened to title holder Muller who jumped the start and lost his podium chances from the off on Sunday, without looking for an excuse.

The story

Since 2005, when the Championship took its current format, it’s the first time a race is canceled due to adverse weather conditions.

Next-up

Austria (Salzburgring), 24-25 May

Race of Argentina

Meeke brings Citroën to podium again

Taking part to Rally Argentina for the first time, Kris Meeke drove his Citroen DS3 WRC to third behind two Volkswagen, always a cut above. Jari -Matti Latvala was the winner but Sebastien Ogier, second, still leads the drivers table.

The facts

The always unpredictable gravel of western Cordoba, the heart of Argentina, operated an early selection on Friday, the day of the first stage, with five contenders seen off on various incidents. So that the podium was already sealed after the first four special stages and some 157 competitive km.

Dust only seemed to settle on Saturday and Sunday. As Volkswagen is now unbeaten in nine races, Meeke repeated his feat of Monte Carlo, early this season, taking third place.

The figure

0 – . None of the former winners sat on the entry list this season. Latvala is therefore added his name to the winners list.

The quote

“Yesterday, on the penultimate stage of the day, I got a bad kick back through the steering on my right hand. We tried to carry on today with the injury. I was having to drive with only my left hand and it was too dangerous and too painful.” Mads Ostberg on the other Citroën DS3 WRC explained his retirement on Sunday as the Norwegian had lost all chances on Friday, following a rash in the second special stage.

The anecdote

The rally is a national sport in Argentina and former tennis World No. 3 David Nalbandian is passionate about motor racing. He took part this weekend in the national class at the wheel of a Chevrolet Agile . “The aim is to go all the way and have fun”, 32-year old said before finishing beyond 10th place.

Next-up

Sardinia (5-8 June)

GP of Spain

Red Bull, the second force

Lewis Hamilton took his fourth victory this season in the Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona, and has wrested control of the championship from Nico Rosberg. Daniel Ricciardo finished third, Sebastian Vettel just missed a place on the podium and Red Bull moved closer to Mercedes.

cr1-F1-Espagne-2014

 

 

 

 

 

The facts

Following a clean start, Hamilton, who had driven to his 35th pole position the previous day ahead of his team mate, held on to his lead at the first turn and kept it despite pressure from the German driver, who pushed him to his limit, right up to the chequered flag. With a current score of 100, Hamilton also made the most of his win to take the lead in the drivers’ ranking, with three points in hand.

Vettel, who started fifteenth due to a penalty resulting from a gearbox change, drove a magnificent race to make a comeback through traffic, after two days plagued with complications (four laps on the Friday) and took a fine fourth at the flag behind Ricciardo.

The Australian, who found himself stuck behind Valteri Bottas around the first few laps, bided his time before overtaking, subsequently managing his third place serenely. Romain Grosjean, who started fifth, finished eighth in a Lotus that also showed improvement.

The figure

4 – Four: the number of points scored in Spain by Grosjean, who chalked up his first top ten finish since the season began, simultaneously unblocking the Lotus team counter.

The quote

“I could never have imagined us being a second a lap faster than Red Bull. I feel truly blessed and happy… this is our fourth 1-2 together: it’s just unreal!” Lewis Hamilton speaking after his first victory in Spain, already his fourth this season, and his fourth consecutive win, making this the best run of his career.

The anecdote

Pastor Maldonado, who won in Barcelona two years ago, had a “good feeling” prior to the start of the weekend. The Venezuelan driver ended up in the wall in Q1, then was penalised for another collision after just a few race laps.

Next up

Monaco (23-25 May)

HUNGARORING RACE

Citroën stays top

Citroën clinched another 1-2 this week-end on the Hungaroring, increasing its
margin in both championships, but also finished a race without a podium
for the first time this year.

The facts

Citroën achieved a perfect quali with a 1-2-3, Yvan Muller leading Jose Maria
Lopez and Sebastien Loeb on the Race 1 grid. But the nine-time WRC
champion completely missed his start and finished seventh after spending
the whole race behind Norbert Michelisz (Honda Civic). At the
chequeered flag, it was though an other double for the chevrons marque
with Muller and Lopez ahead of Honda’s Tiago Monteiro.

For the first time this season, no C-Elysee finished on the podium in Race
2. Gianni Morbidelli (Chevrolet) came first leading Monteiro and his
teammate Hugo Valente. Muller ended up sixth, Lopez ninth, Loeb tenth.
But the three still lead the drivers’ championship with the Argentinian
(115) from Muller (105) and Loeb (84),

The number

271 – Their drivers lead the championship, Citroën also in the
constructors’ with 271 points, to only 172 for the runner-up Honda.

The quote

“This is a track where we all know it’s difficult to overtake, so having a
good start was key to the outcome of the race”, Yvan Muller said after
his Race 1 win. Citroën started from the front rows in Race 1, but from
the pack in Race 2 which could explains they finished out of the podium.

The story

After four wins in four races, the three Citroën C-Elysees held a 60 kg
compensation weight. It didn’t prevent the French cars experiencing a
satisfying Hungarian weekend with a perfect record in quali and a 1-2 in
Race 1.

Next Up

Slovakia (Slovakia Ring) 10-11 May

RESULTS MOTOGP JEREZ

Kallio takes his turn

Mika Kallio celebrated the return of the championship to European soil in style: the Finnish rider for the Marc VDS team scored his first win of the season in Jerez.

The Races

Since the opening of the World Championship in Qatar, Michael Bartholemy’s team has always placed one of its riders on the podium in the Moto2 class. In Spain, it was Mika Kallio’s turn to beat Dominique Aegerter and Jonas Folger. The Finn scored his first win of the season, the second of his career in Moto2. Meanwhile Tito Rabat, after falling during the practice test sessions and being rushed at the first corner of the race, had to settle for fourth place and, for the first time this season, didn’t make it to the podium.

2014-04-GP-Espagne-04571

In MotoGP, Stefan Bradl suffered from cramps in his forearms, and Lucio Cecchinello’s star rider could do nothing to stop Bradley Smith and Pol Espargaro from leading him over the finish line. The LCR Honda rider finished tenth, more than thirty seconds behind the winner. In the Moto3 class, Livio Loi and Arthur Sissis were unlucky to say the least. The first fell six laps from the finish, while the second had to abandon early in the race due to technical problems. Miguel Oliveira ranked fourteenth.

The Championship

With his won in Andalucía, Mika Kallio has consolidated his second place in the overall classification of the Moto2 championship and is now only sixteen points from his teammate Tito Rabat. Despite the tough race in Jerez, Stefan Bradl keeps his sixth place in the MotoGP class, equal on points with Aleix Espargaro and only one length from Jorge Lorenzo. In Moto3, Livio Loi and Miguel Oliveira respectively hold the eleventh and twelfth positions.

The Background

The news fell on the evening before the first day of free practice sessions for the Grand Prix of Spain. In 2016, Bridgestone will no longer be the official supplier for the MotoGP championship. “We have decided not to renew our contract with Dorna Sports,” explained officials of the Japanese tyre manufacturer. “We have achieved all of our goals since our arrival in this competition, and we now wish to re-focus our strategy for the future.” After arriving in MotoGP in 2002, Bridgestone became the official supplier of the championship in 2009 after Michelin decided to withdraw from the Grand Prix. If a page is about to turn, the promoter of the championship has no intention of reverting to a multi-brand competition. “It would be too expensive,” says Lucio Cecchinello, the boss of the Honda LCR team. “If the competition was opened again, Bridgestone would recover the three official teams and the others would have to deal with new manufacturers, who obviously cannot be up to scratch,” said Hervé Poncharal, President of the International Road-Racing Teams Association (IRTA), which represents the Grand Prix teams. Whatever happens, it will be a daunting challenge for the next tyre manufacturer in the MotoGP Championship. Producing efficient, reliable tyres for different riders and motorcycles is far from being an easy task.