Results MotoGP Netherlands

Mahindra make their mark

Miguel Oliveira won the first podium of the season for the Mahindra team at the Netherlands Grand Prix – confirming the progress made by the Indian Moto3.

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The Races

After two fourth places in Qatar and Mugello, at Assen Miguel Oliveira scored his best result of the season by finishing the eighth leg of the championship on the third step of the podium. For a long time second behind Marquez, the Mahindra rider was overtaken by Rins a few hundred meters from the finishing line. Arthur Sissis was less successful, taking the chequered flag in twenty-first place, as was Livio Loi, who finished twenty-fifth in his first race aboard a KTM. In Moto2, Mika Kallio also had a good day, making it to the podium in difficult conditions since the race was held on a drying track. Struggling early in the race, the Marc VDS rider was able to increase the pace as the laps went by to fight it out with West and Viñales. Although he qualified for pole position, Tito Rabat had to part settle for eighth place. The championship leader took no risks after falling during the formation lap. “There were a lot of falls, the track was very slippery, and I wanted at all costs to make it to the finish,” said Michael Bartholemy’s protégé to explain his performance. In the MotoGP class, the race was held in even more appalling conditions, with Stefan Bradl finishing tenth after also falling in the formation lap.

The Championship

Despite finishing tenth, Stefan Bradl keeps his eighth place in the MotoGP championship. The LCR rider even benefitted from the retirement of Pol Espargaro to reduce the Spaniard’s lead to two points. In Moto2, Rabat and Kallio remain firmly entrenched in the first two places in the overall standings while in Moto3, Oliveira has moved up to eighth place. Livio Loi has dropped back to seventeenth place.

The Background

The Mahindra team had not made it to the podium since the Malaysian Grand Prix in October 2013. Miguel Oliveira ended the drought by finishing in third place in the Moto3 Grand Prix of the Netherlands, in a race that Muffadal Choonia will not forget for a long time. The President of Mahindra Racing especially liked the aggressiveness of his Portuguese rider who only surrendered the second place in the race to Alex Rins in the last lap. “Miguel was fantastic,” he said. “We were disappointed by his thirteenth place after the qualifying sessions, because we knew that his potential was much greater than that, and he proved it in the race. Last year at Assen, we took pole position and finished fourth. The circuit is called the “cathedral of speed” and it seems to suit us down to the ground.” It is worth noting that the Mahindra MGP03 has made great progress since the start of the season. “We have significantly increased the engine’s performance after improving the reliability of the transmission which was causing us problems,” said Andrea Dosoli, one of the technicians for the Indian manufacturer. Faced with Honda and the other factory KTMs, the tiny Mahindra team intends to keep up the momentum. “The result will be a great source of motivation for the rest of the season,” added Miguel Oliveira.

Rally of Poland

Meeke saves the day for Citroen

As Sebastien Ogier easily took his fifth success this season, the return of Rally Poland in WRC was not really a hit for Citroen, who remain second in the standings.

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Facts

From the first to the 24th Special Stage, Volkswagen was on top of the seventh event from 13 this season. Briefly put under threat by his his team-mate Andreas Mikkelsen, Ogier broke away during the longest day, on Saturday. Title holder won more than one minute ahead of the Finn.

The last place on the podium went to Thierry Neuville, who produced a good run at the wheel of the Hyundai i20. The biggest disappointment is probably for Citroen. Mads Ostberg was third, nine seconds adrift Mikkelsen, had managed two special stages wins, when he had to retire after damaging one of his wheels.

In the same special stage of Goldap, 35.17 km, the longest of the rally, Chris Meeke, the other Citroën driver, also vying for the big points, lost three minutes due to a puncture. Unlike the Norwegian, the Northern Irishman took the track on Sunday and climbed from 9th to 7th place.

Figure

1921.- Poland Rally is not among the WRC Classics but it’s the second oldest rally in the world, after Monte-Carlo. It was contested for the first time in 1921. He was no longer on the calendar since 2009.

Quote

“It’s really disappointing, because we were really in the game.” Ostberg showed his frustration on Saturday night after his retirement. As colleagues Jari-Matti Latvala and Elfyn Evans, he was trapped by a left corner where he rolled and was forced to retire.

Stories

As Swedish rally did with a part of the event run in Norway, Polish rally visited Lithuania for some special stages on Friday, a premiere.

The Citroën DS3 WRC were not output in Poland this weekend. Sébastien Loeb was driving one of them on display in the famous Festival of Speed at Goodwood (UK).

Next up

Finland (1st-3 August)

Race of Belgium

Citroën’s stoll in Spa

Citroën Racing confirmed its dominance over WTCC, with a brace of wins and five drivers on the podium, after the two races held in Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium.

Facts

Reigning champion Yvan Muller took the first from pole position. Following a fine start, the Frenchman made the most of the battle between Jose Maria Lopez and Sébastien Loeb behind him, to extend his cushion over his pursuers and quietly pocket another win.

Second to his main rival in the championship in the final race, Muller closed the gap this weekend on Jose Maria Lopez and now stands 39 points behind Pechito in the standings. The Argentine relied on his Citroën C-Elysée’s top speed to dispatch opponents. Tom Coronel, the privateer Chevrolet driver, grabbed third place in the final race.

Number

5 – On an easy way, Jose Maria Lopez won his fifth race win of the season. Eighth on the reversed grid, the Argentine made light work with first race winner Yvan Muller.

Quote

“We are a small team, and we can make life a little difficult to Citroën, I’m delighted.” Tom Coronel, on the podium, in the second race at Spa-Francorchamps.

Story

The WTCC made a colourful comeback in Spa-Francorchamps, a landmark racetrack it visited only once in the past. It was in 2005, when the series was relaunched. Three drivers from then appeared this weekend, James Thompson, Tom Coronel and Rob Huff.

Next up

Argentina (Rio Hondo), 2-3 August

Results Superbike Italy Misano

Team Green Gets Tops

As at Aragon and Donington, the official Kawasaki team has a twin-win on the Misano circuit. Tom Sykes won both races of the day ahead of Loris Baz. The best way of dispelling the disappointment caused by the falls at Sepang.

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The Races

It was plain to see Tom Sykes had no competitors of equal stature on the shores of the Adriatic. After winning a new Superpole on Saturday, the following day the world championship title-holder had two clear victories, the nineteenth and twentieth of his career in the Superbike World Championship. In addition to clocking fastest lap time, the Kawasaki rider beat his teammate twice. “I didn’t expect to lead like that,” commented the Brit. “I still felt the effects of the fall in Sepang, but the team did a great job and I felt good with the bike. It was moving a lot, but I controlled the situation. I’m really pleased with the result.” The same satisfaction was felt by Loris Baz, taking second place twice in the second Italian event of the championship. “Tom was just too fast today,” analyzed the Frenchman. He managed a very fast start and maintained a high pace right to the finish. But I’m very happy I was able to keep an upper hand over Melandri, who did everything he could to overtake me. This weekend I probably rode my best race since I started in Superbike. I can feel my first win of the season is not far off.” David Salom backed the triumph of the Kawasaki team by finishing best Evo rider twice. Eleventh in the first race, the Spaniard finished tenth in the second. In the Supersport category, Kenan Sofuoglu finished fourth at the foot of the podium.

The Championship

With two victories on Italian soil, Tom Sykes has taken a head lead in the overall classification for the Superbike championship. The reigning world champion now leads the pack, thirty-nine points ahead of Sylvain Guintoli. The latter also has Loris Baz hot on his heels, having reduced the gap to two points with the Aprilia rider. In the Evo class, David Salom has consolidated his first place. The situation is more difficult for Kenan Sofuoglu in Supersport. The Turkish rider is now in sixth place overall with sixty-seven points.

The Background

Criticized in Malaysia for causing his teammate to crash, Loris Baz redeemed himself in Italy, by finishing twice on the second step of the podium. For Adrien Morillas, the former Grand Prix rider who trained him, the Savoyard biker is no longer very far behind the world champion title-holder. “Loris is much younger than Sykes,” notes Morillas. “At 20, he’s still making progress in terms of controlling and tuning the bike. His opponents are no longer in the learning phase. They can still improve in terms of the way they manage the bike’s settings, but cannot really make progress in the way they ride. That’s why the gap is narrowing. You can see that Loris is starting to put the pressure on his teammate. And we all saw Sykes’s reaction in Malaysia. A rider who’s under pressure can become less efficient and more vulnerable. Although Tom managed the two races at Misano perfectly, Loris has not said his last word. He still lacks a little experience in tuning the chassis, but I’m sure he still has a chance in this year’s title race.”

GP of Austria

Ricciardo saves four points

 Daniel Ricciardo was the only Red Bull driver to finish on its home territory in Austria, at the end of a race dominated by Mercedes, who notched up another one-two.

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The facts

Nico Rosberg won on the Red Bull Ring ahead of his team mate Lewis Hamilton, who finished second after an exceptional first lap during which he clambered through the pack to gain five places. The British driver, who started ninth, made it up to fourth position, behind Rosberg and the two Williams that had started on the front of the grid. The pit stops, better managed by Mercedes, made the difference between the two teams.

 Rosberg saw Hamilton catching up at the end of the race, but the latter couldn’t make the move that would have allowed him to filch victory from his team mate. Valtteri Bottas (Williams) climbed the first podium of his career, finishing third ahead of pole sitter Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso. Daniel Ricciardo swiped eighth from Nico Hülkenberg on the last lap, a result tending to conceal Red Bull’s failings this weekend.

 Sebastian Vettel abandoned at mid-race while lying last. His race start had been spoiled by a mechanical failure and thought better of persisting. The weekend was difficult for Lotus, too. Pastor Maldonado and Romain Grosjean finished a long way from the points.

 The figure

11 – The Austrian Grand Prix made its return to the schedule this year, eleven years after its last appearance, in 2003, when Michael Schumacher drove to victory.

 The quote

” It has been a bad first half of the season, but I guess it’s part of the game and we were able to learn a lot today,” acknowledged Vettel, who withdrew for the third time in eight races, as many times as in the last three seasons.

The anecdote

Three cars withdrew from the Austrian Grand Prix: Sebastian Vettel’s and the other two Toro Rossos, which was hard for the Red Bull family this weekend on home turf. 

Next up

British Grand Prix (4-6 July)

Race of Russia

ForMadable !

Citroën hits another double

AUTO - WTCC RUSSIA 2014Following up Jose Maria Lopez’s win in the first race, history books were rewritten as Ma Qing Hua, in his first WTCC race weekend, became the first Chinese driver to prevail in a World Championship.

The facts

WTCC stopped for the second year at Moscow Raceway, a track combining long straights and technical sections. Holder Yvan Muller won the first race last year, but current Championship leader Lopez managed to clinch his second 2014 pole. Muller on sixth and Sebastien Loeb on 4th were on the hunt. They proved powerless to the Argentine who took advantage of a contact between Honda Tarquini and Tiago Monteiro to break and take his fourth win for the Chevrons.

Ranked ninth in the qualifying session, Ma sat on the front row for the second race in accordance with the reverse grid rule. Making the most of pole sitter Hugo Valente’s drive-through and winning a dog fight to Norbert Michelisz (Honda), the rookie took the lead on lap 7.

Muller delivered a perfect race to end up second to his teammate, heading Mehdi Bennani’s Honda. Lopez paid the price of his first retirement of the season when he stalled on the grid, spicing up the battle for the crown.

The figure

200 – Ma, first Chinese winner in the FIA Championship, was also the 200th driver to take part to a WTCC race since the series was relaunched back in 2005. The Shanghai native, 26, was more than happy about his series debuts. “I did my very best to make a clean pass which took a few laps, and after that I could enjoy the race from the front,” former F1 test driver for HRT and Caterham said. He had not won since his Chinese Touring car title in 2011.

The quote

“I couldn’t get the car in first gear on the grid. I tried hard and broke the gear linkage, so that was it.” Lopez quickly moved on following the second race. At midseason, Pechito enjoys a 40-point cushion over Loeb and Müller. Ma, 6th in the first race, ranks 12th with 25 points in the second.

Next up/h2>
Belgium (21-22 June)

Results MotoGP Catalonia

Bradl and Rabat brilliant in Catalonia

2014 07 GP Catalogne 08276A fifth place in the MotoGP class for Bradl preceded by another victory in Moto2 for Rabat: the Elf riders shone brightly on the Barcelona circuit at the Grand Prix of Catalonia.

 

The Races

Unhappy in Italy, Stefan Bradl recovered well on Spanish soil to score a great fifth place behind the four official Honda and Yamaha riders. Fourth on the starting grid, the resident of the LCR team performed faultlessly keeping Espargaro brothers at bay, despite being on their home turf. In Moto2, Tito Rabat rode brilliantly in front of his Catalan fans. Imperial during the practice test sessions, the rider for the Marc VDS team showed his mettle during the race, winning more than four seconds ahead of Maverick Viñales. Plagued by engine problems, Mika Kallio meanwhile missed the podium by a hairs width. The Finn finished in fourth place just two-tenths of a second behind Johann Zarco. In the Moto3 class, Miguel Oliveira experienced technical problems during the practice test sessions that prevented him from making his mark as he wanted. After a bad start, the Portuguese rider finished the race in twelfth position. Arthur Sissis crossed the finish line in eighteenth place while Livio Loi took the chequered flag in twenty-fifth.

The Championship

With his well-earned fifth place in Catalonia, Stefan Bradl has moved back to eighth position in the MotoGP overall classification. In Moto2, Tito Rabat increased his leadership, now having a thirty-four point lead over teammate Mika Kallio. In the Moto3 class, Miguel Oliveira lost one place to drop back behind Jakub Kornfeil, as did Livio Loi who has now been overtaken by Brad Binder.

The Background

Tire pressure has now become an important parameter in the settings of a MotoGP.  Before being used, the wheels are placed under heated blankets where the mercury hovers between 80 and 90° depending on the teams and the equipment used. After an hour and a half of heating, the temperature of the rim, the tire and the air inside stabilize. The pressure can then be adjusted accurately. Obviously it is checking before using the wheel. It is also measured as soon as the rider stops. “That’s why we always ask them to ride a fast first lap in order to establish a table depending on the ambient temperature, as well as those of the track and gum,” explains Christophe Bourguignon, Technical Director of the Honda LCR team. The pressure is adjusted with Bridgestone engineer taking into account the comments and problems encountered by the rider. The lower the pressure, the greater the contact surface of the tire and the greater the grip. The capacity to absorb bump also increases. But if we go too far, the tire hits the rim and the carcass is no longer sufficiently rigid. The bike won’t take a tight bend, or the tire starts to juggle and the driver cannot keep a constant pressure on the brake.” An under-inflated tire will also make the motorcycle heavy and imprecise when changing direction. The bike moves more and pumps more, meaning less traction. But riding with tires at low pressure means their temperature stays more constant and so increases their service life.

RACE OF THE 24H OF LE MANS

Toyota so close

AUTO - 24 HOURS OF LE MANS PART 2 2014

As Audi has retained the title at Le Mans, Toyota held the lead for long with its TS040 HYBRID N.7 and finished third with its N.8.

The facts

Anthony Davidson, Nicolas Lapierre and Sebastien Buemi bring to the Japanese brand its fifth podium at Le Mans behind two Audi teams. The English, the French and the Swiss also strengthened their lead in the Championship standings. However, the result disappointed the Japanese carmaker considering how the race developed.

Starting from pole on board of the N.7, Alex Wurz, Stephane Sarrazin and Kazuki Nakajima were ran strong in the first part of the race, controlling all their opponents. Their stroll however ended around 5:30 am due to an electric loom failure.

The Audi N.1 (Tom Kristensen, Marc Gené – who replaced Loïc Duval, who crashed on Tuesday – Luca Di Grassi) inherited the lead, but also experiencing reliability issues and had to change their turbo. Porsche, for its return to the race, found its at the lead a about 11 o’clock on Sunday morning, but was also caught by mechanical problems while Mark Webber was at the wheel. His retirement paved the way for Audi’s double with Benoît Treluyer, Marcel Fässler and André Lotterer, who also had to change their turbo, crowned for the third time.

Behind the R18s, the Toyota N.8, involved in an accident early in the race after a downpour, which costed them 50 minutes, was propelled to the podium.

The figure

263,300. – The attendance was the highest peak in the last 20 years. The decades go by but the enthusiasm remains for this legendary event in France.

The quote

“It breaks my heart, I have no word.” It will take time for Kazuki Nakajima to forget the power failure that forced him out at halfway point on the TS040 HYBRID No. 7, which was then almost a lap ahead.

The story

Audi won its 13th Le Mans victory, missing only two success since 2000. But competition and reliability problems for all favorites have made it their “hardest” according to team boss Wolfgang Ullrich.

Next up

Circuit of the Americas 6 Hours (Austin, USA, 17-20 September)

GP of Malaysia

Sykes Takes Tops

2014 04 WSBK Imola 05725Victim of a fall unintentionally caused by his teammate at the start of the first race, Tom Sykes limited the damage by making it to the podium in second place alongside Sylvain Guintoli and Marco Melandri.

The Races

It is unlikely that Tom Sykes and Loris Baz will go on holiday together this summer. Rivals in the race for the championship title, the two Kawasaki riders had a painful day of racing in Malaysia. By losing control of the front wheel of his machine while braking for the second turn, the Frenchman made the Englishman fall. “I was fighting it out with Lowes when Tom braked a little harder in front of me,” says Baz. I increased the pressure on the lever in order not to touch him and lost control of my front wheel. I couldn’t do anything. Unfortunately, Tom was also a victim of the incident. The apologies of the Savoyard-born rider were not enough to calm the wrath of the World Championship leader. Thankfully the second race went off better for both of the riders in the Kawasaki team. After taking over Elias, Sykes secured the third place on the podium despite the pain in his right hand, while Baz crossed the finish line in fifth position with a motorcycle lacking traction leaving the two hairpins. In the Evo category, David Salom won the first race before finishing runner-up in the second behind Leon Camier’s BMW. In Supersport, Kenan Sofuoglu also made it to the podium by finishing in third position.

The Championship

Despite his DNF in the first race, Tom Sykes continues to lead the Superbike World Championship with two hundred and one points. His new heir, Sylvain Guintoli, is following in his wake thirteen points behind. Loris Baz has lost one place. He’s now in fourth place with one hundred and seventy points, thirty-one less than his teammate. David Salom is still in first place in the Evo class with a seventeen-point lead over his opponents. Finally in Supersport, the sixteen points Kenan Sofuoglu picked up in Malaysia bring him back to fourth place overall.

The Background

For the first time in its history, this year the Superbike World Championship held one leg on the Sepang circuit. 5.543 kilometres long and a fast, technically difficult track, the Malaysian circuit has the reputation of being tricky to control, especially as the climatic conditions in this region of the world seriously complicate things. “It’s a very fast, wide track where it’s easy to lose a few tenths of a second if your line is not right,” agrees Loris Baz. “You have to be very precise, and since it is very hot, it’s not easy to stay focused throughout a whole race. In addition there are two long straights preceded by a series of short, tight turns. You come out of them at low speed, and we know that’s not the strong point of our machine.” Obviously, riders who have had the opportunity to ride the Sepang circuit when they raced in the Grand Prix category, such as Melandri and Guintoli, have a small advantage over their opponents. In the Kawasaki team, if it was Loris Baz’ first experience of the Malaysian track, Toms Sykes was able to get an idea of what it was like by participating in a series of test runs during the 2011 winter, when Provec Racing took over management of the Kawasaki entry in the Superbike World Championship.

Race of Italia

Ostberg fared well in Sardinia

As Sebastien Ogier took another win in Sardinia, Mads Ostberg enjoyed his best career result with a second place for Citroon in the Italian Rally, sitting between the two VW Polos.

The facts

A first row observer of the fight between the two Volkswagen for a
couple of days, Ostberg has not missed the opportunity to take second place in the final stage of the second day. The leader lost over two minutes to change a damaged wheel after hitting a rock in the longest timed sector of the rally, Monte Lerno, 59 km.

Norwegian approached the final day 21.4 ahead of the Finn. The nine seconds he could save were more than enough at finish to reward perfect drive and strategy, including tyre management.

Alongside co-driver Jonas Andersson, the 26-year old driver climbed on a third podium in five events, after Sweden and Portugal, but he never the experienced the second step. There was a premier as well for Khalid Al Qassimi since the UAE driver, ninth at finish, took off the table with his first two points.

The figure

3rd . – Pocketing the best result of his career in WRC Ostberg is now third of the Drivers’ Championship. He sits three points ahead of his country mate Andreas Mikkelsen, only fourth on Sunday in Alghero.

The quote

“We were fairly cautious on the stages. There was no question of taking any risks.Our second position shows that it was the right strategy.” Ostberg explained his strategy on Saturday night.

The story

A valiant third at the last round in Argentina, Kris Meeke was competitive on Friday when electrical glitch forced him to Rally2  He still scored two points for the team.

Next-up

Poland (27-29 June)