GP of Malaysia

Rabat on top of the world

By finishing on the podium at Sepang, Tito Rabat won the World Champion Moto2 title for 2014. A well-deserved reward for the Marc VDS rider who has never left the top spot in the overall standings.

The Races

Even if Mika Kallio won, Tito Rabat could settle for a seventh place to secure the world champion title before the last race of the season in Valencia. The Spaniard did even better by taking third place on the podium after leading the race for the first few kilometers. His Finnish teammate did everything he could to win but finally lost to Viñales. In

2014 17 GP Malaysia 00642MotoGP, Stefan Bradl resisted well until the finish, fighting it out neck to neck with Bradley Smith to take the checkered flag in fourth position, matching his best performance of the season. Jorge Navarro produced his best result since his arrival in Grand Prix, taking twelfth place in the Moto3 race. Oliveira was less successful, the Mahindra rider crashing out into the gravel in the first lap after starting in the lead group. Andrea Migno also fell before the finish.

The Championship

Even before the last race of the season in Valencia, Tito Rabat was crowned Moto2 World Champion in Malaysia. The Spanish rider, who has never lost the first place overall since the opening event in Qatar, will be the first champion of the category to put the title up for grabs next season. Even if he could not prevent Viñales from pocketing another victory at Sepang, Kallio kept hold of second place in the championship with a five-point lead over the rider of Sito Pons’ team. In MotoGP, Stefan Bradl took advantage of his fourth place and the withdrawal of Andrea Iannone to move up to ninth place in the championship. In Moto3, Oliveira has returned to eleventh position while Navarro has gained two places and is now in twenty-third place with one Grand Prix to go. Migno has dropped back to twenty-fifth place.

The Background

With twenty-four motorbikes per hundred inhabitants, Malaysia is the country in South-East Asia with the highest density of motorized two-wheelers. “It is also one of the countries with the highest number of victims of road accidents,” says Antonio Miranda, Managing Director of Total Oil Malaysia. Hence the idea of setting up an information campaign on road safety. “We’ve set up the campaign in twenty countries in the Asia Pacific region with simple messages to drivers of motorcycles, cars and trucks. By drawing a parallel between the performance of our products in protecting engines, we want to encourage bike riders to wear helmets, car drivers to use seatbelts, and truck drivers to comply with braking distances.” The subsidiary that communicates best on these issues will win Stefan Bradl’s helmet. The MotoGP rider of the Honda LCR team was willingly involved in the launch of the campaign at the Malaysian Grand Prix by signing the helmet that will be used for the award.

Rally of Spain

Citroen flies high in Spain

As Sebastien Ogier took his second title in the World Champion Rally in as many years, Citroën achieved a fine performance with Mads Ostberg ending up.

The facts

For the lone mixed event of the season (one day on gravel, two on asphalt) in the area of Salou, south of Barcelona, versatility was the key and that’s exactly what Ostberg managed to show off, making the most of his DS3 WRC to score big points at the foot of the podium.

AUTO - WRC SPAIN RALLY 2014In the Championship standings, the Norwegian overtakes his teammate Chris Meeke. The Ulsterman retired during the first stage on Friday. He was racing for a top 3 when he suffered a rare double double but had only one spare.

The figure

50 – 2014 marked the 50th Spanish rally. The milestone was celabrated in style with a 50km long special stage – the longest ever of the rally – ran twice on Saturday. It was won by the Volkswagen drivers.

The story

Former Citroen driver Sebastien Ogier won the Championship for the second time in two years, driving the Volkswagen Polo R. The French had clearly taken over from his country-mate Sebastien Loeb,crowned nine times before him.

The quote

“Citroen has turned his focus to the WTCC while VW has put the money in the rally. It is difficult to win but the ambitions of Citroën are not the same… and they are fully satisfied with the title in the WTCC.” The analysis of Loeb, who always eyes WRC despite its commitment WTCC, regarding Citroën’s results this season.

Next up

Great Britain (13-16 November)

Race of Suzuka (Japan)

Lopez, the new champion

Jose Maria Lopez is the new WTCC Champion, a title the Argentine Citroen driver conquered in Suzuka, Japan, with one meeting remaining

The facts

The eleven laps on the Suzuka circuit for the first race on Sunday will sound to many like a perfect picture for the complete season, with Pechito Lopez keeping his cool at the lead from mights to flag, and opposition lead by racing legends Yvan Muller and Sebastien Loeb, only trailing.

After another beautiful drive, the Rio Tercero driver, 31, won a ninth victory this season while a fourth place would have been to secure the first place in the standings, his since the season kick-off in Morocco.

Lopez took the race leading Tom Chilton’s Chevrolet and Loeb’s C-Élysées. Müller suffered a puncture. His “chronic lack of success”, driver said, was again on display in this race on the big Suzuka track.

In the second race, under reverse grid, outsiders partied and Tarquini brought his Honda Civic to the chequered flag first. Lopez finished sixth, just behind Loeb, with a huge smile!

According Yves Matton, Citroën Racing Director, Lopez is “a beautiful World Champion for Citroen, for Argentina and for the FIA WTCC! We are happy and proud to have led to the title, because it is a boy who shines as much by its performance than its human qualities. ”

The figure

57 – The number of years since Argentina expected a racing world champion. It was at the time a certain Juan Manuel Fangio, five times Formula 1 world champion!

The story

The man who defeated two world champions at Citroen, Jose Maria “Pechito” Lopez, was spotted by Citroën in 2013. As a guest driver, he won one of the two races in Termas de Rio Hondo. The beginning of a fairy tale.

the sentence

“It’s very special to win on one of the favorite circuits of Ayrton Senna. He won two titles here and I’m proud to do the same. “Lopez joined other South American legend triumphing at Suzuka. After the race his coronation, he also thanked his family and of course his whole team.

Coming next

Macao (China, november 16th)

GP of Australia

Marc VDS World Champion

By having its two riders take third and fourth place in the Australian Grand Prix, the Marc VDS Racing Team is now certain to win the Moto2 World Championship title.

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The Races

The Phillip Island circuit is not only one of the finest and fastest tracks on the MotoGP calendar. It is also a circuit where the weather always plays tricks on riders and the tires are subjected to severe stress and strain because of the last long left turn that raises gum temperature. “And because there are very few right-hand bends, it’s easy to make a mistake when braking and entering the corner,” says Bradl, who fell with only eight laps to go. There were numerous crashes in Moto2 as well. Tito Rabat and Mika Kallio managed to stay on their wheels to finish in third and fourth place behind Viñales and Lüthi. Both riders fought to the finish in the leading group, but avoiding taking too many risks with the world championship title at stake. In Moto3, Miguel Oliveira and Jorge Navarro finished seventh and twelfth while Andrea Migno failed to score any points by finishing seventeenth.

The Championship

He could have won the Moto2 World Championship title at Phillip Island, but it meant scoring twelve points more than his teammate. Tito Rabat didn’t manage to do so, with Mika Kallio refusing to accept defeat. However, the Finn is now the last rider to be able to block Rabat’s road to the title, having lead the overall standings since the start of the championship in Qatar. But the task will be difficult, with 41 points now separating the two riders in the Marc VDS team. One thing is certain: Michael Bartholemy’s team is already certain of winning the title with one of its two riders. In MotoGP Bradl slipped back to tenth place overall while in Moto3, Oliveira now ties on equal points with Brad Binder, tenth in the overall classification. Navarro has moved up to be placed twenty-fifth, and he is now just one point away from Andrea Migno.

The Background

Is the MotoGP championship following in the footsteps of F1? Twenty years ago, data acquisition was limited to a few sensors – bike speed, engine speed, throttle and suspensions – and the rider was responsible for leading and orienting the team of technicians based on his comments alone. “Of course, the rider today remains a cornerstone of the team’s performance, but multiple data acquisition channels, simulation programs for the chassis, gearbox, torque distribution, traction control, fuel consumption and anti-wheelie systems facilitate the options for technicians by clearly showing the way forward,” says Christophe Bourguignon, technical director of the LCR Honda team. “Engine mapping can be defined even before the rider has put on his leathers. We can explain how to optimizes the operation of his bike. We can show him precisely to within one hundredth of a second, where he’s losing time, when his angle is not acute enough, when it’s too acute, if he’s braking in the right place or accelerating at the right time, etc. Everything is fine-tuned even before the wheel first spins.” In short, it is easier today to learn how to become a good rider thanks to the support provided by the team of technicians. Which is good news for Jack Miller, who will be taking the leap from Moto3 to MotoGP next year.

GP of Russia

Red Bull yields its laurels

Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) drove to his fourth consecutive victory, his ninth this 2014 season, ahead of his team mate Nico Rosberg and the Williams driver Valtteri Bottas. Mercedes also gained from the win, taking the Constructors’ World Championship title from Red Bull.

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The facts

Hamilton, currently leading the Drivers’ Championship, who started on pole, was overtaken by his team mate who then locked his wheels while braking at the first turn. The German, who was obliged to make an immediate pit stop for a tyre change, left the route clear for the 2008 World Champion, who flew off ahead of the rest.

Rosberg, wearing the same boots for 51 laps, made a fine comeback to second place, chalking up a ninth 2014 Mercedes double in the process.

The Brackley team is beyond the reach of the others at the top of the Constructors’ Championship, three races from the season’s culmination.

The Red Bulls, who never quite got into their swing, had to make do with seventh and eighth places, Daniel Ricciardo beating Sebastian Vettel over the line.

The figure

10: The number of consecutive races without scoring a single point for the Lotus team. It has been a dismal 2014 for the Enstone team, ranking 8th in the Constructors’ classification with 8 points. By comparison, Mercedes, crowned in Sochi, has 565 points.

The quote

“Besides having an ‘un-driveable’ car, we are in the process of losing a friend.” Romain Grosjean, following his modest 16th qualifying place, reflecting the morose mood amongst the French, six days after the tragic accident resulting in Jules Bianchi’s continuing critical condition in Suzuka.

The story

When the chequered flag came down on Sunday, Christian Horner, the Red Bull team boss, was the first to go and congratulate his Mercedes counterpart Toto Wolff, his successor on the honour roll. “The (Mercedes) team has done a stunning job this year,” he said. Respect.

Next up

USA (Austin) 31st October – 2nd November

Race of Fuji

Davidson and Buemi master Fuji

Toyota remains undefeated in Fuji after winning 2014 event one lap clear ahead of the competition. The TS040 HYBRID of Anthony Davidson and Sébastien Buemi outpaced team mates Stéphane Sarrazin, Alexander Wurz and Kazuki Nakajima. Audi failed to make the podium.

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Facts

Heavy rain marred Toyota’s celebrations last year with a race behind the safety car, dry though cool conditions suited N.8 of Buemi and Davidson who started from pole position this time. After a few hiccups at the start, the Swiss managed to regain the lead and was closely followed by his team mate Nakajima who skipped Porsche N20 with Brendon Hartley, Mark Webber and Timo Bernhard at the wheel.

The two Japanese prototypes broke clear in strong double stint from Davidson and Sarrazin, who offered a one-lap cushion to their team.

The rest was all about taking care of this advantage to opposition already turned to the fight for last step of the podium.

Figure

8 points – With his double in Fuji, Toyota has taken the top spot in the Manufacturers standings to Audi, now eight points adrift, with three races remaining.

Quote

“The first lap was a little crazy!” Sébastien Buemi’s main worries of the day came when the lights went off slipping from first to third place before retaking the lead in the same lap.

The story

Fuji is really a lucky charm for Toyota who is unbeaten on this track after his third victory. While No. 7 won in 2012 and 2013, it gave way to the No. 8 this year.

Next up

Shanghai Six Hours (China, Nov. 2)

Race of China (Shanghaï)

Citroën, new World champion!

A stunning quadruple in Shanghai ended any suspense as Citroen, grabbed the WTCC Manufacturers’ crown its first season in the series with the meetings remaining

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Facts

A week after the Beijing, the paddock moved to Shanghai where longer straights and faster corners suited the Citroen C-Elysee talents. The result was not long to come. The French marque captured front row with Jose Maria Lopez heading Ma Qing Hua.

Yvan Muller led the second row and the three of flew effortlessly lights to flag to the podium in the first race. Sébastien Loeb, fifth on the grid, produced a great recovery after stuttering at the start ending up fourth. With four cars in the first four, Citroen built an unassailable margin for the rest of the season.

Such a dominance in the first race makes second very difficult considering the reverse grid rule. A contact between Müller (retired) and Loeb (13th) played admirably in Lopez hands. The Argentine finished third behind Mehdi Bennani (Honda first win in WTCC) and Tiago Monteiro (Honda), which allowed him eyed the drivers crown next time out.

Figure

14 – The number World championship titles Citroen won. After eight WRC crown and five in cross-country rally, the WTCC one is also the first on circuit racing!

The story

At home in Shanghai, Chinese Ma Qing Hua was particularly pleased to have finished the first race on second place, ahead of two world champions Müller and Loeb. “Finish second in Race 1, close to the winner is a good result. For me it has more value than my win in Moscow”, he admitted. He also took a 5th place in the second race.

Quote

“I was more nervous than usual.” And that looks good for Lopez We must believe that this is good for Lopez. Once again, the Argentine was the best driver on this rally with a win and a third place. It now has 93 points ahead of Müller six races remaining.

Next up

Suzuka (Japan, 25-26 October)

GP of Japan

Rabat reaching for title

By finishing on the podium of the Japanese Grand Prix in the lead of his Finnish teammate once again, Tito Rabat has moved one step closer to the Moto2 World Championship title.

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The Races

After winning the pole position, his eighth since the start of the season, Tito Rabat thought he might be on line for a new victory, riding a track on which he already made it to the podium last year – but Tom Lüthi and Maverick Viñales prevented him from doing so. “I wasn’t feeling very comfortable in the first laps and Lüthi seized the opportunity to break away,” said the Marc VDS rider. “There are days like that; maybe it’s because of the pressure as the title comes closer…” Plagued by traction problems, Mika Kallio slipped back to fifth place after scrapping with Rabat to get to the podium. In MotoGP, Stefan Bradl finished ahead of Pol Espargaro to cross the finish line in seventh position. In Moto3, Oliveira, Migno and Navarro all fell when they were in the top ten.

The Championship

By making it once again to the podium, Tito Rabat now has a 38-point lead over Mika Kallio in the overall standings. Second in the championship, the Finn in turn has a 32-point lead over Viñales with only three races left. In MotoGP, Bradl is still in ninth place, but the German rider lost one point by finishing behind Iannone who is still ahead of him in the overall standings. Finally, in Moto3, Oliveira dropped back to eleventh position while Migno and Navarro keep their respective twenty-fourth and twenty-eighth positions despite their DNF at Motegi.

The Background

In the MotoGP calendar, Motegi is no doubt the most demanding circuit in terms of braking. Indeed, since the last Grand Prix of Japan, the MotoGP teams are allowed to use 340 mm disks instead of the usual 320 mm. On the Japanese circuit, there are three hard bends for braking where the riders arrive in the fifth gear and another where they arrive flat out in sixth. Even the slower corners are very demanding for the brakes. The grip of the front tire is generally very good, which further increases the strain in terms of deceleration. For the last two years, the temperature of the discs is monitored in particular. The motorcycles are getting faster and faster, heavier and more balanced, allowing the riders to brake later but that means really applying the brakes. For the Honda riders, the situation is under control. “On some circuits, we use 340 mm discs, but it is not a choice dictated by safety, it’s more a matter of personal feeling,” explains Christophe Bourguignon, the technical director of the Honda LCR team. “But the conditions at Motegi are extreme. Some teams even go so far as to install air scoops to cool the brake calipers. It’s difficult to get them below 420 degrees, but we know they must not exceed 750 degrees. That’s a limited range. 340 mm discs allow us to gain around fifteen degrees. The high-density brake pads that go with them, and the air scoops used to cool the calipers allow us to gain another thirty degrees … We also ask our team to avoid using the other riders’ slipstream: it disrupts the bike’s cooling and increases its speed, and thus the constraints and pressure on the brakes.”

Race of China (Beijing)

A three-way battle

On the tiny circuit of Goldenport Park, Beijing, Citroen has not enjoyed its best result of the season with no win, but secured the drivers crown for Jose Maria Lopes, Yvan Muller or Sebastien Loeb.

Facts

On a twisty lay-out, fighting reasonable ballast and to ever-improving opposition, the Citroen C-Elysees failed to win for the first time in their first season at this level. They left the pole position Tom Chilton’s Chevrolet Cruze, which the British made the most of to win in the first race, ahead of Citroens’ Muller and Lopez following mechanical issues endured by long-time second Gabriele Tarquini (Honda).

In the second race of the day, under reverse grid, an attractive format, a little piece of history was written with the first victory of a Lada. Rob Huff was at the wheel. Trailing the Briton, Tom Coronel

(Chevrolet) and Loeb – 3 hundredth to Lopez – made it to the the podium.

A disappointed ninth, Müller lost ground in the Championship standings to Lopez before the second race in China, only a week away in Shanghai. On a completely different circuit, who hosts the Formula 1 each year, Citroen will have the opportunity to seal the Constructors title.

Figure

92 points .- The gap between Loeb, third, and Tiago Monteiro, fourth.

This means that the Portuguese can no longer prevent the Chevrons marque from being champion, considering the first two are Lopez and Muller.

The anecdote

The Sunday was particularly busy for the drivers since the qualification was held in the morning and two races on the same day.

Maybe too much for the fourth Citroen driver, Ma Qing Hua. The fastest in free practice on Saturday, Chinese collected a 14th place and went off in the races.

Quote

“I’m not particularly optimistic, but I will continue to give my best.” Müller has clearly little hope to close 66 points on Lopez for the title. However, holder vowed to make the show on a key territory for Citroen.

Next up

Shanghai (China, 11-12 October)

Rally of France

Meeke flies Citroën’s flag in France

While Volkswagen secured another double, Citroen, who played at home in the Rally of France Alsace, ended up as best of the rest with third-placed Kris Meeke.

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Facts

Once Sébastien Ogier was out of contention on mechanical issues as early as Friday morning, Latvala had virtually no resistance to get his first tarmac success, staying put to first place.

The podium was already sealed on Friday night, as Chris Meeke sat third behind Andreas Mikkelsen. The Ulsterman got on Sunday his fourth podium of the season. The surprise package of the team this season rose to the occasion to displace his teammate Mads Ostberg from 6th place. He is the best Citroen driver.

Between Colmar, Strasbourg and Saverne on the familiar roads of Sebastien Loeb, the king of rallies, 9 times world champion, the Norwegian stroke a stage win to finish seventh.

Figure

9 .- Latvala ended a nine-year run of French drivers winning at home in Rallye de France, since 2005, when Sébastien Loeb succeeded to Estonian Markko Martin. Ogier was the other Frenchman to be crowned on home soil, Corsica then Alsace.

Quote

“I feel we have been very consistent throughout the weekend and that’s what has helped us to pick up another podium finish. I think we can still improve and get some better results soon.” Meeke was a happy man on Sunday, but he hopes even better in the final two events.

The story

By winning in France while Ogier (13th with 3 points in the Power Stage) almost drew blank, Latvala kept suspense alive for the drivers’title, depriving his team mate from a crown at home.

Next-up

Spain (23-26 October)