Suzuka Eight Hours (Japan) 26 July, 2015

An early end 

Despite their elation about returning to Japan to take part in the Suzuka 8 Hours, the SRC Kawasaki team did not reap the rewards they expected. Far from it. A fall shortly after the halfway mark put an early end to the dreams of Gilles Stafler’s team.

Having managed to find the budget this year to complete the full Endurance World Championship, Gilles Stafler was eagerly looking forward to the Suzuka 8 Hours.

Although the prestige event

is organized on the Japanese manufacturers’ home turf, the official Kawasaki team had not taken part in the race for twenty years. Their participation was cut short, due to tires outclassed by the competition.

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Grégory Leblanc, Fabien Foret and Matthieu Lagrive

were in an unexpected seventh place when the first of the three men fell at the end of his stint.

“The fifth hour of the race was approaching and I still had five laps to go,” said Leblanc. “I wasn’t riding the bike too hard because since the beginning of the weekend we knew we couldn’t expect much with our tires. And then the same thing happened as during the practice test sessions: the front gave way without warning. The bike turned cartwheels in the gravel, and was too damaged for me to get back on.”

The retirement was a terrible disappointment for Gilles Stafler.

“With four falls during the weekend, we’re leaving Suzuka with two wrecks,” groaned the SRC Kawasaki team manager. “It’s really annoying because we were never been able to use the bike, because our Pirelli tires are totally unsuitable for this track. There were no tests organized upstream, so we had to make with what we had. We tried everything, even very soft fork springs to make the bike less reactive, but nothing worked. You can have the best bike and the fastest riders in the world, if you don’t have the right tires there’s nothing you can do. We’re going to have to react before the next race in Germany.”

Hungarian Grand Prix (Hungaroring) 26 July, 2015

TOP-3 FINISHES FOR  KVYAT AND RICCIARDO

The Infiniti Red Bull Racing drivers fill second and third places at the Hungaroring behind Sebastian Vettel.

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Vettel scores his second 2015 victory!

Ferrari and Sebastian Vettel, (who now has 41 wins to his name equalling Ayrton Senna) scored their second victory of the 2015 season. The Scuderia looked on course to clinch its first double since the 2010 German Grand Prix until Kimi Räikkönen was forced to retire because of a failure of the MGU-K. 

The RB11s put on a thrilling show

Danill Kvyat took the chequered flag in second place, his best-ever result in his F1 career. Daniel Ricciardo, who was lying second a few laps from the end, fell back to third after a coming-together with Rosberg. 

A race to forget for Mercedes!

The end of the run: the German manufacturer arrived in Hungary after a string of 29 consecutive top-3 finishes. But it was a black Sunday for the three-pointed star. Lewis Hamilton had to make do with sixth after an off-track excursion at the start, a pit stop that went on for ever and a penalty. Nico Rosberg seemed to have wrapped up second place, but he finally saw the flag in eighth spot after tagging Daniel Ricciardo. 

Daniil Kvyat (Infiniti Red Bull Racing): 

it’s been a very tough year, race, everything, but I think as a team we all deserve this podium very much. After Turn One I thought my race was over to be honest, because I had such a massive flat spot I could hardly stay on track. But then the team told me to keep pushing. Today I really learned what it means to never give up because it can always come your way.”

 Next round: Belgium GP (23 August)

Grand Prix USA (Laguna Seca), 18-19 JULY 2015

Sykes and Rea make the podium

While Chaz Davies won both races of the American weekend, Tom Sykes and Jonathan Rea made it to the podium twice and together in Laguna Seca. Note that this year once again, only the Superbike riders made the trip to California.

The Races

The only rider of the Superbike 2015 line-up to have already won at Laguna Seca before this weekend, Tom Sykes had two very good races and made it twice to the second step of the podium. If he was unable do anything to keep up with Chaz Davies in great shape on the California track, the Brit still managed to hold off his teammate’s assaults until the finish line.

“I’m a little disappointed not to have managed to win today,” commented 2013 world champion, “but I was still missing a little something today. In the first race, I found myself struggling with my rear tire in the final laps, and in the second Chaz managed to take a few more risks when the rain started to fall.”

With two third places, Jonathan Rea signed his worst performance of the season. Still, the Championship leader racked up his nineteenth podium in a row, bringing him a little closer to the record held by Colin Edwards since 2002 with his series of twenty-five podiums in a row.

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The Championship

Although beaten twice by his teammate, Jonathan Rea still keeps his solid first place in the overall standings. With only four races left, the Kawasaki rider has a 125-point lead over Tom Sykes, while Sykes sees his lead over Davies increase to 19 points. As for the manufacturers’ title, Kawasaki is still in the lead with an advantage of 122 points. The next meeting will be on August 2, at the Sepang circuit in Malaysia.

The Background

The 2013 season was marked by the transfer of power between the MotoGP and Superbike championships in California. The last Grand Prix races were held two years ago on the Laguna Seca circuit, which was included in the WSBK calendar the same year, after a long absence of ten seasons. On the eve of the two legs won on July 19, 2015 by Chaz Davies, twenty World Superbike races had already been held on the California track located near the town of Monterey. The first part between 1995 and 2005, a second between 2013 and 2015. With nine wins against seven for the Americans, the Australians riders have often been most at ease on the unusually twisting Laguna Seca circuit. The Brits are now in third place with four wins.

 

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)

Grand Prix of Germany (Sachsenring) 12 July, 2015

Frustration on the ring

The German Grand Prix wasn’t the time or place for the riders of the Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Team. Redding and Rabat crashed, and Marquez finished without scoring any points.

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The Races

Scott Redding would have liked to have finished in the top eight to end the difficult first half of this season’s MotoGP Championship. Despite his fourteenth place on the starting grid, the Brit seemed to have the pace to keep up with the pack. An unfortunate fall before the end of the first lap put an end to his ambitions.

“As soon as I released the brakes, the front eased up and I lost control,” said Redding. “I tried my best to recover the bike, but there was nothing I could do. I’m really disappointed because we hoped we would achieve something on this circuit.”

Rabat meanwhile seemed capable of making the Moto2 podium – until Franco Morbidelli decided otherwise. While trying to overtake Tito as they braked into the last corner, the Italian lost control of his motorcycle, which then harpooned the Kalex of the Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS team rider.

 “I didn’t have a chance,” groused Rabat. “It’s really annoying because I was suffering from my shoulder to make the podium. Thankfully I have a good three weeks to recover before the next race in Indianapolis.”

Victim of two falls during the practice test sessions, Alex Marquez took the start but lacked confidence. Manhandled during the early laps, he still managed to climb his way back to the eighteenth spot. 

The Championship

With a third Did Not Finish to end the first half of the championship, Scott Redding has slipped back to fourteenth place overall in the MotoGP standings. In Moto2, Rabat has kept his second place, but the Spaniard is now sixty-five points behind the leader, Johann Zarco.

Finishing without scoring any points for the second time this season, Alex Marquez has slipped back to eighteenth place in the championship. 

The Background

Since the 2014 Spanish Grand Prix in Jerez, Tito Rabat had never been more than sixth on the starting grid. A poor performance for the Moto2 World Championship title holder? Certainly not if you remember that on Saturday he was only 0.463 seconds behind Johann Zarco, who took pole position, and one week earlier, was on the operating table to have a titanium plate screwed into his right collarbone. On 4 July, the Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Team rider suffered a heavy fall while training in Almeria. A technical hitch on entering the first corner of the Spanish circuit made him smash his collarbone into five pieces.

“I was lucky enough to be taken care of immediately,” he explained. “I was quickly evacuated to Barcelona University Hospital where Dr. Mir was able to operate on me the same evening.”

Two days later, the Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Team rider resumed training to prepare for the German Grand Prix. A courage and determination that unfortunately gained him little reward…

 

Poland Rally, 5 July, 2015

MEEKE AND OSTBERG FINISH IN THE TOP 10 

Sébastien Ogier wins again. The DS 3 WRCs come home in seventh and ninth places.

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Citroën holds its own

Kris Meeke’s rally got off to a terrible start as he had a big shunt during the shakedown. However, the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team were able to rebuild his DS 3 and the Northern Irish was a consistent top-5 runner before slipping back to seventh. Mads Ostberg had problems matching the pace of the front-runners. Thanks to the points it scored this weekend the French team still holds second place in the championship. 

Ogier racks up no.5

Whatever his starting position the world no.1 was on another planet in Poland and consolidated his leadership with his fifth victory in the seven events held so far this year. 

Tanak’s outstanding drive

Ott Tanak prevented Volkswagen from scoring a triple with an outstanding drive which gave him his first top-3 finish of the season. 

Yves Matton (Citroën Racing Team Principal):

“We can’t be especially pleased with the actual result at this year’s Rally Poland. Perhaps we underestimated the impact that not organising specific, pre-event testing would have on this rally. We’ll now focus on preparing for Rally Finland, an event where our drivers have already shown that they are capable of producing good performances. We’ll head for Jyvaskyla to try and fight for a good result!”

 Next round: Finland Rally (30 July – 2 August)

British Grand Prix (Silverstone) – 5 July, 2015

KVYAT BACK IN THE GAME 

Infiniti Red Bull Racing had to make do with its Russian driver’s sixth place while Lewis Hamilton won on home turf.

KVYAT daniil (rus) red bull renault rb11 action during the 2015 Formula One World Championship, Grand Prix of England

Not too far from the top 3

The Red Bull RB11s’ new aero package for Silverstone gave them wings as both cars made it into Q3. If Daniil Kvyat hadn’t spun on his way back to the pits when it began to rain he could have taken the fight to Sebastian Vettel for third place. His teammate Daniel Ricciardo was forced to retire. 

The King of Silverstone

Lewis Hamilton started from pole and clinched his third win in his home grand prix from Nico Rosberg. Although Mercedes scored another double they had to fight for it as the very quick Williams put the silver cars under heavy pressure in the early stages of the race, until they fell back when it began to rain. 

Alonso scores a point – at last!

Fernando Alonso finished tenth scoring his first point for McLaren in the 2015 F1 world championship. Roman Grosjean had another unsuccessful weekend and didn’t add any points to his tally.    

Christian Horner (Infiniti Red Bull Racing – Team Principal):

“For the first time since Monaco, it felt we were in the race. Overall, it’s been a positive weekend and the car has made a forward step, We take heart from this weekend as it’s been encouraging. Throughout practice and the grand prix we have looked a lot more competitive and Hungary represents a better opportunity for us. It’s great to see flashes of real potential there.”

 Next round: Hungarian GP (26 July)