Superbike World Championship – United States

Rea has no rivals in the Far West

Jonathan Rea relentlessly outclassed his opponents in California. The Championship leader further increased his lead by chalking up a new twin-win, making him the record holder of victories at Laguna Seca.

The Races

The unfortunate events in the Czech Republic are now a thing of the past. Jonathan Rea took advantage of his transatlantic trip to improve his statistics. The Brit didn’t do things by halves on the Laguna Seca track, winning both races ahead of Chaz Davies. Each time Rea took advantage of a higher pace to leave his opponent at two-thirds of the race. “I was really comfortable with a great bike,” said the Kawasaki rider. For his teammate, the weekend in California was a little more complicated. Finishing seventh on Saturday and eighth on Sunday, Tom Sykes never managed to feel confident. “We didn’t manage to adjust the bike for my style,” explained the former world champion. “It under-steered a lot and I had a hard time getting out of the corners.” Toprak Razgatlioglu injured his foot when he fell on Saturday and had to give up starting the race on Sunday. The next event is on July 7 in Italy. The Superbike riders will meet their Supersport colleagues who had no event in the United States.

The Championship

By beating Chaz Davies twice to the Laguna Seca finish line, Jonathan Rea increased his lead over the Ducati rider by ten points. Seventy-five points now separate the two Brits. In fourth place, Tom Sykes is now nineteen points behind third-placed Alex Lowes. In the manufacturers’ standings, Kawasaki are calling the shots with a forty-five point lead.

The Background

“I could not have had a better weekend, it was as if I was dreaming. Californian dreaming.” On the night after the eighth event of the Superbike World Championship in the United States, Jonathan Rea had trouble coming back down from cloud nine. By scoring a new twin-win on the Laguna Seca circuit, the triple world champion has become the record holder of victories on the legendary American circuit. Two magnificent victories, including the second that saw him cross the finish line with a lead of more than five seconds despite starting from the third row of the grid after already winning the day before. “I thought I’d be good here, but I didn’t think I’d be that good,” said the Kawasaki rider. “This kind of weekend is quite rare and you need to know how to appreciate it. A twin-win at Laguna Seca, under the sun, in front of an incredible audience … It’s my idea of happiness. I must say a big thank you to my team for giving me such a wonderful week.” Before the race weekend, Jonathan had a first thrill riding a Kawasaki ZX-10R over the Golden Gate Bridge on his way with Alex Lowes, Eugene Laverty, Chaz Davies, Loris Baz and Josh Herrin to Ghirardelli Square where a crowd of fans were waiting for an autograph session.

MotoGP World Championship – Catalunya Grand Prix

Marquez makes the podium

Third in Barcelona, Álex Márquez has chalked up four podiums since the opening of the Championship. A regularity that allows him to stay in the race for the title of world champion.

The Races

On a circuit on which he won last year, this time Álex Márquez could only ride seven laps in the lead. The former Moto3 world champion was unable to keep up with Fabio Quartararo and Miguel Oliveira when the two riders overtook him. “The track was very slippery and in those conditions our chassis is a little slow,” explained the Kalex rider. “I lacked feeling with the front.” In difficulty at the start of the race with a full tank, Joan Mir fell on the thirteenth lap when he was in ninth place. “It’s really a big disappointment because I was hoping for a third podium in a row,” commented the rider of the Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS team. In MotoGP, it is Tom Lüthi who crashed at the start of the race. Franco Morbidelli also fell, but he was able to make it back to the garage before coming out again to resume the race. And finished fourteenth three laps behind the winner.

The Championship

By making it back to the podium, Álex Márquez has come back to third place in the Moto2 overall classification and reduced the gap with the leader, Francesco Bagnaia, to twenty-five points. Joan Mir who had his first Did Not Finish of the season has lost a place. The Majorcan has slipped to sixth position at six points from fifth place, Xavi Virgo. In MotoGP Franco Morbidelli has moved up to sixteenth place and overtaken Hafizh Syahrin for the place of best rookie rider.

The background

Listed on the MotoGP Championship calendar since 1992, the Grand Prix of Catalonia is one of the riders’ favourite events. Fast and technical, the Barcelona track has been, for the last 25 years, the scene for many legendary battles. But over the years the Catalan circuit had deteriorated. So much so that last year an ultimatum was put to its owners by the promoter of the championship to overhaul the track. At the risk of no longer appearing on the MotoGP calendar. More than two million euros have been invested in the operation. “The surfacing has been completely redone,” says Carles Fradera, spokesperson for the Montmelo circuit. “Seven centimetres of asphalt have been removed and two layers laid, one three centimetres thick, the other four. We have also increased the clearance of turn thirteen by 25 meters by moving the stands.” The work, made on the turn where Luis Salom was killed two years ago, has also returned the circuit to its original layout, so that riders avoid the chicane reserved for F1 races.

A respectable team result

After quickly finding themselves having to defend their positions, the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT crews showed reliability and consistency to secure fifth and sixth places overall.

THE STORY OF THE RACE

Having a good opening leg is invariably critical on gravel. Anything less, with the standings reversed to define the running order for the next two days, and you end up spending the rest of the rally sweeping the roads clear of dust and loose gravel for your rivals. With heavy showers making an unexpected appearance in Sardinia on Friday, where usually very little rain is seen at this time of year, things were suddenly more complicated for Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT. In wet conditions, it’s never an advantage to start quite far down the running order on gravel (8th for Craig Breen and 10th for Mads Østberg), as the roads become increasingly greasy and muddy as more cars come through the stages. However, the team refused to be beaten, as particularly demonstrated by the two second fastest times set by Mads (SS2 and SS9) amidst the almighty scrap at the front, evidence that the Norwegian is improving in his handling of the C3 WRC. A series of minor incidents for Mads (an impact with a rock on SS4) and Craig (an overshoot on SS2, three stalls on SS6 and an overshoot on SS7), combined with an ill-judged choice of tyres for both runs on Tergu – Osilo, prevented the pair from ending Friday’s leg any higher than fifth and seventh overall. Fine weather returned on Saturday and began to dry out the ground, meaning both crews spent the final two legs acting as road sweepers for the rest of the field. They therefore concentrated on holding onto their positions, playing it safe by taking two spares on Saturday afternoon, for example, where the stages are known for being hard on the tyres. Despite road position being against him, Mads Østberg made a stubborn attempt to put the fourth-placed driver under pressure, before eventually accepting that he could not catch him. The Norwegian ended up finishing fifth overall, his best result with the C3 WRC, after two sixth-place finishes in Sweden and Portugal. Meanwhile, Craig Breen rounded off a respectable overall result by claiming sixth place, having also improved his understanding of an event where he previously had considerably less experience than his rivals.

Questions  for Pierre Budar, Citroën racing team principal

How do you assess the team’s performance at this rally, contested very shortly after your change in “driver” policy?

In the context of our current situation, I think you have to say we met our new targets. Both cars made it to the finish intact – and in the points – and they had no reliability issues. Although our position down the running order on the opening leg was by no means an advantage with the rain, we made a few minor mistakes on Friday. They proved costly in terms of time and also meant that our crews were forced to open the road for the next two days, so from that point onwards, we couldn’t really have hoped for a better outcome. Our only remaining target was to pick up a few manufacturers’ points and acquire some data so that we can come back even better prepared next year.

How is the team dealing with the current situation?

Although they are all real competitors, and are therefore desperate to achieve better results, they have also understood that we’re in a rebuilding process. We’re trying to establish new, solid foundations in order to move forwards, setting our sights on 2019, and this might take some time. During the transitional phase that we are going through at the moment, all the members of the team remain united and focused on their respective jobs. We know that we have a good car. The C3 WRC is competitive on all surfaces and we are determined to constantly keep improving it a little bit more. As soon as all the ingredients come together, we’ll be back amongst the leaders again.

 

 

Sam Bird reduces title deficit with podium in Zurich

Zürich, 10th June 2018

Second-place finish for Briton as racing returns to Switzerland after 64 years.

Result closes Formula E title gap to 23-points with two rounds remaining.

DS Virgin Racing head to season finale fighting for both teams’ & drivers’ championship.

 

DS Virgin Racing’s Sam Bird reduced the title deficit to rival Jean-Eric Vergne by almost half, with a second-place finish during today’s frantic Formula E Zurich E-Prix.

The result sees the British racer close the gap to 23-points, with just the final two rounds in New York left to play out – an event Bird took a clean sweep in last year. It also sees his DS Virgin Racing team remain in contention for both titles.

After a strong qualifying performance earlier in the day, Bird lined-up third and battled hard throughout the early stages of the race to remain amongst the front runners, with his title rival back down in the midfield. Then, just before the halfway mark, a Full Course Yellow period – following an incident with Vergne and Felix Rosenqvist – led to a flurry of drivers head to the pits to change cars.

Bird emerged fifth and keen to push on with Vergne down in ninth. Then, Vergne and four other drivers were penalised for speeding during the FCY and each handed drive-through penalties. That allowed Bird to move into second place, just behind race-leader Lucas di Grassi, and go on to cross the line to secure his 15th Formula E career podium.

Bird said   : « We had a little bit of luck today but even so the whole team did a fantastic job to get the result and leave in this position where we’ll be fighting for the title in New York…and we know what happened there last year! Now I know what we need to do; I need to beat him [Vergne] in the first race, and if I can do that then we have a shot at the title. »

Meanwhile team-mate Alex Lynn, endured a frustrating afternoon despite showing front-running pace. A suspected battery sensory issue in his first car saw him forced to pit early after running P12. That meant he had to run a 23-lap stint in his second car, and with energy management to consider, was only able to finish 16th.

« It’s been a really frustrating result today and I think we were robbed of a strong points finish given the pace we had,»     said Lynn  « We’re not sure exactly what the problem is at this stage, but for sure we’ll go away and analysis it and ensure we do the best job we can in New York to support the team.»

DS Performance Director Xavier Mestelan Pinon added : « It’s been a very positive weekend for us with a podium for Sam and 17-points taken from Jean-Eric Vergne in the drivers’ championship. The last two races will be in New York where we won both races last year. It is clear that the whole team will make the trip with great expectation. »

The next and final two Formula E races of the season take place in New York City on July 14/15.

 2018 FIA Formula E Championship
Zürich E-Prix (RD 10) – Race Results (39 laps)

1. LUCAS DI GRASSI, AUDI SPORT ABT SCHAEFFLER, 39 LAPS (25PTS)
2. SAM BIRD, DS VIRGIN RACING, +7.542S (18PTS)
3. JEROME D’AMBROSIO, DRAGON, +16.822S (15PTS)
4. ANDRE LOTTERER, TECHEETAH, +20.295S (12PTS, FL)
5. SEBASTIEN BUEMI, RENAULT E.DAMS, +26.692S (10PTS)
6. NICK HEIDFELD, MAHINDRA RACING, +28.059S (8PTS)
7. MITCH EVANS, PANASONIC JAGUAR RACING, +30.631S (6PTS, P)
8. ANTONIO FELIX DA COSTA, ANDRETTI FORMULA E, +31.301S (4PTS)
9. OLIVER TURVEY, NIO FORMULA E, +32.180S (2PTS)
10. JEAN ERIC VERGNE, TECHEETAH, +32.833S (1PT)
16. ALEX LYNN, DS VIRGIN RACING, +51.842S

Drivers’ standings

1. JEAN ERIC VERGNE, 163PTS
2. SAM BIRD, 140PTS
3. LUCAS DI GRASSI 101PTS
4. SEBASTIEN BUEMI, 92PTS
5. FELIX ROSENQVIST, 86PTS

Teams’ standings 

1. TECHEETAH, 219PTS
2. AUDI SPORT ABT SCHAEFFLER, 186PTS
3. DS VIRGIN RACING, 157PTS
4. MAHINDRA RACING, 116PTS
5. PANASONIC JAGUAR RACING, 105PTS

Eight Hours of Oschersleben

SRC on the podium

After being roughed up in Slovakia, the Kawasaki SRC team reassured themselves in Germany by making it to the podium of the Eight Hours of Oschersleben. A second place won after an all-out battle in the last hour of the race.

Team SRC Kawasaki

As the penultimate event of the 2017/2018 World Endurance Championship, the Eight Hours of Oschersleben once again gave rise to a fierce battle between the regular riders in this sport, including Randy de Puniet, Mathieu Gines, Jeremy Guarnoni and the Kawasaki ZXR of the SRC team. On the starting grid, however, the trio of Gilles Stafler contented themselves with sixth place. «We weren’t looking to clock up a good time during the practice test sessions», explained Randy de Puniet on the night of qualifying session. «We preferred to save our tires and be able to change the front tire at each relay. This circuit is very demanding and with the heat, the riders and the bikes are going to suffer.» With seven teams less than half a second apart, the fight for victory could only be intense. « Unfortunately, we had a hard time keeping in touch with the Honda #5 and the Yamaha #94,» said Gilles Stafler. «Our problem is that our electronic management is not as well tuned as our opponents. Our bike is more brutal and we have more trouble managing its consumption.» And on a circuit as physical as Oschersleben, that is paid cash. «But we didn’t give up», said Randy de Puniet. «We always stayed in touch and we were able to fight to the finish.» And that’s how the former MotoGP rider took second place in the last lap of the race, hunting Mike Di Meglio until he fell. «This second place is unexpected», concluded the Kawasaki SRC team manager.

Superbike World Championship – Czech Republic

A record and a fall for Rea

Jonathan Rea had a hectic weekend on the Brno circuit. The reigning world champion began by setting a new record before finishing the second race of the weekend in the dust…

Kawasaki Racing Team

The Races

Victim of a clash with teammate Tom Sykes, Jonathan Rea finished his Czech weekend worse than when he started. After setting a new record for Superbike victories, the Kawasaki rider did not make it to the checkered flag of the second race held in Brno. «These things happen», he commented dryly. «The overall result of the weekend is still satisfactory because in addition to the record I felt really good on the bike, and I’m not doing too badly in the championship.» After winner on Saturday afternoon, Rea confirmed his status as boss. Third in the first race, Tom Sykes fell unfortunately on Sunday afternoon. «I don’t quite understand why», grunted the Brit at the finish after being able to get back on his bike and be placed sixteenth, just short of the points. In Supersport, Okubo crossed the finish line in thirteenth position while Morais fell early in the race.

The Championship

Despite his Did Not Finish, Jonathan Rea keeps a clear sixty-five point lead over of Chaz Davies in the overall standings. Tom Sykes stays in fourth place, even though Michael van der Mark is now seventeen points nearer. In Supersport, Sheridan Morais finished fifteenth despite his fall. Okubo has won a place and is now eighteenth.

The Background

Jonathan Rea has written a new page in the history of the Superbike World Championship. By clocking up the sixtieth victory of his career in the Czech Republic, the triple world champion has become the most successful rider in a discipline that he truly embodies today. And it was in Brno that Jonathan Rea managed the feat of passing the record held by legendary Carl Fogarty. And to say that six years ago the Brit had only ten victories in the Superbike World Championship. By joining the Kawasaki team, Rea has been able to move up a gear. «Everything has changed for me since I arrived at Kawasaki in 2015», says Jonathan. Fourteen wins that year, nine the next, sixteen in 2017 and six already this season. «Honestly, the number doesn’t mean much to me», said the Kawasaki driver at the finish of the Czech race. «But I’m happy to have reached the record on the circuit where I won my first race in Supersport.»

DS Virgin Racing takes title fight to Zurich

Press Release, Versailles, 4th June 2018

All-electric Formula E series heads to Zurich on Sunday, June 10 for round 10.

Event to mark return of top-level racing to Swiss soil for more than 60 years.

Second place Sam Bird aiming to close gap on championship title.

British racer Sam Bird and his DS Virgin Racing team will be taking the title fight to Zurich this coming weekend as the all-electric Formula E series races into Switzerland, bringing motorsport back to the country for the first time in more than 60 years.

Taking place on Sunday, 10 June, Bird and his British team-mate Alex Lynn will take to the streets of Switzerland’s largest city on a temporary-built 2.46km circuit. Located beside the picturesque Lake Zurich, the drivers will race passed the banking quarter before winding their way through the historic city centre and then looping back to the start/finish line in front of Enge harbour – reaching speeds of up to 220kph.

Racing had previously been forbidden in Switzerland, with the last event taking place at the Bremgarten circuit in 1954. However, a law change in 2015 lifted restrictions on fully-electric racing, paving the way for Formula E.
Prétendant au titre, Sam Bird aura l’objectif de réduire l’écart sur son rival Jean-Éric Vergne avec trois manches à disputer et 87 points à prendre.

Season-long title contender Bird will be aiming to close the gap to title rival Jean-Eric Vergne with three races remaining and 87 points still on offer. «Compared to the last race in Berlin, the Zurich track certainly suits us better with its mix of 90-degree corners, chicanes and a tight hairpin» said Bird. «We know we have a quick car and if we can qualify at the front, which we’ve done throughout the season, then for sure we can challenge at the sharp end.»

Meanwhile,  team-mate Lynn said : «After the last race we’ve gone away and worked hard on the simulator and at our Silverstone base to ensure we’re ready for the Zurich E-Prix. With three races remaining, things are getting even closer in the championship, with everything to play for, so we’ll be pushing for a strong points finish to help better our third place in the teams’ standings.»

Sylvain Filippi, DS Virgin Racing’s Chief Operations Officer, commented: «It’s fantastic that Formula E is once again making history and bringing racing back to Switzerland, especially with Zurich regarded as one of the most sustainable cities in the world. This season remains our strongest to date, so the whole team has been putting in maximum effort to ensure we’re in the best possible shape to continue our push for both the drivers’ and the teams’ championship.»

DS Performance Director Xavier Mestelan Pinon added: «The main target is obviously to keep fighting for both championships. Compared to Berlin, the Zurich layout is much more representative of the street tracks we normally race on which suit us better, and, as such, we can push for strong results.»

Zurich E-Prix  – Programme
Round 10 : Sunday, June 10 (CET)

09H00-09H45 FREE PRACTICE 1
09H00-09H45 FREE PRACTICE 1
11H30-12H00 FREE PRACTICE 2
14H00-14H36 QUALIFYING
14H45-14H00 SUPERPOLE
18H00 RACE (39 LAPS)

LENGTH 2.465 KM
LENGTH 2.465 KM
TURNS 11
DIRECTION ANTICLOCKWISE
HASHTAG #ZURICHEPRIX

Drivers’ standing 

1. JEAN-ERIC VERGNE 162 POINTS
2. SAM BIRD 122 POINTS
3. FELIX ROSENQVIST 86 POINTS
4. DANIEL ABT 85 POINTS
5. SEBASTIEN BUEMI 82 POINTS
14. ALEX LYNN 17 POINTS

Teams standings

1. TECHEETAH 205 POINTS
2. AUDI SPORT ABT SCHAEFFLER 161 POINTS
3. DS VIRGIN RACING 139 POINTS
4. MAHINDRA RACING 108 POINTS
5. PANASONIC JAGUAR RACING 96 POINTS

 

MotoGP World Championship – Italian Grand Prix

Miller on the move

In chalking up his second podium in a row at the Italian Grand Prix, Joan Mir has confirmed the promise he has shown since his arrival in Moto2. Victory is getting closer.

Italy 2018 (Circuit Mugello)

The Races

After taking third place in Le Mans, Joan Mir made his way back to the podium with the following race on the Mugello circuit. Ninth on the grid, the Marc VDS rider quickly slipped into the lead group. And despite a short slowdown midway, he was able to find the missing energy in the last three rounds to overtake Bagnaia and finish on the heels of Oliveira and Baldassari. « I finished totally exhausted, but this new podium is a great reward,» said Mir. «I cannot wait to get back to Barcelona on a circuit that I love». Starting from the front row and leading for the first lap, Márquez’ bike had a dribble problem that prevented him from making the podium. The Spaniard finished fifth. In MotoGP, Morbidelli shone during the practice test sessions, for the first time making it direct to Q2. The race was more complicated but the reigning Moto2 World Champion was able to score points, finishing 15th. Tom Lüthi was less fortunate. The Swiss fell in the second lap when Abraham crashed under his wheels.

The Championship

With his new top five, Álex Márquez now has seventy-eight points in the overall classification. The Spaniard is fourth as the first third of the Moto2 championship season ends. Joan Mir is in fifth position with sixty-four points on the clock. In MotoGP, Morbidelli finds himself tied for points with Hafyzh Syarhin in 17th position.

The Background

The crash of Michele Pirro which required the interruption of the second free practice session of the Grand Prix of Italy, on Friday afternoon, will be remembered. Racing at more than 300 km/h, the Ducati test rider’s machine took off on the bump that extends the long straight of the Tuscan circuit and started to fly… The front wheel blocked and the Italian was flung off in a frightful crash. Miraculously, he survived with a major concussion but nothing broken. Once again the question arises of the safety of this braking section of San Donato and the bump from which the motorbikes take off at more than 300 km/h just before braking for a bend that needs to be negotiated at less than 100 km/h. The riders have five seconds to slam on the brakes over a distance equivalent to three football fields … « It’s the scariest place of the season»,  says nine-time world champion Valentino Rossi. In 2007, the engine capacity of the MotoGP engines was reduced to 800 cc to limit power and speed. It has not really slowed down the machines which are still very difficult to ride. On the same Mugello circuit fourteen years ago, Shinya Nakano had a real fright when the rear tire of his Kawasaki burst on a straight line. Marc Márquez also fell when braking at San Donato at over 300 km/h. «We will never reach zero risk; whatever we do, this sport will always be dangerous»,  concluded Franco Morbidelli who is discovering the thrills of MotoGP this year.