Category Archives: WTCC

World Touring Car Championship

A Word On Alex Zanardi

A warm congratulations to Alex Zanardi on his three medals, two Gold and one Silver, achieved last week in the handcycling at the London 2012 Paralympic Games.

Alex Zanardi up front at the start of the H4 64km Road Race (photo: P.Wotton)

It has been a very long journey since losing his legs at the 2001 American Memorial 500 at the EuroSpeedway Lausitz in Germany, just days after the attacks of September 11th. The man who according to NASA studies ought to have died with that amount of blood loss, through the skills of the CART medical team headed by Drs. Terry Trammel and Steve Olvey and also the German hospital staff, was able to make a remarkable recovery. Indeed just three months later Alex was at an Italian awards show where he stood again in public for the first time. Three months!

The largely American and Canadian CART paddock was already downhearted and didn’t really want to be in Europe, his accident only served to excacerbate the feelings. Somehow, because they are racing people and that’s what racing people seem able to do, they pulled through and ran the Rockingham race the next week (despite all the track problems there).

Via a short comeback to finish that race in Germany two years later, and a fairly successful career in touring cars with BMW (including WTCC race wins and an Italian national championship), he turned his hands to handcycling. He decided handcycle technology wasn’t good enough so, much like his prosthetic legs, he set about designing and modifying his own. He won the New York Marathon among many others. The goal: To win at the London 2012 Paralympics.

And now he has achieved it. Gold in the time trial. Gold in the 64km road race. Silver as a member of the team relay.

Last Friday I was lucky enough to have a ticket to watch Alex compete in the road race, and all of the great competitors in all six races held that day. This followed an evening at the stadium on that day, Thursday, the night GBR won many medals in the track and field competition which pumped up the 80,000-strong sellout crowd (as if they needed pumping up). By Friday evening it was tough to know which experience made the bigger impression. Brands Hatch held far less than 10% of the crowd the previous night yet the atmosphere during the Zanardi race was as good, the mix of motorsport fans, people who had discovered him thanks to Channel 4 kindly highlighting him so frequently (remember the UK general public who are not die-hard motorsport fans had little idea who he was), and also the supporters of the other athletes who were battling for the podium: Swiss, Austrian,  Belgian, Irish, and yes, Italian.
To be so close to Alex not only as he raced but also after Lou and I had managed to put ourselves where the victory podium was set up, to be no more than 10 metres from the man as his gold medal was draped around his neck and he sang his national anthem along with many in that crowd, it was a privelige to see a man achieve his dream.

What now? After the win he told interviewers he might feel a gap in his life now that he has achevied the goal of Paralympic Gold that he’d been working towards for so long. How to follow it? He jokingly said the next step is to add another wheel and an engine, but this is Alex Zanardi.. was it a joke? Jimmy Vasser and Chip Ganassi are allegedly working on car for the Indy 500. Another joke.. or serious? In a way I hope he does. In another way I hope he doesn’t because to my mind he has nothing left to prove.

Zanardi, van Dyk, and Decleir with their Paralympic medals, Brands Hatch – 7 Sept ’12 P. Wotton

(Apologies for slight fuzziness, the light was getting bad and I tried to correct it with software, if I hadn’t it would all be dark and you wouldn’t be able to see it!)

Finally, another fan at the event recorded a video of the day. It really does capture it perfectly – the video is just like being there. You might even get as sick of the Dolly Parton clips as we were – they played it every time the field came by the start line which was a lot with two races running at the same time! This guy does shout a bit much, though Alex doesn’t seem to mind.

For more photos of Zanardi and the other cyclists at Brands Hatch across the six races that day, as well those from my Thursday in London at the Paralympics, take a loko at my photoset on Picasa here. I also went up to London in July during the Olympics although not to many events, but if you want to see the city in the grips of Olympic spirit (and you should) then that set is here. I know I’ve been going about it on Twitter but I don’t care, it was such a great summer I want to share it with everyone who couldn’t be here!

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Filed under 2012, IndyCar, Other, WTCC

I’m Watching… #4: F1, IndyCar, DTM, WTCC, TdF

I watch too much racing. What have I been watching over the last three weeks?

Formula 1 – British GP 2010 *live*

Modifications to Silverstone promised much but didn’t really live up to the hype, but I kind of guessed that much after seeing it in person a few months ago – it seemed there was just as much an opportunity to pass as there was at the old Abbey chicane with no net improvement, I guess Brooklands is a better place for it though with the entire Luffield stand there (and the BRDC clubhouse of course.. Cynical? Me??).

The race was fairly straightforward for the most part with Webber and Hamilton checking out on a field which had got bottled up behind Kubica and Rosberg if I recall correctly, not aided of course with some fast guys starting lower down the order so unable to give the leaders a good race. Things livened up considerably following the Safety Car for de la Rosa’s broken wing, it was good to see Vettel carve his way through the field and apparently putting to rest this myth that he can’t pass. The question is, how much was he aided by the f-duct? It also seemed like some drivers weren’t defending fully and seemed to leave the door open a bit between the new section and Brooklands, that was until he reached Sutil who made him fight for it. Adrian had a good race all round in fact, he was combative all day and it was great to see.

I wasn’t as bored as I might have been because this was the debut of the ‘race tracker’ on the BBC site, a tool provided by FOM which shows the location of the cars on-track in real time. This proved to be very useful because TV can’t show everything at once and I reckon it’ll quickly become an indispensable part of following F1 for those of us who don’t already have one of the various live timing mobile apps.

IndyCar – Toronto *live*

I missed the Watkins Glen race as I was travelling back from the Festival of Speed (final instalment coming up soon, folks!). There was a lot of Twitter excitement in the lead up to Toronto with the current staff of Planet-IRL on the grounds as well as the incomparable Meesh, with two of those three being residents of the city and the third trying a non-oval for the first time there was a bit of a buzz even from them let alone everyone else. It is good to have the race back on the schedule because it is a real test for the drivers and it attracts an enthusiastic and knowledgeable crowd.

It isn’t always one of my favourites though – it is always a crashfest and this year was no exception. It was really embarrassing to have so many accidents and incidents throughout the race, often it barely got started again before the next crash happened. Yet this race was still exciting. Who was the next to go out? Who could hang on?

They were all trying to win the race on each restart despite Turn 3 being a notable overtaking opportunity which could’ve been exploited with patience, Toronto rewards drivers who keep their head and remain calm – all too many fell victim to red mist. Perhaps surprisingly two of those in the former camp were Paul Tracy and Danica Patrick, it was interesting that Tracy was the only KVRT driver not to suffer accident damage given his old reputation! Patrick put in a solidly impressive drive, perhaps not passing all that many but not getting involved in stupid accidents either, very professional and a marked return to old form. Got to feel for Justin Wilson who dominated the entire weekend before spinning late in the race of his own accord, he put in a stirling recovery drive passing many cars to finish 7th. This one was a hard-fought battle of survival and the ‘usual Penske-Ganassi 1-2′ absolutely doesn’t reflect that, this race’s story was bigger than the headline result.

DTM – EuroSpeedway 2009 (Rnd 2 of 10)

A largely boring and tedious race which suddenly picked up after 50 minutes when the strategies unwound. Paffett and Spengler stayed out while everyone else made their first stops, and remained on track even while some drivers made their second stops. It worked for them – after their first stops it was hard to see what was going on for a while, until it became apparent their lap times after their first stop were faster than Ekstrom and di Resta who had stopped twice. It was midly interesting to watch the time gaps increasing as Gary and Egon Bruno tried to build up a buffer in which to make their stops. I was surprised by the margin of their advantage when they did eventually come in and emerged a good 3 or 4 seconds up on the others, that’s a long way in DTM terms.

WTCC – Valencia 2009 (Rnds 9+10 of 24)

I said last time that I’d never seen a good race at the Ricardo Tormo circuit.. Well you can strike that, because in the very same weekend as that dire F2 race the World Touring Cars put on a great show, for the first race at least. Passing up and down the order throughout the field – okay the front three were static almost throughout with the SEATs driving away, but the race wasn’t any worse off for it as we saw battling throughout. The second race was somewhat calmer and the BMWs walked it after their customary excellent standing starts.

Tour de France – Highlights

I’ve been geeking out on ITV’s hour-long highlights shows, often leaving them a few days before gorging myself on 3 or 4 in a sitting. I now have Phil Liggett’s voice imprinted in my brain, but this is no surprise as the same happened last year. This has really distilled down into a two-man fight between Spain’s Alberto Contador (quite Alonso-like I think) and Andy Schleck of Luxembourg. The great thing about this type of racing is you have a new race every day with different participants from down the field putting in a great stage-winning performance, with the continuing storyline of the leaders battling wherever they are in the day’s results. Sometimes they come in with the pack and nothing changes, the story is about that day’s winner (unless the bunch comes across together), sometimes they are fighting each other in the top five of the day. I actually haven’t seen Wednesday’s stage yet (hope to in the morning) and as the last mountain stage it should’ve pretty much decided the overall standings, the stages to come should have smaller time gaps available and the story may switch to the green jersey for sprint points. Of course, anything can happen in the Tour.

Coming Soon

I usually tick off more in 21 days but Le Tour has taken up a bit of my time as has a desire to cut down a little to give my brain a rest. I thought I’d watched the Catalunya MotoGP but I have absolutely no recollection of it so it can’t have been that good. I’ll be watching German MotoGP within a day or so, and of course this weekend we have Laguna Seca, the German F1 GP and Edmonton IndyCar. There’s more happening too, but even I can’t watch everything..

I’ll post another update in a couple of weeks.

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Filed under 2009, 2010, DTM, F1, I'm Watching.., IndyCar, Race Review, WTCC

2010 Race Calendar

During the 2009 season I thought it would be a great idea to create a race schedule in Google Calendar featuring different racing series. I was busy with accounts studies at the time and I never got around to taking it further. Early last month I decided it was worth exploring so I set up a trial with F1 and IndyCar dates. I’d add more later if I decided it looked okay. Again I let it drop when other things got in the way.

Christine from Sidepodcast recently created a calendar highlighting F1 events and the SPC / F1 Minute podcast schedules and she did a great job, enough to inspire me to get on and finish my idea.

Here it is!

(note – WordPress doesn’t allow the iFrame code that makes the embed work so I have had to leave it out for now)

My schedule includes F1, F2, GP2, IndyCar, Le Mans 24hr, ALMS, LMS, MotoGP, WRC, IRC and WTCC. I’ve also put in Dakar, Goodwood and a couple of other things. I’ll add NASCAR Sprint Cup and DTM soon – there are categories already so if you add them the events will hopefully appear in your calendar automatically.

Christine’s calendar is F1-specific and it includes Free Practice, pre-season testing and car launches. My calendar includes none of these things, only qualifying and race. I highly recommend adding Christine’s F1 calendar if you would like this extra information.

Click the “+GoogleCalendar” button to add to your own Google Calendar account. I have split events by race series so you can just pick the ones you want. I think there is a way to get them into iCal and other systems, though I don’t know how.

The calendar is set to UK time because that’s where I am and that’s most useful to me. I’m not sure but I believe when you import it, it will adjust it to your own default timezone. Have a play with it and see.

Race start times are estimates apart from F1 and Le Mans. This information is surprisingly hard to find. E.g. IndyCar.com only lists TV start times, not race starts. Many sites only give the dates and I’ve had to improvise. Then there’s the issue of timezones which I may have got wrong. I plan to make each forthcoming weekend as accurate as I can, beyond that just use this as a guide.

I’ve included qualifying for F1, Le Mans 24Hrs and IndyCar (times estimated). I don’t intend to include any more qualifying.

I hope you find this useful and please let me know if there is anything you would like to add. If the demand is there and I think it warrants adding, I’ll do so. I’m already considering Indy Lights.

As you can see I’ve also added a list version to the sidebar. When I create the new site I will have a version similar to the one above on its own page.

EDIT – WordPress does not allow embeds so I have linked them on the sidebar. This means you can pick and choose the series you are interested in! I’ve also since created calendars for Indy Lights and GrandAm.

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Filed under 2010, ELMS, F1, F2, GP2, IndyCar, IRC, MotoGP, WRC, WTCC

Weekend Preview: 18-19 July 2009

Feature Events

MotoGP

- Alice Motorrad Grand Prix Deutschland
- Sachsenring, Germany
- (9/17)
- www.motogp.com

Last weekend we had the German F1 GP, the 9th race of 17, and either due by design or coincidence this week sees the German MotoGP, also the 9th race of 17 but this time on the opposite side of the country to the Nurburgring over at the Sachsenring circuit between Dresden and Leipzig.

TV Guide:
UK – LIVE on BBC Two at 12.50pm Sunday, race starts at 1pm
(qualifying on BBC Red Button on Sat)
USA – LIVE on SPEED at 6pm ET Sunday
(amazing, the US gets a live MotoGP race!)

Support races are live on Eurosport and the BBC Red Button from 9.30am.


American Le Mans Series

- The American Le Mans North East Grand Prix
- Lime Rock Park, Connecticut, United States
- (5/10)
- www.americanlemans.com

The long hiatus to allow teams to compete at Le Mans – and recover – is finally over! This is a 2h45m event on the little Lime Rock circuit which last year was just a little bit frantic! Slightly fewer cars this year of course, but those up front will be trying just as hard.

TV Guide:
UK – Heavily Delayed on MotorsTV at 9.30pm on Monday 27th July
USA – LIVE on SPEED at 2pm ET Saturday

UK fans if you want to follow this event live I suggest listening to www.radiolemans.com instead! Should be at 7 or 8pm Saturday?

Other Events


FIA World Touring Car

- Brands Hatch
- Kent, England, UK
- (8/12)
- www.fiawtcc.com

TV Guide:
UK – LIVE on Eurosport
- Race 1 @ 11.45am Sunday
- Race 2 @ 1.30pm Sunday


FIA Formula 2

- Brands Hatch
- Kent, England, UK
- (4/)
- www.formulatwo.com
- with Formula Master

TV Guide:
UK – LIVE on Eurosport
- Race 1 DELAYED @ 6.45pm Saturday
- Race 2 LIVE @ 12.30pm Sunday

Elsewhere – Live streaming on www.formulatwo.com
Race 1 starts at 2pm on Saturday, Race 2 at 12.45pm Sunday


DTM

- Zandvoort
- Holland
- (4/10)
- www.dtm.com for news
- www.dtm.tv for live streaming and other video

The annual visit to Holland for the Germans appears likely to receive no UK TV airing following the collapse of Setanta Sports, as unlike GP2 no other broadcaster has stepped in to pick up the rights.

There should be live streaming on www.dtm.tv though! It is due to kick off at 1pm UK time.


Superleague Formula

- Zolder
- Belgium
- (6/11)
- www.superleagueformula.com

No TV deal here either for the same reasons as DTM, although I’m a little less bothered about this one!


World Series by Renault

- Le Mans Bugatti
- Le Mans, France
- (6/9)
- www.worldseriesbyrenault.com

There is a 30 minute update at 10pm Sunday on Eurosport, otherwise coverage seems as patchy and randomly-timed as ever.


Atlantic Championship

- Lime Rock Park
- Connecticut, USA
- (4/10)
- www.atlantic-championship.com


Grand-Am Rolex Series

- Barber Motorsport Park
- Alabama, USA
- (8//12)
- www.grand-am.com


Formula 3 Euroseries

- Zandvoort
- Holland
- (4/10)
- www.f3euroseries.com


NASCAR Nationwide Series

- Gateway International Raceway
- Madison, Illinois
- www.nascar.com


NASCAR Camping World Trucks

- Kentucky Speedway
- Sparta, Kentucky
- www.nascar.com
- with ARCA Re/Max

* * * *

I think that’s everything, if you spot anything I’ve missed or if you are attending any of these events be sure to leave a comment!

For those in the UK who missed the Goodwood Festival of Speed show on Tuesday, it will be repeated on ITV4 on Sunday at 5pm – don’t miss it!

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Filed under 2009, F2, Superleague, Weekend Preview, WTCC

The War Ends Before It Begins

24 hours ago Max Mosely and Luca di Montezemelo were sat discussing the FIA/FOTA fiasco, with Bernie Ecclestone also present presumably as moderator as well as looking after his own interests. The trio reportedly discussed the issues for most of the night in order to strike a deal before Wednesday’s crucial FIA World Motorsport Council (WSMC) meeting, in which frankly anything could have happened.

Thankfully the time pressure of the deadline meant common sense broke out and the following agreements were announced:

- There will be no FOTA breakaway, instead they will report back tomorrow with cost-reduction proposals.
- Budgets are to be reduced to “early 1990s levels” within two years. Curiously the method for achieving this was not stated so the budget cap may not be the answer.
- The 1998 Concorde Agreement, which determines the distribution of revenues, methods for agreeing regulations, and more, has been amended and extended to 2012. This means all teams are committed to that date.
- There will be 13 teams in the 2010-2012 Formula One World Championship, this is the list per the press release:

SCUDERIA FERRARI MARLBORO
VODAFONE McLAREN MERCEDES
BMW SAUBER F1 TEAM
RENAULT F1 TEAM
PANASONIC TOYOTA RACING
SCUDERIA TORO ROSSO
RED BULL RACING
AT&T WILLIAMS
FORCE INDIA F1 TEAM
BRAWN GP FORMULA ONE TEAM
CAMPOS META TEAM
MANOR GRAND PRIX
TEAM US F1

The latter three operations will use the cheap Cosworth engines, it is currently unclear if those will be under 2006 regulations since 2006 was the last year Cosworth competed (as a nod to cost-saving). If so this would give them a 2000rpm advantage over the other teams, and not have to run to the multi-race engine rules. While this is clearly unfair, it could be the new teams’ chassis will be so far behind the established teams, for the first couple of years anyway, that it all balances out nicely – should the new teams catch up, they can expect these breaks to be lifted.

You can read the FIA press release on their own website.

* * * *

Within the press release were some other nuggets relating to other FIA series.

World Rally

- The new 1.6 litre turbo engine will be brought in ahead of schedule in 2011.
- Events can now be more flexible. Instead of running to a set 3-day timetable, they may run 2, 3 or 4 days as long as it finishes on a Saturday or Sunday. They may include different surfaces.
- The 2010 calendar is out and you can see it in the link. Looks like the move to a winter championship schedule has been quietly dropped.

World Touring

- Yokohama is the sole supplier for the next three years.
- Autosport reported the 1.6 litre engine will be used in WTCC in 2011 as well, and that it’ll be a spec engine, but the release doesn’t mention this.
- The 2010 calendar is out, check it out in the link. Algarve and Zolder are in. Pau is out. Valencia and Imola move around, assuming Imola is the Italian round.

I find the whole idea of the top rally and touring car series running 1.6 litre engines to be laughable. At least the rally cars will be turbocharged.

World GT

- Stephane Ratel’s plan to expand FIA GT into a new FIA GT1 World Championship has been authorised. GT2 will split into a new European series of its own races, many of which will run on GT1 weekends alongside GT3 and GT4.
- GT1 will be for pro drivers, GT2 for pro-am, and GT3 for non-professionals.
- The Bucharest street race next year is out, instead they’ll go to Budapest (I’m assuming this means the Hungaroring).

It seems like a good idea and I really hope it works for them, despite my reservations at losing the element of class traffic from sportscar racing.

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Filed under 2010, F1, FIA, FIA GT, FOTA, WRC, WTCC

Weekend Preview: 30-31 May 2009

Feature Events

IndyCar Series

- ABC Supply / AJ Foyt 225
- Milwaukee Mile, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, United States
- (5/17)
- 225 laps
- www.indycar.com

Just one week after the Indy 500 the teams and drivers head to the traditional follow-up event at the Milwaukee Mile – this will be the 52nd time Milwaukee directly follows Indy in the schedule and the 3rd time under IRL sanction, it really is one of those long-time Indy-racing traditions. According to IndyCar.com the last driver to win both events back-to-back was Juan Pablo Montoya in 2000.

I like Milwaukee, it can be a lot of fun and it is a different kettle of fish to the 1.5 milers the IRL usually uses.

TV Guide:
UK – LIVE on Sky Sports 1 at 11pm BST
USA – LIVE on ABC at 3:30pm EDT

Support races: Firestone Indy Lights

Other Events

MotoGP

- Gran Premio d’Italia Alice
- Mugello, Italy
- (5/17)
- www.motogp.com

To Italy! I still haven’t caught up with MotoGP so I really have no idea what’s going on, but this track ought to sort them out.

TV Guide:
UK – LIVE on BBC Two at 12.30pm
USA – Delayed on SPEED at 4pm ET

Supports: 250s, 125s, etc.

 


NASCAR Sprint Cup

- Dover 400
- Dover, Delaware, USA

- Charlotte, South Carolina, USA
- (13/36)
- www.nascar.com

TV Guide:
UK – LIVE on Sky Sports 1 at 7pm Sunday
USA – LIVE on FOX at 1.30pm ET Sunday

Support races: Nationwide Series (Saturday), Camping World Trucks (Friday)

DTM

- EuroSpeedway Lausitz
- Lausitz, Germany
- (2/10)
- www.dtm.com (news/results)
- www.dtm.tv (video interviews, live streaming)

The German tourers head to the road course layout at the EuroSpeedway. Turn one is always fun but to be honest this isn’t my favourite DTM race of the year because the huge stands make the place look empty and the track itself isn’t very interesting. There is always a bit of fun at turn one at the start, otherwise there isn’t much to be said.

The good news is that we in the UK return to live coverage for this event, so if you have Setanta be sure to check it out.

TV Guide:
UK – LIVE on Setanta Sports 1 at 12.30pm.
Worldwide – LIVE on www.dtm.tv from 2pm CET / 1pm BST / 8am EDT. When you follow that link it will ask you to choose one of two sites, pick the right-hand one. The live link is on the top right of the page.

Support races: F3 Euroseries

WTCC

- Valencia
- Circuit de la Comunitat Valenciana Ricardo Tormo, Valencia, Spain
- (5/12)
- www.fiawtcc.com

I’ve never liked this circuit. It can produce the odd reasonable race but I just don’t like it! In many ways it shares several characteristics with Lausitz. Lots of tight turns, a long straight, lots of seats that aren’t filled..

TV Guide:
LIVE on Eurosport at 11.45am (race 1) and 1.45pm (race 2).

Support races: International Formula Master


Formula 2

- Valencia
- Circuit de Ricardo Tormo, Valencia, Spain
- (1/8)
- www.formulatwo.com

The return of the F2 name to the contemporary motorsport scene, except this time rather than being an open formula it is a spec series run to a budget. It is pitched as a Formula 1 feeder but in all honesty it’ll find itself competing with FR3.5 to get people into GP2 with the odd guy getting a test & reserve deal in F1 – not to mention this is yet another fracture of the development ladder! Still, if it give opportunities to talented drivers who can’t afford the alternatives then it will have served its purpose well, and perhaps it is other series that need to be cut back. Time will decide that one.

TV Guide:
Eurosport at 5pm Saturday (delayed race 1) and 12.45pm Sunday (LIVE race 2).
Note race 2 slots directly between the two WTCC races in the Eurosport schedule!
There is also live coverage on the series website at 2.20pm CET Saturday and 1.50pm CET Sunday.


BTCC

- Oulton Park
- Cheshire, England, UK
- www.btcc.net

Oulton Park is an excellent and deceptively tricky circuit which is a lot of fun to watch!

Formula Nippon

 

- Fuji, Japan


V8 Supercars

- Symmons Plains, Australia


British F3 & GT

- Rockingham, England

* * *
That’s it, if ever if you think I’ve forgotten something please point it out in the comments. Enjoy your weekend!

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Filed under 2009, BTCC, F2, IndyCar, MotoGP, NASCAR, Weekend Preview, WTCC