Weekend Preview: 11-12 April 2009

We get something of a breather this week and F1-focussed fans certainly need it after the barrage of news and drama of the last fortnight – add in the IndyCar season opener, sports and touring cars and it’s been a very hectic opener to the season!

Time to relax with some motorbikes, if by relaxing you like clinging to the edge of your seat.

* * * *
Feature Event

– Commercial Bank Grand Prix of Qatar (1/17)
– Losail Circuit
– Doha, Qatar, United Arab Emirates
Track Map

** EDIT 13/4/09 – Nobody spotted the deliberate mistake – Qatar isn’t part of the UAE, they are different countries! Okay, I got it wrong… **

The two-wheeled boys are back, the last of the big series to get going and the final signal that the 2009 racing season is truly under way. Qatar isn’t always the best race in the world in terms of close action and again this year it is a night race. In the middle of a desert. Okay.. In any case this is one to watch to learn who everyone is (if you are new) and to get used to team changes, livery changes, and to play “spot the newbie” (if you aren’t so new).

If you haven’t seen MotoGP before, you should probably start now. The races are only 45 minutes long and it is the only form of motorbike racing I watch. It is the F1 of bike racing in terms of technology – and in terms of politics. I’m a very casual fan, reading very little about it between races or in the off-season. I like to switch on the TV at the appointed time and watch some close racing, then leave it until next time. It’s a lot of fun in no small part due to that little Italian guy. When Schumacher won everything it was boring, when Rossi does it it’s entertaining and highly impressive to watch.

UK TV: LIVE on BBC Three at 8.45pm. Don’t worry about the channel choice, the rest of the season will be on BBC Two which is showing golf (The Masters!) this Sunday.
If you haven’t got BBC Three yet the race is available live on the BBC website to UK users. Qualifying is available on Saturday via red button* and online and everything will be on the iPlayer for 7 days.
British Eurosport will have their version at 10pm, just as the BBC coverage ends.

US TV: DELAYED on SPEEDtv at 10pm ET. I have no idea why they delayed this premier class race by six hours in order to show back-to-back episodes of ‘Bullrun’, followed by Dave Despain trying not to give the result away on Wind Tunnel (don’t read the ticker). This is the listing I found. You seriously need to write to these guys and complain at their handling of top class motorsport. This isn’t the first incompetency I’ve seen from them this year and it’s only April. They will be showing the 250cc at 8pm.

Support events:
125cc at 6pm UK, 250cc at 7.15pm UK with both live on Eurosport and BBC’s red button*/online.

* BBC Red Button notes: If you are new to digital TV all you have to do is go to any BBC channel and hit the red button on your remote control (not the standby button!). This will bring up a sidebar. The menu changes name depending on what’s on, though the live telly is usually at the top with the teletext options underneath. It may be called Sport Multiscreen, or there could be a MotoGP link directly. It can be quite slow but eventually it will load a multiple-choice screen – just press the number of the screen you want to see or pick it with your arrow keys and press Select. To exit press BackUp or Back at each stage until it goes away. *

* * *
Other International Events:

– Algarve (Rnd 6*)
– Autodromo Internacional do Algarve
– Portimao, Algarve, Portugal
Track Map

* I’ve given up writing the total number of events because it changes so often.

It’ll be very interesting to see a race at the fantastic-looking new Portimao circuit, which looked great in the F1 winter testing photos. It’s a very hilly track with a lot of gradient change and a lot of corners while also looking quite fast. This is it’s first major international race for cars (has it held a bike event?).

I’ve lost track of A1’s season because I’m about 4 events behind real time in my watching of the series, nonetheless it should be entertaining.

UK TV: Race LIVE on Sky Sports 3 from 1.30pm Sunday with repeats at 6.30pm and 11.30pm both on Sky Sports 2 (you can tell Sky have a financial interest in this one).

US TV: I think the answer is still ‘none’ so you’ll need the live stream at www.a1gp.com (as will UK viewers without Sky).

Support races: Ferrari Challenge (not televised)

* * *
National Events
(according to FORIX (sub req.))

NASCAR Nationwide Series
Nashville Superspeedway, Tennessee, United States

Cooper Tires British F3 International Series
/ Avon Tyres British GT Championship
/ UK Formula Ford
– Oulton Park (F3: 1/10 GT: 1/8)
– Oulton Park, Little Budworth, Cheshire, England
Track Map

The ‘other’ top line British package (alongside BTCC) comprises the domestic F3, GT and Formula Ford series and they have their traditional Oulton Park Easter weekend openers this week. Each series holds 2 or 3 races but look out if you are planning to attend: the racing will be on Saturday and Easter Monday! There’s no action on Sunday but racing on a holiday Monday makes for a great family day out.

UK TV: F3 will be on MotorsTV on April 18th in a 1hr show. GT will follow a week later. There is also a 30min show on Channel 4 but I don’t know when that will be aired.

Further supports from the Ginetta G20 Cup and VW Racing Cup.

German F3 / ADAC GT / Procar / ADAC FMaster
Oschersleben, Germany

French GT / Porsche Cup France
Nogaro, France

Dutch Supercars
Zandvoort, Holland

V8 Brasil
Curitiba, Brazil

British Superbikes
Brands Hatch

* * *
There are a lot of other European junior series too including various Formula Renault national and regional series.

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