I’m Watching… #6

I watch too much racing. Here are the races I watched in the few weeks before going away to Belgium, back in August. Sorry I’m late with this post!

American Le Mans Series
Mid-Ohio 2010

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What a great race! The GT race was the undoubted highlight, multiple lead changes among several cars throughout the 2 hours and 45 minutes. Just as it looked like someone had settled in for the win there would be a twist and another car would be leading, great stuff. Ferrari, Porsche, Corvette, BMW – no matter what it was it seemed to take a turn at leading. The GT2 class in the ALMS is arguably the best GT class anywhere in the world at the moment. The class battle was won by the Risi Ferrari team of Melo and Bruni.

The Prototype field was sparse and on a clear track probably would have been terrible, but on a narrow track with a large GT entry it became a fascinating test of who could work through the slower classes more effectively. Even with so few cars there was a good level of passing and strategy and it too was a good race. Dyson eventually won to take it’s first outright ALMS victory and beat the Highcroft entry by just half a second after 2hrs 45 minutes! Intersport’s Lola led much of the running but lost out with a poorly-timed driver change under yellow, dropping them to third. I get the Fields confused but one of them was very irate on the team radio when he realised the outcome of that decision – that frustation surely became insignificant when the car retired from the race with mechanical failure.

GTC was quite entertaining and LMPC seemed to be a case of nursing the cars home from what I recall. There was some good racing but I’m not a fan of spec series in endurance racing and particularly ACO/IMSA-sanctioned endurance racing. Open these classes up to competition – under heavy restriction if necessary – and I may well become a fan.

I watched this live on the ALMS website with video streaming complete with Radio Le Mans commentary – all sportscar races should be available this way.

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IndyCar Series
Mid-Ohio 2010

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For an open-wheel race at Mid-Ohio this wasn’t too bad. I’ve seen some pretty dire ones over the years and this was among the better ones. You can hardly complain about a race when the top two finish half a second apart, the second major race at this venue in two days to achieve that feat, as Dario Franchitti managed to hold off a challenging Will Power all the way to the end. Justin Wilson was involved in a crash which was a shame as he was doing fairly well. The Andretti suite of cars were all generally quite slow for some reason, they seem to be getting worse on road courses.

The race was led for a large chunk by Alex Tagliani who’d switched to a different strategy to the rest of the field, he stopped early and was helped when a yellow followed not long after. Having started outside the top ten, the strategy worked and he wound up 4th. Tony Kanaan tried something similar but couldn’t make it work and had to make an extra stop.

I watched this live on the IndyCar website which seemed to be having a rare good day with a decent quality stream throughout.

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MotoGP
Brno 2010

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Pedrosa took the lead after his now customary good start, this time from pole – that was until Lorenzo from the outside of the front row jumped both Pedrosa and Spies, knocking Dani to 3rd. A couple of laps later Pedrosa got his way past Spies and set about chasing Jorge. Dovisioso had a scary fall when he dropped it in front of a chasing pack of bikes who somehow missed both rider and bike lying on the track, luckily he was able to pick it up and continue but had to pit the bike as it had apparently been too damaged in the fall.

The Finn, Kallio, ran into the gravel just seconds after the BBC team praised his good performance – the curse of the commentator. Stoner took 3rd from Spies in a fairly straightforward move and that was pretty much it for the remaining 13 laps, though there was a nice battle for 8th in the closing stages – when Bautista fell at the very last corner. Lorenzo had the legs of Pedrosa and held him back to take yet another win.

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GP2 Series
Silverstone 2009

Feature – Romain Grosjean took an immediate lead off the start as most of the field had to avoid the stalled 4th-placed qualifier Jerome d’Ambrosio. There were a couple of spinners on lap one, Chandhok picked his way through the opening lap melee to move from 11th to 6th. It all settled into a rythym for several laps until Grosjean seemed to slow a little and allowed Valerio to challenge. Grosjean had speed on the straights but was slow through the corners and Valerio eventually made the pass into the Abbey chicane when Grosjean left the door wide open. This became the story the cameras followed as Grosjean did his best to fight off car after car.

Lucas di Grassi moved alongside Grosjean through Maggotts/Becketts and they tried to make it side-by-side through the sequence, but Grosjean couldn’t hold on and took to the grass. After the stops, Grosjean found himself heading a train of cars in 6th with Chandhok leading the chase. This became 5th with attrition and that was his position at the flag. Near the end, di Grassi and Perez raced a struggling Hulkenberg who seemed to have his own tyre troubles (the Perez battle was superb, he switched from side to side trying different lines through almost every corner as he tried to pass). Valerio held the lead to the end to take his first GP2 win, di Grassi 2nd and Hulkenberg 3rd with Perez a very close 4th – Perez was largely unseen but came from the very back with an early pitstop to almost reach the podium.

Sprint – After an extra formation lap for stalled cars, Maldonado took the lead from Zuber at the start with Chandhok 3rd. Di Grassi’s car wouldn’t move off the start but he eventually got going in 24th, but spun while setting fastest laps trying to catch the field. On the 3rd lap Petrov put a great move on Fillipi at Stowe, flying past him. Parente was making up lots of places. There was a long stint with no action until half distance when Razia tried to pass Clos for 13th but the cars collided, Razia retired on the spot and Clos had to pit for new tyres. A few laps later Fillipi seemed to lose pace completely, everyone started passing him. Drama at the end as Mortara’s engine blew and Clos spun into the middle of the track on the oil, causing a Safety Car with 3 laps to go, race over. Positions at the top remained unchanged as Maldonado won from Zuber and Chandhok.

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That’s all for now, I’ll be back soon with more racing I’ve been watching.

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