Weekend Preview: 25-26 April 2009

* * * *
Feature Event

FIA Formula 1 World Championship (4/17)
– Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix
– Sakhir, Bahrain

Go to the F1 Preview!

Race coverage:
UK: Live on BBC1 @ 12.10pm BST
US: Live on SPEED @ 7.30am EDT

* * *
Other Major International Events:

IRL IndyCar Series
– RoadRunner Turbo Indy 300 (3/17)
– Kansas City, Kansas, USA

Go to the IndyCar preview!

Race coverage:
UK: Live on Sky Sports 2 @ 11.00pm BST
US: Live on VERSUS @ 4pm EDT

– Japanese Grand Prix
– Twin-Ring Motegi, Japan

I can’t say I find Motegi’s watching road course any more enjoyable than its oval.

UK: Live on BBC Two at 6:45am with highlights at 2pm, and a re-run under the Red Button on a rolling loop overnight from 11pm. I expect British Eurosport will run their version as soon as the BBC coverage is scheduled to end.

US: Not sure, probably Speed.

NASCAR Sprint Cup
– Aaron’s 499 (9/36)
– Talledega, Alabama, USA

The taxicabs are on the high banks at Talledega for a long restrictor plate race. What’s the 499 about? It can’t be the mileage because I can’t make the numbers work. It’s a 2.66 mile track. Anyway, restrictor plate tracks are boring, everyone is just waiting for the inevitible huge accident and that’s not fun.

Race coverage:

UK: Live on Sky Sports 2 @ 7pm BST
US: Live on FOX @ 1.00pm EDT Sunday

FIA World Rally Championship
– Rally Argentina (5/12)
– Carlos Paz, Argentina

More dusty gravel.

UK: Eurosport / Dave

* * *
Other Events – check your TV listings:

Grand-Am Rolex Series
– Virginia International Raceway (2/12)
– Virginia, USA

HiQ MSA British Touring Car Championship
– Thruxton (2/10)
– Thruxton, Hampshire, UK

The BTCC’s 2nd meeting of the year is at the fastest track in the UK, if you don’t include the Rockingham oval. There are always issues with punctures and pushing the limits at the ultra-fast Church corner out at the back of the track.

I was all set to attend this meeting but an overdose of college work has prevented it!

UK: Live on ITV4 and at www.itv.com/itv4 from 11:30am to 6pm, including lots of support races such as FRenault, the Clio Cup and those Ginetta things.

GP2 Asia Series
Sakhir, Bahrain (with F1)

NASCAR Nationwide Series
Talladega, Alabama, United States (with N-Cup)

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series
Kansas City, Kansas, United States (with IndyCar)

Firestone Indy Lights
Kansas City, Kansas, United States (with IndyCar)

Star Mazda & FBMW NA
Virginia, USA (with GrandAm)


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.

MotoGP back to Eurosport

Gotta love the about-face. First Dorna takes the rights from Eurosport to sell them to FTAs, then they do a deal with Eurosport France causing uproar among fans in the UK and beyond.

Autosport.com and others are reporting that Dorna have changed their minds due to pressure from fans (and Toby Moody) and will indeed once again show 125cc, 250cc and MotoGP races during 2009. The support events will be live and the main event will be delayed on British Eurosport. I don’t know the status of the other local Eurosport services so I’m afraid you’ll have to check that yourselves.

2009 MotoGP Coverage (UK)

All MotoGP races are live on BBC2. These are followed on the Red Button by MotoGP Extra, an analysis programme. Also on the Red Button are the 125 and 250 races as well as qualifying for all classes. Commentary will be as before: Charlie Cox and Steve Parrish.

British Eurosport:
All MotoGP races are delayed on British Eurosport*. 125 and 250 will be live as will all Friday and Saturday practices. The big news: The Toby & Julian Show will return!

* I expect this to mean the main channel, not Eurosport 2.

Both broadcasters will make the races available online after the event, via BBC iPlayer and Eurosport Player respectively.

Bits and bobs

Just a few things you can expect from me in the next few weeks:

Race notes on the remaining F1 races this year, starting with the Italian GP this weekend. If I think about it tomorrow or Friday I’ll do a race preview but it won’t be as good as the Belgian one. I liked that preview. I guess I could gloat about having been to Monza.. Nobody likes a show-off, least of all me, but everyone likes to show off…. so that sounds like a plan. Consider it done.

Then there’s Singapore, Japan, China and Brazil. I think that’s the right order. I haven’t been to any of those so the previews would probably be a bit rubbish.

MotoGP Indy
A little after the Italian GP this Sunday is the MotoGP race at Indianapolis. If last Sunday’s IndyCar madfest at Chicago and F1 craziness in Belgium didn’t get you going, then how about back-to-backs at two of racing’s most storied venues? Shit if these 8 days don’t do it for you, you don’t like racing, and if you don’t like racing what are you doing reading this? Go away!

I keep promising to watch (and post about) some GP2 – and then I end up doing something else entirely. I’m not watching the races and ignoring the blog updates, I really haven’t seen the races yet. Basically this means I’m like 8 weeks behind on GP2. So yeah I need catch up with that, now the IndyCars are done I should have an extra couple of hours a week for doing that. Any bets on when I’ll *actually* watch the things?

I said I’d do a series preview for A1GP. Their first race of the new season was due ten days from now but it got postponed, apparently indefinitely. I think there’s a clear weekend in there somewhere so I’ll see if I get time to knock something up but I’m not promising anything.

I’ve just realised I have no clue why I’m posting this, yet I’m going to hit Publish anyway. Does this mean I’ve become a Blogaholic? Is that a word? Help!

By the way, on the whole Lewis vs Kimi thing:
Both put in great drives and I’d have been happy for either to win – ON THE RACETRACK. Post-race decisions disappoint me, especially ones which make no sense at all.
Glock got the same penalty as Hamilton but I understand that, he passed under yellows, that’s a No-No. Fine. Yet Hamilton backed off enough that Raikkonen was ahead by a nose. The position was returned in accordance with accepted precedent.
Hamilton was faster on the straight because he had been faster for the whole of the previous lap. The McLaren is just better in the rain on this type of track.
What about all of this did the FIA stewards miss? Even Charlie Whiting of the FIA told McLaren it was safe – twice! The stewards are independent of Whiting..
The FIA’s structures are too rigid and old-fashioned, and they always have been. Time for a rethink.