An Easter Sunday

How did I spend my Easter Sunday?

Watching racing – hey you know me, what did you expect? I had no plans all day and this was the first fully-stacked motorsport weekend of 2010, there’s no way I was going to miss it.

I woke at 7.45am when my alarm beeped, a cleverly-timed alarm designed to get me downstairs for 8am for the BBC F1 pre-race show. I hit the off button and promptly fell asleep until 9am. 9am.. The race starts at 9am! Cue a mad rash downstairs. I arrived as the cars rounded the last corner on their warm up lap. That was close. I watched the race in a bit of a daze, trying to fire up the live timing which was having troubles of its own, as well as trying to find the 5Live commentary feed and other accoutrements to enjoying F1.

You can read my thoughts on the F1 race elsewhere, the important point is that as soon as it was over it was time to flick over to ITV4 to catch some BTCC action from their first meeting of the year at Thruxton – but wait, what’s this, Superleague Formula’s first race at Silverstone was on at the same time? Which to choose?

The answer of course, is both. I had Superleague’s official free web stream on my PC, with the BTCC coverage on my TV. I found I was more into the Superleague so I muted the TV. To be honest I wasn’t really following either race all too well, if you combine following two races with keeping up with Twitter and other sites which were reporting on the BBC F1 Forum happening at the time which I’d abandoned, there was a lot of information to take in.

Eventually there was time for a break for shower, breakfast and a cup of tea at something like 1pm. Perfect for a Sunday normally, the hunger hurt a little after being up since 9.. The BTCC support races were playing out during this time and I watched a couple of them, the Porsches were as tedious as ever despite their larger grid – and the Clio Cup was as madcap as ever despite their much reduced grid!

At 2pm came another decision. SF race 2, or BTCC race 2? I took the same solution as before since the internet had become awfully quiet, I’m guessing people were off doing family things for Easter. I muted the TV again and again barely followed the touring car race, I’ve found no reason to get interested in it this year.

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Conversely, I’ve never watched Superleague Formula before and I’ve been openly critical of the entire concept. I still don’t like the concept and their timing and scoring system is very confusing with the three letters representing teams not drivers, but I tell you what, they’ve made the right choices on the car and engine package and on the driver choices. There was top notch racing in race 2. Bourdais fought his way up, Montagny passed several cars from the back to finish 8th or so, and this Dolby fellow is quite a find isn’t he? I thought it was a very good race, lots of passing yet it was nice and clean.

Not like BTCC race 3 which was the last race of the day at Thruxton, after a couple more support races. I watched this with the sound off as well because I was listening to ‘Giggles Radio’ on Sidepodcast, but since listening to music is a little less taxing than watching a race I was able to follow this encounter a little more. It seemed okay other than what looked to me to be very slow-looking touring cars, until Matt Neal decided to get up to his tricks and just rammed Rob Collard into the barrier. He claimed he had nowhere to go, which is nonsense. 3 cars, 1 ahead and 2 side by side with Neal one of the two. He just rams the car in front such that it loses momentum and the 3rd car knocks it into a spin because he genuinely can’t avoid it. Had Matt backed off and remained side by side behind the first car, they’d all make it round and he’d have a good drag race on the front straight. Crazy behaviour.

I used to be a Matt Neal fan until a couple of years ago when he seemed to ramp up his antics. He’s just a knobhead, and so are the BTCC stewards for not clamping down on him. I used to dislike Plato for similar things but he seems to have got better recently.

Literally minutes after this race ended, the WRC Rally Jordan review was beginning on the Dave channel (for non-UK people, yes we have a TV channel called “Dave”). I half-watched this but the antics with the penalties to get a favourable road position left a bad taste.

After this I went out for some clear air and a walk and came back to write my Malaysia review. On the whole a rather exceptionally lazy day of watching racing and while there were some negatives it was a thoroughly enjoyable day.

One of the more interesting sub-plots was seeing the work being done at Silverstone. I’d seen pictures but nothing in video, and it was very strange seeing the current front straight with a gravel trap where the grandstands used to be, and some new stands erected outside of it. Being up close was part of that area of Silverstone but I guess what you lose in proximity you gain in being able to see more of the straight. The place looked a bit raggedy in places as there is still work ongoing, but generally much more modern than before, and I expect to see it looking somewhat nicer come the F1 and MotoGP events in the summer.

A good day overall then. What did you do?

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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!

Weekend Preview: 27-28 June 2009

Feature Events

IndyCar Series

– SunTrust Indy Challenge
– Richmond International Raceway, Richmond, Virginia, USA
– (8/17)
– 300 laps
www.indycar.com

A Saturday evening race as darkness falls at the short oval where traffic will be an issue, it could cause problems or it could help the racing as the better drivers through lapped traffic will run well.

TV Guide:
UK – LIVE on Sky Sports 1 at 1:30am Sunday morning
USA – LIVE on VERSUS at 8pm ET Saturday night for an 8.45pm green flag (why not a nice easy 9pm??)

Support races: USAC Silver Crown, USAC Sprint Car


MotoGP

– Alice TT Assen
– Assen, Holland
– (7/17)
www.motogp.com

MotoGP is also on a Saturday as is the tradition at Assen.

TV Guide:
UK – LIVE on BBC Two at 12:40pm Saturday afternoon
Delayed on Eurosport

Support races: 250cc and 125cc available on the BBC Red Button

Other Events


NASCAR Sprint Cup

– Lenox Industrial Tools 301
– New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Loudon, New Hampshire, USA
– (17/36)
www.nascar.com

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

(The Nationwide Series at Loudon on Saturday night, Trucks are at Memphis also on Saturday)

For all other events I will list the UK time (BST not GMT) and channel only, if you are elsewhere you will have to look it up (check their website).


World Rally Championship

– Rally Poland
– (5/10)
– Eurosport and Dave
www.wrc.com
This is the first time Rally Poland has been a part of the WRC.

DTM

– Norisring
– Nuremburg, Germany
– (3/8)
– live web streaming: just before 1pm Sunday
www.dtm.tv
The UK TV deal collapsed when Setanta Sports did, let’s hope someone else picks it up. Check the webstream if you can, Norisring is nuts!
(supported by F3 Euroseries)

Superleague Formula

– Magny-Cours, France
– (1/6)
– Eurosport 2: Race 1 at 10am, Race 2 at 1pm followed by the new ‘extra time final’
– there may be live streaming on the website? I refuse to look at it.
www.superleagueformula.com
The whole idea is a bunch of hokum clearly, but it features interesting if unspectacular drivers such as Enrique Bernoldi, Giorgio Pantano, Antonio Pizzonia, Yelmer Buurman, Adrian Valles, Tristan Gommendy and Ho-Pin Tung, all in powerful V12 single-seaters.

(also on the bill: Euroseries 3000, this is the series which picked up the old Lola A1 cars, no telly coverage as far as I know)

FIA Formula 2

– Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium
– (3/8)
– Eurosport: Race 1 live 12pm Saturday, Race 2 delayed 11:30pm Sunday night but there is live streaming online
www.formulatwo.com
The first visit to Spa for this series should be a bit of fun!
(with the International GT Open and the Dutch Supercar Challenge)


Formula Nippon

– Fuji, Japan


Grand-Am Rolex Series

– Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, Lexington, Ohio, USA
– (6/12)
www.grand-am.com


Super GT

– Sepang, Malaysia
– (4/9)
www.supergt.net/en

* * * *

For those in the UK, don’t forget Top Gear on BBC2 at 8pm Sunday!

I will be quiet on the blog and on Twitter for a few days because I’ll be offline, if anything crazy happens I’ll text it in but won’t see responses until Sunday at the earliest. Enjoy the weekend!

Superleague Formula

I’m not convinced of this.

Superleague Formula, the crossover between motorsport and football, say they have a large amount of market research telling them that such a crossover is going to be a bit hit. They would say that, of course, or they wouldn’t have launched the series.

Now I’m not big fan of footie – except when England are playing, of course – but I’m sceptical. I know football fans will buy anything with their team logo on it but I’m not sure they’ll stick around if their team does not perform. Many are die-hard supporters but a great deal are not, they drift away when their team does badly and only fill the stadium when the team starts winning again.

I have no idea how this is going down in the football press – if indeed it is at all. I would be interested to hear more. Certainly the racing press is as sceptical as I am but they are also wary because they said the same things about A1GP, so they are giving SF the benefit of the doubt for the time being. A1GP was supposed to die halfway through the first season, it did not, sure it has huge financial problems but I believe it is improving and recovering – and I seriously doubt an operation like Ferrari would invest in a new car and engine for a dying championship.

Grand Prix Masters died instead, and that was supposed to be huge. Perhaps this says as much about the racing press as it does about the series concerned.

The first SF event will be held at Donington Park in less than a fortnight, interestingly the first A1GP group test will be held there just 9 days later so we may well get an intriguing laptime comparison should they choose to run on the same layout. I am going to research the teams running each ‘franchise’ (ugh, hate that word) and do a little preview when we are nearer the time. SF, like A1 before it, is starting off with known racing teams running each operation and like A1 perhaps the idea is that each franchise will later take over their own team.

The other point is that SF doesn’t seem to have run anything like the number of test miles as A1 has. Okay, A1 has done this before, but even then they ran a lot of miles. They still encountered problems in the first few races. SF are going to encounter some big teething problems.

The only thing two things impressing me about SF are the chassis based on the superb Panoz DP01 Champ Car, and two of the drivers, Robert Doornbos and Ryan Dalziel. The rest of the field are makeweights. As I say, I’ll run through them in a preview in a week or so.

The official website of SF is www.superleagueformula.com.