I’m Watching… #5

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

Before I answer that I’d like to note that I missed this blog’s 2nd birthday (or ‘blogaversary’) on August 5th, I’m very surprised I missed it as last year I had a birthday logo and everything. Thanks to everyone for your continued support and I hope you’re enjoying the blog. I’d also like to wish a happy 4th blogaversary to Alianora La Canta – apologies for not offering a question this year and I’ll make up for it on the 5th blogaversary!

Here are the races I watched between July 21st and August 6th – I’ll cover last week’s live races next time.

Formula 1 – German GP 2010 *live on BBC1*

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I thought Ferrari were good now. I thought now the Evil Axis of Todt/Brawn/Schumacher had moved on, the ‘New Ferrari’ of Domenicali & friends were all happy and smiley and open and ready to race fairly with the respect of their peers. Hah! Yeah right, how naïve of me. I’ve pictured the result as it should’ve been..

Aside from the team orders, the race was essentially decided on the first corner when Vettel tried to squeeze Alonso against the wall after a bad start, but turned it into a big push to the right and narrowly avoided collision. The delay to both allowed Massa into the lead. This race showed that Ferrari’s pace has improved significantly and they are now a factor for race wins, they managed to hold off the previously-dominant Red Bulls with apparent ease. Hamilton and Button finished well too, they haven’t been quite as fast all the time but they’ve posted good results all year.

Formula 1 – Hungarian GP 2010 *live on BBC1*

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I was at my Mum’s for this one, which was quite embarrassing because it was a crap race. When I watch with people who never usually see racing I want it to be a good one to show the sport in a good light – when they ask why I watch it I can point at the screen. Why did it have to be Hungary? Of course this meant I was without access to my usual online accoutrements for watching F1 in particular, and live racing in general. I’m referring to things like Tweetdeck, the Sidepodcast live comments, the F1.com live timing and the BBC’s live tracker which shows the position of each car in real time.

Webber’s strategy saw him stay out during the Safety Car period when many had pitted, and he put in a dominant performance to build a gap on the field. He was aided by Vettel’s strange behaviour behind the SC attracting a penalty, you have to wonder how close Seb would’ve run him but to me it seemed Mark had stepped up a gear that day and once he was ahead he was untouchable.

I reckon Mark is ‘doing a Jenson’ – that is, he’s been getting better as a driver for years in midfield cars almost unnoticed by many people, and now he’s able to exploit a good car to make a run for the title at the expense of a perhaps more-fancied team-mate. Jenson did it to Rubens, Mark looks like he’s starting to do it to Sebastian. Good on him, he’s got my backing.

I think the points battles and the drama and incidents mid-race are more interesting than the actual racing competition at the moment, though you can argue F1 has always been that way. It certainly is a tight points battle in both contests – remember in the winter when everyone said the Constructors’ fight would be settled by July? It could still go any of three ways!

Very little else happened in the race, the only other thing of note was Michael Schumacher attempting to kill Rubens Barrichello and the team personnel and marshalls stationed on the pitwall. Michael on very worn medium tyres was travelling several seconds per lap slower than a charging Rubens, who was on a fairly new set of soft tyres and trying to make up for ground lost with what turned out to be a poor strategy. Given the blood between them you can appreciate Rubens wasn’t going to back down – a facet I love about the modern Rubens, he’s still the same warm gentle guy but in a racing car against Schumacher he’ll keep his foot in to the last. Needless to say, Schumacher swerved violently to the right just as Barrichello was passing him on that side. Bully-boy tactics that have scared off many in the past, Rubens has had enough of the man and he wasn’t passing up the opportunity of having a superior car than Mikey. Rubens kept his foot down, moving to the pit exit rather than backing off, and was heading for the grass effectively saying to Michael, “if you don’t give me room I’m going to have an accident”. Michael backed off and gave him the room. Score one to Rubens. You can bet those old demons have been slain once and for all, and Michael now has that marker against him. That it was done in a Williams made it all the sweeter, for me at least and I believe many others (not least Sir Frank).

IndyCar Series – Edmonton *live on IndyCar.com*

One of the most uneventful races of the entire IndyCar year, or even the entire racing year. I am struggling to think of anything noteworthy that happened prior to the controversial incidents of the final laps, perhaps I should take notes!

On the final restart of the race just a few laps from the end – and I must say, this Safety Car for debris seemed like a ‘phantom yellow’ to bunch up the scattered field for the finish, we certainly weren’t shown any debris on the web feed – as the field took the green flag Helio Castroneves took the defensive inside line into the first corner, while most of the rest of the pack took the normal racing line on the outside (if not all of the pack – I can’t recall if someone lower in the order jinked out). All fine and dandy in every series on the planet, the leader has the choice of where to place his car and as long as he’s not weaving across the track, changing line or chopping across the nose of the guy behind he is entitled to do so. This is no longer the case if you’re in IndyCar. Helio was given a penalty for blocking, which he either refused to serve or didn’t have to time to do so while the point was being argued.

It later transpired that the officials draw an imaginary line through each corner and if you deviate from the racing line, you are deemed to be blocking. You’re only allowed to do it if you’re attempting a pass on the driver ahead. Absolutely crazy. It basically moves the leader to one side and waves the 2nd-placed car through. It prevents the chasing driver from trying to force the leader into an outbraking error, forcing him to go wide on the exit and then executing the classic switchback to take the lead. That’s one of the classic hallmark moves of racing and it is now banned in IndyCar. Just as the series looks like it is building solid foundations for the future, it goes and pulls a stunt like this. Instant loss of credibility.

MotoGP – Sachsenring 2010 *live on BBC2*

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Aside from a large accident involving Randy de Puniet I don’t remember much about this one either. Randy made an error in practice/qualifying, got patched up and started the race anyway, as these crazy motorbike riders like to do. The risk is that you crash again and make it worse. Randy crashed again – big time. Cue a red flag while he was recovered, hopefully he’ll get well again in time. This being several weeks ago now, he may well be already well on the way.

One thing I do remember is a damaged and recovering Valentino Rossi basically doing the same thing as Randy, in danger of crashing and making it worse – yet after initially falling behind the pace he somehow managed to catch and race hard a perfectly healthy Casey Stoner who was giving it the full beans. The two traded places for a few laps before Stoner came off best, but with those injuries Rossi should’ve been higher than 8th (in this depleted field) if he should’ve been riding at all. Dani Pedrosa won the race.

MotoGP – Laguna Seca 2010 *live on BBC2*

A couple of years ago this venue, Stoner and Rossi fought another epic battle and hopes were high of something similar, if not involving those two then perhaps Pedrosa and Lorenzo. It was not to be. Pedrosa led comfortably until he crashed, which left Lorenzo to take a relatively straightforward win from Stoner. There were a string of bikes up next and these swapped places but for some reason my attention was lost. Rossi won that battle and took the final podium spot. Lorenzo leads the points by a quite ridiculous margin.

GP2 Series – Istanbul Park 2009

I’m so far behind on GP2 it’s not funny. Okay, maybe it is.. I’d recently set the goal of at least completing the 2009  season before I saw the 2010 series for real at Spa at the end of the month, but it looks like I’m not going to achieve that aim.

The Feature race had a fair amount of action, there was a great moment when race leader Nico Hulkenberg was challenged by Luca Fillipi at the final sequence of corners, only for the pair to run wide and Vitaly Petrov drove around the pair of them. Meanwhile Andi Zuber took 3rd in the process – Petrov took saw it coming a mile off and took a wide line into the corner. Quite a lot of attrition in this race for some reason.

It’s funny watching a junior series when the participants are in F1 now.. Petrov ran Parente off the road briefly, and Chandhok had a very slow start from 5th to fall to the back where he set about running a string of fastest laps. Hulkenberg put a superb move on Villa near the end, really well executed – thought of course Nico had only dropped back due to a problem in the pits. A dominant performance from Petrov once he’d got in front.

The Sprint race started in complete madness with cars dicing everywhere on lap one, contact and spins in turn 1 and elsewhere, Chandhok’s car failed to start properly again, and Grosjean moving from 26th to 12th in two laps. Crazy stuff! Settled down somewhat after that until Grosjean and Nunes got into a battle for 11th, and Parente caught Mortara for 9th. Neither managed to make the pass though.

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.

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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.

I’m Watching… #3: NASCAR road courses, F1, F2, more

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

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

Formula 2 – Valencia 2009
Race 1 of 2. This was the ‘comeback race’ for the F2 name, unfortunately it was at the Ricardo Tormo circuit so it was rubbish, really boring. I don’t think I’ve seen a good race at that circuit in my life, any series. Maybe MotoGP. Martin Haven did his best to inject enthusiasm and a great deal of knowledge of ‘old F2’ and of drivers parachuting in from other series, but really you need the on-track stuff to be good as well and it really wasn’t. I missed the 2nd race, I have a feeling I watched it live on their site but I can’t remember, it was a year ago..

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Nationwide Series – Road America 2010 *live*
I was curious to see the 2nd-tier NASCAR series on a road course, and it had Jacques Villeneuve guest-driving and a couple of guys were pulling the double with this race in Wisconsin on Saturday and the Cup race in California on Sunday. I was disappointed. JV and Carl Edwards had a great battle at the front, unfortunately the rest of the field were hopeless and it came to a head with a lengthy red-flag delay after a multi-car pile-up which is when I gave up following it. I didn’t expect a ‘Dega-style “Big One” on a road course! Apparently once the race restarted it was brought back under safety car multiple times, and finished some hours after I’d left it. Needs work.

IZOD IndyCar – Iowa 2010 *live*
This was a great race, you could tell that from the few times the Race Control cameras were pointing in the right direction. I’m going to have to watch this again with the TV feed. To give them credit they did stick with the lead battle for a good while, unfortunately the lack of direction meant I missed the battling in the pack. Tony Kanaan had a brilliant run and it was great to see him win and to do it with a pass for the lead as well, excellent. I wasn’t sure what happened to Marco Andretti’s early run, I guess the car went away from him just as TK’s was coming to him. Needless to say the ‘red cars’ were all up there in contention throughout, but I do think Andretti Autosport are regaining the relative pace they had against them some time ago. Good to see.

Sprint Cup, Sonoma 2010 *live*
Again I wanted to see how the stock car people handled the road courses. I expected something more professional than the Nationwide race and that’s largely what we had, after all most of them have driven at Sonoma for some years now. It was a pretty good race with a mixture of strategies throughout the field, it was great to see DTM driver Mattias Ekstrom lead the race for a while on his debut but it was former V8 Supercar driver Marcos Ambrose who was in control much of the time – until he threw it away with a driver error under caution, allowing Jimmie Johnson to win. It was interesting to see how the race turned into a knife fight in the closing stages, it was like a 25-minute BTCC race with cars being pushed all over the track and spun around. This race also had a red flag period caused by a multi-car shunt, thankfully it was cleared up significantly faster than in the Nationwide event. There was the usual problem of going full-course yellow for someone spinning and resuming within 30 seconds, though it wasn’t as bad as usual and some incidents were allowed to develop and recover before the safety car was called so there is some progress.

Formula 1 – European GP 2010 *live*
A moderately interesting race, it was better than I was expecting for this circuit so that is a small victory. Mark Webber was exceedingly lucky and that’s a huge victory. Kobayashi really proved his worth by staying out on one set of tyres for that length of time when nobody else seemed able to, then using his fresher tyres to put a move on Alonso. Well played, Kamui. There was that dodgy safety car call with Hamilton and his penalty, we’re a few days on and now I’m a bit talked-out about it but you can read more here.

The World Cup
A lot of prime motorsport viewing time has been taking up with the World Cup instead. Some of it really wasn’t worth bothering with and I’m by no means a fan of the game, yet others have been enjoyable. There was a game last Tuesday between Japan and somebody which was the best game I’ve seen in ages.

Looking Ahead
Le Tour de France starts this weekend and over the next couple of weeks I’ll be watching the nightly highlights on ITV4 if they are as they were last year. I’m also heading to Goodwood for the Festival of Speed on Sunday.

Blog note.
You may have noticed I’m not very good at sticking to ideas, the weekly review each Monday/Tuesday hasn’t happened lately due to one thing and another (mainly the World Cup) so I’m reworking it into an ad-hoc approach to be done whenever I feel like posting an update. Better to be more ‘organic’ that way rather than doing a post for the sake of it.

I’m Watching… #2

This weekend was all about one race…. at least, it was supposed to be.

We all know that F1 races are quite boring this year. We also all know that the battle between Audi and Peugeot for overall honours over the 24 Hour race at Le Mans has turned into an epic annual contest which has been enthralling for several years now, with further depth through the classes.

Not this year.

Le Mans 24 Hours

I didn’t think the 2010 24 Hours was a classic, but a mediocre race at Le Mans is more evocative than a decent race at many other venues.

– LMP1

It promised much, but as early as Wednesday night’s qualifying session Peugeot laid down lap times so fast as to effectively smack down the improved Audi’s challenge in terms of an out and out race. This was going to be a reliability run rather than a strategic battle, and with Peugeot having successfully completed a 30-hour endurance test it looked all sewn up before the race had started.

As it turned out, Audi’s race pace wasn’t that poor and they seemed to be able to maintain their top pace for much longer – Peugeot had far faster cars but they couldn’t maintain 3m19s laps for long. This mean the French team held a 1 or 2 lap lead over the German team for a considerable amount of time, but no more. All of the seven cars were pushing.

In terms of an actual race, things went wrong early when a Safety Car period for Mansell’s crash split the frontrunners, giving the four Peugeots an extra minute over the three Audis. On the green flag the Audis held that gap for ages, proving they could’ve got amongst the Pug’s early on had they been given the chance. Once we were into the meat of the race the Peugeots were easily the things to have and they extended a gap, so there wasn’t much in the way of racing, either passing or on pit strategy.

This was ‘run until someone either wins or breaks’. Eventually all four Peugeots broke down or were involved in incidents (and one of them broke surprisingly early), and the Audis didn’t ran near-flawlessly save for an ‘off’ by TK. Win sealed, go home. It wasn’t enthralling waiting for something to happen for so many hours. Interestingly it was the faster car from each team that dropped back – that is unless the others were managing their pace while these two pushed to catch up) and while both cars put in their customary supreme stints overnight, it wasn’t for the win.. Didn’t grab me.

Petrol cars:  AMR were ‘best of the rest’ for nearly the whole race but died near the end, leaving ORECA’s other car to take the spoils. Not necessarily a bad result, it had been quicker than I’d expected it to be and could’ve won it on merit, but as it turned out it was the last car standing. Again though, not much of a race because the team I expected to really hustle AMR – Rebellion and its pair of Lolas – suffered all manner of difficulties, which was a shame. This sub-class turned into a survival of the fittest. I know that’s what Le Mans is about, I guess we’ve just been spoiled with a different type of fight in the past.

– LMP2

Two cars were the class of the field: the two HPD (nee Acura) chassis run by Strakka and Highcroft. I tipped Highcroft for the win because they are so good in the US and this is Strakka’s first year with the car, plus Highcroft had 3 good drivers and Strakka had 2+ 1 average. As it turned out it went the other way, Stakka’s experience of 24-hour racing shone through and they led the class throughout – well done to them. Highcroft were racing outside North America for the first time, in a 24 hour race for the first time, unfamiliar with the ACO’s different way of doing things and without as much support gear with them as they are used to. Highcroft ran into several difficulties during the race but they seemed to pick themselves up and push on, all credit to them. Unfortunately this meant the expected duel between the two never really materialised for any length of time.

There were a few other good teams – notably RML – but they couldn’t stay in contention, and there were the usual few makeweights/fieldfillers.

– GT1

Pathetic. To think that this class used to provide the best race in the field, and now the cars can barely finish let alone even beat GT2. In fairness to the class it has been completely neutered so that the power advantage it had is now reduced, they barely have a time advantage over the GT2s, while the extra weight and fuel consumption and therefore extra pit stops drops them back every time. I’m sure the development this style of racing is famous for would recover much of that over the coming years, they won’t be allowed the chance to find out, the class has been removed for 2011 in the mistaken belief the cars can’t be turned into endurance racers. Ostensibly this is because of the increasing cost of the previous regulations which did need addressing, but the ongoing bunfight between the SRO and ACO has lost us the chance to rebuild the class at a more reasonable cost – instead we get some lame GT2 sub-category for amateurs. A real shame.

– GT2

This class featured the best racing and the most contenders for victory, and the highlight of the entire race for me was the on-track race for the lead between the Corvette and the Risi Ferrari, the positions changing from straight to straight for several laps – at sunset, no less! That’s Le Mans fever right there. It was a real shame the Risi car suffered the gearbox problem, and then (much) later the two Corvettes had their own issues with one breaking the other apparently being pushed off track by a Peugeot, if not by physical contact then by not giving the ‘Vette the racing room. Attrition hit this class too, leaving the Felbermayr Porsche to take the win.

A very high attrition rate throughout the field this year, was that due to underfunded teams, a harder pace, or some other unknown reason? I have a feeling it is a mixture of those things. Still, new rules for 2011 and 2012 see the 24 move into a new era – let’s see what it brings.

F1: Canadian Grand Prix

What a race! This was easily the best Formula 1 race of the year. Every season F1 throws up two or three excellent races, this was one of them and the best F1 race I’ve seen since Brazil’s title decider last year. There was action throughout, split strategies and sometimes it seemed like guesswork. The soft tyres were entirely inappropriate for what turned out to be a far more abrasive track than Bridgestone anticipated, yet that was exactly what created such a good race. Could the softs last long enough? Had they brought a compound step higher this could’ve been another snorer. Thankfully Bridgestone won’t be around to make use of that lesson next year!

McLaren were expected to walk away from the rest with their F-Duct, but then they deployed their ‘interesting’ strategy of using the soft tyres first in the hope of a Safety Car that never came. And yet… it worked! I’ve no idea how they pulled it off, in a race with so many early stops it left the Lotus of Kovalainen in 7th for a short while it was difficult to know what was going on for a while, thankfully I had the aid of live timing else I’d have been completely lost.

One more note on Canada – did you see how full those stands were?! Absolutely brilliant, and I’m sure there were more than usual. Welcome back to the schedule, Montreal – you were missed.

Other

Among this glut of racing I managed to catch the England v USA World Cup game, which ended in a disappointing but perhaps expected draw. I have a feeling both teams can win their remaining games and will both qualify, I hope so.

I also booked my ticket to the Goodwood Festival of Speed! I’ll be there on the Sunday and I’m really looking forward to it.

I’m Watching… #1

The introduction to my TMR Game posts is often a recap of what I’ve been watching over the weekend just past, but as I was writing the post tonight I wondered if it would be better to write it as a post on its own every Monday/Tuesday. It gets across my thoughts on that week’s racing and cuts the Game posts down to size, which I’ve been pondering how to do for a while. Win-win!

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I stayed up most of Saturday night / Sunday morning to watch the excellent Texas IndyCar race along with the gang at Sidepodcast (and Twitter of course). Really good to get back on the fast ovals with Indy and Texas – I love the road courses but there’s something different about their oval races you just don’t see anywhere else. *cough*  Great to see the Andretti team back up front with a 2-3 finish. It was unfortunate what happened to de Silvestro – I’d planned to expand on that (and also recap Indy) in a dedicated IndyCar blog post but that has been delayed as I’ve been busy.

DTM and MotoGP clashes – as usual – and I watched the MotoGP as that’s usually the more entertaining of the two plus I can get it on my TV and the DTM would require a stream, though I wonder why I bothered because after the Pedrosa/Lorenzo thing was settled it was fairly boring. I’m just not getting excited about the current crop of riders, who the hell are they?

I don’t watch NASCAR Cup races (I’d watch highlights if I could), but I did catch the tag between Harvick and Logano on YouTube. What was that about? Commentary said they were going for the same gap, looked a little more suspect to me, perhaps not deliberate but maybe one didn’t back off when they may have done had it been someone else, apparently these guys have history..

Since I missed last week, what did I think of Turkey? Tense all the way through, the top four were pushing like hell throughout – it may not have come across on the TV screen but following the live timing a different member of the quartet set Fastest Lap with every pass. Then the clash! I jumped out of my seat. I never jump out of my seat. Vettel’s fault, clearly. Then the Maccas tried it! Sane heads prevailed and they took the 1-2.

What of the big race of that week, the 500? I LOVED IT. I’ve watched the Indy 500 since 2006 and this was the best yet. That’s not just for the racing but also the atmosphere, which was the most positive and forward-looking I’ve seen in my short tenure as a 500 fan – “unification” and the new management of the series are turning things around already. Many, like Pressdog, complained it was too much like an F1 race. So? It was like a very good F1 race or a very good sportscar endurance race. It had mystery, strategy, balls-out passes into tight corners (despite being an oval, at 230mph those turns are tight and the place only has one effective line), and top it off most of the front-runners hit trouble, so we had some different people in the top ten. Dario and team executed a near-perfect race. That’s fine – we watch this stuff to see the best of the best, this isn’t amateur hour – and if they hadn’t, we would’ve seen a non-Ganassi non-Penske winner. Roll on next year.

Another big one this week – Le Mans! Should be great. Mixed in with the welcome return of the Canadian GP and the stat of the World Cup, we’re in for a hell of a weekend.

[Photo credit:  IZOD IndyCar Series at Texas Motor Speedway, Getty Images, via Picapp]