Weekend Preview: 16-17 May 2009

Feature Events

MotoGP

– Grand Prix de France
– Le Mans Bugatti Circuit
– Le Mans, France
– (4/17)
www.motogp.com

Much as last year the forecast for this weekend is for rain, it could be fun! I have to say I don’t usually enjoy events at this racetrack – the short Bugatti circuit, that is – but last year’s was very interesting due to the different tyre strategies involved. In fact the DTM race at same venue was under similar conditions. Is there a micro-climate we should be aware of?

TV Guide:

UK – LIVE on BBC Two at 12:30pm

US – DELAYED on SPEED at 1pm ET

Support races: 250s, 125s, etc.

Other Events

NASCAR All-Star Race

– Lowe’s Motor Speedway
– Charlotte, South Carolina, USA
– (non-points)
www.nascar.com

Not a part of the Sprint Cup but featuring all of the drivers and teams, this is basically a race for the sake of entertainment and a shedload of prize money. I don’t really understand how it works and quite honestly I don’t care.

TV Guide:

UK – LIVE on Sky Sports 2 at 12.30am Saturday night / Sunday morning, repeated on three times across Sky Sports during Sunday.

US – LIVE on SPEED at 7pm ET Saturday

Support races: Nationwide Series (Saturday), Truck Series (Friday)

American Le Mans Series

– Grand Prix of Utah
– Miller Motorsports Park
– Tooele, Utah, USA
– (4/10)
www.americanlemans.com

Last week the European LMS held their last round before Le Mans and this week the Americans do the same. Simon Pagenaud and David Brabham raced last week for Peugeot at Spa (Pagenaud won) and this week both are on ALMS duty for Acura in the de Ferran and Highcroft entries respectively.

Of note here is the high altitude of the course which adds an extra dimension to the challenge of the race. The ALMS isn’t in as great a form as it used to be and they’ve had to bring in some GT3 cars as field-fillers, yet while the quantity is down the quality of entrants at the sharp end of each category is as high as it ever was.

Note – while many ALMS races are on Saturday, this race takes place on SUNDAY.

TV Guide:

UK – DELAYED BY ONE WHOLE WEEK to 5pm on May 24th, that’ll be shortly before the Indy 500 then… :stupid:

US – DELAYED at 10pm ET Sunday on SPEED (the race happens at 2.15pm ET)

Support races: Atlantics, Star Mazda, IMSA GT3 Cup, IMSA Lites

DTM

– Hockenheimring
– Hockenheim, Baden-Wurtemburg, Germany
– (1/10)
www.dtm.tv

At long last the DTM gets started! After what seems like an eternity since the end of their 2008 season in October the German tintops heavily reliant on little aero tabs finally start their season. I’m not sure which genius decided they’d start in May but I suppose it separates them from all the other championships which start in March/April.

Mercedes vs Audi once again then and it looks like the 2-yr-old cars have been ditched, which is great news. It means Kat and Susie can finally demonstrate their known abilities against the rest of the 1-yr-old field, and a well-driven 1yr car can mix it with the current cars and certainly gets noticed. It could be a good year to watch DTM – unfortunately the FTA coverage on MotorsTV has vanished to be replaced with coverage on the pay-monthly Setanta.

TV Guide:
UK – DELAYED at 10pm on Setanta Sports 2

Support: Formula 3 Euroseries


FIA WTCC

– Race of France
– Pau, France
– (4/12)
www.fiawtcc.com

Pau is a crazy place. Imagine Macau if it only had the narrow part, and fast. The racing isn’t always great but it’s worth a look to check out the precision driving, particularly over the chicanes with walls very close by. Of course it could all get horribly embarrassing very quickly indeed.

TV Guide:
UK – LIVE on Eurosport at 11.45am (race 1) and 1.45pm (race 2).

Support: Formula Master (LIVE between the two touring car races)


Grand-Am Rolex Series

Laguna Seca, California, USA
– (4/12)
www.grand-am.com

TV Guide:
UK – highlights at silly o’clock midweek on Five
US – SPEED at 4pm ET


FIA GT

– Adria, Italy
– (2/8)
www.fiagt.com


BTCC

– Donington Park
– Leicestershire, England, UK
– (3/10)
www.btcc.net

It’s on!! Donington Park has finally corrected the problems which blighted the running of events between February and this month by realigning the run-off area at the new tunnel and the circuit now has a licence! The BTCC races at Donny are always a lot of fun so make sure you check it out. Those outside the UK can surely get a stream somewhere…

TV Guide:
UK – LIVE on ITV4 from 11.30am, they will flash up the race schedule during the programme so that you can plan your day according to which support races you want to watch.

Supports: Clios, FRenault, Porsches, Ginettas


FNippon & JF3

– Suzuka, Japan

* * *
That’s it, if ever if you think I’ve forgotten something please point it out in the comments.

Don’t forget, in addition to these races there are also the final two qualifying sessions for the Indy 500. Third Day qualifying is on Saturday to fill positions 23-33 and on Sunday there is Bump Day as the last-chance qualifying. I’m not sure how many bumps there will actually be, it doesn’t seem like many so unlike last week I won’t be following it all that closely.

I tried an experiment on Twitter on Thursday night. I tweeted some race results, just the top few places, as an idea to promote discussion of series people may not usually follow. It turned out to be a bad idea! It doesn’t work at all on Twitter – but I think it may just work on the blog. I will be writing a test post at some point over the next few days using the format as these Previews and we’ll see how it goes.

Finally, an apology for the lack of updates recently. I am in the final stages of an accountancy course and I have been concentrating on that!

Enjoy your weekend!

A roof over your head

So.. I watched the Daytona 500 last night. You may have seen my Twitter feed at the time (see side panel) and my comments on Meesh’s recent post.

I think some of those experienced NASCAR fans following me on Twitter might have been getting a bit annoyed at my newbie-ness. I was going for the ‘F1/IRL fan discovers N-Word ovals’ take, because that’s what it was. I’m not going to apologise for that, I make it clear that I’m not a NASCAR fan, so if I annoyed you that’s your own fault for following me! (Yes, I am a bit of a racing snob.)

Someone even asked how long I’d been following racing so surprised were they at my reaction to the US feed I was watching. It was tongue-in-cheek (err, I think?) but perhaps not realising that British sports coverage doesn’t have sponsored discussion topics and anthropomorphic camera angles – or maybe it was to suggest I’m a noob for not being aware of the $$ in N-Word. Perhaps it was said not knowing I was British although I’m not sure why – I bang on about it far too often.

I just couldn’t believe how many ad breaks were taken, and during the coverage how many times a sponsor was mentioned. They couldn’t go more than 20 seconds without mentioning a brand name! It was ridiculous. Talk about over-commercialisation of sports.. and they say the Premier League has got it bad.

Just to rub it in to my American readers, our Formula 1 coverage switches to BBC1 this year – no commercials AT ALL! (apart from lots of BBC self-promotion)

Back to Daytona, and once I found a steady video feed quite late into the race I did actually enjoy it. I’m not stupid enough to expect real racing on a restrictor plate track, you need to look for strategy and leave the driving to another race. Some great strategic racing was developing before a yellow flag was thrown because a car was sent into the infield. I didn’t see much debris on the track on this occasion, but that yellow did breed further yellows (for bigger incidents) which spoiled the flow of the race for me, and that persisted until the red flag for rain. As many sites and blogs have noted, it was an anticlimax.

I don’t know why I persisted with the less-good feed for so long. I think it contributed to my lack of enjoyment for the first half of the event, however others have noted on other blogs (and on Twitter) that NASCAR races aren’t actually that interesting or enjoyable until 50 to go anyway, so maybe it wasn’t the video feed…

In summary, it was more enjoyable as a whole than I was expecting and you can’t blame them for stopping for rain. If anything the stupid start time did them in. 3.30pm? Madness. Races should always start on the hour unless they are on the undercard. I’ll be trying NASCAR ovals at random intervals again this year, follow my Twitter if you can bear it.

Full disclosure: On Twitter I said I’d not seen a full NASCAR race before. That was a little white lie. I’ve watched Watkins Glen, and I watched a chunk of Nationwide at Montreal last year. I had never seen a full NASCAR oval event before. I used to watch the odd highlights package – they cut so much out you couldn’t figure out what was happening so I gave up on that idea fairly quickly.

Before the oval action I took in BTCC at Brands Hatch (Indy) and DTM at Barcelona, both recordings of events held in September, and still found time to go to the laundrette.
The DTM was boring once it had settled down, the field got far too spread out although I liked the battle between Paul Di Resta and Timo Scheider early on.
The BTCC at the short layout of Brands is always fast and frenetic and this was no exception! It won the day for me in terms of tin top entertainment. Giovanardi is a worthy champion and it is a shame to see his adversaries SEAT leave.

Tonight I’m watching WTCC at Imola, the first time I’ve seen the place since the redevelopment. They’ve done a great job with the revisions but F1 was right not to go back, even though the revisions were only done to please Bernie. It’s a good bike and touring car track but is in no way suited to big open wheel cars. WTCC isn’t as entertaining as BTCC but watching Thommo working hard for some good results was fun.

After this sudden binge of racing I’ll probably take a break from watching any for a few days – I still have plenty on my hard drive – BTC and WTC have short races which is why I’ve got through so many this weekend. Knowing me I’ll probably be on the podcasts tomorrow instead!

This Week in Racing w/c 4th Aug 08

I thought I would write a weekly post with short comments on the racing I watch every week. Some weeks this is more than others. Some weeks I don’t see much at all during the week. This wasn’t one of those weeks, this was a Catch-Up Week.

I tend to concentrate on watching F1 and MotoGP live, with IndyCar very shortly after the event. In many weeks I don’t watch anything else. I prefer IndyCar to MotoGP, I just don’t have immediate access to live coverage of IRL. I might even do Pressdog-style notes. I tried taking notes for the British GP and it is harder than it looks, big up to the ‘Dog and any of the other bloggers who do this.

Anything else I want to watch goes into a backlog. Mainly, this is to see me through the barren winter months and that’s how I started collecting so much of it in the first place, this time last season. F1 has a 5-month offseason and IndyCar is worse so you need to pass the time. But the pile can get too big, and when F1 and IRL aren’t running I need my fix, so I do a Catch-Up Week where instead of watching TV or what have you, I watch racing. Yes, I said I was a nerd, look at the profile.

On to the comments.. I’m going to insert logos here and this could look embarrassingly amateur.


Greece
, 1hr highlights
Took place: 1 June
Watched: 3 August

I’m not a huge fan of rallying but I’ve been giving it a shot this season. These are the most talented, craziest drivers in the world. A little less since Marcus Gronholm retired but they are up there. So I put the WRC on whilst I was sorting some food. I can’t say I paid much attention – it was yet another gravel rally in some dusty faraway place. Seen several of those this year already. Unfortunately my expectations were met. I just can’t get into it. What’s wrong with me? So far I’m only watching for the car control and the excellent TV coverage, but for sporting contest – I’m struggling.

I can’t remember who won.




EuroSpeedway Lausitz (‘roval’), Germany

Took place: 18 May
Watched: 4 August

Now the DTM is an entertaining championship. Big powerful V8s with star drivers and enough aero grip to get good speed through the twisties.
This particular instance wasn’t the best example but I think that was due to the silly pit rules this year. DTM races last an hour and a bit. Drivers must make 2 compulsory pit stops in which they have to take on a bit of fuel and change at least 2 tyres. Great, no problem here, makes for good strategy races.
The problem is the pit window. This year they have to pit in the middle 1/3rd of the race when previously they could stop on lap 3 and lap 50, if they thought that was the best strategy. This means everyone is forced into almost the same strategy. If that’s the case, why force the pitstops at all?
I understand the rule has been changed for subsequent events in response to critisism from drivers, teams and fans – I look forward to seeing how that pans out.

Paul di Resta won for Mercedes, he’s a very good driver and should be in single-seaters. He’s Dario and Marino Franchitti’s cousin.

Throw some ALMS in here from Utah, the SPEEDTV coverage. Not sure I agree with P2s beating P1s on outright pace so it was nice to see the P1s stretch their legs for the time it lasted..
The only two reasons I didn’t watch this closely was because a) it was after work and I needed to clean the flat and cook food, and b) the race is so fucking long! And this is only a 2h 45m race, not like the 5h LMS races in Europe. I tend to only half pay attention to these races which is why they make good Catch-Up Week or Off-Season fodder. Hmm I could put music on instead..


Croft, North Yorkshire, England
live recording

Okay so this one was a strange event.

Race 1
Two red flags caused by heavy monsoon-condition rain flooding the track. Race abandoned. Doesn’t look good.

Race 2
Possibly the best BTCC race of the season! Turkington coming up through from near the back, started 18th and passed almost every car to finish 2nd. The other BMWs made it to the front but they were visibly slower by a long way.

Race 3
Also entertaining in a BTCC-type way. Wheels banging, cars passing.

I never usually like Croft but this was a good one, even with the first race red flag. I’ve become a fan of Jackson’s – and of Adam Jones in the independent petrol SEAT outclassing the superior diesel factory cars. I always root for the underdog.

Coming up this weekend:
IRL at Kentucky
Since this isn’t an F1 week, in that timeslot I will hopefully get a chance to catch up with some GP2.