F1 Reaction: Chinese GP 2012

What a brilliant race! It had passing, big groups of cars in battles, strategy calls and tyre changes throughout including a mid-race strategy change from 3 stops to 2 for many, and a popular first-time winner for a marque which hadn’t won outright for over 5 decades – even if the team itself had only gone winless for the 3 years since the season as Brawn GP.

There was enough action to forget the margin of victory, which normally would’ve led to cries of boredom from the peanut gallery. For this race such cries only came from those who only watch racing to see who wins, those who don’t care for the twenty other stories which happen in any race and would still find a reason to complain even if they’d just seen the best race in the world.

This wasn’t the best race in the world, but by F1 standards it was a cracker and by the standards of most other series it was pretty good too.

Runaway Success

Nico Rosberg didn’t win this race through chance. He put in a race-winning drive all day, the strategy was perfect and for once this year the car didn’t let him down, didn’t drop him into the pack as the tyres wore out. I’m not sure what Mercedes GP found since Sepang, both cars were competitive and it was only a pitstop mistake which forced Michael Schumacher to retire. Could it be that the Mercedes team will be the one to challenge McLaren for race wins for the rest of the season?

The Mercedes W03 works its tyres harder than other cars, at least up until now. It meant they were good for one-lap pace (great for qualifying) but ate the tyres much sooner than the opposition (useless in the race). Either the conditions in Shanghai suited them and worked against the other teams, or the team has found a solution to the problem and are a very credible contender for further race wins this year. If the former is true it could explain why Ferrari were slow – perhaps they car works better in different temperatures to the Mercs and that hurt them as compared to Malaysia.

Competition

Had Jenson Button’s pitstop not gone awry he would’ve been much closer to Rosberg at the flag – perhaps not enough to challenge outright, just enough that the race didn’t seem like the complete whitewash it will appear in the record books. The McLarens were fast throughout and were able to pass

The race for 2nd place was so closely balanced, even though some cars were faster than others their strategies meant some were conserving tyres and some were going all out. It was clear Alonso’s late stop was planned for two reasons: to use fresher rubber to make passes, and to cover the early two-stoppers whose tyres should’ve fallen off with a lap or two to go – as it was he didn’t have the top end speed for the former, and the latter only happened to Kimi Raikkonen despite potentially affecting several others.

The season-long battle between Red Bull, Ferrari, Mercedes and Lotus is fascinating, it seems each are better in different temperature conditions and each uses tyres differently. Each are also throwing upgrades at the cars all the time. Sadly it isn’t the fight for the championship but it is closely poised and could go in any direction!

Red Bull’s fall from recent grace is an oddity, and I wouldn’t put it past them to return to race winning form by midseason. Mercedes could just as easily sink back down as win another race, so unpredictable. Ferrari are all over the shop. Lotus seems a smidge behind on race pace but don’t count them out at all. What’s more, Williams is only a little way behind this group now.

It’s great to see both the team from Enstone and the team from Grove regularly in the points again. Raikkonen is feisty but his tyres fell off just slightly too early for him. Maybe the best thing about Lotus so far is the way Grosjean has been going, okay not his finishing record which has been awful, but he’s been fast and racy and that’s what we like to see. At last he was rewarded with a good points finish.

Sauber returned to their normal level as we mostly expected. Force India seems to have turned as invisible as Felipe Massa, I really don’t remember anything from their recent races apart from Paul di Resta’s helmet camera. See also Toro Rosso and Caterham.

Result

Chinese GP
Jiading, Shanghai, China

1 Nico Rosberg Mercedes W03 Mercedes
2 Jenson Button McLaren MP4-27 Mercedes
3 Lewis Hamilton McLaren MP4-27 Mercedes
4 Mark Webber Red Bull RB8 Renault
5 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull RB8 Renault
6 Romain Grosjean Lotus E20 Renault
7 Bruno Senna Williams FW34 Renault
8 Pastor Maldonado Williams FW34 Renault

Not a Ferrari engine in sight! What a contrast to the 1-2 at Sepang. Norbert Haug looked very pleased on the podium not only with the win but also a top three for his engines!

I think the improvement of Williams is in no small part down to the switch to Renault, much as Caterham’s was when they caught the main field.

Drivers Championship

1 Lewis Hamilton 45
2 Jenson Button 43
3 Fernando Alonso 37
4 Mark Webber 36
5 Sebastian Vettel 28
6 Nico Rosberg 25
7 Sergio Perez 22
8 Kimi Raikkonen 16

Hamilton holds the lead with a run of three straight 3rds, which beats Button’s 1st, 2nd and DNF. It looks as though the McLaren drivers are the ones to beat in the championship this year at this early stage.

The only drivers not yet to register a top ten points finish are those from Caterham, Marussia and HRT….. and Ferrari’s Felipe Massa. This can’t in any way be an acceptable position for the Scuderia.

Constructors Championship

1 McLaren 88
2 Red Bull 64
3 Ferrari 37
4 Sauber 31
5 Mercedes 26
6 Lotus 24
7 Williams 18
8 Force India 9

McLaren hold the early advantage, Red Bull aren’t far away but they will need to work on their race pace or hope for unreliability among the silver cars. I expect the fight for 3rd to be between Ferrari and Mercedes.

Next Event

This weekend: Bahrain Grand Prix, Sakhir, Bahrain

I’ll be writing further thoughts on Bahrain tomorrow.

2011 Indianapolis 500

Hot on the heels of one of the best Monaco Grands Prix for a few years, we saw one of the most best Indy 500 climaxes for a few years. It was on the same level as the year when Marco Andretti and Sam Hornish Jr raced over the last few laps to the flag, though this was dramatic for completely different reasons.

The build-up and pre-race festivities were as captivating as ever. The half hour leading up to the event, starting from the moment the drivers are introduced to the crowds, is one of my favourite periods in sports build-ups. Obviously nobody does preamble and build-up quite like the Americans but even this is something else again. As Steph, a Canadian, said in her must-read recap of the day at the track, that whole 30 minutes was enough to make you feel patriotic even if you aren’t from the US.

I was watching on a web feed because I can’t afford Sky Sports and IndyCar pulled their official live web stream this year, setting back their web presence by several years. My feed stuttered at the start so I missed it.. which was very annoying because I love the start at Indy.

I quickly learned from Twitter that the Dixon had got a bit of a jump start, apparently going before the green went out. I’m not sure if that’s true or if he just had better reactions, still, the race was green! Amazingly the full field of 33 squeezed through the narrow turn 1 and out of turn 2 without any great problem, it is always a nervous time waiting for a near-inevitable crash on any start or restart at Indy.

For the opening laps it was a joy to watch so many cars running so amazingly quickly, drivers ducking around to stay within the draft whilst cars ahead of them moved to break the tow. Every year I forget how that looks, how fast they are.

After a while things settled into the usual form for a long-distance oval race, pounding around making laps between safety car appearances – except this year they were very good, I was pleasantly surprised at the relative lack of yellows this year which meant we had a fairly fast race – it clocked in at just a few minutes shy of 3 hours when it can run 15 or 30 minutes beyond that, what with the speed of cleanups (or lack of it) at Indy.

When we did have yellows the drivers then faced the double-file restarts which most seemed to dread. They all trod carefully and somehow, somehow got through the first restart lap unscathed on all but one occasion. Many were expecting carnage and I commend the drivers for playing it safe yet still racing hard, that looked like the trickiest thing they had to handle all day. Indy wasn’t thought to be wide enough – okay it is a wide track by dimension but as the speed increases the more space the cars need, and at these speeds every minor movement moves the cars a lot, so a lot of space is needed. Hence the perceived narrowness. At 220mph it must feel like a narrow tunnel. There were some fraught, frenetic restarts.

We had some good racing during the green periods too which doesn’t always happen at Indy, or if it does the TV coverage misses it whilst they focus on the leaders (in this rase the Ganassi team were for the most part in control of the lead). ABC did their best to avoid showing us some actual racing but some of it did creep on to the screen and it was great to see. ABC were diabolical from the moment the race began. Pre-race? Fantastic. Post-race? Mostly good too. The coverage from flag-to-flag was largely awful. They missed some restarts. They cut away from battling drivers to show someone running alone seemingly sometimes just because they wanted to talk about the driver they cut to (tip: you can talk about someone without them being on the screen).  They played out too many commercial breaks, one even followed just 30 seconds behind another which is inexcusable. The entire team didn’t seem to be on their game which was disappointing.

However, I do give them credit for sticking with the final 20 minutes of the race without going to a break, I was so gripped by the closing laps I didn’t notice it was that long so thanks to those on Twitter who pointed it out. I also give them credit for, at long, long, last getting the flags of UK participants correct. For so long they’ve run a Scottish flag for Dario and a UK flag for everyone else, this time they ran Scottish and English crosses. You can’t have it both ways, either a UK flag for all or nation flags for all. Pet peeve of mine!

The culmination of the race was fantastic. A handful of cars ought to have made it without needing to stop again but they had to conserve fuel (Franchitti and Hildebrand). Others could stretch it to the end with a yellow flag if they saved fuel under green, but if it went green all the way a pitstop would be needed and their chance of a win would be over. One by one those hoping for yellow realised they wouldn’t make it. It became a game of chicken, how long do you stay out on a lean fuel mix, hoping for a yellow flag before giving in and pitting to give your driver a chance to make up lost time on full-rich with new tyres?

The field got mixed up through the final stops due to people mixing up their strategies, shuffling cars from the pack up to the front. So it was that we had Danica Patrick leading from Bertrand Baguette in the closing stages. First Patrick peeled off, some later Baguette did the same, and then were able to race hard without worring about fuel to claim 10th and 7th respectively.

Incredibly, the dominant Ganassi cars of Franchitti and Dixon had been short-filled! They’d held the advantage between them all race long, only to throw it away by gambling on a yellow.. or simply by making an error.

JR Hildebrand was left in the lead for the final run to home. I have to be honest, I hadn’t clocked he was good to the end at this point. I assumed he would be the next one to duck into the pits.. but the laps kept ticking down. 3 to go. 2 to go. White flag to signal the final lap, he’s going to do it! This was something special, a rookie in the series was going to win their biggest race, one of the big pillars of motorsport.

Except… he didn’t win. Charlie Kimball was minding his own business at the tail of the lead lap trying to make the end of the race. Hildebrand comes up behind him in turn 3, somewhat faster it must be said, and has to make the choice of holding back or passing him through turn 4. People had been lapping cars in turn 4 all day so he decides to make the move.. but goes too high, into the marbles, into the wall. To his credit he still mashes the throttle whilst his car is still at speed dragging along the wall, anything to get to the finish line! It nets him second position in his first Indy 500 which is still an incredible result.

As JR scraped along that wall a white car flashed by in between he and Kimball. For a few moments – which seemed much longer but can’t have been – nobody knew who had won, not on the TV broadcast, not on Twitter or anywhere else. Partly I suspect because the livery was unfamiliar, possibly because we hadn’t seen much of him all day despite having run in the top 6 for a lot of the race. Then it was announced:

Dan Wheldon won the Indy 500 in a one-off entry for Bryan Herta Autosport! A phenomenal result from a man who always runs well at Indy no matter what his fortunes are elsewhere, one of the ‘nice guys’ of the paddock, and that label also applies to his team boss Bryan Herta. I was a fan of Herta when he was driving and I’m so pleased he’s won this race as an owner, along with assistance from the team of the amazing Sam Schmidt.

Chaos ensued. I’ve seen fans at the Indy 500 that cheery and ecstastic once before and that was when Helio Castroneves won the race after acquittal at a tax trial which could’ve seen him jailed. Yet these fans seemed even louder and there were more of them! The place was jumping. Wheldon was crying on the radio and again on the podium. The US was denied a home winner at the last turn but nobody could argue against a Wheldon win, he puts so much into Indy and I sense the locals treat him as one of their own.

If you missed the race or want to relive it, do watch these 15-minutes of highlights from the official IndyCar YouTube channel. You just have sit through some abysmal commentary from the track feed, which is so poor it even makes IMS Radio (also included) sound professional when really it is tear-your-hair-out frustrating to listen to. The video is still worth watching.

What a race. After some lean years Indy is once again back where it belongs as one of the great pillars of world motorsport. Fantastic!

Result

  1. Wheldon (Herta)
  2. Hildebrand (Panther)
  3. Rahal (Ganassi)
  4. Kanaan (KV)
  5. Dixon (Ganassi)
  6. Servia (Newman/Haas)
  7. Baguette (Rahal Letterman Lanigan)
  8. Scheckter (KV)
  9. M.Andretti (Andretti)
  10. Patrick (Andretti)

Driver Points

  1. Power 194 (14th)
  2. Franchitti 178 (12th)
  3. Servia 150 (6th)
  4. Kanaan 135 (4th)
  5. Dixon 129 (5th)
  6. Rahal 120 (3rd)

Amazingly both Power and Franchitti took a similar points hit, so there’s no change at the top.

The next event was the double-header Firestone Twin 275s at Fort Worth on Saturday 11th June, which I haven’t really seen yet. The next event after this post goes up is the Milwaukee 225 on 19th June.

2011 Monaco Grand Prix

This was possibly the most exciting Monaco GP in many years. It was certainly up there alongside all the classics – 1992 with Senna and Mansell, 1996 when nobody could win, 2003 with Montoya and Raikkonen.

We saw passing moves in places we wouldn’t normally expect them. At Monaco we normally see passes just at the chicane and that’s all. This time they didn’t really try it at the chicane (not on TV anyway), understandably so given the accidents of Rosberg and Perez this weekend. Instead the attempts were made at the hairpin and at Sainte Devote. Amazingly enough some of them worked!

I always thought a hairpin pass was a fluke, on the rare times I see it happen the move more often than not fails. This time it was successful maybe half the time – the other half causing damage and penalties (see Massa/Hamilton as well as Di Resta’s wars). It was good to see that a supposed “no-no” could be made to work when both parties co-operate, and it did need the leading car to concede he’d lost the corner and leave space. My read of the Massa and Hamilton collision at the hairpin was that it was a racing incident, neither to blame. Hamilton went for a move just as he had with Schumacher, but it just so happened that Massa at the same instant decided to try the same on the Toro Rosso in front of him.

It was interesting to see Schumacher back off against Hamilton, something I really didn’t expect when the move started. Memories of banging wheels with Alex Wurz in ’97?

However, the move in the tunnel was all Hamilton. You can’t pass in the tunnel without it going wrong for one or other of the parties, and that’s nothing new. Where was Massa supposed to go? The better option would’ve been to draft behind Massa and get him into the chicane just a few hundred meters up the road. The tunnel is just wide enough for two cars but the outside is always covered in marbles, that’s why Massa skated into the barrier.

It was good to see Hamilton in battling mood though, if he’d just kept his head a little he’d have been seen completely differently in this race, as the swashbuckling hero fighting through the field. Instead he looked hot-headed, crashing into people and then getting out of the car to complain about it.

The top three drivers put in excellent drives, solid smart performances from the champions they are. Before the red flag they were nearly a minute up on the chasing group. They ran different strategies and speeds all day, yet had converged with less than ten laps to go, we were set for a fantastic battle for the lead in the closing stages and not for the first time this year! Who says F1 in 2011 is boring? Far better than having all the racing done by 1/3rd distance – the first pit stop – and then watching a parade.

Vettel made his one-stop strategy work despite some very old tyres. Alonso was on him for several laps and couldn’t get by – we’ll never know if he would’ve made it or if Vettel’s tyres would’ve dropped off even more.  Button put in flawless laps to reel in this pair on his newer tyres, closing in a decent gap to start battling Alonso. The BBC commentary was talking up a Button win, or at least a second-place. I’m not so sure that would’ve happened but I was on the edge of my seat hoping either driver would take the win from Vettel! Nothing against Seb, he’s just been winning too much lately and the others need the points.

I use the Softpauer iPad app during F1 races and qualifying sessions and I could see on the map that the lead trio were catching a massive group of cars, there must have been 6 or 7 of them there! This group was being led by an Adrian Sutil trying valiantly to make his tyres last to the end of the race. Webber and Kobayashi had fallen behind through the stops but both made it past him, and the group behind him included Hamilton, Petrov, Alguersuari and Rosberg (some of those a lap behind Sutil but now running faster on fresher tyres).

Now it was always going to be fraught but I thought they’d be sensible and pull over one at a time to let the leaders through. Instead Sutil under pressure from Hamilton slid into the marbles after Tabac, into the barrier causing a puncture. Hamilton had to lift off in avoidance, surprising Alguersuari who rode up over the McLaren’s rear wing. Poor Vitaly Petrov was following Alguersuari just as closely, he had nowhere to go when he was confronted with this accident and hit the barrier. Petrov said in post-race quotes that he chose to hit the barrier rather than another car, but he can’t have known he’d hit so hard and cause himself minor injury.

The red flags came out and I was sure it was just a race suspension whilst others were saying it was over, though of course it would come at the discretion of the organisers if they couldn’t get the track cleared or if the barrier was damaged. Restart they did, but what nobody reckoned on was the teams being allowed to repair accident damage and fit new tyres. Most people (including me) expected neither tyre changes nor repairs except in the pitlane, and maybe then only once the field was moving again.

A great way to suck out the tension of the race. However, I can understand the rule exists for safety reasons, if there has been an accident you don’t want to leave people out there on damaged tyres after running over carbon fibre shards, so it is a difficult one. It is very hard to argue for a reduction in safety, so I think we should chalk this one up as something that just happens in racing sometimes.

Good to see Williams finally get some points, it would have been even more had the collision not occurred between Maldonado and, yes him again, Hamilton. Also a shout out to Kamui Kobayashi and the Sauber team, who played the strategies and Safety Cars to perfection to record a strong 5th ahead of all the melee.

I hope some of this isn’t just my blinkered glasses since I’m a huge fan of the Monaco Grand Prix, I really do think this was an excellent race in its own right, not even “by Monaco standards”, and the red flag doesn’t detract from that at all.

Result

  1. Vettel
  2. Alonso
  3. Button
  4. Webber
  5. Kobayashi
  6. Hamilton
  7. Sutil
  8. Heidfeld
  9. Barrichello
  10. Buemi

Driver Points

  1. Vettel 143 (winner)
  2. Hamilton 85 (6th)
  3. Webber 79 (4th)
  4. Button 76 (3rd)
  5. Alonso 69 (2nd)
  6. Heidfeld 29 (8th)

Vettel is already looking unbeatable. Can he wrap this up as early as the Hungaroring in July, as Schumacher once did?

Constructor Points

  1. Red Bull 222 (1st & 4th)
  2. McLaren 161 (3rd & 6th)
  3. Ferrari 93 (2nd & DNF)
  4. Renault 50 (8th & DNF)
  5. Mercedes 40 (11th & DNF)
  6. Sauber 21 (5th & DNS)

Red Bull are in charge. McLaren could yet fight back though, they have a chance in this fight.

The next race is the Canadian Grand Prix at Montreal in two weeks.

MotoGP: 2010 Valencia

GP Generali de la Communitat Valenciana

Circuit Ricardo Tormo, Valencia, Spain

Date: Watched live on 7 Nov 2010 taking notes during the race which were then forgotten about until I found them earlier. Oops.

This is the final race of the year. Jorge Lorenzo has the title wrapped up, and in 2nd Dani Pedrosa is 19 points ahead of Valentino Rossi, will the positions be reversed after this race? As this is Rossi’s final race for Yamaha, the BBC’s Jennie How has a good interview with him in the pre-race, he says he’s had many special moments not least of which was the first win in his first race with them after switching from Honda. When asked if Lorenzo has pushed him harder than any other teammate he says that’s true.

Then there’s a bit of an introduction to Cal Crutchlow, the new Brit taking Ben Spies’ seat, seems a really straight-talking guy and I hope he sticks around longer than Toseland did. Nice to get a few words from a few 125 and Moto2 riders as well, perhaps in future this could be extended to show all frontrunners not just the Brits.

Not many good races are held at this circuit in any category and I hope this one bucks the trend.

Front row: Casey Stoner is on pole, Lorenzo and Simoncelli alongside. Marco’s first front row start.

Stoner assumes the lead through turn one but it’s Pedrosa who impresses, from 7th he’s up to 2nd quickly – until Hayden gets past him to make it a Ducati 1-2. Simoncelli is 4th, Lorenzo down to 5th and then there’s Rossi. And that’s just lap one.

We know Simoncelli isn’t scared of anyone and he proves it again on lap two, Lorenzo dives inside him but is fended off by Marco on the switchback. Jorge tries again and touches Simoncelli’s bike, he’s nearly thrown off! He saves it but falls down the order. Meanwhile there’s a cloud of dust… it’s Hayden in the gravel, he’s out of the race, such a shame as he was was having a much-needed good run. Replay: Hayden went off by himself, lost the front end and no-one else to blame.

Rossi passes Simoncelli into turn one with 25 laps to go (lap 5 or 6), Marco tries to push back but has a bit of respect and backs off rather than taking out Vale or himself. This puts a recovering Lorenzo on Simoncelli’s tail as Rossi opens a gap. One lap later Lorenzo makes the same move to claim 4th.

22 to go and Pedrosa had been putting in fastest laps but no more. He’s on Stoner’s tail and now I’m sure Rossi is closing on the pair of them, and just like that he’s passed Pedrosa – and Lorenzo follows him through!

16 to go, the group has started to compress, Lorenzo is catching Stoner while Rossi is faster than both – this time. It seems to be changing with every lap.

14 to go, Stoner’s tyres are starting to go off and it is showing. He’s running wide here and there, only slightly but just enough because these bikes aren’t very wide – a few more laps and he’s a sitting target, unless Lorenzo has used his too in his charge?

Replay as Lorenzo had bit of a bump and wobble in his seat, allowing Stoner some breathing space. Dovizioso passes Simoncelli and then Pedrosa, yet after spending half a lap looking at replays of this we cut live to the group and the order is once again Pedrosa, Simoncelli and Dovizioso! Dani then runs wide and is passed once more.

10 to go. Lorenzo is still harrying Stoner but Rossi has been dropped. Pedrosa has now fallen to the back of his group of four riders.

8 to go and Lorenzo is through! He takes the lead! The crowd goes crazy with their #99 flags. A lap later Dovizioso sends one up the inside of Simoncelli who tries to fight back, nothing doing. Now Spies is on Simoncelli’s tail. There’s a lot of daylight between this scrap and Pedrosa now.

With just 3 laps to go Spies passes both Simoncelli and Dovizioso with some great passing on a single lap! Dovi retakes him into turn one but Spies has the line for turn two and he’s in front once more. Epic.

Lorenzo wins! Stoner 2nd, Rossi 3rd, Spies 4th, Dovizioso, Simoncelli, Pedrosa, etc.

Final points: Lorenzo 383, Pedrosa 245, Rossi 233, Stoner 225, Dovizioso 206, Spies 163, Simoncelli 125

What a superb race. At the Ricardo Tormo circuit too. That almost never happens.

With some huge line-up changes for 2011 I’m really looking forward to picking up the series again in Qatar.

GrandAm: 2011 Rolex 24 at Daytona

I watched a sizeable chunk of the Daytona 24 Hours live a couple of weeks ago. It was good fun, especially as the Blogathon was happening at the same time and I was also juggling Twitter and some live commenting.

Even though GrandAm is fairly alien to me I really enjoyed this race. I’ve been watching a few things over winter but recordings aren’t the same, and the Dakar Rally was great but it isn’t circuit racing. It really felt like a breath of fresh air. This race felt like the first hit of warmth and Vitamin D you get from the sun in early spring after a particularly long, dull, dreary, wet winter. You know in Daybreakers when the sun hits the guy’s face? A reawakening.

This was the first time I’d paid so much attention to the race, I’d tried to follow in past years but was thwarted by very low-quality streams (cars as blurs on the screen and a lot of buffering) which were eventually shut down anyway. This year I really want to make use of the Eurosport Player, watch the race legitimately – but no, Eurosport couldn’t even cover the start of the race and then missed almost all of Sunday. Give us a reason to watch, guys. The stream I found this year was quite good (relatively), and SPEED’s coverage was largely excellent. The commentary line-up was very good indeed.

Everybody expected the two Ganassi cars to dominate and despite falling a long way back due to various problems, they did just that, they dominated the others – and made use of GrandAm’s Safety Car rules in which a lap can be regained if played right – to eventually claim a 1-2 finish by the end of the event. It was a fantastic effort especially by Joey Hand. Juan Pablo Montoya’s efforts received mixed reactions, his speed and determination was lauded but his excuberent wheel-banging was rightly not.

The real reason my attention was held for so long was the performance of two crews new to the event. I’ve been a fan of the Flying Lizard team in ALMS/LM24 GT racing for many years so I was amazed to see them enter the top class of an event like this. Their professionalism wasn’t doubted but nobody seriously thought they’d get results in their first attempt outside of GTs, in very unfamiliar equipment against some worthy experienced opposition. Yet they secured the pole and went on to extend a definite lead in the early running. Trouble struck, yet once the car rejoined 19 laps down it was again the fastest in the field and often by some margin (including those dominant Ganassis). Very impressive stuff.

The other impressive team was United Autosports. They did have the help of GrandAm stalwarts Michael Shank Racing, but they still had to perform. It was fantastic to see Martin Brundle and Mark Blundell prove any doubters wrong and demonstrate their speed. F1 and CART experience apart they have both always been excellent endurance racers and so it was proven once more. I like United. I like their attitude and their approach and they have a big future.

GrandAm cars are faster than I gave them credit for, particularly the DPs, whether that’s because they were on the high banks of Daytona I don’t know. I can’t say I was into the GT race though, usually I am in multi-class races, they might want to look into that for the future.

**

This post is part of a new series of race reviews. I’ve tried doing this before in a number of formats, all of which were quite long and ended up explaining what happened rather than giving my thoughts on the race. Unlike many bloggers I am not a reporter or a journalist and I never want to be. From now on I will be writing down my opinions in blog posts of ~500 words or less. Or maybe a little more, like this one.