Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Daytona 500 2012, one for the history books...

The NASCAR Sprint Season got underway this week with the 54th running of the Daytona 500. The good weather from Speed Weeks wasn't to last, the trend of huge crashes however...was.

Jimmie Johnson was an early victim
Roush Fenway Racing's 3 full time cars occupied 3 of the top for positions on the starting grid with Carl Edwards and Greg Biffle locking out the front row, with Matt Kenseth in fourth following his win in the second Gatorade Duel last Thursday. Defending chapion Tony Stewart was third in his Chevrolet after his win in the first Duel, The Sprint Cup's most popular driver, Dale Earnhardt Jr. was 5th whilst series debutant Danica Patrick, only the third woman to start 'The Great American Race' lined up in 29th in a back up car following a frightening wreck during her Duel race on Thursday.

Danica Patrick's first 500 ended in misery
The race was set to get underway on Sunday afternoon, the regular time albeit moved forward a week from it's traditional spot to avoid clashes with the Super Bowl. A 70% chance of showers in Daytona Beach threatened proceedings on Sunday but despite this, NASCAR went ahead with race preparations including a pre-race concert by Lenny Kravitz as well as the traditional invocation, National Anthem and fly over. After many rain delays from the original Sunday noon start time, NASCAR made the decision to pospone the race until Monday at noon, the first time such a thing has happened in the event's 54 year history. When Monday came, a worse forcast threatened to disrupt proceedings further. The race was moved to a 7PM start time, creating the first 'monday primetime Daytona 500'

Once the race got underway, it took just over one lap for the first wreck of the evening to happen. At the start of lap 2, the #33 of Elliot Sadler got into 5 time champion Jimmie Johnson causing a massive pile up that claimed many big name drivers. Johnson, Kurt Busch, Danica Patrick and last year's winner Trevor Bayne were all victims of the pile up. Johnson took a huge hit in the driver's side but was released from the infield care center uninjured. Danica Patrick and Trevor Bayne would later rejoin the race. a Further cation came on lap 88 thanks to a rare Hendrick engine failure for Jeff Gordon in the #24.

Denny Hamlin led most of the first half of the race. He led 57 laps, more than any other driver. Other early leaders included Carl Edwards and Greg Biffle but it was Martin Truex Jr. who led at the halfway point to take home a $200,000 cash prize. One of the favourites, Kyle Busch was never a threat whitsh the Hendrick organisation only had one car finish with star drivers Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon and new signing Kasey Khane all getting eliminated.

Montoya caused this huge blaze at turn 3 with 40 to go
The race took a bizzare twist with 40 laps to go when, under caution, Juan Pablo Montoya appeared to loose control of his Earnhardt Ganassi Chevrolet due to mechanical failure in turn 3. He ploughed straight into the back of a jet dryer truck causing a massive explosion. The resulting inferno, thanks to 200 gallons of kerosene burning caused a red flag period of more than 2 hours whilst the track was cleaned. luckily, nobody was injured.

Becuase of the red flag, this Daytona 500 became not only the first to run on a Monday, but the first to run on a Tuesday with the race now heading for a 1 AM finish.

Kenseth leads Biffle and Earnhardt Jr. heading into the final lap

Late race wrecks meant that the race headed for a green-white-checker finnish with Kenseth leading teammate Greg Biffle with Dale Earnhardt Jr. pushing Biffle. Jr. and Biffle made a late race charge but it was not enough as Kenseth took the checkered frlag for the second time in 4 years. Earnhardt made a very late move on Biffle to take second as they crossed the line, extending his winless streak to 130 races. Early race dominator Denny Hamlin came home in fourth in his Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota with RCR taking positions 5 through 7 with Jeff Burton, Paul Menard and Kevin Harvick. Gibbs driver Joey Logano had a much needed positive start to the season with a ninth place finish.





Kenseth celebrates his second Daytona 500 win in Victory Lane













Saturday, 25 February 2012

Oliver Webb Interview

Webb had a great year in British F3 in 2010
Rising star Oliver Webb kindly took time out of his busy Indy Lights shedule to do a quick Q & A with me about the challenges he will face this year.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Motorbase complete 2012 BTCC lineup

Motorbase have completed their lineup with the signing of Aron Smith.

Smith, 22, who made his BTCC debut at Knockhill for Triple Eight last year will team up with Mat Jackson and Liam Griffin in a 3 car lineup driving second generation Ford Focuses powered by Mountune NGTC engines.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Lotus withdraw from first Barcelona test

Lotus have been forced to withdraw from the first Barcelona pre-season test after discovering a problem with their second E20 chassis, E20-2.
French returnee Romain Grosjean completed only 7 laps before the problem was discovered. Grosjean claimed the car felt 'strange' and the team also noticed the problem straight away.
Lotus intended to fly out E20-1 which performed very successfully in Jerez two weeks ago until tests carried out at their Enstone factory revealed the problem would be best resolved by adapting both chassis.
It is currently unknown specifically what the problem is (publicly atleast) or whether Lotus will run any private days to make up for the time that will be lost this week.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Rising star Nasr gets GP2 seat

Nasr had an impressive 2012 British F3 campaign
2011 British F3 champion Felipe Nasr has secured a drive in the 2012 GP2 series with the DAMS squad.

DAMS, who secured the 2011 drivers title with new Lotuys F1 driver Romain Grosjean have also signed GP2 veteran Davide Valsecchi for the 2012 season. The French squad are said to be 'delighted' with their latest signing.

Nasr, 19, has a hugely impressive track record with European Formula BMW and British Formula 3 titles as well as several Brazilian national championships in Karting. He also won the 2011 Sunoco Rolex 24 at Daytona Challenge, winning a race seat in the 2012 Rolex 24 at Daytona. he went on to finish an impressive 3rd at his first attempt.

Sunday, 12 February 2012

F1 - Jerez Test Review - The main talking points

Grosjean was the fastest of all 2012 runners
Pre-season testing got underway last week in Jerez, Spain. The Spanish venue was blessed with bright sun all week whilst the rest of Europe was struck down by deep snow and sub zero temperatures.

11 of the teams were present ant of those, 9 were running their new 2012 cars. Mercedes and HRT ran 2011 cars whilst Marussia did not participate at all.

Raikkonen topped the times on his return
The returning Kimi Raikkonen led the opening day in the new Lotus E20 with a time of 1m19.670s. Force India's Paul Di Resta was the only other driver to post a sub 1 minutes 20 second time. Mclaren and Ferrari weren't high up the order with 8th and 9th place times for Jenson Button and Felipe Massa. Mark Webber didn't get much of a run in the new Red Bull RB8 due to some parts arriving late but he still managed to set the fourth fastest time.

This was only a minor setback though as on day 2, Webber set the fastest lap of all the 2012 cars, driving 97 laps throughout the day. Michael Schumacher in a 2011 Mercedes went fastest.

Caterham showed promise
De La rosa got seat time in a 2011 HRT
Mercedes continued to lead on Day 3 with Rosberg topping the times. Sebastian Vettel, Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton joined the test replacing Mark Webber, Felipe Massa and Jenson Button respectively. Force India reserve Jules Bianchi ended their running after only 2 laps with an excursion into the gravel damaging the car with new parts not available until the next day. Romain Grosjean of Lotus posted the fastest time of any 2012 car so far. Caterham's Giedo van der Garde  made his debut for the team setting the ninth fastest time with Senna making his Williams debut filling in the gap in 8th. Alonso carried on Ferrari's low key start with their radical F2012 with a 7th place time. Ferrari technical director Pat Fry later admitting he was unhappy with Ferrari's performaces so far.
McLaren had a low key start to 2012...

This was to change on the final day with Alonso topping the time sheets. This could've been down to low fuel runs but that information was not disclosed. The time set by Alonso was the second fastest of any 2012 car over the 4 days of testing. Nico Hulkenberg got his first taste of the new Force India car after Bianchi's crash the day before. Sauber brought out a red flag during the day after Kamui Kobayashi's C31 suffered a hydraulic leak.
...as did Ferrari
Mercedes faired well with their 2011 car










COMBINED TIMES FOR ALL 4 DAYS 


Pos  Driver         Team            Best time           Total laps
 1.  Rosberg        Mercedes        1m17.613s                174
 2.  Grosjean       Lotus              1m18.419s  +0.806   212
 3.  Schumacher     Mercedes    1m18.561s  +0.948   174
 4.  Alonso         Ferrari             1m18.877s  +1.264   106
 5.  Webber         Red Bull        1m19.184s  +1.571   151
 6.  Vettel         Red Bull           1m19.297s  +1.684   146
 7.  Hamilton       McLaren       1m19.464s  +1.851   166
 8.  Ricciardo      Toro Rosso    1m19.587s  +1.974   157
 9.  Vergne         Toro Rosso     1m19.597s  +1.984   159
10.  Raikkonen      Lotus           1m19.670s  +2.057   192
11.  Perez          Sauber              1m19.770s  +2.157   116
12.  Di Resta       Force India     1m19.772s  +2.159   170
13.  Kobayashi      Sauber          1m19.834s  +2.221   182
14.  Hulkenberg     Force India  1m19.977s  +2.364   90
15.  Senna          Williams          1m20.132s  +2.519   250
16.  Bianchi        Force India      1m20.221s  +2.608   46
17.  Massa          Ferrari              1m20.454s  +2.841   164
18.  Button         McLaren           1m20.688s  +3.075   147
19.  Maldonado      Williams      1m21.197s  +3.584   122
20.  Kovalainen     Caterham      1m21.518s  +3.905   167
21.  De la Rosa     HRT               1m22.128s  +4.515   108
22.  Trulli         Caterham            1m22.198s  +4.585   117
23.  Van der Garde  Caterham     1m23.324s  +5.711   74
 
 
Pics from f1fanatic.co.uk 
 





Saturday, 4 February 2012

Weekly roundup - 27/01/12 - 04/02/12

Sorry, I have not been able to update the site due to personal things and college work but I'm back! Here is a roundup of the past week's most noticable stories. Warning, it's a big one...

F1

McLaren, Ferrari and Force India all launch new cars  - See here

Karthikeyan completes grid - Indian Narain Karthikeyan has been confirmed as HRT's second driver ending all speculation of whjo would get the last remaining seat on the 2012 grid. The 35 year old, making HRT the oldest driver lineup, raced for HRT in 2011 before being dropped in favour of Red Bull youngster Daniel Ricciardo returning only for his native grand prix in India. It is understood that he is taking substantial finacial backing to the cash strapped Spanish team.

James Key Leaves Sauber - James Key has dealt Sauber a blow by announcing he is leaving the squad. The British technical director has been part of the Swiss team since 2010 after moving over from Force India. Key has reportedly taken a role in the United Kingdom although it is unknown where.

Van Der Garde gets Caterham role - Geido Van Der Garde has been confirmed as Caterham's third driver for the upcoming season. The Dutch GP2 race winner has been chasing a race seat for a long time after previous test stints with Super Aguri, Renault and Spyker. The role will give the 26 year old several Friday practice sessions as well as his reserve duties.








Grand Am

Allmendinger hold on to claim Shank's first Daytona 24 hours win - Michael Shank Racing claimed their first Rolex 24 win after Aj Allmendinger held off the pole sitting Starworks car of Ryan Dalziel in the closing stages. The #60 Riley Ford of Allmendinger, along with Ozz Negri, John Pew and the returning Justin Wilson finished just over 5 seconds ahead of Dalziel, Luhr, McNish, Popow and Potolicchio with another Michael Shank car, that of Jorge Goncalvez, Michael McDowell, Gustavo Yacaman and British F3 champion Felipe Nasr completing the podium. GT honours went to the #44 Porsche of Andy Lally, Richard Lietz, John Potter and Rene Rast.

Touring Cars

WTCC - LADA and Honda return - LADA will return to the WTCC, entering 2 rounds in 2012 followed by a full season in 2013. James Thompson is so far the only confirmed driver for the Russian manufacturer. Meanwhile, Honda will also make an appearance in the 2012 season with an appearance at the Japanese round before also participating in a full season in 2013. No drivers have been confirmed but the cars will be based on the new European Civic and built by Italian Honda specialists JAS Motorsport with engines from Mugen.

BTCC - Chevrolet withdraw from series - A week after lead driver Jason Plato was confirmed to be spearheading MG's new charge, Silverline Chevrolet have announced they will not be returning for the 2012 BTCC season instead choosing to focus on their hugely successful WTCC campaign.

WRC

Eurosport talks break down - Discussions between the FIA and Eurosport regarding promotion or the WRC and TV rights have broken down leaving the world's premier rallying series without a promoter or permanent broadcaster. Rallies will now be responsible for arranging TV coverage for their own event. Stage 1 Technology will still provide timing and tracking systems for next week's Rally Sweden although it is unconfirmed if they will for any more events.

BMW set to terminate contract with Prodrive - BMW are set to end the partnership with Prodrive regarding the MINI WRC program after unresolable differences regarding how the program is funded. There has been no official announcement as of yet although one is expected in the coming days despite the cars already being on their way to Sweden for round 2 of the WRC. Kris Meeke has already been dropped due to funding issues for the team with his seat being occupied by pay drivers. It is unknown whether the program will be taken in house by BMW motorsport, given to another firm or be stopped altogether.

WEC


Entry list for 2012 24 Hours of Le Mans revealed - 4 Audi R18 entries head this year's 24 Hours of Le Mans entry list. 2 turbo diesel and 2 diesel/electric hybrids. DTM star Oliver Jarvis has been confirmed for one of Audis Diesel entrants. He has previous expereince at Le Mans after racing an Audi R10 for Kolles in 2010. Toyota have also had a second car confirmed with Hiroaki Ishiura of Super GT the first confirmed driver. Dome will also return in partneship with the Pescarolo team with Nicolas Minassian the first confirmed driver. The unique Delta Wing concept also confirmed their first driver, Scott Marino Franchitti.

Indy Car


Sato signs for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing - Former Formula One driver Takuma Sato has been confirmed to lead Rahal Letterman Lanigan's return to full time Indy Car competition. Despite running cars in the Indy 500 the past few years, this will be the first full season campaingn since since running Ryan Hunter-Reay in 2008. a second car is hoped to be confirmed soon.


V8 Supercars


Premat makes shock switch - Former Audi DTM Star Alexandre Premat has been confirmed at Rogers Motorsport in the V8 Supercars series in Australia. After being a race winner in F3, A1 GP, GP2 and the Le Mans Series, the Frenchman was fired from Audi's DTM roster after runniong the New York marathon despite Audi insisting he rested after a huge crash. Premat will be unveiled along with his new Holden Commodore next week.






F1 Launch Roundup 27/01/12 - 04/02/12

After Caterham launched their 2012 challenger, the CT01, last week (http://www.dwmotorsport.blogspot.com/2012/01/daily-roundup-240112_25.html) This week was the turn of McLaren, Ferrari and Force India to unveil their new cars.

McLaren

McLaren surprised many by unveiling a car that did not feature the so called 'platypus nose' as seen on the Caterham that was expected to become the norm this season. The smooth lines of the MP4-27 led the car to be called 'beautiful' by driver Jenson Button. The MP4-27 features narrower rear bodywork to improve airflow at the rear. The bizzare U-shaped sidepods of the 2011 MP4-26have been ditched due to new exhaust regulations. The cooling system has been revised so that itdirects air to the gearbox oil-cooler.

Test driver Oliver Turvey will be first to drive the car at Jerez early next week.

Ferrari

After cancelling their formal launch event due to heavy snow in Northern Italy, Ferrari unvieled the new F2012 race car online early on Friday (3rd of February). The dramatic design of the new car has been led by Brit Pat Fry and is the car the Scuderia hope will return them to championship glory after conceding that they had been to conservative in recent years. The F2012 features a very pronunced bump on the nose leading some to call it the 'lego car' as well as an airbox similar to that of the 2011 McLaren racer. OZ have also become Ferrari's new wheel suplier for the 2012 season replacing German firm BBS.

Force India

Force India also unveiled their car on Friday at a freezing cold Silverstone circuit. The VJM05 is the 4th car to race with a Mercedes engine and features a revised sidepod design due to new exhaust regulations, a 'platypus nose' reminiscent of the Caterham CT01. The car also returned to a conventional airbox design after opting for a 'blade' approach in 2011.

The car and it's striking new livery was unveiled by race drivers Paul Di Resta and Nico Hulkenberg with new reserve Jules Bianchi looking on. Di Resta later took to the track to give the car it's innitial shakedown run.


Pictures - f1fanatic.co.uk