ROCKENFELLER WINS – EKSTRÖM CLAIMS BACK POINTS’ LEAD
There is no doubt that he can rightfully refer to himself as ‘Moscow expert’. Two years after his victory in the first-ever DTM race at Moscow Raceway, Mike Rockenfeller had reason to celebrate in Russia once again. In a turbulent race, the Audi driver steered clear of every incident on the track, made maximum use of his pole position and scored a dominant lights-to-flag victory. “I had the car I need to win. In spite of the amount of success ballast, it was simply super-fast,” a jubilant Rockenfeller said. So fast, that even Bruno Spengler, with the considerably lighter BMW, wasn’t able to keep up. After a fierce battle with the drivers behind him, the Canadian crossed the finish line in second place, some four seconds down on Rockenfeller. The final slot on the podium went to a buoyant Mattias Ekström, who once again showed his great skills and claimed back the lead in the drivers’ standings from Pascal Wehrlein. The Mercedes-Benz driver was involved in one of two entertaining battling groups that made their mark on the race.
Rockenfeller stayed away from all these duels. Only right after the start, he had to defend his position against a spirited attack by Spengler. Rockenfeller: “After these difficult weeks, this is a great relief both for my team and for myself. I was able to control the race easily and bring victory home without any major problems.” This was also the result of the fact that there were fierce battles for every inch of asphalt going on behind him. On the opening lap of the race, there was already a fascinating fight for the podium positions with four drivers involved: with plenty of self-confidence, Maxime Martin tried to work his way past fellow BMW driver Spengler, but briefly went off the track in the process. Jamie Green immediately responded: the Brit almost used the duel of the BMW drivers to overtake both of them in one go. Eventually, however, Spengler withstood the attack by the Audi driver while Belgian Martin had to slot in behind Green and thus became a target for Mattias Ekström. Entertaining race action for the approximately 26,000 fans at Moscow Raceway in the opening stages of the race on Sunday already. And these weren’t the last duels in this group, that remained together almost throughout the race distance of 41 laps.
Rockenfeller benefited from the battles going on behind him. When the use of DRS was allowed four laps into the race, he was already over a second ahead of his rivals. Thus, his main opponent Spengler was unable to use DRS. “It was a tough race,” Spengler commented. “Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to keep up with Mike due to the duels in the opening stages. At the end of the day, I am happy to have brought my second place home. A great weekend for me.” The battle for this second position was decided when another driver mingled with the group of four: DTM rookie Lucas Auer. The Austrian had waited a long time before coming in for his mandatory pit stop and therefore was ahead of Spengler on the track, considerably slowing down the entire group. It took Spengler seven laps to move ahead of Auer. Martin, Ekström and Green – the order being the result of different pit stops – still had to stay behind the Austrian. While Spengler charged to pull a gap of over three seconds, it took the other three drivers four laps to get past Auer as well. After that, Auer turned into the pits and Ekström increased the pressure on Martin. The Belgian defended his position for seven laps, got praise over the radio from his team, but eventually had to give in. With a little over ten minutes to go, Ekström used the final corner before the main straight to secure third place with an audacious overtaking move. Ekström: “The accident in yesterday’s race was a wake-up call for me. This time, I was more cautious and that paid off.”
The Swede scored valuable points that brought him back into the lead of the drivers’ standings, because his main rival out in front of the championship, Pascal Wehrlein, had only started the race from eleventh place. “Thus, the race was almost run already. In qualifying, we simply weren’t strong enough,” the 21-year-old analysed. On track, however, he tried everything to work his way up through the ranks. First of all, he had a tough duel with Edoardo Mortara, third in the drivers’ standings, in which Wehrlein prevailed on lap eight. Later on, however, Wehrlein lost this place again because of the pit stops, but didn’t give up yet. In a spirited way, he closed the gap again and was involved in a battle with Mortara and the latter’s fellow Audi driver Nico Müller until the final seconds. Eventually, however, Wehrlein had to admit defeat, with tenth place as his result. Thus, Gary Paffett was the best-placed Mercedes-Benz driver in sixth position.
After the sixth weekend of the 2015 DTM season, Ekström is now leading in the drivers’ standings with 126 points. Wehrlein follows with 120 points from Mortara, who has 110 points following his eighth place in the race on Sunday. Bruno Spengler is the best-placed BMW driver with 85 points in fifth position. Fans at Oschersleben can already look forward to the next event, because the 13th and 14th race of the current season will take place there from September 11 till 13. Action in Moscow has shown in an impressive way that the hot phase in the battle for the title has begun and an early decision is anything but likely. Spectacular racing is on the cards in the region of Magdeburg.
PASTOR MALDONADO’ MONZA PREVIEW
Pastor Maldonado looks forward to the 2015 Italian Grand Prix at a place where so much of his race craft was learnt.
What are your opinions of racing in the Parco di Monza?
I like Monza and I love Italy. I actually used to live very close to the circuit when I was starting my career here in Europe. I have won races here so it holds some good memories and special feelings for sure. I have a lot of friends here and a lot of supporters who come and see me at the track, so it is very nice to catch up with them all. The track is totally unique and of course it is great to be racing where all the old heroes did too. Monza has changed only very slightly over the years and it still has the character of the old banking and the parkland trees as you drive through it and of course the fans create a great atmosphere which is a great soundtrack to the Grand Prix.
Any particular expectations for the Monza weekend?
I am really looking forward to Monza this year. We’ve shown our car to be pretty good through the speed traps this season and Monza is where you want to be as fast as possible in a straight line. Coming off the back of our performance in Spa it’s going to be really interesting to see how we go; I have a good feeling.
Tell us one word that comes to mind when you hear the word Monza?
Speed. It has to be speed because the track is all about how fast you can go on the start/finish straight and then also on the back straight too. We are reaching the highest speeds of the season on these stretches. One of the critical points is the Parabolica corner. You have to get this right at the end of your lap to ensure a good time, and if you get it wrong it also compromises you for the next lap. It’s difficult to do this as the car is set up for low downforce on the straights, so it’s more difficult to drive on the corners – especially a long corner like Parabolica, which is tough and fast, the most crucial at Monza.
Last year the outside of Parabolica was changed from gravel to tarmac; did this make a difference?
The approach was still the same, which is to take it as quickly and efficiently as possible. Of course you are aware that it’s safer and there’s less penalty in going off and this is good from a safety point of view because it is a quick corner with not that much room on the outside.
How frustrating was your Belgian Grand Prix?
Of course, it’s frustrating not to finish any Grand Prix, but it was particularly so in Belgium as we really had potential to go well. Romain did a great job to finish on the podium and I started my race ahead of him on the grid. We know what is possible and our car should go well in Monza. I would love to score a very strong result in Italy as I have so many fans there.
Were there particular lessons learnt?
We’ve gone through the data and we think we know what we need to do to avoid a similar situation again. Spa’s a pretty unique place so it’s unlikely we’ll see the same set of circumstances again. It was good to watch the team get a good result, but it would have been better to have been part of a strong result for both cars on track.
Pizza or Pasta?
Both. Definitely both. But not at the same time of course!
F1 STARS BUTTON AND COULTHARD TEST WORLD RX SUPERCARS
Button took a trip down memory lane as he took to the wheel of a 1974 VW Beetle – similar to the car that his late father used to race in the British Rallycross Championship. He later swapped to drive a JRM Racing prepared MINI RX Supercar while 13-time Grand Prix winner David Coulthard took to the track in the Citroen DS3 RX Supercar that Britain’s Liam Doran currently uses in World RX.
“Today has been a mega experience and completely different to what I am used to,” grinned Button after jumping out of the JRM MINI. “You need a huge amount of skill to drive these cars – on your own it’s scary enough, never mind going up against another four or five other drivers! World RX is an exciting Championship and it’s great to see the sport growing again like it was in the eighties both in the British and on the world scene. Everybody racing in single-seaters or in circuit racing regards rallycross as very professional and a lot of fun.”
The 2009 Formula One Champion also took a moment to reminisce about his childhood as Button spoke fondly of the time he spent as a child in the rallycross paddock: “I grew up with rallycross – I used to watch my dad racing back in the mid-eighties and I used to love hearing the car. I would not have become an F1 World Champion if it hadn’t been for my dad and the grassroots of rallycross – that was where I caught the motorsport bug. Today has brought back some really nice memories but since then, I’ve also enjoyed watching World RX on TV. I remember seeing the footage from the Finnish round of the Championship last year and today confirmed just how great it is in real life too.”
BBC F1 commentator Coulthard is no stranger to World RX having gone head-to-head with Petter Solberg in a Marklund Motorsport Polo RX Supercar at last year’s Race of Champions.
“Rallycross is highly skilled – the drivers have to deal with an ever-evolving mix of asphalt and gravel that changes from lap to lap. I have tremendous respect for rallycross drivers, because there are just so many more variables,” explained the Scotsman, who also attended last year’s Norwegian RX round in Hell.
Coulthard echoed Button’s comments about the growth of the sport admitting he’s a big fan of RX. “I think it’s a great Championship and it’s fantastic to try rallycross which has made me appreciate how skilled the guys are at driving these cars. It’s great to see that the Championship is growing so much too. I’ve watched it a bit in the past year but you can’t play at this sport – it has serious world-class competition. I’d absolutely recommend anyone to come along and watch rallycross – the racing is fantastic and being here in person is the only way you can truly appreciate the skill of the drivers and the power of these terrific machines.”
Round nine of the FIA World Rallycross Championship – the Bretagne World RX of France – takes place at Loheac in France next week (4-6 September).
JUSTIN WILSON SUCCUMBS TO INJURIES
INDIANAPOLIS (Aug. 24, 2015) – INDYCAR announced that driver Justin Wilson, who enjoyed success in multiple motorsports series during a two-decade professional career, died today from a head injury sustained in the Verizon IndyCar Series race Aug. 23 at Pocono Raceway. He was 37.
“This is a monumentally sad day for INDYCAR and the motorsports community as a whole,” said Mark Miles, CEO of Hulman & Co., the parent of INDYCAR and Indianapolis Motor Speedway. “Justin’s elite ability to drive a race car was matched by his unwavering kindness, character and humility – which is what made him one of the most respected members of the paddock. As we know, the racing industry is one big family, and our efforts moving forward will be focused on rallying around Justin’s family to ensure they get the support they need during this unbelievably difficult time.”
Wilson was struck by debris from a single-car crash on Lap 180 of the 200-lap race on the 2.5-mile triangular oval. Wilson was attended to by the Holmatro Safety Team and airlifted to Lehigh Valley Hospital-Cedar Crest in Allentown, Pa.
A native of Sheffield, England, Wilson recorded seven career Indy car victories – the most recent in 2012 at Texas Motor Speedway – and eight pole starts in 174 races. He totaled 711 career laps led, including two in the Aug. 23 race. He competed in Formula One in 2003 with Minardi and Jaguar, and his initial F1 points were scored that year in the U.S. Grand Prix on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course. He co-drove a Michael Shank Racing sports car entry to the overall victory in the 50th anniversary Rolex 24 at Daytona in 2012.
Wilson, a road cycling and mountain biking enthusiast, also was an ambassador for dyslexia, a learning disorder characterized by difficulty reading that challenged him as a youth. He often would speak to groups at the racetrack and visit schools near INDYCAR race venues.
Wilson is survived by his wife, Julia, and two daughters. His younger brother Stefan is an accomplished race car driver who has competed in the Verizon IndyCar Series and Indy Lights. Funeral arrangements are pending. In lieu of flowers, a fund has been set up for Wilson children. Donations may be sent to: Wilson Children’s Fund, c/o INDYCAR, 4551 W. 16th St., Indianapolis, IN 46222.
LOTUS F1 TEAM’ FIRST PODIUM SINCE 2013
Lotus F1 Team returned to the Formula 1 Grand Prix podium for the first time since the US Grand Prix in 2013 thanks to a superb drive from Romain Grosjean in today’s Belgian Grand Prix. Despite a five-place grid penalty, Romain delivered an exceptionally measured performance including setting a race fastest lap. Romain’s joy was tempered by a second lap retirement for Pastor after his car lost drive. The cause is currently being investigated. Romain’s result means Lotus F1 Team return to fifth position in the Constructors’ Championship.
Romain started from P9 on the grid on his qualifying soft tyres, changing to new soft compound tyres on lap 9 and scrubbed mediums on lap 21.
- Pastor started from P7 on the grid but was forced to retire on the second lap after his car lost drive.
Romain Grosjean, P3, E23-04
“Today’s result is wonderful. It’s good for the team and for myself of course. Yesterday’s good qualifying result put a smile on my face but today was an unbelievable race. Everything came together when it mattered during those 43 laps. I drove with my heart today and pushed 100 % throughout the race. I did some great overtaking manoeuvers and was really pushing to catch up and hopefully overtake Sebastian Vettel – of course it was bad luck for him to have had the tyre issue at the end. We were really trying to go for the podium this afternoon and I felt very emotional during the last lap of the race! It’s a great feeling today.”
Pastor Maldonado, DNF, E23-03
“We had been doing a great job this weekend, especially yesterday. The car was feeling very good, very competitive and I had a good race start. We had an issue with the drive of the car which the team are investigating. I’m disappointed about the issue we had today but that’s racing sometimes. We are keeping focussed for the next race now and Romain has shown what is possible. I love Italy and Monza so I’ll be doing everything I can for a strong result there.”