Motorsports Mondial

Photo: wsbyrenault.com

Catalunya  – Collective testing – Day 1

Rain in Spain does well for Ricciardo again

Following on from Motorland Aragon, the drivers from Formula Renault 3.5 Series met up in Barcelona for the first of two days of collective testing scheduled at the Catalunya circuit. Weather conditions proved difficult today, with a track that was almost undriveable at times. Like at Motorland Aragon, Daniel Ricciardo (ISR) finished the day at the top of the timesheets, ahead of Robert Wickens (Carlin) and Brendon Hartley (Gravity – Charouz).

For this second session of collective testing, the Formula Renault 3.5 Series driver line-up had changed slightly. On home turf, the Catalan driver Miki Monras joined the Pons Racing team, while Sergio Canamasas – after driving with Pons Racing and Epsilon Euskadi at Motorland Aragon – this time teamed with BVM Target, along with Daniel Zampieri, who hadn’t been able to take part in the first collective test of the season through illness.

The rain was expected and sure enough disrupted the early part of the day’s testing. In difficult conditions and after a long wait, Andre Negrao (International Draco Racing) was the first driver to record a significant lap time. Jan Charouz (Gravity – Charouz Racing) came into action next and took his turn at the top of the timing sheets in 1’55”663. After over 80 minutes of the session, Daniel Ricciardo took over top spot in 1’55”633. The FR 3.5 Series runner-up continued with fast laps, clocking up a 1’54”613 then 1’54”303. Subsequently, violent downpours prevented drivers taking to the track during the second half of the morning session and the race director brought out the red flag after Brendon Hartley span, just after taking second place.

Conditions were still damp in the afternoon and the first hour saw multiple red flag incidents. Robert Wickens went quickest with only his second lap, clocking 1’55”321, before going into the pits where he was to stay for the rest of the afternoon. With the track still wet, no one was able to beat the time set by Daniel Ricciardo in the morning, the ISR driver ending the day ahead of Robert Wickens, Brendon Hartley, Albert Costa (Epsilon Euskadi), Jan Charouz and Alexander Rossi (Fortec Motorsport). Testing will continue tomorrow.

Quote-Unquote:

Alexander Rossi : “I’m getting to know the team and we’re already in a good rhythm. I am very pleased with the progress made throughout the day. To finish third in the afternoon session was good. We’re excited at the idea of fighting for the title.”

Andre Negrao : “I am gradually acclimatizing to the International Draco Racing team. It is only our third day of practice together. I am sure it will work out and that we’ll find the settings it takes for the car to be perfect. But I still have much to learn. Today was particularly difficult.”

Oliver Webb : “In terms of downforce, the Formula Renault 3.5 is not really different from the cars I’ve driven so far, but I find the cornering speed and the effectiveness of the carbon brakes on this car exceptional. I need to concentrate now in order to learn to manage these parameters, but I’m confident.”

Motorsports Mondial

 

Formula 3 Euro Series begins new season with tests

The off-season finally is over: the Formula 3 Euro Series teams and drivers are preparing extensively for the coming season. Today, the official tests have begun at Valencia and in five days time, the testing work will be continued at Barcelona. As usual, the tests in Spain are contested by a an impressive field of highly competitive drivers.

First of all there is Marco Wittmann (Signature): last year’s vice champion will contest the 2011 season with the No 1 on his car. In 2010, he was defeated by just one driver: his Signature team-mate Edoardo Mortara. For 2010 champion Mortara, winning the Euro Series title paid off: he is going to make his DTM debut as Audi works driver, this year.

Like Wittmann, Laurens Vanthoor (Signature) also abides by the Formula 3 Euro Series and his team. In addition to the two aforementioned drivers, the Signature driver line-up also comprises Daniel Abt and Carlos Muñoz. While the two Spaniards Daniel Juncadella und Roberto Merhi represent the Prema Powerteam colours and will be supported by a third driver, from the days of testing at Barcelona. Peter Mücke, the Mücke Motorsport Team Principal, has signed two Euro Series newcomers for 2011: Nigel Melker and Felix Rosenqvist. Team Motopark Academy relies on the services of three drivers from three different continents, in its second year in the planet’s most competitive young-gun series: Sweden’s Jimmy Eriksson, Kimiya Sato from Japan and Canadian Gianmarco Raimondo will race for the Oschersleben based squad. New on the Euro Series grid is the Star Racing Team that has signed Kuba Giermaziak, for its debut season.

Just two of the young talents entered to date are Formula 3 rookies – the number of experienced drivers is clearly higher. On the other hand, not all the race seats have been assigned, with several teams and drivers still being in negotiations. Furthermore, several guest drivers are expected to contest the second race weekend of the season, at Hockenheim, that also will represent the season kick-off of the new FIA Formula 3 Trophy.

As every year, the young hopeful talents are keen on following the footsteps of former Euro Series drivers who have made it to the very top in international motor racing, afterwards: Reigning Formula 1 World Champion Sebastian Vettel (runner-up in the 2006 Euro Series) or former Formula 1 World Champion Lewis Hamilton (2005 Euro Series Champion) are just two of them – and reigning DTM Champion Paul Di Resta also learned his trade in the Formula 3 Euro Series. Back in 2006, the Scot defeated Sebastian Vettel to clinch the Euro Series title.

Motorsports Mondial

Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge title race set for dramatic climax in UAE

Dubai. The battle for the drivers title in the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East will be  decided over back-to-back race weekends in the UAE next month.

Guaranteeing a dramatic climax to the 2010-11 season, the remaining six rounds will be fought out in the space of four race days at Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi on April 8-9 and Dubai Autodrome on April 15-16.

The Dubai Autodrome race weekend has been added following the loss of dates in Bahrain. Both remaining race weekends will now feature three races instead of the normal two, adding  to the excitement in the battle for the Porsche GT3 Cup title.

Bahrain’s Sheikh Salman bin Rashid Al Khalifa currently holds a fragile six-point lead over Saudi Arabia’s defending champion, Prince Abdulaziz Al Faisal, and after scoring three races each the pair are widely expected to battle to the finish for the title.

But  Abu Dhabi’s Khaled Al Qubaisi is determined to improve on his third place in the standings and he will now look to boost his challenge by recording his first win in the series on home territory.

Al Qubaisi showed his liking for the Yas Marina Circuit when he recorded his first two podium finishes in the series there last November, taking third place in each of the two opening rounds as the current season got under way.

He went one better by securing second place finishes in Round 4 in Bahrain and in Round 5 at Saudi Arabia’s Reem International Circuit, and would love to achieve his breakthrough race victory in Abu Dhabi.

A year ago this month, Fahad Algosaibi became the youngest ever winner in the history of Porsche one-make racing when, as a 16-year-old, he beat Prince Abdulaziz into second place at Reem.

While he has been unable to find another victory since then, Algosaibi, currently lying fourth in the championship, wants to grab at least one more race win before leaving the series to begin studies overseas later this year.

Another Saudi driver, Bandar Alesayi, will be aiming to improve on his current fifth place in the drivers’ standings after finishing third in the series last season.

Championship positions after six rounds

1. Salman Bin Rashid Al Khalifa (BAH)                                 110pts

2. Abdulaziz Al Faisal (KSA) Al Faisal Racing Team             104pts

3. Khaled Al Qubaisi (UAE) tolimit Arabia                              98pts

4. Fahad Algosaibi (KSA) ClassicArabia Racing                    85pts

5. Bandar Alesayi (KSA)                                                         80pts

6. Musaed Al Murar (UAE) tolimit arabia                               57pts

7. Ibrahim Salloum (UAE) Abu Dhabi Falcon Racing            49pts

8. Johannes Waimer (GER)                                                   37pts

9. Fawaz Algosaibi (KSA) ClassicArabia Racing                   27pts

10. Alain Muraour (F)                                                              25pts

Motorsports Mondial

photo: Renault-Sport

Motorland Aragon – Collective testing

Bas Schothorst straight up to pace

By setting the fastest time in the first collective tests of the season, Bas Schothorst, who made the switch to TDS Racing over the winter, has proved that he is going to be a force to be reckoned with in Eurocup Mégane Trophy. The Dutchman will, however, have to hold off challenges from the Oregon Team drivers Stefano Comini and Niccolo Nalio and possibly Nick Catsburg (Boutsen Energy Racing), who may yet be back to defend his title.

After Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 and the Formula Renault 3.5 Series, it was the turn of the Eurocup Mégane Trophy field to put in two days of collective testing at the Motorland Aragón circuit. It was the first taste of action for the twenty Mégane Trophy cars, complete with the new developments for the 2011 season, including a new wider rear wing, a new front brake cooling system and the fitting of front and rear wheel arches.

The first day was about getting to know things better: getting to know the developments on the car for everyone involved, getting to know a new team for some, getting to know the track for others and finally getting to know the car for several newcomers to the category.

The Eurocup Mégane Trophy regulars were quick to make their presence felt. Stefano Comini (Oregon Team), who looks determined to be in the title hunt this season, put in the best performance in each of the two sessions. The Swiss driver set the best time of the day at the end of the morning session, with a lap in 2’03’’178. He completed this first day of collective tests out front, ahead of Niccolo Nalio and the TDS Racing drivers, Bas Schothorst and David Dermont. Back in fifth, Andrea Cecchellero (Brixia Horse Power), at just 20 years of age, and already runner-up in Formula Renault 2.0 Italia last season, looked to be acclimatizing to the Mégane Trophy very quickly indeed.

On Friday, the winner of the 2010 Eurocup Mégane Trophy, Nick Catsburg, made his return to action. The Dutchman joined forces with Boutsen Energy Racing for this day of testing. Michele Faccin (Oregon Team) was putting in his first ever track time in a Eurocup Mégane Trophy, thus adding his name to the already lengthy list of single-seater drivers who have opted for a drive in the high-performance touring car developed by Renault Sport Technologies.

Everyone upped the pace for this second day of collective testing. Bas Schothorst set the fastest time very early on, with a lap in 2’02’’551. This put him fastest at the end of the morning session ahead of Stefano Comini, who was working on a race simulation, as was Niccolo Nalio, who was third fastest. In the afternoon, it was Stefano Comini who put in the fastest time, though he was unable to equal Bas Schothorst’s performance from the morning session. The TDS Racing driver has thus made his ambitions very clear before the field heads to Barcelona for the next session of Eurocup Mégane Trophy collective testing to be held on March 24 and 25, 2011.

Quote, unquote:

Bas Schothorst: “We have put in two really good days of testing. I’m getting to know a new team this season, TDS Racing, so we’ve had to work out quite a few things together. We managed to get through our entire test programme. It is important to show the others out there that we’re on the pace. My primary objective this season is to take my first win in the category. But, objectively speaking, we are hoping to be in with a chance of the title.”

Stefano Comini: “I haven’t been behind the wheel of a race car for about five months, so I was starting to feel a bit rusty! But I quickly got back up to pace and we did a race simulation which went very well. In my first season in Eurocup Mégane Trophy last year, I managed to finish third overall. So my goal is to do better in 2011! I have learned a lot and I now have more experience, which is essential in this category.”

Nick Catsburg: “I only decided to go in for this day of testing on Thursday! Boutsen Energy Racing made me an attractive offer. My primary objective this season is to do the 24 Hour races, but if we can manage to put together a competitive programme in Eurocup Mégane Trophy, I’d be interested in defending my title. I would really like to do another day of tests with Nismo, and that means winning the Eurocup Mégane Trophy again. It would be a nice challenge, and it’s something no-one has ever done before in this category, but nothing has been decided yet.”

 

F1weekly podcast # 489

Photo: Peter Brazier

F1weekly podcast number 489

Motosports Mondial with Nasir Hameed and..

Special repeat Interview Martin and Alex Brundle!

Early Racing Career

Brundle had an unorthodox route to Formula 1. He began his racing career at the age of 12, competing in grass track racing, in the Norfolk village of Pott Row. In 1975, he moved to Hot Rod racing and received ‘Star grade’ status. In 1979, he started single seaters with Formula Ford. During this time, he also raced Tom Walkinshaw’s BMW race cars, achieving second against a field of international drivers at Snetterton. He won the BMW championship in 1980 and partnered Sir Stirling Moss in the BP/Audi team of 1981. In 1982, he moved up to Formula 3 achieving five poles and two wins in his debut season. He won the Grovewood Award as the most promising Commonwealth driver. The next year, he battled Ayrton Senna, for the F3 championship, which Brundle eventually lost on the final laps of the last race. In 1984, he was promoted to Formula One.

Formula One (1984–1987)

His Formula One career began with Tyrrell in 1984. He put in a number of aggressive and fast drives, finishing fifth in his first race at Brazil and then second at Detroit. At the Dallas Grand Prix, Brundle broke his ankles and both feet in a crash during a practice session. Then Tyrrell were disqualified from the world championship in 1984 because of a technical infringement, wiping his achievements for that season from the record books.

For the next two seasons he remained with Tyrrell, but without a works engine supply the team struggled against the works engine teams. In 1987 he switched to Zakspeed, but managed only two points, the car unable to compete with the frontrunners. These two points were the only ones in the team’s history.

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Motorsports Mondial

Triumph for Alain Prost and Dacia Duster at the Stade de France

More than 50,000 spectators packed into the Stade de France, near Paris, to watch Alain Prost and his Dacia Duster sweep the board in the non-championship Trophée Andros meeting. After winning the pursuit race, Alain Prost was joined by one-off team-mate Evens Stievenart to claim the grand finale, too. Dacia and Prost also won the weekend’s popularity contest after making an indelible mark on the season-ending gala.

The Stade de France attracted a huge turnout on Saturday, March 5, to cheer on the Trophée Andros regulars. And although the results didn’t count towards the championship standings, it was a meeting not to miss and the most prestigious clash of the year to win.

Alain Prost and his Dacia Duster rose to the occasion, and the four-time World Champion attracted the bulk of the applause as he drove round the purpose-built ice circuit for the first time. The day kicked off with a pursuit competition involving the top four finishers of the 2010/2011 Trophée Andros.

The semi-final saw Alain Prost eliminate Olivier Panis by a score of two wins to nil, which qualified the Dacia driver for a bill-topping final against Jean-Philippe Dayraut. Prost then promptly polished off the winter’s Trophée Andros winner – once again by a score of two heats to nil – to get the day off to a flying start for Prost and Dacia. “It was important for us to win the pursuit race, especially against Jean-Philippe Dayraut,” observed the Team Dacia driver.

“Pursuit races are a very specific exercise and I had never won one at the Stade de France until today. This time, I didn’t lose a single heat, which is very gratifying. We were extremely competitive and everything passed off perfectly. I would like to dedicate my win to Dacia and to the public who gave me such a warm welcome.”

The rest of the programme was just as successful for Dacia and Alain Prost who was joined by Evens Stievenart for the two-part finale. Stievanart started his race from the second row but eased into the lead thanks to a splendid passing manoeuvre which had the crowd and everyone at Team Dacia on their toes. He went on to win the first heat, which enabled Alain Prost to start the finale from pole position.

The last virile eight-lap race saw Alain Prost take the flag in first place to hand Dacia a whitewash success at the Stade de France. “We really wanted to perform well today, and we did,” beamed Alain Prost. “It wasn’t easy, because I picked up a rear-right puncture, but the finale was pretty chaotic for everyone. It was important for Dacia to win in front of the packed grandstands here. We were the fastest, and also the most robust on the day, and our success at the Stade de France was the perfect way to wrap up the campaign. I was touched by the crowd’s warm welcome and the best way to thank them for that was to win the pursuit race and the finale. We will now start working to prepare for next season. I hope our triumph here at the Stade de France will lead to more success in the future…”

Stade de France / pursuit race

Semi-finals: Jean-Philippe Dayraut (Series 1 BMW) beat Franck Lagorce (Skoda Fabia), two heats to nil. Alain Prost (Dacia Duster) beat Olivier Panis (Skoda Fabia), two heats to nil.

Final:1, Alain Prost (Dacia Duster) beat Jean-Philippe Dayraut (Series 1 BMW), two heats to nil.

Stade de France – final classification: 1, Prost/Stievenart (Dacia Duster). 2, J-B. Dubourg/Grosjean (Renault Clio 3). 3, Rivière/Lanctuit (Fiat Stilo). 4, Lubrano/Daziano (Fiat Stilo). 5, Llorach/A. Dubourg (Renault Clio 3). 6, Dayraut/Lanctuit (Series 1 BMW). 7, Panis/Villeneuve (Skoda Fabia). 8, Lagorce/Belmondo (Skoda Fabia). 9, Balas/Demoustier (Toyota Auris).

The Premiere Motorsport Podcast