CLARK CONTINUES TO DESPAIR WHILST NASIR IS JOYFUL AND FILED WITH GLEE OVER THE 2016 FORMULA 1 SEASON AND IN ORDER TO CONTINUE KICKING THE CAN DOWN THE ROAD HEAR ARE MALAYSIAN GRAND PRIX PREVIEWS FROM NICO HULKENBERG AND SERGIO PEREZ…
Host of the penultimate round of the Renault Sport Trophy and Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0, Circuit Spa-Francorchamps was the decider for the first titles of the year at the conclusion of an action-packed weekend. While fans could take in the many activities in the Village alongside the Renault display, eyes were also peered towards Robert Kubica, making a return to circuit racing, but also on newly crowned champions Lando Norris and Fabian Schiller. Renault Sport Formula One Team test driver, Nicholas Latifi also thrilled the public with the F1 demonstration runs!
|Norris becomes the youngest Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 laureate|
|Discreet during practice against local driver Max Defourny (R-ace GP), Lando Norris (Josef Kaufmann Racing) found is form on Saturday taking pole position. Avoiding all the pitfalls of the Belgian circuit, the rookie of the year scored big points, finishing on the podium next to Tech 1 Racing team mates Hugo de Sadeleer, who claimed his maiden win, and Dorian Boccolacci.|
|With his back against the wall, Max Defourny came out swinging on Sunday, taking the pole, but the Belgian driver got swallowed up by the draft and an animated field. Once again, Lando Norris drove error-free and second place behind Dorian Boccolacci was good enough to sew up the title. Hugo de Sadeller completed the podium.|
|While Lando Norris follows Jack Aitken in the Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 record books, the battle rages on among Dorian Boccolacci, Max Defourny and Harrison Scott for the overall top-three. The final round at Estoril promises to be explosive!|
As always, the huge stand at the Shanghai International Circuit was packed to capacity when the cars lined up on the starting grid. For the reverse-grid opening race, Yvan Muller and José María López started from eighth and tenth positions respectively.
SLR driver Tom Chilton got off to a flyer in his Citroën C-Elysée WTCC, moving into second place. Back in the chasing pack, Yvan Muller and José María López were engaged in something of a free-for-all. The Citroën Total drivers ended lap 1 in sixth and ninth respectively, with their cars already a little bruised and battered from their rivals’ attacks!
On lap 2, Yvan snatched fifth place, while Pechito found himself in a fight for seventh. The safety car made an appearance after Filippi was forced to abandon, causing the cars to bunch up somewhat before hostilities resumed for a further eleven laps.
Shortly afterwards, there was a turning point as Tarquini ran into Chilton. Both drivers were forced to withdraw from the race, enabling Yvan Muller to climb to third behind Michelisz and Björk. José María López also moved up into fifth.
The crowd was exhilarated as the gaps between the top five closed up with three laps remaining. The top two made contact on several occasions, with Björk eventually emerging victorious, ahead of Michelisz, Muller, López and Catsburg!
After the podium ceremony, the mechanics had just a few minutes’ repair time to remove all traces of the jousting of the opening race. Their sterling work meant José María López and Yvan Muller were able to go into the main race with their cars in perfect condition.
Once again, the Citroën C-Elysée WTCCs started superbly. Poleman José María López was the first man to turn, followed by Yvan Muller and Mehdi Bennani. The leader wasted no time in opening up a gap between himself and his teammate. In a much less turbulent race than the first, Pechito never looked back, speeding to his eighth win of the season.
Yvan Muller, meanwhile, held off Mehdi Bennani to clinch a second Shanghai podium spot. That rounded off an excellent weekend for Yvan, which saw him score 36 points, compared with 5 for his nearest rival for the Championship runner-up spot.
Mehdi Bennani beamed from the third step of the podium, having achieved his primary goal by winning the WTCC Trophy for independent drivers. The Moroccan driver saw off the challenge of his teammate Tom Chilton with a meeting to spare.
The battle for the title in the 2016 DTM season remains exciting: with a dominant victory in the 15th race of the season, Edoardo Mortara kept all his chances alive behind the wheel of his Audi RS 5 DTM and considerably reduced the gap to points’ leader Marco Wittmann. After 26 laps of the Hungaroring, Mortara crossed the finish line as the race winner from his fellow Audi drivers Jamie Green and Miguel Molina. In the following positions, Rockenfeller, Müller and Tambay completed the sextuple victory for Audi. “Of course, we are super happy with this result and I hope to be able to win the race on Sunday as well,” Mortara said. In Hungary, he scored his fourth win of the season and the seventh race victory of his DTM career. Marco Wittmann finished seventh with his BMW M4 DTM from the best-placed Mercedes-AMG driver, Felix Rosenqvist in eighth. Roberto Wickens, who had started the race from 17th place on the grid, was classified tenth behind Timo Scheider.
After 15 of this season’s 18 races, Marco Wittmann is leading the drivers’ standings with 176 points. Mortara has reduced the gap to the BMW driver, he is now only 14 points down with 162 points in second place. Jamie Green (137 points) has moved up to third place in the drivers’ standings after his second-place finish in the race. Robert Wickens is fourth with 121 points. The second DTM race of this weekend will get underway on Sunday at 15.10 hrs. Prior to that, the starting grid positions for the 16th race will be determined in qualifying from 12.50 hrs.
The Tour de Corse is one of the icons of the World Rally Championship, having featured on the calendar when it began in 1973. The event will be a genuine physical challenge for the crews, who must in particular complete 160 kilometres of timed stages on Friday with no service period, and tackle a massive 53.78 kilometre stage on Sunday. The cars will also be sorely tested, with the brakes and tyres needing to be managed on the demanding mountain roads.
Simone Tempestini, winner of the opening two rounds of the season (Portugal and Poland), added a third victory in Germany at the first round to be contested on tarmac. The young Italian driver can secure the title here at the fifth round of the FIA Junior WRC before the final event of the season in Wales. He “just” has to finish first or second, regardless of where his rivals finish. “I took part in the Tour de Corse last year and I enjoyed it. I’d even go so far as to say it’s one of my favourite rallies,” revealed Tempestini ahead of the event. “I don’t feel particularly under pressure and I’m very keen to put in a good performance. The target is to win.”
Ole-Christian Veiby is currently best placed to challenge for the title. His victory in Finland was the ideal way to get back into contention. However, finishing seventh in Germany after going off the road twice has left his title hopes hanging by a thread. If he is to have any chance, then he really must win in Corsica… and hope that Tempestini doesn’t finish just behind him!
Mathematically speaking, Terry Folb and Vincent Dubert are also still in the title hunt. But realistically, they will above all be looking to put in a good performance at home. Last year, Folb finished second in the FIA Junior WRC in Corsica. The progress he has made, confirmed in Germany with a fine series of stage wins, means he can aim for victory. Vincent Dubert, who has seemed more comfortable on gravel, will be looking to grab a podium finish for the first time this season. This will also be the goal for Romain Martel, who competed at the Tour de Corse last year, but in four-wheel drive car.
This fifth round will also provide some of the rising stars of French rallying with a chance to shine. Competing on behalf of the FFSA French team, Yohan Rossel and Laurent Pellier will be looking to measure themselves against the leading lights of the category. Rossel – the former Junior French Rally Champion in a DS 3 R1 – and Pellier, his successor, currently hold the top two places in the French Citroën Racing Trophy, contested in DS 3 R3s. Yohan Rossel has already finished third at the French round of the FIA Junior WRC.
The French contingent will be completed by William Wagner, who took part in the Corsican event last year in the R2 category. This will also be his second appearance in a round of the FIA Junior WRC: Wagner drove his DS 3 R3-MAX at the final round of the 2015 season, finishing fifth at Wales Rally GB.
Mohamed Al Mutawaa, who started out in single-seater racing, will be hoping to use his track experience to do well at this second tarmac rally of the season. The Abu Dhabi Racing driver will also be starting a new working relationship, with co-driver Stuart Loudon. Martin Koci, twice runner-up this year in the FIA Junior WRC, will be hoping to make his turn of speed and his experience tell in this, his third season in the category. This will nonetheless be his first appearance at the Tour de Corse.