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WEC

Victory for Conway at 6 Hours of Sao Paulo—

Mike Conway had his first victory in the LMP2 category of the World Endurance Championship, when he started on pole for the 6 Hours of Sao Paulo today.
 
After a 10-week summer break, the No. 26 G-Drive Oreca-Nissan returned to action with the improvements the team had made over the summer being very evident as Conway topped the timing sheets during second practice in the LMP2 class.
 
The 30-year-old, with his teammates John Martin and Roman Rusinov then continued showing their dominance during qualifying with Conway setting the fastest time in his second lap to capture the pole by 0.5 seconds, which by class standard, is a significant gap over the runner-ups.
 
When the green flag was shown at the Interlagos circuit, it was Conway who was behind the wheel at the start, maintaining his position for his entire stint. Rusinov and Martin then continued to lead the LMP2 class crossing the finish line in fourth overall and bring home the team’s first victory this season and Conway’s first win in sportscar racing.
 
“I am obviously very happy with the result we had this weekend,” said Conway. “It has been a long time coming. We have been very strong in the first couple of races, leading nearly every one and showing we were very fast.  To get the pole, fastest lap and win this weekend is very cool. Great job by all the team and my teammates, it’s a great result. The trophy will be proudly displayed on my mantelpiece at home. I’m looking forward to the rest of the year now because we have had this pace all year and to finally convert it into a result is great. We now know that we just need to continue pushing to get the same result every time.”

The fifth round of the FIA World Endurance will be the 6 Hours of Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas from September 20-22, 2013.

Motorsports Mondial

 

Korean Grand Prix

Photo. Mark Thompson

Blitzkrieg. Gangnam style…  Sebastian Vettel Psyched out the competition with his third successive grand prix victory in Korea on Sunday at Yeongam. The Red Bull racer also takes the lead in the championship with his 25th F1 success, matching the number of wins for the great Jim Clark and moving one ahead of the Maestro, Juan Manuel Fangio.

Mark Webber, “not bad for a #2 driver,” started the race from pole position, which was 200th pole for Renault, but lost the lead to his German teammate when the lights went out. Webber would stay in second place till the end of the race, giving Red Bull their first one-two of the season.

Fernando Alonso came in third and finally lost his long held world championship lead to Vettel. The Spanish ace is now six points behind the German wunderkind with four races in three different continents remaining.

Felipe Massa saved his bacon and seat at Scuderia Ferrari by another spirited performance and fourth place finish. At one stage he was reminded by his engineer, Rob Smedley, that he was too close to Alonso.

Translated by many as ‘Fernando is slower than you.’

F1 returnee Kimi Raikkonen was fifth for Lotus. The Finn has scored points in every round expect the Chinese Grand Prix.

Nico Hulkenberg, headed for Sauber for 2013 according to many reports, put in a great performance while battling Romain Grosjean and Lewis Hamilton, and finished sixth for Force India.

Grosjean, hoping to survive the opening lap, raced with caution but with competitive spirit to finish seventh.

Toro Rosso drivers, Jean-Eric Vergne and Daniel Ricciardo, both finished in the points, eighth and ninth respectively. The final point from tenth position was collected by Lewis Hamilton. The departing McLaren driver suffered from a broken anti-roll bar.

His teammate, Jenson Button, had a miserable weekend. He failed to get into Q3 in qualifying and in the race was taken out on the opening lap by Kamui Kobayashi.

The Japanese driver for Sauber had just celebrated his first podium finish a week earlier in his home grand prix; ironically, after holding off a late charge from Button.

The 2009 World Champion branded Kobayashi an “idiot.” He later apologized to both Button and Nico Rosberg, who was also taken out in the Kamui crash fest.

In two weeks the F1 circus returns to Asia for the Indian Grand Prix at Buddh International Circuit in Delhi. An arrest warrant awaits Force India team owner, Dr Vijay Mallya, for unpaid landing fees by his grounded Kingfisher Airlines at the airport in the south Indian city of Hyderabad.

TOP FIVE IN DRIVERS’ CHAMPIONSHIP

Sebastian Vettel 215 points.

Fernando Alonso 209 points.

Kimi Raikkonen 167 points.

Lewis Hamilton 153 points.

Mark Webber 152 points.

 

TOP FIVE IN CONSTRUCTORS’ CHAMPIONSHIP

Red Bull 367 points.

Ferrari 290 points.

McLaren 284 points.

Lotus 255 points.

Mercedes 136 points.

 

Photo. Autoguide.com

Oh, what a feeling on home track! Toyota Hybrid racer, driven by Kazuki Nakajima, Alex Wurz and Nicolas Lapierre, took victory in the six-hour race at Mt Fuji circuit, a track owned by Toyota.

Second was the Audi R18 of Andre Lotterer, Benoit Treluyer and Marcel Fassler. Followed in third by sister car of Allan McNish and Tom Kristensen.

Neel Jani and Nicolas Prost were fourth in their Toyota powered Lola.

Photo. Eurosport.com

¡Viva España! Championship heating up in Moto GP as Dani Pedrosa took victory over championship leader Jorge Lorenzo. There was a good battle for third place between Alvaro Bautista and Cal Crutchlow, which was settled when the English rider ran out of petrol, making the podium all Espagnol.

 

— Nasir Hameed

 

 

WEC

TOYOTA WIN ON HOME GROUND, REBELLION AND STARWORKS SEAL TITLES

Dusk was starting to fall over Fuji Speedway as Toyota Racing’s Kazuki Nakajima took the chequered flag in front of a grandstand wholly given over to the Japanese manufacturer.  The clouds gathered little by little over the mountain peaks which surround the track but they didn’t discourage the 32,000-strong crowd (50,000 over the three days) which came to cheer on Toyota’s triumph, plus that of Nissan in the LMP2 class.  The 6 Hours of Fuji will no doubt linger in Japanese fans’ memories for some time, the event having received a very warm welcome!

While Audi has already wrapped up the Constructors’ title, Toyota could be relied on to take the fight to the Four Rings in this latter part of the season.  After its first victory in the 6 Hours of São Paulo, the No.7 TS030 Hybrid shone on home ground thanks to Nicolas Lapierre, Alex Wurz and Kazuki Nakajima who were fast on each of the three days of the event.  The Japanese manufacturer took its second win in only its fifth race, an enviable statistic especially as the successes were achieved against a far more experienced adversary.

The battle was close right to the end with a gap at the finish line of just 11 seconds between the winning Toyota and the No.1 Audi R18 e-tron quattro of double 24 Hours of Le Mans victors André Lotterer, Marcel Fässler and Benoît Tréluyer.  This trio, having been awarded a penalty for contact with the No.97 Aston Martin, had to make one more stop than planned and lost the fuel consumption advantage it held over its Japanese rival. Their second place wasn’t enough to allow them to take the Drivers’ title as the second Audi, the No.2 of Allan McNish and Tom Kristensen, also finished on the overall podium, having not been able to maintain the same rhythm as the top two cars after the first hour.

Alex Wurz: “This is an extremely special day, not only for the TOYOTA Racing team but for the entire TOYOTA family who have supported us. Our first win in Brazil was already an incredible experience but to win here, so close to Higashi-Fuji Technical Centre where the TOYOTA Motor Sport Division is based, is something else. We have had great support all weekend, from TOYOTA members and also from the thousands of fans here at Fuji Speedway. It’s been an incredible experience. We promised to fight for the win but Audi made it very difficult. This win is the result of an enormous team effort, from Japan to Cologne. From the start of the weekend everything was targeted on race balance and strategy; we executed it and got the result we wanted so big thanks to the team.”

Nicolas Lapierre: “It is a great result for us. It was an exciting race which is good for the championship and all the fans who came to Fuji Speedway today. It was a tight fight with Audi. For my part of the race we decided to double-stint the tyres so we could make up some time. It worked well and we got to the front, then I tried to control the gap even if the tyres were a bit old. It worked because at the end I had a little margin. We knew at the end we had to take an extra pit stop so Kazuki had to push really hard, which he did very well. We are very happy to win here. Since the beginning of the year everyone has been speaking about how important this Fuji race is for TOYOTA and we made it.”

Kazuki Nakajima: “What a day! It is a great achievement and it was a team effort so many thanks to my team-mates and the team, who prepared a great car, as well as everybody at TOYOTA who prepared such an impressive hybrid system. We all achieved this together. To win a world championship race as a driver has been my aim for my whole career so it is a great day. The crowd was fantastic; it was great to see so many TOYOTA flags in the grandstands. I was so excited in the last few laps. I was getting the message from my engineer to push hard because I had to make a gap for our last pit stop, so it was quite challenging. I was pushing like crazy and finally we just made it.” 

If the final outcome between the factory teams was tiny in terms of the gap, the race amongst the LMP1 Privateers was quickly settled.  The No.12 Rebellion Racing Lola-Toyota finished a lap ahead of its nearest rival, which allowed the British-based Swiss team to lift the FIA Endurance Trophy in the category one race before the end of the 2012 season.  Neel Jani and Nicolas Prost were never headed in the race, leaving the other protagonists to battle it out for second place which eventually went to the No.22 JRM HPD-Honda.  In fact, David Brabham, Karun Chandhok and Peter Dumbreck emerged as winners in a fantastic duel with rivals Jonny Kane, Nick Leventis and Danny Watts, drivers of the No.21 Strakka Racing HPD ARX 03a-Honda.

Just as Rebellion Racing succeeded in getting its hands on the FIA Endurance Trophy in its category, so also did Starworks Motorsport in LMP2 thanks to the second place finish of Stéphane Sarrazin, Ryan Dalziel and Enzo Potolicchio at the wheel of the No.44 HPD ARX 03b-Honda.   The trio, who were invincible at Sebring, Le Mans and Brazil, couldn’t match the No.25 ADR Delta Oreca 03 Nissan of John Martin, Tor Graves and Japanese driver Shinji Nakano, winners of the LMP2 class by a comfortable margin of one lap.  The Starworks car managed to stay ahead of the No.24 OAK Racing Morgan Nissan, Jacques Nicolet, Olivier Pla and Matthieu Lahaye climbing onto the third step of the podium for the second consecutive time following the 6 Hours of Bahrain.

Ryan Dalziel, Starworks Motorsport:  “It will probably take a little while for our Championship win to sink in. It was a program that I felt kept getting stronger and stronger. When you look at the results we have had, it is incredible that a first-year team with no experience in motorsport outside of North America and with engineers who had never been outside America, could come here and do this.  It all comes down to having the right people in place. We took the right decision in going for the Honda HPD chassis, then the Dunlop tires worked well with the car.  A lot of our success came from having a reliable car – not necessarily the fastest car. It is incredible to put your name next to a world championship. I don’t care whether it is a team championship or a driver championship – in racing it is a team and we all deserved to win this.”

Teams and drivers will now turn their attention towards China for the 6 Hours of Shanghai, the final round of the 2012 FIA World Endurance Championship at which the Drivers’ title will finally be decided.  Rendez-vous then on the 28th October to find out who the winners will be!