noikeee on motorsport

A lot of pretty cars in Indycar

Am I in a good mood today, or has the IRL field suddenly become a lot more beautiful for this season?

They have been testing at the Barber Motorsports Park circuit this week, in anticipation of the new season. The real racing will start in the 14th of March, in a street circuit in São Paulo, Brazil, same day F1 kicks off in Bahrain. I must say I was never a big fan of Indy as I find oval racing to be boring, and the constant safety cars in both oval and road races to be irritating, but it is still worth keeping an eye on it. A particular point of interest is that Takuma Sato will be there this year, with the KV Racing team, and has already been quick in testing.

February 25, 2010 Posted by | Indycar, Lower formula | , , , | Leave a comment

Bianchi and Parente shine in Bahrain qualy

GP2 Asia is racing tomorrow and Saturday on Bahrain, today was the qualifying session. Jules Bianchi again shown an excellent degree of adaptation to GP2 machines by putting his ART car on pole, albeit by a mere 0.004 seconds over championship leader Davide Valsecchi. The experienced Luca Filippi and Javier Villa will divide the second row – both also putting times within half a tenth of Bianchi in what must’ve been a very entertaining session.

This is Jules Bianchi. Take note of this name as you'll hear it a lot in the coming years.

Portuguese Álvaro Parente made a great comeback to GP2 putting his Coloni in 5th place, a rare sight for the italian squad. There are still no news as for what he will do during the main season, with the rumours around mentioning either a seat in Superleague Formula or in GT racing. If those are indeed the options I am hoping he’ll do Superleague as that still has a good degree of visibility, whereas GT would certainly mean the end of his open-wheel career. But unfortunately the Superleague rumours are a couple weeks old and might not mean much anymore.

Race 1 tomorrow is at the slightly inconvenient time of 9:40 AM, live on Eurosport 2.

Qualy times from Autosport:

Pos Driver Team Time Gap
1. Jules Bianchi ART 1m43.474s
2. Davide Valsecchi iSport 1m43.478s + 0.004s
3. Javier Villa Arden 1m43.519s + 0.045s
4. Luca Filippi Meritus 1m43.523s + 0.049s
5. Alvaro Parente Coloni 1m43.714s + 0.240s
6. Oliver Turvey iSport 1m43.818s + 0.344s
7. Giacomo Ricci DPR 1m43.918s + 0.444s
8. Christian Vietoris DAMS 1m44.086s + 0.612s
9. Charles Pic Arden 1m44.172s + 0.698s
10. Sergio Perez Addax 1m44.246s + 0.772s
11. Sam Bird ART 1m44.253s + 0.779s
12. Edoardo Piscopo DAMS 1m44.338s + 0.864s
13. Max Chilton Addax 1m44.617s + 1.143s
14. Michael Herck DPR 1m44.671s + 1.197s
15. Alexander Rossi Meritus 1m44.713s + 1.239s
16. Yelmer Buurman Ocean 1m44.724s + 1.250s
17. Vladimir Arabadzhiev Rapax 1m44.759s + 1.285s
18. Adrian Zaugg Trident 1m44.781s + 1.307s
19. Daniele Zampieri Rapax 1m45.079s + 1.605s
20. Will Bratt Coloni 1m45.320s + 1.846s
21. Fabio Leimer Ocean 1m45.371s + 1.897s
22. Josef Kral Super Nova 1m45.424s + 1.950s
23. Jake Rosenzweig Super Nova 1m45.980s + 2.506s
24. Plamen Kralev Trident 1m47.243s + 3.769s

February 25, 2010 Posted by | GP2 Asia, Lower formula | , , , | Leave a comment

A great stage now gone

The few people that follow this blog will have noticed that there’s been no activity for the past week. The first few days were because of some laziness on my part, but then by the weekend something happened – there was a huge catastrophe here in Madeira Island, with large mudslides ruining the center of the main city Funchal, and wrecking large parts of Ribeira Brava and the nearby villages of Tabua, Serra d’Água and Lugar de Baixo. At least 42 people have perished (likely quite some more) and hundreds have become homeless. It is a tragedy.

I live in Calheta, an area where there were a few isolated incidents (sadly 3 people have died), but nothing like in Funchal and Ribeira Brava, and so myself, the family and closest friends are absolutely fine. However, communications failed for a while and the blog stopped, as motorsport fell down the priority order of things to worry about. One of the things that should be worried about now is the roads around the island. Rocks and mud occupied many of them, most can be cleaned up and made safe in a relatively short time, but one place where things are very serious is the connection between São Vicente and Ribeira Brava, which cuts across the island. Some bits of the road simply fell down the mountain, tragically together with houses and people. This connection will certainly prove difficult and slow to rebuild, although there are some plans already to make a new tunnel to fix this.

Map of Madeira Island

The main consequence of the non-existence of the road is that the people of the area, and the people of São Vicente and other nearby populations of the north, will now take much, much longer to travel to Funchal. There are also other side-effects, which although completely irrelevant next to the grief of the families that have lost their own, are relevant for the theme of this blog. What I’m trying to get at, is that this will bring severe headaches to the organizers of the Rali Vinho da Madeira, to be run next August. Not only a main connection road will probably be cut off, but it affects one of the most famous special stages of the competition, the one connecting Rosário to Serra d’Água, always starting with a climb towards the mountain and ending with a crazy quick downhill part, whichever direction it was being run at.

I am not entirely sure whether the large damages were in part of the stage or further lower down, but regardless, it is worth bringing back images of the competition there. The following video is an onboard recording of it, albeit in the wrong direction as the opposite one was a little more spectacular. This is in memory not just of the stage, but also, most importantly, of the dead in the area, as the enthusiastic population of the area is going through some very tough times.

February 24, 2010 Posted by | About the blog, IRC, Rallying | , , | Leave a comment

Hirvonen beats Loeb fair and square

After an entertaining Friday in Rally Sweden with Hirvonen, Loeb and Sordo all very close to each other, the fun ended in the Saturday as both leading Citroens handled the tyres worse than the Fords; Sordo started falling back, then spun and then had a mechanical problem relegating him to 4th; and Hirvonen just went mad at the front pulling a gap from Loeb. Sunday didn’t have much history as Loeb settled for second, Hirvonen getting a very impressive win, and Jari-Matti Latvala completing the podium for Ford. It will be interesting to see how this season develops, as Hirvonen’s been getting closer and closer to Sebastien Loeb in recent years, and now he starts the season with a psychological and points advantage. Time for Mikko’s first world championship?

Mikko attacking the snow surface

Besides the top 4 works cars, Ogier did fantastically well to grab a very solid 5th place in his Rally Sweden debut, not putting a wheel wrong all event; Henning Solberg and Matthew Wilson got 6th and 7th for Stobart Ford; Ostberg got 8th in an outdated Subaru; Petter Solberg managed to salvage a mere 2 points after the errors in Friday. Local driver PG Andersson completed the points scorers in a Skoda Fabia S2000, the swede having pulled away at a fantastic rate from his opponents in the Friday and then carefully managing his lead through the rest of the rally. Andersson was declared the S-WRC winner on the championship’s first ever round, 57 seconds away from Tuohino, albeit Mikkelsen was in-between them with a S2000 car but not as a S-WRC entrant. Patrick Flodin won in the P-WRC with a comfortable 1 minute lead over Anders Grondal.

PG Andersson was one of the stars of the rally, dominating the S2000 class

Kimi Raikkonen could not do better than 30th at the end of the rally, and Marcus Gronholm ended up a distant 21st too, but only because both had made major mistakes in the Friday, of course. Kimi regularly put top 10 times, a top 6 time being an highlight, while Marcus won a stage. Both will come home disappointed that they didn’t score, albeit Kimi shown some promise for the future.

To cheer up anyone that has just read this boring summary of the event, here’s a video with spectacular jumps, as the cars went by “Colin’s Crest” in the Vargasen stage:

Final results:

Pos Driver Car Time/Gap
1. Mikko Hirvonen Ford 3h09m30.4s
2. Sebastien Loeb Citroen + 42.3s
3. Jari-Matti Latvala Ford + 1m15.4s
4. Dani Sordo Citroen + 2m41.6s
5. Sebastien Ogier Citroen + 4m15.3s
6. Henning Solberg Ford + 5m23.4s
7. Matthew Wilson Ford + 7m53.9s
8. Mads Ostberg Subaru + 9m22.2s
9. Petter Solberg Citroen + 10m17.5s
10. P-G Andersson Skoda + 12m08.9s

February 16, 2010 Posted by | Rallying, WRC | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Jerez test week ends without conclusions

The final day of last week’s Jerez test, Saturday, was mostly dry but even then we could not take much from it. Who caught the eye was Lewis Hamilton in the McLaren with two very quick stints, further confirming that Mac is somewhere along the front runners. So seems to be the opinion of Geoff Willis, who thinks Red Bull are on par as well, despite not putting any impressive times so far. Ferrari keeps on having great stints as well, both in the hands of Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa, and remarkably have avoided reliability issues alltogether. Merc seems to have some sort of issue and are yet to shine, yet Willis ranks them together with Ferrari in a group just behind Mac and Red Bull, and Schumacher thinks they still are part of the top 4 teams group.

It's still a little early to say whether Schumi's comeback will be a success or not - it's not looking 100% positive, however

To further complicate things, Sauber impressed last week, even if my feeling was that they were on less fuel than the others; Force India did the same this week and everyone in that team seems to be super upbeat – promising regular points and maybe even podiums; Renault have been far from the top, yet the quiet rumour around is that they’re mixing it up with the front teams once fuel-corrected, and have a large amount of car parts yet to be unveiled. Williams have not got any hype around them but they’ve been focusing on reliability testing for the Cosworth engine, and James Allen says “Hulkenberg has been quick”. Toro Rosso obviously aren’t favourites, but their car is pretty much the same car that dominated the end of last season, and have topped the testing timesheets in some days. This has been a very frustrating off-season to read, so I wouldn’t advise anyone to do some betting (unless you can get very good odds on Hamilton, Alonso or Massa). The good news is that there isn’t any dominating car like Brawn last year, and we are likely going to have an entertaining, close season.

Di Grassi has shown that the Virgin will be at least much quicker than the GP2 cars

The one team that has hit the track and certainly won’t be fighting for victories is Virgin. They were worryingly way off the pace until Friday, but then finally got a good chunk of laps in the Saturday and ended with a best of 1:22.9 by di Grassi. Notice di Grassi said that he wasn’t on a very light fuel load, he also admitted that he felt rusty as a driver since he doesn’t have much experience of Formula 1 cars. Add to it the tenths Virgin are yet to find through experience and setup breakthroughs, and we can now safely say they won’t be embarassingly bad come Bahrain. They are still likely to be slowest than all the established teams, but will at least be within the same timezone. It now remains to be seen how will they compare against Lotus, who hit the track next Wednesday, and Campos and USF1, if they ever make it to the grid.

This man might sport the #2 on his car, but he was #1 on the timesheets this week

A final word about the quickest time of the week which was done by Lewis Hamilton on the Saturday, which was only a 1:19.583: this simply proves that every single team out there in Jerez has been sandbagging. Because that is a staggering 2 seconds slower than Daniel Ricciardo’s lap last December with Red Bull’s 2009 car, a 1.17.418. And Ricciardo was sitting on a Formula 1 car for the first time on his career…

Saturday’s times:

Pos  Driver              Team         Time       Gap       Laps
1.  Lewis Hamilton      McLaren      1m19.583s            113
2.  Adrian Sutil        Force India  1m20.180s  + 0.597s  83
3.  Rubens Barrichello  Williams     1m20.341s  + 0.758s  90
4.  Robert Kubica       Renault      1m20.358s  + 0.775s  85
5.  Michael Schumacher  Mercedes     1m20.613s  + 1.030s  83
6.  Sebastian Vettel    Red Bull     1m21.203s  + 1.620s  89
7.  Felipe Massa        Ferrari      1m21.485s  + 1.902s  160
8.  Pedro de la Rosa    Sauber       1m22.134s  + 2.551s  105
9.  Lucas di Grassi     Virgin       1m22.912s  + 3.329s  63
10.  Jaime Alguersuari   Toro Rosso   1m24.072s  + 4.489s  98

February 16, 2010 Posted by | Formula 1, Pre-season and testing | , , , | Leave a comment

WRC 2010 kicks off in the swedish snow

It actually started yesterday with the Superspecial, but today was the first serious day of the Rally Sweden. We’ve been having a fun scrap for the lead with Hirvonen, Loeb and Sordo all within 10 seconds and all having led the rally, with the finn now in first place for Ford. I have to say I am mega impressed with Dani Sordo today, after all the talk that he wasn’t very good in this surface, don’t remember seeing him this strong for a while?

Other than the 3 leaders, there were several other points of interest. Jari-Matti Latvala won a stage but is lagging a bit further behind in 4th. Former world champions Marcus Gronholm and Petter Solberg have ran into trouble. Marcus had a mechanical problem that put him way way back, and had been a little off the pace before, anyway. Petter had a series of bizarre incidents in SS5, and ended up rear-ending Matthew Wilson’s stalled car after Matthew had passed him in-stage. Both continued, but Petter lost about 5 minutes.

Of course for Formula 1 fans, the big news was the presence of Kimi Raikkonen for the Citroen Junior Team. Kimi had been consistently putting times in-between the Fords of Wilson and al-Qassimi, at the back of the WRC field – but then he got stuck into a sand bank in SS6, losing 26 minutes to the leader and effectively ending any chance of a points score result. Strangely his most impressive time was immediately afterwards in SS7, when he was 9th quickest beating Wilson, P. Solberg and al-Qassimi. Kimi’s team-mate Sebastien Ogier has been doing a remarkably strong rally and is 5th placed overall.

Unlike in F1, you do have to get your hands dirty in this sport... keep your car on the road next time, Kimi.

Below the WRC class, P-G Andersson has been doing an amazing job with the Skoda Fabia S2000, annihilating all the other S2000s (he’s got a 1 minute lead over Tuohino) and even beating some WRC cars in some stages – he is looking good for becoming the first S-WRC rally winner, and gets my award for driver of the day. Madeira driver Bernardo Sousa is 5th out of 7 participants, which sounds a bit crap but keep in mind that this is a very exotic surface for someone coming from over here.

On the P-WRC, Patrik Flodin leads with a 20 second gap over Anders Grondal. The portuguese Armindo Araújo, reigning world champion, ran 3rd for a while but eventually had to settle for 4th at the end of the day behind Martin Semerad.

Classification after today, from Autosport:

Pos Driver Car Time/Gap
1. Mikko Hirvonen Ford 1h08m04.8s
2. Sebastien Loeb Citroen + 6.2s
3. Dani Sordo Citroen + 10.6s
4. Jari-Matti Latvala Ford + 31.7s
5. Sebastien Ogier Citroen + 1m10.9s
6. Henning Solberg Ford + 2m16.2s
7. Mads Ostberg Subaru + 3m20.2s
8. Matthew Wilson Ford + 3m21.1s
9. P-G Andersson Skoda + 4m16.1s
10. Janne Tuohino Ford + 5m15.3s

Keep in mind that the WRC has switched to the same points system as F1 and now the top 10 classified will get points. If it ends as it is right now, Andersson and Tuohino will score WRC points with S2000 cars…

February 12, 2010 Posted by | Rallying, WRC | , , , | Leave a comment

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