Sunday, July 3, 2011

Finally a race update!

Well we are back and ready for a legitimate weekend update.  I have got a number of events out of Europe this weekend to cover.  The first event was at the Navarra Circuit in northern Spain.  

Both the pro-am GT3 and elite GT1 classes ran two races each this weekend on the 2.4 Mile course.  GT3 ran first, these cars begin life as a high performance road going cars, which are given extra safety equipment, lighter components, and horsepower boosts.  During Friday's practice sessions the Lamborghini Gallardo of the German Reiter Engineering came out strong, utilizing it's powerful V10 to full effect on the straights.  It dominated qualifying, starting Race 1 from pole.  Driver Albert Thrun Taxis had a quick start, pulling away from the field, before making his pit stop and handing the car off to Nikolaus Melnhof.  Malenhof kept the lead, but used up most of his tire-life early.  Team Need For Speed-BMW ran their new chassis in it's crisp white livery up to the Lambo's tailpipe in the closing laps gaining ground in the curves, but could not match the Gallardo's straight-line speed.  In Race 2 the Germans reigned supreme, with the marques of BMW, Audi, Mercedes, and Porsche all finishing in the top 10.  The Audi R8 LMS made a stunning last lap pass on a BMW, winning by a mere .801 seconds.

The GT1 class once again made the scene, little compares to seeing some of the world's most exotic cars battling it out on the track.  The Lamborghinis benefited from their weight-power ratio just as their sister car in GT3 had.  After qualifying in the front row the two Murcielagos looked in trouble from the field of Corvettes, Aston Martins and Ford GTs.  However after their pit stops they got into clean air, allowing the duo of Marc Basseng and Markus Winkelhock in car #38 to use even more of their power down the straightaways.  In a special mention, Bertrand Baugette, a Belgian who led at the Indianapolis 500 in May has joined Marc VDS, and drove his Ford GT to a podium finish in his first time in competition.  In Race 2 it seemed to be a repeat of the first, with the mid-pack cars banging each other around the circuit while the front runners pulled away.  Then at the pit stops the leading car (Lamborghini #38) was given a drive-through penalty for leaving while his mechanics were still on pit lane, a safety infraction.  This allowed the less experienced pair of Dominik Schwager and Nicky Pastorelli in the second Murcielago to take the lead.  They would take their first win in GT1 with the #38 taking second place.  Overall the outright power and aggression of the Italian Bulls dominated the Spanish circuit, winning 3 of the 4 races, and taking 2 second places.

Elsewhere in the world of sports cars, the Le Mans endurance series was in Italy at Imola.  They raced 6 hours around the Circuit named for Enzo and Dino, the founder of Ferrari and his son.  Peugeot took revenge for it's loss at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, taking first and second place, running 8 seconds apart at the finish.  The lead car driven by ex-Formula 1 drivers Sebastian Bourdais and Anthony Davidson.  Frank Montagny and Stephen Sarrazan, came home in second.  Audi was unable to match the pace of the French lions, but stayed out of trouble and was reliable, with drivers Timo Bernhard and Marcel Fassler rounding out the podium.  In LMP@, the Oreca-Nissan lead unopposed until a part failure in the final hour led to retirement.  Greaves racing's Zytek-Nissan ended up with their 3rd class win of the season.  Finally in GT Ferrari won on their home turf, drivers Jamie Melo and Toni Vilander taking their 458 Italia model to the class win.

Finally for a change of wheels Moto GP, the world's premier motorcycle road-racing series was also in Italy.  Australian Casey Stoner placed his Repsol-Honda on pole at the Mugello circuit, to the dismay of the Italian fans cheering for the Italian riders and Ducati bikes as the home favorites.  The race would prove to be a much hotter day than the qualifying the day before, and Stoner's tire pressures were set up for cooler conditions.  With a mere 9 laps to go, this was leading to a lack of speed in the sharp 180 degree corners.  The first rider to pass was last year's champion Jorge Lorenzo riding for Yamaha, followed by Stoner's teammate Andrea Dovizioso.  They will now have a weekend off before the next round in Germany.
So I am going to try to get an update out this week with the standings in the Major Series, ahead of next weekend.  July 9th will have the ALMS in Connecticut at Lime Rock Park, and the 10th will have Formula 1, Indycar, and Grand Am action.  Until next time, enjoy some Grid Girls.


  1. Great post, some really nice pictures too

  2. I wonder when the Aventadors will hit the racing circuit.