February 6, 2016

McLaren monsters the Mountain

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Record lap for Shane Van Gisbergen

Van Gisbergen drove the Tekno Autosports McLaren 650S GT3 to a 2:01.286 track record to qualify on pole for the 2016 Liquid Moly Bathurst 12 hour.

Behind the Kiwi is Rene Rast in an Audi R8, and a second McLaren of Warren Luff, separated by a mere 4/1000ths of a second.

You can follow the race live on the official site HERE starting at 1:30 PM ET 10:30 AM PT.

Photos: Matthew Everingham

February 2, 2016

Don't cry for me...Venezuela.

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Face it, F1 will be a less exciting place without Pastor Maldonado.

How many times have we listened to Bernie Ecclestone propose some bizarre scheme to inject uncertainty into races?  He may have never gotten the sprinklers he wanted but he did have Pastor Rafael Maldonado Motta, the embodiment of the uncertainty principle in racing.

Pastor became Crashtor, a living meme.

It's easy to dump on Maldonado, his driving, his story, even his looks, he was made to be turned into a villain.  
The man did not help himself when he started muttering about being sabotaged by his Williams mechanics,  echoing excuses given by the incompetent rulers of his country of Venezuela, who blamed their economic disasters on sabotage by the United States.

You will not have Maldonado to kick around anymore.

But in the end, Pastor will have the last laugh:  for all the scorn and ridicule, the man is part of a select club of Grand Prix winners and nobody will ever take that away from him.  
His one win puts him above the vast majority of drivers and on par with the likes of Alesi, Kubica, Trulli Panis, Cevert, Mass, just to name a few.

That Maldonado had speed at one point in his career is without question: in 2010 he won the GP2 championship against an extremely competitive field.  He won 6 races beating future F1 drivers like Sergio Perez, Jules Bianchi , Romain Grojean,  Marcus Ericsson .    I remember watching him around Monaco and it was obvious he had both speed and consistency.

What happened?   I imagine he never had the right people around him to temper the craziness that must come with the president of your country handing you a trailer full of money and selling you as the sporting savior of his crumbling country.

Sad, on many levels.

For sure, F1 will be a bit less ...uncertain.

Adios Crashtor!

January 13, 2016

Oil bust: Pastor Maldonado's contract is only the beginning.

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My friend Andres sent me a text today:  "Venezuela is basically broke".

Hours earlier I was listening to a radio report about six hour lines in Caracas to get rice, flour and sugar.  

Hugo Chavez' handpicked successor, Nicolas Maduro has failed to move the country away from it's $110 barrel oil "economy" and lost elections this past December by a landslide.    The Chavista Supreme Court is declaring the now opposition led National Assembly invalid and the National Assembly is trying to get the Supreme Court fired.

Meanwhile, the government forces citizens to use a biometric scanner to buy a quart of milk...

As you may imagine  interest Maldonado's gold plated (or was it oil stained?) driving sponsorship has fallen by the wayside in his native country.

There are news reports PDVSA has yet to pay the $50M it takes for anyone to give Pastor the keys to an F1car.  

Not a shocker.

But surely if it starts in Venezuela, already a basket case for many reasons,  low oil prices have the  potential to threaten motorsport broadly.  

Think  Shell,  Total,  Petronas.

Think of the Gulf States: Bahrain, Abu Dhabi,  you don't think they feel it?   Qatar just killed off al Jazeera America because of low oil prices.

What about Azerbaijan,  how long will that last?  

And that's just F1....

January 3, 2016

This video explaining the 2016 Formula 1 tire regulations will make your head spin.

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Why do Formula One teams need to employ armies of strategists and simulation engineers?  A few minutes into this clip and you might be asking yourself why it is that the brightest minds in motorsport have to chase after this kind of problem in the first place.

As you watch,  keep in mind teams will have picked compounds for the Australian GP in the middle of December, 2 months before the 2016 cars will have even rolled on their first test session.

In theory this will allow a greater "spread" in tire compounds to make more teams happy.  Over the past few seasons, Ferrari and Force India were hoping to softer tires while Red Bull and Mercedes like the harder compounds.Pirelli has tended to play it safe favoring the latter.

What this will mean in practice, remains to be seen.   For sure Steve Matchett will have his hand full explaining it to American audiences.

January 1, 2016

It's Dakar time!

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Jordi Villadom (RedBull Photo)

The 2016 Dakar starts tomorrow January 2 with the ceremonial start from Buenos Aires.

Real racing starts on the third with the first 400 mile leg to Villa Carlos Paz.  Villa Paz is also where the rally will conclude, on January 16th, after more than 5500 miles of desert and rock trails though Argentina and Bolivia.

This year, organizers of the Dakar are trying to change the focus of the race from one of outright speed to one emphasizing clever navigation, regularity and mechanical endurance. Stage winners will have to lead the next day's stage meaning they will no longer be able to follow another competitors tracks but will have to find their own way through.

There is one massive almost 1000km / 620 mile marathon stage where competitors will not be allowed to have the help of support vehicles or mechanics. The idea is to make the Dakar more like it was in the early, adventure days.

The best way to follow the rally will be via the official Dakar site but, in the mean time, we selected some of the best pre- race videos to get you in the mood.

Happy new year!

December 18, 2015

Cheers Everyone!

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Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and much joy and newfound speed for the New Year.

Thank you for hanging out here,


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