Weekend Motorsports Wrap Up: September 1-2, 2012
Time to wrap up a weekend full of racing. We have all seen what happened during the Formula One races at Spa-Francorchamps but there was plenty of other top quality racing going on this weekend.
The series for future F1 hopefuls was back last weekend, taking on the monsterous 7.004 km of pure Belgian terror known to us as Spa-Francorchamps. With the season now in the twilight stages, the first round after a 4 week break is an important one for a driver if he is to take the championship.
After a treacherous qualfying session, Rio Haryanto started from pole, but it was the Swede Marcus Ericson that was taking the spoils from the start line. With a good getaway from 4th, Ericson soon found himself sailing past Esteban Gutiérrez down the Kemmel Straight, then he was also able to nip past James Calado, and all of a sudden he was in 2nd after one lap. He was looking to get past Haryanto too, but a very familiar crash at Eau Rouge/Raidillon for Nigel Melker meant that the race was first under safety car, then red-flagged due to damage to the barrier.
Melker was airlifted to Liège, and later found to have slightly injured hands and ribs, but no more.
When the race restarted, 4 drivers led the field who had not pitted under the safety car, and although leading, knew they had a pitstop to go. After the great job done all weekend, Haryanto undid it all by spinning on his out lap, and never recovered. Ericson was able to pass one of the non-pitters, while Calado behind was not, and so Ericson saved his tyres to the end of the race and won easily over Calado and Davide Valsecchi.
With a much shorter race coming up, the field was expected to show some fireworks at the passing friendly track, but as usual, the biggest fireworks came from La Source (also known as Turn 1 or “start, brake, oops *crash*”). Josef Kral was able to blitz the front row from P3, taking the lead and more importantly the high ground as the carnage erupted.
Johnny Cecotto tagged Max Chilton into Nathanaël Berthon, while Julian Leal and Valsecchi teamed up to make a Giedo van der Garde sandwich, which of course didn’t work out. As Calado went through the Raidillon and onto the Kemmel Straight, he happened to cut of Luiz Razia, Razia onto the grass and around as the field stormed through, with, of all people, championship rival Valsecchi taking action on the other side of the track, dodging Razia while bumping the barrier hard.
As for the rest of the race, Gutiérrez went past many others into 5th, but undid it all thanks to a pass gone wrong on Leal, spinning both. Ericson drove a quiet race, and towards the end challenged for another podium with Calado and Felipe Nasr, but ended up in 4th. Calado and Nasr dragged to the line for 2nd, Nasr getting the better of the Lotus driver. But thanks to a wonderful start, it was all Kral, taking a maiden victory in the category.
Driver of the weekend
With 2 podiums to his name, James Calado made a big statement to his rivals that he wants this championship. To be fair though, Josef Kral is a close second for it, a fantastic maiden victory, perfect start and mature finish, he too deserves it.
The series follows F1 to the holy grail that is Monza. With the title in the balance, last year teammates Razia and Valsecchi share the same amount of points, and with only Singapore afterwards, and 70 points up for offer, they will be giving everything to give themselves the best chance possible. James Calado is only 44 points behind, and with the max amount of 70, he is in with a chance, as anything can and does happen in GP2.
With a track that was full of bumps, and then overnight, spawned a chicane on the straight, the Grand Prix of Baltimore was a crazy affair before it began. Will Power lead the championship going in, and a good victory here as he was favoured to would lead to a almost unbeatable position into the season finale. Taking pole as well was just the start.
Power was able to take the lead from the start, and lead Scott Dixon after 17 laps, when it started to drizzle rain. With the championship to think about, and a full course yellow out too, Power lead Dixon, Sebastian Bourdais and Justin Wilson into the pits for moderate rain tyres. Also with the championship to think of, Ryan Hunter-Reay stayed out for a bonus point, then stayed out a little longer, then when the rain stopped, and the others pitted again for slicks, Hunter-Reay did too, but now he was leading, having only done one stop.
Hunter-Reay would pit again on lap 53 for fuel, before a full course yellow on lap 70 gave Ryan Briscoe a chance for victory, and more importantly, Power was able to close up as well. But alas, Andretti got the better of Penske, Hunter-Reay used his push-to-pass to defend, while Power was overtaken by Rubens Barrichello and lost a place instead. So Hunter-Reay won, Briscoe taking second and Rookie of the Year Simon Pagenaud rounded off the podium.
What does this mean?
Well now we have one race to go, at the Auto Club Speedway in California, a 2 mile oval. With 250 laps and only 17 points between them both, anything can, and no doubt will, happen. The race will be in 2 weeks, expect a full preview.
Driver of the Day
Well, with nothing else to do but win, who can go past Ryan Hunter-Reay as the best driver of the day, plus bonus marks for driving a street circuit, while raining, on slicks.
With the chase now only just around the corner, the cards were played out to see who would make it. But we’ll start from the top: there is only a battle for the wildcard spots now. Denny Hamlin took a second win in as many weeks, meaning that he is now locked into the chase, along with Greg Biffle, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jimmie Johnson, Matt Kenseth, Martin Truex Jr., Brad Kesolowski, Clint Bowyer and Kevin Harvick. But while he won, it was only .384 behind him that Jeff Gordon finished second, narrowly missing the second wild card spot, held by Kyle Busch, Hamlin’s teammate. With one race remaining, Gordon, Busch, Marcos Ambrose, Ryan Newman and miraculously Carl Edwards still has a chance. If anyone of them win, apart from Edwards, they are in. If Edwards wins, then he needs results to go his way.
But back to the race, and all night Hamlin and Harvick controlled the race, with Truex trying again and again to get an advantage himself. He was meters from leading the race when Edwards’ engine died, losing that chance, and leading with a mere 6 laps remaining, to finish third. At least he is in the chase and consistancy is what he needs.
Driver of the Day
In a position of dominating all night, then saving his teammates’ bacon, Denny Hamlin is worthy of this title.
The final normal season race at Richmond. Expect sparks as 5 drivers are battling for one spot in the chase, and the only way they can get it is by winning.
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