Japanese GP Wrap Up
This year's Japanese Grand Prix is the first year in ages that the GP has not been run at the world famous Suzuka Circuit. Instead, the event has moved to Fuji Circuit which is coincidentally owned by Toyota. Fuji cannot hope to compare to the majesty and splendor of Suzuka but rain during the race weekend definitively made the Formula 1 weekend interesting.
A wet qualifying session gave way to Jenson Button earning the best position of the season for Honda F1 in 6th spot. When it came time for the start the rain was coming down so hard that the race was started behind the safety car.
Green Flag - Contact
They ran 20 laps under full course caution before the 22 F1 sleds were finally released to do battle. In the almost blind charge to turn 1, Jenson Button ran into the back of Nick Heidfeld, breaking off Button's front wing. Miraculously, Button continued for several laps with no front wing and was able to maintain 5th place. Right before he pitted to get a new wing however he suffered an engine sensor fault that cost him a good 15 seconds on track. When he finally did make a stop he fell well down the order.
Although the collision with Heidfeld and the engine sensor fault did not help his cause, chances are Button would not have gotten more than maybe an eighth place on the day. He probably would have finished ahead of Rubens Barrichello, but his pace after his wing was repaired was not quite good enough to overhaul Vitantonio Liuzzi and Adrian Sutil in 9th and 8th place respectively.
Rubens Barrichello managed to stay out of trouble for the most part but was not able to do much better than Button and finished 10th.
Japanese GP Results
1. Lewis Hamilton Britain Vodafone McLaren Mercedes-Mercedes 02:00:34.579
2. Heikki Kovalainen Finland ING Renault F1 Team-Renault +8.3
3. Kimi Raikkonen Finland Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro-Ferrari +9.4
4. David Coulthard Britain Red Bull Racing-Renault +20.2
5. Giancarlo Fisichella Italy ING Renault F1 Team-Renault +38.8
6. Felipe Massa Brazil Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro-Ferrari +49.0
7. Robert Kubica Poland BMW Sauber F1 Team-BMW +49.2
8. Adrian Sutil Germany Spyker F1 Team-Ferrari +60.1
9. Vitantonio Liuzzi Italy Scuderia Toro Rosso-Ferrari +80.6
10. Rubens Barrichello Brazil Honda Racing F1 Team-Honda +88.3
11. Jenson Button Britain Honda Racing F1 Team-Honda +1 lap
12. Sakon Yamamoto Japan Spyker F1 Team-Ferrari +1 lap
13. Jarno Trulli Italy Panasonic Toyota Racing-Toyota +1 lap
14. Nick Heidfeld Germany BMW Sauber F1 Team-BMW +2 laps
15. Takuma Sato Japan Super Aguri F1 Team-Honda +2 laps
Chinese GP Wrap Up
For the second year in a row the Shanghai Circuit hosted a wet round of the Formula 1 championship. The Chinese GP was also the second consecutive crazy and unpredictable wet race. Like the Japanese GP one week before, it rained in qualifying again which allowed Jenson Button to squeak into Q3 in 10th place.
In the opening stages of the race Button was fairly heavy on fuel and dropped a few places in the order. It was looking like it was going to be another mundane weekend when the team decided to gamble and put Button on the dry tires early. This gamble ended up paying big dividends for Button:
"When the track dried out we decided to pit and go for the dry option tyre and a light fuel load. From then I started setting fastest laps which was a great feeling. It was a fun race with a lot of overtaking and very close driving. it is very satisfying to come away with some good points today."
Barrichello took the opposite strategy, betting that rain would return and switching to wet tires. This obviously ended up being the wrong bet and Barrichello was relegated to 15th place.
While the rain hasn't done Honda F1 too many favors, In the three rain races this year Button has clearly performed much better than can be expected with the aerodynamic brick that is the RA107. Perhaps all of this adversity this season will make the drivers and team all the more strong for next season.
Whoa - Keanu Reeves
For some reason Honda F1 has been able to attract celebrity attention this season in spite of Honda's lackluster performance. The funny thing about the appearance is that Formula1.com posted some quotes from him that were obviously put through a Queen's English translator because Keanu Reeves definitely doesn't talk like this:
"I have always fancied racing since I was a little kid. Back home in the US I even get up early to watch the Grand Prix on television, so it was great that the team accepted my request to come out and see a race up-close and personal. Everyone that I have met here was really professional and focused. I took the time and looked at the car and its specifications very closely, e.g. the tyres, engine and also the telemetry support. Nick (Fry) even gave me the opportunity to sit in the car, which felt quite inspiring and it kind of fitted well - even for my 1.85 meters. I am sure this first personal glimpse into F1 racing will be the start of more.
Chinese GP Results
1. Kimi Raikkonen Finland Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro-Ferrari 56 01:37: 58.395
2. Fernando Alonso Spain Vodafone McLaren Mercedes-Mercedes +9.8
3. Felipe Massa Brazil Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro-Ferrari +12.8
4. Sebastian Vettel Germany Scuderia Toro Rosso-Ferrari +53.5
5. Jenson Button Britain Honda Racing F1 Team-Honda +68.6
6. Vitantonio Liuzzi Italy Scuderia Toro Rosso-Ferrari +73.6
7. Nick Heidfeld Germany BMW Sauber F1 Team-BMW +74.2
8. David Coulthard Britain Red Bull Racing-Renault +80.7
9. Heikki Kovalainen Finland ING Renault F1 Team-Renault +81.1
10. Mark Webber Australia Red Bull Racing-Renault +84.6
11. Giancarlo Fisichella Italy ING Renault F1 Team-Renault +86.6
12. Alexander Wurz Austria AT&T Williams-Toyota +1 lap
13. Jarno Trulli Italy Panasonic Toyota Racing-Toyota +1 lap
14. Takuma Sato Japan Super Aguri F1 Team-Honda +1 lap
15. Rubens Barrichello Brazil Honda Racing F1 Team-Honda +1 lap
16. Nico Rosberg Germany AT&T Williams-Toyota +2 laps
17. Sakon Yamamoto Japan Spyker F1 Team-Ferrari +3 laps
American Le Mans - Petit Le Mans
Last weekend was the 10th anniversary of Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta. The little Le Mans event is a 1000 mile race that is the penultimate round of the American Le Mans championship.
Since its debut victory at the 12 Hours of Sebring the Acura LMP2 program has not found its way back to the highest step of ALMS podium. A few crashes, a few pit strategy mistakes, and some equipment failures have all conspired to foil the three Acura teams. However, even with all of that, they are consistently able to run a fast pace and are usually only outpaced by the factory Penske Porsches.
TOV got a hold of Race Team Technical Lead Roger Griffiths again for a video interview on Friday before the race. He talked about how the season had gone and how the development of the program has proceeded. He sounded overall relaxed and confident for the race but expressed some concern that maybe Acura had used up all its luck in their win at the 12 Hours of Sebring.
Andretti Green Racing's Early Exit
Early in the race avoidable contact with another car led to a 30 second pit penalty for the AGR team. The coming together did a fair amount of damage to the bodywork on the left side of the car. Rather than replacing the whole sidepod they applied copious amounts of tape to secure it and were on their way.
Awhile later, Bryan Herta turned into one of the Dyson Porsches while the Porsche was making a pass attempt going into turn 10a. The resulting impact apparently fatally damaged the coolant system in the car which led to a loss of water pressure and an engine failure. When the car pulled into the pits there was significant smoke coming from the right cylinder bank. Not quite a 'kablamo!' like we've seen in Formula 1 but definitely the end of the road for that engine.
Lowes Fernandez's Shunt
The day didn't go much better for the Lowe's Fernandez team whose race went horribly awry when Luis Diaz smashed the car up in a multiple car pileup. The pileup was caused when one of the Penske Porsches thumped a LMP1 car while overtaking, causing the LMP1 car to spin at the exit of turn seven - leaving the Lowe's car with nowhere to go but into the side of the car. A trailing car hit him too leading to yet another full course caution.
Amazingly, Luis Diaz was able to drive the car back to the pits and back into the paddock. From the amount of damage to the car it looked like the day was done but the Lowe's Fernandez team miraculously repaired the car and got it back on track-only to a lose a wheel which definitively ended their day.
Highcroft's Struggles with an Electrical Problem
Highcroft Acura seemed like they would be the sole Acura team to avoid the poor luck that befell its sister teams but it was not to be as they were forced to pull the car into the paddock to fix an electrical problem. It seemed like the Highcroft was already losing pace to its rivals on track before Johansson pulled the car into the pits for repairs. After the race Stefan said:
"We started out pretty well, but then we began having starter problems and we dropped in position. The car was difficult to drive in those condi- tions. Overall, the car was very light - which we knew before we started. We did a long pit stop on a yel- low to adjust the rear wing. It made some difference, but the car had very low grip in general. With the grip issues, you had to work a lot harder than normal with the steering. It was just tough out there."
The transgressions of Petit Le Mans have allowed the Dyson Porsche duo of Andy Wallace and Butch Leitzinger to overhaul Highcroft Acura's David Brabham and Stefan Johansson for 3rd place in the Driver's championship. Brabham and Johansson only trail by 4 points so they have one last chance to snatch back the position at the season finale at Laguna Seca.
Petit Le Mans Results (Top 10)
1. McNish/Capello Audi Sport North America Audi R10 TDI 394 laps (LMP1)
2. Bernhard/Dumas/Long Penske Porsche RS Spyder 394 laps (LMP2)
3. Smith/Dyson Dyson Porsche RS Spyder 386 laps (LMP2)
4. Mucke/Watts/Charouz Zytek Zytek 073 383 laps (LMP2)
5. Campbell-Walter/Primat/Tinseau Creation Creation CA07-Judd 377 laps (LMP1)
6. Wallace/Leitzinger/Lally Dyson Porsche RS Spyder 372 laps (LMP2)
7. Briscoe/Maassen/Collard Penske Porsche RS Spyder 370 laps (LMP2)
8. Brabham/Johansson/Kerr Highcroft Acura ARX-01a 365 laps (LMP2)
9. Beretta/Gavin/Papis Corvette Corvette C6.R 364 laps (GT1)
10. van Overbeek/Bergmeister/Lieb Flying Lizard Porsche 911 GT3 RSR 353 laps (GT2)
Petit Le Mans Photo Gallery
TOV was able to acquire photo credentials for this even and got a number of good shots from different vantage points around the track. If you really like any of the shots email email@example.com with the file name and we'll work out getting either a print or a full sized version of the file.
World Challenge Touring
Realtime Racing has been steadily closing the points gap with the two championship Tripoint Mazdas of Jeff Altenburg and Randy Pobst. In the last five rounds the Tripoint team has hemorrhaged chunks of points to Peter Cunningham and Pierre Kleinubing to the point where now the Realtime pilots are within striking distance of the championship.
Road Atlanta is typically a great track for Realtime and true to form they took the fastest times in practice but were not able to translate that into front row qualifying starts. Rain would play the spoiler on the day, making Road Atlanta even more challenging and treacherous than it normally is.
We spoke with Pierre Kleinubing and Peter Cunningham before the race about their season, a little bit about the cars, and how they fancied their chances in the wet.
Pierre Kleinubing Pre-Race Interview
Peter Cunningham Pre-Race Interview
The race ended up being pretty crazy with several crashes and several full course cautions. Peter Cunningham was the unlucky recipient of a bullseye t-bone as he turned in for turn 10a. The impact shoved him into the gravel pit and gave PD a significant jolt that left him a little bit dazed. We caught the incident on the Jumbotron on video (there's a clip of it in the post-race interview with Pierre located below).
Pierre Kleinubing Post-Race Interview
Peter later joked that at first he thought he had really had his 'bell rung' because the people in the medical center must have been really out of it because the medical center people were telling him at first that his accident was in turn 5!
World Challenge Touring Road Atlanta Results
1 Michael Galati Tindol Motorsports Mazda 6
2 Adam Pecorari StaSIS Audi A4 +.266
3 James Clay Bimmerworld BMW 325i +2.457
4 Kuno WIttmer Realtime Racing Acura RSX +2.756
5 Pierre Kleinubing Realtime Racing Acura TSX +7.095
6 Stan Wilson Sorted Performance Dodge SRT-4 +7.529
7 Charlie Putman Tindol Motorsports Mazda 6 +7.943
8 Nick Esayian Realtime Racing Acura TSX +11.444
9 Brandon Davis Realtime Racing Acura TSX +12.357
10 Jeff Altenburg Tripoint Motorsports Mazda 6 + 19.364
5th place was not exactly the result Pierre needed in order to increases his chances of stealing the title from the Mazdas but the Tripoint Mazdas finished 10th and 15th so Pierre still drew closer in points. Now, going into the final round at Laguna Seca, Pierre will need to win the race and hope Jeff Altenburg doesn't finish higher than 10th. Not the best scenario but not impossible.
Motegi GP Wrap Up
After narrowly missing out on the victory at Portugal, Dani Pedrosa laid down the law early at Motegi. He led every practice session by a good margin and took pole position for the race. Nicky Hayden qualifying third and it was looking like the Repsol Honda boys and their Michelins would be in good shape for the race. The only thing that could ruin their weekend was uncooperative weather. Mother Nature decided it would not be Repsol Honda's day as it rained for most of the day for Sunday's racing.
In Moto GP if a race either starts dry and goes to wet or starts wet and goes to dry, they do not stop the race. This means each team must figure at what point the conditions merit coming into the pits to change bikes. In Motegi the race started out wet and over the course of the race dried out.
The Repsol Honda team decided that they would leave the decision on when to switch bikes up to the rider. This turned out to be the incorrect strategy as all of the front running riders waited a bit too long change tires since none of them wanted to cede the lead to their rivals. Meanwhile it was plain to see that some of the riders further down in the order who had come in and switched to intermediate tires were lapping several seconds faster than the lead group. But the lead riders had no way of knowing that the riders who had made the switch were going much faster.
This tactical error ultimately led to a big highside crash for Dani Pedrosa while he was in second place. Dani was slow to get up, as if he had just taken a big hit from a middle linebacker. A photo of Dani's crash was actually in the October 1 issue of Sports Illustrated. At first it was feared that Dani had broken his foot but further x-rays came up negative.
HRC team manager Makoto Tanaka admitted that perhaps they made an error as well:
"Before the race it was decided with Dani that the timing of the bike change would be the rider's choice...It was unfortunate that he crashed just before coming in and I think in the same circumstances we would bring him in earlier next time."
For some reason Nicky's wet tire destroyed itself in the opening 6 laps of the race as he plunged through the order He came in early to switch to the Michelin intermediate tires but apparently the Michelin intermediates were not what the doctor ordered. 'The Doctor' Valentino Rossi switched to the Michelin intermediate the strange feeling and lack of grip he got from it led him to believe that maybe his tire was flat so he came back into the pits for a second time. Nicky commented that he got the same strange feeling from the Michelin intermediate front tire as well.
Motegi GP Results
1. Loris Capirossi ITA Ducati Marlboro Team (B) 47min 5.484 secs
2. Randy de Puniet FRA Kawasaki Racing Team (B) 47min 16.337 secs
3. Toni Elias SPA Honda Gresini (B) 47min 17.100 secs
4. Sylvain Guintoli FRA Dunlop Tech 3 Yamaha (D) 47min 17.676 secs
5. Marco Melandri ITA Honda Gresini (B) 47min 34.053 secs
6. Casey Stoner AUS Ducati Marlboro Team (B) 47min 36.663 secs
7. Anthony West AUS Kawasaki Racing Team (B) 47min 55.485 secs
8. Alex Barros BRA Pramac d'Antin MotoGP (B) 47min 57.827 secs
9. Nicky Hayden USA Repsol Honda Team (M) 47min 59.113 secs
10. John Hopkins USA Rizla Suzuki MotoGP (B) 48min 5.199 secs
11. Chris Vermeulen AUS Rizla Suzuki MotoGP (B) 48min 8.288 secs
12. Makoto Tamada JPN Dunlop Tech 3 Yamaha (D) 48min 14.797 secs
13. Valentino Rossi ITA Fiat Yamaha Team (M) 48min 15.183 secs
14. Colin Edwards USA Fiat Yamaha Team (M) 48min 17.219 secs
15. Shinichi Ito JPN Pramac d'Antin MotoGP (B) 48min 17.774 secs
16. Shinya Nakano JPN Konica Minolta Honda (M) 48min 38.463 secs
17. Akira Yanagawa JPN Kawasaki Racing Team (B) 47min 34.190 secs
18. Carlos Checa SPA Honda LCR (M) 48min 3.727 secs
Checkout Moto GP on Youtube
Moto GP now has a channel on youtube where fans can view free video content from the season. While the short highlight videos are nice every now and then the real treat is their post race show called 'After the Flag' that is hosted by Moto GP's international feed announcers. They do interviews and race recaps as well a little bit of Moto GP news. The show is also available through iTunes as a video podcast.
Motegi Highlights (Pedrosa's crash is in there)
Motegi After the Flag
A Surprise Visit from Takuma Sato
During Eurosport's broadcast of Moto GP free practice Takuma Sato of Super Aguri F1 stopped by the commentary box and spoke a little bit with the broadcast team. Sato-san said it was the first Moto GP race he was able to attend in person but that he frequently watched it on TV. His favorite rider was country man and Honda rider Shinya Nakano, who would occasionally attended F1 races in support of Sato.
Eurosport annoncer and Moto GP pundit Toby Moody asked him about what he thinks will happen next season when F1 gets rid of traction control. Sato responded:
"I think car will be all over the place!"
Takuma said that Super Aguri F1 has already tested the car without traction control. He sounded pretty excited about it.
The Tire War could be over...
In a shock announcement, the president of the Moto GP sanctioning body revealed that they were considering changing Moto GP to a spec tire series. This development rocked the paddock and stunned all three of the tire companies
Ezpeleta stated that the issue will ultimately be decided at a meeting at the Malaysian Grand Prix.
The tire companies are in Moto GP for the competition. Much like the competition between motorcycle manufacturers improves motorcycles for the street, tire competition accelerates the development of tire technology. However, a tire ware often times worsens the racing spectacle. One need only to look at the Ferrari/Bridgestone/Schumacher years to see the effects of an unbalanced tire war.
Honda's role in this situation is that Dani Pedrosa was pushing very hard to switch the team to Bridgestone tires, to the point that he delayed signing a new contract for quite a long time. HRC president Masumi Hamane in turn approached Bridgestone about supplying the Repsol Honda team after the abysmal performance of Michelin tires at the USGP. Bridgestone turned Hamane down, because they realized that if the Honda and Yamaha factory teams switched to Bridgestone that Michelin would pack up shop and leave the series. Since competition is what they crave they wanted to ensure that Michelin stayed. Ironically, by rebuffing Honda and Yamaha's requests, Bridgestone has prompted Dorna to consider the one-tire rule.
Nicky Hayden seems to be somewhat in support of a spec tire, although initially he was against the idea:
"I'm not completely against the one-tyre rule. When I first heard about it in World Superbikes I thought it was a bad idea but now riders won't have any more excuses."
Full MCN Article with Nicky Hayden's Thoughts on a Spec Tire
For now the odds are that a spec tire will not be implemented for 2008. However, depending on how the racing and the politics turn out in 2008, it may very well come to fruition for 2009.
Magny-Cours and Championship Wrap Up
In James Toseland's first World Superbike championship in 2004, he went into Magny Cours with a 7 point deficit to his teammate at the time, Regis Laconi. Toseland pulled out the stops and finished while Laconi folded like a wallet. This time out he was the man in the lead while Max Biaggi and Noriyuki Haga were the two men attempted to chase him down in the final two races.
With all of the bad luck in the last two rounds at Vallelunga and Lausitzring momentum was had swung against the 27 year-old Yorkshireman. In spite of that, Toseland pulled out an incredible on-the-edge lap in superpole to claim pole position for the race. It was only James' 5th career World Superbike pole, amazing considering that he has 57 podiums and 16 wins in his 7 years in the class.
When the lights went out for the start everything almost came unraveled in the first turn as Lorenzo Lanzi closed the door on Toseland's front wheel sending Lanzi tumbling into the gravel and James flying through after him. Toseland fought valiantly to keep the bike upright and was able to get the bike back on track, albeit a few seconds behind last place.
Toseland then went on a tear through the field as every additional point he could salvage would be crucial to preventing Haga or Biaggi from stealing the title from him. Toseland miraculously clawed his way all the back up to 7th place and took home 9 points. Noriyuki Haga went on to take the victory and pulled to within 17 points of the title theft.
WSBK Magny-Cours Race 1 Results
1 Noriyuki Haga JPN Yamaha Motor Italia YZF R1 38min 33.762 secs
2 Troy Bayliss AUS Ducati Xerox 999F07 +2.77 secs
3 Troy Corser AUS Yamaha Motor Italia YZF R1 +3.735 secs
4 Max Neukirchner GER Alstare Suzuki Corona Extra GSXR1000 K7 +8.57 secs
5 Fonsi Nieto ESP PSG-1 Kawasaki Corse ZX10R +12.925 secs
6 Max Biaggi ITA Alstare Suzuki Corona Extra GSXR1000 K7 +13.283 secs
7 James Toseland GBR Ten Kate Honda CBR 1000RR +16.395 secs
8 Ruben Xaus ESP GMB Racing Ducati 999F06 +22.581 secs
9 Regis Laconi FRA PSG-1 Kawasaki Corse ZX10R +22.828 secs
10 Roberto Rolfo ITA Ten Kate Honda CBR 1000RR +32.729 secs
11 Shinichi Nakatomi JPN Yamaha Motor France-Ipone YZF R1 +38.305 secs
12 Karl Muggeridge AUS Alto Evolution Honda CBR 1000RR +53.685 secs
13 Yoann Tiberio FRA Alto Evolution Honda CBR 1000RR +53.799 secs
14 Michel Fabrizio ITA DFX Treme Honda CBR 1000RR +53.915 secs
15 Dietrich Guillaume FRA Suzuki Germany GSXR1000 K6 +56.474 secs
16 Steve Martin AUS Celani Team Suzuki GSXR1000 K7 +1min 11.402 secs
17 points. After leading the championship by up to 66 points it all came down to 17 points. At any other time that would seem like a decent margin going into the final race of the season but with the string of almost cursed luck Toseland had experienced in the last few rounds 17 points was nowhere near enough.
For race two Toseland didn't get a great start but was able to run with the lead group. Noriyuki Haga made a stunning breakaway for the lead but James had no need to chase him down as he just needed to finish 8th or better to seal the title.
He finally was overhauled by Troy Corser and Troy Bayliss but that didn't matter because he was in little danger of losing additional positions to Roberto Rolfo (his teammate) or Regis Laconi). Not the most emphatic way to finish a title run, but nonetheless, it was a championship well earned.
James Toseland's 2nd World Superbike title was really a comeback of sorts. After his first title with the factory Ducati team in 2004 he had an abysmal title defense season in 2005 that resulted in him getting sacked. Getting fired was quite a career low point for the youngest ever WSBK champion.
"Then I lost my job. I walked away from this very track, two years ago, in tears. With nothing. Nobody wanted me. So I've had my best memories and my worst memories here at Magny-Cours."
Post Victory Crash.Net Interview with Toseland
But Ten Kate Honda took a chance on him and he rewarded them by working extremely hard on and off the track to earn a 2nd place in the championship in 2006 and of course ascending to the title in 2007. For a man who grew up in a single parent home and had to take a loan from his mom to go racing, winning a second title after hitting such a low point is almost a fairy tale ending.
WSBK Magny-Cours Race 2 Results
1 Noriyuki Haga JPN Yamaha Motor Italia YZF R1 38min 35.353 secs
2 Max Biaggi ITA Alstare Suzuki Corona Extra GSXR1000 K7 +3.518 secs
3 Fonsi Nieto ESP PSG-1 Kawasaki Corse ZX10R +9.142 secs
4 Troy Corser AUS Yamaha Motor Italia YZF R1 +9.257 secs
5 Troy Bayliss AUS Ducati Xerox 999F07 +12.825 secs
6 James Toseland GBR Ten Kate Honda CBR 1000RR +19.316 secs
7 Roberto Rolfo ITA Ten Kate Honda CBR 1000RR +20.994 secs
8 Regis Laconi FRA PSG-1 Kawasaki Corse ZX10R +22.452 secs
9 Michel Fabrizio ITA DFX Treme Honda CBR 1000RR +22.505 secs
10 Ruben Xaus ESP GMB Racing Ducati 999F06 +28.352 secs
11 Karl Muggeridge AUS Alto Evolution Honda CBR 1000RR +44.333 secs
12 Yoann Tiberio FRA Alto Evolution Honda CBR 1000RR +48.077 secs
13 Guillaume Dietrich FRA Suzuki Germany GSXR1000 K6 +1min 23.307 secs
14 Lorenzo Morelli ITA Team Pedercini Ducati 999RS +1min 23.826 secs
15 Dean Ellison GBR Team Pedercini Ducati 999RS +1min 37.631 secs
Watershed Moment for the Ten Kate Team
It is almost amazing to see what Ten Kate has been able to achieve in just 4 years in World Superbike. While they were ascending to the WSBK throne Ten Kate dominated World Supersport, winning the title 5 years in a row. Ten Kate truly represents the best of what a privateer race team can do. Other than JT, no one in the paddock was happier than team owner Ronald Ten Kate:
"What an incredible end to a fantastic season! To be honest, we had a lot of bad luck today in the races. The first race James was run of the track and I think at that point he made a decision to fight as hard as he could to get back up. That showed just how much he wanted it and I think everyone in the paddock agrees that James is the one who deserves this. In the second race he knew where he had to finish to get the title. It's nice that the Honda CBR1000RR has finally won a title.
"I want to give big compliments to my team - it has only been four years since we started in this business and it has been a learning curve. We are still a local Dutch dealer going racing so this is pretty great for us. In conclusion, today has been not too bad at all!"
The second to last round of the 2007 British Superbike championship stopped at Donington Park. Donington is effectively Airwaves Ducati rider Leon Haslam's home track. His Father, 'Rocket' Ron Haslam runs a riding school there. Ol' Rocket Ron was actually a Honda GP500 rider in the 80's. However even with Haslam's home field advantage, he could not wrest pole position from Stobart Honda's Tom Sykes. It was the first career pole position for 22 year-old British Superbike rookie..
Johnny Rea chased down Chris Walker for the lead and stayed in first place until past the halfway point. And wouldn't you know it, Leon Haslam got by him on the brakes to take the lead away on lap twelve. Rea, never one to surrender promptly mounted his retaliation but while making a pass attempt his bike pitched into a wicked tank slapper that almost resulted in him t-boning Haslam. Rea went off track and was able to return to the race but that episode of youthful exuberance may have been the end of his BSB title ambitions.
Ryuichi Kiyonari's was the target of a youthfully optimistic pass that did not turn out so well for the Japanese rider. Rizla Suzuki's rookie Cal Crutchlow was attempting a pass on Kiyo when he low-sided, taking both riders out of the race. Kiyo desperately tried to get his bike restarted but the damage was too great and he had to settle for a DNF. This was exactly what Kiyo did not need to happen. After getting punted on his birthday Kiyo definitely won't be sending any Christmas cards to the Crutchlow household.
Tom Sykes was not able to use his first pole position to take him to his first BSB victory but his second place was his best career finish.
Donington Park Race 1 Results
1. Leon Haslam GBR Airwaves Ducati 30min 37.871 secs
2. Tom Sykes GBR Stobart Vent-Axia Motorsport +1.416 secs
3. Shane Byrne GBR Stobart Vent-Axia Motorsport +1.626 secs
4. Gregorio Lavilla ESP Airwaves Ducati +9.214 secs
5. Jonathan Rea GBR HM Plant Honda Racing +12.034 secs
6. Chris Walker GBR Rizla Suzuki +15.515 secs
7. Scott Smart GBR Hawk Colchester Kawasaki +26.204 secs
8. James Haydon GBR Hawk Colchester Kawasaki +28.661 secs
9. Michael Rutter GBR Isilon MSS Discovery Kawasaki +33.019 secs
10. Steve Plater GBR AIM Yamaha +54.844 secs
In race 2 Kiyonari and Johnny Rea made their way to the front of the race in short order, keen on recovering the points lost in race 1. First place seemed to be a much better place to be for Kiyonari since it meant he was much less vulnerable to getting taken out by another rider like he was in race 1.
Kiyonari was leading the race when he had a huge bobble exiting a turn and ran off track allowing Haslam, Sykes, and Walker through. Kiyo made a great save to avoid a highside but lost his chance at a race win that could have at least closed Leon Haslam out of the championship picture.
Kiyo came back to take 3rd place but the battle for the win went down to the last lap with Tom Sykes in hot pursuit of Leon Haslam. Haslam would take the victory by less than a bike length but it seems like if Sykes had been a bit more aggressive he could have taken it to the Ducati rider. With two consecutive second place finishes it seems like Tom Sykes knocking on the door of his first victory.
BSB Donington Race 2 Results (Top 10)
1 Leon Haslam GBR Airwaves Ducati 30min 35.829 secs
2 Tom Sykes GBR Stobart Vent-Axia Motorsport +0.056 secs
3 Ryuichi Kiyonari JPN HM Plant Honda Racing +3.416 secs
4 Chris Walker GBR Rizla Suzuki +7.132 secs
5 Gregorio Lavilla ESP Airwaves Ducati +12.299 secs
6 Shane Byrne GBR Stobart Vent-Axia Motorsport +16.567 secs
7 Jonathan Rea GBR HM Plant Honda Racing +16.672 secs
8 Michael Rutter GBR Isilon MSS Discovery Kawasaki +34.428 secs
9 Steve Plater GBR AIM Yamaha +34.841 secs
10 Karl Harris GBR Hydrex Honda +46.036 secs
Honda Racing on TV
Sunday, October 14
3:00 am Speed World Challenge Touring (SPEED)
5:00 pm MotoGP 250 Australian Grand Prix (SPEED)
6:00 pm MotoGP World Championship Australian Grand Prix (SPEED)
Friday, October 19
12:00 pm Formula One Practice Brazilian Grand Prix (SPEED)
Saturday, October 20
12:00 pm Formula One Qualifying Brazil Grand Prix (SPEED)
5:30 pm American Le Mans Series Laguna Seca
Sunday, October 21
11:30 am Formula One Brazilian Grand Prix (SPEED)
6:00 pm MotoGP World Championship Malaysian Grand Prix (SPEED)
5:00 pm MotoGP 250 Malaysian Grand Prix (SPEED)