Radical Clubman’s Cup MSVR Castle Combe Report 02/08/14

After the lunch break, the first race was for the Radical Clubman’s Cup, a stepping stone in the Radical progression from the entry level SR1 cup to the higher profile SR3 Challenge or even European Masters series. Although the grid was not the biggest last weekend the series always provides close racing and plenty more was expected from their two races over the course of the day.

After qualifying it was Dan Vaughan in his SR3 that was on pole, from young hot shoe Oskar Kruger in his smaller PR6 model. Row 2 consisted of Steve Burgess in his SR3 from Brian Caudwell in a similar SR3 in 4th. From the start it was Kruger who made the best start although he was challenged for the lead by the fast starting Ben Dimmack, up from 8th on the grid, although some questioned whether he made too good a getaway. Into Quarry things got frantic however as 5 cars collided, although several were able to continue. The amount of stranded cars left the organisers with no option but to red flag the race to allow the stranded cars to be recovered safely.

After a 10 minute delay the cars began to line up on the grid again for the re-start, which had now been cut from 20 minutes to 15 in order to try make up time for the Castle Combe Saloons to have their race at the end of the day. At the re-start things carried over with Kruger quickly demoting Dimmack from the lead at the Esses on the opening lap. Kruger was clearly on a mission as he built up a lead of several seconds over the next few laps, and things got even more comfortable for him when news filtered through on lap 4 that 2nd man Dimmack was to have 10 seconds added to his race time for a jump start.

From the mid race point the depleted field were evenly spread out until the finish as Kruger came through for a comfortable victory, from Brian Caudwell in 2nd whilst the time penalty for Dimmack demoted him from 2nd on the road to 3rd in the overall result. John Macleod came home 4th in his SR3, whilst Brian Murphy and Richard Stables completed the top 6 from a truncated opening Radical Clubman’s Cup race.

For the second race later on in the afternoon, the grid was back up to full strength after the multi car accident in the opening race, with the front row order reversed this time around as the opening race winner Oskar Kruger claimed pole from Dan Vaughan, whilst similarly to race 1 Steve Burgess was 3rd from Brian Caudwell completed row 2. At the start it was Kruger and Burgess who made the best getaway’s to take an initial lead in this once again reduced to 15 minutes race.

Race 1 standout Ben Dimmack was at it again in race 2 as he came through to an initial 2nd place, although by lap 4 Burgess was beginning to seriously challenge Dimmack for the place as Kruger sprinted away into the distance up front. Dan Vaughan made a bad start and spent the early portion of the race attempting to make up some of the lost ground. His challenge for 4th place ended in tears on lap 6 as he passed John Macleod for the position before almost simultaneously spinning at the Esses, and into subsequent retirement.

The Safety Car was immediately deployed on lap 7 as it was deemed the car was in a dangerous position, although it only took 2 laps to recover the car before the Safety Car went in again. From here Kruger picked up where he left off before the Safety Car as he quickly restored a lead of several seconds over the rest. Behind Kruger Dimmack was had to defend courageously against Burgess behind him, although on the penultimate lap exiting Camp corner Burgess found a way through on the inside to claim 2nd, a position he would hold to the flag. Kruger was again dominant as he took a second victory of the day from Burgess and Dimmack. John Macleod came home for double 4th place from Brian Caudwell in 5th and finally Brian Murphy who completed the top 6.

These races were entertaining for the spectators although a few more cars on the entry list would have really enhanced the races last weekend, although in peak holiday season a dip in a usually much larger entry list is to be expected. All of the MSVR series who raced at Castle Combe last weekend would definitely be welcomed back by the spectators next year.

Credit for the excellent photos go to’s%20Cup:%20Donington%20Park%2026%20April%20Race%20Report&passive=1&r=9&t=282

For more information in this series please visit their website through the link below

Mini Challenge MSVR Castle Combe 02/08/14

The first of the visiting MSVR championships to get onto the track was the Mini challenge series, for the first of their two races of the day. It promised to be an exciting race as a wet qualifying session determined the grid, yet by the time of their race the track was rapidly drying, leaving some last minute decisions on tyres and set up before the race.

Championship leader Chris Knox claimed pole from Luke Caudle, with ex-Legends racer Lawrence Davey and Neil Newstead completing row 2. At the start of this 20 minute race it was Knox and Caudle who made the best starts from the front row, as the rest diced for position behind them. It didn’t take long before Caudle was putting heavy pressure on Knox for the lead, although they were still managing to pull away from the field despite their battle.

Lap 4 saw Knox beginning to settle in and establish a gap to Caudle of several seconds, as behind these two Davey was now challenging the fast starting Henry Duprey for 3rd also. At this point of the race Knox was simply dominating as by lap 7 he held a 14 second gap to Duprey in 3rd and was in complete control of the race. A lap later and Davey finally breached a stubborn defence of 3rd from Duprey, as he dived inside him at Tower. Things didn’t get any easier for Duprey as the closest challenger to Knox in the championship, Neil Newstead, went inside him at Quarry on lap 10 for 4th.

From here Newstead was the man on the move as he quickly caught and was challenging Davey for 3rd, although his brave attempt at taking the place at Bobbies on lap 13 went badly wrong, as he completely misjudged it and fell back several seconds, ground he was unable to make up in the remaining time. After 16 laps it was Chris Knox who came through for a comfortable victory from a lonely Luke Caudle in 2nd. Lawrence Davey completed the podium with Neil Newstead, Hamish Brandon and Henry Duprey completing the top 6 in 4th, 5th and 6th respectively. In the lower Cooper class it was reigning class champion Shane Stoney who came through for the victory.

Later on in the afternoon the Mini challenge returned for it’s second and final race of the day. The top 8 finishing order in race 1 was reversed for the grid of race which meant it was Patrick Mortimer on pole from Keith Issatt alongside him, with Henry Duprey and Hamish Brandon on row 2. The men to watch out for were Luke Caudle and race 1 winner Chris Knox, who were both on row 4 for this race. The rolling start was pretty uneventful although it didn’t stay that way for long, as a multi car accident in the lower Cooper class brought out the Safety Car at the end of lap 1.

It was two cars who were out of the race that caused the Safety Car, although frustratingly the barriers had been damaged in the accident, necessitating a red flag and 10-20 minute delay to repair them. For the re-started race the duration was cut from 20 to 15 minutes as the timetable was now well behind schedule. This time there was no major accidents on lap 1, and things were soon changing at the front as Caudle passed Newstead for the lead at Folly on lap 2. Seconds later the battle amongst the leading quartet got ugly as contact at Quarry left Newstead in the barriers and out of the race early on.

The Safety Car made yet another appearance on lap 4, with a further 3 laps being completed before it came in at the end of lap 6. Immediately from the re-start the leading quartet made a break from the rest as they started battling for the lead of the race. Despite a valiant defence from Caudle eventually on lap 10 Knox and Duprey were able to force their way through at the Esses. From here the leading four circulated in a tandem on the final lap as Knox claimed his second victory of the day, moving him even further ahead in the championship battle. Duprey came home 2nd from Caudle in 3rd and Hamish Brandon in 4th, with Alan Taylor in 5th and Keith Issatt in 6th completing the significant placing’s. Much like Knox, Shane Stoney came through to take his 2nd Cooper class victory in the day as he cements his position at the top of his class standings.

After two good races from the Mini challenge, they now have two more meetings in their season although with only 4 races remaining it’s hard to look past Chris Knox and Shane Stoney as the class winners, based on their dominant showings here at Castle Combe.

Photo credits go to and

For more information on this championship please visit their official website here

Iconic Racer Porsche 911-50 RSR (Type 991) IBook Review

After the success of the first book from co-authors Stefan Lewyckyj and Ian Doughty on the McLaren MP4-12C, their latest offering centres on the iconic Porsche 911, and it’s latest 991 model. The opening chapters are dedicated to the history and heritage of the Porsche 911, both on the road and the race track. The opening chapters are very informative for the reader with high quality photos being used for perfectly complement the interesting text, setting a standard of quality which carries over throughout the book.

Throughout the book there are peppering’s of interactive features which add another dimension to this book. The video’s and added text material such as press releases are well laid out and subsequently are very easy to use. The chapters centring on the new 991 model Porsche 911 are well presented and guide the reader through the entire development process from start to finished product, through the use of informative text and highly detailed photos.

Whilst the early chapters switch between the road car and race car the later chapters focus more on the race car, something which make the book interesting for anyone as the photos are captioned in expert detail on areas such as the outside bodywork, internal cockpit and the engine. Both the factory and customer teams and drivers racing the new Porsche 991 911 on both sides of the Atlantic from both 2013 and this season are detailed to a similar level, giving the reader a clear understanding of everyone racing the new Porsche 911.

The more anyone will read this book, it will become more evident how well researched this book is as the extraordinary detail to which this book goes to sets it apart from any competitor books on the new Porsche 911. The book also contains complete stats from the 2013 and 2014 season so far. The biggest plus with this interactive book is that anyone can download updates for it which will update results from future races this season and beyond. In conclusion, this is a very well researched and detailed book which will interest anyone who’s interested in cars or motorsport.

In particular, for fans of the Porsche 911 this is a must have book, with a £4.99 price tag making this a very affordable book for anyone interested in cars. Put simply, you won’t get a more informative book on the Porsche 911 with the £4.99 price tag simply even more of a reason to buy this incredible book.

Here’s a link to the book on ITunes and the Iconic racer series Twitter page, which will keep you updated with all the latest in this book series.
Link to the book with ITunes –
Iconic Racer Twitter page –

2014 German GP Qualifying Report

After Lewis Hamilton’s heroics at his home grand prix two weeks ago, the shoe is on the other foot this weekend as AMG Mercedes team mate Nico Rosberg will be hoping for the same result as his and the team’s home race at Hockenheim.

The build up to the weekend has been dominated so far with talk surrounding the sudden banning of the FRIC (Front and rear interconnected suspension) systems, which all 11 teams are running this year. It seems the FIA has decided they have become far too complex and too much of an moveable aerodynamic device, leading to their ban starting this weekend.

There was much anticipation therefore in the paddock to see what kind of effect this ban had on the order, although the session would have to go some to be more entertaining than the mixed conditions in Britain two weeks ago provided. Q1 hadn’t even began before Caterham were struggling as a hydraulic problem with Marcus Ericsson’s car left him unlikely to compete in the session at all, something which was later confirmed halfway through the session.

At the front however, it was the Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton that set the first truly competitive lap time with a 1.18.693, a cool 0.7 seconds quicker than the rest halfway through Q1. On the other hand, a small shockwave was sent through the paddock a minute later as Finland’s Valtteri Bottas confidently put his Williams-Mercedes top of the times by a cool 0.4 of a second over the rest. For Rosberg, it appeared his home race was proving a burden rather than an advantage, as he made two separate mistakes on successive qualifying laps.

The drama of Q1 was soon provided as Hamilton suffered a front right brake disc failure, which pitched him into the banked stadium section Turn 13 tyre wall. The fast impact left Hamilton sounding slightly winded in the aftermath, and sent the red flags flying with 7 minutes left.

After the small delay a frantic final 7 minutes was set up as everyone ventured back out on track with the one lap super soft tyres. The action proved fast and frantic, with the unfortunate casualties of Q1 being firstly Adrian Sutil who is resigned to 17th in his Sauber-Ferrari for his home grand prix.

Alongside him in 18th is Jules Bianchi in his Marussia-Ferrari, with row 10 containing usual suspects Pastor Maldonado in his troublesome Lotus-Renault and the Caterham-Renault of Kamui Kobayashi. Sitting 21st and 22nd for tomorrow will be Max Chilton in his Marussia and the unfortunate Marcus Ericsson in the second Caterham.

After a quiet opening few minutes of Q2 as the teams waited to save their tyres, Q2 sparked into life with Bottas again setting the early pace with a blistering 1.17.353. HIs time last roughly 30 seconds at the top however, as a far more dialled in Rosberg stole top spot with a 1.17.109. After this lap time the track went relatively quiet before the final runs began with a few minutes remaining.

With a seemingly small amount of improvement in the track, the final two minutes proved a constant flurry of changing times and places, of which the final order was only settled well after the session was over. When the dust settled, it showed that from those eliminated it was Jenson Button who fell in 11th for McLaren-Mercedes, with fellow champion Kimi Raikkonen alongside him in 12th.

Behind them it was Jean Eric Vergne in his Scuderia Toro Rosso-Renault in 13th, from Esteban Gutierrez in the leading Sauber in 14th. The final two eliminated were Romain Grosjean for Lotus-Renault in 15th and Hamilton who couldn’t take part in Q2 because of his accident.

The stage was not set for the final 12 minute Q3 showdown for pole, with first runs meaning the action started from the moment the pit lane light turned green. Once these times filtered through it was Rosberg who was unsurprisingly on top with a 1.15.540, with the two Williams-Mercedes cars close behind. From here the session calmed down before the final runs for pole began with a few minutes left on the clock. These runs proved a damp squib however, as the top 3 remained the same with Rosberg claiming a popular home pole, from the impressive Williams twins of Bottas and Felipe Massa in second and third.

4th was a brilliant result for McLaren rookie Kevin Magnussen, with popular Aussie Daniel Ricciardo piloting his Red Bull-Renault to 5th. Reigning World Champion Sebastien Vettel will again be disappointed to be behind his team mate in 6th, with Fernando Alonso for Ferrari and Daniil Kvyat for Scuderia Toro Rosso behind Vettel in 7th and 8th. Rounding out the top 10 were the two Sahara Force-India-Mercedes team mates, with Nico Hulkenberg winning their battle in 9th from Sergio Perez in 10th.

This German GP qualifying session has provided plenty of story lines for tomorrow, with Hamilton’s recovery drive already being eagerly anticipated. Up front, it appears Rosberg will at the very least have to fend off what should be a stern challenge from the Williams of a determined Valtteri Bottas. It should be a thrilling race indeed.

2014 Canadian GP Qualifying Report

After the drama’s and tension of the Monaco GP weekend two weeks ago, the F1 circus was hoping for a much calmer weekend as they arrived at the ever popular Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. This race weekend is always popular with teams, drivers and fans alike and an interesting weekend was predicted. This circuit always provides competitive racing thanks to it’s unique nature with braking being crucial around this high speed stop lap.

The Q1 drama began before the session had even got underway as Sauber sophomore driver Esteban Gutierrez was forced to sit and watch Qualifying as the his car needed a new chassis after a crash in Free Practice 3.  This meant only 5 drivers would be eliminated this time around, somewhat easing the pressure . As the cars trickled out slowly it was Williams driver Valteri Bottas who set the first competitive time with a 1.18.270 after 4 minutes.  


Unsurprisingly this time didn’t last long at the top as AMG Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg subsequently smashed that time with his own 1.16.690 with 12 minutes left in the session. Canada specialist Lewis Hamilton wasn’t going to let Rosberg get too comfortable atop the times however as he soon chimed in with a 1.16.438. Then with 8 minutes to go he improved to a 1.15.750, a nice statement of intent on his part for qualifying. After this the session calmed down slightly before the intensity increased in the final minutes.

First Lotus-Renault driver Pastor Maldonado pulled off track at Turn 2 with a lack of power, in the process guaranteeing his elimination in Q1. Things did improve his slightly however, as Caterham rookie Marcus Ericsson stuffed the rear end of his car into the outside wall exiting Turn 9 with 16 seconds left. The ensuring red flag would end the session and cement everyone in their Q1 positions.

Sharing the back row are the Sauber of Esteban Gutierrez and the Caterham rookie Marcus Ericsson. Caterham team leader Kamui Kobayashi lines up 20th, with Marussia driver Jules Bianchi 19th. Max Chilton out-qualified team mate Bianchi for the first time in 2014 in 18th alongside the unlucky Lotus-Renault driver Pastor Maldonado in 17th. Since qualifying things have got worse for Caterham however as Kobayashi has been forced to take a gearbox change, demoting him to 21st behind team mate Ericsson.

Q2 began with star Sahara-Force India driver Nico Hulkenberg being the first to set a competitive time with a 1.16.650 in the first few minutes. Both the Williams drivers looked hugely competitive this weekend and they soon flexed their muscles in Q2, with Felipe Massa quickly setting the pace with a 1.15.773 with 11 minutes to go in Q2. The major surprise of Q2 was the fact the two AMG Mercedes drivers were unable to beat Massa’s time, although this can be explained by the fact they didn’t run the softer tyres which Massa did.

The final minutes were frantic as always but the biggest surprise again was that the AMG Mercedes drivers went out for a final run when they appeared safe for Q3. Nevertheless, their softer tyre runs rewarded them with Rosberg first with a 1.15.2 before Hamilton eclipsed him with a 1.15.0 to top the Q2 session. From Q1 and Q2 the advantage AMG Mercedes enjoyed a 0.7s gap to the rest, ensuring Q3 would be another intense battle between the two.

Those who sadly wouldn’t be making Q3 were a disappointed Sahara-Force India driver Nico Hulkenberg in 11th, alongside McLaren rookie Kevin Magnussen in 12th. Sahara-Force India’s disappointed day was completed a Hulkenberg’s team mate Sergio Perez only managed 13th, sharing row 7 with Lotus-Renault driver Romain Grosjean in 14th. The 8th row would be shared with Scuderia Toro Rosso rookie Daniil Kvyat in 15th alongside Sauber driver Adrian Sutil in 16th.

The final Q3 session began slowly with Valterri Bottas the first to venture out after 2 minutes. His first lap time was a 1.15.550 with 7.30 left on the clock. His reign at the top was short however as Nico Rosberg soon eclipsed him with a 1.14.946 lap, which even team mate Hamilton couldn’t match. As the cars settled in the garage’s ready for their final run, Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen gambled on setting a quick lap whilst the track was quiet. This gamble didn’t work however as he only managed 8th on his one flying lap.

The final run’s were an anti-climax as a bad lap from Hamilton handed Rosberg pole on a plate, with Rosberg improving by a tenth just to make sure of pole. Reigning world champion Sebastien Vettel produced the lap of the session to steal 3rd from the Williams drivers in an inferior Red Bull car. William sophomore Bottas usurped experienced team mate Massa for 4th and 5th, with Vettel’s Red Bull team mate Daniel Ricciardo disappointed with 6th. Fernando Alonso qualified 7th from an impressive Jean Eric Vergne in the Toro Rosso in 8th. The 5th and final row of the top 10 would be shared by Jenson Button in the McLaren and Raikkonen completing the top 10 for Ferrari.

Qualifying set up the race later on today perfectly in what should be an impressive race long fight between the two AMG Mercedes drivers. Behind them the battle for the final podium spot should be just as interesting between the Red Bull and Williams cars. Also watch out for the two Sahara-Force India cars, as they are always more competitive in race trim with their car notoriously soft on it’s tyres. Watch out for their progress during the race.

2014 Le Mans 24 Hours GTE Pro Preview

After previewing the LMP1 and LMP2 prototype classes now it’s time to switch my focus onto the GT classes. First up is the GTE Pro series, which this year is mostly the domain of factory teams. This year see’s 4 manufactures take each other on in what should be a very tense battle, as they fight for the all important class victory.

AF Corse:

#51 Ferrari F458 Italia GT2: Gianmaria Bruni/Toni Vilander/Giancarlo Fisichella
The #51 AF Corse entry has been a winner so far in the World Endurance Championship in 2014, yet the team could struggle with the Ferrari at the Circuit de la Sarthe. Indeed, last year’s race for Ferrari may just end up repeating itself as all GTE Pro cars were frozen in 2013 spec before the start of this season. This therefore doesn’t bode well for AF Corse as they struggled to match the pace of Aston Martin and Porsche.

AF Corse can never be discounted however, especially this #51 entry which comprises the same line-up that won this class in 2012. Ex-F1 driver Giancarlo Fisichella joins Gianmaria Bruni and Toni Vilander. These 3 are very quick in GT Ferrari’s and expect them to still challenge the pacesetters in the class, despite a car that most likely will be the third best car around the Circuit de la Sarthe.

#71 Ferrari F458 Italia GT2: Davide Rigon/James Calado/Olivier Beretta
The second of the factory supported AF Corse entries is the #71 entry, which blends experience with youth for Le Mans with Olivier Beretta bringing his vast GT racing experience to complement young chargers Davide Rigon and in particular James Calado. Although Calado and Rigon have little GT experience expect both of them to fly during the race. As I mentioned above the Ferrari’s don’t appear to suit the Le Mans circuit, meaning the most likely route to victory for AF Corse will be a reliable and trouble free run, rather than on outright pace alone.

RAM Racing:

#52 Ferrari F458 Italia GT2: Matt Griffin/Alvaro Parente/Federico Leo
For the RAM Racing team, 2014 promised so much for this plucky privateer team, yet so far it has delivered little as the team have struggled through the year with financial issues. These issues have severely hampered their Le Mans 24 Hours efforts as they were forced to miss the last WEC race at Spa to be confident of making the 24 Hours. Funding has also affected their driver line-up with experienced racer Ben Collins being replaced by the ex-single seater driver Federico Leo in the run up to the event.

For the only privateer team in the GTE Pro class things were always going to be tough against the might of factory Ferrari, Porsche and Aston Martin entries, as they fight an uphill battle to challenge the factory outfits in GTE Pro. Luckily for RAM racing they have three very quick GT drivers to share the car, including on-loan McLaren GT factory driver Alvaro Parente. Expect this car to shine in their hands but for this team a top 5 result in GTE Pro would be good but they’ll need a reliable run to achieve this.

Corvette Racing:

#73 Chevrolet Corvette C7.R: Jan Magnussen/Antonio Garcia/Jordan Taylor
The enormously successful Corvette racing team returns to Le Mans after a bruising 2013 24 Hours where there were far behind the leading pace of Aston Martin and Porsche. This year they aim to rectify this with a brand new C7.R model Corvette, which has so far proved very competitive in the American Tudor United Sportscar Championship, with arguably the most competitive GT class in the world right now.

If the C7.R can adapt to Le Mans quickly expect this team to be right at the front all race long. Certainly they have the driving talent to be at the front with the #73 being crewed by vastly experienced racers Jan Magnussen and Antonio Garcia, perfectly complementing the outright pace of youngster Jordan Taylor. Although he’s had little running in the new C7.R, if he can adapt quickly to the car and track, expect this car to fight for the class win.

#74 Chevrolet Corvette C7.R: Oliver Gavin/Tommy Milner/Richard Westbrook
The second of the factory Corvette entries is again piloted by an impressive line-up of Corvette racing stalwart Oliver Gavin alongside Tommy Milner and Richard Westbrook. This line-up is as strong as any in this class and most importantly if the new C7.R can prove reliable over 24 Hours they will certainly be fighting for the class victory.

The reliability of this new car is very important as the team suffered reliability problems in it’s racing debut at the Rolex 24, something they’ll hope will have been rectified by this time next week. Their performances in the race will be one’s to watch out for in the hotly contested GTE Pro category.

Porsche Team Manthey:

#91 Porsche 911 997 GT3-RSR: Patrick Pilet/Jorg Bergmeister/Nick Tandy
The Manthey Porsche team will be hoping for a repeat of their 2013 class win at the Le Mans 24 Hours, with continuity being the name of the game with Porsche as they keep the same band of drivers,car and team for their 2014 campaign. Although there have been Balance of Performance tweaks since last year’s 24 Hours, the Porsche 911 appears to still be the car to beat going into the 2014 edition.

The only relative difference for this #91 entry for 2014, is the promotion of Porsche factory driver Nick Tandy to the factory team, after spending the last few years impressing on assignment with various Porsche customer teams. Alongside fellow factory drivers Patrick Pilet and Jorg Bergmeister both Porsche entries must surely go into the event as pre-race favouries in the GTE Pro category.

#92 Porsche 911 997 GT3-RSR: Marco Holzer/Frederic Makowiecki/Richard Leitz
The second of the factory Manthey Porsche’s is piloted by a stellar line-up of factory drivers in Marco Holzer, new signing Frederic Makowiecki and Richard Leitz. Both Porsche entries have proved fast and reliable so far in 2014, and whilst the headlines have been taken by their return to the LMP1 category for this year, the team is adamant the GT racing group is entirely separate from the prototype division. This should ensure the team are in the perfect position to replicate their class victory from a year ago. Anything can happen at Le Mans however.

Aston Martin Racing:

#97 Aston Martin Vantage GTE: Darren Turner/Stefan Mucke/Bruno Senna
Similarly to Porsche, Aston Martin returns to Le Mans in 2014 with mostly the same group that gave Porsche an almighty challenge for class honours last year. The factory team brings two entries this year and so far both have struggled in the WEC with Balance of Performance tweaks, which the team feel have blunted their challenge in an unfair manner. Some in the paddock question however is Aston Martin have simply been sandbagging before Le Mans, the truth will only appears once qualifying for the 24 Hours starts on Wednesday.

On the driving front the #97 entry will lead the way with GT stalwarts Darren Turner and Stefan Mucke partnering Bruno Senna for Aston. Whilst Senna may appear a slight weak link with the little running he’s done in the car this year, expect all 3 drivers to be right on the pace throughout the race. Reliability should not be a problem in this well proven car therefore it will be down to the drivers to make the difference needed for class victory.

#99 Aston Martin Vantage GTE: Alex MacDowall/Darryl O’Young/Fernando Rees
The second of the works Aston Martin entries this year is a collaborative effort between the works Aston team and the Asian based team Craft-Bamboo. This link-up explains the driver line-up of Bamboo linked drivers Alex MacDowall and Darryl O’Young to partner experienced Brazilian Fernando Rees.

Whilst the driver line-up may slightly hamper this car in a class full of factory GT drivers, if the pace Aston showed last year has remained intact and the car can stay reliable, expect this team to provide glimpses of promise in the race with a top 5 result a real possibility.

That’s it for the GTE Pro class, although the entry is relatively small the 4 factory outfits will be fighting right until the end for the class victory. This is exactly why anyone watching the race should always keep an eye on the GTE Pro fight as the race develops. Once again massive thanks must go to!/lemans for their amazing photos once again all the latest Le Mans 24 Hours news can be seen on the link above. Keep posted for the GTE-Am preview in the next few days. Enjoy!

2014 Le Mans 24 Hours LMP1 Preview

With the test day in the books and the 2014 Le Mans 24 Hours just over a week away now seems the perfect time to preview this year’s stellar entry at the world’s greatest sportscar race. Let’s start off with the contenders for overall victory in the top LMP1 class. With a almost certain victory predicted for the three factory teams competing choosing a winner from Audi, Toyota and the returning Porsche is impossible. Whoever crosses the line 1st on Sunday June 15th is anyone’s guess, but what is guaranteed is an epic 24 Hours of racing.

Audi Sport Team Joest:

#1 Audi R18 e-tron Quattro: Lucas Di Grassi/Loic Duval/Tom Kristensen

The 2013 winners of the 24 Hours are looking for a 2nd consecutive victory this year. Whilst they have lost experience hard charger Allan McNish to retirement, Lucas Di Grassi has so far proved a like for like replacement for this team. Furthermore any car with “Mr Le Mans” 9 time winner Tom Kristensen at the wheel can never be discounted for victory. 2014 has so far proved difficult for Audi however and for the first time in years they don’t go into the race as consensus favourites. Their battle with Toyota and Porsche for the win this year will go down in history.

#2 Audi R18 e-tron Quattro: Marcel Fassler/Andre Lotterer/Benoit Treluyer
2014 has also been tough so far for the #2 Audi crew as the team has struggled to match the pace of Toyota across the opening two World Endurance Championship events. Audi can never be underestimated however as Peugeot found out to their cost in 2008. Of the 3 works Audi entries the #2 has the slight edge over the rest in my opinion on the driving front. This combination won back to back 24 Hours in 2011-2012 and were it not for a problem last year may well have made it a hat-trick. Therefore expect this entry to lead the Audi challenge this year.

#3 Audi R18 e-tron Quattro: Filipe Albuquerque/ Marco Bonanomi/Oliver Jarvis
This #3 entry is a Le Mans only entry from Audi, therefore leaving this car at a slight disadvantage compared to the other two full season WEC entries. Whilst they have less preparation than the others their driving talent is right up there with Jarvis and Albuquerque being highly rated by Audi. Bonanomi is the team’s test driver and is no slouch in these cars . For this team a podium would be a good result and who knows, if reliability comes into play this team could have an outside chance of victory.

Toyota Racing:

#7 Toyota TS040 Hybrid: Alex Wurz/Stephane Sarrazin/Kazuki Nakajima
The two Toyota cars have so far proved to be the class of the field in the opening two WEC races leading up to Le Mans, however the 24 Hours is so unpredictable making prediction based on form rarely come true. This will be a blessing for the #7 entry as so far it’s been shown the way by the sister entry. This is something they will look to turn around at Le Mans, and this line-up blends speed with experience. Expect them to be challenging for victory right until the chequered flag.

#8 Toyota TS040 Hybrid: Anthony Davidson/Nicolas Lapierre/Sebastien Buemi
Based on form alone, this entry would surely be the pre-race favourite. Two wins in the WEC have shown this car has a definite edge over Audi and Porsche over 6 hours of racing. On the other hand, like I’ve mentioned earlier form going into this race is usually proven race by the unique nature of the 24 Hours. The driver line-up of the #8 entry lacks the experience of the #7 team yet they more than make up for it in speed. The only slight question mark surrounding the Toyota line-up is how the swapping of Lapierre and Sarrazin for 2014 affects both entries. Expect a strong challenge from Toyota this year.

Porsche Team:

#14 Porsche 919 Hybrid: Romain Dumas/Neel Jani/Marc Lieb
Porsche finally returns to it’s spiritual home in 2014, fighting for Le Mans 24 Hours victories, for the first time since 1998. So far the 919 Hybrid has proved competitive although inevitable reliability issues have hampered the team in the WEC so far.

If either Porsche can run more or less fault free expect to see them on the podium come next Sunday afternoon. On the driving front the team has promoted several long standing Porsche drivers like Dumas and Lieb in this entry. Dumas is a former winner whilst on loan to Audi and Lieb has impressed so far in his first taste of LMP1 machinery. Completing the trio is the rapid Neel Jani who have consistently impressed in LMP1 with the Rebellion team over the last few years.

#20 Porsche 919 Hybrid: Timo Bernhard/Mark Webber/Brendon Hartley
Since Porsche’s comeback, most of the attention has been focused on this #20 entry, not surprisingly because of ex-Red Bull F1 refugee Mark Webber who quit the sport to join Porsche this year. He has so far quickly adapted to LMP1 machinery and will be a long-term LMP1 driver for Porsche. Backing him up is previous winner and long time Porsche factory driver Timo Bernhard and the impressive Brendon Hartley who won the drive after impressing with his speed for the Murphy Prototypes LMP2 team in last year’s European Le Mans Series. Porsche are more than capable of throwing a surprise this year and their two driver line-up’s are a match for any other LMP1 entry.

Rebellion Racing :

#12 Rebellion R-One-Toyota: Nicolas Prost/Nick Heidfeld/Mathias Beche
The only privateer entries in LMP1 this year are two cars from the Rebellion team. After wheeling out their trusty Lola’s for the final time in the opening WEC race the team will have two new Rebellion R-One Toyota’s ready for the 24 Hours.

In conjunction with Oreca the car showed initial promise in terms of reliability at Spa the car lacked a little pace compared to the manufacture entries, something widely expected considering the gulf in budgets and knowledge of hybrid technology, something the Rebellion team doesn’t have. This lead entry has a comptetitive line-up of experienced Nicolas Prost and the rapid Nick Heidfeld and Mathias Beche. A reliable run for the team would be a dream with anything more a dream for this lowly team.

#13 Rebellion R-One Toyota: Dominik Kraihamer/Andrea Belicchi/Fabio Leimer
The second of the Rebellion entries, very much like the lead car, will be hoping for a reliable run in this so far unproven car. Although this appears to be at a slight disadvantage to the lead car in terms of driver line-up, this is simply relating to experience , as Kraihamer and 2013 GP2 champion Leimer are both rapid drivers with Belicchi providing the steady hand needed for a clean run at the 24 Hours. If reliable, both Rebellion cars will prove a thorn in the side of the works entries and expect them to challenge for at the very least a top 5 finish .

LMP1 will see a highly competitive race to the flag with all cars running flat out for 24 Hours straight. For the full entry list please visit the official Le Mans website here

Castle Combe Whitsun Race Day Report 2014

The third Castle Combe race meeting of the year promised to be a good one with a wide variety of racing to keep the sizeable crowd’s attention. This packed race day began with the opening race for circuit debutant the 750MC’s thriving Tegiwa Civic Cup. Although the series is still relatively new the series has already garnered a reputation for full grids and close racing.

From the start it was the older Civic of 2nd man Bernard Galea who shot into an early lead from pole sitter Robert Baker. Galea’s lead didn’t last long however as Baker took the lead by the end of lap 1. Galea was clearly not going to let him get away easily and was challenging for the lead over the next few laps. Behind them the battle for 3rd was no less intense as Rich Hockley finally found a way past Marc Kemp after a frantic few opening lap battling over the position. With a few stranded cars on track the Safety Car was called on lap 5 before coming in 2 laps later.

The Safety Car intervention left only a few minutes left from the original 15, leaving little opportunity for any changes for position. Rich Hockley subsequently torpedoed this theory by passing Bernard Galea for 2nd at the Esses on lap 8, before rapidly eroding the comfortable lead of Baker’s. Unfortunately the crowd were denied a grandstand finish as the time ran out just before Hockley could challenge Baker for the win. Galea completed the podium in 3rd.

Next up was the resident Castle Combe Sports Racing Car Series, a new series for 2014. From the rolling start local man Norman Lackford who took an early lead from Andy Crockett. After a intense initial few laps things ended in tears on lap 8 when Crockett tried an ambitious move going into Bobbies, with the subsequent contact being enough to eliminate both from the race. This left distant 3rd man Chris Vinall with a comfortable lead, possibly karma for spinning at the Esses on lap 3 avoiding a slow Crockett, as Vinall cruised to a comfortable victory in this 20 minute race of attrition from Richard Gray, a lap down in 2nd, and Antony Weeks in 3rd.

The third race of the day was the centrepiece of the day, the 90 minute Dave Allan Trophy handicap race, featuring a talented grid ready to compete for the win. From the rolling start the front row men of Tim Woodman and Phil Keen raced away from the pack. Woodman’s lead didn’t last long as experienced GT racer Phil Keen took the lead at the Esses on lap 2. The race claimed an early retirement as star turn Matt Neal retired his Honda Jazz on lap 4, leaving the crowd disappointed they didn’t get to see the driving ace in action for longer.

By lap 13 Keen’s lead had grown to 10 seconds as the penalties began being handed out for corner cutting. One of those affected was the monstrous Audi A8 Quattro of duo Jon Nicholls and Ollie Millroy, things soon got worse for the team as their car was forced out of 6th with cooked front brakes.

After the leading five took their scheduled 3 minute pit stops on laps 36 and 37 the order remained largely the same until the flag. After 70 laps it was the Andrew Smith/Phil Keen Ariel Atom that claimed a dominant victory by a lap over soloist Tim Woodman in his Caterham 7. Completing the podium was the Desmond Smail/Richard Meins Honda Integra . The final handicap results were somewhat different however as it was the Smail/Meins Integra that claimed victory from the Smith/Keen Ariel Atom and the Leigh Sebba/Tasmin Doyle Morgan +8 completing the handicap podium.

After the Dave Allan Trophy Endurance race the fans were then treated to the complete opposite as the resident Formula Ford Championship took to the track for a 15 lap thriller. Ash Crossey made the best getaway from the line to take the lead, opening a opening lap lead of roughly 2-3 seconds. The man on the move at this point was championship leader Roger Orgee, who was charging through the field after a qualifying problem forced him to start from the back.

A 4 car train was battling for 2nd early on, only helping Crossey in his escape. Things got interesting behind him however as reigning champion Adam Higgins was in the process of passing former champion Ed Moore going into Quarry on lap 9 before Moore lost it himself and spun off, re-joining well behind the pack. All of this helped Crossey build a insurmountable 5 second lead which he would hold to the flag, cementing his status as the championship favourite right now. After some frenetic battling behind Crossey it took a last lap move on Farm straight to clinch 2nd place for Nathan Ward with Adam Higgins taking 3rd.

Race 5 was for the always popular Aero racing Morgan challenge. It was no surprise to see Morgan expert Keith Ahlers on pole position, yet a warm-up lap miscommunication meant he started the race from the pit lane. This left Roger Whiteside and Phillip Goddard to battle for the lead early on. The fight for the lead didn’t last long as Ahlers completed his charge on Dean straight by lap 5. Before he hit traffic Ahlers was able to leave the others trailing to the tune of 4 seconds a lap as he asserted himself at the front.

The interest in this centred behind Ahlers as the battle for 2nd was finally resolved on lap 9 as Phillip Goddard passed Roger Whiteside exiting Camp Corner. As Goddard quickly shed Whiteside the entertainment was then provided by the fight for 4th place. After a frenetic couple of laps the battle was eventually decided as the charging Jonathan Edwards took both Robin Pearce and Tony Lees at Bobbies to snatch the place on lap 12.

The fight was far from over however, yet by lap 17 the dispute was resolved as defending into Camp corner Edwards left his braking too late and went straight into the tyre wall and out the race. After this the positions were fairly spread out until the flag after 30 minutes of racing, it was Ahlers who claimed a comfortable victory from Goddard in 2nd and Whiteside in 3rd.

Next up was the revamped Castle Combe Sports @ GT championship which has continued to provide exciting racing so far in 2014. This race contained some added spice as pole man Gary Prebble was forced to start from the pit lane as his clutch broke in qualifying. Therefore the early laps were led by Barry Squibb in his Mitsubishi Evo who quickly built a substantial lead from the rest. Things soon went downhill for Squibb however as he slowed with car problems, with the inevitable passes from Ilsa Cox and Gary Prebble taking place at Quarry on lap 8.

Cox’s lead was short-lived however as Prebble took the lead later on that lap. Cox’s fortunes also took a hit as she was forced to retire from a comfortable 2nd on the exit of Quarry on lap 10. From here it was comfortable win for Prebble, who also took the all time wins record at Castle Combe with this 36th victory from Bob Light. Perry Waddams and his TVR Tuscan claimed 2nd with Nick Holden and his Ariel Atom completing the podium.

The seventh race of the day saw the Tegiwa Civic Cup cars venture on track for their second race of the day. With the top 8 from race 1 reversed for this race action was almost guaranteed. It was Andrew Gaugler who claimed an early lead. It wasn’t to last long for him as he was mugged by the charging Rich Hockley at Camp on lap 2. Immediately race 1 winner Robert Baker smelled the opportunity and demoted Gaugler to 3rd on the pit straight.

Adding to the excitement were the first falling of rain drops on lap 4 although they were not substantial enough to cause significant challenge to the drivers. The rain intensified slightly by lap 9 yet Hockley was already around 1.5 seconds clear from Baker and duly claimed his 1st victory of 2014 from Baker and Gaugler.

The penultimate race of the day was for the Castle Combe Saloon car championship, ever popular as always. From the line it was the impressive Charles Hyde-Andrews-Bird who took the early initive. After clearing Mark Wyatt for 2nd Tony Hutchings went hunting for Bird ahead. Hutchings was denied the pass on track however as Bird dramatically pulled off at the end of the pit straight on lap 5, leaving Hutchings lonely ahead of the pack from here on out. He subsequently romped to a comfortable victory of 9.2 seconds over an equally lonely class B winner Mark Wyatt in 2nd and Tony Dolley in 3rd.

The last race of the day was for the Lackford Engineering Midget and Sprite challenge. The series is always popular at Castle Combe and an exciting finish to the day was predicted. The drama began before the start even took place as Martin Morris was forced to start from the back not 2nd after replacing his gearbox after qualifying. After a rocket getaway it was 5th man James Dunkley who stole the early lead, meanwhile behind him Morris amazingly managed to go from the back to 3rd on the opening lap alone.

Back at the front it didn’t take series benchmark Paul Sibley long to re-assert his dominance as he dived inside Dunkley for the lead at Quarry on lap 2. Now in front he quickly built an 8 second lead with the race set for a stalemate. This was quickly avoided however as the circuit began drying, with Dunkley then taking seconds out of Sibley’s lead over consecutive laps as he clearly favoured the drying conditions.

Dunkley was challenging for the lead by lap 9 yet couldn’t quite find a way through before Sibley re-asserted his buffer as he warmed to the conditions. Sibley therefore took a challenging victory from Dunkley in 2nd and Martin Morris completed the podium in a great recovery drive to 3rd.

This signalled another exciting Castle Combe race meeting coming to a close with the next race meeting taking place in 2 weeks time on Father’s Day, the 14th June. For more details on that meeting and any other Castle Combe events please visit their website here.
For any further info relating to the official results of this meeting please visit the TSL Timing website here it will provide all the stats you need.

2014 Indianapolis 500 Preview Part 1

After the inaugral Grand Prix of Indianapolis marked the first time the series had raced on the Indianapolis road course, attention shifts now to the most famous hunting ground for American open wheel racing, the Indianapolis 500. Immediately after the Grand Prix last Saturday the paddock has swapped the road course for the hallowed oval as the rookie orientation and practice began this Monday. This week’s practice so far has seen a slow increase in speeds every day as the teams and drivers fine tune their cars and get increasingly comfortable with the unique oval.

The week’s only drama so far has been off-track as leading team Andretti Autosport were forced to draft in previous driver E.J Viso to replace James Hinchcliffe, who was ruled out of practice this week as he recovers from a concussion suffered during last weekend’s road course Grand Prix. This race is sure to throw up plenty of surprises therefore predicting a winner will be almost impossible, however let’s start this preview by looking at the front runners from the 2014 Indycar season so far team by team.

Team Penske :
#2 Verizon Dallara DW12-Chevrolet – Juan Pablo Montoya
So far his 2014 return to the Indycar series has been mixed for the high profile Montoya, who has shown tremendous promise yet has struggled to turn these into decent results in the opening four races. His sole top 5 run so far was a 4th place at Long Beach as he currently sits 15th in the points, something he will undoubtedly improve on over the course of the year. Despite the frustrating start he’s still a contender for a repeat of his dominant 2000 victory in the 500 as the Penske team seem to have a competitive package for the 500. Therefore Montoya will be a useful outside bet for a competitive run next Sunday. With this weekend’s qualifying now complete Montoya impressed with a top 10 starting slot with a solid 231mph run, putting him in a good position for Sunday’s race.

#3 Pennzoil Dallara DW12-Chevrolet – Helio Castroneves
Castroneves has carried his title challenging form from 2014 across into the new season as he has managed 2 podiums from the opening 4 races, putting him 4th in the points going into the 500. Things are not all rosy however for Castroneves as he is already 47 points behind team mate Will Power and therefore Castroneves will surely be looking to close the gap on Power, especially with this being a double points race also. Castroneves is always a contender at Indy and is the only active driver to have won the race 3 times, (2001,2002 and 2009) and can therefore never be discounted as he looks to become a 4 time winner of the great race. Castroneves starts 4th after qualifying with a close 230mph run in the fast 9 shootout for pole.

#12 Verizon Dallara DW12-Chevrolet – Will Power
Power has bounced back from a disappointing 2013 season to currently lead the points standings after a dominant win at the opening round at St Petersburg, before backing that up with solid point scores in the other 3 races. It appears he will be the pre-race favorite based on his early season form however he has not completely dispelled the myth that he’s a weaker oval racer than he is road course driver. This myth appears to be the only knock on him going into the event with it all depending now on whether Team Penske can work their Indy magic again this year and deliver Power a car he can run to victory lane. This definitely appears to be his best chance of victory yet in his 6th attempt. Power impressed by qualifying 3rd, the highest Penske runner too at 230.6mph.

Andretti Autosport:
#25 Snapple Andretti Autosport Dallara DW12-Honda – Marco Andretti
Andretti is undoubtedly the most famous surname in American road racing and the latest Andretti Indycar driver is Michael Andretti’s son Marco. So far in 2014 Marco’s showed himself to be one of the leading Andretti Autosport cars as he currently sits 7th in the drivers standings and will along with Castroneves be looking to close on leader Power with a good result here.

Marco would also like to earn some redemption for the Andretti curse at the 500 whereby despite an abundance of talent both granddad Mario and dad Michael were only able to win the 500 once between them. Andretti starts a close 6th after a 230.5mph run in the final fast 9 shootout last Sunday.

#26 Suretone Entertainment Andretti Autosport Dallara DW12-Honda – Kurt Busch (R)
One of the more high profile entries for this year’s 500 is Nascar bad boy Kurt Busch, who attempts to become only the fourth driver in history to complete the double of competing in the Indy 500 and the Nascar Coca-Cola 600 later that evening. The announcement of Busch has certainly raised the profile of the race however it must be remembered he’s a rookie and expectations should be kept in check for his race performance. He has shown himself to be a very talented Nascar driver and it will not be a major shock to see him impress in the 500. Busch can be satisfied with his qualifying performance as he starts 12th, the fastest of the rookies, with an impressive 230.7 mph run.

#27 United Fiber Data Andretti Autosport Dallara DW12-Honda – James Hinchcliffe
Jovial Canadian James Hinchcliffe could not have had a worse first week of practice for the 500 as he has been ruled out of most of the sessions as he recovers from a concussion in last weekend’s Grand Prix on the Indianapolis road course. The poor weather has also been against him as a lot of the recent sessions have been affected by rain and subsequently curtailed his running. Hinchcliffe is a rising star in Indycar however and despite the poor build up will always be a contender for victories in his current form. Hinchcliffe expertly bounced back from his lack of running so far to answer the critics with a very impressive qualifying run which puts him in the middle of the front row in 2nd for Sunday with an outstanding 230.8mph run.

#28 DHL Andretti Autosport Dallara DW12-Honda – Ryan Hunter-Reay
2014 has been an contrasting year for 2012 Indycar champion Ryan Hunter-Reay, as he has already taken two podiums including a win at Barber Motorsports Park, yet he also annoyed most of the paddock with his reckless passing attempt at Long Beach which eliminated/delayed the majority of the drivers. Despite this he goes into the Indy 500 3rd in the points and will be hoping to take a first win in the 500 to strengthen his title challenge. Qualifying did not go well for the former champion however as he starts a lowly 19th. Some comfort can be taken however as much like sportscar racing the ultimate qualifying position has little significance as Hunter-Reay could easily claim victory from here, it simply makes his job a lot harder come race day. Watch out for Hunter-Reay on Sunday.

#34 Cinsay Andretti Autosport Dallara DW12-Honda – Carlos Munoz
Carlos Munoz will be looking to go one better than his very impressive run to 2nd in last year’s 500 in his debut Indycar race. His impressive run which saw him challenge for the win all race and in fact lead 12 laps himself rightly resulted in him receiving the rookie of the year honors last year. After finishing 3rd in the Indy Lights series last year Andretti Autosport rightly promoted the rookie Colombian Munoz to a full time ride in 2014, with impressive results so far with a podium in Long Beach leaving him 10th in the points going into this weekend’s big race. Munoz immediately carried on his 2013 form with a 7th place qualifying spot putting him in a good position going into the race.

Chip Ganassi Racing:
#8 NTT Data Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara DW12-Chevrolet – Ryan Briscoe
After a truncated 2013 Indycar season Ryan Briscoe returns to the series in 2014 with top line team Chip Ganassi racing. 2014 has so far seen a solid start from Briscoe who currently lies 9th in the standings going into the Indy 500. The Ganassi outfit are a powerhouse Indycar team and can always be relied on to give their drivers top line cars to challenge for victory. Some work clearly needs to be done to Briscoe’s car however after a difficult qualifying session which saw him fall to 30th on the grid leaving him a lot of work to do in the race if he is challenge for a top 5 result which could really kickstart his season.

#9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara DW12-Chevrolet – Scott Dixon
Scott Dixon cemented his place amongst the Indycar greats by clinching his third Indycar title in 2013, ten years after his first. Dixon however has a slightly less impressive record at Indianapolis as he has only won the 500 once, in 2008. 2014 presents another opportunity for him to rectify this as he looks solid if unspectacular going into the 500, with two top 5 finishes putting him 6th in the points. Qualifying was not so good for frontrunner Dixon who only managed 11th on the grid, yet there will be plenty of time for him to work his way to the front once the 500 mile race starts. Despite the qualifying position Dixon is still a contender for victory.

#10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara DW12-Chevrolet – Tony Kanaan
After finally realizing a dream by finally winning the Indy 500 in 2013 after many years of trying, things got even better for Kanaan as he signed with Chip Ganassi racing for the 2014 season. After unfortunate circumstances which curtailed hallowed Scot Dario Franchitti’s career, good friend Kanaan has been promoted to drive the famous #10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing entry in 2014. It’s been a slightly rough transition so far as Kanaan is yet to achieve a top 5 finish and currently lies 13th in the points. Form matters little to Kanaan however as he will be guaranteed to do everything he can to repeat his 2013 victory in the 500. A 16th place starting slot is not ideal for Kanaan but for this racer it provides the perfect storyline as he will look to avoid trouble and carve through the pack to claim repeat 500 victory this year.

#83 Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara DW12-Chevrolet – Charlie Kimball
After a breakthrough year in 2013 as Kimball claimed his 1st Indycar victory, he will be slightly disappointed therefore with his start to the 2014 season as he sits 16th in the points after the first 4 races. Things don’t appear to have improved so far as like team mate Briscoe Kimball struggled in qualifying, winding up 26th on the grid for the 500. As I’ve previously stated however grid position isn’t everything and with a slick Ganassi crew behind him expect Kimball to make up places and a top 10 finish is easily possible for this talented American.

2014 Pirelli Spanish GP Qualifying Report

After the excitement of the first four flyaway races F1 returned to Europe after a long three week break. The popular European portion of the season begins this weekend with the Spanish GP, a track known to highlight the chassis and aerodynamic proficiency of your car. With all of the teams bringing significant updates everyone went into qualifying hopeful their updates had significantly improved their performance.

Immediately out in Q1 were both Sauber cars, hoping their lightened car would push them further up the grid after a difficult start to their season. The first drama of this session was a brief red flag period early in Q1 as the Lotus-Renault of Pastor Maldonado ran wide on the exit of Turn 3 and lost the wayward car before it glanced the barrier on the inside of the corner, breaking the right front wheel and eliminating Maldonado from the session. After the initial talk that this is a Red Bull track and therefore AMG Mercedes might struggle, this talk all proved unfounded as the Mercedes cars had a comfortable 0.7 second gap to the rest after Q1.

At the end of Q1 there were few surprises as the predicted faces were eliminated with Maldonado in 22nd after failing to set a time, with Kamui Kobayashi qualifying a disappointed 21st for Caterham. His rookie team mate Marcus Ericsson impressed with 20th in the other Caterham with the Marussia of Jules Bianchi in 19th from team mate Max Chilton in 18th. The final man eliminated was a disappointed Adrian Sutil in 17th with his new lightened Sauber showing little signs of improvement so far this weekend.

Q2 began with the Sahara- Force India’s cars coming out quickly before the pacesetters filtered out to set their first times. Nico Rosberg was setting the pace with a 1.26.0 with only a nice 0.6 second gap to the best of the Red Bull’s in 3rd. This session proved intriguing as pre-session session favorite for pole Lewis Hamilton appeared slightly scruffy as team mate Rosberg appeared to have the edge at this point going into the final Q3 session.

Of those eliminated in Q2 it was unsurprising to see both the Force India’s in 11th and 12th with Nico Hulkenberg ahead of Sergio Perez. 13th was okay from rookie Daniil Kvyat as Esteban Gutierrez came home 14th. The final two places were reserved for the cars that failed to set a time with Kevin Magnussen suffering a power unit failure whilst Scuderia Toro Rosso man Jean Eric Vergne had a 10 place grid penalty hanging over him after a FP2 mishap, therefore it appears his lack of running may have been a tactical decision by the team.

The final Q3 session began slowly before Nico Rosberg finally ventured out for his first run with 10 minutes left of the session. He was over halfway through his first timed lap when his run was abruptly halted as the red flags flew for a second time in this qualifying session, as the Red Bull of reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel stopped on the entry of Turn 3 with a suspected gearbox failure. The first race with his new chassis has proved difficult for Vettel with limited practice running and now a 10th place grid spot for tomorrow’s race to compound his problems.

When the session resumed Rosberg again set his first run time before Hamilton slightly eclipsed him going into their final runs. With seconds left on the clock the both started their final laps with Rosberg smashing Hamilton’s previous time before a nervous wait to see what Hamilton managed behind him. Luckily for Hamilton he had just enough in hand to set pole with 0.168 margin of pole from team mate Rosberg.

Row 2 will be filled with the Red Bull of the ever impressive Daniel Ricciardo with Martini Williams sophomore Valterri Bottas impressing again with 4th. Romain Grosjean was the standout of Q3 as he dragged his skittish Lotus-Renault into 5th when team mate Maldonado lost control in Q1 and will start 21st, whilst Kimi Raikkonen must be thrilled to out qualify team mate Fernando Alonso in 6th for Ferrari.

Alonso wasn’t far behind in 7th from Jenson Button in 8th for McLaren. The final row of the top 10 will be filled by Felipe Massa in 9th for Williams from the Red Bull of Sebastian Vettel who obviously didn’t set a time. The grid is set in what promises to be an exciting Spanish GP race tomorrow.

For the official stats from qualifying please visit this link.