Motorsport News And Views From All The Big Events

 Kelvin Van Der Linde Historic Victory

South African driver Kelvin van der Linde pulled of a heroic drive to wrest a historic Nurburgring 24 Hour victory from the jaws of defeat for the Land Audi team alongside German drivers Christopher Mies and Markus Winkelhock and US driver Connor De Phillippi.

Van der Linde had led through his previous double stints Saturday evening and Sunday morning when he took the number 29 Audi R8 LMS over in the lead for the final shift after he and his teammates had kept the car out front for 125 race laps, or about 3,172 kilometers. But the car developed a sensor problem shortly after Kelvin took the wheel and he was forced to crawl back round to the pits where the team quickly reset the Audi’s electronics.

All that dropped the number 29 Audi that had dominated the race down to third, some three minutes off the lead as van der Linde headed back out with tears of frustration over a certain victory lost, flowing in the Land team pit.

They turned out to be crocodile tears as opportunity knocked, when a late shower saw parts of the track wet and others dry. The Land team took a dramatic decision — only after the car was delayed once again by a sloppy final splash-and-dash fuel stop — to switch to wet rubber. That saw van der Linde emerge out of the pits in fighting spirit tas he set off after the leaders, who were out on track on dry rubber.

The Johannesburg driver threw caution to the wind as he scythed through a litany of back-markers struggling on a treacherous surface, even taking to the grass verges to make critical passes as he chased down a seemingly impossible dream. But those risks and that decision paid off handsomely when van der Linde first passed a struggling Nicky Catsburg’s BMW M6 for second on track and then took the lead to pull off a quite incredible victory when Rene Rast’s leading Audi dived into the pits for wet rubber with a lap to go,

Van der Linde, Winkelhock, de Phillippi and Mies’ Land Audi R8 LMS ultimately completed 158 laps to dramatically beat Richard Westbrook, Markus Palttala, Nicky Catsburg and Alexander Sims’ BMW M6 GT3 by 29 seconds, with Robin Frijns, Marcel Fässler, René Rast and Nico Müller third in another Audi R8 LMS. It was the Land team, van der Linde and De Phillippi’s first; Christopher Mies’s second, Markus Winkelhock’s third and Audi’s fourth Nurburgring 24 victory.

Nurburgring 24 Hour Results

1: Van der Linde/Winkelhock/de Phillippi/Mies (Audi R8 LMS) 158 laps

2: Westbrook/Palttala/Catsburg/Sims (BMW M6 GT3) +29.418

3: Frijns/Fässler/Rast/Müller (Audi R8 LMS) +50.622

4: Farfus/Wittmann/Blomqvist/Tomczyk (BMW M6 GT3) +6’54.159

5: Engel/Christodoulou/Buurman/Metzger (Mercedes-AMG GT3) +7’10.835

6: Christensen/Siedler/Luhr/Bachler (Porsche 911 GT3 R) +1 lap

7: Krumbach/Keilwitz/Weiss/Kainz (Ferrari 488 GT3) +1 lap

8: Seefried /Imperatori/Dusseldorp/Dumbreck (BMW M6 GT3) +1 lap

9: Van der Zanden/Götz/Arnold/Alzen (Mercedes-AMG GT3) +1 lap

10: Martin/Basseng/Eng/Sims (BMW M6 GT3) +1 lap

Poltstar Land WTCC Double

The FIA World Touring Car Championship weekend at the world’s most challenging circuit, the Nürburgring Nordschleife, turned out to be the best ever for Polestar Cyan Racing with a double victory, double championship lead and a new lap record.

Thed Björk won the first race with team-mate Nicky Catsburg taking the honours of the second race, claiming the drivers’ championship lead.

Picture: Quickpic.co.za

“It was a fantastic race. The car was perfectly set up for the second race and I managed to pull up a gap that enabled me to take control. This is my favourite circuit and to win here is a true highlight of my career. We are comfortably leading the championship now which is our goal and we need to keep it for the rest of the season,” said Catsburg.

Four-time STCC champion Thed Björk fought his way from sixth on the grid to win the first race, elevating him to third position in the championship, just eight points from the points lead.

“I had a really good start and went from sixth to third before the first corner. I had a great race, was able to utilise the slipstream and score one of my best victories. I am very proud to add the Nürburgring to my list of victories after winning at Monza earlier this year,” said Björk.

Disaster struck once again for Néstor Girolami who suffered a puncture at well over 200 km/h in the first race while in second place, which resulted in his car being rendered undriveable after slamming violently into the barriers. The Argentinian escaped unhurt from the incident but the damage to his car forced him out of both races due to limited repair time.

“I had a puncture on a very fast part of the track, there was nothing I could do. We need to forget this bad luck and go for the next race in Portugal with new energy. Big congratulations to Nicky leading the championship and Thed being third, I am very happy for them,” said Girolami.

Polestar Cyan Racing has extended the lead over championship rivals Honda to 40 points, following the success in the WTCC Race of Germany weekend as the season closes in on the half-way mark.

The weekend was crowned with race-winner Nicky Catsburg recording the fastest ever lap time of a WTCC race car around the 25 km combined Nürburgring Nordschleife and GP circuit during official practice (8:34.813), the day after announcing the record lap of the Volvo S60 PCP3 road car.

“We can’t be anything but very pleased with this weekend. We have put down a lot of hours on this circuit, both for our race and road cars. To be able to capitalise on that is nothing but amazing. Nicky, Thed, Néstor and everyone in the team have done a great job and we look forward to continue our fight for the World Title,” said Alexander Murdzevski Schedvin, Head of Motorsport at Polestar.

The next FIA WTCC race weekend takes place in at Vila Real in Portugal on 24-25 June.

Sato Lands Indy 500

A Formula 1 veteran won the Indianapolis 500.

Takuma Sato’s win on Sunday marked the second consecutive year a former F1 driver — last year it was Alexander Rossi — was drinking the milk in victory circle at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. It was also the second consecutive Indy 500 win and third in the last four years for team owner Michael Andretti and Andretti Autosport.

Sato, a 40-year-old native of Tokyo and the first Japanese driver to win the race, was in victory circle for just the second time in 124 career IndyCar starts. His previous win came way back in 2013 for team owner A.J. Foyt at Long Beach. It was Sato’s first win on an oval.

This time, the win was the product of a battle with an Indy 500 legend, as Sato and three-time winner Hélio Castroneves waged an epic fight for the lead over the final laps. Sato made the final pass with five laps to go and held off Castroneves for the win.

Castroneves, who was bidding for a record-tying fourth Indy 500 win, had taken the lead from Max Chilton but was unable to hold off a hard-charging Sato.

“I really thought I had it,” Castroneves said. “It was really back and forth, back and forth. I tried, but unfortunately it was just a little bit short. Second sucks, but I’m not giving up the dream. I know it is going to happen.”

The final margin of victory was 0.2011 sec.

Rookie Ed Jones finished third, Chilton was fourth and Tony Kanaan finshed fifth. Chilton led 50 laps, the most among all drivers, before he was passed for the last time by Castroneves with seven laps to go.

The race featured 35 lead changes and a record 15 different race leaders. Those leaders included two-time Formula 1 champion and Indy 500 rookie Fernando Alonso, who led 27 laps. Alonso was battling inside the top 10 and moving up when his Honda engine let go on the front stretch on lap 180 to bring out the penultimate caution of the race.

Following that caution, the field came to the line for a restart with 17 laps to go. However, that dash to the finish was quickly aborted as a four-car crash involving Will Power, James Davison, Oriol Servia and James Hinchcliffe brought out the 11th and final caution of the day. A fifth car, driven by Josef Newgarden, spun and stalled before returning to the race for the final restart.

The race’s several crashes included a particularly terrifying moment involving pole-sitter Scott Dixon. Jay Howard lost control of his No. 77 Honda in turn 1, hit the outside wall and flew into Dixon’s path. The four-time IndyCar Series champion was sent airborne. His No. 9 was propelled directly into the inside fence, further wrecking the car and taking out the fencing. Both drivers were able to step out of their cars under their own power.
Rae Bounces Back

World Champion bounces back from Saturday crash to win Race 2 in UK, with Sykes and Davies also on podium

The PATA UK Round concluded on Sunday afternoon with a dramatic Race 2, which brought victory for World Champion Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team) after a crash on Saturday, with Rea’s KRT colleague Tom Sykes and Aruba.it Racing – Ducati’s Chaz Davies also on the podium.

Rea’s eighth victory of 2017 extends his lead in the standings to 55 points after six rounds and he rode brilliantly at the Donington Park Circuit to beat his teammate to the line by 1.601s and win his home race.

The result brought an end to Sykes’ remarkable run of nine successive wins at Donington and the Yorkshireman was amongst the first to congratulate Rea on his triumph. It was also Kawasaki’s 100th race win in WorldSBK.

Picture: WorldSBK.com

In parc ferme after the race Rea dedicated his win to the late Nicky Hayden who so sadly passed away earlier in the week after a cycling accident in Italy.

Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) had looked good for a podium result but was caught for third in the final stages by a determined Davies – who had crashed and finished eighth on Saturday.

Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) completed the top five and Leon Camier (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) made it five Britons in the top six, crossing the line five seconds behind Lowes.

Xavi Fores (BARNI Racing Team) was seventh and he was joined in the top ten by Roman Ramos (Team Kawasaki Go Eleven), Jake Dixon (Royal Air Force Reg. & Res. Kawasaki) and Raffaele de Rosa (Althea BMW Racing Team).

Only 14 participants were able to finish the race as a number of high profile riders crashed out, including wild card Leon Haslam (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing), Randy Krummenacher (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing), Jordi Torres (Althea BMW Racing Team), Eugene Laverty (Milwaukee Aprilia), Leandro Mercado (IODARacing) and Alex De Angelis (Pedercini Racing SC-Project).

Meanwhile, Marco Melandri (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) stopped on the eighth lap after the chain of his Ducati Panigale R broke and fell loose.

The WorldSBK grid will be back in action at the Pirelli Riviera Di Rimini Round at Misano over the 16th-18th June weekend.