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Eriksson slams officials over penalty

June 16, 2015

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GP3 title contender Jimmy Eriksson slammed series officials for the penalty that cost him a podium in Sunday’s Hockenheim race.Eriksson had fended off championship rival Alex Lynn for third place in the second leg of the German Grand Prix support event, but was given a 20-second post-race penalty for failing to respect yellow flags at the hairpin on lap two, dropping him to 15th.The Swede ran wide at the corner as the pack slowed under yellows while marshals removed Pal Varhaug’s car after his opening-lap collision with Sebastian Balthasar.Eriksson came into the Hockenheim weekend carrying a grid demotion for a clash with Patric Niederhauser and Varhaug at Silverstone, and was frustrated with his latest punishment as he felt he had done enough to acknowledge the yellows.”A very frustrating end to this weekend, when we’ve been working flat out to try and limit the damage of the Silverstone decision,” said Eriksson.”In my opinion, the penalty handed out to me at Hockenheim was extremely severe, and I do not agree with the view of the stewards.”I respected the yellow flags by braking much earlier than normal, I backed off significantly as indicated by the sector time, and nothing actually happened – I think the penalty is out of proportion.”Lynn was the main beneficiary of Eriksson’s penalty as he picked up his rival’s third place and saw his championship cushion rise from 18 to 30 points with Eriksson pushed outside the scorers.Red Bull protege Lynn reckoned he could have passed Eriksson on the road but for the yellows.”Jimmy ran wide at the hairpin, just where there was a yellow flag, and because of the yellow there was nothing I could do,” said Lynn.”That was a bit disappointing – the one major mistake he made, and I wasn’t allowed to capitalise.”A few laps later I was able to have another go at him at the same place I’d passed [Dean] Stoneman, but I wasn’t quite as far up alongside and he chopped across my nose pretty hard. I could have kept my foot in, but that would have ended up with a crash.”

Porsche wins, but Attard is champion

June 16, 2015

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Phil Keen and Jon Minshaw won the final round of the British GT Championship at Donington Park after a dramatic two-hour showdown in which the title was decided in favour of Marco Attard.Keen moved the Trackspeed Porsche 911 GT3 R ahead of long-time leader Michael Caine, sharing the Motorbase Performance Aston Martin Vantage GT3 with Ahmad al Harthy, with 13 laps remaining.The Aston crew needed to win the race to take the crown but Caine slipped to fourth with braking issues.That handed the title advantage to the Attard/Alexander Sims Barwell-run Ecurie Ecosse BMW Z4, which had been ruled out of the race after only 10 laps with a gearbox problem.Following Keen to the flag was the FF Corse Ferrari 458 Italia of Gary Eastwood and stand-in co-driver Ollie Hancock.Eastwood had handed the car over to his co-driver from fourth place after the opening 50 minutes, and Hancock chased the Porsche to the line, finishing less than three seconds adrift.One of the drives of the race came from Matt Bell, who was sharing his United Autosports Audi R8 LMS ultra with Mark Patterson.Patterson had suffered contact early on, which broke a rear toe-link, but Bell overcame the problem to surge from sixth position at the start of his stint to claim the final podium spot.In GT4, the fifth-placed Beechdean Aston Martin Vantage of Jake Giddings and Ross Wylie did enough to claim the crown despite a late stop for a splash-and-dash.

British GT set for live TV in 2015

June 15, 2015

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The British GT championship is set to have live TV coverage for every round next season. Series boss Stephane Ratel stated at his annual press event ahead of the Spa 24 Hours this weekend that it is his intention for all rounds of the series to be covered live next season.

Premat returns to ART McLaren line-up

June 15, 2015

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Former Audi factory driver Alexandre Premat will return to the ART Grand Prix McLaren team for this weekend’s Nurburgring Blancpain Endurance Series finale.Premat, who raced for Audi in both LMP1 and the DTM and is currently a factory Volvo driver in V8 Supercars’ enduros, has been brought back to drive the #98 ART McLaren MP4-12C in which he won the opening round of the series at Monza and also drove in round two at Silverstone.The Frenchman takes the place of Nicolas Lapierre, who was brought in to share with Alvaro Parente and Gregoire Demoustier at the Paul Ricard and Spa 24 Hours BES rounds, but is unavailable for this weekend because he is racing for Toyota in the Austin World Endurance Championship round.ART boss Frederic Vasseur explained that it was always the intention for Premat to return to the line-up.”Nicolas could not do the opening rounds because of his testing commitments with Toyota, so it was always the plan that they would share the drive,” he said.Parente and Demoustier are one of six driver combinations still in mathematical contention for the overall Pro Cup title heading into the Nurburgring event, for which 33 points are available for the winners.WRT Audi driver Laurens Vanthoor, who is back with regular team-mates Marc Basseng and Cesar Ramos after winning Spa with Rene Rast and Markus Winkelhock, leads the standings alone.The Belgian has a seven-point advantage over the Sainteloc Audi trio of Stephane Ortelli, Edward Sandstrom and Gregory Guilvert.M-Sport Bentley drivers Guy Smith, Steven Kane and Andy Meyrick, winners of the Silverstone and Ricard rounds, are 15 points off the championship lead, while Parente and Demoustier are a further 10 points behind.HTP Mercedes drivers Nico Verdonck and Harold Primat and the WRT Audi trio Frank Stippler, Christopher Mies and James Nash also have outside chances of the title.BES POINTS TABLE 1 Vanthoor WRT Audi 74 2 Ortelli/Sandstrom/Guilvert Sainteloc Audi 67 3 Smith/Kane/Meyrick M-Sport Bentley 59 4 Parente/Demoustier ART McLaren 49 5 Verdonck/Primat HTP Mercedes 48 6 Stippler/Mies/Nash WRT Audi 46

Bradl sets third practice pace

June 15, 2015

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Stefan Bradl set a new weekend benchmark to take control of Saturday morning MotoGP practice at Indianapolis.The LCR Honda rider remained under the radar for much of the 45-minute session before joining most of the frontrunners on their qualifying-like runs.Bradl’s time of 1m32.522s demoted the Yamahas of Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo in the dying moments and less than a tenth of second covered the top three.Andrea Dovizioso enjoyed a brief spell at the top of the order before the late flurry of activity, but the Italian held on to fourth and just 0.030 seconds ahead of Pol Espargaro.Marc Marquez dropped down the order as the session drew to its conclusion. The reigning champion was the pacesetter for much of it, but Marquez was unable to find gains on his Honda during his final run.The runaway points leader also suffered a wild moment at Turn 16 early on, when he momentarily lost control of his bike, but somehow defied gravity and managed to stay upright.Andrea Iannone also had an issue as the session began when his Pramac Ducati came to an abrupt halt, but the birthday boy was able to post the seventh quickest time once on his back-up machine.Bradley Smith and Dani Pedrosa claimed eighth and ninth, while Aleix Espargaro jumped up to 10th, and automatic entry to Q2 in qualifying, as the chequered flag fell.Yonny Hernandez failed to crack the combined practice top 12 and will have to compete in the first Q1 shootout, as will Gresini’s Alvaro Bautista, who had an enormous high-side at Turn 13 and was flicked violently into the air.The Spaniard appeared to be unhurt and will go on to compete against the likes of Scott Redding and Cal Crutchlow, who ended the session 13th and 14th respectively.Pos Rider Team/Bike Time Gap 1

Fog disrupts Lautsitzring DTM event

June 15, 2015

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Fog has forced the DTM to heavily alter its planned Saturday schedule at the Lausitzring.The series was supposed to have two 60-minute practice sessions ahead of the 4:45pm local time qualifying session, but has been unable to complete any running at all due to low cloud.This would prevent the medical helicopter from being able to take off in the case of a serious accident.The only track action so far has been from the German Superbike Championship, which is able to run thanks to having no requirement for a helicopter written into its safety regulations.Should the weather clear this afternoon, the DTM drivers will have a 15-minute practice session (scheduled for 4:00pm local time), followed by qualifying in the regular timeslot, to uphold television commitments.In the case that the weather does not clear on Saturday, the organisers have announced that efforts will be made to have a qualifying session on Sunday morning.Failing that, the race will be started in current championship positions.

Marquez beats Pedrosa to pole

June 15, 2015

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MotoGP championship leader Marc Marquez beat Honda team-mate Dani Pedrosa to pole position for the 800th premier class grand prix at Aragon.Marquez went to the top of the order after his first flying lap and broke his own circuit record by 0.124 seconds in doing so, before going even quicker next time around with a 1m47.572s.It looked like the reigning champion would then cruise to pole, but Pedrosa sprung a surprise by going 0.020s quicker than his compatriot before Marquez reclaimed pole with a last-gasp lap of 1m47.187s.Andrea Iannone jumped up to third at the end to take his second consecutive front row start on Pramac’s revised Ducati and starts ahead of Pol Espargaro and the hugely impressive Cal Crutchlow and Valentino Rossi on the second row.Rossi salvaged his qualifying by setting the fastest time to top Q1 to progress to the pole position shootout and found further gains to finish 0.020s ahead of Yamaha team-mate Jorge Lorenzo.Stefan Bradl claimed eighth ahead of Andrea Dovizioso, whose chances of a decent starting position went out the window when he crashed in the final moments of the session.Forward rider Aleix Espargaro rounds off the top 10, with Bradley Smith starting 11th after dumping his Tech 3 Yamaha at Turn 2, while Hector Barbera produced his best qualifying performance of the year to take 12th.Nicky Hayden marked his MotoGP return after a lengthy lay-off due to wrist surgery by claiming 18th.The former world champion has reported that his wrist is stiff this weekend, but is experiencing no pain with it.PosRiderTeamBikeTimeGap1Marc MarquezHondaHonda1m 47.187s-2Daniel PedrosaHondaHonda1m 47.549s0.362s3Andrea IannonePramac RacingDucati1m 47.685s0.498s4Pol EspargaroTech 3Yamaha1m 47.865s0.678s5Cal CrutchlowDucatiDucati1m 47.897s0.710s6Valentino RossiYamahaYamaha1m 48.226s1.039s7Jorge LorenzoYamahaYamaha1m 48.246s1.059s8Stefan BradlLCRHonda1m 48.368s1.181s9Andrea DoviziosoDucati TeamDucati1m 48.542s1.355s10Aleix EspargaroForward RacingForward Yamaha1m 48.568s1.381s11Bradley SmithTech 3Yamaha1m 48.810s1.623s12Hector BarberaAvintia RacingDucati1m 48.991s1.804s13Yonny HernandezPramac RacingDucati1m 49.051s1.864s14Hiroshi AoyamaAsparHonda1m 49.209s2.022s15Alvaro BautistaGresiniHonda1m 49.274s2.087s16Scott ReddingGresiniHonda1m 49.703s2.516s17Karel AbrahamCardionHonda1m 49.790s2.603s18Nicky HaydenAsparHonda1m 49.835s2.648s19Alex de AngelisForward RacingForward Yamaha1m 50.263s3.076s20Danilo PetrucciIodaRacing ProjectART/Aprilia1m 50.635s3.448s21Michael LavertyPaul Bird MotorsportPBM/Aprilia1m 51.280s4.093s22Broc ParkesPaul Bird MotorsportPBM/Aprilia1m 51.489s4.302s23Mike Di MeglioAvintia RacingAvintia/Kawasaki1m 52.181s4.994s

Andersson joins Ekstrom’s RX team

June 15, 2015

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Double Junior World Rally champion PG Andersson will replace current JWRC title holder Pontus Tidemand in the EKS World Rallycross team for next week’s Istanbul Park event.Tidemand, who has reached the final on three occasions this year with DTM star Mattias Ekstrom’s Audi team, will now prioritise rallying again, contesting this weekend’s Rally of France with a WRC2 class Ford Fiesta R5.Andersson made his first start of the World RX season driving a Hedstroms Motorsport Skoda Fabia in Germany two weeks ago.He just missed out on a place in the semi-finals, qualifying 13th.The Swede will race the EKS Audi S1 for the first time at former Turkish Grand Prix Formula 1 venue Istabul Park, alongside compatriot Edward Sandstrom, who has made three appearances for the squad this year but has yet to reach a final.A statement from the EKS team said: “We believe that P-G Andersson’s experience and knowledge will help us collect valuable data for the future.”Our target is clear: to become world champions in 2015.”Ekstrom’s squad is yet to officially announce its full 2015 plans. Double DTM champion Ekstrom has dovetailed World RX outings for his team with his main programme in the touring car series this year, and won his home World RX round at Holjes in July.

GP2 or FR3.5 likely for Ocon

June 15, 2015

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The future of Formula 3 European Championship leader Esteban Ocon will not be decided until after next month’s Nurburgring round.The Lotus F1 Junior, who leads Max Verstappen by 116 points in the standings, looks likely to compete in GP2 or Formula Renault 3.5 – while a leap to Formula 1 has not been ruled out.Ocon is on the same Gravity Sport Management programme as Romain Grosjean – owing to Gravity’s common ownership with the Lotus Formula 1 team, he competes as one of several Lotus F1 Juniors.Gravity already has very strong links with leading GP2 team ART Grand Prix, as well as DAMS, whose drivers are leading both series.Gravity’s Gwenael Lagrue told AUTOSPORT: “We have some ideas but we really want to stay focused on F3 because we all know that everything can change very quickly.”If everything is going well the next step would be 3.5 or GP2, but I want to wait at least until probably after the Nurburgring [where the European F3 round takes place in mid-August] – after then we will have only two more meetings to do.”By then we will have a clearer vision of what to do and of the championships – 3.5 is struggling and GP2 looks stronger this year.”On the subject of F1, Lagrue pointed out that Gravity’s Lotus connection does not necessarily tie the company’s proteges to the Enstone squad.”To be honest you know how it is: if the train is coming you have to jump on it,” he said. “You have only one chance – normally! [Grosjean famously got two].Should Ocon graduate straight to F1, he would be just 18 years and five months old when the season starts in 2015.”But if an F1 team is ready to sign him and take him on board I would be the first to be happy, and if this opportunity came we would have to go with it and work very hard to prepare him as much as we can

Ex-WRC driver Galli joins RX for Italy

June 15, 2015

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Italian former World Rally Championship star Gigi Galli will race an OlsbergsMSE Ford Fiesta Supercar in his home World Rallycross event at Franciacorta next week.Galli tested for the Swedish outfit recently at Strangnas in Sweden, and will join Swedish Touring Car Championship driver Richard Goransson in a pair of wildcard Fiestas run alongside regular Ford drivers Andreas Bakkerud and Reinis Nitiss.”I’m delighted to be part of World RX, which is growing very popular at the moment,” said Galli, who has been heavily involved with the design and construction of the new Italian venue.”It won’t be easy as there are a lot of other drivers and the car’s power is so much more than I am used to.”I had a test recently in Sweden and I’ve also been involved heavily in the building of the [Franciacorta] RX track.

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