The Race Weekend – 1-2 November

Sylvain Guintoli took an unexpected double win and Championship at the World SBK finale in Qatar
Sylvain Guintoli took an unexpected double win and Championship at the World SBK finale in Qatar

It may be getting towards the end of the year but racing is still happening and Championships are being decided.  Over the weekend, four Championships RacerViews covered were on.  In our “The Race Weekend” update we take a look at the World Endurance Championship, World Superbike Championship, Formula 3 Australia and Formula 1.

World Endurance Championship

Toyota Racing took its second consecutive FIA World Endurance Championship 1-2 finish at Shanghai today with the #8 Toyota TS 040 Hybrid heading home the #7 car to further extend the championship lead to 42pts. Anthony Davidson and Sebastien Buemi finished the race 1m12s ahead of their stable mates – Alex Wurz, Stephane Sarrazin and Kazuki Nakajima, after another dominant display by the Japanese manufacturer in front of a huge crowd.

Both of the Toyota Racing LMP1-H entries took advantage of an early safety car period to top up on fuel which ensured that they completed the race on just five scheduled stops apiece. Sebastien Buemi drove a spectacular opening stint to carve his way through the field, despite having to make an extra visit to his pit box after the initial early stop.

This was due to a re-fuelling issue but the Swiss ace soon caught and passed the sister Toyota driven by Alex Wurz. From there, Buemi and later Davidson both opened up a significant gap to their team mates in the #7 car.

Completing the podium today at Shanghai and, as a result scoring their first podium position of the season, was the #14 Porsche 919 Hybrid driven by Romain Dumas, Marc Lieb and Neel Jani. The pole sitting car led in the early exchanges and had a trouble free race to finish just off the lead lap.

Anthony Davidson – Toyota Racing No.8 (LMP1-H) – “We have been thinking about the championship for a while. Obviously Fuji was a massive plus for the team, particularly for Seb (Buemi) and me. We came here with 29 points lead and then we just missed out on making it 30 points yesterday. Today saw some more big points and we knew we couldn’t take too many risks in traffic today.”

Alexander Wurz – Toyota Racing No.7 (LMP1-H) – “A mega result for the team especially after a sensor problem at the start so at that time we never imagined there would be a 1-2. We are very pleased for a great team performance even though we couldn’t give the #8 car a run for its money today.”

Olivier Pla – G-Drive Racing No.26 (LMP2) – “I ran wide at the start of the race and Alex (Imperatori) got through. Then I saw that he was slowing down and I just missed him. But in my mirrors I saw there was a big crash. I am glad he is ok and actually I was sorry because I was hoping they could take more points off Zlobin. Things are working well at the moment and we have high confidence in the team. Roman (Rusinov) and Julien (Canal) did really great stints and I am very happy for the G-Drive Racing guys tonight.”

Frederic Makowiecki – Porsche Team Manthey No.92 (LMGTE Pro) – “Our goal is to fight for the manufacturers’ championship. We picked up a lot of points this weekend and we must continue like this. We have been a little lucky after the problems for the Ferrari and Aston Martin but we are of course happy for this really special team result.”

Pedro Lamy – Aston Martin Racing No.98 (LMGTE Am) – “We found a very good race set-up this weekend but the Aston generally seems to be very strong here. It was a shame what happened to Darren (Turner) and Stefan (Mucke) car because we could have won both classes. The whole team did a really good job and my team mates were also fantastic today.”


World Superbike Championship

Sylvain Guintoli (Aprilia Racing Team) is the 2014 eni FIM Superbike World Champion after a nailbiting season final race held under floodlights at the Losail International Circuit, Qatar.

The race began with Leon Haslam (Pata Honda World Superbike Team) and Loris Baz (Kawasaki Racing Team) colliding at turn one, with Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) heading the pack.

Jonathan Rea (Pata Honda World Superbike Team) took over the reigns as race leader before he was overhauled by race one winner Guintoli, the Frenchman setting a new lap record as he took the first double victory of his career to seal the World title by 6 points!

Sykes and Rea battled race long to determine the final spots on the podium with the Honda rider just edging the outgoing champion for second in final 3 laps.

Five riders fought hard for 4th with Marco Melandri (Aprilia Racing Team) coming home ahead of Chaz Davies (Ducati Superbike Team) and Toni Elias (Red Devils Roma Aprilia).

Newly crowned Superbike EVO winner David Salom (Kawasaki Racing Team) was once again involved in a titanic fight for the best classified EVO rider coming home ahead of Niccolo Canepa (Althea Racing Ducati) in 11th, Canepa was 12th. Bryan Staring (Iron Brain Grillini Kawasaki) rode well to claim the 3rd EVO placing in a credible 13th overall.

Sylvain Guintoli: “I cannot believe it. I have been imagining this double win for the whole month. I never felt so good riding with this or any other bike before. I just enjoyed it so badly. It has been such hard work all season, trying not to make many mistakes. Tom has been very fast and consistent. After Laguna, when the gap was 44 points, it was a difficult situation. But we were back and in this last round I’ve shown I’ve got the speed and what it takes to win. I proved it to myself and I’m happy. I think the title will sink in later on but for now I’m just overwhelmed.”

Tom Sykes: “I don’t mind taking my hat off to a worthy champion. We have tried so hard all year and of course, a few incidents come to my mind now. But it is what it is. After the last few rounds, we knew Sylvain and Aprilia would have been strong. Unfortunately the outcome of today was… the winner takes it all. Sylvain, he did a great season. Obviously we’ve had some limitations today. I tried my best in race two, unfortunately it wasn’t enough. But that’s racing. Luckily this race is quite late in the year so I won’t be too hard on myself for too long. The start of the next season won’t be too far away and I’ll be putting my efforts into that.”

Formula 3 Australia

Simon Hodge won the 58th Australian Drivers Championship for the CAMS Gold Star in the same way he’s raced all season in Australian Formula 3.

He battled hard, got to the front, and then ran away.

The 20-year-old South Australian clinched the title in the second of three races contested at Sydney Motorsport Park this weekend after a breathtaking four-car battle for the lead that, at one stage, had him only third.

But he raced his way to the front past season-long rival Ben Gersekowski and grabbed a victory to seal the title.

Victory in the 14-lap feature race was merely an exclamation mark on an incredible season, one that netted 12 wins, 18 podiums and, of course, the longest-consecutively awarded prize in Aussie motorsport.

“It’s Amazing. I’m still pinching myself and I can’t believe it yet. Even though we came into the round with a lead, we were still nervous and it doesn’t necessarily mean terribly much, To get the job done, and get it locked away is an amazing feeling. That’s what we’re in it for, to have a good race and I couldn’t think of a better way to wrap the title up with a race like that.  The Mygale has been fantastic all year and the team has done an amazing job to bring the best out of it. It’s a case of using where the car is strong and minimising weaknesses and doing the best possible job.” Simon Hodge

Formula 1

Lewis Hamilton extended his world championship lead to 24 points after passing Mercedes team mate Nico Rosberg to win a thrilling race in the United States on Sunday afternoon, six years to the day since he secured his first drivers’ title in Brazil.

Rosberg had controlled the race with seeming ease through the first cycle of pit stops – he stopped on Lap 15, and Hamilton followed one lap later – but in the second stint Hamilton steadily hunted him down, slashing a 2.5s gap to just 0.7s in a handful of laps.

Rosberg rallied slightly, but was taken by surprise at Turn 12 on the 24th lap when Hamilton came from a long way back, trusted his luck and risk assessment, and dived down the inside to take the lead. Thereafter it was all a question of control as he opened a gap and maintained it to the flag despite some late, heavy traffic – the result of several fierce midfield scraps which raged over the closing stages of the Grand Prix.

Rosberg never gave up the fight and said he didn’t find his rhythm until his team mate overtook, but by then it was too late. It was Hamilton’s fifth straight victory, his 10th of the season and the 32nd of his career – putting him ahead of Nigel Mansell’s previous British record of 31 Grand Prix wins.

“It’s obviously a very good circuit to be able to follow but it’s not easy and it was very hard through the middle sector to try to stay as close to him as possible and get as close as I could to the DRS zone. And I was quite a bit back, I would say, but I felt very confident, there was a big headwind into 12, and I just felt like I was waiting for the moment really, to just be just close enough to throw it up the inside. And that’s what I did. There’s a kind of… you have to decide how much of a risk you’re willing to take. Nico wasn’t defending there really so almost caught him unaware. And after that, really I was just trying to maintain it. But what an incredible achievement. I’m so grateful. Big thank you to all my team and to my family because the results that I’ve had and the amount of wins that I’ve had wouldn’t have been possible without those people.” Lewis Hamilton