Start, IndyCar, Barber Motorsports Park, 2017

Breakthrough victory in lively IndyCar round

Weekend Racing WrapPosted on | Author Bradley Downton

Fernando Alonso had his first look at an IndyCar race ahead of his Indianapolis 500 debut while Red Bull junior driver Pierre Gasly made his debut in Japan’s Super Formula championship.

IndyCar

Race 3: Alabama

Just what does Will Power have to do to get a win? His miserable streak of luck extended to a fifth race at Barber Motorsports Park. This time he led 60 laps before a left-rear tyre deflation sent him into the pits to an eventual finishing position of 14th.

Fernando Alonso, Andretti, IndyCar, Barber Motorsports Park, 2017
Arguably the biggest star of the race wasn’t on the grid
Penske team mate Josef Newgarden profited and the team’s newest member became the first of their drivers to win a race this year. Newgarden was the only one of the quartet not to reach the ‘fast six’ in qualifying but an aggressive opening stint on the harder tyres plus some feisty passes at turn 16 moved him into position behind Power. The decisive moved proved to be a pass on Scott Dixon which reclaimed a place Newgarden had lost in the pits.

Alonso might have enjoyed what he saw in terms of the racing but it was a largely disappointing day for the Andretti squad he will drive for at Indianapolis. Ryan Hunter-Reay’s race never recovered following lap one contact with James Hinchcliffe which damaged his front wing. Technical trouble spoiled Marco Andretti’s race before it started. That left last year’s Indy 500 winner Alexander Rossi as the team’s highest finisher in fifth.

An uneventful race for points leader Sebastien Bourdais leaves the top five drivers in the standings covered by just 15 points after three races. Power languishes in 14th, which is even lower than he was at this stage last year having missed the season-opener. He’ll get his next chance to turn his luck around at Phoenix on Saturday.

Japanese Super Formula

Race 1: Suzuka

Former Williams F1 driver Kazuki Nakajima won the first race of the season in Suzuka, having taken advantage of a safety car by pitting. From pole, Nakajima led away ahead of Naoki Yamamoto and Yuji Kunimoto. The majority of the field pitted in the first four laps to complete their compulsory pit stop, including Kunimoto, but Nakajima and Yamamoto stayed out.

Pierre Gasly, Super Formula, Suzuka, 2017
Gasly is following Stoffel Vandoorne’s footsteps
This proved to be a masterstroke on lap 23 when Kazuya Oshima spun at Spoon curve and brought out the Safety Car. The lead pair pitted shortly after, and after the restart Nakajima pulled away to comfortably win for the first time since 2015. Yamamoto and Kunimoto completed the podium ahead of Hiroaki Ishiua, Andre Lotterer and Koudai Tsukakoshi.

Reigning GP2 champion and Red Bull junior driver Pierre Gasly impressed on his debut with a fine pass on a cold-tyred Kamui Kobayashi in the Esses. However Kobayashi later reversed the move and Gasly slipped to tenth at the flag with gearbox and brake problems.

World Rallycross Championship

Race 2: Portugal

Defending champion Mattias Ekstrom took his second consecutive WRX win in Montalegre. Ekstrom and VW’s Petter Solberg took victory in their respective semi-finals to secure front row spots in the final, with Solberg getting the better start. Ekstrom used his joker lap early on, while Solberg, team mate Johan Kristoffersson and Reinis Nitiss all took the standard lap.

Solberg’s final was undone with a puncture, also holding up Kristoffersson, while behind the Peugeots of Sebastien Loeb and Timmy Hansen were right behind Ekstrom after jokering on lap one. At the end, Loeb challenged hard, but Ekstrom took the win ahead of the nine-time World Rally champion, with Hansen third. Ford endured a tough weekend, with both Ken Block and Andreas Bakkerud being eliminated in the semis – the latter faced a fight to even make it that far, only making it by virtue of being top qualifier in the final heats.

Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup

Races 1-2: Monza

Robert Shwartzman won the opening race of the season from pole position in a shortened race after an accident from one of three Red Bull junior drivers in the championship, Neil Verhagen. Shwartzman dealt well with two safety car restarts while his rivals battled behind before Verhagen ended the race early by crashing at Curva Grande.

Will Palmer won the second race after taking the lead at the start from pole sitter Gabriel Aubry, who later retired following a collision with race one winner Shwartzman. Sacha Fenestraz finished second ahead of Max Defourny and Verhagen, the latter have climbed up from 11th.

Videos not available yet.

NASCAR Cup

Race 8: Bristol

The NASCAR race at Bristol has been postponed to Monday due to rain.

Also last weekend

Marc Marquez won the third Moto GP race of the season at Austin ahead of Valentino Rossi and Dani Pedrosa as the championship leader heading into the race and only winner so far this season – Maverick Vinales – crashed out.

Over to you

What racing action did you watch last weekend? Let us know in the comments.

Next weekend’s racing

While F1 returns in Russia, the following series are also in action next weekend:

  • Euroformula Open races 1-2: Estoril
  • European Formula Three races 4-6: Monza
  • IndyCar race 4: Phoenix
  • NASCAR Cup race 9: Richmond
  • World Rally Championship race 5: Argentina
  • World Touring Car Championship races 3-4: Italy

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Start, Super Formula, Suzuka, 2017
Start, Super Formula, Suzuka, 2017

7 comments on “Breakthrough victory in lively IndyCar round”

  1. In twenty years of following IndyCar I’ve always seen it as F1’s country cousin, not as respected, a little looked down upon. But, it never fails to provide a show and very rarely is it dull or predictable. Usually I never get to watch the races as they happen but was able to watch the Barber race live and being able to follow it on Twitter at the same time was great fun. Oh, and Barber Motorsport Park looks like a fantastic facility – it doesn’t look that interesting in plan form but it’s real rollercoaster of sweeps and gradients. It looks like awesome fun to drive!

    1. Barber is a beautiful track and always makes for good racing. The really big money may be in F1, but I’d have to say IndyCar is a lot better racing.

      See if you can breathe watching Alonso at the start of the Indy 500. It will be super intense.

  2. Umm correction Keith, Verhagen started 11th and finished 4th and Max Defourny was the driver who finished 3rd

    1. Just amended that now, thanks.

  3. One of the most fascinating things I heard this weekend was the US commentary team of the MotoGP race said that the track had become bumpy in places because the F1 cars had caused the foundation of the track to shift. Apparently there had been heavy rains and flooding at the circuit prior to the F1 race, and then running the high grip, high downforce cars on the track actually caused the tracks foundation to move in places resulting in bumpy sections of track.

    1. That’s super interesting! Thanks for the piece of trivia :)

  4. Crazy Supercars races on Phillip island. Indy Gp 2005 plus Silverstone type tyre blowouts. And silly crossing the line in pit lane penalties…
    Too bad, after Tasmania wreckfest this races should have fixed the quality and pedigree of the series.

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