F1: Ricciardo fourth as Rosberg makes it two from two
THE FIGHT in the night in Bahrain ended with Nico Rosberg notching his fifth grand prix victory in a row, and continuing his unbeaten streak in the 2016 Formula One season.
Lewis Hamilton was the quickest man before the race began, resetting the track lap record in qualifying.
The defending champion’s, blistering lap was a sole highlight in a return of the dumpster fire that is F1’s knock-out qualifying format.
Hamilton’s good fortunes came undone swiftly in the race, contact with Valtteri Bottas after just a single corner causing him to take damage, spin, and drop down the order.
It would have been a prime opportunity for Sebastian Vettel to pounce, had he started the race.
The German finger waver was forced to watch the carnage from the sidelines after his Ferrari decided to detonate an engine, spewing chunks of vital metal from the exhaust on the formation lap.
With Hamilton taken out, it was up to Rosberg to continue the winning ways of Mercedes, and win he did, in traditional dominating form.
Kimi Raikkonen was best of the rest – the stoic Finn running a solitary race with few troubles.
Hamilton recovered to third by the end, with Australia’s Daniel Ricciardo the best of the rest in fourth.
Unsatisfied with sixth on debut for the Haas F1 Team in Australia, Romain Grosjean used the Super Soft tyre compound to race his way into fifth position by the end of the race in Bahrain. A heroic effort for a team many expected to be battling to even be in the points.
While the race for the first four positions was relatively tame, the battle through the mid-pack made for great viewing. Sparks flew both literally and figuratively as drivers diced on track, with tyre strategy being key. The decision to allow three tyres per Grand Prix has proved a master stroke for F1.
Fernando Alonso was ruled out of competing in Bahrain due to injuries sustained in his monumental rollover at Albert Park. This mean McLaren prodigy Stoffel Vandoorne was called upon to fill the Spaniard’s not inconsiderable shoes.
Vandoorne lived up to expectations, out-qualifying his teammate Jenson Button and finishing 10th to nab McLaren its first points of the season.
In an ominous coincidence for the F1 paddock, Vandoorne became the first driver since Vettel to score points in a debut race that wasn’t the first round of the season.
Now, what did that bloke go on to do again?
V8 Supercars: Slip denies van Gisbergen clean sweep
IT’S NOT over till the chequered flag drops!
V8 Supercars wild child Shane van Gisbergen learned the lesson the hard way after watching victory slip away at the eleventh hour.
The Triple Eight driver was just four laps away from clean sweeping the weekend’s racing in Tasmania when he slipped on oil, beaching his Commodore and handing victory to Will Davison – who now leads the championship.
A format change, coupled with use of the quicker Dunlop soft tyre compound, resulted in a thrilling opening race that had plenty of door-to-door racing and allowed for differing tyre strategies to play out across the weekend.
Mark Winterbottom started from pole for the opening race, yet one metre was all it took for his chances of spraying victory champagne to go down the drain on Saturday.
The defending V8 Supercars champion overshot his bay by the smallest of margins, but the couple of seconds delay in changing tyres was enough for three drivers to move ahead of him on track. His redemption would come later in the weekend.
Not one to settle for second behind a teammate, van Gisbergen dived under Whincup for the lead following a duel which lasted a number of laps.
The Kiwi never looked back, with Whincup finishing runner up ahead of Will Davison. Rick Kelly was the first to miss out on a podium position, ahead of Lowndes in fifth.
The victory was Holden’s 500th V8 Supercar race win, a fact not lost on van Gisbergen, who also paid tribute to the hard and fair battles shared with his teammates.
“That was a great race, pretty exiting at the start – 500 wins for Holden, so that’s an awesome stat,” he said. “It was great racing with Craig and Jamie.”
Van Gisbergen looked set to double down on Sunday before all hell broke loose just four laps from the end.
The Kiwi was leading with a small but comfortable margin over Winterbottom following an engrossing battle for first when rookie Cameron Waters dumped oil onto the entry into turn four – the notoriously tight banked hairpin.
Despite yellow flags, both van Gisbergen and Winterbottom underestimated the impact of the oil, and slid wide. Van Gisbergen became beached, while Winterbottom avoided disaster but fell to third.
The chaos was a blessing for Davison, who started the day by setting the quickest time in qualifying but was demoted two positions when penalised for impeded James Courtney.
The Tekno Autosports driver was in third when the leaders ran off track, and pounced on the opportunity.
No caution was called, despite cars being stranded just off track, and Davison held on to claim his first race win since Barbagallo last year.
“I’m speechless,” he said post race. “I was pretty happy to bring home a top four today.
"A big step up this week. This morning was encouraging but that lap was so much fun … I didn’t have the outright speed but I had good tyre life and was coming at the end.”
Lowndes finished second, ahead of Winterbottom. Scott McLaughlin and Chaz Mostert finished rounded out the top five.
The small bull-pen-esque Symmons Plains once again showed why it deserves its place on the V8 Supercars calendar, and is well worth a trip to the Apple Isle.
IndyCar: Dixon peerless at high-tension Phoenix
BRISBANE-BORN Scott Dixon dominated in Phoenix to notch his 39th career IndyCar victory.
The reigning IndyCar champion was peerless in the series’ return to Phoenix, which was marred by a bevy of caution periods.
Australian Will Power finished his first race of the season in third after missing the opening round of the championship in St. Petersburg due to illness. The Aussie was running in second for most of the final half of the race. However, overshooting his pit bay late in the race cost him the runner-up position, which was taken by his Team Penske teammate Simon Pagenaud (who now leads the championship).
The race was the first time IndyCar has taken to Phoenix in over a decade. Expectations were low for the 250-lap event, with many predicting the high-downforce aero kits would produce processional driving.
While side-by-side racing was nearly non-existent, the on-track action was fraught with tension as drivers made ambitious attempts to block and pass each other. Many overstepped the limit, resulting in a series of crashes on the short course.
Helio Castroneves was the pre-race favourite, taking pole despite a big slide at the final turn which he jokingly referred to as a “code brown moment”.
“It happens so quick you don’t react. You’re just a passenger,” he said following the lap.
“I’m going to the paddock to change something… but not the car. The car was perfect.”
Castroneves’s chances at victory were cut short after leading early on when he suffered a front right tyre puncture. His Team Penske teammate Juan Pablo Montoya suffered the same fate.
Dixon’s victory moves him to fourth on the all-time winners list for the category, alongside legend Al Unser Sr. It is his first race win at Phoenix, and a first for Chip Ganassi Racing.
NASCAR: Bush changes Martinsville luck
KYLE BUSH had never won a NASCAR race of any level at Martinsville heading into this weekend. But that was swiftly changed, with the reigning Sprint Cup champion walking away with not one but two iconic grandfather clock trophies.
Bush started his weekend by winning the Truck series race at The Paperclip to nab his first clock, before dominating the Sprint Cup event for a weekend sweep.
The Joe Gibbs Racing driver led 352 laps of 500 to beat AJ Allmendinger to the line.
Martinsville specialist Denny Hamlin was taken out of contention when he collected the outside wall hard on lap 220.
The series heads to Texas Motor Speedway next weekend.
FORMULA E: Di Grassi cruises to series lead
LUCAS DI Grassi wasn’t going to let victory elude him a second time in Long Beach.
The ABT Audi driver won last time out in Mexico City, but was disqualified post race. There were no such problems in Long Beach as Di Grassi cruised to victory in a frantic race where his title rivals struck trouble.
Stephane Sarrazin finished runner-up, while Daniel Abt rounded out the podium.
Ex-Formula 1 driver Sebastian Buemi had an event to forget, crashing early on and finishing two laps down.
He now surrenders the points lead by a single point to Di Grassi.
Felix Da Costa was stripped of pole for the ePrix after tech inspections found he ran too little tyre pressure. He failed to finish the race.
MOTOGP: Marquez masters Rossi at Argentinian crash-fest
COUNT ON the two-wheeled maestros of MotoGP to put on one of the most unpredictable races of the weekend in front of a swarm of rabid South American fans.
Marc Marquez won from pole, but the race was certainly not as simple as that may imply.
Michelin was unprepared for the abrasive nature of the Argentine track, resulting in a spectacular tyre blowout for Scott Redding in the last practice session prior to qualifying. This prompted the tyre company to pull both compounds of rear tyre it had made available for teams, and mandate only a third reserve compound be used.
However, this decision was then reversed before the race, and a compulsory bike swap at the midway point of the now shortened 20-lap race was implemented.
Australian Jack Miller was a man possessed in the opening laps, climbing from 15th on the grid to sixth by the start of the fourth lap, when he crashed out of the race. Jorge Lorenzo imitated the Aussie the very next lap after being bumped down the order.
Marc Marquez and Valentino Rossi engaged in a thrilling duel in the first half of the race.
There is no love lost between the pair, and it became abundantly clear on track as they diced for the lead of the race.
Marquez was able to swap bikes quicker in the pit stop, and eked enough of a margin over Rossi to be comfortable.
Maverick Vinales was the first to set upon Rossi, the Suzuki rider putting in a heroic effort to be in third place. However his greed got the better of him, the Spaniard crashing out of what could have been Suzuki’s first rostrum finish since its return last year.
Rossi seemed to struggle on his second Yamaha, and was soon under attack again. This time by the pair of factory Ducatis.
The Ducati duo, Andrea Dovizioso and Andrea Iannone, demoted the nine-time world champion to fourth by the final lap. But a last-ditch pass attempt by Iannone on Dovi proved catastrophic.
The Ducati’s front end folded from underneath Iannone heading into the final set of corners, sending him careening into his teammate, knocking both to the ground.
This promoted Rossi back to second and Dani Pedrosa to third.
Dovizioso valiantly pushed his motorbike across the line to finish 13th.
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