WRC: Ogier blitzes Germany
This was more like the Seb of old
Ending an unusual win-less steak which lasted for six events, Volkswagen's Sébastien Ogier was unstoppable on the challenging tarmac of Rally Germany, turning an opening day deficit into a comfortable win.
“This is great,” Ogier said at the finish. “I haven’t had a chance to win on the recent rallies and I was missing that feeling for sure. It’s been really exciting and a long time since I was battling like this for a win. I really had to push to beat the guys around me.”
After an overshoot on the opening day, Ogier used Saturday to take total control of Rally Germany, handing down a driving lesson to those who somehow hanker to steal his crown as the best driver in the World Rally Championship.
The three-time world champion started the second day trailing Volkswagen team-mate Andreas Mikkelsen by 4.3s. But nine stages later – five of which were run on the tricky Baumholder military proving ground – Ogier emerged with a stunning 33.4s advantage.
Sunday was all about maintaining his advantage while a huge battle erupted for second.
Mikkelsen held the position until Sunday's first stage, but he was steadily reeled in by the Hyundai i20 WRC pair of Sordo and Thierry Neuville as their superior speed told.
Only 4.1s separated the three drivers entering the 14.84km Power Stage.
Although Neuville topped the Power Stage, Sordo’s fourth fastest time was just enough to guarantee second place overall – by a margin of just 0.1s! Neuville claimed the final podium spot.
Ogier has extended his lead over Mikkelsen in the driver’ championship, 169 points to 110.
Daring tyre choice helps Crutchlow create MotoGP history
First Brit to win in a premier class world championship GP for 35 years
It was the first wet world championship race for the premier class at Brno in 47 years and after a mesmerising Czech Republic Grand, Cal Crutchlow was first Brit to win at the top level since Barry Sheene triumphed in Sweden in 1981.
Relentless torrential rain had swept the early Moto2 field, but the downpour had eased when the big guys from MotoGP headed out on a still-saturated track, making tyre selections awkward, and increasing the possibility of a flag-to-flag race (when riders switch to their second bikes fitted with different rubber).
But there was no flag-to-flag pitlane scramble; instead Crutchlow (LCR Honda) sliced through the field in one of the most spectacular victories in recent years, helped by his clever choice of hard compound wets. And smart riding in the conditions.
Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) and Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) completed the podium after a chaotic race that also brought some bewildering tactics from defending champion Jorge Lorenzo, who was 17th and a lap down.
Anticipating the track to dry out which would necessitate a jump to slicks mid race, much of the field opted for soft wet-weather Michelins. But, not convinced the track would ever be grippy enough for slicks, Crutchlow went for the hard compounds, a masterstroke as it turned out. Rossi and Lorenzo had a bet each way, opting for hard rears and soft fronts.
Crutchlow, Rossi and Lorenzo struggled early while the Ducatis of Andrea Iannone, Andrea Dovizioso and Scott Redding escaped at the front, with Marquez on the factory Honda cruising a little further back
With his tyres co-operating, Crutchlow charged from 15th to catch and overhaul the front guys.
Rossi too surged forward to claim second, while Marquez cleverly managed his wearing soft rubber to pinch third.
As for Lorenzo…what was he thinking? Initially, he slipped back through the field but when his tyres began to work he was one of the quickest out there. Then with seven laps remaining, Lorenzo made what appeared to be a bizarre decision to change to his second bike fitted with slicks. He did one lap than swapped bikes again.
He later revealed the front tyre on the first bike was too damaged to continue.
Lorenzo has slumped to third in the standings, while Rossi is up to second, though trailing Marquez 144 points to 197.
MotoGP is the sport that never stops giving, never stops enthralling.
And we didn’t have to wait for the race to start for Marc Marquez to leave us mesmerised by a stunning, unbelievable save in FP2 on Friday, returning on Saturday to snatch a head-shaking pole on his final lap.
About that miracle save though; he lost the front in turn 13 at Brno, the Honda slipping to a lean angle of 67.5 degrees. Marquez reported he could feel the heat in his elbow and that he kept using his knee to push up the buckled-under front. A slo-mo replay confirmed the detail.
German Jonas Folger claimed an incredible Moto2 win in torrential conditions at the Automotodrom Brno, taking his first win in more than a year from Alex Rins and Sam Lowes.
Rins and Lowes have each carved big chunks out of championship front-runner Johann Zarco’s lead as the Frenchman crossed the line in only 11th place.
There were lots of fallers in the appalling conditions, but the two Aussies Ant West and Remy Gardner survived. Acknowledged rain master West, a wildcard, dragged his three-year-old Suter from dead last to 10th, while Gardner stayed on board to finish 21st.
In Moto3, also held in the rain, Scotland’s John McPhee showed his wet weather prowess to notch his maiden GP win. It was only his second podium since he debuted in 2010.
Championship leader Brad Binder was holding a handy advantage when he slid off five laps from the flag.
WRC Rally China 2016 cancelled
Weather damage to the route could not be repaired in time
The long-awaited return of China to the world rally championship has been put on hold due to heavy damage to the route caused by torrential storms and flooding last month in the region around Huairou, near Beijing, where the rally was to be staged.
Despite a last minute visit to China last week by representatives from the FIA and the promoter of the WRC, and a determination to see a solution, it was decided that it would be impossible to affect the necessary repairs for the event to run safely.
Rally China, which was to be held September 8-11 as round 10 of the 2016 FIA World Rally Championship, has now been dropped, reducing the number of WRC events this year to 13.
Some of the worst floods in China for many years forced tens of thousands of people to evacuate their homes in the north of the country, prompting authorities to introduce ongoing emergency measures in the region.
Australia’s Mawson still on top
German F4 crossed the border to perch in Holland for a weekend
Australia’s impressive youngster Joey Mawson continues to lead the German Formula 4 Championship from high-profile local Mick Schumacher despite a mixed weekend across the border at Zandvoort, Holland.
With one round remaining, and a maximum of 75 championship points up for grabs, the Podium-backed driver now sits 39 points clear of Schumacher in the chase for the crown.
Mawson began the weekend perfectly, converting his pole position to an all-the-way victory punctuated by a safety-car period which wiped away his handy margin. Still, at the restart, Mawson motored away from Mike Ortmann and Schumacher to land the win.
Race two was a different story, after Mawson clipped the rear of a rival and broke his front wing. No points.
Heavy rain descended prior to the start of Sunday’s reverse grid race, forcing officials to start it under the safety car.
After two attempts to get it happening, and less than two laps of green flag racing, a multi-car pile-up caused the race to be red flagged and declared with half championship points awarded.
"I leave the weekend with very mixed feelings, it was great to get the win in race one but I wasn't able to capitalise on our speed in races two and three," said Mawson.
With one round remaining, Mawson heads the standings on 324 points with Schumacher second on 285.
Reeves trumps the kiwis
NZ belted us in the rugby, but not in final round of the New Zealand Rally Championships
Australian combo Brendan Reeves and Rhianon Gelsomino have taken out the final round of the New Zealand Rally Championship (NZRC) held on the north island.
Invited to participate in a Mazda 2 entered by Force Motorsport, Reeves took a convincing win though he’s never driven on the roads around Thames and Coromandel.
With the NCRC already decided, Reeves went into the Gold Rush Rally of Coromandel finale with the objective of having fun in a field of NZ’s best crews.
Reeves and Gelsomino led from the start and won six of the rally’s 10 stages. Their winning margin was just over a minute.