WEC sizzles at Spa and rain delivers DTM thrills

Weekend Racing Wrap

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Last weekend’s racing action including a tasty scrap between Porsche and Audi in the World Endurance Championship, rain-inspired DTM and F3 battles at the Hockenheimring, and the usual NASCAR crash-fest at Talladega. Watch highlights of the these and more below.

World Endurance Championship


The Le Mans-spec Audi of Andre Lotterer, Benoit Treluyer and Marcel Fassler made it two wins from two rounds after another enthralling battle with Porsche at Spa. The 919 Hybrid was faster over a single stint during the race, but the R18 was quicker when it came to double-stinting the Michelin tyres, which proved decisive for their cause – the number 18 Porsche of Romain Dumas, Neel Jani and Marc Lieb took the chequered flag just 13 seconds behind after six hours of racing.

Mark Webber’s number 17 car was third. Reigning champions Anthony Davidson and Sebastien Buemi, competing as a duo after co-driver Kazuki Nakajima suffered a back injury in free practice, finished eighth after throttle and electrical problems on their Toyota.

Nico Hulkenberg finished his first WEC event finished three laps down in sixth, the number 19 Porsche losing time early in the race after his team mate Nick Tandy collided with another works Porsche in the GT category. Jota Sport took LMP2 honours while Aston Martin Racing were victorious in GTE Pro and GTE Am.



The DTM’s new event format delivered two entertaining races as the 2015 season opened. From pole position, Jamie Green took the victory for Audi in fine style, stretching out a three-second lead in the opening few laps before managing two safety cars perfectly to win. Second and third placed were Mercedes pair Pascal Wehrlein and Paul di Resta.

The weather took a turn for the worse during race two on Sunday (highlights above) and Audi’s Mattias Ekstrom claimed victory in commanding fashion. After starting second the Swede took the lead from Marco Wittmann at the hairpin on the opening lap. Gary Paffett came back brilliantly from a penalty which sent him to the back of the grid for a technical infringement to take the final podium spot with some forceful overtaking moves.

Round two of the DTM is at the Lausitzring at the end of the month.

European Formula Three


Antonio Giovinazzi took his first win of the season on Friday, overtaking pole sitter Felix Rosenqvist on the first lap and holding on to the lead in a wet race which was interrupted by the Safety Car on three occasions. Race two on Saturday took place in far better conditions, and Rosenqvist became the first multiple winner of the season after a perfect start, finishing ahead of Charles Leclerc and Giovinazzi.

Race three (full replay above) was the pick of the weekend’s action, as Leclerc won an epic fight with Rosenqvist in wet conditions. After a safety-car restart, the Swedish driver pushed hard to get a 1.5 second gap within three laps. However, Leclerc was right on his tail by lap ten, and on lap twelve looked inside at the hairpin, making slight contact with Rosenqvist’s rear wheel. After getting past in the Mercedes-Arena, the safety car reappeared leaving only two laps for Rosenqvist to respond, which he couldn’t do.

Next up for the F3 drivers is the prestigious Grand Prix of Pau, whose past winners include names as varied as Tazio Nuvolari and Lewis Hamilton.

World Rallycross Championship


Hockenheim may not have an F1 race this year but how about DTM, F3 and Rallycross for a bumper ticket of weekend action? The World Rallycross Championship used a short track comprising part of the Motodrom section.

Petter Solberg dominated proceedings and extended his lead at the top of the points table. He topped the intermediate classification on Saturday, and went on to win the first semi-final, giving him pole for the final. From there he led into turn one and didn’t look back, even returning to the lead after taking his joker lap. Last round’s winner, Johan Kristoffersson failed to make the final, having finished fifth in his semi-final.

Solberg didn’t have a monopoly on the action however – watch Tord Linnerud’s astonishing recovery from a turn one spin above.

World Touring Car Championship


The third WTCC weekend of the year saw Jose Maria Lopez win race one after a brilliant start from third on the grid, relegating Citroen team mate Yvan Muller to second. Hugo Valente took his second WTCC podium with third.

The partially-reversed grid for race two handed pole position to local hero Norbert Michelisz, who duly romped to a popular victory. Tom Coronel and Tom Chilton took second and third in their ROAL Motorsport Chevrolets, the team’s first double podium since 2008. Sebastien Loeb, Ma Qing Hua and Rob Huff had a first corner collision, the Lada driver retiring with a damaged wheel. Lopez finished sixth behind Loeb, but retains a 34-point lead over his team mate in the championship.

Auto GP


Having abandoned its planned season-opener in Morocoo due to ‘political reasons’, the Auto GP championship finally began in Hungary, though its meagre field of nine hinted at the real reason for the postponement.

In the wet first race on Saturday (above), former GP3 runner-up Facu Regalia took victory ahead of Antonio Pizzonia. The former Williams driver started on pole and led away, but ran wide late on to allow Regalia through to win. Pizzonia made amends in race two, winning despite a late rain shower. Rookie Leonardo Pulcini put in a very impressive in his drive to second place, particularly given the 16-year-old is less than half Pizzonia’s age.

Video highlights not available at present


Talladega Superspeedway

Which race do you watch expecting to see 27 lead changes, 15 race leaders and a 15-car pile-up? NASCAR at Talladega of course. Dale Earnhardt Jnr won the 500-miler, fending off strong competition from Jimmie Johnson and Paul Menard.

Next up for the drivers is the Kansas Speedway for the Spongebob Squarepants 400. No, really.

V8 Supercars

Barbagallo Raceway

The series thundered into the Barbagallo Raceway in Perth with three races following the ‘Super Sprint’ format. On the short, flowing circuit, it was Ford driver Mark Winterbottom who won the first two races from pole, with team-mate Chaz Mostert second in race one and the Red Bull Holden of Jamie Whincup behind in race two.

Race three (above) saw a shock winner, as Will Davison took his Mercedes from seventh on the grid to take victory in the final stages ahead of Craig Lowndes as the tyre strategies took centre stage.

Next up for the V8s is the Winton round in two weeks’ time.

Thanks to @Mathers for contributing article as @bradley13 is away.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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43 comments on “WEC sizzles at Spa and rain delivers DTM thrills”

  1. It was the #18 Porsche who came second with Jani, Lieb and Dumas. Hartley was given a penalty and also had gearbox issues and thus dropped to the back. They fought back to come third though.

    1. Also, a record 1,2k km distance has been done within the 6 hours race.

  2. F1 should rethink it’s safety car rules. In DTM botg Safety cars stayed out for just two laps. No unlapping, quick marshalls.

    If F1 could manage safety car periods that short, there would be no need for a virtual safety car. But that would be too easy for Mr. E…

    1. The SC periods were as short as they were because the car that had gone off was easy to recover as it was right next to a gap in the wall & there was no lapped cars that needed to be let by (Usually DTM would do that just as F1 does).

      On balance SC periods in DTM are usually just as long as in F1 & most other categories.

      On the lapped cars point, I like that F1 gets lapped cars out the way as I remember times when we had close battles completely destroyed by lapped cars been in the way on restarts & not getting out of the way for the faster cars behind. In fact the whole reason they started getting lapped cars out of the way was because everyone complained about it when they were in the way. Then when they initially got rid of the rule in 2010 because complained & wanted it to be brought back which is why they did.

      1. I can’t remember a “close” batzle being destroyed by backmarkers behind a safety car. In order to be between two front runners behind the safety car, the gap between those should be around 4-5 seconds. If the gap is smaller than that, the backmarkers almost always make part for both at once. In most cases tge leader looses most of its advantage, I don’t think it’s wrong to give him at least the backmarkers as a “cussion”.

        Despite that, I think the rule for lapped cars to unlap themselfes is just beyond stupid, as it creates unnessesary long safety-car periods. Safety cars should be for safety, not for the show.

        On the point that the cars were easy to recover: At the hairpin-crash there were three cars involved iirc? Still think that was impressive work from the marshalls :)

        1. I watched the 2010 Brazilian Gp last week & the SC/lapped cars totally destroyed the end of that race & the few close battles there had been got strung out by lapped cars that were completely asleep on the restart & several gaps ended up been bigger than they had been before the SC came out.

          I also remember the 2006 Melbourne race where the 2 Midlands refused to get out of the way on a restart, Let the leader have a 6 second lead before he even got to the line & then they caused complete chaos with the drivers from 2nd-6th which resulted in big gaps forming between everyone.

          I get that the SC is for safety & not the show & that the leader had earned the gap he had before, But what about the cars behind?
          The leader has the advantage on a restart of a clear track ahead, Its the cars behind him who have there races interfered with due to lapped cars getting in there way & I can remember a dozen races where cars from 2nd-back lost out big time due to lapped cars, Not just lost out to the leader but also cars they had been racing Pre-SC & I remember a dozen times where lapped cars cost drivers places on restarts.

          The fairest thing for all drivers is to get lapped cars out of the way so that nobody is disadvantaged on the restart.

          The thing I would agree with however is that letting them overtake isn’t the best way to do it as that does extend the SC period. What I woudl do is bring lapped cars into the pit lane & have them wait on the red light at pit exit until the lead lap cars have gone by & then release the lapped cars at the back of the line.

    2. @lheela. How is BE responsible for Safety Car rules?

  3. Thanks for a great motosport (car) wrap up :)

  4. So despite all the hype around multi manufacturer teams and close racing, Audi is still dominating WEC an still looks like the pre-Le Mans favourite what a different positive PR makes.

    1. Winning ≠ dominating. It was a fairly close race which was nowhere near a foregone conclusion.

      As for ‘still’; Audi has made solid progress since last year when, you’ll recall, they won neither the driver’s nor the constructor’s championship, both of which went to Toyota.

    2. There have been 12 hours of racing in the WEC so far, featuring zero safety cars and no rain, and yet Audi has a combined winning margin of around 18 seconds. I’d hardly consider that to be dominant, considering that Porsche have qualified on pole in the last 5 races – something that Audi hasn’t done since 2013. And when you look at the reliability issues that have affected all manufacturers this year, Le Mans is looking anything but predictable.

    3. @geemac – 13 seconds margin after 6 hours. That’s 21.600 seconds of racing, they won by a margin of 0.0006% of the race time. Yes, dominating indeed. In F1 terms that’s a win margin of about 3s.

    4. Porsche and Audi are very evenly matched from what I have seen. Both were running very similar lap times (the 12 second gap is evidence of that over six hours, as has been pointed out). In fact Porsche overtook the Audi before the final pit stop.

    5. @geemac
      As @cashnotclass said, Winning ≠ dominating. Not even close in this case. The Spa race was mainly a strategy problem for Porsche as they learn…and Dr. Ullrich has an awesome team at managing the race for Audi! I think if they swapped cars right now, the Audi team with the Porsche cars would have won Spa by a full lap. Porsche simply had some tactical errors and some bad luck. But Porsche are still new and learning.

      Audi simply covered every move that Porsche tried to make and Porsche went too long on their double stinted tires. The 18 also got held up in the final stint when it was chasing and lost a total of about 6 seconds across two laps when chasing and Lieb had an “off” that cost another 4-5 seconds the previous stint. The really bad thing about that off was that he got too aggressive at the wrong place and had the off…which then made him too shy and he stopped going for it at legitimate spots later. On another occasion, Treluyer managed to use two GT cars to “pick off Lieb” when Lieb had him dead on for a pass. It took Lieb two more laps to catch back up and make the pass and Treluyer managed to immediately dive into the pits to change tires after making Lieb wear his out trying to pass twice.

      Audi also managed to cut about 10 seconds off during pit work in the 4th and 5th pit stops compared to Porsche. That is simply experience and great management from Audi.

      After all of this, if the Porsche 17 car had stayed healthy, they were clearly the fastest car on the track and might have still pulled off the win. Even the drive through penalty wouldn’t have made much difference in the long run.

      Porsche has SUCH an advantage right now in the straights that they should have an edge for Le Mans. But they are going to have to learn to avoid the errors and also work on reliability in that 17 car.

    6. To be honest, it would seem like you’ve not seen the race. Audi weren’t dominating. They won because of strategy. The Porsche is the fastest car right now over a single lap. Audi are just able to manage their tyres slightly better.

      Le Mans will be fascinating this year, especially if Nissan get their act together. Hopefully we’ll see a Toyota resurgence too.

      1. @sw6569 They have won the title last year and seem so passive this year. They don’t look like Le Mans winners right now if both Audi and Porsche bring three cars. That being said Audi didn’t look like Le Mans winners last year either.

        1. @xtwl I can’t help but wonder why Toyota seem almost passive this year. Did they just “miss” on the car this year or do they hopefully have something up their sleeve to be at least relevant at Le Mans???

    7. Audi is still dominating WEC

      Didn’t Toyota win last year?

      1. @matt90
        Yes. I think @sw6569 was right and it seems he didn’t actually see the race but rather read the headlines.

        As for last year, I think more “casual” WEC fans confuse winning Le Mans with winning the WEC championships.

    8. pxcmerc (@)
      5th May 2015, 4:21

      I almost hit report user for this one, lolz. Porsche clearly have the fastest car over one lap, Audi have the better racing car, Audi had the better strategy and drivers. In Le Mans, Audi will probably be quicker vs Porsche given the increase in lap time, sooooo, Audi might dominate Le Mans, but they are hardly dominating WEC, Toyota need to catch up.

  5. Really enjoy these descriptions and video round-ups.

    Keep it up guys!!

  6. Wow, I thought Auto GP died last year.

    1. There was another series called Formula Acceleration which used the same cars as AutoGP & that series died (After only 1 year) & ended up merging with AutoGp for 2015.

      1. The merger between FA1 and AutoGP fell through a few weeks ago. Which is over if the reasons the grid was so small this weekend.

        The racing was actually better than what we used to see last year. But I still think this series is doomed

        1. *over if = one of

  7. I always like the Nascar videos because they look super smooth at 60fps, when F1 decides to put live races online that’s how I want them to look.

  8. Keith, no offence, but I think that your vague comment about Kazuki Nakajima suffering from a back injury understates the severity of his injuries.

    Nakajima’s back injury was a broken vetebrae, and Toyota have indicated that Nakajima will not be fit for the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June (they are now preparing Kobayashi to take over his seat). Given that is actually a relatively severe injury that will put him out of the sport for several months, I would have thought that it would have warranted more than just a passing reference. http://www.crash.net/sportscars/news/218210/1/wec-nakajima-fractures-vertebra-in-spa-crash.html

    1. I was standing at the crash and by the time it took the doctors to get him out of the car it was easy to tell this was bad and most likely he was injured at his head or back. I’ve seen a lot of big crashes at Spa on almost all corners but this one was one of the worst.

      1. @xtwl
        Thanks for the update. It’s always nice to get impressions from people who were actually at the track to give context to incidents.

    2. An F1 driver’s comment on Spa comes to my mind. It was something along the lines of “this track is one of the remaining few on the calendar on which you can still have a very big shunt.”

      With all the appreciation this majestic circuit gets, this is, sadly, true.

  9. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v0piK3dLank

    There was also a fantastic Super GT race held at Fuji Speedway over the weekend, where one Nissan LMP1 driver’s performance was especially highlighted over the weekend.

  10. I guess it was a good weekend not to watch motoracing, a little better than the previous one.

  11. Also Jorge Lorenzo won in Estoril in Motogp, ahead of Marquez and Rossi.

    1. pxcmerc (@)
      5th May 2015, 4:19

      yeah, he didn’t have any real issues with his tires that weekend, go figure.

    2. It was at Jerez, Spanish Grand Prix.

  12. The NASCAR race, despite the number of lead changes which was still high relative to other series, was, for once, dull: the lead changes fell short of what became the standard in restrictor plate races over the last one or two years, there wasn’t a pass for the win in the last laps as per usual and it was a bit processional one-lane, “follow the leader” type of competition during the last stint.

    The Big One was truly big, though, 14 cars involved (15 is sic, IMO) is just a few short of the records.

    1. there wasn’t a pass for the win in the last laps as per usual

      When the unpredictability becomes predictable and we don’t know anymore what we want…

    2. I used to love NASCAR when they were real (but not stock) cars despite the oval tracks, I made a point of watching a highly hyped race a few years ago, to see all the overtaking that was supposedly missing from F1, and indeed there were multiple passes throughout the race but they happened at the speed of treacle, reminded me of my yachtracing days where an extra .01 knots speed would gain a place after a mile or so, very exciting for those onboard but apparently as exciting as paint drying for the unknowing masses.

      1. you might not like nascar, but the success of the series shows that people find it more exciting then watching paint dry. infact many “knowing masses” of racing fans find it more exciting then f1, perhaps because each race is a “Race” instead of a procession of the fastest far followed by the rest…

  13. Talladega always seems to produce the “big one” in terms of crashes. But for some reason I always hated the restrictor plates and even more so the “bump drafting” that goes on at some of the super speedways (not sure if they do that anymore, however).

    1. LyndaGreen
      5th May 2015, 1:22

      Your not the only one, Most of the drivers hate the restrictor plate racing as well.

      “It’s really not racing,” Earnhardt said. “It’s a little disappointing how that all went down. … Really, that was all right?
      “It’s not safe. Wrecking like that is ridiculous. It’s bloodthirsty if that’s what people want.”

      “You put a lot of faith in your safety equipment and you kind of white-knuckle, hold on tight,” Gordon said. “I remember when coming to Talladega was fun.
      “I really do, and I haven’t experienced that in a long, long time. I don’t like coming here. I don’t like the type of racing that I have to do.”

      I’ve also had the impression the past 10 years that the fans have been growing tired of it as well as Nascar’s TV ratings have been in decline as has the circuit attendance. Daytona & Talladega used to always be full but past few years they have had a real hard time filling the stands.
      I don’t think that tandem draft nonsence that we saw a few years ago helped much.

      The more artificial & at times downright gimmickey stuff they have thrown in & the more focus they have put on ‘The show’ at times at the expense of the racing the less popular its got.
      The final straw for me was the new championship system they brought in last year which in my view brings into question if it can really even be considered a championship anymore because over half of the season doesn’t really count for anything anymore, Its basically a series of races that don’t mean anything for drivers who don’t win a race that leads into a weird knockout system at the end where for most of the field points totals over the year are completely irrelevant.
      A championship should be points earned over a season & not something that gets reset for the final few races so that those only those who qualify for those final races end up having a shot. Its a pathetic system.

      In terms of home grown racing Indycar looks to be on the rise recently & thats whats gets me & my husbands full attention now. Got tickets for The Indy Gp & Indy 500 over the next few weeks so its going to be a fun month :)

  14. The Tudor/IMSA sportscar race at Laguna Seca was pretty entertaining. 35 cars on a 2.3 mile track made for some interesting traffic situations.


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