WRC title won while rain triggers Nurburgring drama

Weekend racing wrap

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Sebastien Ogier clinched his third consecutive World Rally Championship title in Australia over the weekend. The Volkswagen driver stamped his authority on the series again and took the crown with three races to spare.

The Formula Renault 3.5 championship is looking ever more likely to go to Oliver Rowland who won again at the Nurburgring in the first race before rain played havoc with the second.

Elsewhere Citroen had a rare defeat in the World Touring Car Championship, the Indy Lights title was clinched at Laguna Seca and NASCAR prepares to begin its Chase for the Cup.

World Rally Championship

Round 10: Australia

Australia’s rally shouldn’t really be won by the championship leader, who has to run first on the road on the opening two days before the dusty, gravelly course has been swept by other cars.

Nonetheless Sebastien Ogier took the win and claimed the title along with it. He produced a sublime performance marked only by a mistake on the shakedown stage before the rally even started. Jari-Matti Latvala and Kris Meeke completed the podium, the latter on there for the first time since his win in Argentina.

Next round: France (2nd – 4th October)

Formula Renault 3.5

Round 7: Nurburgring, Germany

Oliver Rowland moved within touching distance of the title after winning the first of the weekend’s races at the Nurburging. His pole-to-flag was his eighth in the category, a new record, putting him one ahead of Antonio Felix da Costa and Esteban Guerrieri.

While race one was straightforward, race two was anything but. Rowland started from pole position again but struggled to get away on the damp track with slick tyres and was knocked into a spin by Gustav Malja, leaving him last. Those who elected to start on wet tyres dived for the pits as soon as the mandatory pit stop window opened, and a Safety Car appearance moments later played into their hands. That cost early runaway leader Pietro Fantin the chance of a breakthrough triumph.

The Strakka team inherited a one-two but eventual winner Tio Ellinas and team mate Malja swapped places twice in a frantic last lap as the rain returned. Meanwhile both Rowland and title rival Mathieu Vaxiviere had off-track excursions, finishing tenth and eleventh respectively.

Next race: Le Mans Bugatti, France (26th – 27th September)

Super Formula

Round 5: Autopolis, Japan

The start of the race had a familiar look: Hiroaki Ishiura on pole position again, but he and fellow front row occupant Kamui Kobayashi were passed by a fast-staring Kazuki Nakajima from third. Joao Paulo de Oliveira made up five places to take sixth while Andre Lotterer was given a drive-through penalty for a jump start.

Kobayashi pitted on lap 29 from third, opting to change all four tyres with a 20 second stop, while the leading pair of Nakajima and Ishiura pitted on lap 45, stopping for fuel only and two front tyres respectively. The top three remained in the same order when they emerged from the pitlane, but with Ishiura closer than ever.

However Nakajima held on to take the win, his first of the 2015 season, followed by Ishiura and Kobayashi. The best-placed Honda was Naoki Yamamoto down in seventh. Ishiura now leads the title race with 41 points, seven ahead of Nakajima with only two races to go.

Next race: Sugo, Japan (18th October)


Round 7: Motorsport Arena Oschersleben, Germany

Former F1 driver Timo Glock claimed his first ever DTM pole position ahead of the weekend, and duly followed it up with only his second ever victory in the series. His BMW marque proved nearly as strong here as they were at Zandvoort, taking seven of the top eight positions, with only Mercedes’ Pascal Wehrlein interrupting it in fifth place.

BMW had another top four lock-out in race two, as rookie Tom Blomqvist – from second on the grid behind team mate Augustus Farfus – scorched to his first win in the series. Wehrlein was fifth once more to extend his championship lead on a weekend when closest rival Mattias Ekstrom and Edoarado Mortara failed to score points.

Next race: Nurburgring, Germany (26th – 27th September)

World Touring Car Championship

Round 9: Twin Ring Motegi, Japan

Motegi’s first WTCC round didn’t get off to the best of starts when an earthquake measuring 5.3 on the Richter scale shook Tokyo on Saturday morning, with the effects being felt in Motegi. Thankfully no damage or harm was done, and later in the day Norbert Michelisz gave the home fans reason to cheer by putting his Honda Civic on pole position – the first time Citroen have been beaten in qualifying all year.

He was unable to prevent the usual Citroen triumph in race one – points leader Jose-Maria Lopez took the honours, but Honda finished two-three on the podium with Michelisz beating factory driver Gabriele Tarquini.

Race two was a more unusual affair as the Citroens hit trouble: Lopez retired with a puncture while Muller suffered contact and dropped far down the order. Honda’s podium pair from Saturday also struggled, paving the way for fellow Honda man Tiago Monteiro to take the honours ahead of Hugo Valente and Rob Huff.

Next race: Shanghai, China (27th September)

V8 Supercars

Round 9: Sandown Raceway, Melbourne

Race one featured the guest co-drivers before the regulars joined them for the 500-mile main event.

Holden’s Paul Dumbrell took co-driver honours which set the grid for the main race ahead of the Ford duo of Steve Owen and Cameron Waters, while further back the Volvo pair of Alexandre Premat and Chris Pither were involved in incidents along with Nissan’s Alex Buncombe.

In the main event, Ford were at the forefront with Mark Winterbottom finishing just six tenths ahead of Chaz Mostert. Dumbrell and Whincup were in the lead for the majority of the race but a puncture forced an extra pitstop plummeting them down to 15th position. Shane van Gisbergen finished third ten seconds back, with Garth Tander fourth. The result leaves Winterbottom 198 points clear of Chas Mostert.

Next race: Mount Panorama Circuit, Bathurst (11th October)


Round 26: Richmond International Raceway, Richmond

Matt Kenseth dominated the final round of the normal season before the 2015 Chase for the Cup begins, giving Joe Gibbs their eighth win from eleven races. Kenseth was at the front for 352 of 400 laps, only losing his lead during restarts.

Team mate Kyle Busch highlighted the Gibbs Toyota’s dominance with a second place finish, while pole sitter Joey Logano ended up third after a strategy error early in the race. The places for the Chase field are now set and the following 16 drivers will compete for the championship in a knockout competition over the remaining ten races.

Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Busch, Matt Kenseth, Joey Logano, Kevin Harvick, Dale Earnhardt Jnr, Kurt Busch, Kyle Edwards, Brad Keselowski, Martin Truez Jnr, Denny Hamlin, Jamie McMurray, Jeff Gordon, Ryan Newman, Paul Menard and Clint Bowyer.

Next race: Chicagoland Speedway (20th September)

Also last weekend

Spencer Pigot beat Jack Harvey to the Indy Lights crown after taking victory in both races at Laguna Seca. Harvey, who arrived at the season finale double-header as the points leader, was penalised for a jump start in the final race.

Over to you

We’ve got Formula One and World Endurance Championship action on the same weekend, with the Singapore Grand Prix and Six Hours of the Circuit of the Americas coming up.

The World Rallycross championship will be at another F1 venue, using thier abridged version of their Circuit de Catalunya, and NASCAR’s Chase for the Cup will begin.

Thanks to Robert Mathershaw (@Mathers) for contributing to this article.

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8 comments on “WRC title won while rain triggers Nurburgring drama”

  1. The WRC battle in Australia was really interesting but, like in F1, Ogier ruins the fun; he is one step above everybody else, and you know from the beginning that he’s going to win in the end, you’re just playing a guessing game of when he will come to the top place, if bad luck doesn’t hit on him. Some of the most interesting rallies this year were the ones where Ogier had hit trouble that allowed his rivals to catch up and battle for the first place.

    1. “Sebastien wins WRC round” Only the surname and car brand have changed since the 20th century, but nothing wrong with that.
      I am living about 200Km away from the Coffs Hbr. area, had I been following WRC like I used to when it was on FTA tv I would have gone to spectate live, as it was the unexpected Sunday coverage on “1” was a welcome opportunity to watch a tense and exciting round of motorsport, pity it’s not more accessible, but that’s what happens with paywalls.

  2. Speaking of DTM:
    I started watching the Race on ESPN, and soon began to wonder if I had missed something, or if there is an unmentioned feud going on between the ESPN commentators and Augusto Farfus. The Brazilian started from pole, but was caught by his first row neighbour Blomqvist on the run down to turn 1. I didn’t think he had a particularly bad getaway, as the gap to the cars that started in second row more or less stayed the same, it ultimately came down to Blomqvist having a better start.
    Judging from the comments, however, it must’ve been a catastrophic start. They must’ve said that half a dozen times in the first couple of minutes, a multiple-car pileup at the first corner notwithstanding. They even went so far as to label another driver’s start (losing several places) a “Farfus-esque start”. OK, wow.
    I can’t stand driver-bashing, so I ended up switching to German TV (which turned out to be a good decision, as the commentators were having a good time, spending more time off than on topic, but that’s a different story).
    Yet, that experience left me wondering:
    Does Farfus have a reputation of producing bad starts? Is it possible that his start was actually terrible, but I didn’t recognise that? Or is there another explanation for the harsh criticism after what seemed to be a rather normal, unremarkable start?

    1. There is an official English-language YouTube 60fps stream for each race with no ads. Or is that the one you implied by “German TV”?

      1. @njoydesign
        No, I’m talking about actual German TV, in German. They do stream it, too, but I switched on the teevo instead. In fact, it’s been a couple of years since I last watched a DTM race, and in my memory, the german commentators were rather underwhelming. Well, not this time. I might tune in again if I get bored on a rainy Sunday afternoon.

  3. Watched race 1 of the DTM… and that was enough. BMW are leading the Manufacturers’ standings, what a joke! They only ever win races because they’re so hopeless, they end up being the only ones without success ballast, and boy, just 30 kg of ballast is devastating in the DTM! Meanwhile, Loeb out-dragged Tarquini to the line in a car 60 kg heavier in the WTCC, and in GT500 in the Super GT, run to similar rules to the DTM, a car carrying 72 kg of ballast managed third at Suzuka last time…
    I’m baffled as to why 30 kg in the DTM kicks you out of the points, while 60 does next to nothing to the Citroëns in the WTCC. Will next weekend’s Super GT race in Sugo be a Honda rout? I’d bet against that, and I hope I’m right, because I feel the Super GT has got its success ballast policy right: it’s a handicap, but you can still produce a good result.
    Rant over.

  4. Missed Moto GP’s fantastic race at Misano… rain caused a few pit stops for everyone and was pretty dramatic.

  5. Will Palmer took the BRDC F4 title at Donington, whilst Harrison Newey scored his first win. Palmer wins £30 000 plus a GP3 test, and a further 60 000 euros if he takes a GP3 seat. Interestingly F4, Formula E and Formula Jedi all posted similar 1:30 laptimes.

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