Frederic Vervisch/Laurens Vanthoor, Audi R8 LMS, GT Series Sprint Cup, Misnao, 2016

Huge field for GT Series season-opener

Weekend racing wrap

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A huge 39-car field contested the opening round of the GT Series Sprint Cup. There was one more car on the grid for the NASCAR round in Texas – but 13 were wiped out in a single shunt.

Guest series: GT Series Sprint Cup

Race 1 of 5: Misano

Laurens Vanthoor and Frederic Vervisch won the season-opening race at Misano in a WRT-run Audi. But they were pushed hard by the HTP Mercedes of Dominik Baumann and Maximilian Buhk – the latter was just 1.6 seconds behind Vanthoor at the flag.

Watch the full race above plus highlights of the qualifying race.

NASCAR

Race 7 of 36: Fort Worth

NASCAR, Texas, 2016
Texas saw a large field too – but many crashed out
Kyle Busch moved into the lead of the points standings with his second consecutive NASCAR Cup victory. This came despite a pit lane collision with Jimmie Johnson, who also continued to finish fourth.

Dale Earnhardt Jnr was second despite also encountering drama in the pits, leaving one of his pit stops with flames licking his car.

A major 13-car crash late in the race aided Busch’s cause: he drew clear following the restart with 33 laps to go and never looked back. Having also won the Truck race at Martinsville and Friday’s Xfinity race, Busch became the first driver since Harry Grant in 1991 to sweep consecutive weekends.

Also last weekend

Marc Marquez eased to his fourth consecutive Circuit of the Americas victory, sustaining his perfect record at the track since Moto GP started racing their in 2013. Valentino Rossi fell early on, while Andrea Dovizioso was wiped out for the second race in a row, this time by an out of control – and apologetic – Dani Pedrosa. Cal Crutchlow also fell, while seconds later compatriot Bradley Smith repeated the incident in sympathy, nearly wiping Crutchlow out.

Michael Schumacher’s son Mick leads the Italian Formula Four championship following his first weekend in the championship. Misano hosted the first of seven quadruple-headers and after Schumacher triumphed in the opening races Raul Guxman and Marcos Siebert took honours in the remaining two races.

Over to you

Louis Deletraz, Fortec, Circuit de Catalunya, Formula V8 3.5, 2016
Formula Renault 3.5 returns as Formula V8 3.5
What racing action did you watch last weekend? Let us know in the comments.

Meanwhile set your recorders, reminders and alarm clocks for a mega weekend of motor racing action. As well as round three of the Formula One world championship in China we will have the opening rounds of the World Endurance Championship, Formula V8 3.5 and World Rallycross.

IndyCar heads to Long Beach and there’s tin-top action galore with IMSA, NASCAR, WTCC, BTCC and V8 Supercars all racing.

Which of those will you be watching? And if that’s not enough, what other races are on your must-see list?

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  • 18 comments on “Huge field for GT Series season-opener”

    1. The SLS (old SC) was never a big succes in GT racing, it was sluggish and a handfull on tight circuits. The AMG GT (new SC) however seems to be one hell of a good car. Still off the R8 but in the capable hands of Bukh very good indeed. Surprise of the race for me was Felix. Never been his biggest fan but he showed some pace in the new Mercedes.

      M6 was lucky to be on the podium twice, first helped by the FCY and in the main race thanks to the failure on Rosenqvist his a car. BMW seems to not have succeeded in creating a good next gen car of the Z4. Ferrari failed to deliver all but one 488s so the 333 has to race with their ‘old’ 458, a team to watch for sure. Shame Porsche is under represented. Looking forward to the next races.

      Marc Marquez took his fourth consecutive victory in COTA ahead of Lorenzo and Iannone. Rossi fell for the first time since ages and Pedrose hit Dovi. Marquez well clear in the standings. If it wasn’t for all the falling a rather average race.

      Next weekend WEC and IMSA again along with the Chinese GP. If the grid of the latter is not that interesting I’ll watch on replay…

      1. @xtwl I was always under the impression the SLS was a vanity project first and a performance sports car second. Nobody gives a serious sports car gullwing doors and that 6 litre engine was just a recipe for tyre smoke and ‘POWARRRRRSH*TUNDERSTEEEEER’ :)

      2. WilliamB (@william-brierty)
        11th April 2016, 14:25

        @xtwl – Why are you not a fan of Rosenqvist? Yes, he should have moved on from F3 years ago, but that was more to do with a lack of budget, rather than talent. Yes, he had a poor campaign in 2014 with Mucke Motorsport, but I would still rate him ahead of many drivers on the current F1 grid. His compatriot especially…

      3. @xtwl @optimaximal I actually like the SLS in Grid Autosport, exactly because of the stability and the predictability it provides with the understeer. It’s my favorurite GT3 car. I can dial it out to a large extent and on the occasions my car loses balance still, I’d like it to be more tight than loose. I know it’s easier to remain on the limit in a loose car than in a tight one, but I’m still more comfortable – and thus, I think, on the long run, quicker – with the latter.

      4. The difference between the cars is more down to the teams operationally than the actual cars as balance of performance means the cars are virtually all the same.

      5. @xtwl, actually, the success rate of the old SLS GT3 car was fairly decent when you compare it to its rivals.

        It is true that the Ferrari 458 and Audi R8 LMS might have racked up more wins and podium finishes (66 wins for the 458 and 82 for the R8 against 44 for the SLS), but on the other hand both Ferrari and Audi participated in more races (518 for the R8 and 364 for Ferrari, as opposed to 307 for the SLS). Audi and Ferrari also had a much larger customer base as well (1645 recorded entrants for the 458 and 1589 for the R8, against 859 for the SLS).

        When you look at their relative success rate, the SLS won about 14.3% of the races it took part in, not that far behind the R8 (15.8%), with Ferrari a little further ahead (18.1%). They have been more successful than Aston Martin have been with the V12 Vantage though (which only has a 13.2% win rate, albeit with a small number of entries (159)), and they also rank ahead of BMW’s Z4 too (both in terms of total wins, BMW having won 36 of its 295 races, and in terms of percentage win rate, with BMW on 12.2%).

        When you take into account the fact that Audi and Ferrari were more strongly represented – Ferrari having, on average, double the number of entrants that Mercedes had in a typical race – I would say that the SLS GT3 was actually more of a success in the GT3 category than you have given it credit for.

    2. I have so much to record this weekend as I will be at Silverstone for the 4 hours and 6 hours events! I’m incredibly thankful for modern recording technology! I’m a bit disappointed that I’ll be missing Long Beach but that’ll give me something to do on Tuesday.

      Also on the grid in the F4 races was another familiar name apparently in Maldonado: this one being Manuel Maldonado, Pastor’s cousin.

      1. Same here, I can’t wait! Planning to do the full weekend, it’s always a treat going to Silverstone for the WEC weekend, particularly with the underrated ELMS supporting. Just a shame the Formula 3 won’t be on the bill this year. But I’ll be getting up early, watching the Grand Prix, heading to the circuit for 6 hours of racing, then heading back to watch the Long Beach Grand Prix. Perfect way to spend a Sunday.

      2. Me too, I go to the UTC too so I’m gonna get some bonus viewing thriugh the week!

    3. @bradley13 Super GT season kicked off in Japan last weekend. Will you include it to Weekend Racing Wraps in the future?

      1. It was weird that not one English-language news site mentioned Super GT in the past week. I actually forgot all about it until I saw your post.

        Luckily the full race is on YT.

    4. WilliamB (@william-brierty)
      11th April 2016, 14:19

      It was pretty amazing that in Rosenqvist’s first weekend as a GT driver he was right on the pace of established GT masters Vanthoor, Buhk and Eng. Saying that, Frijns won the overall Blancpain GT series in his first year and gave some lessons to his much-lauded teammate in Moscow and Portimao last year. Is GT3 machinery not particularly challenging to master?

      1. @william-brierty, there may be a certain element of that given that a number of GT3 customers are often only semi professional racing drivers – you would therefore expect that the manufacturers will take into account the fact that the cars need to be reasonably accessible in order for their customers to have a chance of being competitive.

    5. Gerulf Dösinger (@)
      11th April 2016, 19:26

      I love the Blancpain GT Series, follow it since 2014 and never missed a race thanks to the free (!) and easy access via YouTube.

      This series that contradicts a lot of F1’s principles and is – of course – nowhere near F1’s technological level produces racing which keeps you on the edge of your seat from when the lights turn green to the chequered flag.

      I am not saying Formula 1 should return to V8s or V10 or scrap technological advances altogether but it’s funny how a GT3 series that goes so much slower and has so much more ‘inefficient’ aero looks at times so much faster than Formula1 because you got drivers in close battles all the time, you can see the cars and drivers ‘twitch’ and the racing is so much more unforgiving. Looking forward to the next race.

      1. Absolutely agree with you on how fan-friendly GT3 racing is and how this approach is the polar opposite of F1’s. Yes, F1 is the pinnacle of technology while the relative performance of GT3 cars is determined by BoP, but as long as great battles for position are happening, it’s still a joy to watch.

        I too, became hooked on GT3 almost entirely because of the accessibility and quality of online streams. And it’s not just Blancpain, but all the myriad national GT series that have embraced the formula (ADAC GT, PWC, Super GT, Brit GT, etc.)

        1. Gerulf Dösinger (@)
          12th April 2016, 10:45

          Exactly. It’s so accessible and engaging, online and in real life, it embraces fandom! :) And I completely agree on how the national/local championships further promote the idea behind GT3 racing.

          And what makes me even more a fan is how the BlancpainGT series is presented in the live-streams: Lots of good content, a very professional on-air design and most of all the commentary is outstanding and engaging l and John Watson is simply perfect in his ways! :)

    6. Its so sad how many of these series are experiencing a resurgence – and some are even having golden years – and yet F1 continues it’s slow public implosion

    7. That Blancpain race was excellent. I really enjoyed it. But for good racing you ought to turn your attention to Aussie Race Cars. In particular have a look at this 2015 Aussie Racing Cars – Phillip Island – Race 3 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_YuCnwEm3LQ&nohtml5=False. Maximum excitement, and real entertainment. I’m not suggesting that F1 should be based on Aussie Race Cars, but I think this shows that minimal aero and similar power allows cars to follow closely at maximum efficiency and promotes superb entertainment for the fans. I enjoyed it anyway.

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