The last round of the World Endurance Championship before the Le Mans 24 Hours raised expectations for a vintage edition of the endurance classic next month.
A busy weekend of racing saw the new DTM season open at the Hockenheimring and a revamped Marrakesh street circuit hosting the World Touring Car Championship. However the British series was forced to run three shortened races at the fast Thruxton circuit as where tyres suffered even more punishment than usual in unseasonal heat.
Catch up on all those below plus more video highlights from World Rallycross, NASCAR, Supercars and more.
World Endurance Championship
Race 2 or 9: Belgium
Audi claimed their first World Endurance Championship victory for 12 months at Spa as there was no repeat of their Silverstone disqualification. But the story of the race was how the three manufacturer teams raced each other to destruction – by the time the chequered flag had fallen enough of them had hit trouble to again allow one of the independent Rebellion cars onto the podium.
Porsche led the field away at the start cut the Marc Lieb/Neel Jani/Romain Dumas car was soon in trouble and had to reduce its hybrid boost levels for the remainder of the race. The car still came home in second, however. The fast-starting Audis initially kept Toyota contained, but the TS050s clearly enjoyed superior cornering performance and the result was a riveting scrap.
Toyota’s progress was blunted, however, when Mike Conway tangled with Nick Heidfeld. The same pair had also hit each other during two weeks ago in Paris driving Formula E cars but this time Conway was to blame. The other TS050 led most of the race until engine failure forced it out.
With the other Porsche spending over an hour and a half in the pits to have an energy recovery system replaced that left the untroubled Audi of Lucas di Grassi, Loic Duval and Oliver Jarvis to grab the win. But as far as next month’s big race is concerned, all bets are off.
In LMP2, Signatech Alpine won with Nicolas Lapierre, Stephane Richelmi and Gustavo Menezes. GTE Pro saw Ferrari dominate with Sam Bird and Davide Rigon while the sister car of Gianmaria Bruni and James Calado retired ten minutes from home and Stefan Mucke suffered a huge crash at Eau Rouge in his Ford GT. GTE Am was won by the Aston Martin of Paul Dalla Lana, Pedro Lamy and Mathias Lauda.
Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters
Round 1 (Races 1-2 of 18): Hockenheimring
Paul di Resta returned to the top step of the podium in race two of the Hockenheim season-opener – his first victory since taking the title in 2010. Fourth in race one gives him an early lead in the points over Mercedes team mate Robert Wickens.
Edoardo Mortara took a similarly straightforward win for Audi in race one. But he was unable to add to his points tally in the Sunday race after being delayed by a lap-one collision involving Jamie Green, Bruno Spengler and debutant Esteban Ocon.
World Touring Car Championship
Round 4 (Races 7-8 of 24): Morocco
Tom Coronel took his first WTCC win in three years with victory in the opening race at a revised Marrakesh circuit. James Thompson started on pole but was quickly nerfed off by Hugo Valente, with the Lada driver being handed a penalty for the incident.
Nicky Catsburg also ran Thed Bjork off, with the Lada man again receiving the penalty. Up front Coronel resisted pressure from reigning champion Jose Maria Lopez to win ahead of him and his Citroen team mate Yvan Muller.
The weather took a dramatic change for race two as the rain crept in, but unlike the previous round in Hungary there was no question on which tyres to use. Rob Huff led from pole position and went on to take the win ahead of team mates Norbert Michelisz and Tiago Monteiro, though the latter briefly lost third to Lopez but reclaimed it when the Citroen man slipped up.
World Rallycross Championship
Race 2 of 12: Hockenheimring
Mattias Ekstrom was on double duty at the Hockenheimring where he was also in action for Audi in the DTM. His rallycross outing was more successful, however, yielding victory ahead of team mate Topi Heikkinen. The Swede led the overnight classification, but was beaten by Heikkinen in the first semi-final to finish second, while Liam Doran pulled out a magnificent performance in semi-final two to reach the final ahead of Ken Block and Petter Solberg. Ekstrom won a frantic final ahead of Heikkinen, Block, Solberg, Doran and Robin Larsson.
Peugeot had a difficult weekend with Sebastien Loeb missing out on the final by one place and Timmy Hansen’s car bursting into flames in Qualifying three. Remarkably the team had Hansens car ready for qualifying four half an hour later and he won – only to be disqualified. The team had discarded too many fire-damaged parts, leaving his car underweight.
Round 4 (Races 8-9 of 33): Barbagallo
Having arrived at Barbagallo fourth in the standings victory in the opening race (above) put Craig Lowndes on course to leave the double-header on top of the championship. With 22 laps to go Lowndes opted to make an extra pit stop on top of the compulsory visit, fitting soft tyres and charging through the field from 22nd to grab the lead with four laps to go. The drama didn’s top there -Lowndes had to survive a last-lap downfall to cement his first win of the year.
Mark Winterbottom became the year’s eighth different winner in race nine, holding off a string of four rivals covered by 1.7 seconds at the flag.
NASCAR Sprint Cup
Race 11 of 36: Kansas
Kyle Busch became the first driver to win three races this year after long-time leader Martin Truex Jnr dropped back after his wheel nuts were not fully tightened during a pit stop.
British Touring Car Championship
Round 3 (Races 7-9 of 30): Thruxton
Video not available yet
As usual tyres were the main talking point as the BTCC rolled into the UK’s fastest race circuit, but more so than ever with soaring temperatures causing drama. Tom Ingram took his second pole of the season ahead of a surprised Aiden Moffat. But the latter became the first of many victims of Thruxton’s tyre-punishing configuration: his front-left gave way after he’d fought back to second following a poor start. Adam Morgan led by this point following overtaking and drama aplenty and after passing Matt Neal – who’d qualified third and led the race despite full ballast – but it was soon to go wrong for the Honda. Mark Howard and Mat Jackson also suffered blow-outs at the same time as Moffat, with Neal experiencing one at the final chicane a lap later. He tried to cut across into the pits but collected an unfortunate Josh Cook, who also tagged Neal’s team mate Shedden, putting all three out of the race and bringing out the red flags.
The decision was soon taken to shorten the race distances from sixteen to twelve laps and Andrew Jordan won a rather sedate race two ahead of local driver Rob Collard and long-time leader Adam Morgan, who was muscled out with just two laps to run.
Dan Welch was promoted to pole in the final reverse grid race but lost the lead from the line to Jackson – later claiming he couldn’t see the lights. Despite this he ran a strong surprise second until a bolt failure on the front left suspension put him out. Further back Jordan’s day also ended on a low note with an unusual rear puncture, and Jack Goff compounded a miserable day for Shedden after collecting him at the final chicane. Jackson held on to win ahead of Neal and Morgan, who picked up podiums in all three races.
Guest series: TCR
Round 3 (races 5-6 of 32): Spa-Francorchamps
Victories for Aku Pellinen and Jean-Karl Vernay meant the top three drivers in the TCR series left Spa-Francorchamps separated by just four points. Pepe Oriola heads the table on 84 points ahead of James Nash and ex-F1 racer Gianni Morbidelli. However Attila Tassi was fortunate to emerge unscathed after a tyre failure in the middle of the high-speed Pouhon corner led to a heavy impact with the barriers on the final lap of race one.
Also this weekend
Nine riders fell in the Moto GP round at Le Mans including championship leader Marc Marquez, though he recovered to finish 13th. Jorge Lorenzo won to take the championship lead with Valentino Rossi second and Maverick Vinales earning Suzuki’s first podium since 2008.
Over to you
Next weekend Formula One returns to Europe for the Spanish Grand Prix where the GP2 and GP3 championships will also begin. IndyCar’s build-up to the Indy 500 continues with the Grand Prix of Indianapolis on the road course previously used by F1. The European Formula Three series heads to evocative Pau street circuit and NASCAR moves on to Dover.
What racing action did you watch last weekend? And what are your plans for the weekend coming? Let us know in the comments.
Thanks to Robert Mathershaw (@Mathers) for contributing to this article.
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