The 100th running of the famous Indianapolis 500 saw a former Formula One driver becoming a surprise first rookie winner since 2001.
Elsewhere both Super Formula and the Nurburgring 24 Hours were affected by abnormal weather conditions while the World Touring Car Championship encountered tyre dramas at the Nordschleife.
Round 6 of 16: Indianapolis 500
Manor reserve driver Alexander Rossi took victory on his first attempt at the Indianapolis 500 with a brilliantly calculated fuel-saving drive. In just his first season of Indycar Rossi has had a tough start to the year but has showed signs of improvement, and eleventh in qualifying was another step forward. He never looked like a contender though until he was left out during a late caution to clear the wrecked cars of Mikhail Aleshin and Conor Daly, and despite falling out of sync with everyone else and pitting 36 laps from the end for fuel, he nursed his car to the finish.
Carlos Munoz finished an equally surprising second to complete a one-two for Andretti while Josef Newgarden was disappointed with third and likewise pole sitter James Hinchcliffe, who could only manage seventh. Juan Pablo Montoya’s hopes of defending the win he took last year vanished early on as he caused the first caution, while Sage Karam also crashed.
Meanwhile two cars were eliminated from the scrap for the win after a tangle in the pits. Townsend Bell was released into the path of Helio Castroneves and spun into Ryan Hunter-Reay – who still led the most laps – causing both of them to require new front wings and lose a lap, while Castroneves escaped without damage. Championship leader Simon Pagenaud was never quite in contention, and failed to recover after he was dropped to the back of the pack for pit-lane indiscretion.
World Touring Car Championship
Round 5 (Races 9-10 of 24): Germany
Jose Maria Lopez won both races on the famous Nordschleife circuit, but he didn’t have things all his own way. Lopez was running third in the opening race until late on the final lap when long-time race leader Tiago Monteiro suffered a tyre failure on his Honda – far from their first of the weekend – and crashed, taking second placed Yvan Muller out with him. Tom Chilton ran Lopez close to the line while Norbert Michelisz completed the podium.
Lopez led more from the front in the main race, but had to fight his way back past Michelisz after the Honda’s great start from second. Tom Chilton capped a great weekend with a second podium, though this was largely due to the absence of Monteiro and Muller due to the opening race crash.
Elsewhere Tom Coronel took an impressive third place in qualifying, but was duly slapped with a €5,000 fine for recording on his phone during his in-lap. He crashed out of the opening race and failed to take his third place on the second race grid as a result.
World Rallycross Championship
Round 4 of 12: Great Britain
Mattias Ekstrom extended his winning streak to three consecutive rounds at Lydden Hill, but nearly went out in the qualifying round. A puncture in the final heat meant he could only set the 18th quickest time, but he made it through as fourth fastest overall. Ekstrom took the joker lap on his first tour to great effect in the final, and long-time leader Solberg could only watch as he rejoined behind Ekstrom after his joker and the Audi driver took the chequered flag.
Round 13 of 36: Charlotte Motor Speedway
Martin Truex Jnr ended a run of bad luck and won at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Truex Jnr led 392 of the 400 laps and 588 of the 600 miles – both records – to claim his first win since Pocono last year. Kevin Harvick finished second while Jimmie Johnson led the second highest number of laps – five – on his way to third place.
Guest Series: Nurburgring 24 Hours
Round 1 of 1: Nordschleife
A race which began in dire conditions was decided almost a day later when the lead changed hands at the beginning of the final lap of the daunting Nordschleife.
Mercedes locked out the top four positions of the Nurburgring 24 Hours with a commanding performance throughout, with the Black Falcon AMG car overtaking the HTP Motorsport entry on the 134th and final lap of the race when Maro Engel squeezed past Christain Hohenadel on the grand prix circuit.
The first four hours of the race were hit by severe weather including hail causing the race to be stopped five laps in, but with 20 hours left on the timer, the race was restarted in very foggy conditions. The Schubert BMW led until the late evening when it suffered a catastrophic turbo failure. Mercedes’ number 88 car took the lead but suffered slight damage when it hit an Audi in traffic. The night phase of the race was dominated by Mercedes and into the morning there was a three way battle for the lead between the 88, 18 and 29 cars.
Late in the final hour it became clear that fuel would be marginal for the leading 29 car. A late splash-and-dash brought the top two within 0.7 seconds as the cars crossed the line for the final time with 40 seconds on the clock.
Contact was made as Engel dived inside Hohenthal at the Michelin-Kurve and made the move stick, then pulled away through the traffic for the remainder of the 25-kilometre loop to win by just over five seconds. Unsurprisingly HTP lodged an appeal but, just as unsurprisingly, the ADAC stewards quickly rejected it, meaning the finish stood as the closest in the history of the event.
Round 2 of 8: Okayama
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Hiroaki Ishiura won a red-flagged race at Okayama in treacherous weather conditions. The race was started behind the safety car, and drivers were continually caught out from the moment the safety car returned to the pits until the race was stopped on lap eight.
Ishiura lead from the front and was under pressure from Joao Paulo de Oliveira until lap five when the Brazilian’s car failed. Koudai Tsukakoshi took second, while GP2 graduate Takuya Izawa took third. Andre Lotterer only managed 8th and Stoffel Vandoorne finished 12th after pitting early on, while the other former F1 drivers also suffered, with Narain Karthikeyan, Kazuki Nakajima and Kamui Kobayashi finishing 16th, 17th and 18th respectively. With less than 75% of race distance completed, only half points were awarded.
Also last weekend
Formula One’s blue riband event in Monaco saw Lewis Hamilton win a rain-affected race.
As usual the GP2 Series supported Formula One, though the race was a rather more sedate affair than in recent years. Artem Markelov gained some 20 seconds on Norman Nato during a Virtual Safety Car period which proved enough to held him maintain the lead when he pitted two laps from the end and claim a surprise maiden victory from 15th on the grid.
Elsewhere Pierre Gasly was excluded from qualifying for missing the weigh bridge, Sergey Sirotkin threw away another strong result from pole position after hitting the wall on the exit of the swimming pool and Jordan King hit the wall while running second. Nobuharu Matsushita made best use of the reverse grid in race two to take his second ever victory ahead of Marvin Kirchofer and Raffaele Marciello.
In the Pirelli World Challenge, there was a major incident involving the Aston Martin of Jorge de la Torre and Bentley of Andrew Palmer. Both remain in hospital with de la Torre suffering multiple fractures and bruising while Palmer is being treated by specialists due to a head injury. Alvaro Parente won for McLaren ahead of Pat Long.
Over to you
What racing action did you watch last weekend? Let us know in the comments.
The IndyCar field have little time to recover as they’ll be pulling double duty in Detroit this weekend with races on Saturday and Sunday. The DTM heads to the Lausitzring and the BTCC will be racing at Oulton Park.
Thanks to Robert Mathershaw (@Mathers) for contributing to this article.
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