MotoGP: Catalan Grand Prix
Barcelonaaaaaaa, it was the first time that we met, Barcelonaaaaa, how can I forget!
Jack’s chances of a decent weekend were just about toast 5 minutes into Q1, after posting the fastest flying lap, he ended up sliding off at Turn 5, wrecking his chances of a decent qualifying session, and after limping back and hopping on the spare bike, he could only qualify in 14th.
It was pretty much reflective of the Pramac Ducati’s lack of pace- Jack only finished inside the Top 10 once in the four practice sessions.
Out in front, Fabio Quartararo qualified his Petronas Yamaha on pole for the second time in 2019, beating out Marquez, and Yamaha factory rider Maverick Vinales qualified 3rd, and was more than happy to celebrate that fact with the crowd… earning him a three place grid penalty for riding like a complete dickhead on the racing line.
Some people have their brains painted on.
And I’d know.
The start was nuts- Andrea Dovizioso’s Ducati shot straight to the lead from 5th, while Vinales moved into 2nd, Marquez barely held 3rd after copping a hit from Quartararo’s front tyre at Turn 4, while Jorge Lorenzo on his Honda went from 10th to 5th, in a rare foray up the front.
The Jackass also began like a rocket, moving from 14th to 7th!
However, none of it mattered on Lap 3, when Lorenzo provided us with the Dickhead moment of the race, and the weekend, and probably the year… to date.
Lorenzo cocked up his breaking approach as he measured up a pass on Vinales at the very tight Turn 10, taking out the Yamaha, wiping out Dovi as well, and then finishing off the factory Yamaha double by claiming the collateral damage of Valentino Rossi.
How convenient was it that Marquez claimed Dovi for the lead not even two seconds earlier… When people ever wonder why MM dominates MotoGP, just show them this crash as an example.
Once the mess was sorted, Danilo Petrucci was bumped to 2nd, and Jack briefly went from 7th to 3rd, but was soon overtaken by Alex Rins and Quartararo.
In the meantime, Marquez went on his merry way, and skipped some 5 seconds clear, unable to be caught by the squabblers.
Rins tried taking Petrucci for 2nd at half-race distance, but went in too hot to Turn 1, and Petrucci nailed him on the criss-cross, with their battle eventually dragging the likes of Quartararo, Miller & Cal Crutchlow into the podium fight.
Rins blew his chances at a podium with 7 laps to go, when he almost took out the Ducati in a massive attack at Turn 1, nearly high-siding himself in the process, but showed great balance to stay on the Suzuki, falling to 7th.
Miller was now under pressure from his good friend Crutchlow, who went for the big dive at Turn 4 with 6 laps to go, went in too hot, and became the last rider to fall.
Despite seeing off that challenge, Miller’s grip was gone, and the main aim was to hold off the fast finishing Rins for 4th spot, which proved too much, as the Spaniard took Miller at Turn 4 on the final lap.
Out in front, Marquez eased his way to the chequered flag, claiming just about the easiest 25 points he’ll ever claim, with Quartararo claiming his and the Petronas Yamaha team’s maiden podium in 2nd, and Petrucci made it a hat-trick of podiums in 3rd.
It was a big result for Fabio, who was chock-full of painkillers, after undergoing arm-pump surgery the Tuesday after the Italian GP.
Considering the circumstances and his relative lack of pace, 5th was a superb result for Jack, and leaves him still holding 6th in the championship.
24 riders started the race, but only 13 finished.
Coming up in a few weeks, it’s the fabled Dutch TT at the cathedral of grand prix motorcycle racing, Assen, won by a plethora of Australian champions over the years- Gardner, Doohan, Stoner, and of course, Jack in 2016!
Unfortunately for Remy Gardner, after qualifying in 11th, his race only lasted up to Turn 4, where in the fight for 8th place, he made contact with Championship leader Lorenzo Baldassarri, sending Remy spearing into the gravel and out of the race.
The Italian would later slide out himself, which also cost him his Moto2 championship lead to teammate Alex Marquez, who claimed yet another win in the 250cc category, and forming yet another Marquez family double.
Sadly, it always feels like Remy’s report is getting shorter and shorter.
Supercars- McLaughlin takes the Triple Crown
Scott McLaughlin has pretty much shat on the entire Supercars field this season, and he had a very real shot at becoming the first driver to complete the ‘Triple Crown’ at Hidden Valley.
Why they still call it the Triple Crown, despite the fact there’s now only 2 races at the Valley, is a mystery.
Apparently it now consists of winning on Saturday, and then claiming Pole & winning the Sunday Race.
SATURDAY- Race 15
Stock standard qualifying- McLaughlin on pole again, this time from the Erebus of David Reynolds, with some very handy Qualifying performances from Will Davison in his Mustang, and Dave’s teammate Anton de Pasquale in 4th.
All six Mustangs qualified in the Top 10, but surprisingly, the lowest-placed of them was Scott’s teammate Fabian Coulthard, in 10th place.
Lap One at Hidden Valley has produced chaos many times over the past 21 years, and this year was the latest example, as several cars in the midpack were blinded by some kicked-up dust, and Macauley Jones was almost turned into the inside fence by a luckless James Golding, but Maccer’s right rear suspension was toast.
And then not even a lap later, Tim Slade was hit from behind by Rick Kelly at Turn 4, slamming into the fence and ending his race, bringing out the Safety Car.
The race then proceeded as usual from there, until Davison and Reynolds (In 2nd and 3rd) pitted on Lap 19, during which the Milwaukee team released Davison into the path of Reynolds, earning Davison a 15-second penalty, and ruining his race.
It also had the effect of increasing McLaughlin’s lead after he pitted one lap later, and the Kiwi flyer eventually romped his way to win legs 11 in 2019, with Chas Mostert’s Tickford making full of a Lap 15 undercut to climb up to 2nd, with Reynolds in for 3rd, and thanks to Coulthard only climbing up to 7th, McLaughlin’s championship lead now bordered on 300 points.
SUNDAY- Race 16
‘Leg Two’ of the Triple Crown was sealed in the Top 10 Shootout, with McLaughlin coming out last and recovering from a bad first sector to pinch pole from Coulthard by a mere 0.015 of a second.
It was Scott’s 11th pole of 2019, and his 57th career Pole, drawing level with Peter Brock (Obviously, different Qualifying format now) on the All-Time ATCC list.
At the start of the 70-lap journey, Coulthard began level with McLaughlin, and made a desperate lunge into Turn 1, but was caught high and wide, allowing Dave Reynolds through into 2nd, and after that, as is tradition, the #17 flew off into the distance, never to be seen again.
The closest Scotty came to losing the race was in his second stop, when he was almost released into the path of the wildcard entrant Jack Smith, which would’ve resulted in a slam dunk drive-through penalty.
With that crisis dodged, the slaughter resumed, and McLaughlin raced away to seal the historic Triple Crown by 13 seconds from Reynolds, with Coulthard in 3rd, Cam Waters in 4th, and Jamie Whincup, despite having a cracked chassis and dropping to 24th, finished in 5th.
Once again, all six Mustangs finished in the Top 10.
McLaughlin is now 319 points clear of Coulthard in 2nd, and 459 clear of Dave Reynolds in 3rd.
Quite literally, halfway through the season, Scotty is a FULL ROUND clear on top.
It’s now a three-week break until the Supercars hit the streets of Townsville on the first weekend of July.
The 2019 24 Hours of Le Mans
Of course, this weekend marked the last leg of the traditional Triple Crown of Motorsport; The Monaco Grand Prix, the Indy 500, and the toughest and most prestigious endurance race in world motorsport, the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Only one driver in history has won The Triple Crown- The late Graham Hill.
Of course, this year is the 20th anniversary of Mark Webber’s fateful debut at the Circuit De La Sarthe, best remembered for his Mercedes-Benz back-flipping at Indianapolis corner… TWICE.
Of course if you throw in Peter Dumbreck’s backflip during the race, the Mercs flipped three times that weekend.
Unsurprisingly, after their inglorious return to Le Mans, the Silver Arrows once again withdrew from sports car racing.
Back to the present, and there were only two Australians in the field, neither of whom were in the fight for the overall victory.
Indycar veteran Ryan Briscoe was entered in one of Chip Ganassi’s Ford GTs in the LMGTE Pro class alongside Kiwi Scott Dixon in the #69, and Matt Campbell raced in the LMGTE Am class in the #77 Porsche GT, driving for Dempsey-Proton Racing, owned by the one-time McDreamy himself, Patrick Dempsey!
Usually, 24 hour races, and indeed most endurance races, don’t truly kick off until the final hour, but fortunately, former F1 fan favourite Pastor ‘Crashtor’ Maldonado began Sunday morning by re-living his F1 career, and smashing straight-on into a tyre wall at 7am.
Just think, Pastor won a Formula One Grand Prix.
I’m not kidding.
The battle at the front for the Overall victory in the LMP Class was between the Toyotas- The defending race winner #8, consisting of three ex-Formula One drivers- Kazuki Nakajima, Sebastian Buemi and Fernando Alonso, and the #7 of Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi (Another ex-F1 driver) and Jose Maria Lopez up to the final hour.
And during qualifying and for most of the race, it was the #7 car belting the #8 sideways, leading for bordering on 23 hours of the race, and with an hour to go, #7 led by a lap and was destined to win… until they suffered a puncture.
And then another puncture.
That was pretty much that, the Nakajima-Buemi-Alonso trio made it back-to-back victories at Le Mans, and wrapped up the 2018-19 World Endurance Championship in the process, with the cruelled #7 completing another Toyota 1-2.
Funnily enough, Alonso’s McLaren teammate from last year, Stoffel Vandoorne, was also on the podium for the Russian SMP team, and to make it even funnier, Stoffel ALSO replaced Jenson Button in that SMP drive, like he did at McLaren.
As for Briscoe, the #69 Ford would finish 6th in LMGTE class, and 25th overall, some 44 laps off the winning Toyota, and Matt Campbell’s Porsche finished 5th in LMGTE Am, 36th overall, and a mere 53 laps behind the winners.
I can’t help but feel Le Mans just isn’t as fun without Audi.