Canadian GP Results Wrap Up
The Canadian GP turned out to be the wildest and most exciting race of the year thus far with 4 safety car periods and a myriad of crashes, the worst of which saw Robert Kubica's BMW Sauber suffer a glancing blow against a concrete wall at over 170 mph that sent him tumbling down the racetrack. Kubica ended up with a sprained ankle and a slight concussion and fortunately managed to avoid more serious injuries.
Video of Kubica's Crash
The fact that Kubica left the hospital the next day after such a horrific crash is a testament to how far safety in Formula 1 has come.
But the real story of the day was the dominant performance of McLaren's Lewis Hamilton to take his first Formula 1 victory. He drove a flawless race from the front where even with 4 race restarts he was able to pull a comfortable lead over BMW Sauber's Nick Heidfeld.
1. Lewis Hamilton Britain Vodafone McLaren Mercedes-Mercedes 70 01:44:11.292
2. Nick Heidfeld Germany BMW Sauber F1 Team-BMW +4.3
3. Alexander Wurz Austria AT&T Williams-Toyota +5.3
4. Heikki Kovalainen Finland ING Renault F1 Team-Renault +6.7
5. Kimi Raikkonen Finland Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro-Ferrari +13.0
6. Takuma Sato Japan Super Aguri F1 Team-Honda +16.6
7. Fernando Alonso Spain Vodafone McLaren Mercedes-Mercedes +21.9
8. Ralf Schumacher Germany Panasonic Toyota Racing-Toyota +22.8
9. Mark Webber Australia Red Bull Racing-Renault +22.9
10. Nico Rosberg Germany AT&T Williams-Toyota +23.9
11. Anthony Davidson Britain Super Aguri F1 Team-Honda +24.3
12. Rubens Barrichello Brazil Honda Racing F1 Team-Honda +30.4
Rtd Jarno Trulli Italy Panasonic Toyota Racing-Toyota 58 laps completed
Rtd Vitantonio Liuzzi Italy Scuderia Toro Rosso-Ferrari 54 laps completed
Dsq Felipe Massa Brazil Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro-Ferrari 52 laps completed
Dsq Giancarlo Fisichella Italy ING Renault F1 Team-Renault 52 laps completed
Rtd Christijan Albers Holland Spyker F1 Team-Ferrari 47 laps completed
Rtd David Coulthard Britain Red Bull Racing-Renault 36 laps completed
Rtd Robert Kubica Poland BMW Sauber F1 Team-BMW 26 laps completed
Rtd Adrian Sutil Germany Spyker F1 Team-Ferrari 21 laps completed
Rtd Scott Speed USA Scuderia Toro Rosso-Ferrari 8 laps completed
Rtd Jenson Button Britain Honda Racing F1 Team-Honda 0 laps completed
Super Aguri Strikes Again!
It was another dark weekend for the Honda F1 factory boys but again Super Aguri came through to save the day and give Honda fans something to cheer about. All weekend the Super Aguris were posting competitive lap times but in the race they were able to capitalize on the attrition and carnage that led to four safety car periods to take an incredible 6th place finish.
Takuma Sato's SA07 was not merely the benefactor of luck however as he caught and overtook two of F1's top drivers to earn his 6th place finish.
Sato passed Kimi Raikkonen on track after the Finn made a mistake and ran wide and Sato dramatically ran down and passed the reigning champion Fernando Alonso's McLaren and passed him going into the final chicane to snatch 6th place. At no other moment during the race was the crowd's roar as loud as when Sato completed the pass.
Takuma Sato on his race (crash.net):
"I was very pleased to finish so high up in sixth, particularly for all the mechanics and other people who have kept supporting us through difficult circumstances. We made it happen here. It was totally unexpected, and a crazy race. Today we were lucky, but you have to be there to grab your chances, be prepared for everything and still be around at the finish and we were. I'm very proud of everyone. It was just a beautiful day for us."
Sato's interview with crash.net
Some words from Aguri Suzuki:
"I'm very proud," he beamed while speaking to Crash.net at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve afterwards. "It was a very unusual race, with four safety cars and many crashes, but both our cars finished and that was a very important thing. As a small team we don't have much budget, so if the drivers had crashed we would have had a big problem for the US Grand Prix!
Short interview with Aguri Suzuki
Anthony Davidson was also on pace for a strong finish when he hit a groundhog on the back straight (note: many reports say it was a beaver but it most certainly was not). This forced him to take an unscheduled dive into the pits and the crew was still sitting down when he pulled up to their garage. A small disaster to say the least but roadkill is not something that is easily accounted for in F1 race strategy. Even with that incident Davidson finished 11th.
Here's a small interview with Ant's race engineer after the Monaco GP:
RA107B accidentally given to Super Aguri
Ok, not really but the much anticipated debut of significant updates for the RA107 at the Canadian GP was a rather large letdown. While many did not expect for the upgrades to magically allow Button and Barrichello to take the race in a dramatic 1-2, it was hoped that the team would realize yet another step forward in results.
But not only did the results fail to improve, Button did not even make the start of the race. The cause of Button's DNS (Did Not Start) was gear selection problems. It must be rather embarassing for the Brackley-based squad when their little brothers at Super Aguri were able to beat the reigning world champion that day.
Rubens Barrichello had a better day by taking advantage of the safety cars and crashes to run in the points. Honda F1's strategy would have resulted in Rubinho finishing 5th but unfortunately the final safety scuppered Honda F1's strategy and Rubens was relegated to 12th.
Nick Fry talks about the race here
Button has said in the press that he was targeting the French GP for better results. Nick Fry has also confirmed that new parts are coming for the French GP but again, one should not expect the upgrades to take Honda F1 back to the front of the pack right away.
Great pics from Montreal by TOV member 'redline'
Looking Forward to Indianapolis
Nakamoto-San had a few words of optimism for this weekend's United States Grand Prix at Indianapolis:
After a frustrating race in Canada, we are looking forward to Indianapolis which presents a different set-up challenge with its mix of high speed sections and twisting infield," said technical chief Shuhei Nakamoto. "The circuit also offers good overtaking opportunities. We will be pushing as hard as possible to achieve a better result."
Button's take: (from Planet-F1):
"I really enjoy racing at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway," Button said.
"I had never driven on a banked circuit before Formula One went to Indy so the last corner of the F1 circuit configuration is really fun to drive."
"The circuit is not such a high-speed circuit which I generally prefer, but you can get some great racing as there are some good overtaking opportunities."
Barrichello also seems to be looking forward to the passing opportunities at Indy:
"It's always a good race for the fans because you can overtake at Indianapolis. It's a long way from the grid down to the first corner so that is a good opportunity or at the end of the back straight."
Honda F1 Threatens Legal Action Against Pitpass
It seems that Honda's lawyers have sent a threat of legal action against the F1 news website Pitpass.com over articles posted on the site. While no details were divulged, presumably the threat was concerning the articles posted by someone with the pseudonymn 'Helios' who claims to be on the Honda F1 team and has posted scathing negative stories about Honda F1.
For our part the Helios articles have seemed like little more than manufactured tripe. Perhaps it was based on rumor and conjecture from the third cousin of a family friend's garbage man who knows a janitor at Honda F1, but it did not seem to me that the articles were accurate, especially given that some of the accusations were proven patently false in subsequent races.
But why go after Pitpass? After all, plenty of negative rumors about Honda F1 from many different outlets have been printed over the years. A possible explanation is that Honda takes it very seriously when someone attempts to impersonate them in the press to make them look bad.
Going back to the 2006 Moto GP championship there was a similar incident, where someone used photoshop to modify a letter Honda had sent to FIM regarding the Philip Island race were Valentino Rossi got away with passing under a yellow flag. After the incident in Portugal were Dani Pedrosa infamously torpedoed his teammate Nicky Hayden and almost ruined his championship, a fan thought it would be funny to spoof Honda's letter...
Original Letter from Suguru Kanazawa
Evidently the folks at HRC found out about this and were none too pleased. They did not sue anyone but it stands to reason that they were upset because someone impersonated them. This could be the reason they are upset with Pitpass, as it is someone who is claiming to be a Honda F1 employee denegrating them in the press.
World Challenge Touring
Realtime Racing is still in the title fight in World Challenge Touring although they suffered a significant setback when Pierre Kleinubing's car developed an electrical problem at Lime Rock Park and couldn't finish the race.
After talking to team owner and driver Peter Cunningham he confirmed that it was a connection on an ignition coil that had become fatigued under the stress over time and eventually failed.
We have an exclusive interview with Peter Cunningham in store, of which part 1 will be posted here next week. Peter talks about the season, the story of the TSX's development and a bit about himself as a racer.
The last World Challenge Touring weekend at Watkins Glen was a double-header, and will be airing on June 30th on the Speed Channel.
Honda Employees Take a Win in NASA Endurance Racing
The Honda racing spirit runs deep in the company from the guys on the Formula 1 team on down to engineers working at the various Honda facilities throughout the world. In the United States there are several groups of Honda employees using their free time to go racing with Hondas and one such group, the Honda Research West team just took an impressive victory in NASA endurance racing.
From their press release:
Team Honda Research West (THR-W) earned its first win of 2007 at
Thunderhill Raceway on June 3, 2007. The THR-W #28 Acura RSX type S
won the E0 class and finished third overall in the third round of the 2007 Western Endurance Racing Championship (WERC). Drivers Matt Staal and Sage Marie drove the #28 THR-W entry to the E0 class win by more than one full lap despite having to make an unscheduled pit stop near the end for a splash of fuel.
Mugello Wrap Up
Mugello was the site of an incredible four way battle for the win last year, with Valentino Rossi emerging the victor by a hair. This year many (myself included) believed that the Ducatis would dominant the proceedings with their still significant top speed advantage.
However what transpired was that neither of the factory Ducatis got on the podium. Even better for the Honda faithful, Dani Pedrosa was able to lead the race for a few laps, which was the first time this season a Honda has led a race. Unfortunately Dani's tires started to give way and Valentino Rossi was able to pull away for his sixth consecutive victory at his home grand prix.
Mugello GP Race Results
1. Valentino Rossi ITA Fiat Yamaha Team (M) 42min 42.385 secs
2. Dani Pedrosa SPA Repsol Honda Team (M) 42min 45.459 secs
3. Alex Barros BRA Pramac d'Antin MotoGP (B) 42min 48.341 secs
4. Casey Stoner AUS Ducati Marlboro Team (B) 42min 48.397 secs
5. John Hopkins USA Rizla Suzuki MotoGP (B) 42min 55.629 secs
6. Toni Elias SPA Gresini Honda (B) 43min 1.640 secs
7. Loris Capirossi ITA Ducati Marlboro Team (B) 43min 2.031 secs
8. Chris Vermeulen AUS Rizla Suzuki MotoGP (B) 43min 5.195 secs
9. Marco Melandri ITA Gresini Honda (B) 43min 5.222 secs
10. Nicky Hayden USA Repsol Honda Team (M) 43min 6.798 secs
11. Alex Hofmann GER Pramac d'Antin MotoGP (B) 43min 7.166 secs
12. Colin Edwards USA Fiat Yamaha Team (M) 43min 10.386 secs
13. Shinya Nakano JPN Konica Minolta Honda (M) 43min 19.118 secs
14. Sylvain Guintoli FRA Dunlop Tech 3 Yamaha (D) 43min 27.483 secs
15. Makoto Tamada JPN Dunlop Tech 3 Yamaha (D) 43min 27.530 secs
16. Olivier Jacque FRA Kawasaki Racing Team (B) 43min 27.602 secs
17. Kenny Roberts USA Team Roberts (M) 44min 9.607 secs
Tire War Update
Valentino Rossi's victory and Dani Pedrosa's recent competitiveness at Mugello and Catalunya also signify a positive step forward for Michelin. It would seem that Michelin has decided to put their efforts towards those two riders in order to claw back some of the advantage that Bridgestone has taken. Hopefully Michelin's improvements will see their way to the other Honda riders.
Conversely, it seems that Bridgestone has been steadily eroding the qualifying advantage the Michelin enjoyed. The balance of power in the tire war in the coming rounds is anyone's guess.
Team KR: New Rider, New Chassis
Team KR recently announced that Johnny Rea of the HM Plant Honda BSB team will ride the KR machine at the Donington GP. Apparently the deal was an easy sell since Rea is already under Honda's employ. It will be a whirlwind month for the young Englishman as he will also be contesting the Suzuka 8 hour.
Team KR will be debuting a new chassis for USGP at Laguna Seca next month that will incorporate input they have received from some of the HRC engineers (whom of course are trying to solve some chassis problems of their own) as well as their riders Kenny Jr. and Kurtis. If TOV can score press credentials for the event we will be sure to get the scoop on the development.
Catalunya GP Wrap Up
Once again Dani Pedrosa was able to run at the front and lead the race for a short time as he battled with Yamaha's Valentino Rossi and Ducati's Casey Stoner for supremacy at Dani's home grand prix. The trio broke away from the pack and swapped positions several times before Casey Stoner was able to edge Valentino for the win.
Dani was very close throughout the battle but couldn't seem to really fight with Stoner and Rossi. In the end he only finished .6 seconds adrift of the winner.
The race did not go so well for the other Spanish Honda riders as Toni Elias suffered a 'kablamo!' engine failure and Carlos Checa finished second to last. It is very rare to see an engine failure from Honda in Moto GP but there's no word on what was the cause.
Catalunya GP Race Results
1. Casey Stoner AUS Ducati Marlboro Team (B) 43min 16.907 secs
2. Valentino Rossi ITA Fiat Yamaha Team (M) 43min 16.976 secs
3. Dani Pedrosa SPA Repsol Honda Team (M) 43min 17.297 secs
4. John Hopkins USA Rizla Suzuki MotoGP (B) 43min 24.721 secs
5. Randy de Puniet FRA Kawasaki Racing Team (B) 43min 34.760 secs
6. Loris Capirossi ITA Ducati Marlboro Team (B) 43min 36.316 secs
7. Chris Vermeulen AUS Rizla Suzuki MotoGP (B) 43min 36.402 secs
8. Alex Barros BRA Pramac d'Antin MotoGP (B) 43min 41.769 secs
9. Marco Melandri ITA Gresini Honda (B) 43min 41.870 secs
10. Colin Edwards USA Fiat Yamaha Team (M) 43min 52.255 secs
11. Nicky Hayden USA Repsol Honda Team (M) 43min 53.208 secs
12. Makoto Tamada JPN Dunlop Tech 3 Yamaha (D) 43min 55.627 secs
13. Alex Hofmann GER Pramac d'Antin MotoGP (B) 43min 57.841 secs
14. Sylvain Guintoli FRA Dunlop Tech 3 Yamaha (D) 44min 1.306 secs
15. Shinya Nakano JPN Konica Minolta Honda (M) 44min 11.100 secs
16. Kenny Roberts USA Team Roberts (M) 44min 16.562 secs
17. Carlos Checa SPA Honda LCR (M) 44min 19.222 secs
18. Kurtis Roberts USA Team Roberts (M) 44min 20.229 secs
The World Champion's Woes Continue But...
Nicky Hayden finally received revised fairings for his motorcycle to help with his top speed problem at Mugello. He is now not losing much top speed to Dani and actually posted a higher top speed at Catalunya than his Spanish teammate. Nicky posted a top trap speed only 3 km/h slower than the mighty Ducatis which means the Bologna squad's advantage may be all but gone in a few rounds time.
Still Nicky hasn't been able to do much of anything with the new generation RCV and finished a dreadful 11th in Catalunya and now sits 11th in the championship.
The light at the end of the tunnel for Nicky is that at the Catalunya post race test he received the new chassis Dani used for the race and posted the fastest time of the test on race tires. This time was even faster than the fastest time posted in the race. A bit of 'too little too late', but an encouraging step nonetheless. One has to wonder why Nicky did not get this chassis in the first place though.
Catalunya Post Race Test - Day 1
1. John Hopkins USA Rizla Suzuki MotoGP (B) 1min 41.40 secs *
2. Toni Elias SPA Gresini Honda (B) 1min 42.63 secs *
3. Casey Stoner AUS Ducati Marlboro Team (B) 1min 42.68 secs
4. Valentino Rossi ITA Fiat Yamaha Team (M) 1min 42.72 secs
5. Alex Barros BRA Pramac d'Antin MotoGP (B) 1min 42.78 secs *
6. Chris Vermeulen AUS Rizla Suzuki MotoGP (B) 1min 43.00 secs
7. Marco Melandri ITA Gresini Honda (B) 1min 43.0 secs
8. Randy de Puniet FRA Kawasaki Racing Team (B) 1min 43.05 secs
9. Dani Pedrosa SPA Repsol Honda Team (M) 1min 43.16 secs
10. Nicky Hayden USA Repsol Honda Team (M) 1min 43.23 secs
11. Loris Capirossi ITA Ducati Marlboro Team (B) 1min 43.28 secs
12. Shinya Nakano JPN Konica Minolta Honda (M) 1min 43.37 secs
13. Colin Edwards USA Fiat Yamaha Team (M) 1min 43.41 secs
14. Carlos Checa SPA Honda LCR (M) 1min 43.65 secs
15. Sylvain Guintoli FRA Dunlop Tech 3 Yamaha (D) 1min 43.80 secs
16. Alex Hofmann GER Pramac d'Antin MotoGP (B) 1min 43.83 secs
17. Makoto Tamada JPN Dunlop Tech 3 Yamaha (D) 1min 43.90 secs
18. Nobuatsu Aoki JPN Suzuki Test Rider (B) 1min 44.2 secs
19. Andrew Pitt AUS Yamaha Test Rider (M) 1min 44.49 secs
20. Anthony West AUS Kawasaki Test Rider (B) 1min 44.73 secs
21. Shinichi Itoh JPN Ducati Test Rider (B) 1min 47.0 secs
* qualifying tyre.
Catalunya Post Race Test - Day 2
1. Nicky Hayden USA Repsol Honda Team (M) 1min 42.40 secs
2. Casey Stoner AUS Ducati Marlboro Team (B) 1min 42.76 secs
3. Chris Vermeulen AUS Rizla Suzuki MotoGP (B) 1min 42.90 secs
4. Loris Capirossi ITA Ducati Marlboro Team (B) 1min 43.09 secs
5. Shinichi Itoh JPN Ducati Test Rider (B) 1min 45.51 secs
6. Nobuatsu Aoki JPN Suzuki Test Rider (B) 1min 46.01 secs
The last round of the AMA Superbike Championship took the teams to Wisconsin's Road America circuit. For this year the track at Elkhart Lake, WI made some changes to the track to improve safety, notably removing one of the bridges that presented a danger to the riders.
In race 1 it was once again a Suzuki show with Mat Mladin checking out for the win and Ben Spies coming a valiant second after a painful crash in practice. Miguel Duhamel was running in 3rd, but got sniped at the line by Tommy Hayden making it a Suzuki 1-2-3. Zemke finished in 5th.
Race 2 at Road America turned out to be a war of attrition as intermittent heavy rain tested the limits of the riders and bikes at the 4 mile long circuit.
Miguel Duhamel actually got off to a great start and was running second when the race got red flagged due to lightning in the area. On the restart he suffered an unfortunate crash going into turn 1 that demolished his motorcycle.
His teammate Jake Zemke gambled on tire choice and did not get the luck of the draw. The problem with tire choice in the conditions is that some parts of the track were drying out while there was rain at other parts. During the broadcast Jake was also saying that they didn't totally have the traction control dialed in for wet conditions since they haven't had much opportunity to test in the wet. Jake was able to manage a 6th place finish.
Corona Honda rider James Ellison scored the best finish of his first season in AMA with a ride to 5th place. Being a British rider Ellison probably has a fair bit of experience in the rain, not to mention the rain races he did with a 250 hp Moto GP bike. At the beginning of the season he targeted top 5 finishes as a goal and here halfway through the season he has hit the bullseye.
Suzuka 8 Hour Happenings
Johnny Rea and reigning British Superbike champion Ryuichi Kiyonari won the 300 km pre-8 Hour endurance race at Suzuka last week. The race was punctuated with rain but the two experienced Honda pilots have done a lot of racing in the rain in England so they were able to fight through and take the victory. This result should put them in fantastic position for the 8 Hour at the end of July.
Unfortunately Nicky Hayden will not be partaking in the 8 Hour this year. He has opted to sit out so he can focus on overcoming the tremendous struggle he has had with his recalcitrant RC212V.
He said: "As much as I'd love to go over there and win Suzuka for Honda, I'm in so deep right now, the last thing I need to do is go off and get on a different bike and start riding that."
Let's hope the world champion can get his season on track.
Honda Racing on TV
Saturday, 16 Jun 2007
11:00 am Formula One Practice & Qualifying United States Grand Prix (SPEED)
Sunday, 17 Jun 2007
1:00 pm Formula 1 United States Grand Prix Indianapolis (FOX)
3:00 pm FIM World Superbike Championship San Marino - Race 1 (SPEED)
4:00 pm FIM World Superbike Championship San Marino - Race 2 (SPEED)
Sunday, 24 Jun 2007
11:00 am AMA Superbike Championship Salt Lake City - Day 1 (SPEED)
5:00 pm AMA Superbike Championship Salt Lake City - Day 2 (SPEED)
6:00 pm MotoGP World Championship British Grand Prix (SPEED)