Welcome to week 18 – three races this weekend. MotoGP is in Le Mans, France; NASCAR has their All-Star race in Charlotte, North Carolina; and DTM is at the Oschersleben track in Germany. Sebastian has the links you need to make your picks at http://themotorracinggame.wordpress.com/2014-week-eighteen-guide-and-links/. Picks can be made at: http://www.roadracetracks.com/motorracinggame.shtml.
Scores from week 17:
F1 Spain, WRC Argentina, NASCAR Kansas, Indycar Indianapolis:
Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg in the Mercedes were first and second again in Spain – the fourth event in a row in which they’ve finished that way. The two Red Bull Renaults were third and fourth, with Daniel Ricciardo ahead of Sebastian Vettel. Behind Valtteri Bottas in fifth were the two Ferraris with Fernando Alonso finishing ahead of Kimi Raikkonen. With all of these driver pairs, pit strategy played a role in who finished ahead of who, which made it a strategically interesting race.
The WRC event in Argentina was a car-breaker. Pretty much all of the non-Volkswagen cars hit trouble on Friday, with the exception of Chris Meeke in the Citroen, but he couldn’t keep up with the stage times of the Volkswagens. It was Jarri-Matti Latvala who got the best of his team-mate Sebastian Ogier, winning by almost 1-½ minutes. Meeke was third, but almost 6 minutes behind Latvala. Andreas Mikkelsen was fourth, and he had alternator problems, otherwise it would have been Volkswagen 1-2-3. Both Hyundai’s had turbocharger problems; Dani Sordo’s problems started early, on stage 2, whereas Thierry Neuville’s issues came to a head on the final stage on Friday. This meant Neuville’s penalty to restart on Saturday wasn’t so bad, and with so many others also having to use Rally 2 rules, Neuville was able to finish the event in 5th place. Mikko Hirvonen crashed heavily on stage 2 on Friday, so he too started Saturday under Rally 2 with plenty of penalty time. He won a string of stages on Sunday, but it was only good enough to get him up to 9th place. Mads Ostberg crashed at the same spot as Hirvonen. He tried to continue on Saturday and Sunday under Rally 2, but he’d injured his thumb in the crash, and withdrew from the event after the first two stages on Sunday; so no points for those who picked him.
NASCAR had a night race in Kansas, and like two weeks ago there were incidents with cars catching fire. This time it was Jamie McMurray who hit the wall hard, breaking an oil line that sent the frames leaping from the car, and David Gilliland who similarly ended up with his car on fire after hitting the wall. Fortunately both got out unhurt, but it’s one of the scariest sights in racing, especially for another racer. There were quite a lot of crashes triggered simply by cars over-driving a turn and spinning out. One of those solo-spins caught out half the field that had pitted under green. Both Kevin Harvick and Jeff Gordon were among those caught out, so despite both having seemingly dominant cars, they found themselves at the back of the pack with less than half the race left. But the cars were clearly very dominant, since both managed to get back to the front of the field by the closing laps. And with Harvick actually running out of gas as he bore down on his pit stall in the final pit stop, it was enough of a delay to give Jeff Gordon the victory. Also worth mentioning was Danica Patrick’s race. She spend most of the race in the top 10, holding third for a while, and only lost places in one of the last restarts, to finish seventh.
Indycar took to the road circuit at Indianapolis Raceway, and it was a crash-fest – too many to describe them all here. Among our picks Will Power was in an incident with Scott Dixon, although Power managed to keep going and ended up 8th. Dixon faired a little worse, needing to be retrieved from the grass, but still stayed in the race to finish 15th. Our other picks finished 1-2-3, with Simon Pagenaud taking the win over Ryan Hunter-Reay and Helio Castroneves. For the record, crash victims also included Sebastian Saavedra, Carlos Munoz, Mikhail Aleshin, Franck Montagny, Martin Plowman, Juan Pablo Montoya, Graham Rahal, and James Hinchcliffe who pulled off the track after it was thought that he was struck in the head by debris.
Congratulations to Drewe who gets his second win of the year. Chris, Greased Lightning, and I were penalized heavily by Ostberg quitting the Argentinian rally with only two stages to go, which allows Sebastian to come to just one point behind the top spot …