Welcome to week 44 – three races this weekend, and just three weekends left including this one. The WRC has their finale in Wales; the drivers and manufacturer’s titles are decided, but you can expect a tough battle for victory in what is considered one of rally’s “classics”. NASCAR have their finale in Homestead, Florida, and while any one of the regular drivers in the field of 43 cars can win, all eyes will be on the four remaining contenders for the title (more below). The WEC has their penultimate race in Bahrain. Sebastian has the guide for your picks at https://themotorracinggame.wordpress.com/2014-week-forty-four-guide-and-links/. Picks can be made at: http://www.roadracetracks.com/motorracinggame.shtml.
Scores from week 43:
F1 Brazil, MotoGP Spain, NASCAR Arizona:
Nico Rosberg beat his teammate Lewis Hamilton in the F1 Grand Prix in Brazil, and closed the gap in the championship. Assuming that the two Mercedes drivers are at the sharp end of the season closing race in two weeks, the champion will be the one that finishes ahead of the other, since the points are too close for positions to count for anything (unless both languish towards the back of the field, which is a ridiculous notion). In Sao Paulo, behind Hamilton, Brazilian Felipe Massa took third spot, despite pausing in the McLaren pit-stall for new tires, before moving forward to his own Williams pit-stall. Jenson Button finished fifth after squeezing out Kimi Raikkonen, who as a result, lost another position to Sebastian Vettel (sixth), and then another to Fernando Alonso (seventh). Valtteri Bottas was another of our picks, and looked like he might finish as high as fourth, until a poor pit-stop doomed him to 10th by the end. Our other pick, Daniel Ricciardo, broke his suspension and finished classified 18th and last.
Marc Marquez rounded off the finale of the MotoGP season at Valencia the way he started the season – with a win. And Valentino Rossi finished a strong second – continuing his good form of late. It was mixed conditions at Valencia with a couple of rain showers that made the riders test their bravery on slick tires. Dani Pedrosa wasn’t as brave as Rossi and lost ground to him during the second shower, but still managed to stay ahead of Andrea Dovizioso and Cal Crutchlow to take third spot. Jorge Lorenzo did not like the conditions and changed to wet weather tires which were disastrous as the track quickly dried after the shower, and he subsequently retired and finished classified in 23rd.
The NASCAR race in Phoenix was a surprisingly timid affair with none of the shenanigans that were expected from the eight contenders (although there were a lot of cautions). Kevin Harvick won the race, automatically qualifying him for one of the fourth positions among which the champion will be decided next week in Homestead. Jeff Gordon finished second, but with Harvick’s win and Ryan Newman’s 11th place finish, it was enough to push Gordon out of the top four by just one point – that’s one position that he could have had, and more, without the Brad Keselowski incident last week. At least Gordon had the pleasure of seeing Keselowski eliminated too, with his fourth place finish, which wasn’t enough. After Harvick and Gordon, Matt Kenseth was third, but that too wasn’t enough for him. Denny Hamlin was fifth behind Keselowski, and Joey Logano sixth. All that means that Gordon, Keselowski, Kenseth and Carl Edwards (who finished 15th) are out, and Harvick, Hamlin, Logano and Newman will battle for the championship at Homestead. Highest finisher will take the title.
Congratulations to Chris and his seventh win of the year with one tie. The combination of picking Massa in F1 and Gordon in NASCAR were the keys. I was not second. My picks were late and I’m disqualified from this week’s result. They’re shown because our leader, Sebastian did not want to be “handed” the season championship by me missing my picks by a few hours, so I relented and have shown my picks above, which were the ones I posted on the WordPress site prior to any race starting. I have added these points to the season-long tally at the behest of Sebastian, but if anyone strongly objects to this, I’ll subtract them – let me know with your WordPress comments. Chris tightens the gap to Drewe for third, but like me, will likely need to pick a bit wild in the last weeks to make up the gap…