Welcome to week 45 – just one race this weekend – the finale of F1 in Abu Dhabi – and the final week of the TheMotorRacingGame for this year. Picks can be made at: http://www.roadracetracks.com/motorracinggame.shtml.
Scores from week 44:
WRC Australia, NASCAR Homestead, WEC Bahrain:
The final event of the WRC this year was also the final rally for Volkswagen, who will not be competing next year. And the battle all weekend was between two of the three VW drivers – Sebastian Ogier and Andreas Mikkelsen. Entering the last day, there was just two seconds between them, when Ogier made an uncharacteristic mistake and had a high-speed spin which cost him 20s. That gave the final VW win to Mikkelsen. Thierry Neuville was third in the Hyundai, and for him that was enough to hold on to second in the Championship behind Ogier, and ahead of Mikkelsen. Hayden Paddon had a up and down weekend; unable to look after his tires, he eventually finished strong, getting ahead of his Hyundai teammate Dani Sordo in the closing stages, to finish fourth. Mads Osberg was the leading Ford driver finishing in sixth, ahead of the DMack shod Ford of Ott Tanak. Jari-Matti Latvala hit a bridge on the first corner of the first stage, and the suspension damage caused him to lose four minutes. He spent the rest of the event trying to make up time, which he did admirably to finish ninth behind WRC2 winner, Esapekka Lappi.
The NASCAR finale at Homestead had four drivers competing for the Championship. All four raced near the front of the pack at various times throughout the event. Kyle Busch was the first to look in trouble when a flat tire dropped him a lap down. But subsequent cautions got him back on the lead lap, and at one point ahead of the other three contenders. The big one (wreck) came right at the end of the race when Joey Logano turned Carl Edwards into the inside wall. Edwards took responsibility for the wreck, claiming he was too aggressive trying to block Logano. On the ensuring green-white-checkered finish Jimmie Johnson grabbed the lead and held on to take victory in the race, and the Chase title. Logano, who dropped places in his tousle with Edwards managed a fourth-place finish. Busch ended up sixth, and Edwards was classified in 34th.
The WEC had their finale in Bahrain. It was an Audi one-two with the #8 car finishing ahead of the #7 car by 16s. The #1 Porsche was third, a further minute adrift, and the only other car on the lead lap. The #2 Porsche finished three laps down in sixth place, but it was enough to crown the drivers, Romain Dumas, Neel Jani, and Marc Lieb, WEC Champions for 2016. Finishing ahead of them in the race were the two Toyotas with the #5 coming out 36s ahead of the #6. The top privateer LMP1 car was, as expected, the #13 Rebellion, finishing 10 laps down in seventh place.
Congratulations to Sebastian and his 23rd win of the year, and 4 in-a-row, and by the biggest score for a 3-event weekend this year, and by a large 23-point gap over Iomracer. This closes things up considerably in the season-long points, although some wild picks and good luck will be needed to snatch victory with only the consistent F1 event remaining …