Hooniverse Motorsport News For The Week Of March 26, 2012

Welcome to the Hooniverse Motorsport News. Formula 1 ran their second event in as many weeks in Malaysia. NASCAR went back out West for more roundy round action.  IndyCar opened another season in Florida at the St. Petersburg Grand Prix.  SCCA’s Pro Racing World Challenge series supported IndyCar at St. Pete with a double header.  This was the first truly big weekend of Twenty-twelve with practically non-stop racing.  This report is aimed at telling you what you missed, and what you will miss in the near future.  This round of Motorsport News will include more spoilers than a ricer convention.

This week:

  • IndyCar starts its season
  • World Challenge supports them
  • F1 sprints through Malaysian rainstorms
  • NASCAR in California
  • A few for the road…

Formula 1 

After rolling away from the grid under sprinkling conditions, many teams were having the conversation whether to stay on slick tires or go to intermediate rains.  The conversation would soon be decided as the rain came down harder, and all of the teams changed to the Green sidewall Pirellis.  
There were a few constants between the Australian Grand Prix and this week’s event.  Lewis Hamilton led away from the grid for the second race in 7 days, and again fell to third at the fall of the checkered flag.  Romain Grosjean qualified very well in his Lotus Renault, but was the first to fall out of the race after beaching himself in the gravel traps.  When many drivers spun, and with vision affected, the FIA decided to red-flag the race for about an hour as the rain thinned slightly.  Everyone upgraded to full-wet tires while the race was halted.
Fernando Alonso gained the lead, and with some quick pit stops, found himself in the lead over Sauber’s Sergio Perez.  While hard rain in the middle third of the race made it easy for either driver to shine, negating the downsides of each chassis, both drove well beyond the capabilities of the car finishing well ahead of their respective teammates.  In the closing third of the race, Sergio was gaining quickly on Fernando, and Alonso was barely able to hold off the Mexican to take his first win since the British Grand Prix last year.  Perez is the first driver hailing from Mexico to podium since Pedro Rodriguez in the 1971 Dutch Grand Prix.


Helio Castroneves crossed the finish line of Sunday’s St. Petersburg Grand Prix 5.5 seconds ahead of Scott Dixon to end a drought which he has suffered through since Motegi in 2010. Castroneves, who traditionally celebrates a victory by climbing the fence between turn 1 and 2, this time chose to use the fence at the outside of Turn 10, which is built on a street that was renamed in honor of Dan Wheldon last week.

The race was predominately decided by strategy and fuel mileage.  Positions changed regularly as everyone played out their strategies, but Dixon and Castroneves remained close throughout. Castroneves made the final move with a great pass around the outside at Turn 1 on the 73rd lap, and from that point he showed Dixon the ugly rear end of his Dallara chassis opening a large gap that he would maintain to the end.

Ryan Hunter-Reay finished third ahead of Andretti team-mate James Hinchcliffe and Penske’s Ryan Briscoe.  The exciting debut of Rubens Barrichello ended with the Brazilian finishing the event in 13th position.  Barrichello said “I enjoyed the race, and dicing with other cars, although I would have liked to have been able to push more. It has been a good learning experience this weekend, and I look forward to being back in the car in a few days for the next race.”


World Challenge

St. Petersburg also held the opening two rounds of the SCCA’s World Challenge series.  Saturday’s race and Sunday’s race held a trio of double victors…Sort of.  TruSpeed Porsche’s Lawson Aschenbach won both GT races, Tiger Racing’s Mustang driven by Justin Bell won both GTS class events, and the TC class was won both times by the MazdaSpeed 3 of Michael Cooper.  
Okay, so down to the “sort of…” that I mentioned earlier.  Well, as it turns out, Aschenbach didn’t actually win the first race.  During a restart from a yellow flag period, Awesome Lawson apparently jumped out and committed to a pass before they crossed the start-finish line.  As such, Aschenbach was awarded a 60 second penalty after the conclusion of the race which dropped his position to 6th, allowing the Cadillac of Johnny O’Connell into the victory.


I will concede the fact that I didn’t actually watch the NASCAR event in Fontana, California.  Therefore, I havn’t got much of a clue as to what occured, and frankly, I couldn’t be bothered.  I do know that Tony Stewart won this event, his second of the season, and the fact that the race was shortened by rain.

A few for the road

While not exactly news, I will comment that waking up for Formula 1 at 4AM Eastern Time is practically a religious experience.  

The new IndyCars are not particularly pretty, though they are functional.  The new chassis provides better wheel to wheel racing with wider sidepods, more downforce, it is stronger, safer, and the new turbocharged engines are more powerful.  Lap times are almost describable as competitive.

IndyCar’s tribute to Dan Wheldon at the beginning of their television broadcast was touching, but Helio’s spiderman play on Wheldon Way was more so.


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