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Rennsport Weekend Review: Duels in the Desert

Illustration for article titled Rennsport Weekend Review: Duels in the Desert

You may be asking yourself, "where is Porsche9146?" Well, Fred has been kidnapped by all the drivers who have name searched him on Twitter; they are currently interrogating him to find answers on how they can dance while the Earth is turning, and how they can sleep while their beds are burning. Until they figure that out, you are stuck with me. Here's what happened this weekend in the world of racing.


Formula 1

The Mercedes teammates of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg may have locked out the front row and dominated the race, but the first grand prix under the lights in Bahrain was far from boring.


Hamilton nipped the lead from Rosberg on the first lap and they continued to tussle without team orders interfering. Mercedes wasn't the only team that didn't interfere with their drivers on-track scuffles. Williams and Force India, let their drivers go all out as well, fighting to claim the final podium spot. The Red Bull duo of Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo had their work cut out for them, having started 10th and 13th, but steadily made progress, and McLaren's Jenson Button ran well for most of the race before retiring due to a mechanical issue.

On the first round of stops, Mercedes took the opportunity to split strategies, putting Hamilton on the softs again, and Rosberg on the mediums. The 2008 World Champion to advantage of this stint, getting out to an eight second lead, while Red Bull continued moving up, and the Williams and Force India teammates refused to relent on their battles. Contact between Pastor Maldonado and Esteban Gutierrez sent the Sauber into a wild flip and brought out only the second ever safety car at Bahrain. Not only did Maldonado receive a driver through penalty, but he also had three points put on his license, and will have a five place grid penalty in China.


The safety car gave Ricciardo and Rosberg, who already completed their medium tyre stint, the chances to benefit the most. Rosberg immediately went after his teammate on the restart, but the British driver brilliantly held form on the medium compound. Hamilton earned his second consecutive victory by just a second over Nico Rosberg, and Sergio Perez barely held on to get third over Daniel Ricciardo.

Mercedes has a commanding lead in the Constructors championship with Force India — yes, Force India — in second. Rosberg still leads Hamilton by 11 points in the drivers standings, and Nico Hulkenberg — yes, Nico Hulkenberg — is third. Round Four takes place in China in just a fortnight.



GP2 kicked began its season in Bahrain, with a grid of Formula 1 hopefuls looking to impress.


Stoffel Vandoorne won the opening race of the weekend, Colombian Julian Leal finished second, and Jolyon Palmer crossed the line in third. Americans Conor Daly and Alex Rossi finished race one 12th and 22nd respectively.

Race two was a differnent story for Vandoorne, who only managed 22nd. Palmer followed his third place finish up with a victory and Swiss driver Simon Trummer finished second. Leal complteted a strong weekend with a third place finish, putting him second in points, sandwiched between Palmer in first, and Vandoorne in third. Daly DNF'd the second race and Rossi finish a disappointing 25th.


NASCAR Nationwide Series

The Nationwide Series ran companion to Sprint Cup at Texas Motor Speedway this weekend.


Chase Elliot, son of NASCAR legend, Bill Elliot, took his first ever Nationwide win in just his sixth start on Friday night and became the second youngest victor in series history. Elliot finished ahead a decent list of Cup Series drivers, including Kyle Busch, Kyle Larson, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. (Elliot's team owner), Matt Kenseth, and Kevin Harvick, who he passed with 16 laps remaining on his way to victory lane. The next highest finishing Nationwide driver was Reagan Smith in seventh.

Smith entered the night with the points lead, but now sits two points behind Elliot. Ty Dillon finished 9th and is now third, ten points behind Elliot. Next Friday's Nationwide race at Darlington is also a companion event.


NASCAR Sprint Cup Series

Rain postponed the Cup race in Fort Worth until Monday. The race began under yellow as jet dryers attempted to get rid of the final damp spots, but the dryers caused some problems themselves. The dryers caused hood flaps on some cars to become loose or pop open. All affected cars were able to rectify the issue and maintain their starting positions.


Shortly after the drop of the green flag, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. suffered a heavy crash, and his Hendrick teammate, Jimmie Johnson also incurred damage from the incident. It wasn't a bad day for the Hendrick car of Jeff Gordon, however. He took the lead on lap 153 from Kyle Busch and ran well the rest of the day. The Penske cars were strong all day; Brad Keselowski led 85 laps and Joey Logano took the lead on lap 227.

Logano and Keselowski, looked good for an easy 1-2 finish, but with two laps to go, Kurt Busch hit the wall, littering the track with debris and sending the race into a Green-White-Checkered attempt. Everyone took advantage of the yellow to change tyres, but Logano was jumped by both Jeff Gordon and Brian Vickers. Keselowski was pinged for speeding and sent to the rear of the field.


On the restart, Logano passed Vickers quickly and then regained the lead on the last lap from Gordon to become the seventh different winner from the seventh race this year. Kyle Busch finished third, Vickers slipped back to fourth, and Kyle Larson rounded out the top five. Next up for NASCAR is the Bojangles' Souther 500 at Darlington.

Super GT

Super GT kicked off a brand new era this weekend in Okayama with DTM styled regulations for the GT500 class.


Lexus Team KeePer drivers Andrea Caldarelli and Daisuke Ito won the first GT500 race under the new regulations, while the GT300 class went to Tatsuya Kataoka and Nobuteru Taniguchi driving a BMW Z4. S

SuperGT's next round is in a month at the Fuji Speedway.

V8 Supercars

It was a rare weekend in V8 Supercars - a weekend where the cars of Red Bull Racing Australia were a non-factor for victory, opening up an opportunity for their rivals to pounce and make up ground in the championship.


Fabian Coulthard escaped a wild opening race to secure his first win of season 2014. Russell Ingall was on his way to a podium before making contact with David Wall and Michael Caruso, which earned the veteran a drive through penalty late in the going. Ingall still managed a tenth place finish, but was less than content with race control afterwards.

Saturday's second race would be a historic one. Volvo earned its first pole, but Scott McLaughlin's chanced ended quickly when the S60 was brought in to replace an ailing battery. Fabian Coulthard looked as though he might sweep the day's two races, when the Erebus Mercedes of Lee Holdsworth began challenging his lead. Holdsworth took point with only a few laps remaining and went on to get Mercedes first win in the Australian Touring Car Championship.


The 200-kilometer race on Sunday would be overshadowed by debate over the legitimacy of five (FIVE!) speeding penalties, two of which were copped by Scott McLaughlin and Fabian Coulthard who were threats for victory. Mark Winterbottom avoided suffering the same fate, getting the blue oval's first victory of the year and moving into second on the V8 Supercars points table. Red Bull's Craig Lowndes maintained the lead through a tough weekend.

Coulthard, McLaughlin, Shane Van Gisbergen must put their disappointing Sunday results behind them and focus on their home round at Pukekohe, where the series will visit in three weeks' time for ANZAC Day.

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