INDYCAR: Wilson hurt in crash at tricky triangle
BRITISH driver Justin Wilson has been airlifted to hospital with a head injury after a crash in the closing laps of the IndyCar race at Pocono Raceway on Sunday.
With 21 laps remaining, the young and adventurous Sage Karam spun in turn one while leading at the track known as the “tricky triangle”.
Debris from his car hit Wilson.
Wilson, who seemed to be unconscious, then fired into a heavy collision with the inside wall.
Ryan Hunter-Reay went on to win the race, which finished under the caution flag.
In the title hunt, the major beneficiary from a race of significant attrition was Juan Pablo Montoya, who extended his points lead.
From 19th on the grid, Colombian Montoya finished third, behind Josef Newgarden.
There were 12 different lap leaders - half of the field - in the 200-lap race, and 12 cars retired because of contact or mechanical issues.
There are six contenders with one race left in the season, and with the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma on August 30 carrying double base points the title remains up for grabs.
Montoya, who has stood atop the standings since winning the season opener on the streets of St Petersburg, Florida, in March, entered the third 500-mile race of the season with a nine-point lead over the surging Graham Rahal.
Montoya heads to the Sonoma Raceway road course double-points finale with a 34-point advantage over Graham Rahal, whose car retired in the first half of the Pocono race. Scott Dixon, Helio Castroneves, Will Power and Newgarden are also mathematical possibilities.
Power, the reigning series champion, finished fourth at Pocono.
Update: Indycar organisers announced on Tuesday that Justin Wilson had died from the injuries he received on August 23.
FORMULA ONE: Hamilton Spa bath
Another pole, another win. The 2015 Formula One World Championship is Lewis Hamilton’s to lose this year.
Hamilton took his second Belgian Grand Prix win, the 39th of his F1 career and sixth of his spectacular 2015, while team-mate Nico Rosberg fluffed the start but fought back to complete a seventh Silver Arrows one-two crush of their rivals.
Hamilton has eased out to a sizeable 28-point lead over Rosberg in the world championship.
Ignoring prospects of a bailiff knocking on the door after the grand prix, Romain Grosjean and the Lotus F1 Team returned to the F1 podium for the first time since 2013 after a superb drive from the Frenchman.
Despite a five-place grid penalty, Grosjean delivered a measured performance, including some special overtaking moves. He also set the race’s fastest lap.
Daniel Riccardo, whose starts this year have been Webber-like in their tardiness, this time made a slick jump from fifth to third. But his race was over right on half distance.
“It’s disappointing not to finish; we are not sure what the issue is but the team are investigating,” Ricciardo said.
“I lost power going into the chicane. Everything switched off, including the dash. It looks like it’s electrical but we’ll see what the investigation brings.”
Ricciardo will surely be hoping the rumours of a Red Bull switch to Mercedes power are accurate.
Williams’ Valtteri Bottas was the victim of an amateurish tyre mix up when the team incorrectly and illegally fitted a medium compound tyre to the right rear among a batch of softs. It cost the Finn a possible fourth place.
But Sebastian Vettel just missed out on having a frightening crash when his right rear Pirelli exploded in the closing stages as he fought off Grosjean for third, while attempting a challenging one-stop strategy.
Vettel gave Pirelli a savage verballing afterwards, saying the failure was unacceptable. Two hundred metres earlier, Vettel would have been dealing with the rubber explosion at Eau Rouge, the most demanding corner in F1. That scenario doesn’t bear thinking about.
V8 SUPERCARS: Mostert puts the blowtorch to Frosty at home
Chas Mostert is undeniably a serious V8 Supercars Championship challenger after a stunning weekend at Sydney Motorsport Park.
The young Prodrive Ford racer brought home two race victories and a third place as the title fight moves into the crucial endurance race phase.
Mostert’s spectacular two days has elevated him to second in the series, with the gap to his team-mate and championship leader Mark Winterbottom now a less imposing 174 points.
It was Mostert’s best weeks of 2015 – and Winterbottom’s worst.
Coming up are three endurance races, where co-drivers share a heavy burden for the championship front-runners.
Mostert, who on Saturday collected his ninth and 10th pole position cheques of the season, showed his pace in variable conditions, in two short races in the sunshine on Saturday and then coming out on top in a manic, rain-interrupted race on Sunday.
"It's been a fantastic weekend… I finished all the races, got a pretty good bank of points and we're second in the championship. It's good that our team is one-two at the moment but we need to try and maintain that through to the end of the year,” said Mostert, who nevertheless is not admitting to getting his title hopes elevated. Not yet anyway, with a sway of points to play for across three enduros.
“The enduros are a big part of the championship so we need to be just as solid there. I’ve got a good co-driver in Cam (Waters) so can’t wait to get to Sandown - it’s one of my favourite tracks, Mostert said.
“At the moment I just have to do my thing and keep tracking along and see what we do.”
Winterbottom’s hopes of some glory just a few kilometres from where he was raised in Doonside were dashed with a struggle to 16th on Sunday - after a second and eighth the previous afternoon.
Craig Lowndes, who went into the weekend second in the standings, toughed it out after not nailing the set up in qualifying. His 10th in the wet, from 19th, in the third race pushed him to third in the points.
Defending champ Jamie Whincup’s fortunes also fell away on Sunday after a promising revivalist Saturday which brought a third place and a victory – his first for five months. The consistency the Red Bull Holden team so desperately needs continues to be evasive.
The wet part of Sunday’s race was much enlivened by a number of individual duels but most memorably by Shane van Gisbergen’s ambitious attempted pass on Jason Bright, which ended with the cars touching and gyrating on to the infield. Bright took the shortcut back on to the tarmac, ahead of the Kiwi, and was provisionally classified third.
Giz owned up to the miscue in his usual country-boy, honest way. “That was my mistake – I went up the inside. It was a bit too wet still, I locked the brake and understeered a bit,” Van Gisbergen said.
Bright believed he shouldn’t be penalised for the short cut. Driving Standards Observer Jason Bargwanna was reviewing the incident yesterday evening.
The Sydney Motorsport Park visit was a whole lot worse for James Courtney, the victim of a bizarre incident involving a helicopter on Friday.
Photo Credit: Twitter @jcourtney
The HRT driver was belted in the chest by a piece of debris sent flying by the downdraft of a military helicopter, leaving him with two fractured ribs and pneumothorax.
Courtney was hospitalised and is in doubt for the Sandown enduro, set for September 13.
HRT has been talking to several possible stand-in drivers should Courtney not be fit. American Patrick Long is the man most likely.
Back for the Sandown 500 too is Marcos Ambrose, who will be sharing the ever-improving DJR Team Penske Falcon with Scott Pye.
The former V8 Supercars champ was succinct when asked if he was ready for the race return. “Yep!” he declared emphatically and unambiguously.
WORLD RALLY: VW breaks its home duck
Until yesterday, the all-dominant rally team of the modern era – Volkswagen – had never won its home event, Rally Germany, round nine of the world championship.
But that was put right in a stunning way along the narrow, dusty and sometimes kerbed lanes among the vines in wine country, as defending world champ Sebastien Ogier led a smashing VW shutout of the podium.
The first real asphalt event of the 2015 WRC, Rally Germany is regarded as the “beast” of the WRC, with dramas never far away.
But Ogier, Jari-Matti Latvala and Andreas Mikkelsen stayed away from trouble, and now head to the next event, Rally Australia, leading the championship.
Ogier and co-driver Julien Ingrassia now have a realistic chance of wrapping up their third title in a row with the Polo R WRC at the Rally Australia (September 10 to 13).
Dani Sordo claimed his best result for almost 12 months after securing fourth after an inter-team fight with Hyundai i20 colleague Thierry Neuville. Welshman Elfyn Evans was the leading Ford, finishing sixth and winning a stage on Sunday.
Continuing his steep tarmac learning curve, kiwi Hayden Paddon was a frustrated ninth following turbo problems in his Hyundai i20.
RALLY AUSTRALIA: Entry list
Led by defending world champion Sebastien Ogier, a total of 27 crews will be fighting over overall honours in Rally Australia next month.
Ogier will lead the cars away from the start ramp in downtown Coffs Harbour on the afternoon of Thursday September 10, followed by his Volkswagen teammates Jari-Matti Latvala and Andreas Mikkelsen.
Not only is the VW Polo trio favoured to lead the charge on the no-grip gravel tracks through the forests on the NSW north coast, but the three combos are also currently one-two-three in the world championship.
Citroen has entered Kris Meeke and Mads Ostberg, M-Sport have Ford Fiestas for Elfyn Evans and Ott Tanak, Hyundai will bring out three i20s (for Thierry Neuville, Dani Sordo and Kiwi flyer Hayden Paddon), while there is also single privateer Ford Fiesta entry for Italian Lorzeno Bertelli.
In the fiercely fought out WRC2 category, reigning Australian Rally Champion Scott Pedder will be the big local chance along with returnee Nathan Quinn. But both face the against stiff international competition from WRC regulars Yazeed Al Rajhi, Yurii Protasov, Dakar hero Nasser Al-Attiyah, Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari and Gianluca Linari.
Loading the Rally Australia field are the big names in the Australian Rally Championship including Eli Evans, Molly Taylor, Tony Sullens, Adrian Coppin, Mark Pedder and Ashlea James, with Peter Dunn, Rhys Pinter and Stephen Raymond rounding out the entry list.
Sign up here to receive the latest round-up of Wheels news, reviews and video highlights straight to your inbox each week.