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Monday Motor Sport Report

By Peter McKay, 07 Jul 2014 Motorsport

Monday Motor Sport Report

Ricciardo beats Vettel again; Brabham penalised in US; Ambrose in contention at Daytona; Whincup stakes claim; Gardner Jnr on the rise

Another F1 podium for Daniel

A STUFF-UP in final qualifying was not a great start to the British Formula One Grand Prix for Australia’s Daniel Ricciardo, but his unfortunate Saturday segued into a pleasing Sunday, a podium the result of a daring, opportunistic tyre strategy.

In an unpredictable qualifying under gloomy skies, the West Aussie elected to ‘sit’ on a Q3 time that had placed him fourth on the grid, believing the rainy conditions were worsening. And our Dan wasn’t alone in making that bad call that cost him a better starting spot: Lewis Hamilton aborted his final shot at pole, similarly believing he couldn’t go faster.

Soon after, both Nico Rosberg and Sebastian Vettel made a mockery of those decisions by powering to last-gasp front-row qualifying spots for the GP, leaving Ricciardo eighth and Hamilton sixth.

For once at Silverstone, qualifying didn’t dictate race outcomes.

Rosberg’s pole converted into a gearbox issue and retirement while leading, allowing the determined Hamilton to charge through to a well-constructed victory in his home GP.

A surprise second was Valtteri Bottas, the young Finn showing all the signs of becoming a major force in F1.  That’s two podiums on the trot.

On deteriorating medium compound tyres asked to do the final 37 laps, Ricciardo was third – just – with the flying Jenson Button closing fast.

“This is the best third place I've ever got,” enthused Ricciardo. “I'm not normally ecstatic with a third, but I really am today, obviously to redeem myself from yesterday and also the fact that I don’t think we had an awesome race car today, but we made it work.

“We used the cards that we had and played the game well, so I was really happy to make a one-stop work. For the last two laps, I saw Jenson coming and thought I was probably going to be a bit vulnerable, but we held on.

“The one-stop [strategy] wasn’t planned. We pitted quite early on the Prime because we were quite slow and it wasn’t working, so we came in for the Option, and at one point my engineer pretty much said, ‘All right, four laps to go on this tyre, then let's box’. I said the pace seems OK, the tyres aren’t getting any worse and let’s try and stay out or at least think about keeping me out there, and he said, ‘OK, we’ll look at our options’. Then, a few laps later he said, ‘Do you think you can go to the end, there’s 15 or 20 laps to go?’, and I said at the moment I think we can give it a crack. And so, yeah, we did and it paid off!”

The fireworks in the last part of the race came from world champions Vettel (eventually fifth, and again outshone by his team-mate) and Fernando Alonso (sixth). The pair duelled ferociously, with each bleating on the radio about the other’s unfair driving.

Alonso’s Ferrari teammate Kimi Raikkonen survived a massive first-lap crash, the impact of which was measured at a brutal 47G. He limped away to the medical vehicle and was later deemed okay.

At a time when Renault is under continued pressure from Red Bull Racing to improve the performance and reliability of its power pack, Lotus has announced its supplier from next season will be Mercedes, already the provider to its own works team as well as Williams, Force India and McLaren.

Next year, McLaren switches to Honda, which opened a slot for Lotus to switch from Renault.

There has been speculation that Red Bull might (take your pick) switch providers, develop its own engine, buy Renault F1, or do nothing.

Brabham penalised in Indy Lights

ROOKIE Matthew Brabham crossed the line fourth in a willing US Indy Lights Championship race at the Pocono tri-oval at the weekend – but officials quickly relegated the Queenslander to fifth for questionable on-track conduct. They didn’t like the way he kept rival Juan Pablo Garcia behind him.

“Tough day in the office,” Brabham declared on Twitter. “Showed some good speed early on but ended up finishing P5 overall in the race.”

The Pocono 100 was won Gabby Chaves from pole man Zach Veach and Jack Harvey. Chaves tops the series standings over Veach by 316 to 305. Harvey holds third on 272, followed by Brabham (262) as the contenders head to the streets of Toronto, Canada for round nine on July 20.

NASCAR: Rain the winner, then Richard Petty Motorsports

RAIN washed out NASCAR’s 160-lap, 400-mile Sprint Cup event set for Daytona on Saturday night, but it was worth the wait when the race took place on Sunday.

Fans were treated to a dramatic race punctuated by two huge crashes at the famed track.

Wet weather intervened again after 112 laps, so fate and speed combined to give Aric Almirola his first Sprint Cup win.

For Australians, it was a case of the wrong Richard Petty Motorsports Ford driver getting lucky, but Marcos Ambrose nevertheless enjoyed another finish in the Top 10 (he was 10th) after starting 18th following a weather-shortened qualifying. 

Ambrose has moved up to 19th in the points after 18 races, but is still seeking the elusive win to give him a start in the Chase (aka playoffs). To put his situation into perspective, some big names are behind Ambrose in the standings, including former champs Tony Stewart and Kurt Busch.

Uh oh, here comes Jamie

OUT of the V8 Supercars mayhem in Townsville came the powerful resurgence of defending champion Jamie Whincup, a disastrous run by his Red Bull Holden teammate Craig Lowndes, and a solid points haul from nowhere for the series leader, Ford Performance Racing’s Mark Winterbottom.

Whincup won two of the three races, including Sunday’s 250km double-points heat.

Winterbottom showed his mettle by overcoming ordinary qualifying results to race hard on both days. However, his lead has been reduced to 96 points as the show moves on to Queensland Raceway.

On Saturday, HRT’s Garth Tander became the 11th winner of the 2014 season.

Lowndes has slipped out of the top five in the standings and faces a tough challenge to claw his way back into contention in the second half of the year. Winterbottom (1634) leads from Whincup (1538), Fabian Coulthard (1361), Shane van Gisbergen (1355) and James Courtney (1354).

Son of a gun cracks podium

REMY Gardner, the older son of 1987 500cc world champion Wayne, has ridden to his first podium in the fiercely contested Spanish FIM CEV Buckler Championship, a serious feeder series to MotoGP.

In a nail-biter, the 16-year-old second-generation rider collected third in round five of the championship at the Albacete circuit.

“I wanted that podium so much today,” said an elated Remy. “I wanted it for my fantastic team [Calvo], my family, and all the people who have helped me so much over the past few months.

“I didn’t have the power of some of the other bikes I was fighting with, so it was really hard work to keep that third place for the last five or six laps. I kept losing it on the straights and then had to fight hard to get back in front.”

Illustrating the international flavour of the CEV Buckler is the presence in the top 15 of riders from Spain, France, Australia, Italy, Great Britain, Japan, Belgium and Malaysia.

Jorge Lorenzo, Casey Stoner, Dani Pedrosa, and Marc Marquez have all come out of the series.