COLOMBIAN racer Carlos Munoz scored a lucky maiden IndyCar victory in the first of two races at Belle Isle in Detroit on the weekend, while former multiple series champion Sebastien Bourdais took out the second.
The circuit through the manicured park of Belle Isle, an island in the river adjacent to downtown Detroit, shows off IndyCars better than anywhere else: spectators can sit close to the 14 twists and turns and appreciate that these race cars are big – some 175mm wider than an F1 car.
Saturday’s race one of the ‘Chevrolet Dual’ event was a damp squib, red-flagged on the 47th of 70 scheduled laps after a 20-minute postponement.
Munoz, a 23-year-old former Indy 500 rookie of the year, qualified only 20th and won by staying out two laps longer before refuelling.
He was the sixth different winner in seven races and was joined on the podium by his Andretti Autosport teammate Marco Andretti, the two Honda-powered cars leading four Chevrolet-engined cars to the (red) flag, with Simon Pagenaud in third.
The race started well for Team Penske driver Aussie Will Power, who was on pole alongside Helio Castroneves, and ahead of 2015 series leader Juan Pablo Montoya in third.
Power, the reigning series champion, finished fourth just ahead of Brisbane-born Kiwi Scott Dixon, but well ahead of Montoya in 10th.
Montoya was on pole for race two, reminding us again what a loss he has been to Formula One since he walked away, although he was awarded that grid spot when qualifying was washed out before completion.
Another F1 refugee won the second race (again shortened, though only by five laps) with Frenchman Sebastien Bourdais in his KVSH Chevy/Dallara recovering mightily from a heavy crash in practice.
While rain and crashes were factors, so too was fuel: Bourdais crept home on vapours just ahead of Takuma Sato and Graham Rahal.
Montoya ended with a dry tank, falling from a dominant lead to 10th place, but still leads the championship.
Scott Dixon retired after making contact, but the big story was the race being red-flagged just before the end due to a crash between Penske Chevrolet teammates Power and Helio Castroneves.
The post-race debrief with Roger Penske might have been somewhat tense.
Sports cars: Davison crashes into safety truck
AUSTRALIAN James Davison was caught up in a bizarre multi-car crash that injured two track workers after the chequered flag had fallen on the United Sports Car Championship race at Belle Isle.
Just before the race finished and as rain reduced grip, one car slid into the barrier at the end of the main straight.
As soon as the chequered flag fell, a safety vehicle entered the track to recover the crashed car.
Davison lost control after noticing, and then attempting to avoid the recovery truck, and ended up smashing into the back of it, lifting it off its wheels and turning the front of his Aston Martin V12 Vantage into a fireball. He had run as high as third, enjoying some fine dicing before eventually finishing fifth.
Race two was later cancelled "due to safety concern and track visibility both for the drivers and course workers" resulting from heavy rain.
Moto GP: Marquez crash helps Lorenzo win
JORGE Lorenzo continued his challenge for another Moto GP world title with his third successive win, this time in round six at Mugello in Italy, as defending champion Marc Marquez crashed again.
The Spaniard on his Movistar Yamaha finished well ahead of Italian Ducati rider Andrea Iannone, who just held off local legend Valentino Rossi.
The freakishly gifted Marc Marquez put on another remarkable performance after a disastrous qualifying but, in trying just a bit too hard when battling for second, he put the bike down, without injury to himself.
Cal Crutchlow was not so fortunate, incurring a leg injury after crashing.
Rossi continues to lead the championship, but teammate Lorenzo is now just six points behind, while Marquez has dropped to 49 points behind.
Formula 3: Poor driving red-flags Monza race
RACING in Europe’s Formula 3 championship was red-flagged at Monza after drivers acted as though they were in a demolition derby rather than a feeding ground for the pinnacle of open-wheel motorsport.
After sounding warnings about poor racing standards on Saturday that resulted in two drivers cartwheeling dangerously off the track, race officials called a late-night driver’s meeting to call a stop to the practice.
However, after yet another avoidable crash during Sunday’s event as drivers pushed each other off the track attempting overtaking manoeuvres, the red flag was shown and racing stopped.
“During the [Saturday] briefing we informed the drivers that it was not acceptable or the way we want to present F3,” Formula 3 European Championship race director Nils Wittich said. “I'm very sad for the good drivers, but it was the drivers' decision in driving this way.”
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