Warum Fernando Alonso 2018 in der Indycar Serie fahren könnte.

Fernando Alonso 2018 in der Indycar-Serie? Vor wenigen Wochen hielten wir das noch für verrückt. Nun könnte gerade das die letzte Möglichkeit für Alonso sein, in der F1 wieder an siegfähiges Material zu kommen.

Hungaroring, Budapest, Hungary. .
Sunday 30 July 2017.
Fernando Alonso, McLaren.
Photo: Steven Tee/McLaren
ref: Digital Image _R3I4275

Das Schicksal des zweimaligen Weltmeisters Fernando Alonso ist ungewiss.  Glaubten viele nach dem Ungarn GP, dass der Verbleib vom Spanier bei McLaren nur noch Formsache sei, schwenkte das Pendel nach dem Belgien Wochenende in die andere Richtung und die Frustration des 36-jährigen Altmeisters erreichte ein neuen Höhepunkt,  als er nach einem grandiosen Start reihenweise beim Rennen in den Ardennen überholt wurde.

Nachdem Ferrari beide Fahrer für 2018 bestätigte und die Vertragsverlängerung von Valterri Bottas nur noch Formsache ist, blitzt Alonso nun auch nach den neuesten Aussagen von Teamchef Cyril Abiteboul bei Renault ab. “Es gibt eine Sache, die ich nicht möchte: Einen frustrierten Fernando in einem Renault zu haben”.

Neben einem Verbleib bei McLaren, denen voraussichtlich 2018 nichts anderes übrig bleibt, als mit Motorenpartner Honda weiter zu machen, gehen Alonso gute Optionen in der F1 aus. “Ich hatte noch nie einen so hohen Marktwert”, zeigte sich der Spanier in Belgien entspannt. Die Außenstehenden fragen sich: Was meint er damit?

Sabbatical-Jahr in der Indycar Serie?

Alonso betonte immer wieder, dass er 2018 gewinnen würde, egal was passiert. Fügt man alle Puzzleteile zusammen, ist das realistische Bild neben einem McLaren Verbleib ein Jahr Auszeit in der Indycar Serie. Warum?

Siegfähiges Material bei Andretti.

Würde Alonso in die Indycar-Serie wechseln, würde er natürlich den freien Platz beim Andretti Team, mit dem er bei den Indy500 teilnahm, bekommen. Andretti ist einer der besten Teams in der Indycar Serie und mit Takuma Sato stellt der Amerikanische Rennstall von Rennsportlegende Mario Andretti auch den aktuellen Indy500 Sieger. Honda hat die Motorenprobleme, welche Alonso im Mai bei den Indy500 stoppten mittlerweile in den Griff bekommen und anders als in der Formel 1, hat man aktuell den wohl besten Motor.



Erneute Teilnahme am Indy500

Mit einer Indycar Saison würde Alonso auch direkt am Indy500 teilnehmen können, dann sogar wieder zusammen mit McLaren. Er könnte sein Ziel, dort zu gewinnen erneut versuchen.

Indy500 zeigte: Alonso ist konkurrenzfähig

Das Indy500 zeigte außerdem, dass Alonso nicht nur F1 fahren kann. Der Spanier würde in seiner aktuellen F1-Form in der Indycar-Serie möglicherweise noch besser zurecht kommen, als er es im Mai getan hatte.

F1-Comeback 2019

Der weitaus wichtigere Punkt ist aber, dass Alonso wohl sofort die Möglichkeit hätte, in die F1 zurückzukommen. 2018 könnte er abwarten ob Honda sich in der F1 doch noch mit McLaren fängt – Sollte das nicht der Fall sein hat er weitaus bessere Optionen als aktuell. Der Vertrag von Hamilton bei Mercedes läuft aus, während es Renaults Plan ist, 2019 Siege einzufahren und um die WM zu kämpfen. Der Spanier könnte sich in diesem Falll also entspannt aus den USA ansehen, wie sich die Lage auf dem Fahrermarkt entwickelt und dann die bestmöglichste Entscheidung treffen, ohne ein weiteres Jahr hinterherfahren zu riskieren.

Das Beste für McLaren

Doch auch für McLaren wäre dieses Szenario das Beste von allen, vorausgesetzt wenn man dazu gezwungen wird, 2018 Honda als Partner zu behalten. Man könnte Motorenpartner Honda nochmal eine letzte Chance geben, ohne voreilige Schlüsse zu ziehen. Als Pilot könnte man beispielsweise Jenson Button nochmal für ein Jahr aus der Rente holen.

Man darf gespannt sein, welche Entscheidung um den Spanier in den nächsten Wochen fallen wird. Fakt ist: Seine Optionen sind begrenzt.




Brookes: At Silverstone, The Plan is to Win Races

I caught up with Josh Brookes once more at Cadwell Park. In this latest feature with the effervescent Australian, we talk about the Suzuka 8 Hour, the plan for the remainder of 2017 and what the plan for 2018 may be? Is WSBK still an option?

You took your first win of the season at Thruxton and you’re coming strong at the right point of the year.

It’s kind of how I anticipated things to happen. We were hoping for a little bit better at Brands Hatch but we still took a step in the right direction and we could’ve had a double win, so that showed that we were going in the right direction. I anticipated an easy start into the season to get the ball rolling and get some points on the board before really going for it.

Do you feel now that the bike is working well, that you can challenge week in, week out?

I feel the bike has been strong all year and that I’ve had the package all year. That is why I signed for the team. Having all the right pieces however doesn’t necessarily mean the bike goes well every time you step on it. You have to adapt it and the set it up at each circuit you go to. It’s not perfect and there is still work that needs doing. However, as a rider and as a team, you’ll never be perfectly satisfied and you’ll always think there’s room for improvement. I think we are starting to learn the bike more and more as the season goes on and we are refining the parts that are perhaps our weak areas. As you’ve seen this weekend, Cadwell Park has been a bit of curve ball.

Are you shocked that you’ve struggled this weekend, given your past results?

I wouldn’t say “shocked” because I’ve been in racing too long to be shocked or expect every weekend to go perfectly. However, I’m surprised that the bike isn’t working better. If I was half a second off or something then that’d be better but to arrive after FP3 still struggling with basic set-up, it seems a bit of a surprise.

If you look at the general build of the bike, it is different to the 2015 Milwaukee Yamaha. I can’t reference click for click or spring for spring what set-up we used two years ago, however, I can use it as a guide to what may work. So far in 2017, the exact set-up I used two years ago isn’t achievable on this bike. One reason being the bikes don’t have the same parts and then, when you try to match it, it clearly doesn’t always work out. In some ways, 2017 is a blank canvas. Yes, I have the knowledge of the bike as does Stewart Winton, so information from 2015 is there, but like I say, it’s a totally different bike.

In comparison, the series has really come on in the year I’ve been away. I reached a point in 2015 where I was able to win most races come the end of the year and now, that lap speed and the race times aren’t going to get you near a win, or by no means anywhere near a dominant win. I’m not at all surprised by that though; I always expect riders to improve, bikes to improve, new riders to come along and teams to refine their package.

You’ve had a couple of front end crashes lately. Is this a recurring issue that needs investigating?

The first one that I had was at Knockhill, which was a surprise and quite odd as the bike was almost perfectly upright. As the crash was the first of the year, I just put it behind me and didn’t think much of it. Then, we had another front-end crash at Brands but I was in a race chasing down ‘Shakey’, so again, I just put it to the side and thought nothing of it. However, the one at Thruxton was one of the most surprising crashes of my career. It was completely unexpected and out of character. That has put a question mark on the other two accidents now; I’m starting to think back and wonder if there is something more to it. I don’t want to create an issue that isn’t there but it is definitely worth us as a team looking at a particular area of the bike to then improve it, so that the front end issue goes away.

Is there anything that you could’ve done as a rider to avoid the crashes?

I’ve run over it a number of times in my head and the only one I think that could be explainable is Brands Hatch. I tried to stay on the back of ‘Shakey’s’ rear wheel and had I not done that, maybe it would’ve been more avoidable. But, it is a race! I’d never get any good positions if I just accepted safe results and rode on the side of caution. The one at Thruxton was a complete surprise. I had enough of a gap where I could just ride conservatively and not risk too much whilst I also had to keep pushing on and not become complacent because the gap wasn’t massive either.

What is the plan for the remainder of the year?

At Silverstone, the plans is to win races. That is the only way I’m going to win a championship. If the championship isn’t destined for me this year, then so be it. I’ve got to go out and ride the races and ride as hard as I can. Whatever the points are at the end of the year, if they signify that I’m the winner then we can go out and have a few beers but if not, then we’ll make a plan for next year and come back stronger.

You and Yoshimura Suzuki went to the Suzuka 8 Hour with the expectation of a podium but it wasn’t to be.

The thing with an endurance race is that you’ve got three riders so you kind of put trust into the other guys, likewise for them putting the trust in myself. Either way, everyone can make a mistake and that’s how you have to approach a race like that. You can’t race the race on your own and you can’t do it without them. You have to accept whatever happens as a team.

I’ve done it seven times now and the goal before I retire from racing is to go on and win that event, so I’ll keep going back every year for the next ten years if I have to, in order to try and win it. You could call it a career target.

Sylvain seemed down about the result?

I think that Sylvain doesn’t like the media side of things. I don’t think that was a reference of him as a person or how he felt on the day because of the result. I don’t think he enjoyed someone coming up to him and pushing an iPhone in his face at that time. I don’t think he was interested in the piece to camera or motivated to do it. He just said ‘yeh, what Josh said’, because he wanted to get away and chill out. He probably agreed with what I said but rather than saying the same thing all over again, he just cut it down.

What are your plans for 2018 so far?

All of the conversation in general is in BSB, as WSBK isn’t a strong option; there’s very few paid rides in the series and there’s only four competitive seats. World Superbike isn’t even an interest to me at the moment because I think last year was enough to put me off that series for life! I’m talking to Tag, as it’s been a good year so far and a second year would probably be stronger. All options presented in front of me will be considered; if I get a good bike in a good team with a good salary then I will have to consider it. BSB is my focus at the moment.

WSBK is still an option, just not a strong one. I just really like riding motorbikes! Any championship where I am getting paid will be considered. As long as the racing is interesting and exciting and the pay to do it is good, then it is ‘an option’.

Image courtesy of Gareth Davies of Full Factory Photography.

F1 2017 – Ein Muss für jeden F1-Fan!

Mit F1 2017 wird Codemasters kommende Woche das 8. produzierte offizielle F1 Spiel veröffentlichen. Wir werden euch zeigen warum das Spiel für jeden F1 Fan oder Rennspielliebhaber ein Muss ist. Außerdem bekommt ihr exklusive Inhalteinblicke in die in der vergangenen Woche abgelaufenen geschlossenen Beta und meine eigene Meinung als langjähriger F1-Spieler.

Bildergebnis für f1 2017 game

Am 25. August kehrt nicht nur die reale Formel 1 mit dem 1. Freien Training und der Weiterführung der Schlacht zwischen Sebastian Vettel und Lewis Hamilton zum Belgien GP aus der Sommerpause zurück – Es erscheint außerdem das alljährliche offizielle Videospiel von Codemasters. Meine Damen und Herren, starten Sie ihre  Motoren!

The 25th of August in this year is not only the day when the F1 World Championship’s summer break ends with free practice at the Belgian GP, and Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton continue their fight for the title—it’s the day when Codemasters publish their new F1 game. Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines!

Neue Inhalte:

Karrieremodus: Realistisches Technisches Regelwerk

Der Karrieremodus in den F1 Spielen erreichte im vergangenen Jahr ein neues Level, als Codemasters nach langem Drängen der Fans endlich wieder die Athmosphäre des Fahrerlagers zurückholte, eine eigene Startnummer sowie Helm, zusätzlich einen 10 Saison langen Karrieremodus bei dem man das Auto mit Updates in verschiedenen Bereichen verbessern konnte um die Rivalen schneller einzuholen.

Doch in diesjährigen Spiel erreicht das Ganze eine neue Dimension. Wie im Trailer oben zu sehen ist, verbessert Codemasters in F1 2017 nicht nur das R&D System, sondern bringt auch erstmal die realistischen Regeln des Technischen Regelwerks in das Spiel.

Genauso wie in der Realität ist es jetzt nötig die gesamte Powerunit zu verwalten. Nicht nur der Verbrennungsmotor, sondern auch die ganzen anderen Teile welche zu den seit der Saison 2014 verwendeten V6-Hybrid Motoren gehören. Dazu gesellt sich auch die Getriebeverwaltung, welche mehrere Rennen halten muss, bevor man eine neue einsetzen darf.

Das bedeutet auch dass der Spieler nicht mehr das Auto dauerhaft jedes Wochenende ans Limit bringen kann – Erst Recht wenn ihr beispielsweise in einem McLaren-Honda oder Red Bull sitzt, solltet ihr öfter mal auf die Telemetrie der Motorenteile schauen, andernfalls hagelt es bereits früh Strafen, welche auch zurückwerfen.

Komplexes R&D -System

Wie am Anfang des Artikels erwähnt und auch im Video Trailer oben zu sehen ist, ist das R&D System nun weitaus komplexter als im vergangenen Spiel. Der Spieler hat nun die Möglichkeit wirklich einzelne Teile des Autos zu verbessern, viele Youtuber nannten das ganze Konzept “Tree”, also “Baum”, da der gesamte Entwicklungsbildschirm aussieht wie ein riesiger Baum.

Die einzelnen Bereiche können wie im vergangenen Jahr mit Entwicklungspukten erkauft werden, die der Spieler bei Trainingssessions erhält, die nun ebenfalls mit deutlich mehr Programmen erweitert worden sind.



Wie auch in F1 2016 und natürlich der Realität, hat jedes Team seine eigenen Vor- und Nachteile. Zu den letztjährigen Bereichen des Motors, Chassis usw. kommt nun auch der Punkt “Zuverlässigkeit” hinzu. Ja, in F1 2017 gibt es endlich richtige technische Defekte an den Autos wie z.B. ein Motorschaden oder auch Fehlschlagen von angedachten Updates. Ein großes Plus für jeden Fan, der Detailtreue mag!


Wenn ihr nicht unter einem Stein lebt, werdet ihr vermutlich wissen dass Codemasters in diesem Jahr die Classic-Cars zurück bringt. Das erste und auch bisher letzte Mal sahen wir das in F1 2013. Im diesjährigen Spiel gibt es aber nicht nur einfach so den Classic Mode – Die ikonischen Wagen sind nun auch mit im Karrieremodus implementiert. Aber lasst uns zuerst schauen, welche Autos alle im Spiel enthalten sind – Und das sind weitaus mehr als in F1 2013:


1995 Ferrari 412 T2
2002 Ferrari F2002
2004 Ferrari F2004
2007 Ferrari F2007

1988 McLaren MP4/4
1991 McLaren MP4/6
1998 McLaren MP4-13
2008 McLaren MP4-23

1992 Williams FW14B
1996 Williams FW18

2006 Renault R26

Red Bull:
2010 Red Bull RB6

Soweit so gut, doch wie funktioniert das mit den Classic-Cars im Karrieremodus?

Screenshot zu F1 2017 (PS4) - Screenshots

Ganz einfach. Laut Creative Direcor Lee Mather und auch den ersten gezeigten Gameplay Videos gibt es im Spiel ein reichen Mann namens Jonathan, dem einige alte Rennwagen gehören. Er bittet euch, diese auf verschiedene Events zu fahren. So muss man beispielsweise mit Fernando Alonsos Weltmeisterauto aus dem Jahre 2006, dem Renault R26 auf einer kurzen Version des Suzuka Circuits langsamere Autos einholen, die das Rennen allerdings vor einem beginnen. Das ist aber nur eines von sehr vielen Events.

Screenshot zu F1 2017 (PS4) - Screenshots

Aber es gibt natürlich auch neben dem Karrieremodus wieder die Möglichkeit, die Classic Autos im Zeitfahren, GP Modus oder auch Multiplayer zu benutzen.

Eine kleine Anmerkung am Rande, wie im Bezug auf das unten zu sehende Video: Mit Ayrton Sennas legendären 1988 McLaren MP4/4, der zum Release nur in der Limited Edition des Spiels enthalten sein wird, ist es möglich für alle Lenrkadbenutzer mit einer H-Schaltung, diese für dieses Auto auch zu benutzen. Ein tolles Feature!


Beta Bericht – Meine Sicht zum Spiel

Dankenswerterweise war es mir als langjähriger F1 Spieler und Leiter der größten Deutschen F1 Liga  möglich, nach letztem Jahr erneut an der geschlossenen Beta zum neuen Spiel teilzunehmen.

Die Beta fand erneut in verschiedenen Phasen statt, jede Phase mit einem anderen Spielmodus oder auch verbesserten Dingen zur vorherigen Phase.

Die Fahrphysik:

Dieses Jahr gab es eine große Änderung der Aerodynamischen Regeln in der F1. Die Autos und Reifen sind breiter und die Zeiten schneller als jemals zuvor. Die meisten der Fahrer attestierten den 2017er Autos deutlich mehr Spaß zum Fahren aber auch bedeutend schwieriger.

Und genau das spürt man im neuen Spiel, egal ob mit dem Controller oder dem Lenkrad. Die Autos sind deutlich schneller in den Kurven und der Spieler wird das Auto durch jede Kurve prügeln können, besonders mit einem Lenkrad. Wie auch in der Realität ist der Reifenverschleiss nun deutlich geringer, was dem Spieler auch ermöglicht aggressiver zu fahren. ABER:

Managen des Autos

Wie weiter oben mit der Zuverlässigkeit des Autos erwähnt, müsst ihr nun das Auto und den Sprit managen wie die Fahrer in der Realität. Sprit sparen ist deutlich wichtiger als die letzten Jahre und das Rennen wird niemand beenden, der nicht mal einige Runden auf den niedrigsten Motorenmodus unterwegs ist bzw. Lift & Cost betreibt. Viele Rennen werden nun von diesem Faktor abhängen!

Die Grafik:

Auch wenn ich das Spiel nur auf der Xbox spiele, muss ich zugeben dass sich die Grafik vor allem im Bereich der Autos verbessert hat. Diese sehen nun deutlich realer aus, vor allem die Farben sind toll. Aber das gibt es ja bereits in den ersten Gameplays wie oben zu sehen.

Classic Cars:

In der Beta war es auch anfangs möglich einige alten Autos zu testen. Um ehrlich zu sein spielte ich die aufgrund meines damaligen Urlaubs nicht allzulang um etwas zur Fahrphysik sagen zu können, jedoch ist der tolle V10 Sound des Ferrari F2002 unglaublich gewesen. Im Vergleich zur Realität hörte sich dieser fast identisch an. Ein wirklich tolles Extra im Game, dass den ein oder anderen sicher länger an der Konsole oder dem PC fesseln wird als normalerweise.

Die KI:

Die KI ist kurz und knapp gesagt einfach toll! Sicher gab es in der Beta einige komische Situationen, dafür gibt es aber natürlich auch eine Beta. Das Racing gegen die KI war in der Beta besser als in jedem anderen F1 Spiel zuvor. Ich hatte viele tolle Rad-an-Rad Kämpfe, die ich eigentlich so nur bisher von meiner Liga gewohnt war. Die KI wehrt sich, geht mit dem Spieler in die Kurven, setzt sich daneben. Und mit dem neuen KI-Slider ist es endlich möglich selber genau zu entscheiden, wie stark oder schwach die KI letzendlich auch sein kann. Das funktionierte in meinen Augen perfekt!

Mit dem manuellen Pitlimiter und dem Hebeln der Kupplung beim Rausfahren nach einem Stopp, gesellen sich auch zwei neue Fahrhilfen, die das Spiel bereichern.


Für mich als Ligafahrer ist der Online Modus der F1 Spiele vermutlich der wichtigste Teil. Jeder langjährige Spieler wird wissen dass Codemasters die letzten Jahre große Probleme in diesem Bereich hatte. Mit F1 2016 kam dann ein riesiger Schritt in die positive Richtung.

Mit F1 2017 gibt es aber noch mehr glückliche Gesichter in den Ligen – Vor allem weil Codemasters den Beta-Testern die Möglichkeit gab, die allererste Multiplayer Beta über einige Wochen zu testen. Darum ist es mir auch möglich, etwas darüber zu erzählen:

Zunächst sind Rad an Rad Duelle, oder auch wenn sich zwei Autos berühren komplett bereinigt. Während es in den letzten Jahren die komischten Situationen gab, die den anderen Spieler beim Wheel “banging” mehrere Hundert Meter in die Mauern krachen lies, haben die Autos nun eine realistische Eigenschaft. Man kann nun wirklich gegen Freunde oder Rivalen in der Liga Fahren, ohne Angst zu haben dass soetwas wie oben beschrieben passiert. Außerdem bügelte Codemasters viele Fehler aus dem letztjährigen Game aus, dass das Online Spielen deutlich erträglicher machen wird.


Für alle Xbox Spieler: Das Spiel hat außerdem nun endlich die alt bekannten Sessionlisten, während das lästige Hopper-System verbannt wurde.

F1 2017 –  Ein Muss?

Für mich als F1 Fan und als Ligafahrer der in seine siebte Saison geht ist es keine Frage alljährlich direkt am Release des neuen F1 Spiels zuzugreifen. Aber was ist mit Gelegenheitsspielern oder mit normalen Rennsportbegeisterten?

Ich würde auch JA sagen! Vor allem weil das diesjährige Spiel nicht nur eine Verbesserung des wirklich tollen F1 2016 ist, sondern so viele neue Details und Features vorzuweisen hat, die das Spielen realistischer und toller gestalten. Wie beispielsweise die offiziellen Intros vor jedem Rennen, mit den aus dem Fernseher 1:1 übernommenen Streckengrafiken. Es sind vielleicht abgesehen vom Classic-Modus nicht die größten Neuerungen, jedoch braucht es das auch gar nicht, da F1 2016 bereits einen wirklich starken Grundstein für künftige F1 Spiele gelegt hat, auf dem F1 2017 mit den oben genannten Neuerungen aufbaut.

Aus meiner Sicht wird F1 2017 das beste Formel 1 Spiel bis dato werden und jeder der bereits den Vorgänger mochte, wird das neue Spiel lieben!

F1 2017 wird am 25. August für PC, PS4 und die Xbox One in Deutschland erscheinen.

Ferrari Season Review: The Prancing Horse are Delivering on Early Season Promise

Ferrari appear to have finally gotten their act together in 2017 after two years of threatening to compete with the dominant Mercedes-Benz team in this current turbo era.

In 2015 Sebastian Vettel took three wins and apparent improvements in testing the following year suggested a challenge was imminent.

However, in 2016 the Scuderia developed an uncanny ability to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory with strategy costing them on at least two occasions.

So when Ferrari began to more than match Mercedes in winter testing, everyone thought “here we go again”.

Vettel’s win in Australia was no flash in the pan. Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia.
Sunday 26 March 2017.
World Copyright: Zak Mauger/LAT Images
ref: Digital Image _56I1907

Everyone was wrong.

Ferrari were outqualified by Mercedes in Australia but Sebastian Vettel remained glued to Lewis Hamilton’s gearbox, and overcut him successfully in the pitstops to send a message to the watching world, with Kimi Raikkonen fourth.

Vettel would take an eventful second place in China as Raikkonen took fifth, before Vettel continued his imperious start with victory in Bahrain as Ferrari’s better race pace told.

While Hamilton struggled in Sochi, Ferrari did not and took their first front-row lockout since 2008. They couldn’t convert that into a win as Valtteri Bottas’ jet-propelled start put at the front, where he stayed despite immense pressure from Vettel.

Hamilton struck back at the Spanish Grand Prix but Vettel was second after eventually being passed by the Brit, while Raikkonen retired at the first corner.

Vettel left the Monaco Grand Prix with a 25-point advantage. Monte Carlo, Monaco. Thursday 25 May 2017.
Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari SF70H.
World Copyright: Andy Hone/LAT Images
ref: Digital Image _ONZ8912

At Monaco Raikkonen took his first pole position since the 2008 French Grand Prix with Vettel second, Bottas third and Hamilton all the way back in 14th.

The two Ferraris built a gap early in the race but as the tyres began to wear Bottas and the two Red Bulls of Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen reeled them in. Ferrari pitted Raikkonen first, while Vettel stayed out longer, re-joining clear in first place when he eventually did pit. He would hold the lead for the rest of the Grand Prix.

Canada was to that point the team’s worst weekend. After damage sustained on the first lap, Vettel pitted for a front wing while Raikkonen slipped backwards. Electric and brake problems meant Raikkonen had to nurse his car to seventh, while Vettel recovered to fourth place while Hamilton won.

The previously friendly title rivalry then intensified at the Baku City Circuit in one of the most bizarre races in recent memory.

Vettel felt that Hamilton had brake-tested him under Safety Car conditions, and promptly rammed the Brit. He received a ten-second stop/go penalty, which would have seemed a lot harsher had Lewis Hamilton not needed to pit to replace a loose headrest. Vettel would finish fourth, one place ahead of Hamilton.

Vettel would finish second in Austria as Bottas won, while Raikkonen was fifth before a poor weeked in Britain saw both Ferraris suffer from punctures in the final laps. Raikkonen recovered to third while Vettel’s issues were more severe and he could only finish seventh.

The gap between he and Hamilton was just one point, while Bottas was only 23 points back.

In Hungary Raikkonen acted selflessly to allow Vettel to win – GP GRAN BRETAGNA F1/2017

It was the perfect riposte from Ferrari in Hungary as Vettel and Raikkonen finished first and second. Vettel battled with steering issues and Raikkonen dutifully played the team game and acted as rear gunner in the face of a Mercedes advance.

Vettel said after the race that he owed the Finn a favour. This is a chance for the team to end nine years of silverware drought.

If Ferrari keep up their pace and finally deliver on three years’ worth of promise for the rest of the season, he might owe Raikkonen plenty when the year is out.

Double Podium Joy For Buchan At Thruxton

National Superstock 1000 championship leader Danny Buchan hailed a weekend in which he came away with a win and a third place. The Morello Kawasaki man said that “tyre preservation was essential” and that race one was all about being “smart”. The 24-year-old also paid tribute to the late Mark Fincham, who lost his life in the same race on Sunday afternoon.

“Well I think we need to start by stating the tragic loss of Mark Fincham, which was a shock to everyone. His friends, his family and everyone he knew in the paddock will mourn his loss. The results of the weekend don’t really matter in these circumstances as you’re taking in everything that happened”.

Buchan continued, stating that the racing was “alright” but he would’ve liked to be “a bit higher up” in the second outing.

“Racing wise it was an alright weekend. A 1st and a 3rd isn’t the end of the world but I’d liked to have been a bit higher up in the second half of the race but it was cut short. I do truly believe that if I had another couple of laps, then I would’ve at least been fighting for the win. I actually got held up by Chrissy Rouse, who got ahead of me but then ruined his tyre so I sat behind him for a lap and then a gap formed to the leaders. I came into the last chicane and got around the outside of Michael Rutter but knew I couldn’t make it around Adam Jenkinson, so I sat in third and took the points. I’m happy with the weekend. The pace was good and although I would’ve liked to be a bit higher up in race two, it was still OK”.

Buchan also criticised the movement towards blaming Pirelli for tyre issues by other riders.

“Everyone is blaming Pirelli or this, that and the other but for me it’s about riding smart. I’m not saying Richard Cooper rode worse than me but what I am saying is a lot of people seemed to have chunking tyres. I had some myself, right towards the end of the race and I saved my tyre. It was all about tyre preservation; it was nothing to do with tyres delaminating. We know the surface at Thruxton is abrasive because we’ve been coming here for years and therefore, we know tyres don’t last there. So, what teams should be doing is working on a set-up that allows the tyres to last and not blow apart”.

The Basildon Bullet also commended his first race performance, saying, “the first race was all about being smart. We knew all weekend that the races were going to be all about tyre conservation and for me, I did that”.

The former Superstock 1000 champ was also happy to finally win at Thruxton on a bike bike.

“I’ve never won a race at Thruxton so I was mega happy to win there. I won on the 400s run there but never won there on a proper bike. There’s a 20 point lead in the championship and the tracks that are coming up have been good to me in the past. I enjoy Cadwell, Silverstone and then the Showdown rounds too”.

Image courtesy of Gareth Davies of Full Factory Photography

Mid-Season Report, Who will Rule Formula 1?

It’s this time of the season, where the drivers and the crews are taking their summer break and enjoying some days off with their families and friends.

For the fans, it’s a good point to see how the Formula One teams and drivers performed during the first half of the season. After eleven races Sebastian Vettel is leading in the drivers’ standings (202 pts) followed by the British champion Lewis Hamilton (188 pts), the gap between the two drivers is just 14 points, Mercedes and Ferrari are very close this season, that can be seen from their results and the points that the two teams have collected.

The Silver Arrows are first, on the constructors’ standings, by 39 points. As it seems the title will be a battle of two teams, but what about the drivers?  Will it be decided only between Vettel and Hamilton?

There is one driver who seems able to challenge the two champions, he will try to take advantage of their battle and slowly he will try to claim Formula One’s throne. That driver is Valtteri Bottas.

The Finn is third with 169 points, he is 19 points behind his team-mate and 33 points behind the leader, Sebastian Vettel. Bottas, have finished eight times on the podium and have won two races, his first victory was in Russia and his last one in Austria. It is a great achievement if you consider that it’s his debut season with Mercedes and that he is racing alongside a three-time champion who is fighting for his fourth title.

London, United Kingdom.
Wednesday 12 July 2017.
Carlos Sainz Jr, Toro Rosso STR12 Renault.
World Copyright: Glenn Dunbar/LAT Images
ref: Digital Image _X4I1034

Mercedes will face a challenge, Bottas is in a good form, Hamilton is desperately wanting to win this season, after last year’s defeat from his team-mate, now their team has to decide if they will let them race or if they will pull the card of number 1 and number 2 driver.

Red Bull Racing is far away from the two contenders, the Bulls are currently third, they have scored 184 points and most of these points were scored by Daniel Ricciardo. The Australian has finished five times on the podium and won in Azerbaijan. From the other hand, Daniel’s team-mate, Max Verstappen is not facing, the best moments of his Formula 1 career. The young driver finished third in China, and retired on five of the eleven races. It looks that Red Bull can secure the third place and focus one the following season, their only threat is Force India.

Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon are doing a good job this season, they have scored 101 points, 72 less of the points which Force India scored in 2016. They both look to be enjoying their season, Perez has finished in the points in nine of the eleven races, whilst Ocon failed to score point/s only in Monaco where he finished 12th.

Williams is not facing its best season so far, Felipe Massa returned from retirement, in order to give the chance to Bottas to move to Mercedes and try his luck in a better team, was it the right decision? The Brazilian finished sixth in the season premiere in Australia, in Bahrain he also finished in the same position, these were Massa’s two best finishes. Last season at the summer break, Felipe had 38 points, fifteen more points from those that he has now.

Baku City Circuit, Baku, Azerbaijan.
Sunday 25 June 2017.
World Copyright: Zak Mauger/LAT Images
ref: Digital Image _54I4953

From the other hand, his team-mate, Lance Stroll crashed or trashed (if you prefer) his Williams with every possible way he could think of. From the pre-season tests the young driver was not looking very “skilful”, his results confirmed that. The Canadian had four retirements in the first four races of the season and one more retirement in Monaco, five DNF in eleven races. He scored his first two points in Canada, where he finished 9th. In Azerbaijan, Lance achieved the unachievable, after a top drive he finished third. That was the only podium for Williams this season.

Toro Rosso is only two points behind Williams and chasing them for the fifth place in the constructors’ championship. A battle between Williams, Toro Rosso, Haas and Renault is expected for the fifth place. Last season, Williams secured easily the fifth place, but now they are struggling, these four teams are close to each other and all of them have at least one good drive to racing.

Romain Grosjean finished sixth Austria and scored eight valuable points for Haas, a one man show is a good slogan, which suits, to Renault as Nico Hulkenberg have scored all their points (26) so far. Toro Rosso is in an almost similar situation, Kvyat has scored just four points, whilst Sainz is doing all the hard work. Carlos, finished sixth in Monaco, that was his highest finish and until now he has 56 points, eleven less than Max Verstappen.

Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, Montreal, Canada.
Friday 09 June 2017.
World Copyright: Andy Hone/LAT Images
ref: Digital Image _ONY2825

McLaren, is the team which impressed me the most in the last race before the summer break. Fernando, was ready for his holidays but he had only one obstacle to face, the Hungarian Grand Prix. The Spaniard, finished sixth in Hungary, scored eight points and then he took his yacht and visited Greece.

Pascal Wehrelin is trying to save Sauber from its disaster, but his results are not enough. Five points for Pascal, he finished eighth in Spain and tenth in Azerbaijan, his team-mate(s) is still trying to figure out if he is racing in Formula One or..

With nine races to go I am expecting a strong fight between Vettel Hamilton and Bottas, don’t underestimate the Finns!

Who will rule the Formula 1 Kingdom?

Have a nice holiday!

Victor Archakis

*Twitter: @FP_Passion

Farmer Seeking Superbike Return in 2018

Keith Farmer, the British Supersport championship leader feels that a move onto the big bikes is essential for 2018. The former Superstock 1000 champion feels he has “come on a lot since 2015” and that a “two year deal would be ideal”.

“I think if I was to step up to Superbike it would need to be on a decent bike but not only the bike. The team that around the rider are crucial as I’ve noticed that this past few years, so I’d need a decent set of guys behind me. I think again a two year deal would be ideal for a learning, with a no pressure atmosphere. Then, in the second year, I’d be able to dig in properly”.

When asked whether he could be a showdown threat, Farmer said, “I think definitely in the second year, we could put together a consistent year to make the top six showdown.

“First year back in Superbike is a little bit too much to ask as the pace is so quick. We know we have the speed but keeping it consistent would be the task. The effort that goes into racing behind closed doors is immense compared to before and I totally believe in myself”.

The Appleyard Macadam’s Yamaha rider went onto say, “I think I have came on so much since the start of 2015, to ride that Superstock Honda as hard as I had too and finish 3rd in championship behind two BMWs. I am proud to say I did a brilliant job on it for Quay Garage Racing with being 25bhp down.

“I have settled down so much and I feel a lot more consistent, even with jumping on the 600cc this season for Appleyard Macadam Racing and we were straight up front with no testing time or anything so it’s a bit special for us all really.

Farmer also feels he is more complete rider.

“I’ve definitely come on as a rider. I have shown what speed I have on a lesser powered bike last year and still ran up at the front. Also, on a 600cc bike and leading championship so I have shown I can jump on anything and go quick so with some good people around me we could do a good job in the Superbikes”.

Image courtesy of Gareth Davies of Full Factory Photography

Rally Finland Review 2017- Esapekka Lappi takes his Maiden WRC Victory!

Here’s the story as to how Esapekka Lappi took his maiden WRC victory, on only his fourth top tier start!


We were treated to an amazing Finnish Rally this year. Just like last year, it will go down in history, but for very different reasons.  It all started as usual with shakedown on Thursday morning and once more it was very close.



Meeke / Nagle (Citroën C3 WRC)          2:14.3

Neuville / Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC)   2:14.4

Tänak / Jarveoja (Ford Fiesta WRC)      2:14.8

Latvala / Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC)    2:14.9

Sordo / Marti (Hyundai i20 WRC)           2:15.2

Breen / Martin (Citroën C3 WRC)          2:15.3

Østberg / Floene (Ford Fiesta WRC)     2:15.6

Paddon / Marshall (Hyundai i20 WRC) 2:15.6

Ogier / Ingrassia (Ford Fiesta WRC)       2:15.8

Lappi / Ferm (Toyota Yaris WRC)             2:16.0


Moving onto the first stage that evening and Ott won the stage from Thierry and Seb. The top ten looked like this.


1   Tanak 1m44.1s

2   Neuville   +1.1s

3   Ogier          1.5s

4   Breen       +1.6s

5   Latvala     +2.2s

6   Paddon    +2.5s

7   Hänninen +2.7s

8   Meeke     +3.0s

9   Evans        +3.1s

10 Sordo       +3.5s

13 Lappi        +5.7s


This was the full schedule that the drivers could look forward to on Saturday then and the day dawned bright and sunny, although there were reports that rain would be making an appearance later in the day.



6.05am: Service A (Jyväskylä – 15 mins)

7.12am: SS2 – Halinen 1 (7.65km)

7.45am: SS3 – Urria 1 (12.75km)

8.48am: SS4 – Jukojärvi 1 (21.31km)

10.06am: SS5 – Halinen 2 (7.65km)

10.38am: SS6 – Urria 2 (12.75km)

11.42am: SS7 – Jukojärvi 2 (21.31 km)

1.37pm: Service B (Jyväskylä – 30 mins)

3.00pm: SS8 – Äänekoski-Valtra 1 (7.39km)

4.13pm: SS9 – Laukaa 1 (11.76km)

5.11pm: SS10 – Lankamaa (21.68km)

6.09pm: SS11 – Äänekoski-Valtra 2 (7.39km)

7.22pm: SS12 – Laukaa 2 (11.76km)

8.30pm: SS13 – Harju 2 (2.31km)

9.00pm: Flexi Service C (Jyväskylä – 45 mins)


Just a short one to start the day, and Teemu would come out on top, showing all the drivers the way. Kris was just behind with Hayden just a few more tenths adrift. Overall, Ott still led with Thierry tumbling down the order to tenth. At the point Esapekka was 8.2 from first place.


SS2 – Halinen 1 (7.65km)

1 Suninen 3:39.7 (140kph)

2️ Meeke        +0.1

3 Paddon     +0.3


The news from Ogier at the end of stage 3 was not good. After a heavy landing, he started getting trouble from his throttle response, meaning that he’d lose just under 5 seconds and drop to sixth overall. The driver on the move was Teemu, who had slotted his Fiesta WRC into fifth overall. It was a Jari-Matti stage win, with Lappi admitting at the end of stage 2 that he’d been too cautious and deciding to let himself relax more. Top three quickest were all Finns. Incredibly, it wasn’t yet 9am in Finland at this point, but we’d had those stages completed already!


SS3 – Urria 1 (12.75km)

1 Latvala 5:56.4 (144kph)

2 Lappi         +0.1

3 Suninen  +0.4


Coming into stage four Seb was in sixth place, but after a heavy landing from a very big jump, much further on in the stage would see the car slide off the road and hit a tree, tearing the nearside rear wheel from the Fiesta. They were out for the day and would both visit hospital to be checked out. With the other M-Sport car of Ott, he’d get to the end of the stage with a puncture. He’d run wide and believes he’d caught a rock at the edge of the road. Sadly, Hayden would hit the same rock, but the damage was far worse and the number 4 Hyundai was out for the day. Through all this drama, came new flying Finn Esapekka. He won the stage and moved from tenth overall into second! All this despite stalling on the line at the start! Craig Breen also had a fright, after a heavy landing something not feeling right at the front and he was left hoping that there was nothing wrong with the suspension at the front.


SS4 – Jukojärvi 1 (21.31km)

1 Lappi 10:06.3 (126kph)

2 Latvala    +1.3

3 Ostberg +5.6


Stage five then and it was another to go Lappi’s way, with his teammate just a tenth off, keeping his overall lead at 5.2 seconds. Kris also gained a place, passing Juho for sixth. The other Citroen was going well, fourth quickest in the stage and keeping third overall.


SS5 – Halinen 2 (7.65km)

1 Lappi    3:36.5 (140kph)

2 Latvala    +0.1

3 Ostberg +0.5


Lappi was now really into the groove and completed stage six a full three seconds faster than Jari-Matti. Now the gap was just 2.2 seconds. In addition to that, Mads was closing on both Teemu and Craig, reducing the gap to them both by a second. He wanted third place.


SS6 – Urria 2 (12.75km)

1 Lappi   5:49.7 (144kph)

2 Tanak      +1.8

3 Ostberg +2.2


Stage seven, and it was another fastest time for Esapekka, three now in a row. The gap was now 1.6 seconds! Mads was also very quick moving from fifth into third overall with Craig now in fourth and Teemu in fifth. A service break followed this stage, allowing time for the drivers to work on their note for the afternoon loop.


SS7 – Jukojärvi 2 (21.31km)

1 Lappi   9:57.2 (140kph)

2 Latvala  +0.6

3 Ostberg +3.9


When they arrived for the start of stage eight at three in the afternoon, the rain had started. Also, with Seb out, Thierry would be first on the road. Mads didn’t remain in third for long, as Teemu was 1.3 faster setting the quickest time and did a Mads, jumping from fifth to third! Jari-Matti and Esapekka set the same time, meaning the gap between them remained 1.6 seconds.


SS8 – Äänekoski-Valtra 1 (7.39km)

1 Suninen 3:27.4 (140kph)

2 Hanninen +0.2

3 Latvala       +1.1


Esapekka reduced the gap once more by half a second to Jari-Matti. Just incredible driving from the young Finn. Craig was also on the move, passing Mads, who was now back down into fifth place.


SS9 – Laukaa 1 (11.76km)

1 Lappi   5:51.0 (132kph)

2 Latvala  +0.5

3 Suninen +2.4


Lappi took the next stage as well, and after pushing really hard, emerged in the lead! Once more, it was a Finn 1-2-3-4, with Juho fourth fastest, despite damaging his suspension on a stray rock in the road. With that time, Juho had moved past Craig into fourth. Mads had a nightmare dropping to seventh overall. Elfyn in his Fiesta made a very good move, going sixth fastest and moving up from eighth into sixth overall.


SS10 – Lankamaa (21.68km)

1 Lappi  10:21.4 (126kph)

2 Suninen +0.7

3 Latvala   +1.4


Esapekka increased his lead to 3.5 seconds over Jari-Matti in stage eleven, with Teemu and Ott just behind him. Jari-Matti could only manage eighth fastest. Thierry passed Kris for eighth overall, but really for him, it had been a very quiet day, barely troubling the drivers at the front.


SS11 – Äänekoski-Valtra 2 (7.39km)

1 Lappi   3:23.4 (140kph)

2 Suninen +0.4

3 Tanak     +0.7


At the front of the leaderboard, not much changed in stage twelve, but further back, Mads passed Elfyn for sixth place. Craig Breen was also 4 seconds faster than Juho, thus moving back ahead of the Toyota driver into fourth.


SS12 – Laukaa 2 (11.76km)

1 Lappi   5:44.9 (132kph)

2 Latvala    +1.1

3 Ostberg +2.9


The final stage of the day then and Thierry was fastest, with Tanak and Breen just a few tenths behind.


SS13 – Harju 2 (2.31km)

1 Neuville 1:46.9 (120kph)

2 Tanak        +0.1

3️ Breen       +0.3


Top ten at the end of Friday

1    Lappi    1:11:36.4

2    Latvala        +4.4

3    Suninen    +19.0

4️   Breen         +33.0

5    Hanninen +39.1

6    Ostberg    +45.0

7    Evans          +45.1

8    Neuville    +58.0

9️   Meeke     +1:07.6

10  Tanak     +1:50.2


Let’s hear from the drivers then.


Esapekka Lappi 1st said:


“I could never have imagined I would be leading Rally Finland. Just competing here in a World Rally Car has been a dream I have had since I was a small boy. That I am leading is hard to comprehend. But it’s been a really clean run so far with no mistakes and the car has been perfect. I’ve given it my all. I won’t force myself to fight against Jari-Matti if it means I will take too many risks. It feels to special to be leading this rally, the spectators are amazing, you just can’t feel that anywhere else.”

Esapekka Lappi, Toyota Yaris WRC, Rally Finland 2017

Jari-Matti Latvala 2nd said:


“Of course, Esapekka was always going to be fast, but I didn’t think he was going to be such a hurricane and that we would be the top two in this position after the first full day. The car is working well; I’m very happy with the balance and generally my driving has been good. When you have no other issues and a good car, you can just focus on the driving. There’s a little bit of a home advantage I think, as our car has been developed in Finland on roads like these. My confidence is high, but at the same time I’m trying to avoid taking any big risks.”


Teemu Suninen 3rd said:


“I’m very happy to be sitting in third place today. This is my home rally and only my second time in a world rally car so it is special for sure. The Finnish fans have been amazing as always and I want to thank all of them for their support.


“I think we have driven well today and shown good pace with no mistakes, but there are still things to improve. I need to be more consistent and more precise with the driving lines as that is what brings the good times here with these cars.


“I would say that my main strength is that I seem to be improving quite quickly. Hopefully we can continue that and someday be fighting for the victory myself. That is not the objective this weekend – I just want to focus on myself and forget about my Finnish friends ahead.”


Citroen Abu Dhabi WRT


Craig Breen 4th said:


“It’s been a good day, even if everything wasn’t perfect. This morning, after a bit of a ‘big’ landing over a jump, I had the feeling that there was something wrong with the handling and it was getting worse as we progressed. The team did their magic in service and the C3 WRC they handed me back was like new, but I had a few minor problems on the second loop. My pace notes weren’t always perfect and I was a little too careful in places. Every tenth you give away is hard to get back, but there’s still a long way to go – we haven’t even reached halfway as yet.”


Kris Meeke 9th said:


“Obviously, it wasn’t quite the day I was hoping for. I just couldn’t find the feeling that I had here last year when I won the rally. Despite our efforts and the work done in service, I couldn’t place the car like I wanted to and I was struggling to feel the grip. And clearly, it wasn’t ideal to contest the last few stages with the damaged steering.”



Khalid Al Qassimi 20th said:


“It was a tough day, during which I lost a lot of time. I was constantly looking for traction and struggled to keep the car on the right line. We made a lot of changes to the set-up – the differential, the throttle, the springs – but I think there is still a lot we can improve.”


Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT


Juho Hänninen 5th said:


“The general feeling here has been really good. The car has been working well. It is handling really well even on the high-speed sections and the jumps. This morning I wasn’t fully confident because the grip was changing, but things improved this afternoon and the times were good. Then I hit a rock and damaged the suspension. We were lucky to be able to finish the day without losing too much time. Tomorrow we will continue from where we left off before.”


Jipocar WRT


Mads Østberg 6th said:


“This was really frustrating, but something electronic in the rear was playing up and started locking up the rear wheels and that is something you really don`t want on these fast roads. I was back up to speed on the last stages of the day, and gained back one position, but it is nearly impossible to regain 25-30 seconds from the leaders in a rally like this where the margins are so tight. Still I aim to fight for a possible podium position. It’s a long way to go and my speed is definitely there.”


“We have done a good job during testing before the rally, and I really hope that we can continue without technical issues tomorrow. This is my favourite rally and we are not too far away from the last podium position. Torstein has done a tremendous job. I can tell you, it`s really not simple to step into a car like this in the fastest rally of the season. Both Torstein and I are determined to push to the maximum tomorrow and Sunday.”


D-Mack WRT


Elfyn Evans 7th said:


“With no pre-event test, we’ve had to discover the optimum set-up out on the stages. I was struggling with understeer throughout much of the morning and that hampered our confidence. On these roads – and at these speeds – that confidence makes all the difference.


“That said, we’re in seventh position with some very close gaps ahead. There’s still a long way to go so let’s see what tomorrow brings.”


M-Sport WRT


Ott Tänak 10th said:


“The disappointment came early in the day so after that we just had to keep going. We ran slightly wide at the start of SS4 and picked up a puncture. We lost more than one and a half minutes which obviously ended our hopes of challenging for the victory. At these speeds, the gaps are so close, and it is very difficult to make up the time.


“Since then, we’ve just been focused on driving cleanly. There is still motivation as it’s important for the team that we score as many points as possible. But you know the motivation is different when you are not fighting for the win. There is still a long way to go and a lot can still happen in this rally, so we just need to continue as we are and see what happens.”


Sébastien Ogier said:


“There was a big jump about two kilometres before we crashed. The landing damaged the rear suspension and towards the end of the stage I got a bit distracted by it. I was too late on the brakes and we had an impact sideways into a tree.


“It’s a real shame because our pace was really good and now we have missed an opportunity to score some good points for the championship. We had already lost some seconds with a throttle problem that was coming and going, but without that we were fighting right at the front.”


Hyundai Motorsport


Thierry Neuville 8th said:


“It has not been an easy day. We have been struggling to find the required rhythm for these incredibly fast stages. Following Ogier’s issue in the morning, we knew we had inherited an opportunity to close the gap in the Championship even further, but so far, we haven’t made as much progress as we’d have liked. We have been first on the road for much of the day, which is of course part of the game, but we have been losing a bit to the other guys. The Toyota’s are, as expected, much faster, but my focus now is on moving up the classification to the top-five, where a solid points haul will aid our Championship ambitions. This rally is not over yet, even if we are now on the back foot after a difficult Friday. There is plenty to play for.”


Dani Sordo 11th said:


“There is not a lot to say, at least nothing really positive. We have not found the confidence in the car to tackle the rally with full attack. In Finland, more than anywhere else, you need to have full commitment inside the car; the smallest of lifts can make a huge difference on the timesheets. We have been trying all we can to get the right feeling but the others just have more. We will look at the information we have with the engineers this evening to see what we can do to improve for the rest of the rally.”


Hayden Paddon said:


“There is no margin for error in Finland, and so that has proven today. We started well and showed some encouraging pace on the opening stages. Then, in SS4, we ran slightly wide on the same corner several other drivers did. Unfortunately, a rock hit back and we broke our suspension. It wasn’t a huge amount of damage but enough to end our day prematurely. Still, the speed of the car is good and we were competitive; when you go just a tiny bit too fast here in Finland, there can be a heavy price to pay. We’ll be back under Rally 2 on Saturday.”

Marcus Gronholm, Toyota service park, Rally Finland 2017



7.20am: Service D (Jyväskylä – 15 mins)

8.58am: SS14 – Pihlajakoski 1 (14.90km)

10.06am: SS15 – Päijälä 1 (22.68km)

10.49am: SS16 – Ouninpohja 1 (24.38km)

12.02pm: SS17 – Saalahti 1 (4.21km)

1.27pm: Service E (Jyväskylä – 30 mins)

2.55pm: SS18 – Saalahti 2 (4.21km)

4.08pm: SS19 – Ouninpohja 2 (24.38km)

5.16pm: SS20 – Pihlajakoski 2 (14.90km)

6.24pm: SS21 – Päijälä 2 (22.68km)

8.39pm: Flexi Service F (Jyväskylä – 45 mins)


Saturday dawned cloudy, but it wasn’t raining. The roads in the first stage of the day were not as dry as you might expect. Latvala won the stage and his teammate, Esapekka was 3.8 seconds slower meaning that the gap was now six tenths of a second. At stage end, Jari-Matti said he pushed really hard, using the whole road. He had grass sticking out of his radiator- Evidence of how hard he’d pushed. Lappi said he wasn’t going to fight with Latvala. Elfyn was on the move as well, passing Mads for sixth place.


SS14 – Pihlajakoski 1 (14.90km)

1 Latvala   6:53.9

2 Hanninen  +2.7

3 Suninen    +3.2


Watching the cars through stage 15 was amazing. They were sideways out of the corners and flying from the top of the crests on the road. Jari-Matti pushed like crazy, going through corners in fifth gear! The outcome of all of this this was he took the lead emphatically! Now with Elfyn’s time being as good as it was and the spin that Craig suffered at a junction, the Welsh wizard climbed another spot into fifth!


SS15 – Päijälä 1 (22.68km)

1 Latvala 10:55.5 (124.6kph)

2 Evans          +3.7

3 Lappi          +5.4


Now it was time for the big one. It’s an unbelievable stage, Ouninpohja…… Run in the opposite direction compared to last year as well. A real rollercoaster, cornering at 170kph- That’s over 100mph! This stage does not have any straights, every part is either a left or a right-hand corner. They are blind as well. Only the ones that really know it, can push that hard. Jari-Matti was quicker again in this, increasing his lead to 7.3 seconds over Lappi. It was a Toyota 1-2-3 in this as well with Juho third through the stage and moving ahead of Teemu as well into third overall. Sadly, Mads went off and broke his suspension which dropped him down the field to eleventh place.


SS16 – Ouninpohja 1 (24.38km)

1 Latvala   10:56.9 (133.6kph)

2 Lappi             +2.5

3 Hanninen  +11.5


Stage seventeen saw Jari-Matti increase his lead to 7.8 seconds, through the shorter 4km stage, which was run again after afternoon service. He won it in the afternoon as well.


SS17 – Saalahti 1 (4.21km)

1 Latvala 1:58.4 (128kph)

2 Lappi       +0.5

3 Tanak      +0.5


At the end of stage 18, Jari-Matti had a 8.5 lead over Lappi with Juho just ahead of Teemu.


SS18 – Saalahti 2 (4.21km)

1 Latvala 1:56.4 (130.2kph)

2 Lappi        +0.7

3 Suninen  +1.0


It was time to run the big one again and the speeds would be even higher this time. Mads jumped over fifty metres! There would be drama in the Toyota of Jari-Matti though. Mid-way through the stage the car just stopped and there was nothing the Finn could do about it. He thumped the steering wheel in frustration. The dream was over again for another year. Esapekka passed the stricken Yaris WRC in the stage. When he reached stage end he was told he led again, but he sounded glum. He was disappointed he’d taken the lead in this way. Thierry finally found some pace and with everything, moved up into sixth position.


SS19 – Ouninpohja 2 (24.38km)

1 Lappi    10:49.8 (135.1kph)

2 Hanninen  +2.8

3 Neuville    +5.5


Final stage of the day, and there would be drama for Kris. A rock would puncture his tyre and the resulting damage would rip the front near-side of the car apart. Teemu won the stage, with Elfyn and Mads, giving us a Fiesta 1-2-3! With that time, it meant that Teemu was now in second overall! Just astonishing in only his second outing in a WRC car.


SS20 – Pihlajakoski 2 (14.90km)

1 Suninen 6:49.0 (131.1kph)

2 Evans          +1.3

3 Ostberg    +1.8


Top ten overall


1   Lappi     2:02:13.2

2   Suninen     +54.4

3   Hanninen  +55.4

4   Evans       +1:01.9

5️  Breen        +1:17.4

6   Neuville   +1:34.1

7️  Meeke     +2:09.6

8   Tanak       +2:14.1

9   Sordo     +3:48.0

10 Ostberg +4:21.4



So, here’s the views of all the drivers.


Esapekka Lappi 1st said:


“It is amazing to be leading at this moment, although I have mixed emotions as I am disappointed for Jari-Matti. He was driving really well. I could not keep up with him without taking big risks, which I did not want to do. When I passed him I slowed down a little bit. I am used to leading with a gap as it happened last year and I know how to manage a lead. I must now concentrate and keep my mind clear. I will sleep well tonight.”


Teemu Suninen 2nd said:


“I’m feeling good today. When I had a good feeling on the stages the times have been really good, but it was a disappointment to have lost so much time on Ouninpohja this morning. We lost about 20 seconds at a chicane and that has a big effect now as the fight is really tight.


“Tomorrow, I think all of us will have to keep the same pace as today if not more. I’ll continue to focus on my own driving – on keeping a good rhythm and on not making any mistakes.”


Juho Hänninen 3rd said:


“This morning was very good. It was a clear run. The afternoon was not so easy. I was a little bit too careful in the last stage, which was very narrow at the end, and I could have been a bit more brave. We are still in a good position, but it is very close with the cars around us. I will try to get second place, that’s the goal for tomorrow.”


D-Mack WRT


Elfyn Evans 4th said:


“It will be an exciting day tomorrow. It’s fair to say that we were struggling yesterday, but it’s been a pretty positive day for us today.


“Everything seems to have come together and we’ve been happy with our performance on most of the stages.


“The conditions suited us a bit better today and we also found a better balance with the car which helped regain some of the confidence we had been lacking previously.


“It’s game on for tomorrow so let’s see what we can do.”

Elfyn Evans, Dan Barritt, D-Mack Fiesta WRC, Rally Finland 2017

Citroen Abu Dhabi WRT


Craig Breen 5th said:


“It’s been something of an up and down day, a bit like the roads here in Finland! I thought I could have been a bit faster in places, but I had a bit of trouble with the set-up we chose for the morning. It was better this afternoon, when there was more grip, but it still wasn’t perfect. I feel like we’re further away from the podium, but we’re still only thirty seconds off second place. If luck is on our side tomorrow, we might be able to move up the standings.”


Kris Meeke 8th said:


“Every year it’s the same. Ouninpohja is simply one of the best rally stages, an incredible piece of road. The level of grip was good this afternoon and I was able to push because I had a good feeling in the car. We changed quite a few things on the set-up during the mid-leg service and we got some interesting information for the future, so that was pretty positive. On the final stage, we picked up a puncture after hitting a stone. I wanted to keep pushing but the tyre exploded, causing some fairly serious-looking damage. But it wasn’t all that serious.”


Khalid Al Qassimi 17th said:


“It was another tough day. We worked constantly with the engineers, and yet the car remains very sensitive and tricky to drive on these ultra-fast roads. I had a few moments, especially on the final stage, when we went wide into a ditch and hit some rocks. Fortunately, the damage wasn’t too substantial and we are still in the race.”


Hyundai Motorsport


Thierry Neuville 6th said:


“Another dissatisfying day for us, but we have gained a few places since yesterday thanks, unfortunately, to others experiencing trouble. We need to pick up as many points as we can, to try and close the gap to Sébastien. The car performed better in the afternoon loop, although it wasn’t without its difficulties. In the final stage, I hit a rock in the narrow section and bent the steering. I had to back off a bit. We know that we need to rely on some luck to make up any more positions on the final day, but we’ll see what happens.”


Dani Sordo 9th said:


“These stages are fantastic and it is a privilege to drive them. The two runs through Ouninpohja were incredible, like a circuit inside the forest. Overall, we had a better afternoon loop when the stages had more grip, but it is just difficult to find motivation and enjoyment when the times are not there. We have not been in a position to fight for anything meaningful so we are just focused on getting through each stage – it is not an ideal way to approach a rally but we can do no more.”


Hayden Paddon (Ret) said:


“There was nothing we could do about our retirement today. We were going through a blind left, into a right, when all of a sudden, I caught sight of a big football-sized rock in the road. In the split-second it took to see it, and I knew it would do damage. We could not avoid it and it broke the suspension arm. The real shame is the lack of mileage from this rally. We will be back out on Sunday to try and end this weekend on a high note.”

2017 FIA World Rally Championship
Round 09, Rally Finland
27 – 30 July 2017
Hayden Paddon, Seb Marshall, Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC
Photographer: Sarah Vessely
Worldwide copyright: Hyundai Motorsport GmbH

M-Sport WRT

Ott Tänak 7th said:


“The Finns have been quite dominant this weekend, but I think it would have been possible to be in that fight. After yesterday’s time loss, there was no opportunity to see if we could do that and it’s difficult to find the same confidence when you are not fighting for the win.


“We’ve just been trying to improve the feeling without taking too many risks. That said, it’s still been a decent day and you can’t help but enjoy yourself on these Finnish roads.”


Jipocar WRT

Speaking about the spin on the first run through Ouninpohja-

Mads Østberg 10th said:


“It was nothing very dramatic, but we hit some rocks, was thrown off the road and damaged the suspension and brakes rear left on the car. We had to stop and check the damages and change a wheel, and continued on the stage without much effect from the brakes. That resulted in further time loss, and it really is quite scary to drive such a fast stage without brakes”.


“Yesterday I played with car, today I have had to fight with it. We have worked all day to improve the set-up, and it has been a little better, but not the same as Friday”.


The car still isn`t balanced as I would like, and we need a proper check-up during end of day service. We aim to go for some good stage times tomorrow and possibly some points on the “power stage”.




8.00am: Service G (Jyväskylä – 15 mins)

9.25am: SS21 – Lempää 1 (6.80km)

10.08am: SS22 – Oittila 1 (10.12km)

11.47am: SS23 – Lempää 2 (6.80km)

1.18pm: SS24 – Oittila 2 Power Stage (10.12km)

2.21pm: Service H (Jyväskylä – 10 mins)

3.00pm: Podium


Sunday morning, and Esapekka had a very healthy lead of nearly 50 seconds. It was bright and sunny. Who would complete the podium? We had Teemu, Juho and Elfyn covered by just seven seconds.

Esapekka Lappi, Toyota Yaris WRC, Rally Finland 2017

Stage 21 went to fourth placed Elfyn and with that, the gap came down. Further back Citroen pairing Khalid Al Qassimi and Kris Meeke both had damage, so they both returned to the service park.


SS21 – Päijälä 2 (22.68km)

1 Evans 10:42.3 (127.1kph)

2 Tanak +     0.6

3 Suninen  +1.9


With the problem fixed on Jari-Matti’s Toyota, he returned to the top of the time sheets with a quickest time through stage 22. Incredibly, with Juho going through the stage faster than Teemu, they were both now on the same overall time, 49.4 seconds down from Lappi. Elfyn was also continuing his hunt for a podium finish.


SS22 – Lempää 1 (6.80km)

1 Latvala 3:08.4 (129.9kph)

2 Hanninen  +1.1

3 Evans         +1.8


Latvala was back in the groove and took the next stage, thus setting him up well for later, as this stage would be run again as the power-stage. Thierry didn’t do very well at all, after running wide twice and losing several seconds as a result. Evans was the one on the move however, passing Juho on the leaderboard and into third place. Juho had made a mistake, hitting something at the side of the road, losing time as a consequence.


SS23 – Oittila 1 (10.12km)

1 Latvala 4:52.1 (124.7kph)

2 Suninen  +3.2

3 Evans       +3.7


A combination of things happened in this stage that meant Juho would jump back into second overall. Firstly, he would set the same time as Jari-Matti and despite Elfyn being just 1.1 seconds slower than that, it was enough to put the Welsh wizard behind the Finn. The other thing was that Teemu dropped out of that battle completely after he spun in a very quick right-hander, which turned the car around and pulled the bumper into the hedge. Incredibly, Esapekka ran wide as well, damaging his rear wheel. Just shows how on the limit that they drive these cars.


SS24 – Lempää 2 (6.80km)

1 Hanninen 3:08.3 (130kph)

2 Latvala         +0.0

3 Tanak           +0.5


It was the last stage! The power-stage gives points for the top five best times. Jari-Matti wanted this one, and he had reason to be optimistic after being fastest earlier. However, his time would be beaten and he would ultimately be fourth quickest. Ott would win the stage and take max points from it. What would happen between Evans and Juho? Incredibly, with Juho only fifth fastest, 2.7 seconds slower, Elfyn was second fastest through the stage and it was enough to put him into second overall, just three tenths of a second faster after 25 stages! Just amazing.

FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP 2017 -WRC Finland (FIN) – WRC 26/07/2017 to 31/07/2017 – PHOTO : @World

Esapekka had won the rally and what a result for him in only his fourth event at this level.


SS25 – Oittila 2 (Power Stage) (10.12km)

1 Tanak   4:48.6 (126.2kph)

2 Evans        +1.5

3 Neuville  +2.0


1  Lappi    2:29:26.9

2  Evans          +36.0

3  Hanninen  +36.3

4  Suninen   +1:01.5

5️  Breen       +1:22.6

6  Neuville   +1:33.1

7  Tanak       +1:53.6

8️   Meeke    +3:12.6

9   Sordo      +4:11.5

10 Ostberg +4:21.2


Let’s hear from the drivers at the end of this amazing historic event.

Rally Finland Podium 2017

Esapekka Lappi 1st said:


“I’m not normally an emotional person but this is amazing. What a rally. I could never have imagined that we could get a result like this, so it’s a very big surprise. I have to say a big thank you to the team because they have built such a great car in a very short period.”


Elfyn Evans 2nd said:


“We’re really chuffed to come away from Rally Finland with second place – especially as that wasn’t looking likely on Friday evening. We kept at it, kept pushing and managed to claw our way back up the leader board. It’s a really positive way to finish the weekend.


“Friday was a very difficult day for us. We started without a test and were really struggling with the balance of the car throughout that opening day. We made some changes which helped quite a lot and the longer stages and drier conditions helped too. We started making our way up the order and it all went from there.


“Going into this morning, it was a very difficult situation to be in. There was an element of wanting to push for the best result, but at the same time it was really important to secure good points for the team. It wasn’t an all-out attack, but it all worked out in the end.


“It’s not the win, but it’s still a strong weekend and we can be pleased with the job we have done this weekend.”


Juho Hänninen 3rd said:


“It’s been an amazing weekend and I’m very happy with this result. Of course, I tried to get second, but we made a few mistakes. I’m still very happy to be on the podium for the first time in my career. Thank you to the team and this fantastic car that made it possible.”


M-Sport WRT


Teemu Suninen 4th said:


“Of course, it’s disappointing to have lost out on a podium in the final stages, but we had to try. This is our last planned rally in a world rally car, so I had to try. Unfortunately, I just ran a little bit wide and had a high-speed spin which dropped us out of that battle.


“I’m disappointed right now, but in the morning, I think I will feel better – knowing that I was fighting for a podium on only my second time in this car.


“We had really good pace all weekend – honestly more than we had expected before the rally – and I am happy with that. A big thanks also to all of the fans and the team for their support which has been pushing me to do my best.”


Ott Tänak 7th said:


“The Finns have been quite dominant this weekend but I think we had the pace to be in the fight. Unfortunately, we will never know what would have been possible – our disappointment coming quite early in the rally.


“To score the top times here in Finland you need to be fully confident, and it’s hard to find that when you’re not fighting for the best positions. But it’s still been a fairly decent weekend. Driving in Finland is always a lot of fun and we showed our speed with the fastest time through the Power Stage.”


Citroen Abu Dhabi WRT


Craig Breen 5th said:


“It wasn’t our best day in terms of pure performance. I knew that I couldn’t make up the ground on the leaders in normal racing conditions so I just focused on containing Thierry Neuville. For sure, it’s a good run of fifth places but I’d like to get back onto the podium before the end of the season!”

Craig Breen, Scott Martin, Rally Finland 2017, Citroen Abu Dhabi WRT.

Kris Meeke 8th said:


“Although there weren’t many miles to cover, it was still a proper leg with some typically fast Finnish stages. As I had nothing to gain by taking risks and was low on confidence, I played it safely to bring the car home.”


Khalid Al Qassimi 16th said:


“Like yesterday, I was first on the road and that made my job a little more difficult. The roads were very slippery this morning and it wasn’t easy to read the level of grip. So I drove without any real feeling, but there wasn’t much else I could do.”


Hyundai Motorsport


Thierry Neuville 6th said:


“We set out to score more than Ogier this weekend, and we were able to achieve that. We had a very difficult weekend so to salvage some points is crucial. The Power Stage was a key moment, as we scored three vital extra points to move to the top of the Championship. This levels the playing field with four events left of the season, so it has been an important result. We know everyone is pushing hard to keep us in contention, so we have to put this complicated rally behind us and look forward to Germany, the team’s home event, where we know from the past that we can perform well.”


Dani Sordo 9th said:


“I am relieved that this rally is over. I have never had the right feeling all weekend, and on these fast roads you need to be fully committed to perform at the highest level. It has been complicated, not only for me but also for the team, so we have to put this behind us and look forward to the next event. We cannot let this weekend affect us; we need to stay concentrated and push flat out for victory in Germany!”


Hayden Paddon said: “It has been one of those weekends for us. After our retirements on Friday and Saturday, we wanted to approach these final stages in a positive manner and to get some time behind the wheel. This rally has perfectly illustrated our season, where anything that can go wrong does go wrong. The Power Stage was another example, when the car unexpectedly went straight on at a third gear corner. Still, we got to the end of the rally and I am sure, one day in the future, we will look back and laugh at our bad luck this year. I am sure we could have fought for the podium this weekend, and that is the positive that we will take away.”


Jipocar WRT


Mads Østberg and co-driver Torstein finished Rally Finland in 10th place, after a challenging but also positive weekend on the superfast Finnish roads.


Mads 10th said:


“I`m not thinking so much on the end result, because this has actually been my best rally this season. Except for some bad luck with the off-road excursion yesterday, we have been genuinely competitive this weekend with many top-three stage times. Torstein has also done a fantastic job jumping into the co-drivers seat on relatively short notice. We will just have to work with the positive experiences from this rally, and therefore I am really positive before the rest of the season”.


Thinking of the coming weeks ahead, Mads continued,


“It’s really tough with two WRC-rallies and one ERC-event in only 17 days. But also, very interesting and challenging with the chance to evaluate three different codrivers. I am looking for a permanent codriver to partner me further on and Torstein, Patrick and Emil are all possible candidates for this job”.


FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP 2017 -WRC Finland (FIN) – WRC 26/07/2017 to 31/07/2017 – PHOTO : @World


Well, the championship has just got very interesting indeed. With Seb not scoring any points at all and Thierry finishing in sixth place and scoring enough points to bring him level with Seb at the top. We have a four-event battle to look forward to for this year’s championship. It starts in two weeks in Rally Germany!



2017 FIA World Rally Championship
Round 09, Rally Finland
27 – 30 July 2017
Thierry Neuville
Photographer: Sarah Vessely
Worldwide copyright: Hyundai Motorsport GmbH


2017 FIA World Rally Championship for Drivers’ Standings

After round 9


1              T. Neuville             160

2              S. Ogier                 160

3              O. Tanak                119

4              J.M Latvala          114

5              D. Sordo                 84

6              E. Evans                  79

7              C. Breen                 53

8              H. Paddon             51

9              J. Hänninen          46

10           E. Lappi                  45


2017 FIA World Rally Championship for Manufacturers’ Standings

After round 9


1              M-Sport World Rally Team                                              285

2              Hyundai Motorsport                                                           251

3              Toyota Gazoo Racing World Rally Team                  193

4              Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team            135


Warren Nel

3rd August 2017

Byrne and Brookes Set to Break Records at Thruxton

British Superbikes visits the fastest venue on the calendar this weekend, at the Thruxton circuit near Andover. Having taken the title lead at his home round two weeks ago, Shane Byrne comes to a circuit at which he has won at a total of eight times. However, Josh Brookes has done the double in the last two years he has been racing in BSB (2014 and 2015), and will be looking to achieve a repeat performance to give him and the Anvil Hire Tag Team their first race wins of the year. Leon Haslam and Luke Mossey will also be seeking a return to form, having not won a race since Oulton Park, back in May. Lap times from the past two seasons suggest that the pace could be even faster, with the perfect lap from last years qualifying sessions combined being a 1.13.836. If a 1.13 lap is achieved, it will be the fastest ever lap on two wheels around the Thruxton track.

Shane Byrne, after a dismal start to the year, retook the lead of the championship last time out. He sits on four consecutive race wins and has a 29 point advantage over nearest rival, Luke Mossey. Byrne has won a total of eight times around here and has a further seven podiums. Ducati as a manufacturer haven’t had a double victory at Thruxton since 2007 and Gregorio Lavilla. Byrne himself last achieved the double at the 2013 meeting. If Byrne was to do the double, it would be the first time since 2003 that he has won six races on the bounce. Will he rewrite records again?

Luke Mossey comes into the Thruxton meeting having not stood on the podium since race one at Knockhill, way back in June. The Bournemouth Kawasaki Team, run by Pete Extance, will hope that their form changes at Thruxton. Luke Mossey has won twice around Thruxton, albeit in the lower classes: in 2009 in the National Superstock 600 class on a Yamaha, and in 2008 on a 125cc Honda. Kawasaki’s last win came with Byrne in 2013 but Mossey achieved a third and fourth with the older version ZX10 in 2016.

Teammate Leon Haslam has a mountain to climb – and we aren’t even at Cadwell Park yet. The Factory Kawasaki employed rider was back on the podium at Brands Hatch with a third place in race one, however that was his first podium since his victory in race one at Oulton Park. He is now 10 podium points behind Shane Byrne, which could be crucial if he wants to take his first ever BSB title. However, the news for Haslam fans gets worse. He has never won at Thruxton and hasn’t been on the podium there since his Airwaves Ducati days of 2006, when he finished 2nd in both races. Will the Pocket Rocket surprise us?

The first of two Australians in the Showdown – so far – is Jason O’Halloran. The Honda Racing rider’s season came to an end at this very circuit two seasons ago, when he collided with Howie Mainwaring-Smart on the exit of Segrave Corner in qualifying. The tough Australian has fought back strong and is just 26 points off the rear end of Leon Haslam and 3rd in the championship. One of the most iconic recent memories of Thruxton involves O’Halloran, who drifted his 1000cc CBR Honda Superstock machine out of Church corner in 2014, setting blue smoke pouring off the rear end of his wayward bike. Since being in the Superbike class however, O’Halloran has had a sixth and a second. Can the Honda go one better and achieve his and the team’s first win of the year?

King of Thruxton and former BSB champion Josh Brookes sits pretty in fifth place in the championship heading into the round. Having had a relatively disappointing Brands Hatch in comparison to Snetterton, Brookes will be more fired up than ever to rack up his podium points tally. However, he currently looks like the only rider who can give Shane Byrne a proper challenge. Until he crashed in race two at Brands Hatch, Brookes was on lap record pace. Not only does he seem like the only rider to challenge ‘Shakey’, but he is also the lap record holder at this airfield circuit. Brookes and Byrne, with their recent history at Thruxton, could be set for a classic scrap and a revival of their fierce rivalry that was left unfinished at the end of the 2015 season. Rob Winfield and the Tag Racing Team will be hoping Josh can deliver their first ever victory in BSB.

The last man in the showdown at the moment is former plasterer Peter Hickman, who has taken his Smith’s BMW to new heights in 2017. Although he hasn’t had a podium yet this year, he – along with O’Halloran – has not crashed or suffered any form of DNF thus far. A pair of fourths at Brands Hatch did his championship a load of good but form shows that Hicky may be coming to a circuit which hasn’t been too kind to him in the past. A double-DNF in 2015 and a best of sixth last year suggest Hickman’s sixth place may be under threat by the likes of Christian Iddon or Jake Dixon.

The next few riders are Christian Iddon, who took his 2nd podium of the year at Brands and moves to just nine points behind Hickman and the all-important top six. Next up is double race winner at Knockhill, Jake Dixon. He endured a nightmare at Thruxton last year on the BMW, finishing outside the points in both races. James Ellison desperately needs points after his disastrous year so far, which has left him 9th in the championship. The ‘Factory’ Yamaha rider has been somewhat embarrassed by Josh Brookes, who effectively has the same Yamaha as Aaron Zanotti, with little manufacturer help. Ellison was 5th and 7th in the races last year and his last podium came in 2013, with third. Completing the top 10 is Dan Linfoot, who has found form of late aboard the all-new Fireblade. Although a showdown spot looks unlikely, the Honda rider could make a nuisance of himself as far as other riders are concerned. Linfoot sits 39 points back of Hickman with seven races left before the showdown six are set in stone.

Keep your eyes out for the sensation that is Bradley Ray, on board his Buildbase Suzuki. Ray finished second in the Supersport race last year. Tommy Bridewell is the only other rider (besides O’Halloran and Hickman) to finish every race in the points and goes well at Thruxton. Glenn Irwin achieved his first BSB podium at Thruxton last season and the 2017 North West 200 winner will be hoping to do the same again, to try and somehow make the top six cut. John Hopkins also goes well at Thruxton and was running upfront back in 2015. It is the MotoRapido Ducati Team’s home race.

Although the Superbike races aren’t until Sunday, the first racing action gets underway at 12.50 on Saturday, with the Sidecar race.

In other classes, Keith Farmer will be looking to hold onto his series lead in the Supersport series ahead of the likes of Jack Kennedy, Joe Francis and Andy Irwin.

In National Superstock 1000, Danny Buchan will be seeking a return to form after a winless Brands Hatch – although the Basildon Bullet has become a dad for the first time that same weekend. Richard Cooper will want to use his Superbike experience around the course to propel him to another win and close down former champion Buchan.

The National Superstock 600 class is always a treat, with the likes of the Neave brothers going well lately, with Dan Stamper and Brad Jones also getting in the mix. Keep your eyes peeled for young Ryan Vickers though, who has been testing at Brands Hatch lately, lapping under the lap record and with a mentor in former Grand Prix superstar Alan Carter, you’d be mad to discount him.

The MotoStar championship will see home-hero Jake Archer out for victory as he chases his title hopes on the City Lifting KTM, run by Ryan Saxelby.

Thanks to Gareth Davies of Full Factory Photography for the image.

Exclusive: Keith Farmer Q&A: Leading the Championship is a bit Special!

Keith Farmer spoke to me about all kinds of bike related things at Snetterton a few weeks back. In this exclusive interview, Farmer evaluates his sensational Supersport season, his rivals chances, the difference between a Supersport bike and Superstock 1000 bike and also, why he believes the Spirit Moto2 bikes shouldn’t be in the Supersport class.

You started the season with no ride and now you’re leading the championship. Long way round for you?

Yes, It’s strange really. Luke Jones, the team’s main rider, got injured and they needed a replacement because they didn’t know how long he would be out for. They supported me and took me on board which was really nice for me and I really appreciate the team putting faith in me. To have nothing and now to be leading the championship is something a bit special.

What is the main difference between a Supersport bike and Superstock 1000 bike?

I’ve had to adapt my style quite a bit really. Had I been on a BMW or a Kawasaki then it might have been a little bit more difficult but because the Honda Superstock bike from last year required lots of corner speed, the change hasn’t been so bad. It’s been a bit of a shock to the system, with the Supersport. It turns so tight and the corner speed on a 600cc bike is out of this world compared to the bigger bikes. It took a while to adapt but now that we are in for the rest of the season and have adapted, we are looking good, especially now we have won a few races!

Does the Supersport bike suit your style more?

Yes, a little bit I think. Over the years, I have just matured and learnt how to ride a circuit bike in general. That has helped massively but on a whole, the Supersport bike suits my style and that is really working well for this year.

Do you feel that you haven’t had a proper crack at the whip on a Superbike?

Yes, a little bit. When I went to the Superbike class, it was only my 3rd year riding on the short circuits. To jump on a Superbike is pressurising enough but to jump in the Paul Bird Motorsport Team too with Shane Byrne – who was winning races week in, week out – was mad. I put more pressure on myself than anything else. It was probably as much my fault than anyone else’s for not having worked out the Superbike class. It would’ve been nice to have what Glenn Irwin had really. No expectations in the first year, just learn the bike and the team before having a proper bash in the 2nd year.

Do you think this Supersport championship needs more manufacturers, with one bike being mainly Yamaha?

Yes in a way. You have the Gearlink boys in there and the MV Agusta of Jack Kennedy but it would be nice to see Honda in there but I think in all honesty, I don’t know what is best for this class. They’re phasing Moto2s in and maybe there will be some development there. If they brought more manufacturers and allowed more work to be done with them, so then they could level with all the Yamahas and Kawasakis, it would be good.

Will Supersport become more Moto2?

I’m not sure really, I suppose it all comes down to cost. To go to Moto2, a prototype, it’s a lot of work. Everyone says the Supersport class is dying out but I’m not sure it is because the first race at Snetterton was quicker than last year’s. If we can have some tough battles and keep getting faster, then hopefully we can show that the Supersport is not a dying class.

I’d support the introduction of the class but at the same time, because the Moto2s are in with Supersport currently, for Seeley to interfere with other riders and maybe destroy someone else’s race, it’s a bit unfair. I’m a friend of Alastair’s too and it is a very tough decision for Stuart Higgs to make. It is understandable why it is the way it is but my thoughts are that the Moto2 bike should be at the back of the Superbike grid. They shouldn’t ride if they can’t score points.

Do you think BSB needs to go to more of the older circuits? A return to Mallory Park maybe? 

I understand why they go to Oulton Park and Brands Hatch, because they are MSV owned circuits. However, it would be nice to get to Bishopscourt in Northern Ireland or Croft too. It would be nice to see more variation. What I don’t agree with is going to circuits that are 46 second laps or around that time. Not so much Knockhill because it is there for the Scottish fans, but Brands Indy is way too short. It is a great track for spectators but from a rider’s point of view, it doesn’t get many positive comments. I’d support going to Snetterton twice instead of Brands Indy. The facilities at all MSV tracks are second to none and everyone else would agree.

Your plans for 2018?

There’s been a few conversations here and there but nothing as yet. I would love to get back on a Superbike. Ideally, Supersport wasn’t my plan but whatever I’ve thrown my leg over lately, I’ve been competitive with. The Superbike would be nice but if not, then the Superstock 1000. I’m not sure what bike would be my preference, it is hard to say. I don’t see many getting on with the BMW – maybe it is a bit past itself chassis wise. When they have this new Suzuki sorted out, it will be bike to be on.

Can you win the championship this year?

Yes, without a doubt. I think we have a strong package and good chance. The team has been working so hard behind closed doors and as long as we all put 100% effort in then we can have some great success. I think David Allingham will be there, as well as Jack Kennedy, Andy Irwin and Joe Francis. They will all be there at different rounds, so our job is to put it on the box at every round. I think Tarran Mackenzie would struggle to beat us now. It would be great to see him back though! It is incredible to see what he is doing over there in Moto2.


Photo courtesy of Gareth Davies, of Full Factory Photography.

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