Friday, May 12, 2006

Other weekend fun

Apart from ALMS, which I wrote about yesterday, there's also races in MotoGP, F1, Le Mans Series, V8 Supercars, British Touring Cars and the fabulous Northwest 200 motorcycle street race.

Valentino Rossi is top of the practice sheets at Shanghai, where both sessions were run in the wet. Apparently all the issues that Yamaha have been facing were traced to the rear shock. Weather may play a part in Sunday's outcome, but regardless of conditions, we may see Yamaha's resurgence this weekend.

Formula 1 is in Spain, Fernando Alonso's home race. He'll be looking to avenge his loss to Michael Schumacher in Germany last week, but he'll need to up his game when it comes to speed on pit-stop out-laps, which is basically how Michael won at the Nurburgring.

The Le Mans Series has already had some drama at Spa, with a practice collision that has sent both Creation Autosportif and the PSI Corvette teams home. It has to be said that if it wasn't for bad luck, Creation wouldn't have any luck at all. A broken wishbone damaged the chassis tub, so they're going to spend next week fixing it before finding somewhere to test extensively before Le Mans. Despite a wise change to a 5-litre Judd engine, more suited to the sustained high speeds of Le Mans, I worry that their lack of race experience this year will prevent them from winning the June classic.

After three crash-fest race meetings, the Aussie V8s head waaaaaay out west to Barbagallo, near Perth. A good lap time there is 57 seconds, so it makes for a crowded, chaotic track. Once again it'll be a "last man standing" kind of weekend.

The BTCC is in action again, and who won't be cheering for plucky privateer Mike Jordan who won the second race at Mondello? After some luck with the reverse grid lottery he drove a controlled race the whole way, and really gave the big teams a poke in the eye. If nothing else it proves how quick the Honda Integras are, since Jordan is running one of last year's Team Halfords cars.

Finally, this weekend sees the biggest sporting event in Ireland take place, the Northwest 200 road races. The NW200 is also one of the biggest motorcycle races in the world, outnumbering the bulk of MotoGP races in terms of attendance. Entries include the usual death-defying madman who ply their trade on the closed-off public roads of Ireland and the Isle of Man. Top riders include Ryan Farquhar, Bruce Anstey, Adrian Archibald, Ian Lougher, John McGuinness and Martin Finnegan. The NW200 is also a good warm-up (and indicator of form) for the Isle of Man TT. Incidentally, rumours of the TT stopping after 2007 have now universally shifted to a date of 2010 instead. This is in spite of a deal signed by the Isle of Man government that guarantees the races will run until at least 2024....

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