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Racing Round Up – Long Beach ePrix & BTCC

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It’s back, motor sport season is properly here and with that returns our racing round ups. Something I am thoroughly looking forward to doing each week because this season is going to be a good one, mark my words. Anyway, you are here for motor sport updates so let’s get down to it.

Formula E

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Long Beach

Long Beach, Southern California played host to the latest Formula E race over the weekend. A gorgeous place in its own right but as a setting for a street race, I can think of few better. The weekend was a glorious success all round and attracted 20,000 fans that filled the grandstands and track sides.

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The weekend was particularly special for race winner Nelson Piquet Jr (China racing) who emulated his father by taking his first Formula E win in the same place, on the same day as his father took his First Formula One win 35 years ago. For those that have been paying attention, that’s six races with six different winners which is pretty special, you don’t get that in too many racing series. That means Piquet’s name can be added to those of Di Grassi (Beijing,) Bird (Putrajaya,) Buemi (Punta del Este,) Da Costa (Buenos Aires) and Prost (Miami). It just shows how close the racing is in Formula E, that six different drivers can come out on top on six different occasions.

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Second position went to Jean-Eric Vergne (Andretti) and Lucas Di Grassi (Audi Sport Abt), another example of history repeating itself as it was fellow countryman Emerson Fittipaldi who also took to the podium those 35 years ago in Formula One.

Piquet Jr raced a near perfect race, taking first position very early on and holding it the entire race. Starting in second on the grid after Daniel Abt, he quickly slipped past Abt under braking on the first corner and from that point on he commanded a respectable lead. Despite being the race being flagged and his lead negated twice, first time due to Scott Speed colliding with the wall and the second with Pic and Trulli colliding with one another, he held on to his lead and very simply outraced everyone else.

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Daniel Abt kept tucked in behind Piquet, using his slipstream to keep up with the Brazillian driver but it was never enough to be able to pass him. Buemi held on to third up until the restart where Vergne made the most of the tightly spaced cars to pass Buemi to take third. Vergne wasn’t content with third though and grabbed second from de Grassi in a superb move. The Audi Sport Abt driver didn’t just get to sit back in third though, he was under constant attack from Sebastien Buemi (e.dams Renault) who was on the war path trying to make up for losing his pole qualifying position due to a penalty for exceeding allowed energy consumption. Buemi couldn’t quite muster the speed to pass di Grassi and the final ten went as follows:

1. Nelson Piquet Jr., China Racing
2. Jean-Eric Vergne, Andretti
3. Lucas di Grassi, Audi Sport ABT
4. Sébastien Buemi, e.dams-Renault
5. Bruno Senna, Mahindra Racing
6. Jerome D’Ambrosio, Dragon Racing
7. Antonio Felix da Costa, Amlin Aguri
8. Jaime Alguersuari, Virgin Racing
9. Loïc Duval, Dragon Racin
10. Stéphane Sarrazin, Venturi

BTCC

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Image Credit: Flickr – rwsmotorsport

The BTCC kicked off at the weekend and if you don’t watch it already I highly recommend you do. It’s only been one race but you can already tell this season is going to be something special.

First of all, a significant rule change. For those that do not follow BTCC, when you clock the fastest time in a race you are loaded with something called ‘success ballast’. Which is depressing as it sounds, you win a race and are then immediately handicapped with extra weight. What is actually does is level the playing field a little bit, BTCC are quite good at this. You win a race, end up in pole position for the next one but you then get some extra weight, trust me it doesn’t take any of the excitement out of the race. Although it used to be 45kg, it is now 75kg, that’s more than the drivers weigh but they don’t seem to mind too much so it’s all good.

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Image Credit: Flickr – rwsmotorsport

West Surrey Racing’s (WSR) Rob Collard claimed the first win of the opening weekend of the BTCC. His teammate Andy Priaulx, who held pole after qualifying suffered from an unfortunate choice of tyre as his soft compounds started to wear out mid race which gave Collard the opportunity he needed to sneak past. Aron Smith and Jason Plato of Team BMR then started nipping at his heels in their Volkswagens but he managed to fend them off to take the win. Plato did however secure the fastest lap time despite not winning which means he would start in pole position for race two.

Collard knew Priaulx would struggle on the soft tyres so it was simply a matter of time for the WSR driver and it paid off. Mid race saw Priaulx run out of both grip and track, a costly mistake that put dropped him from the lead all the way down to finish ninth! The final standings ended up: Rob Collard, Aron Smith, Jason Plato, Jack Goff and Colin Turkington for the top five.

Race two looked like it was going to be decided within the first few laps, Jason Plato stormed ahead in his BMR Volkswagen and cranked out a full three second lead, very impressive in BTCC. However, Plato’s luck ran out when his picked up a puncture with just three laps left and ran in to the gravel which spelled the end of his race.

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Image Credit: Flickr – rwsmotorsport

Plato’s misfortune gave Gordon Shedden and Andy Priaulx the break the needed, suddenly their fight for second was a fight for the win. The pair traded places twice spectacularly in the same lap, Shedden then found himself stuck behind Derek Palmer’s lapped Infiniti which gave Priaulx the chance he needed on the home straight. Unfortunately it was not quite enough and the pair were separated by 0.040 seconds, a genuine photo finish.

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Image Credit: Flickr – rwsmotorsport

Race three saw another nail biting finish, Matt Neal and Jack Goff, first and second respectively, were split by just 0.196s, the battle for first started a few laps back and didn’t stop until they crossed the line. Such is the beauty of BTCC. The reverse grid system that BTCC use meant that Rob Austin, who finished tenth in the previous race, started off in pole position. It took Neal and Goff most of the race to get past Austin but they managed it towards the end. Jason Plato’s luck didn’t improve much either, after starting at the very back of the grid due to not finishing the second race he made it up at high as 12th before dropping back down to 16th. Rob Collard, who won the first race, ended up in the gravel towards the beginning of the race. One of a number of incidents lower down the pecking order that caused the safety car to make an appearance.

All in all it was a fantastic weekend of racing, a great way to start the season for sure. The weather is starting to pick up, we’ve got Formula One, Formula E and BTCC on regularly. What more could you ask for?

Fancy some more motor sport? Check out our Beginners Guide to the World Rally Championship

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