British Touring Car Championship
Starting on home soil, Silverstone hosted the penultimate round of the British Touring Car Championship, with Jason Plato needing a high-scoring weekend to cut down Colin Turkington’s commanding 55 point lead. The MG driver duly delivered pole position in qualifying and won the first two races, having to pass the fast-starting Turkington on each occasion, with Mat Jackson and Alain Menu picking up a podium apiece. Race two had finished behind the safety car after a spinning Jack Clarke tipped Rob Collard into a terrifying roll from which he fortunately emerged unscathed, although he would not take the start of the Race three, which saw Fabrizio Giovanardi assigned pole in the grid draw. With Sam Tordoff unable to take the start from the front row, Jackson had a clear run from fourth on the grid and leapt to second, before capitalising on a mistake from Motorbase team-mate Giovanardi to lead after a brief safety car interlude. Aron Smith was also able to pass the Italian, before a battle royal for third commenced, with Turkington eventually prevailing over Plato and Menu as Giovanardi fell back. With Gordon Shedden now out of the running after another trying weekend, only Plato can now stop the relentlessly consistent Turkington from recording his second BTCC title at Brands Hatch, although even he will admit that his chances appear slim a 50-point deficit to overcome.
DTM German Touring Cars
Staying in Europe, the dusty dunes of Zandvoort welcomed the DTM circus for the penultimate round of the series. Whilst the driver championship has already been sewn up by BMW’s Marco Wittmann, there was still plenty to play for, with Mercedes leading light Christian Vietoris and Audi trio Mattias Ekström, Edoardo Mortara and Mike Rockenfeller all separated by just five points in the battle for best-of-the-rest. In a race that saw four safety car periods it was Ekström who fought his way from eighth on the grid to take Audi’s first win of the season, with Wittman second and former champion Martin Tomczyk scoring his first podium of the season in third. Ekström’s 18th career win puts him in a strong position to finish runner-up heading to the final round at Hockenheim, 12 points ahead of Vietoris, while Rockenfeller’s non-score rules the outgoing champion out of contention.
Lone Star Le Mans
Our final stop on our roundup comes from Austin, Texas, as the Tudor United Sportscar Championship and FIA World Endurance Championship converged on the Circuit of the Americas.
In USC, Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas narrowly denied Alex Brundle and Gustavo Yacaman on the Oak Racing Ligier’s North American debut to take their third win of the season and keep their title hopes alive with only the ten-hour Petit Le Mans enduro still to come. The Ganassi-Riley used a canny fuel strategy to run one pitstop fewer than their rivals, the Ligier coming up 2.3 seconds short at the flag thanks in part to the time lost recovering from contact with Michael Valiante’s Spirit of Daytona DP. Action Express continued their consistent run of form with a podium finish that sees them 22 points ahead of nearest rivals Wayne Taylor Racing, who could manage only seventh after suffering an opening lap puncture while going for the lead. Luis Diaz and Sean Rayhall won the Prototype Challenge class from pole position, but could not prevent CORE Autosport’s Colin Braun and Jon Bennett from wrapping up the title. Renger van der Zande and Mirco Schultis finished third.
In GTLM, Viper took first and second after erstwhile leaders Nick Tandy and Jorg Bergmeister cruelly lost drive with 20 minutes to go. Jonathan Bomarito and Kuno Wittmer duly inherited the win – and the championship lead – from Marc Goossens and Dominik Farnbacher, with Patrick Long and Michael Christiansen upholding Porsche honours in third. Viper’s chief title rival Antonio Garcia finished down in ninth place; the Corvette man needing a seven point swing at Petit Le Mans to deliver GM another championship. Viper were also victorious in GTD as Jeroen Bleekemolen and Ben Keating took their second win of the season ahead of the Magnus Porsche of Andy Lally and John Potter. Dane Cameron maintains his slim championship lead with third in the Turner Motorsports BMW Z4, four points ahead of the ultra-consistent Cooper MacNeil and Leah Keen, who finished fifth. With three out of four classes still to play for, things are set for a grandstand finish at Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta.
In the six-hour WEC event which ran into the night, Andre Lotterer, Benoit Treluyer and Marcel Fassler picked up from where they left off at Le Mans with a clean run in difficult conditions after the number 8 Toyota hit trouble. Having once again qualified on pole, Sebastien Buemi, Anthony Davidson and Nicolas Lapierre had looked set for victory before a biblical rainstorm hit and Lapierre aquaplaned off on slick tyres, at the cost of a lap. Buemi starred as the trio fought back after the weather-induced red flag, but could only recover to third behind the second Audi of Tom Kristensen, Loic Duval and Lucas di Grassi. Behind the two Porsches in fourth and fifth, Rebellion took LMP1-L honours for best privateer, with Nick Heidfeld and Nicolas Prost putting aside their final corner clash in Formula E. Elsewhere, the new Lotus CLM P1 made it to the finish, albeit 17 laps down in the hands of James Rossiter, Christophe Bochut and Lucas Auer.
In LMP2, KCMG trio Matt Howson, Tsugio Matsuda and Richard Bradley recorded their first win after a good battle with SMP’s Nicolas Minassian, Maurizio Mediani and Sergey Zlobin. Category newcomers Extreme Speed Motorsport finished third after sterling work from Ryan Dalziel – and have since announced their intention to run a two-car team at Shanghai ahead of a mooted full-time WEC graduation in 2015 – ahead of Oak Racing in a muted fourth. Meanwhile, Aston Martin dominated both GT classes, with the #97 of Darren Turner and Stefan Mücke and the #98 of Paul Dalla Lana, Pedro Lamy & Christoffer Nygaard winning GT-Pro and GT-Am respectively. Patrick Pilet and Fred Makowiecki finished second, the Porsche unable to live with the pace of the Aston once the track dried, ahead of championship leaders Gianmaria Bruni and Toni Vilander. Corvette entered an all-American lineup for brothers Jordan and Ricky Taylor with Tommy Milner, but could only finish seventh in their first WEC appearance outside the Le Mans 24 Hours.