MAY 21, 2007
Here and there
There was an upset in the world of rallying at the weekend when World Champion Sebastien Loeb crashed out of the lead on the Rally Italia, leaving victory to Marcus Gronholm. The win also gives Ford driver Gronholm the lead in the Drivers' championship and extends Ford's lead in the Manufacturers' title race. Loeb was leading by 36secs at the start of the final leg of the Sardinian event but his retirement gave the BP Ford World Rally Team a 1-2 with Gronholm followed home by team mate Mikko Hirvonen.
The big news in America was the final qualifying for the Indianapolis 500 where the remaining runners squabbling over the last 11 places (22nd to 33rd on the grid). Most of these were grabbed on Saturday but there was still some action on Sunday, which is traditionally known as "Bump Day". In the final rush, former F1 driver Roberto Moreno (standing in for the injured Stephane Gregoire), Richie Hearn and Phil Giebler all made the cut. Moreno and Hearn had had very little time in the cars while Giebler was fighting back from a crash.
This meant that PJ Jones and Jimmy Kite were bumped from the field.
The full grid for the big event is thus: Row 1: Helio Castroneves, Tony Kanaan, Dario Franchitti; Row 2: Scott Dixon, Sam Hornish Jr, Dan Wheldon; Row 3: Ryan Briscoe, Danica Patrick, Marco Andretti; Row 4: Tomas Scheckter, Michael Andretti, Scott Sharp; Row 5: Jeff Simmons, Ed Carpenter, Darren Manning; Row 6: Buddy Rice, Kosuke Matsuura, AJ Foyt IV; Row 7: Vitor Meira, Davey Hamilton, Sarah Fisher ; Row 8: Buddy Lazier, Roger Yasukawa, John Andretti; Row 9: Al Unser Jr, Alex Barron, Jon Herb; Row 10: Jaques Lazier, Milka Duno, Marty Roth and Row 11: Roberto Moreno, Richie Hearn and Phil Giebler.
Racing got underway in Bucharest with a GT race and the British Formula 3 series. Marko Asmer won the first of the F3 races ahead of his Carlin Motorsport team-mates Alberto Valerio and Sam Bird. In the second event Bird became the first rookie this year to win a race, leading home Niall Breen (Carlin) and Stephen Jelley (Raikkonen Robertson Racing). Asmer now has a huge lead in the championship, being 47 points clear of Jelley.
There was a British winner in Formula 3 in Japan with Oliver Jarvis taking the fifth round of the series at Motegi for the TOM'S team. He beat Brazil's Robert Streit and local Kodai Tsukakoshi. In the sixth round it was Streit who won from Hiroaki Ishiura and Takuya Izawa.
At the Lausitzring the DTM troops were in action and former F1 World Champion Mika Hakkinen was back on the top step of the podium for Mercedes-Benz, with a win Paul di Resta. The Scottish DTM rookie, however, now leads the championship, ahead of Gary Paffett and Audi drivers Mattias Ekstrom and Martin Tomczyk. It was a good day for Mercedes with a 1-2-3-4 finish, Hakkinen and di Resta being followed home by Bruno Spengler and Bernd Schneider.
Down in Valencia there was a dominant performance in the FIA World Touring Car Championship from Alfa Romeo with James Thompson winning both races, while over in Salt Lake City the ALMS teams were in action at the Miller Motorsports Park, with victory going to Penske's Porsche RS Spyder driven by Ryan Briscoe (who had already qualified for the Indianapolis 500) and Sascha Maassen. It was the team's third straight overall win but Audi retains the championship lead as Allen McNish and Rinaldo Capello won their fourth straight race in the LMP1 class.
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