Motorsport: Flames and Lames Sep 20

By Dale Budge

Shane Van Gisbergen during the Sandown 500. Photo / Getty Images
Shane Van Gisbergen during the Sandown 500. Photo / Getty Images

Flames

Kiwis everywhere
What a weekend for New Zealand drivers all over the world. A number impressed at the Sandown 500 in Melbourne. Shane Van Gisbergen drove a superb race to finish second - just running out of laps to chase down the winning car of Garth Tander and Warren Luff. The podium finish was enough for the Red Bull Racing driver to leapfrog teammate Jamie Whincup at the top of the championship standings. His works McLaren teammates managed to finish third at the Nürburgring over the weekend which saw them capture the Blancpain GT Endurance Cup as well. Volvo driver Scott McLaughlin moved up to fourth overall with a solid drive at Sandown while Richie Stanaway produced arguably the drive of the day in the Super Black Racing Falcon. Stanaway, who had never driven a Supercar before, charged through the field in terrible conditions to catch the eye of teams and commentators, who marveled at his car control. In Texas Brendon Hartley claimed his third straight World Endurance Championship race victory with teammates Mark Webber and Timo Bernhard while Earl Bamber won the shorter race at the same venue.

Nico Rosberg
The Mercedes driver again upstaged his British teammate Lewis Hamilton to win the Singapore Grand Prix under lights and move back ahead in the two-horse race for the title. Rosberg started from pole and eased to victory while Hamilton could manage only third. The German holds a narrow eight point lead in the championship.

Holden Racing Team
Tander and Luff gave the struggling Holden Racing Team a much-needed boost by winning the Sandown 500 on Sunday. Just a fortnight after news broke that Holden would withdraw its funding for the team next season the break-through win was timely. Walkinshaw Racing, which owns the team, has indicated the team will continue in the championship next season under a different name and the Sandown win will help encourage sponsors to come on board. For veteran driver Tander it was the first win since 2014.

Simon Pagenaud
Frenchman Simon Pagenaud closed out his maiden IndyCar title in perfect fashion by winning the final round of the championship at Sonoma Raceway in California on Monday. When Penske teammate Will Power was forced to the pits with an electrical failure early in the race, Pagenaud knew the title was his. Helio Castroneves ensured the Penske team finished with a 1-2-3 in the final championship standings.

Lames

High profile co-drivers
It wasn't a good weekend for some high profile Supercars co-drivers with two in particular severely hampering their fulltime teammate's title chances. Dean Canto made a mistake in Saturday's qualifying race that meant the Prodrive Racing Ford he shared with defending series champ Mark Winterbottom would start towards the back of the grid. Another mistake in the race ruined any chance of a big points haul. Paul Dumbrell, who has been such a good foil for Jamie Whincup in recent years, made a very costly mistake when he took a safety belt off as he pulled into the pits for a driver change. The team was handed a drive-through penalty for the breach of rules, effectively ending Whincup's chances of a top finish.

Mark Winterbottom
The Ford driver's chances of retaining his Supercars championship appear all but over after a dismal round at Sandown. Aside from teammate Canto's mistakes the number 1 car never looked to have the outright pace of his championship rivals. He admitted after the race that his title aspirations were over. It has been a disappointing season so far for Winterbottom, who hasn't been able to consistently match it with the Red Bull Racing cars and has even struggled to keep pace with teammate Chaz Mostert in recent rounds.

Scott Dixon
The defending IndyCar series champion's horror season finally came to a close at Sonoma Raceway yesterday and the final race almost mirrored how the entire season has played out for the likeable Dixon. The Kiwi finished a lowly 17th that was good enough for only sixth in the championship. Misfortune and some uncharacteristic mistakes have hampered Dixon's title charge this season. He will look for a fresh start next year with a new major sponsor after long-time supporter Target announced it was exiting the sport.

- NZ Herald

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW

© Copyright 2016, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf03 at 28 Sep 2016 01:36:09 Processing Time: 453ms