The Weekend Motorsport Digest (July 21)

Jann Mardenborough

HITC Motorsport brings you up to speed with the best of the weekend's racing action, including GP2, GP3, and IndyCar.

For the second successive weekend Jolyon Palmer increased his GP2 championship advantage without winning a race. The DAMS driver started the German feature event on pole, but he was beaten into turn one by a charging Stoffel Vandoorne, who led throughout the first stint.

But the Belgian was eventually beaten by Mitch Evans, who started 15th and used a counter-strategy - as well as some seriously impressive driving - to scythe through the field. The Kiwi made it two feature race wins on the bounce ahead of Vandoorne and Palmer, with Stefano Coletti and Felipe Nasr completing the top-five.

Sunday’s sprint race was run in mixed conditions, with a handful of drivers electing to start on dry tyres and the rest on slicks. Initially the dry-shod cars plummeted down the order, but as the race progressed they clearly possessed the upper hand. Leading this pack was Coletti, who assumed the lead when early front-runner Vandoorne stopped for slicks.

The Belgian was soon passed by Nasr, who had also started on slicks, but despite a concerted effort the Brazilian could not catch Coletti. The Monegasque thus won his first GP2 race in more than a year, with Nasr and Vandoorne completing the podium.

Marco Sorensen was fourth, meaning the Dane has now scored in all of the four GP2 races he has contested. Jon Lancaster did an excellent job to finish fifth, with fellow Brit Palmer sixth. The DAMS driver now leads Nasr by 41 points with Johnny Cecotto third, Coletti fourth and Evans fifth.

GP2 Hockenheim

Like his fellow countryman Palmer, Alex Lynn extended his GP3 points advantage without winning, though he did bag two podiums. Lynn was beaten to the feature race win by pole-sitter Marvin Kirchhofer, who secured his maiden series victory on home turf with the minimum of fuss. Behind him, Lynn led a British sweep of positions two through six, with Emil Bernstorff completing the podium ahead of Nick Yelloly, Dean Stoneman and Dino Zamparelli.

The sprint race saw one of the stories of the year so far, as gamer-turned-racer Jann Mardenborough grabbed his first GP3 win. Starting from reverse-grid pole, the Brit fended off an early challenge from Zamparelli to secure a famous victory and his first in top-line international racing.

Zamparelli was second, while Jimmy Eriksson was third on the road. However he was later hit with a 20-second penalty for failing to slow for yellow flags, dropping him out of the points. His title rival Lynn was promoted to third, with Stoneman and Yelloly making it a British sweep of the top five. Lynn now leads Eriksson by 20 points, with Kirchhofer just four behind the Swede.

SBL1005

IndyCar had a wild weekend at Toronto, with torrential rain on Saturday forcing both races to be run on Sunday. The opening encounter saw Sebastien Bourdais take his first American single-seater win since 2007, before Mike Conway bagged his second victory of the season in the later race. Helio Castroneves still leads Penske team-mate Will Power in the standings after both men took podiums at the Canadian event.

READ MORE: Bourdais wins Toronto Race 1, first since 2007 (IndyCar)

READ MORE: Conway wins back end of Toronto doubleheader (IndyCar)

Meanwhile the supporting Indy Lights race saw Frenchman Alexandre Baron grab his first series triumph. In wet conditions, the pole-sitter beat team-mate Gabby Chaves to the flag to eventually win by a little over a second, with Jack Harvey third. Chaves extends his championship advantage over Zach Veach, who could only finish fifth, to 21 points with five races left to run.

READ MORE: Baron records 1st win; Chaves ups points lead (IndyCar)

Kimiya Sato skipped the GP2 event at Hockenheim to keep his AutoGP title challenge on track, a decision that paid off with victory in race one.

Though Sato already had nine AutoGP wins to his name heading to Red Bull Ring, incredibly he secured his first series pole in qualifying. However he failed to capitalise on this come the start, with both Tamas Pal Kiss and Kevin Giovesi out-dragging him into turn one.

An early tyre change helped Sato, who emerged second to Kiss after the stops had shaken out. He quickly set about overhauling the Hungarian, passing his for the lead and pulling away for AutoGP win number 10.

Kiss held on to second with Virtuosi team-mate Andrea Roda third. Giovesi slipped to fourth with Germany’s Markus Pommer fifth.

The second race saw Roda claim his maiden AutoGP win in a Virtuosi one-two. Starting sixth, he moved to fourth early on then assumed the lead after the pitstops.

From there Roda was able to pull away from team-mate Kiss to win by more than six seconds. Behind them Michela Cerruti took another podium, her third in as many rounds, a further six seconds behind Kiss. Shinya Michimi and Michele La Rosa completed the top-five, while Sato failed to finish after suffering a rear suspension problem.

However the Japanese driver still enjoys a healthy points advantage and could claim the championship next time out at the Nurbrugring. The Japanese driver would need to outscore Kiss by five points at the German contest, which takes place over the weekend of August 17/17.

And in other news...

French squad OAK Racing Team Total took a comfortable win in the first Asian Le Mans Series event of 2014.

They were rarely challenged for the victory, with only two cars in the top-tier LMP2 class. The Eurasia Motorsport machine of Richard Bradley, John Hartshorne and Tacksung Kim led early on, but OAK reasserted their dominance when the latter driver struggled for pace.

This continued with Hartshorne aboard and, such was OAK’s pace advantage thanks to former GP2 racer Ho-Pin Tung, they opened up an eight lap advantage. A late crash for star driver Bradley ended Eurasia’s day and assured Tung and team-mate David Cheng the win.

The AAI BMW of Hanchen Chen, Ryohei Sakaguchi and Marco Seefried took GT class honours, while the single CN class crew - Craft-Bamboo’s Mathias Beche, Frank Yu and Kevin Tse - managed only 89 laps.

Only six cars started the event: two in LMP2, two GTs and the lone CN. One a piece from the GT and CN glasses failed to take the start. The series will be desperately hoping for a bigger grid at next month's Fuji event.

OAK Asian Le Mans

TV star Patrick Dempsey was competing in the Porsche Supercup at Hockenheim, but between countless shots of the Grey’s Anatomy star they also found time to run a motor race. This was won by reigning champion Nicki Thiim, who was making only his second appearance of 2014, with Earl Bamber second and Kevin Estre third. The result allows Bamber to close to within just five points of championship leader Kuba Giermaziak, who could only finish sixth at the German venue. Dempsey meanwhile finished 23rd and last.

After a difficult weekend in Hungary, Euroformula Open title favourite Sandy Stuvik bounced back emphatically at Silverstone with two race wins. Each saw the Thai pilot beat Alex Palou and Yarin Stern to produce identical podiums in both events. Stuvik now leads Palou by 20 points with Poland’s Artur Janosz third, a further eight in arrears.

READ MORE: Stuvik takes comfortable win at Silverstone (Paddock Scout)

READ MORE: Stuvik doubles up at Silverstone (Paddock Scout)