Category: 2013

A Review of the Year: F1 – January & February

It was a Formula One season that saw Red Bull Racing and Sebastian Vettel clinch two more world titles. 2013 brought with it plenty of thrills and spills, from cars launching and driver news in January, to prize-giving galas and more driver news in December. Here is part one of a review of the year in Formula One.

January 2013

After the off-season, things got going once again in January.

Early in the month it was announced that Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull had been nominated for Laureus Awards for the third year in a row. Vettel, who at the time had just become the youngest ever triple world champion, was up for the World Sportsman of the Year award while Red Bull were nominated for the team equivalent.

Jules Bianchi, who would later become a Marussia race driver for the 2013 season, was victorious at Felipe Massa’s annual karting event in Brazil, Desafio Internacional das Estrelas. The French driver beat GP2 driver Felipe Nasr by 15 points and a host of racing drivers from Formula One (including Fernando Alonso, Kamui Kobayashi, and Massa himself), Indy Car and Stock Car racing.

Ferrari announced in January that they had signed former McLaren test-driver and racing driver Pedro de la Rosa to their testing line-up.

There were changes to the FIA set-up when they announced that they had replaced outgoing doctor Dr Gary Hartstein with Dr Ian Roberts. Hartstein revealed in a series of Twitter messages after his sacking in November 2012 that he was unsure why he had been replaced. Dr Roberts had served as the Chief Medical Officer at the British Grand Prix for a number of years and also sits on a number of motorsport medical advisory panels.

The Lotus F1 Team became the first in 2013 to unveil their new car – the E21. A launch was held at the their factory and interviews were held with Team Principal Eric Boullier, Team Chairman Gerard Lopez, and Technical Director James Allison. Drivers Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean took the covers off the car, giving the world its first look at what they hoped would be a title challenger.

Just three days after Lotus, on the 31st January, it was McLaren’s turn to launch their car. It was also used as a way of launching their 50th celebrations. Bruce McLaren set up McLaren back in 1963 and a poignant video was shown before the launch itself. This was followed by a convoy of McLaren’s most iconic cars – from the M8D CanAm Sportscar to the McLaren P1 supercar. Sam Michael and Jonathan Neale offered their thoughts on the MP4-28, which was unveiled by Jenson Button and McLaren’s new recruit Sergio Perez.

Toto Wolff revealed that he was leaving Williams for Mercedes. It was later announced that he would form part of the management line-up at the team for 2013, alongside Team Principal Ross Brawn and Niki Lauda.

February 2013

Ferrari became the third team to launch their 2013 car, doing so from their factory in Maranello. Team Principal Stefano Domenicali and drivers Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa offered their thoughts on the year ahead.

Force India also launched their car on February 1st, theirs being at Silverstone. Deputy Team Principal Bob Fearnley was on hand, along with Technical Director Andrew Green. The job of unveiling the car itself was left to Paul di Resta, Force India’s only driver at that stage. They had not yet announced who would be partnering him for the 2013 season.

Caterham confirmed their line-up for the 2013 season, with it being announced that 2012 reserve driver Giedo van der Garde would partner Charles Pic.

Sauber unveiled their 2013 car at their Hinwil base, with all new line-up Esteban Gutierrez and Nico Hulkenberg in attendance. Team Principal Monisha Kaltenborn and Chief Designer Matt Morris were both there to offer their thoughts on the year ahead. A striking difference was the change from a predominantly white livery to a much darker graphite.

Newly rebranded Infiniti Red Bull were the sixth team to launch their new car – the RB9 – doing so at their base in Milton Keynes. Prior to the launch the team uploaded a video entitled Rhythm of the Factory to their website, which outlined the different processes of putting the car together. Team Principal Christian Horner and Adrian Newey were in attendance, along with Simon Sproule – a representative of Infiniti – and drivers Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber.

Mercedes were first of two teams to launch in Jerez – the location of the first test. Drivers Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton took the covers off it before both taking the W04 out for a spin.

Toro Rosso launched their 2013 car – the STR8 – in the Jerez pit-lane. Drivers Jean-Eric Vergne and Daniel Ricciardo took the covers off it.

Rolex announced that they would become title sponsors of the Australian Grand Prix, following their confirmation as official Timekeeper and Time Pieces in December 2012.

Emirates and the Formula One Group announced a new five year deal which saw them become a Global Partner of Formula One.

Marussia and Caterham unveiled their car at the start of testing. The MR02 was the first car of Marussia’s to be fully equipped with KERS. It was unveiled by their new driver Max Chilton.

Williams revealed their new car at the start of the second pre-season test.

Luis Razia was confirmed as a Marussia driver for the 2013 season.

McLaren became the first motorsport organisation in the world to receive the FIA Environmental Award for the Achievement of Excellence.

It was announced that Adrian Sutil would test for Force India in Barcelona at the second pre-season test. He was later confirmed as Paul di Resta’s partner for the season ahead.

After the announcement that Paddy Lowe would leave McLaren at the end of 2013, the team confirmed that Tim Goss would take over as Technical Director.

McLaren’s Jenson Button set the fastest time on the first day of testing. Felipe Massa was the fastest overall by the end of the four days. Sergio Perez ended the second test (which was in Barcelona) fastest.

Kimi Raikkonen and Charles Pic traveled to Russia to take part in the Race of Stars, an ice racing event organised by Renault.

A busy man, a new ad campaign featuring Kimi Raikkonen surfaced, posing the question – why is Kimi so far away from home?

The third and final pre-season test started in Barcelona.


A Review of the Year: Road Racing – August & September

In part four of this review of the year (2013) in road racing, we look at the Mid-Antrim 100, the Ulster Grand Prix, the inaugural Classic TT, and Killalane. The first second and third parts can be found here (April & May), here (June), and here (July).

August 2013

The first meeting in August was the Mid-Antrim 150, a race first held in 1946. It was another action packed programme with winners including Paul Robinson, Jamie Hamilton and Derek Sheils.

Robinson won the Moto3 race ahead of Sam Dunlop and Nigel Moore. Gavin Lupton was the winner in the Supersport 400 race, finishing ahead of Mark Shiels and Wayne Hall. Seamus Elliott was first of three classified riders in the Moto 450 class, beating Darren Gilpin and Dave Walsh.

Hamilton took his sixth Irish Road Race Supertwin victory (out of a possible six) when he beat William Davison and Nigel Moore. Michael Sweeney was the winner in the 250 race, beating Davy Morgan and Sam Dunlop. Hamilton notched up a second win of the meeting in the Supersport race beating Elliott and Sam Wilson. Sheils won the Superbike race ahead of Hamilton and Elliott.

Mark Hanna won both the Junior and Senior Support races, beating Connor Behan and Lupton in the Junior and Shane Egan and James Kelly in the Senior. Barry Davidson once again won the Junior Classic race – seven out of seven wins for him – while John Scott won the Senior Classic.

In the Grand Final, Michael Sweeney finished ahead of Morgan, Elliott, Davison, Wilson, and Andy Farrell.

Next up was the Ulster Grand Prix and Dundrod 150, although the latter had to be called off due to the weather. The Ulster Grand Prix saw Guy Martin crowned ‘Man of the Meeting’ after taking a hat-trick of victories and beating Michael Dunlop. Martin also took the opportunity to announce his contract extension with Tyco Suzuki.

Ivan Lintin beat Jamie Hamilton in the Supertwins race by just 0.048s. The race was red flagged after Peter McKillop crashed. This allowed Hamilton, who had slid off his own bike at Leathemstown to take part in the re-start and fight back. He was unable to beat Lintin, who in turn secured his first International road race victory. Lee Johnston finished just a second back in third place. The Moto3 class had gone out with the Supertwins and it was Ian Lougher, on his last appearance at the Ulster Grand Prix, who took victory. He beat Christian Elkin by just three tenths of a second. Paul Jordan was 27 seconds down the road but finished in third.

Martin’s first victory came in the first Supersport race, which he won after starting in pole position. Bruce Anstey finished in second place and Johnston finished in third. Anstey’s podium completed a highly impressive record of finishing on the podium at least once at every North West 200, Isle of Man TT and Ulster Grand Prix for the past ten years. M Dunlop failed to finish the race due to clutch problems.

M Dunlop had qualified on pole position for the main race – the Ulster Grand Prix (Superbike) – but lost the lead on the opening lap to Martin. The Tyco Suzuki rider continued to lead through to the final lap but M Dunlop closed the gap when the pair met backmarkers. Martin went on to win by just under a tenth of a second. William Dunlop came home in third.

W Dunlop won the most dramatic and exciting race of the day – the second Supersport event. Martin, who had won the feature race, failed to start while M Dunlop had a disappointing get away. W Dunlop took the early lead ahead of Anstey and Conor Cummins. The leading duo pulled away and enjoyed a close battle which went down to the wire. Anstey led W Dunlop on the last lap but ran wide. W Dunlop then did the same, however, and allowed Anstey to have another run on him into the Quarries. When the pair crossed the line it was W Dunlop who was ahead – by 0.073s – having gone round the outside on the final corner to take the win. Cummins held on to third place.

In the second Superbike race, there was further drama as M Dunlop was wheeled off the grid before the start. Martin took his hat-trick of victories, finishing ahead of Anstey and Cummins. After a day of disappointments, M Dunlop did salvage a win when he beat Gary Johnson and Anstey in the Superstock class.

Many riders traveled straight from the Ulster to the Isle of Man for the inaugural Classic TT. The event kicked off with a Paddock Carnival, which saw everyone get into the swing of things by donning costumes from the 1960s.

The racing action got going with the 500cc class, won by Olie Linsdell. William Dunlop was runner up with Jamie Coward. A number of riders got into difficulties with their bikes with John McGuinness, Cameron Donald, Bruce Anstey and Michael Dunlop amongst those retiring from the race. The 350/250cc race was won dominantly by Chris Palmer, who finished a minute clear of team-mate Donald. Daniel Cooper claimed his first Isle of Man podium by finishing third. Jamie Hamilton had looked like he might challenge for a podium but came off his bike (uninjured).

Jonathan Cutts came home first in the 250ccs with Peter Wakefield and Geoff Bates completing the podium. The third and final race of the meeting was the Formula 1/Formula 2/Formula Classics. Michael Dunlop romped to victory in the F1 class – despite a slipping clutch and oil leak, finishing a minute ahead of Conor Cummins, who in turn was a further minute ahead of third place Ryan Kneen. Palmer took another victory in the F2 Classics, beating James Cowton and Philip McGurk. Dean Harrison was the first of only three finishers on the Formula Classics, beating Gavin Lupton and Chris McGahan.

September 2013

The final meeting of 2013 on the Irish roads was Killalane. Paul Robinson, William Dunlop, and Connor Behan were among the race winners.

Robinson was once again victorious in the Moto3 race, beating Sam Dunlop and Wayne Reeve. W Dunlop won the 250 race ahead of Michael Sweeney and John Ella. David Howard won the Supersport 400 race ahead of David Yeomans and Andy Farrell. Michael Sweeney was victorious in Supertwins, beating Derek McGee and Farrell.

The Dunlop brothers took home five wins between them. As well as his 250 win, W Dunlop also won the Supersport race, finishing ahead of his brother and McGee. M Dunlop’s wins were in the Superbike race (beating Derek Sheils and Sweeney), the Grand Final (ahead of Sheils and Sweeney again), and the Senior Classic, beating Robert McCrum.

Connor Behan won the Junior Support class, beating Mark Hanna and Shane Egan. Hanna won the Senior Support with James Kelly finishing second and Egan third. Barry Davidson once again won the Junior Classic.

Michael Dunlop won the Gold Cup at Oliver’s Mount in Scarborough, holding off Guy Martin from winning his ninth title there. Ian Lougher won the 250cc race and Davy Morgan won the Solo Non-Finalist race.


A Review of the Year: Road Racing – July

In part three of this review of 2013 in road racing, we look back at the Skerries, Walderstown, the Southern 100 and Armoy. The first and second parts can be found here (April and May) and here (June).

July 2013

Following races on the Isle of Man, it was back to Ireland – Dublin in particular – for the Skerries 100. The meeting was once again dominated by a familiar name – Dunlop – with the brothers winning four races between them. William Dunlop won the 250cc event, beating Davy Morgan and Michael Sweeney. He was also victorious in the Supersport race, edging his brother by 0.5s, who in turn finished ahead of Derek McGee.

There was further success for Jamie Hamilton in the Supertwins class as he led from start to finish, not without pressure from second placed Michael Sweeney, however. Michael Dunlop took double success in the Superbikes, beating Derek Sheils in both races, and riding his own MD Racing Honda Fireblade. He trailed Sheils for four laps in the ‘Grand Final’ but eventually overtook him and beat him by a comfortable 2.5s with a new 110.373mph lap record.

Seamus Elliot won the Moto3 race ahead of Bruce Moulds and Nigel Moore. It was sadly to be Moulds’ last Irish road racing podium before his tragic death at Walderstown just over a week later. Mark Hanna was victorious in the Junior Support race, beating Connor Behan and Shane Egan. Egan went on to win the Senior Support race, beating Behan and James Kelly.

In the Superbike ‘B’ race, Czech Republic rider Michal Dokoupil finished ahead of David Coughlan and Paul Barron. Barry Davidson beat Sean Leonard in the Junior Classic (with Allan Brew third) while Robert McCrum won the Senior Classic, beating John Scott and Brew.

A return to the Isle of Man was on the cards for many riders as they took part in the Southern 100. The event was marred by the tragic death of three riders – Sidecar passenger Paul Thomas, Mark Madsen-Mygdal and David Dukes. M Dunlop returned to winning ways with a victory over Dean Harrison and Guy Martin in the Supersport class. It was a similar podium in the Senior race, but this time with Martin ahead of Harrison but still with Dunlop winning. Tim Reeves and Dan Sayle took another win in the Sidecars, this time beating the Gary Bryan & Jamie Winn partnership. They won again the Sidecar Championship race, beating the Birchall brothers.

Hamilton won the first Supertwins race,  with Harrison securing another second place. James Cowton finished in third. Harrison eventually got a win in the Supersport class, beating Martin and M Dunlop. He won again in the second Supertwins race, with Lintin second and Hamilton third. Callum Collister won the 125/400cc race beating Alistair Haworth and Ian Lougher.

Martin took a narrow victory in the Solo Championship race, crossing the line just 0.454 seconds ahead of rival M Dunlop. Harrison racked up another podium finish in third. It was the first time this particular race had been won by Martin since 2009.

While some competed at the Southern 100, others raced at Walderstown. There were victories once again for Elliott and Hanna in the Moto3 and Junior Support races. Egan won the Senior Support race, ahead of Hanna and Gavin Lupton. Elsewhere it was more of the same in the other classes with Hamilton winning the Supertwins race, ahead of Sweeney and Hanna. McGee won the the Supersport race, ahead of Hamilton and W Dunlop.

W Dunlop himself was victorious in both the Superbike races, beating McGee in one and Sheils in the other. Sheils finished third in the first Superbike race and that position was filled by Pearson in the second. Dunlop took victory in the 250cc class as well, making him the most successful rider at the circuit with 11 wins to his name.

Before Armoy, Dean Harrison and Jamie Hamilton dominated at the Cock O’ The North races in Scarborough. Harrison took six race victories, while Hamilton won one. Hamilton finished second to Harrison five races.

Tim Reeves and Dan Sayle take to the track at Armoy
Tim Reeves and Dan Sayle take to the track at Armoy

At the end of July, the Dunlop brothers returned to their neck of the woods for the Armoy Road Races. It was an action packed programme, celebrating the fifth edition of the event. It also gave racing fans their first glimpse of Sidecars on the circuit as TT champions Tim Reeves and Dan Sayle took part in a couple of parade laps. Saturday was a bright and sunny day and featured 11 races. Christian Elkin was the first winner of the day, as he won the 125cc race ahead of Sam Dunlop and Sam Wilson. Mark Hanna won the Junior Support race ahead of Connor Behan and Shane Egan. Behan was the winner of the Senior Support class, beating Hanna and Egan.

In the first ‘big’ race of the day, there was fierce competition between Michael and William Dunlop, Guy Martin and Jamie Hamilton, for the Supersport victory. M Dunlop started the race from pole position but Martin got a better start and led the first lap, leading Hamilton who impressively moved into second place on his KMR Kawasaki. It was W Dunlop who eventually won, however, finishing ahead of his brother and Martin, with Hamilton having to settle for fourth. There was drama in the Junior Classic race as Kevin Strowger struggled to get away on the warm-up lap. Having originally started on the front row, he dropped way down and only just made it round the track to start at the back of the third group. He eventually finished third in the race on corrected time, the first rider on a 250cc. Barry Davidson won the race, remaining unbeaten in the 350cc class, with Sean Leonard in second. Robert McCrum won the Senior Classic Class, by an impressive 19 seconds, beating Richard Ford and John Scott.

Michael Dunlop's Supersport bike at Armoy
Michael Dunlop’s Supersport bike at Armoy

M Dunlop beat Martin once again in the Superbike race, with Derek Sheils in third. There was another victory for M Dunlop in the Race of Legends  and this time he finished ahead of his brother, W Dunlop, and Sheils again. Martin had to recover from tenth place after overshooting the chicane at the start of the first lap and he eventually recovered to fourth. W Dunlop won the 250cc class ahead of Wilson and Michael Sweeney. The 400cc class was won by Andy Farrell, who finished ahead of Gavin Lupton and Vic Allan. They were joined in the race by the Moto 450 class which was won by Seamus Elliott.

Hamilton, who was unbeaten in the Supertwins class in the Irish Championship, added yet another victory to his collection, although not without a fight from team-mate Jeremy McWilliams. The pair were separated by just two seconds in qualifying and, while Hamilton led the race, he couldn’t shake McWilliams off. In the end he claimed victory by just 0.082s! William Davison completed the podium.

Following the month of July, Michael Dunlop remained at the front of the Duke Road Racing Rankings with 1713 points. Jamie Hamilton returned to second with 1477 points while Dean Harrison dropped to third with 1342 points. William Dunlop (1052), Guy Martin (947), and James Cowton (724) remained in fourth, fifth and sixth respectively. Derek Sheils moved up to seventh with 522 points and Connor Behan moved up to eighth with 521 points. Michael Pearson dropped one spot to ninth (514) while Gavin Lupton rounded out the top ten with 506 points.

Coming up in part three: August and September – Mid-Antrim, Ulster Grand Prix, Classic TT and Killalane.

A Review of the Year: Road Racing – June

Part two of a review of the year 2013 in road racing – part one can be viewed by following this link.

Following disappointment at the North West 200, when Saturday racing was called off due to persistent heavy rain, riders headed to the Isle of Man for the Pre-TT Classic races and of course the TT itself.

June 2013

At the very end of May, Chris Palmer was victorious in a truncated Pre-TT Classic at Billown, after rain once again wrecked havoc with the schedule. He beat Bill Swallow and Richard Hawkins to the chequered flag in the 250/350cc race. Mike Bellaby & Karl Underwood won the Sidecar race with the Andrew Bailey/Ian Beaumont pairing in second place. Andi and Beate Rolli were in third place.

Palmer’s victory moved him up to fourth place in the Duke Road Race Rankings with 361 points. He was behind an unchanged top three of Michael Dunlop (430), Jamie Hamilton (385) and Guy Martin (375).

Following the Pre-TT Classic at Billown it was time for the Isle of Man TT, a meeting this year that was dominated by Michael Dunlop. He won four races but lost out to John McGuinness in the Senior race. Tragedy struck during qualifying when Yoshinari Matsushita died following an accident. He had competed at the TT since 2009 and classified fifth in the 2011 SES TT Zero Race.

The first Sidecar race was won by Tim Reeves and Dan Sayle. They beat Conrad Harrison & Mike Aylott and Dave Molyneux & Patrick Farrance. Brother pairing Ben and Tom Birchall won the second Sidecar race ahead of Molyneux & Farrance and Harrison & Aylott. Reeves and Sayle failed to finish.

Following delays and cancellations, the Dainese Superbike race was delayed from Saturday to Sunday. When it was eventually run, it was Michael Dunlop who was victorious, beating Cameron Donald and John McGuinness. McGuinness’ lap-time on lap six was the fastest and also a new overall course record. Dunlop finished with nearly a minute’s advantage over second place while McGuinness finished 41 seconds down on Donald. Newcomer Josh Brookes finished an impressive tenth place on his debut, just three seconds behind experienced team-mate Guy Martin. M Dunlop did not have to wait long for a second victory as he beat Bruce Anstey and brother William Dunlop in the first Supersport race the following day. It was a narrower margin of victory, however, as he finished ten seconds clear of Anstey who in turn was 13 seconds ahead of W Dunlop.

Later that day M Dunlop tasted victory once again, but this time in much more dramatic circumstances. Gary Johnson led the Superstock race from the start, ending lap one with a five second advantage over M Dunlop. Going into the final lap the gap had been reduced to three seconds but Johnson was crucially still ahead. After an incredibly fast 131.22mph lap (beating Ian Hutchinson’s lap record) M Dunlop beat Johnson by an incredible 16.5 seconds. McGuinness, who finished in third and is the second most successful rider at the TT (behind Joey Dunlop), said afterwards: “I’ve never seen anyone ride the TT like that. I was speechless about how fast Michael was riding.”

In the TT SES Zero race, Michael Rutter was victorious for the third year in a row. The race which debuted at the TT in 2010 is for electric bikes. There were ten starters and eight classified finishers. Rutter set a new race record on his way to first place and he beat McGuinness by just two seconds. Rob Barber finished in third place – his second podium in the class, following his second place in 2010. George Spence, Chris McGahan, Ian Lougher, Dave Madsen-Mygdal, and Paul Owen also finished. The class’ first winner Mark Miller did not finish along with Neal Champion.

M Dunlop was back to winning ways in the second Supersport race, again beating Anstey and McGuinness to the top step of the podium. Other riders featuring in the top ten included W Dunlop, Cameron Donald, Guy Martin and Conor Cummins. James Hillier won the Lightweight class ahead of Dean Harrison and Conor Cummins. Last up was the Senior TT, a race M Dunlop would be hoping to win to bring his 2013 TT win tally to five. He was beaten, however, by McGuinness who took his 20th TT win. Anstey collected another podium.

The Senior was initially red flagged after an accident involving Jonathan Howarth resulted in eleven spectators being taken to hospital. Howarth himself escaped injury. When it got going again, the lead swapped hands between Johnson, M Dunlop and McGuinness. It was the latter who went on to win it – taking a record 41st podium at the Isle of Man TT – beating M Dunlop by ten seconds. Anstey, who had been unwell earlier in the week, pulled out all the stops on the last lap to beat Hillier by a second – enough to secure the New Zealander a podium. Guy Martin finished in fifth place, Rutter in sixth, W Dunlop seventh, Dean Harrison eighth, Dan Stewart ninth and David Johnson in tenth place. McGuinness’ victory meant that M Dunlop missed out on breaking Ian Hutchinson’s ‘five-in-a-week’ record from 2010.

Following the TT, some riders remained on the island to compete in the Post-TT races at Billown. Palmer was once again victorious, this time in the 125/400cc race, beating Callum Collister and Mark Goodings. Harrison won the 250/650cc race, beating fellow young-gun Jamie Hamilton and Ivan Lintin. W Dunlop won the 600cc race with Hamilton once again on the podium in second, with Jamie Coward in third.

After the Post-TT races the Duke Road Race Rankings had a few movers within the top ten. Michael Dunlop remained at the front with 980 points while Jamie Hamilton returned to second place with 530 points. Guy Martin dropped back to third, also with 530 points. Dean Harrison moved up to fourth (479), Bruce Anstey dropped to fifth (475), and Chris Palmer moved up to sixth with 465 points. John McGuinness was seventh (420), James Hillier eighth (394), William Dunlop ninth (376) and Michael Pearson in tenth place (356).

Coming up in part three: July including Walderstown, the Southern 100, and Armoy!

A Review of the Year: Road Racing – April & May

As 2013 draws to a close it provides an opportunity to reflect on the year that has just passed; and what a year it has been for road racing! From Cookstown to Killalane, with the usual visits to Scarborough and Macau, and of course the Isle of Man, it was an action packed high-octane season for the likes of the Dunlop brothers, Guy Martin, and John McGuinness. It was a year that saw not only the established riders enjoy success, but a number of young guns made their mark by securing podium finishes and race wins. There was also the inaugural Classic TT to enjoy with everyone getting into the swing of things with a 60s theme. And of course, the weather played a key part during the year, with the North West 200 and Ulster Grand Prix both being particularly badly affected, but more on that later.

Here is part one of a review of a year in road racing.

April 2013

The year kicked off with a visit to the Ian Watson Spring National Road Races in Scarborough. It boasted an entry list featuring Guy Martin, Ian Lougher, Jamie Hamilton, Dean Harrison and Michael Pearson.

Chris Palmer won both legs of the Ultra Lightweight/400 class, beating Ian Lougher and Seamus Elliott. Davy Morgan won the first leg of the 250 Lightweight class but it was red flagged after just four laps due to oil on the track. Derek Clark was classified as the winner of race 16, the 250 Lightweight class and there were just four classified riders. The Bell brothers were victorious in the Sidecar race with over eight seconds separating them from their nearest rivals.

Jamie Hamilton took his first victory of the year in the Supertwins, beating Dean Harrison and Daniel Frear. Elsewhere Guy Martin, who has enjoyed considerable success in Scarborough before, won the Junior 600 class, beating Harrison and Ivan Linton. Hamilton won the first leg of the Ian Watson Cup, the main race of the day, but was ultimately beat by Martin, Pearson, and Kiaran Hankin.

Next up was the Cookstown 100, where the likes of the Dunlop brothers joined the fray. Antony Ambler won the first race of the day – the Junior Support B – ahead of R J Woolsey and Oliver Dupuy. Connor Behan won Junior Support A ahead of Gavin Lupton and Alastair Haworth. Andy Lawson won Senior Support A ahead of James Kelly and Mark Hanna while Mark Goodings won Senior Support B. He finished ahead of Gary Graves and David Howard.

William Dunlop won the 250 class, ahead of Sam Wilson and Davy Morgan while his brother Michael Dunlop won the second Supertwins race, the first Superbike race, and the main race of the day. Seamus Elliott was victorious in Moto 450s while Haworth won Supersport 400s. Jamie Hamilton won the first Supertwins race. There were podiums for Martin, Harrison, Dave Hewson, Derek Sheils and Daley Mathison. Martin also won one of the Supersport races.

Following Scarborough and Cookstown Guy Martin led the Duke Road Racing Rankings with 255 points. Jamie Hamilton moved into second placed with 226 points and Dean Harrison dropped to third, after an early lead, with 205 points. Michael Dunlop debuted in fourth with 140 points, Michael Pearson ranked fifth (136), Chris Palmer sixth (106), Alastair Haworth seventh (104), Connor Behan eighth (100), Derek Clark ninth (90) and Seamus Elliott in tenth with 89 points.

May 2013

Next up on the Irish roads was the Tandragee 100, where Michael Dunlop returned as one of the most successful riders there with nine wins (tied fifth in the all time list with Phillip McCallen). In the Moto 3 race Sam Wilson was the winner, comfortably beating Paul Robinson and Nigel Moore. The Supersport 400 winner was Gavin Lupton with Andy Farrell and Paul MaGuire also on the podium. Seamus Elliott was first of the three Moto 450s, Anthony McColgan was second and Dave Walsh third.

KMR Kawasaki’s Jamie Hamilton was once again victorious in the Supertwins, beating William Davison and Andy Farrell. Meanwhile William Dunlop dominated the 250ccs, beating Michael Sweeney by over 45 seconds. Wayne Kirwan stood on the top step of the podium in the Supersport race after beating Michael Pearson and Derek McGee. Michael Dunlop added to his Tandragee success after victory in the Superbikes, winning with a dominant 26.320 second deficit to Derek Sheils. Michael Pearson finished in third place.

Elsewhere Mark Hanna won the Junior Support race, James Kelly was the Senior Support winner, while Robert McCrum won the Classic race.

Riders on the grid at the Vauxhall International North West 200
Riders on the grid at the Vauxhall International North West 200

Next up was the first of three International road races and a trip to the North Coast for the North West 200. With a strong line-up of newcomers including Karl Harris, Josh Brookes, James Cowton and Ivan Lintin, the entry list for the North West 200 was impressive. Used by many as a warm-up for the Isle of Man TT, there was fierce competition for the race wins and podiums.

Practice on Tuesday was launched with a session for the newcomers, allowing them to become accustomed to the track. Practice on Tuesday for everyone else also served as qualifying, with another session on Thursday. Their combined times determined the grids for the races. The first three races of the meeting took place on a damp Thursday evening. John McGuiness started from pole position for the first race – Supersport – but it was Michael Dunlop who dominated the race to beat Guy Martin on the track. He finished a very comfortable 24 seconds clear of the Tyco Suzuki rider. Bruce Anstey was bumped off the podium by Alistair Seeley who started in the second group and won on corrected times.

Jamie Hamilton celebrates with team boss Ryan Farquhar
Jamie Hamilton celebrates with team boss Ryan Farquhar

The second race was the first outing for the Supertwins, which Jeremy McWilliams secured pole for. He took the victory, finishing just eight tenths of a second clear of James Hillier. McWilliams’ KMR team-mate Jamie Hamilton finished 1.5s behind him and in third place. It was McWilliams’ first win on the Triangle circuit and also maiden podiums for Hillier and Hamilton there. Lintin missed out on a podium spot by just over one and a half seconds. The third and final race on Thursday evening was the first Superstock race. This gave Seeley his second win of the meeting, and podium finishes for Anstey and Gary Johnson. The result meant that Anstey continued his impressive record of finishing on the podium at the North West 200 at least once every year since 2002.

After glorious sunshine on Friday, Saturday proved to be a washout. Heavy persistent rain delayed proceedings but did not deter John McGuinness and former NW200 race winner Steve Plater taking guests out on parade laps. After initial delays the second Supersport race got underway but was red-flagged after just two laps due to minor incidents which saw four riders come off their bikes, thankfully without serious injury. The race was to be restarted but, after a couple of hours of uncertainty, the race organisers took the decision to call off the whole meeting after the rain showed no signs of letting off. Despite only running two laps, Michael Dunlop was declared the winner of the abandoned race, with Anstey second and Lee Johnston third. This was the second time in three years that the races had been seriously disrupted.

Following the North West 200, Michael Dunlop took the lead in the Duke Road Racing Rankings with 430 points. Jamie Hamilton remained in second place with 385 points while Guy Martin dropped to third with 375 points. Michael Pearson was fourth (271), Dean Harrison fifth (229), Gavin Lupton sixth (217), and Alistair Seeley seventh (205). Derek Sheils (190), Davy Morgan (167) and Bruce Anstey (165) rounded out the top ten.

Coming up in part two: June including the Isle of Man TT!

Gutierrez and Sirotkin complete Sauber line-up

Sauber have confirmed their line-up for the 2014 season. Esteban Gutierrez, who debuted with the team this season, will partner Adrian Sutil. Russian driver Sergey Sirotkin will be the team’s test driver.

Gutierrez’s relationship with Sauber started back in 2009 when he tested for them. This year he drove alongside Nico Hulkenberg and scored six points, finishing 16th in the championship.

“I am happy to be able to continue as a driver for Sauber,” the Mexican driver said. “It was a steep learning curve last season, but by working closely with the team I was able to improve continuously. It will be my fourth year with the team, the second as a racing driver, and I feel comfortable in taking the next step.”

Sirotkin, who joined the team in August of this year, has been working towards obtaining his superlicence. He drove at a demo at the Sochi track which will host the Russian Grand Prix in 2014 as well as testing a 2009 Ferrari at Fiorano.

“It’s a big chance for me to become the test driver for the Sauber F1 team,” he said. “I will work hard to improve myself and to extract the maximum out of this opportunity. Formula One is very complex, so it is important to get an opportunity like this.”

Sirotkin will be racing in World Series by Renault this year. “This will give me the chance to prepare even better in order to be ready for the next big step.”

Sauber’s Team Principal Monisha Kaltenborn expressed her happiness at both signings. “We are pleased Esteban will drive for us in 2014,” she said. “We believe he is a talented young driver. Last season he experienced first hand how hard it can be for a rookie to step into Formula One. Nevertheless, throughout the season he improved significantly in qualifying as well as in the races and finished the year as the best rookie in the drivers’ championship.”

“Often the results didn’t fully reflect his performances,” she continued. “I am confident Esteban will be able to use his experiences to gain results, and this will be helped by the fact he is very well acquainted with every member of the race team.”

Sauber are hoping that Sirotkin’s test driver role will prepare him for the next step. “We have been working with Sergey since August, and he has been able to gain more and more insight into Formula One,” she said. “Now he is taking the next step towards the top level of motorsport. Our experience of him is as a very focused, calm and talented driver. Now we will continue to support him, including obtaining his super licence. Our goal remains to prepare him for Formula One.”

Gutierrez concluded that the challenges next year will be “massive”. “It will be even more important to know well the people you are working with,” he added. “I will do my very best to improve even more and support the team the best way I can.”

As well as their drivers, Sauber have confirmed that their relationship with Mexican telecommunications corporation Telmex will also continue. “We at Telmex and Telcel are very proud to continue being part of the Sauber F1 Team,” Telmex Chairman Carlos Slim said. “Especially to keep consolidating our successful history in motorsport, particularly in Formula One and our driver development programme for Mexican and Latin drivers such as Esteban Guiterrez, a great young talent, friend and human being.”

“We are proud that three years ago Telmex chose the Sauber F1 Team to enter Formula One with,” Kaltenborn added. “Our partnership has been an instant success. We are very pleased to be able to continue the good co-operation, and think this is also a very good fit looking at a possible Grand Prix in Mexico. Telmex has been involved on different levels of motorsport for a number of years in various categories. We are pleased to be able to contribute to its vision on the top level of motorsports, and we are looking forward to further develop and strengthen our partnership with the corporation.”

Season number ten for Red Bull = championship number five?

It’s hard to remember a time when Infiniti Red Bull Racing weren’t winning races.

Fresh off the back of their fourth constructors’ championship, what better to way to celebrate ten seasons in Formula One than a fifth world title next year.

With 2014 comes a host of regulation changes – including 1.6 litre turbocharged V6 engines – which Adrian Newey and his team will no doubt have been working towards for some time now. With major regulation changes often comes a shift in the status quo. Teams can go from hero to zero just like that. Red Bull Racing went the other way in 2009, the last big regulation shake-up, becoming a regular contender (and winner) at the sharp end after being a lower mid-field runner for their first four seasons.

It’s not just the regulations that will change, however, as, following Mark Webber’s departure, World Champion Sebastian Vettel will be partnered by a different Aussie.

Daniel Ricciardo’s smile rarely falters and, with the speed he has demonstrated at Toro Rosso, he could have many more reasons to grin in 2014.

So, will they be celebrating ten seasons with a fifth championship? Only time will tell, but they’re well placed.