Tag Archives: Motorsport

BTCC – The Jack Sears Trophy So Far

The 2013 British Touring Car Championship season has so far been an intriguing one. The balance of power between the Hondas and MGs has been the main talking point, along with the emergence of a new title challenger in Andrew Jordan and the improving pace of the WSR BMWs.

But perhaps a little forgotten among many BTCC followers is the Jack Sears Trophy. It may only have six entries, but the competition between them has been worth watching since the off. Names that are normally at the back of the pack due to their small budgets, not necessarily their abilities, are being given the chance to stand on the podium for the first time. Unsurprisingly, these drivers are not prepared to let these opportunities pass without a fight. The other aspect of this competition that is worth noting is that unlike the other sub-championships in the series such as the Independents trophy, the Jack Sears Trophy does not use a points-based system. Instead it is the driver with the most wins in the class who will take the trophy, presented by Jack Sears himself, come October. This system brings a new dynamic to the racing between the S2000 cars. There are, quite literally, no prizes for coming second.

In the build-up to the season Lea Wood and Liam Griffin, who drive a Vauxhall Vectra and Ford Focus respectively, were touted as being the favourites for overall glory due to their experience in the BTCC. Wood has always been fast but has never had front running machinery underneath him while Griffin only decided to delay his retirement from the series because he was confident he challenge for the silverware.  The pair has been the Jack Sears pacesetters so far, sharing 75% of the victories with Wood leading the trophy with 5 wins to Griffin’s 4 out of 12 races.  Add to the mix BTCC veteran James Kaye driving the AMD run Volkswagen Golf, who himself has taken two wins, and you have a healthy little battle. The other half of the JST field is made up of BTCC rookies, but that doesn’t mean they are uncompetitive. M247 racing Chevrolet Cruze driver Joe Girling has shown impressive speed which has already been rewarded with a class victory at Donington Park. Welch Motorsport’s David Nye has also been on the pace this season but is yet to take a victory in his Ford Focus. The final JST runner is BMR Restart’s Warren Scott in his Seat Leon. The team have been blighted with bad luck so far this season, which was at its most obvious at Oulton Park, where apparent driveshaft and clutch problems forced a retirement in Race 1 and meant they were unable to start the following two races. Despite this, however, the ever enthusiastic Scott has managed, to his credit, to keep on smiling and enjoy his BTCC adventure.

There has been a one-off driver change already this season on the cup, with VW Racing Cup points-leader Aaron Mason replacing James Kaye, who had to see to unavoidable business commitments, for the last round at Oulton Park. The 33-year-old is the most successful driver in the history of the VW cup and certainly has aspirations of becoming a full time BTCC driver. He showed impressive pace on his debut, qualifying fourth in class and taking a best race result of 21st, before a driveshaft failure in Race 2 ended his weekend prematurely, as he got to grips with the Turbo engine in the S2000 Golf.

JST Pic: Griffin and Wood have been the men to beat so far

There will be another newcomer this weekend at Croft. Griffin, who lies second in the standings, also has business commitments and the Motorbase squad have worked with the cars primary sponsor, Addison Lee, to arrange a deal for 19-year-old Ginetta graduate Jake Hill to drive the Focus in his place. Hill, the son of ITV commentator Simon, has had a test in the car before with Motorbase at Brands Hatch last year and is also well accustomed to the TOCA package thanks to his time racing Ginettas in both the Junior and Supercup series’. He’ll be determined to prove his worth in the car so watch out for him at the pointy end on the Jack Sears field at the weekend.

So far then, the JST has been a great championship to follow. It’s had the competitiveness, thrills and spills to match the main championship with a fraction of the number of competitors. It’s great to hear series boss Alan Gow mention that he too is delighted with the success of the newly created trophy and has made clear his intentions to keep it going beyond 2013. With the S2000 cars being phased out of the championship completely for next season, however, the focus of the championship will have to change. It could therefore become a championship for rookie drivers or for cars running the standard TOCA engine, for example.

BTCC 2013 – Round 1 Action

Blink and you’ll miss it; That’s probably been the best way to describe the 2013 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship so far. Its amazing to think we’re a fifth of the way into the season so far. So how’s it been? Well as you might expect, it’s been bloody entertaining. I’ll start with Round 1.

The season started at Brands Hatch on a chilly  (that’s putting it mildly, especially considering some light snow decided to make an appearance) Easter weekend. Qualifying started on a sour note for both rookie Jack Goff and returning champion Colin Turkington after the former collected the latter on the exit of Druids just two minutes into the half hour session (Watch it here). When the session resumed after the stoppage caused by the incident, it was rising star Andrew Jordan who set the fastest time halfway through the session to take pole, albeit with the second half of the session rendered effectively pointless due to the arrival of that snow that I mentioned.

However, It was the BTCC’s main man, Jason Plato, who took the wins in the first two races of the season. In the first race, he took the lead from a fast starting Rob Austin (more on him in a bit) in the early stages and held on to take his 75th victory in the series, despite an ill-judged and somewhat desperate attempt of an overtake from pole-sitter Jordan on the last corner (Watch it here).

Plato led from lights to flag to take his 76th success in race 2, a race in which Frank Wrathall unfortunately blotted his copybook. Just two laps in to the race and Frank, who up to that point in his BTCC career had been praised for his clean driving style, went for an overtake on Turkington at the Paddock Hill Bend. It was an honest enough attempt, but he should of spotted that the gap on the inside of Colin’s BMW was not only tight, but it was also getting smaller. The pair inevitably came together, with the BMW being fired off into the gravel. Colin recovered, but way down at the back of the field. (Watch it here). A little later on in the encounter, Wrathall came up against his good mate Rob Austin. Going into Druids, Austin went wide to give Frank enough to room to make the pass, only for the Toyota man to run wide unnecessarily wide himself and hit the back of the Audi and take it out of the race. As we all know, bad things come in threes and thats exactly what happened to Wrathall. The pack was bunched up due to a safety car and on the restart, Wrathall was bundled into at the rear at Druids by Matt Neal, spinning him into the gravel. Fair to say then, Frank was glad to see the back of that race.

Race 3 was won by Matt Neal, who worked his way through the field after a sometimes trying weekend to tkae the checkered flag first. His Honda team mate and reigning champion finished second. However, the limelight belonged to MG youngster Sam Tordoff, who was competing in only his second ever BTCC meeting and his first in over two years, who put in a well measured and feisty drive to take a great maiden podium. The race was partially marred though by a massive shunt for Audi man Rob Austin, who was collected by a spinning Dave Newsham on the exit of Paddock and sent into the tyre barrier at a scary speed (Watch it here). Thankfully, Rob was OK but the car was wrecked and in need of a re-shell, not an easy task for such a small team with a limited budget. Adam Morgan wrapped up an already impressive weekend in his family run Toyota with a great drive to take his first independent win in fourth place, behind Tordoff.

In the Jack Sears Trophy for S2000 cars, Motorbase driver Liam Griffin took two wins, but the second of those only came when Vauxhall driver Lea Wood was excluded from the race after initially taking the victory in Race 3. James Kaye took the other win in race 2 in his AMD run VW Golf.

Race 1 Result (Top 5):

1) Jason Plato 2) Andrew Jordan 3) Rob Austin 4) Sam Tordoff 5) Jeff Smith

Race 2 Result (Top 5):

1) Jason Plato 2) Andrew Jordan 3) Jeff Smith 4) Matt Neal 5) Sam Tordoff

Race 3 Result (Top 5):

1) Matt Neal 2) Gordon Shedden 3) Sam Tordoff 4) Adam Morgan 5) Jason Plato

BTCC 2013 – Media Day

Unfortunately I was unable to attend today’s (Thursday) BTCC Media Day at Donington Park because of work, and it seems like a missed a great event. For those who don’t know what the media day is, it’s basically the launch event prior to every BTCC season. It’s where most of the cars, liveries and driver line ups are put on show, and the official entry list for the upcoming season is confirmed and announced.

The big news this year was what everyone was hoping for, a record grid of 32-cars. When you consider that 32 is the maximum number of entries allowed at any given round in the series, it’s pretty impressive. As ever, however, not all cars were present at the event. Tony Gilham’s Team HARD squad took the decision to not bring it’s 3 already completed cars to give the guys back at the workshop nough time as possible to finish them off before the season opener at Brands Hatch on Easter Weekend. Andy Neate, who confirmed yesterday that he would run two cars in 2013, was unable to bring his NGTC Chevrolet Cruze to the event as it no yet finished. Chris Stockton, who will start his campaign at Snetterton in his own NGTC Cruze, also did not attend.

The morning kicked off with the unvieling of entry list as well as the first look at some of the new liveries and cars being used in 2013. The afternoon slot was used as the only official BTCC test of the year. The results of the te

POS NO CL DRIVER NAT CAR TEAM CLASS TIME LAPS GAP
1 77 I Andrew JORDAN GBR Honda Civic Pirtek Racing NGTC 1:10.358 75
2 99 M Jason PLATO GBR MG6 GT MG KX Momentum Racing NGTC 1:10.429 56 0.071
3 1 M Gordon SHEDDEN GBR Honda Civic Honda Yuasa Racing NGTC 1:10.460 52 0.102
4 33 I Adam MORGAN GBR Toyota Avensis Ciceley Racing NGTC 1:10.748 59 0.390
5 17 I Dave NEWSHAM GBR Toyota Avensis Speedworks Motorsport NGTC 1:10.921 50 0.563
6 2 M Matt NEAL GBR Honda Civic Honda Yuasa Racing NGTC 1:10.972 47 0.614
7 88 M Sam TORDOFF GBR MG6 GT MG KX Momentum Racing NGTC 1:11.124 69 0.766
8 8 I Aron SMITH IRL Ford Focus Airwaves Racing NGTC 1:11.258 68 0.900
9 11 I Frank WRATHALL GBR Toyota Avensis Dynojet NGTC 1:11.592 68 1.234
10 29 I Colin TURKINGTON GBR BMW 125i M Sport eBay Motors NGTC 1:11.621 44 1.263
11 10 I Daniel WELCH GBR Proton Gen-2 Welch Motorsport with Sopp + Sopp NGTC 1:11.792 43 1.434
12 13 I Rob AUSTIN GBR Audi A4 WIX Racing NGTC 1:11.829 46 1.471
13 14 I Will BRATT GBR Audi A4 WIX Racing NGTC 1:11.995 79 1.637
14 7 I Mat JACKSON GBR Ford Focus Airwaves Racing NGTC 1:12.044 50 1.686
15 55 I Jeff SMITH GBR Honda Civic Pirtek Racing NGTC 1:12.084 21 1.726
16 5 I Rob COLLARD GBR BMW 125i M Sport eBay Motors NGTC 1:12.164 39 1.806
17 18 I Nick FOSTER GBR BMW 125i M Sport eBay Motors NGTC 1:12.337 53 1.979
18 66 I Liam GRIFFIN GBR Ford Focus Addison Lee Motorbase S2000 1:12.892 54 2.534
19 15 I James KAYE GBR Volkswagen Golf AmDTuning.com S2000 1:13.030 43 2.672
20 48 I Oliver JACKSON GBR Toyota Avensis Speedworks Motorsport NGTC 1:13.080 11 2.722
21 90 I Joe GIRLING GBR Chevrolet Cruze M247 Racing S2000 1:14.884 38 4.526
22 39 I Warren SCOTT GBR SEAT Leon Team BMR Restart S2000 1:14.913 35 4.555
23 12 I David NYE GBR Ford Focus Welch Motorsport with Sopp + Sopp S2000 1:15.245 56 4.887

(Information from btccpages.co.uk)

I’ve already written a preview of the 2013 championship in a previous post which includes a detailed run through of the participating teams and drivers. Here is the official entry list for the 2013 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship;

No –   Driver – Team – Car – Class
1 –       Gordon Shedden – Honda Racing Team – Honda Civic – NGTC
2 –       Matt Neal – Honda Racing Team – Honda Civic – NGTC
4 –       Michael Caine – Motorbase Performance – Ford Focus ST – NGTC
5 –       Rob Collard – West Surrey Racing – BMW 125i – NGTC
6 –       Tom Onslow-Cole –  Tony Gilham Racing – Volkswagen CC – NGTC
7 –       Mat Jackson – Motorbase Performance – Ford Focus ST – NGTC
8 –       Aron Smith – Motorbase Performance – Ford Focus ST – NGTC
10 –     Daniel Welch – Welch Motorsport – Proton Persona – NGTC
11 –      Frank Wrathall – Dynojet Racing – Toyota Avensis – NGTC
12 –     David Nye – Welch Motorsport – Ford Focus ST – S2000
13 –     Rob Austin – Rob Austin Racing – Audi A4 – NGTC
14 –     Will Bratt – Rob Austin Racing – Audi A4 – NGTC
15 –     James Kaye – AmD Tuning – Volkswagen Golf V – S2000
17 –     Dave Newsham – Speedworks Motorsport – Toyota Avensis – NGTC
18 –     Nick Foster – West Surrey Racing – BMW 125i – NGTC
20 –    James Cole – Tony Giham Racing – Vauxhall Insignia – NGTC
22 –    Howard Fuller – Tony Gilham Racing – Volkswagen CC – NGTC
28 –    Chris Stockton – BTC Racing – Chevrolet Cruze – NGTC
29 –    Colin Turkington – West Surrey Racing – BMW 125i – NGTC
31 –    Jack Goff – Tony Gilham Racing – Vauxhall Insignia – NGTC
33 –   Adam Morgan – Cicely Racing – Toyota Avensis – NGTC
39 –   Warren Scott – BMR Restart Racing – SEAT León – S2000
43 –   Lea Wood – JWT Performance – Vauxhall Vectra – S2000
44 –   Andy Neate – IP Tech Race Engineering – Chevrolet Cruze – NGTC
48 –   Oliver Jackson – Speedworks Motorsport – Toyota Avensis – NGTC
55 –   Jeff Smith – Eurotech Racing – Honda Civic – NGTC
66 –   Liam Griffin – Motorbase Performance – Ford Focus ST – S2000
77 –   Andrew Jordan – Eurotech Racing – Honda Civic – NGTC
88 –   Sam Tordoff – Triple Eight Race Engineering – MG6 GT – NGTC
90-     Joe Girling – Tech-Speed Motorsport – Chevrolet Cruze LT – S2000
99 –   Jason Plato – Triple Eight Race Engineering – MG6 GT – NGTC
TBC –  TBC – IP Tech Race Engineering – Chevrolet Cruze – NGTC

(Information from TouringCarTimes)

Finally here are some pictures from Media Day;

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DTM 2013 – Season Preview

With all three manufacturers now having confirmed their full driver line ups, now would seem a good time to give a run a through of the 22 drivers competing in the 2013 season. I’ll go through them in the order they in which finished last year’s campaign, with rookies coming at the end.

Bruno Spengler (BMW)

Finally, after some many years of finishing the year as bridesmaid, the French-Canadian took his first DTM crown. He had to do it the hard way, too, with Mercedes driver and former champion, Gary Paffett, heading the standings virtually all season. Throughout the second half of the season, though,  Bruno would eat away at the British driver’s lead at the top, winning three of the last five races to beat the Thomas Sabo backed  Mercedes to the crown. And don’t forget, he did this with BMW, the manufacturer making its return to the series after many years away. I’m sure I’m not the only one who believes this crown with be the first of many for the 29-year-old, as they do say the first one is always the hardest, and Bruno seems to be one of the main title contenders season in, season out. There is no reason as to why Bruno can’t repeat that success in 2013.
Spengler

Gary Paffett (Mercedes)

The Briton is arguably very unlucky not to have been the one taking the 2012 crown back home with him. He was the pace setter throughout the season , coupling good speed and results with great consistency. What cost him the title, unfortunately, seemed to be the mistakes of others, most notably being spun out of the lead on the first lap at the Norisring after Augusto Farfus had been over ambitious on the run to the first corner, and Martin Tomczyk locking up in tricky conditions at Zandvoort and bumping into the side of Paffett, turning the Brit around. Paffett will undoubtably be the lead Mercedes driver again in 2013, with Jamie Green’s departure to rivals Audi and the team’s subsequent reduction to six cars, with 4 of those drivers being young and relative newcomers to the series. If luck is, this time, on his side, Paffett will definitely be a regular front-runner again in 2013, nd he will be determined to take what he will believe he deserved to win in 2012.

Paffett

Jamie Green (Audi)

This will be a big season for the Brit following his move to Audi after a relatively successful eight season tenour with Mercedes, but ultimately eight seasons in which failed to deliver the title. The 30-year-old had a strong campaign, taking one win, which, incidentally, will probably go down as one of the most dramatic finishes to a race ever in the series, as he charged through in the field in changing conditions, taking the lead from Martin Tomczyk at the last corner of the last lap of the race. (Click here to see it, sorry it’s in German). He will be expected to be on form straight away with his new team if he is to retain his reputation as one of the series’ leading drivers, but I believe he has the quality to pull it off.

green

Mike Rockenfeller (Audi)

The Audi Le Mans team regular is a consistent driver in the DTM but rarely spectacular, with only the solitary DTM win to his name, which came in 2011. That would/should have been two, had he not been over-cautious in the wet conditions at Zandvoort, handing the lead and eventual win to Audi team-mate Edoardo Mortara. There is no doubting his ability, but ‘Rocky’ won’t be regarded as one the DTM’s pace setters until he replicates his sports car success in the touring car series.

Rocky

Edoardo Mortara (Audi)

I really rate this guy, as I made clear in a previous blog. After an impressive debut campaign in the series in 2011, 2012 was the year the Italian made a name for himself as one of the emerging young talents in not just the DTM, but also international motor sport. He took two great wins and was unlucky not be able to mount a title challenge. As a former Formula 3 Euro Series champion, one of 4 on the 2013 grid, Mortara has shown he has what it takes to win a major motor sport crown, and what’s to say he can’t add a DTM title to that collection? One thing is for certain, he’ll be worth keeping an eye on in 2013.

Edo

Mattias Ekström (Audi)

2012 was a difficult year for multiple DTM champion Ekström, with the Swede not managing to finish higher than third (a result he achieved on three occasions throughout the course of the season) in any race. The 34-year-old has been a consistent front-runner in the DTM for over a decade and he is always one that you under-estimate at your peril. He will be determined to put the record straight in 2013, and there’s no reason to believe he can’t do just that.

Ekstrom

Augusto Farfus (BMW)

I’ve already stated in an earlier post that I believe the Brazilian will be a dark horse in 2013, having finished 2012 on such a strong run of results, including two consecutive poles, a win and a third place. Remember that was his maiden season in the series, so he should be hoping for an even better campaign this time around. If he can maintain that good form going into his second season, he may be an outsider for title contention come October.

Farfus Valencia

Martin Tomczyk (BMW)

No driver will be more disappointed with their respective 2012 campaigns than BMW Team RMG driver Tomczyk. After a remarkable 2011 season, in which he won the title for Audi in an older car, the 31-year-old went into 2012 as BMW’s main man, their ‘big signing’. He wasn’t expected to win the title, with many believing that the BMW M3 would be off the ultimate pace for most of the season as the team continued to learn on their return to the series. As it turned out, though, the M3 wasn’t too bad at all, but it wasn’t the reigning champion who was scoring the results, it was Spengler. Tomczyk, in truth, had a frustrating season in which he scored no wins, although he came close at the Norisring as we saw earlier, a race he will probably feel he should have won. However, Martin is a championship winning driver in a championship winning car, so he definitely has what it takes to put things straight in 2013.

Tomczyk

Dirk Werner (BMW)

Werner started last year on a high, qualifying third in his first ever DTM qualifying session. However, it wouldn’t be until round five that he would score his first points in the series, just the one at the Norisring. he picked up his form from there and scored points in four of the last five rounds. He won’t be a title contender, but I think the experienced German has what it takes to start being a  consistent podium finisher in the series.

wernerzand

Adrien Tambay (Audi)

It is pretty remarkable that the 21-year-old DTM rookie finished in to top ten in the standings in 2012, bearing in mind he scored points just TWICE. What puts the Frenchman up here, however, is the fact that both of those points finishes were very strong ones, not least the second place at Valencia following Edoardo Mortara’s retirement. There were also flashes of real pace in the other races, too, including running 5th for a reasonable period of time at Brands Hatch after a great start. He is continuing to learn and he is still improving, and should be hoping for more strong outings in the new season.

Tambay

Filipe Albuquerque (Audi)

The 2010 ROC Champion is another of the emerging talents in the DTM. He is now a consistent points scorer in the series, finishing out side the top ten just three times in 2012. He is also still learning and will be one to watch as he continues to improve, as there is plenty of reason to believe he could possibly take a podium or two in the not so distant future.

Albuquerque

Christain Vietoris (Mercedes)

The young German started his second DTM campaign in 2012, and he started it well. Fourth place at the first round in Hockenheim was a mighty result, but he wouldn’t taste similar success again all season. In fact, he scored points on just three other occasions in 2012. As a former Formula 3 Euro Series and GP2 race winner, he has talent. But he will need to show it more in the DTM more often than he did last year.

Motorsports / DTM: german touring cars championship 2012, 8. round at Oschersleben, Germany

Andy Priaulx (BMW)

The three-time World Touring Car Champion simply did not have any of the luck in 2012, and would have been hoping for far more than just the four average points finishes he scored in his debut season. But the Guernseyman is a fighter, and a very smart one at that. He knows how to win championships at the highest level, so he is very much capable of turning things around in 2013.

priaulx

Timo Scheider (Audi)

It’s hard to believe that just 3 years ago, Scheider took his second consecutive DTM crown, because now he seems to be struggling having not scored a single win since then. Like Priaulx, Timo never seems to have much luck. This was made obvious in 2012 at Zandvoort, when he took an impressive pole position only to get caught up in other people’s incidents in the race and retire from it early as a result. He has the ability to start challenging for wins again, so I hope for his sake that he manages it soon.

Audi-A5-DTM-Timo-Scheider

Robert Wickens (Mercedes)

The 2011 Formula Renault 3.5 champion Wickens was labelled as having an impressive debut season in the DTM in 2012, despite scoring pints on just three occasions. The main reason for the praise seems to be his pace, which is not surprising bearing in mind his single-seater successes. It will be interesting to see if he can be more consistent in 2013.

#20, Robert Wickens (Muecke Motorsport, stern Mercedes AMG C-Coupe (2012))

Ralf Schumacher (Mercedes)

The six-time Formula One race winner is this year entering his sixth consecutive DTM season. It is surprising that given his Formula One success and DTM experience, he only has one DTM podium to his name, and no wins. He is in fact a bit of a burden sometimes, having caused a few incidents and picked up a few penalties in his tenour in the series. He need to pick things up this year though, as he will be expected to help Gary Paffett lead the young Mercedes team now that Jamie Green has left. It is hard seeing Schumacher’s DTM career lasting beyond 2013 if he does not give the rest of Mercedes’ young stars someone to look up to.

RALF

Miguel Molina (Audi)

The Spaniard started his career in the DTM with two great seasons in 2010 and 2011, but his formed certainly dipped in 2012. Just two points finishes is more than disappointing for a driver who ended 2011 in such  great form. He has been trusted with a seat in 2013, but will need to get back to his best if he is wants to keep it in 2014.

Miguel-Molina1

Joey Hand (BMW)

The American had a tough first season in the DTM, scoring points just twice. He is an experienced driver and showed good pace at times last year, so he will be hoping for a fresh start this year.

DTM Round 8, Oschersleben, Germany

Roberto Mehri (Mercedes)

21-year-old Spaniard Mehri earned the reputation as a top young single-seater driver  after winning the 2011 Formula 3 Euro Series title. However his debut DTM campaign was far from a success. He was quick, but inconsistent and erratic, and didn’t score a single point all season as a result. There will be a lot of pressure on him this year to show the DTM world how good he really is.

Mehri

The Rookies

Timo Glock (BMW)

Certainly the big news in the build up to the new season is the arrival of former Formula One podium finisher Timo Glock, following his departure from F1 team Marussia. He will certainly be expected to hit the ground running and he is definitely capable of doing so.

glock

Marco Wittmann (BMW)

The 23-year-old had the role of BMW’s test driver in 2012 and has been given one of the team’s extra two race seats in 2013. His role from last year will mean he has some experience with the car, which should put him in good stead for his debut season in the series.

wittmann

Daniel Juncadella (Mercedes)

The reigning Formula 3 Euro Series champion joins the Mercedes team in 2013,and will be hoping to make a better immediate impression than his compatriot Roberto Mehri. His credentials show he should be one to watch in the next few seasons.

juncadella

DTM: Augusto Farfus – 2013 Title Contender?

If there’s one man whose performances towards the end of last season when unnoticed, it’s Augusto Farfus. While everyone’s eyes were on the Gary Paffett v Bruno Spengler, Mercedes v BMW title tussle, no one seemed to notice series rookie Farfus had taken poles in both of the last two races at Valencia and Hockenheim, converting them into a win and a third place respectively. Add to that the fact he had already taken an impressive debut podium finish at the Lausitzring earlier on in the season, and what you have a pretty remarkable maiden season in the cut-throat world of the DTM. Yes there were mistakes, he undoubtedly was the cause of the first corner incident at the Norsring which saw championship leader and pole sitter Paffett spun to the back of the back, but all in all it was a great inaugural DTM season for the 29-year-old.

Farfus Valencia Pic: Farfus took his maiden DTM pole and victory at the Valencia circuit

So the main question obviously is, can he be a title contender this season? My opinion is, simply, yes he can. The DTM is all about consistency, something the Brazilian definitely had managed to get his head around towards the end of the campaign and I have every faith that he will manage to continue that form into 2013. Also, remember that Farfus is a multiple winner in the WTCC, showing he knows how to cut it on a world stage.

farfus Pic: Farfus took a total of 15 victories in the WTCC

So in 2013, watch out for the mean, green Castrol machine.

F1 2013 Rookies – Giedo van der Garde

At the ripe old age of 27, Giedo van der Garde is , by the some way, the oldest of the 2013 F1 Rookies. And it’s fair to say, many see this is as a potential problem. They say he may have hit the big time too late in his career. They have a point, van der Garde is a full two years older than triple world champion Sebastian Vettel, and when you look at the fact that some of his rivals from his Formula 3/GP2 days, most notably Mercedes pairing Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, have been at the highest level for some years now.

van der garde

There is no doubting his ability, his 2008 Formula Renault 3.5 Series crown and multiple GP2 wins show he has a decent track record, but has he got what it takes to move the struggling Caterham team up the grid? What worries me is neither Heikki Kovalainen nor Vitaly Petrov managed to pull it off in the all green machine, two drivers who, like Giedo, made their name in GP2. So how can we be sure van der Garde will be any different?

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Personally, I hope the likeable Dutchman manages to make a name for himself in the big league. And with the unpredictability that makes Formula 1 so special, who knows, maybe he will be the man to give Caterham its first ever points finish.

F1: How Good is Pastor Maldonado?

If there was one thing that left Formula 1 fans scratching their heads at the end of the 2012 season, it was the dilemma surrounding 27 year old Venezuelan Pastor Maldonado. No one seems to be quite sure on how talented he actually is.

The fact that he took the 2010 GP2 title on nothing other than skill (everyone has the same car, so no advantage to be had there), winning an impressive six wins in the process, should answer that question. But, for some at least, there is still a question mark over whether or not he deserves his seat at the highest level. Not even the fact that he held off a multiple world (on his home soil, I might add) to take his maiden win in an inferior car is enough to silence his critics, of which there are many.

Spanish+F1+Grand+Prix+Fernando Alonso, Pastor Maldonado Pic: Maldonado holding off Fernando Alonso to take his maiden F1 victory in Spain

The main reason for having such a large number of doubters is his clumsiness’. He has made a bit of a name for himself as a crash magnet, someone who just cannot stop hitting things. It’s a shame this, because the guy has clear talent. He can be mega quick in qualifying, with a pole in Spain and second on the grid in Singapore showing that. The problem is as long as he continues to throw that speed out of the window by knocking into everybody, nobody will be able to see him for the top driver he evidently can be.

As a result, 2013 will be a big year for Pastor. If he can utilise his speed, use his head wisely and put together a consistent string of good results, maybe he will finally get a break from his critics.