Friday, October 14, 2016

Friday Five: Motegi, Fuji, Kansas, Hockenheim, Jerez

One championship will be awarded this weekend and another four could be claimed but will need a bit of work, luck or some combination of the two. There is a mixture between past champions looking to making another addition to their trophy cases and drivers looking for their first piece of silverware.

Japanese motorcycle Grand Prix
MotoGP begins its three week Asia-Pacific trip at Twin Ring Motegi and with 100 points left on the table, five riders enter the Honda-owned track still alive for the 2016 championship but the title could be wrapped up this weekend.

Honda's Marc Márquez is coming off his fourth victory of the season at Aragón and has 248 points, 52 points ahead of Valentino Rossi. If Márquez wins at Motegi and Rossi finishes 14th or worse, Márquez will clinch his third MotoGP world championship. Márquez has yet to win at Motegi in the MotoGP class and he has not won at the track since in Moto2 in 2012. He leads all riders with ten podium finishes this season and has finished in the top five in 13 of 14 races. Rossi is a four-time winner at Motegi in MotoGP but has not won there since 2008. Rossi enters with four consecutive podium finishes.

Defending champion Jorge Lorenzo trails Márquez by 66 points and he has won three times at Motegi, including two of the last three races and in eight MotoGP starts he has six podium finishes and his worst finish at the track is fourth. Last year's Motegi winner Dani Pedrosa trails his teammate by 93 points. Pedrosa is also a three-time Motegi winner. Maverick Viñales trails Márquez by 99 points and has finished second at the track three times in five starts since his 125cc rookie season in 2009. He retired from last year's race after an accident.

The Japanese motorcycle Grand Prix takes place at 2:00 a.m. ET on Sunday October 16th.

Six Hours of Fuji
The antepenultimate round of the 2016 FIA World Endurance Championship takes place in Toyota's backyard of Fuji Speedway. The #2 Porsche of Romain Dumas, Marc Lieb and Neel Jani lead the World Endurance Drivers' Championship with 130 points from six races. The #2 Porsche won two of the first three races and finished second in the other but has finished fourth in the last three races since winning Le Mans.

The #8 Audi of Oliver Jarvis, Lucas di Grassi and Loïc Duval trails the #2 Porsche by 37.5 points and the team is coming off its fourth podium of the season at Circuit of the Americas. The #6 Toyota of Stéphane Sarrazin, Kamui Kobayashi and Mike Conway has not won this season but four podiums, including finishing third in the last two races has that trio a half-point behind the #8 Audi. The defending champion #1 Porsche of Mark Webber, Timo Bernhard and Brandon Hartley trail its teammate by 51.5 points but has won the last three rounds. The #7 Audi of André Lotterer and Marcel Fässler are a half-point behind the #1 Porsche despite having only one podium finish. Third driver Benoît Tréluyer has missed the last two rounds due to injury but is slated to return. The #5 Toyota of Sébastien Buemi, Kazuki Nakajima and Anthony Davidson has only 21 points from six races and has yet to finish on the podium.

Four teams are still alive for the FIA Endurance Trophy for LMP2 Drivers. The #36 Signatech-Alpine of Gustavo Menezes, Nicolas Lapierre and Stéphane Richelmi has 156 points after winning four of six races, finishing second and fourth and could clinch the championship this weekend. The #43 RGR Sport by Morand Ligier-Nissan of Felipe Albuquerque, Bruno Senna and Ricardo González trails by 41 points and the trio has won two races and has four podium finishes. Romain Rusinov sits on 86 points after three points this season and the Russian driver will be joined by Will Stevens and Alex Brundle in the #26 G-Drive Racing Oreca-Nissan. The #31 Extreme Speed Motorsports Ligier-Nissan of Pipo Derani, Ryan Dalziel and Chris Cumming has 84 points and has four podiums this season. The team is still looking for its first victory in the WEC.

Danish drivers Nicki Thiim and Marco Sørensen lead the World Endurance Cup for GT Drivers with he 109 points and the #95 Aston Martin is coming off victory in Austin and has five podiums this season. Twelve points behind the Danes is the #71 AF Corse Ferrari of Davide Rigon and Sam Bird. Rigon and Bird won the first two races. Darren Turner is a point behind Rigon and Bird and the #97 Aston Martin driver will be joined by Richie Stanaway at Fuji. They were victorious at Mexico City. Gianmaria Bruni and James Calado have scored 80 points in the #51 AF Corse Ferrari and has finished on the podium in the last three races, including victory at Nürburgring.

Since winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the Ford GTs best finish has been fourth. Le Mans winners Stefan Mücke and Olivier Pla have 73 points in the #66 Ford. Andy Priaulx and Harry Tincknell has scored 54.5 points but will not be joined by Marino Franchitti in the #67 Ford after he contested the first six races. A half-point behind the #67 Ford is the #77 Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche of Michael Kristensen and Richard Leitz, whose best finish this season is fourth.

The #83 AF Corse Ferrari of Emmanuel Collard, François Perrodo and Rui Águas lead the World Endurance Trophy for LMGTE Drivers with 137 points. They have won or finished second in five races this season and Austin was the first race they didn't finish in the top two after finishing sixth. The #88 Abu Dhabi-Proton Racing Porsche of David Heinemeier Hansson and Khaled Al Qubaisi trails by 33 points. Patrick Long will be the third driver in the #88 Porsche this weekend. The #98 Aston Martin has won three of six races but has retired from two of three including the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Paul Dalla Lana, Pedro Lamy and Mathias Lauda trail the #83 AF Corse Ferrari by 41 points.

The Six Hours of Fuji begins at 10:00 p.m. ET on Saturday October 15th.

Kansas Speedway
The second race of the second round of the Chase for the Sprint Cup will take place at Kansas Speedway. Eleven drivers are vying for seven spots.

Jimmie Johnson earned a spot in the semifinal round of the Chase with his victory at Charlotte last Sunday. It was Johnson's third victory of the season but first since Fontana in March. Matt Kenseth finished second at Charlotte and picked up his third consecutive top five finish. He sits on 3,040 points, four points ahead of teammate Kyle Busch, who finished sixth at Charlotte. Two points behind Kyle Busch is Brad Keselowski.

Kurt Busch sits fifth in the championship with 3,033 points after an eighth-place finish at Charlotte. He is four points clear of Carl Edwards and five points ahead of Martin Truex, Jr.

Five of the 12 remaining Chase drivers finished 30th or worse at Charlotte. Denny Hamlin had a late engine failure drop him to 30th and he has 3,012 points after Charlotte. Three points behind Hamlin are Austin Dillon and Chase Elliott after the two drivers were caught in a 12-car accident on lap 260. Joey Logano had two accidents at Charlotte, one because of a tire failure and he is six points behind Hamlin. Kevin Harvick suffered an engine failure and retired after 155 laps at Charlotte. He is nine points behind Hamlin.

Joey Logano won last year's Chase race at Kansas after the infamous spin of Matt Kenseth with four laps to go. Kyle Busch won the Kansas race earlier this season after leading 69 laps. Martin Truex, Jr. led 172 of 267 laps at Kansas in May but finished 14th after an unscheduled pit stop. Jimmie Johnson is tied with Jeff Gordon for most Kansas victories at three but Johnson has the best average finish among drivers with at least three Kansas starts at 9.2.

The NASCAR Cup race from Kansas will be held at 2:15 p.m. ET on Sunday October 16th.

The 2016 DTM season comes to a close this weekend at the Hockenheimring and three drivers are fighting for the title, one from BMW and two from Audi.

Marco Wittmann enters as the championship leader on 176 points. Fourteen points behind Wittmann is Italian Edoardo Mortara and fellow Audi driver Jamie Green trails Wittmann by 38 points. Wittmann has three victories this season and has five podium finishes. He has finished outside of the points on two occasions and was disqualified from a fourth-place finish in second Hungary race due to excess wear to the skid block. Mortara has four victories and six podium finishes this season but has finished outside the points in five races this season. Green has many podium finishes as Mortara but has one victory and did not score points in seven of 16 races this season.

Wittmann is going for his second DTM championship in the last three seasons. Mortara and Green are both going for their first title. Mortara's previous best championship finish came last year when he finished fourth. Green finished second last year in the championship by 19 points to current Manor F1 driver Pascal Wehrlein.

Audi leads BMW in the Manufactures' Championship with 609 points to 572 points. BMW is going for its fourth Manufactures' Championship in the last five seasons.

The top Mercedes-Benz driver in the championship is Robert Wickens in fourth on 122 points. Mattias Ekström enters in fifth but the Swedish driver will not contest the Hockenheim finale as he goes for the World Rallycross Championship. British driver Tom Blomqvist and Paul di Resta are two points and seven points respectively behind Ekström for fifth in the championship. Nico Müller has 88 points, Maxime Martin sits on 82 points and Gary Paffett rounds out the top ten with 73 points. Lucas Auer and Timo Glock are five points outside the top ten in the championship.

Race one from Hockenheim will be Saturday October 15th at 7:38 a.m. ET. Race two will be on Sunday at 7:58 a.m. ET.

Circuito de Jerez
The penultimate round of the 2016 World Superbike season takes place this weekend at Jerez and three riders are still alive for the title.

After finishing fourth and second at Magny-Cours, Jonathan Rea still maintains the championship lead over his Kawasaki teammate Tom Skyes but the gap is down to 48 points with 100 points remaining. Sykes finished third in both races. Chaz Davies swept the weekend at Magny-Cours and trails Rea by 81 points. Sykes and Davies split last year's races at Jerez with Rea finishing fourth in both races. Davies had a second in the other Jerez race while Skyes finished fifth.

Honda riders Michael van der Mark and Nicky Hayden are fourth and fifth in the championship on 324 points and 302 points respectively. Ducati rider Davide Giugliano did not participate in the Magny-Cours round because of a shoulder injury and dropped to sixth in the championship on 194 points.

After retiring at Magny-Cours, Kenan Sofuoglu remains on 171 points and Randy Krummenacher remains alive of the World Supersport title. The Swiss rider trails his Kawasaki teammate by 42 points with 50 points remaining from the final two rounds. Krummenacher finished fifth at Magny-Cours. Jules Cluzul won the Magny-Cours round is up to third in the championship on 116 points. American P.J. Jacobsen retired after a first lap accident at Magny-Cours and he is fourth in the championship on 109 points. Jacobsen won last year's World Supersport race at Magny-Cours.

The first World Superbike race will be at 7:00 a.m. ET on Saturday October 15th. The World Supersport race will be 5:20 a.m. ET on Sunday with the second World Superbike race scheduled for 7:00 a.m. ET.

1. Over or Under: 4.5 riders finishing within ten seconds of the Motegi winner?
2. Over or Under: 206.5 laps completed by the GTE-Pro winner at Fuji?
3. Over or Under: 3.5 Toyotas in the top seven at Kansas?
4. Over or Under: 1.5 German drivers in the top ten of the final DTM championship standings?
5. Over or Under: 25.5 points scored by Nicky Hayden at Jerez?

Last Week's Over/Unders
1. Under: Shane Van Gisbergen was the only New Zealander that finished in the top five at Bathurst.
2. Under: The margin between Álvaro Parente and Patrick Long in the PWC championship was
3. Under: There were zero safety car periods at Suzuka.
4. Under: Sébastien Buemi finished first, Nico Prost finished fourth, which averages to 2.5.
5. Under: Martin Truex, Jr. led zero laps in the Cup race at Charlotte.

1. Marc Márquez does not clinch the championship but he increases his lead over Valentino Rossi.
2. A team gets its first victory of 2016 at Fuji.
3. None of the cautions at Kansas involve Chase driver front on Chase driver rear contact.
4. One of the three championship contenders wins a race at Hockenheim.
5. Both World Superbike and World Supersport championships are clinched at Jerez.

Last Week's Predictions
1. Shane Van Gisbergen wins the Bathurst 1000 (Wrong. He finished second).
2. One of the PWC GT championship eligible drivers qualifies outside the top six (Wrong. The worst qualifier was Álvaro Parente qualified sixth).
3. Only one McLaren finishes in the points (Wrong. Neither finished in the points).
4. At least two drivers score their first Formula E points (Correct. Maro Engel and Felix Rosenqvist both got points in their Formula E debuts).
5. Both Busch brothers finish in the top ten at Charlotte (Correct. Kyle finished sixth and Kurt finished eighth).
Last Week: 2/5 Overall: 6/15