Blomqvist, Paddon, and Lester all on the pace ... eventually
Motorsport can be a fickle thing, and with the professionalism of the sport reaching new heights every year, it can be hard for anyone to really show their worth and their performance in championships often decided by tenths of a second.
That's what made some of the weekend's performances from the international New Zealand motorsport contingent incredibly impressive.
Paddon back into WRC top three after Germany recovery
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Hayden Paddon appeared frazzled on the opening stages of Rally Germany. Several mistakes on day one saw him break a wheel and lose time during one stage, then crease his Hyundai i20 on multiple corners on a following stage. He ended the day down in eighth, but posted hopes of a top five finish.
Those hopes thankfully came to fruition as the rally wore on. Paddon passed Mads Østberg, while simultaneously benefiting from Ott Tänak's mechanical issues and a crash for Frenchman Stéphane Lefebvre. He eventually finished in fifth; enough for him and co-driver John Kennard to reclaim third place and 'best of the rest' in the World Rally Championship standings.
“It’s not been a straightforward rally for us but I am pleased to have ended it on a positive note," said Paddon.
"We’ve picked up a decent haul of points for fifth place, which lifts us to equal third in the Championship. We have used this weekend to learn more about our driving in this rally, which is without doubt the most challenging of the asphalt events."
Whiddett unable to recreate Japanese success
Photo / Red Bull
'Mad Mike' Whiddett's return to Okayama in Japan wasn't the fairy tale some had hoped it would be.
Swapping his Mazda MX-5 for his 'HUMBUL' Mazda RX-7, Whiddett — like he had at Evergreen Raceway just two weeks ago — qualified well, taking third. But after making it into the top 16, he was ultimately knocked out by Ikuo Saito and his Toyota Chaser.
Despite the knock-out, Whiddett had looked confident all weekend, with many ranking him as a favourite to win the event. Hopefully some of that confidence can help him deliver results in the US when he journeys there for the next Formula Drift event at the end of September.
Blomqvist goes from the back to the very front
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The DTM series, Germany's premier touring-car championship, is one of the most competitive in the world. One weekend you can win, the next you can quite literally be last. Kiwi Tom Blomqvist came quite close to doing both of those things over the weekend.
He got the last bit ticked in race one after he finished 23rd, the last of the classified finishers. Starting from 21st, he faded as the race went on — treacherous conditions stifling several cars in the order.
Race two however was a masterful recovery. Setting the tone by qualifying on the front row, Blomqvist was able to retain that spot for the duration of the race to be part of a BMW 1-2-3-4. It's his third podium finish of the season; further consolidating his hold on a spot in the top 10 of the championship.
Lester hosts a clinic in passing at Shanghai
It's quite clear by now that the Porsche 911 GT3-R isn't the sharpest tool in the GT Asia Series. Why? Who knows, but with only one out of the four making it into the top 10 in qualifying for round five of the series in China over the weekend, the odds weren't in favour for Aucklander Jono Lester and his GruppeM entry.
But that's not to say that he and teammate Tim Sugden weren't pushing. Lester in fact produced two of the best performances of the weekend across the category's two races — dragging his 911 from 13th to eighth in the second half of race one, before doing even better in race two.
Starting from 13th, Lester handed over the Porsche to Sugden with the lead. The pair looked odds on for a podium finish, but a penalty late in the race. They eventually crossed the line in 14th.
The weekend highlight was an incredible three-way dice for race one honours between the leading Bentley, Audi, and Ferrari entries. That finish, and the full race two, can be seen in the video above.
Dixon on the ropes following poor qualifying performance
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Scott Dixon's fight for a fifth IndyCar Series championship crown caught on yet another snag over the weekend, after he only managed to qualify 19th for the ABC Supply 500 at Pocono Raceway.
More than 100 points behind series leader Simone Pagenaud with only four races in the season to go, Dixon would need a deluge of miracles to have a chance at another title. Sadly miracles have been few and far between for him this season.
After posting the 12th quickest speed in opening practice, then following that with only the 19th quickest speed in qualifying, Dixon rebounded to fifth in final practice. Rather annoyingly, rain this morning meant that officials had to postpone the race proper until tomorrow, so only then will we be able to see whether Dixon can slice through the field.