Motorsport Wrap: Determined drives from Paddon and Cassidy
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Cassidy and Paddon determined highlights on weekend to forget
Sometimes you just have to sit back, breathe in, and understand that you simply cannot win them all, and that's what the weekend just gone was like for most Kiwis racing abroad. Despite five of our best and brightest, all arguably on their A-game, competing over the weekend, none of them were able to wrap their hands around any silverware.
Promising speed stunted for van Gisbergen
Photo / McLaren GT
The good news for Shane van Gisbergen after the 24 Hours of Spa is that his Garage 59 McLaren squad still hold the lead of the Blancpain GT Endurance Cup. The ripples the New Zealander sent around the GT paddock after slamming down the quickest time in provisional qualifying are also a source of solace.
But for he and teammates Come Ledogar and Rob Bell, the weekend was dominated by bad news. Their showing in the 'super pole' qualifying showdown was cut early after their #58 McLaren rolled to a halt with van Gisbergen behind the wheel without having set a lap time.
The team came close to recovering from their adverse starting position, climbing into the lead order knocking on the door of the podium placings. But then fell through the order like a sack of potatoes after an incident during the treacherous night running. A lengthy pit stop ensued, dropping them to 40th.
They clawed back to 31st by the end of the race, helped along by a number of crashes in the final segment of the race as intermittent storms hit the circuit.
Paddon salvages top five after difficult day one
Photo / Timo Anis
Geraldine slideways dynamo Hayden Paddon was largely unhappy at Rally Finland, with his Hyundai i20 WRC struggling to match its Volkswagen and Citroen rivals. This was very clear on day one and two, where Paddon spent most of the time buried around eighth in the order. Compounding Paddon and co-driver Jonothan Kennard's lack of pace was their early spot in the starting order.
Thankfully gradual improvements saw him climb to sixth by the end of day two, then fifth on day three. A battle for fourth with Hyundai Motorsport teammate Thierry Neuville ensued, but ultimately fell in favour of Neuville by a mere 2.3 seconds.
But the heroes of the weekend were Citroen, as lead driver Kris Meeke claimed a dominant win, and teammate Craig Breen scored third — the pair separated by Volkswagen's Jari-Matti Latvala.
10th-place the Hockenheimring highlight for Evans
Photo / GP2 Series media
It seems like a long time ago that Mitch Evans scored his first race win for Campos Racing at the Red Bull Ring before subsequently leaping to second place on the points table.
After another indifferent weekend, this time at the Hockenheimring, Evans slumps to the lower end of the top 10. Failing to finish race one, he fought back for a 10th in race two (still two positions away from a point-scoring finish) after his squad came to the party with a good strategy. Even though points weren't forthcoming, Evans would've relished the situation that saw him slicing through the field after being as low as 18th.
Alex Lynn took the second race while Sergey Sirotkin took the first; Sirotkin's win firming his shot at challenging for the 2016 title after failing to score any points at the first four races of the season.
Barnstorming pair of drives for Cassidy
Photo / Suer Photo
Having competed in Japan last week, Cassidy then made the journey across the globe to Spa-Francorchamps for the latest round of the FIA European Formula 3 Championship (acting as a support act to the 24 Hours of Spa).
Cassidy ultimately came away from the weekend with a race-one fourth and a race-three fifth to his credit. The fifth-place in race three was a highlight, with Cassidy having carved through from 10th on the grid.
But even with two confident drives under his belt, hopes of a maiden Euro F3 title look to be fading away as Prema Powerteam teammate Lance Stroll (who cut his teeth in New Zealand a few years ago with the winning of a Toyota Racing Series title) continues to be as solid as a rock. Cassidy still sits third in the championship, but will most likely need Stroll to see a few black cats.
Dixon taken out at Mid Ohio
Photo / sourced
Much like van Gisbergen's weekend at Spa, Dixon's run at the Mid Ohio round of the 2016 IndyCar Series started in promising fashion; the reigning champion topping first and third practice with record-setting pace. But he couldn't replicate that speed in qualifying, leaving him to start the eventual race from 11th on the grid.
But any progress made by the Kiwi was ended on lap 16 when Dixon had an altercation with Penske's Helio Castroneves. While peeking up the inside of his rival, Castroneves shut the door. The two made corner-to-corner contact, resulting in Dixon losing a wheel. It was a controversial clash, with some reporting the move as "overambitious" while others lay blame with Castroneves.
Regardless, Dixon slides down the championship order to sixth, as Frenchman and Mid Ohio race winner Simon Pagenaud extends his commanding series lead.
Read more about van Gisbergen's Spa assault: Qualifying / Race part 1 / 2 / 3
Read more about Paddon's Finland recovery: Part 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6
Read more about Mitch Evans in Germany
Read more about Nick Cassidy's F3 weekend: Qualifying / Race 1 and 2 / race 3
Read more about Scott Dixon at Mid Ohio