Yokohama involved in track, rally action during August
While many motorsport series take a summer break in August, Yokohama says there was still plenty to keep its tyre engineers busy across Europe and the world last month. The Japanese brand supports more than 35 race series in the UK and Europe with more around the world, including the USA and Asia, including the FIA World Touring Car Championship, the FIA European Rally Championship and the UK BRDC Formula 4 series.
The only new-for-2013 F4 series August meeting used the full Silverstone GP circuit for its three-race weekend. Three different drivers ended up on the top step of the podium: in race one it was Sean Walkinshaw Racing’s Matty Graham who converted his pole position into first place; the second race was a similar affair, although this time, it was Ross Gunn who led from pole position to the flag, claiming his second win of the season; finally series leader Jake Hughes won the third, who started from pole, though lost the place to Graham as the lights turned green – three laps in, he put an audacious move on Graham and opened out a one-second lead by the time he reached the flag.
The results mean that Hughes extends his lead at the top of the tables to 34 points, ahead of Seb Morris with two race weekends to go.
Only the Czech Barum Rally Zlin took place in the ERC in August and not surprisingly, it was local hero Jan Kopecky in the Skoda S2000 who was hot favourite. Kopecky, co-driven by fellow Czech Pavel Dresler, took the win on each of the first leg’s nine stages before adopting a more conservative approach on day two’s wet stages, to take his fifth win of the season.
In the Production Cup, fellow Czech Miroslav Jakes took the win in his Mitsubishi Lancer EvolutionX but Yokohama-supported Japanese driver Toshi Arai had a less than fortunate event, retiring on the first day after a fuel pressure problem and then, a broken track control arm. He continued running on the second day and despite admitting he found it difficult to get a good feeling in the conditions – he had not driven on tarmac since this event last season – managed to post some impressive times as he continued to develop his Subaru Impreza R4’s set-up.
The next ERC rounds take place in Poland (LOTOS Rally Poland, 13-15 September, Gravel) and Croatia (Croatia Rally, 26-28 September, Asphalt).
FIA WTCC visits South America
The FIA World Touring Car Championship, using Yokohama control tyres, made its first trip of the season across the Atlantic in August, as the series headed to South America and the Autodromo Termas de Rio Hondo. Runaway series leader Yvan Muller was the favourite for the first race weekend at the circuit, and he didn’t disappoint, claiming pole position for the first of the two races.
Come the green flag, he swiftly translated this into a lights-to-flag victory, claiming the first of the Chevrolet podium lock-out. Second was Pepe Oriola in the Tuenti Racing car and third, Muller’s RML team-mate, Tom Chilton.
Local hero Jose Maria Lopez, running in the Yokohama Independent’s Trophy, claimed pole position for the second of the two races, thanks to qualifying in tenth and the second race featuring a top ten reversed grid. He also converted this into a win, delighting the fans and ensuring his entry into the record books, as the first driver to claim a win on his FIA WTCC debut, the first win for a non-European driver since 2009 and the first win for an Argentine driver in an FIA World championship in 27 years.
Muller received a drive-through penalty for contact with Tiego Montiero as the pair fought for second place and eventually finished 13th, with Gabrielle Tarquini claiming second, ahead of Oriola. Muller now heads the leader board with 312 points, with Michel Nykjaer in second with 180.
Thanks to his fifth place in the first race and win in the second, Lopez finds himself rocketing into tenth place in the Yokohama Independent’s Trophy but it is Mykjaer who extends his leads to nine points at the top of the tables, with Brit James Nash in second and fellow Brit Alex MacDowall in third, on 88 points.