Last weekend, Austria played host to the 11th round of the 2017 Moto GP championship.
Italy’s Andrea Dovizioso held off three-time world champion Marc Marquez to win a thrilling Austrian Moto Grand Prix.
World championship leader Marquez had started on pole but Ducati’s Dovizioso got the better of an incredible battle, where the lead changed hands several times, including twice on the final corner in Spielberg. The pair ran close as they entered the final sequence of bends on the final lap, with Marquez trying a move around the outside exiting turn 9 before barging his way past into the final corner. The Spaniard avoided the Ducati rider as he ran out wide and Dovizioso signalled his dissatisfaction at the move as he crossed the line.
Marquez’s Honda teammate and Spanish compatriot Dani Pedrosa came third to complete the podium.
Dovizioso is still currently second in the World Championship standings, despite winning three races this season. 2017 shows a significant return to form for a Ducati team who had previously been playing third wheel to the Yamaha and Honda factory teams.
British Touring Car Championship
Last weekend also saw the BTCC head to Knockhill for Rounds 19, 20 and 21 of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship.
Adrian Flux Subaru Racing drivers Jason Plato and Ashley Sutton were the big winners in the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) event at Knockhill, claiming a win each.
Plato’s victory in the weekend opener was the 96th of his extensive career on track. Despite being his first of the season, this could show a return to form for the two-time BTCC champion. Meanwhile, his teammate Sutton cemented his title credentials by winning the second race, his fifth of 2017, which follows on from a double win at Snetterton previously.
BMW driver Colin Turkington also had a strong weekend, claiming third place in all three races at the Scottish track to move into the overall points lead in the championship. This means the top four drivers (Turkington with 265 points, Sutton with 261, Gordon Shedden with 253 and Rob Collard with 248) are only separated by 17 points.
Tom Ingram claimed his third victory of the season in his Toyota Avensis in the final race of the day.
BMW still have a commanding 76 point lead over Honda and a 78 point lead over Subaru in the constructors’ championship.
World Rally Championship
The thrilling 2017 season continued to impress as WRC novice Esapekka Lappi – driving for only the fourth time at the top level of the WRC – won Rally Finland. In fact, none of the top 5 finishers had ever won a round of the WRC, showing the particularly high attrition rate at this event.
The Finnish fans were treated to spells at the top of the timings boards in the early stages by Jari-Matti Latvala, and but for an electronics failure he could have closed up the gap to title rival Sebastien Ogier. Other notable retirements included Ogier himself, who crashed in the pre-test event. Ogier explained his crash that concussed his co-driver Julien Ingrassia by saying:
“There was a rock on the road and that broke my steering or suspension – I couldn’t turn the car anymore and went straight into the forest.”
British fans were treated to a second place finish for Welshman Elfyn Evans, who overcame another home favourite in Juho Hanninen by a mere 0.3 seconds.
The drivers’ championship remains a two-horse race at the front with Thierry Neuville and Ogier both on 160 points, and Estonian Ott Tanak a further 41 points behind.
Kyle Larson steamed to his third victory of the season in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series on Sunday, making a bold move in an overtime restart for his third straight Michigan International Speedway win.
Larson led only the last two laps of the 202-lap event in the Chip Ganassi Racing #42 Chevrolet, driving past Martin Truex Jr. in a major jumble near the front of the pack on the final green-flag stint. His third win on the two-mile track was the fourth of his career in NASCAR’s top division.
Round 8 of the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship were contested over the 29th-30th July.
Race 15 saw Scott McLaughlin score his sixth win of the 2017 Championship on a tough day for his nearest title rival Jamie Whincup at the Coates Hire Ipswich SuperSprint.
Despite putting his Ford Falcon FG/X on pole, McLaughlin didn’t have it all his own way in the early stages, losing out to fellow front-row starter Craig Lowndes at turn 1. Subsequently, McLaughlin hunted down and overtook Lowndes' Caltex Holden, which pitted on the following lap for two tyres and a splash of fuel. The attempted undercut had appeared to work for Lowndes, emerging ahead of McLaughlin once he pitted seven laps later. The youngster showed his class however by easing by on lap 13 and cruising to victory.
McLaughlin extended his championship lead over Whincup from six to 111 points at the close of the day.
Race 16 saw Chaz Mostert make the weekend one to remember for Ford by taking the win despite a late safety car scare. This win marks his second of the season and cements his fifth place in the drivers' championship.
Mostert led home Scott McLaughlin and Shane Van Gisbergen following a final eight-lap sprint, with just 1.2s separating the podium finishers at the flag.
Championship contenders Whincup, Fabian Coulthard and Lowndes filled the remainder of the top six, making the win all the sweeter for Mostert.
McLaughlin's second place sees him now leads the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship by 129 points ahead of next month’s Red Rooster Sydney SuperSprint.
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