Prioritizing race over qualifying pays off for Di Resta

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Paul di Resta said his team’s decision to concentrate on its race performance at the expense of qualifying was vindicated by their result in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Force India were the only team to successfully complete the race using a single pit stop for each of its cars. Di Resta claimed sixth and team mate Adrian Sutil was tenth.

“It’s a great feeling to finish sixth and make the one-stop strategy work,” said Di Resta.

“We had opted to set the car up more for the race and it really paid off today. There were times when we had to be very quick and times when we had to manage the pace and look after the tyres.”

“Towards the end of the race I was battling with Fernando [Alonso] and Lewis [Hamilton], but it was impossible to hold Fernando back because he was on much fresher soft tyres. Lewis was on the mediums so I just focussed on getting clean exits from the hairpin and the chicane leading onto the long straights, and was able to stay ahead.”

Force India have halted their slide in the last two races and have shored up their points buffer against a resurgent Sauber.

“The eight points are just what we needed and everybody in the team deserves credit for the big effort that has gone in this week,” added Di Resta. “That’s two strong weekends in a row and we will move to Austin determined to keep up the momentum.”

NHRA: John Force-like motor explosions get contagious during Sunday’s Gatornationals

Photo and video courtesy NHRA
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John Force is rubbing off on others – but probably not the way they or he would like.

The 16-time NHRA Funny Car champion has had spectacular motor explosions in each of the first three races of the new NHRA season, including during Friday’s qualifying for this weekend’s Gatornationals.

During Sunday’s quarterfinals of eliminations, Force’s teammate (and son-in-law and president of John Force Racing) Robert Hight squared off with fellow Funny Car driver Matt Hagan.

As the duo closed in on the finish line, both cars experienced spectacular motor explosions of their own – virtually side-by-side and nearly at the same time.

Hight’s car was the first to explode, tossing its body high in the air. A split-second later, Hagan’s car exploded, also sending the body flying.

Check out the NHRA video:

Hight wound up losing the race.

Hagan, meanwhile, and his crack pit crew rolled their backup car off the hauler, put in a new motor and went on to race through the semifinals and into the finals, losing to race winner “Fast Jack” Beckman.

“We had a pretty great race day, to be honest,” Hagan said. “I’ve never been to the finals in Gainesville.

“We obviously had a huge blow up in the second round, then to watch these guys pull the other car back out and put it together in the amount of time they had, then turn a win light on against Capps (Don Schumacher Racing teammate Ron Capps in the semifinals), then to be able to go to a final, it was huge and it speaks for itself.”

As for Hight, here’s his take on what happened with the motor explosion:

“I couldn’t see (Hagan) over there and it wasn’t like it was hazing the tires or anything else. As it turns out it wasn’t spinning at all. It kicked two rods out when it blacked the bearings in the crank then it hit the valves and blew up.

“The thing gave me no indication at all before that. What really scared me was once I got it under control and I look over and see his body is off his car. I am thinking ‘Oh man, he got gathered up in me.’ Then I stood up and looked and his injector was sideways so I realized he had an explosion as well. We are just lucky we didn’t get into each other.”

As for the guy who has had so much trouble in the motor department, John Force, he lost in the first round of Sunday’s eliminations to daughter Courtney Force.

John Force planned on shutting the motor off on his car at around the 700-foot mark of the 1,000-foot dragstrip, not wanting to risk another motor explosion – even though it meant a likely loss to his daughter.

Now John Force and his entire four-car team, including Courtney Force, Robert Hight and daughter and Top Fuel driver Brittany Force, will be off for extensive testing to try and determine what’s been causing the motor explosions.

“We have to evaluate it and go test,” Force said. “We’ll figure it out.”

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