On to Beijing: Formula E completes pre-season testing

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It’s all downhill from here to next month’s inaugural race for the all-electric FIA Formula E championship in Beijing.

Today’s fifth and final F-E preseason test at Donington Park in England saw e.dams-Renault driver Sebastien Buemi pop a 1 minute, 31.792 second lap that proved to be the fastest of the day.

Buemi, who also serves as a race driver for Toyota’s World Endurance Championship team and a tester in Formula One for Red Bull Racing, ended up topping all but one of the five F-E preseason tests.

Behind Buemi was his e.dams-Renault teammate, Nicolas Prost, who logged a lap of 1 minute, 32.117 seconds.

As for American-based teams Andretti Autosport and Dragon Racing, their cars were scattered along the speed charts.

Andretti’s Franck Montagny was third-fastest (1:32.143) behind the e.dams-Renault duo, while Lotus F1 tester Charles Pic was 13th (1:32.841) in the team’s second car. Dragon had Jerome d’Ambrosio in eighth (1:32.646), and IndyCar veteran Oriol Servia in 16th (1:33.411).

“So far, so good,” Montagny said in a series release. “In terms of lap time, we’re not too bad, in terms of performance, true performance; in race mode, we’re good too, so I’m quite confident.”

Montagny will race the full F-E season with Andretti, while d’Ambrosio and another IndyCar regular, Mike Conway, have been confirmed to do the same for Dragon.

Mahindra Racing’s Bruno Senna (1:32.249) and Virgin Racing’s Sam Bird (1:32.292) rounded out the Top 5 overall speeds today. Just under one second covered the Top 10, from Buemi to Venturi’s Nick Heidfeld (1:32.775).

According to the series, a combined total of 1,222 laps were run today by the teams, which each ran all four of their cars.

The Formula E season begins September 13th with the Beijing ePrix, which will be contested on a 20-turn street circuit inside the city’s Olympic Village.

Here now is a smattering of social media from the test (including a demonstration of how F-E drivers will change cars during pit stops from Senna’s teammate, Karun Chandhok), as well as today’s lap times…

FIA Formula E – Preseason Test 5 at Donington Park, UK
Combined Times

1. Sebastien Buemi, e.dams-Renault, 1:31.792s
2. Nicolas Prost, e.dams-Renault, 1:32.117s
3. Franck Montagny, Andretti Autosport, 1:32.143s
4. Bruno Senna, Mahindra Racing, 1:32.249s
5. Sam Bird, Virgin Racing, 1:32.292s
6. Lucas di Grassi, Audi Sport ABT, 1:32.293s
7. Karun Chandhok, Mahindra Racing, 1:32.369s
8. Jerome d’Ambrosio, Dragon Racing, 1:32.646s
9. Stephane Sarrazin, Venturi, 1:32.663s
10. Nick Heidfeld, Venturi, 1:32.775s
11. Nelson Piquet, China Racing, 1:32.808s
12. Jaime Alguersuari, Virgin Racing, 1:32.821s
13. Charles Pic, Andretti Autosport, 1:32.841s
14. Daniel Abt, Audi Sport ABT, 1:32.867s
15. Jarno Trulli, Trulli, 1:32.892s
16. Oriol Servia, Dragon Racing, 1:33.411s
17. Antonio Garcia, China Racing, 1:33.469s
18. Takuma Sato, Amlin Aguri, 1:35.425s
19. Michela Cerruti, Trulli, 1:35.444s
20. Katherine Legge, Amlin Aguri, 1:38.112s

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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