Sochi street circuit approved ahead of Russian GP

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The Sochi International Street Circuit has been approved by the FIA ahead of this year’s Russian Grand Prix, which is due to be held on October 12th.

For the first time in 100 years, Russia will host a grand prix, which will be its first as part of the official world championship. The last race was held back in 1914 around the streets of St. Petersburg before the outbreak of the first world war.

Despite the ongoing tensions in the area, Formula 1 looks set to head to Sochi for the race just eight months after the city hosted the Winter Olympics. The circuit being built around the complex used for the games.

FIA race director Charlie Whiting confirmed in a statement that work on the track had been completed early, and to a very high standard.

“The circuit is in extremely good condition and will be issued with a licence,” Whiting said. “Everything has been done according to the plans – the kerbs are very good, the verges, the guardrails, the walls – everything is in an extremely good condition.

“Everything has been done to the highest standards and I’m extremely pleased. I can say without hesitation that the circuit is ready 60 days in advance, which is very rare really.”

Race promoter Sergey Vorobyev was pleased with Whiting’s comments, and is looking forward to welcoming Formula 1 is six weeks’ time.

“We were confident that FIA would appreciate the efforts made by our team to implement the technical details that have been so highly reviewed by Mr. Whiting today,” he said. “Now that Sochi Autodrom has received a license, everything else is up to the organisers of the events and as such we are working intensely on ensuring that all aspects of the event are fully prepared.

“It is our aim to make this a truly unforgettable event with the comfort and enjoyment of our guests at the forefront of all our efforts.”

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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