Typhoon set to hit Japan on Sunday, putting GP schedule at risk

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The Japanese Grand Prix could be subject to a schedule change due to the threat of typhoon Phanfone, which is currently working its way through the Pacific.

The category four typhoon is set to hit Japan on race day, posing a challenge to the Formula 1 paddock to ensure that the full complement of weekend running can take place in spite of the weather.

In a statement issued by the FIA’s weather supplier, UBIMET, the severity of the storm was made clear, and it is understood that team managers and F1 leaders will hold discussions about amending the schedule to avoid the worst of the weather.

“On Thursday morning satellite images showed the eye of category-4-Typhoon PHANFONE, approximately 340 nautical miles (630 km) south of Iwo To in the Bonin Islands on Friday,” the statement reads. “It is expected to move northwestward, reaching a maximum mean wind intensity of 130 knots (240 km/h). Gusts could exceed 160 knots (300 km/h).

“After passing the Ryūkyū Islands on Saturday PHANFONE should weaken a little due to moving over colder water and getting into an area of stronger wind shear, but should remain a powerful category 3-4 typhoon.”

Chief F1 meteorologist Steffan Dietz confirmed that the race on Sunday is set to be affected by rain.

“There are still big uncertainties for the storm track in the coming days,” he said. “The current forecast track for typhoon Phanfone keeps the eye of the storm to the southeast of Japan on Sunday but with associated rainbands extending north towards Suzuka during the morning. Once it starts the rain is likely to be prolonged and become increasingly heavy.”

Although the statement did say that “at this time, nothing too severe is expected before Monday”, it did raise concerns about the subsequent pack-up following the grand prix at Suzuka.

The teams are due to fly out of Japan to Sochi for the Russian Grand Prix early next week, presenting the possibility of trying to disassemble the paddock in the midst of a typhoon on the Monday after the race.

Because of the race in Russia, the teams would not be able to run the race on Monday should Sunday’s weather stop it from going ahead. Instead, the most logical option for moving the race – if indeed it must be moved – would be to run on the Saturday afternoon, with qualifying taking place in the morning in place of FP3.

Veteran F1 journalist Adam Cooper confirmed that talks were being held regarding the race, but the FIA is still monitoring the situation closely.

Here’s the predicted path of the typhoon, courtesy of UBIMET.

For the time being, the weekend is set to go ahead as planned, but this could be subject to change.

This would not be the first time that the Japanese Grand Prix race weekend has experienced a schedule change, with qualifying for both the 2004 and 2010 races being held on Sunday morning due to inclement weather.

Justin Grant prevails over Kyle Larson in the Turkey Night Grand Prix

Grant Larson Turkey Night
USACRacing.com / DB3 Inc.
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On the heels of his Hangtown 100 victory, Justin Grant worked his way from 13th in the Turkey Night Grand Prix to beat three-time event winner Kyle Larson by 1.367 seconds. The 81st annual event was run at Ventura (Calif.) Raceway for the sixth time.

“My dad used to take me to Irwindale Speedway, and we’d watch Turkey Night there every year,” Grant said in a series press release. “This is one of the races I fell in love with. I didn’t think I’d ever get a chance to run in it, never thought I’d make a show and certainly never thought I’d be able to win one.”

With its genesis in 1934 at Gilmore Stadium, a quarter-mile dirt track in Los Angeles, the race is steeped in history with winners that include AJ Foyt, Parnelli Jones, Gary Bettenhausen and Johnnie Parsons. Tony Stewart won it in 2000. Kyle Larson won his first of three Turkey Night Grands Prix in 2012. Christopher Bell earned his first of three in 2014, so Grant’s enthusiasm was well deserved.

So was the skepticism that he would win. He failed to crack the top five in three previous attempts, although he came close last year with a sixth-place result. When he lined up for the feature 13th in the crowded 28-car field, winning seemed like a longshot.

Grant watched as serious challengers fell by the wayside. Mitchel Moles flipped on Lap 10 of the feature. Michael “Buddy” Kofoid took a tumble on Lap 68 and World of Outlaws Sprint car driver Carson Macedo flipped on Lap 79. Grant saw the carnage ahead of him and held a steady wheel as he passed Tanner Thorson for the lead with 15 laps remaining and stayed out of trouble for the remainder of the event.

“It’s a dream come true to win the Turkey Night Grand Prix,” Grant said.


Kyle Larson follows Justin Grant to the front on Turkey Night

The 2012, 2016 and 2019 winner, Larson was not scheduled to run the event. His wife Katelyn is expecting their third child shortly, but after a couple of glasses of wine with Thanksgiving dinner and while watching some replays of the event, Larson texted car owner Chad Boat to see if he had a spare car lying around. He did.

“We weren’t great but just hung around and it seemed like anybody who got to the lead crashed and collected some people,” Larson said. “We made some passes throughout; in the mid-portion, we weren’t very good but then we got better at the end.

“I just ran really, really hard there, and knew I was running out of time, so I had to go. I made some pretty crazy and dumb moves, but I got to second and was hoping we could get a caution to get racing with Justin there. He was sliding himself at both ends and thought that maybe we could get a run and just out-angle him into [Turn] 1 and get clear off [Turn] 2 if we got a caution, but it just didn’t work out.”

Larson padded one of the most impressive stats in the history of this race, however. In 10 starts, he’s won three times, finished second four times, was third once and fourth twice.

Bryant Wiedeman took the final spot on the podium.

As Grant and Larson began to pick their way through the field, Kofoid took the lead early from the outside of the front row and led the first 44 laps of the race before handing it over to Cannon McIntosh, who bicycled on Lap 71 before landing on all fours. While Macedo and Thorson tussled for the lead with McIntosh, Grant closed in.

Thorson finished 19th with McIntosh 20th. Macedo recovered from his incident to finish ninth. Kofoid’s hard tumble relegated him to 23rd.

Jake Andreotti in fourth and Kevin Thomas, Jr. rounded out the top five.

1. Justin Grant (started 13)
2. Kyle Larson (22)
3. Bryant Wiedeman (4)
4. Jake Andreotti (9)
5. Kevin Thomas Jr. (1)
6. Logan Seavey (8)
7. Alex Bright (27)
8. Emerson Axsom (24)
9. Carson Macedo (7)
10. Jason McDougal (18)
11. Jake Swanson (16)
12. Chase Johnson (6)
13. Jacob Denney (26)
14. Ryan Timms (23)
15. Chance Crum (28)
16. Brenham Crouch (17)
17. Jonathan Beason (19)
18. Cade Lewis (14)
19. Tanner Thorson (11)
20. Cannon McIntosh (3)
21. Thomas Meseraull (15)
22. Tyler Courtney (21)
23. Buddy Kofoid (2)
24. Brody Fuson (5)
25. Mitchel Moles (20)
26. Daniel Whitley (10)
27. Kaylee Bryson (12)
28. Spencer Bayston (25)