Typhoon Phanfone update: Heavy rain to mar Japanese GP, eye of the storm to hit on Monday


Sunday’s Japanese Grand Prix is set to be a wet and wild affair as Typhoon Phanfone threatens to cause havoc to travel plans and preparations for next weekend’s Russian Grand Prix.

It was confirmed earlier this week that the typhoon, currently in the Pacific, was heading towards Japan across the course of the weekend, bringing with it strong winds and torrential rain.

Formula 1 has had to contend with poor weather in Japan in the past, with qualifying for the 2004 and 2010 grands prix being held on Sunday morning when the weather had improved.

However, the more serious concern in 2014 is not the weather during the race, but instead the plans for the F1 paddock to make a swift getaway on the Monday after the race, when the typhoon is expected to hit.

“The current forecasts from the Formula 1 Weather Service indicates the arrival of rainbands, these at times heavy, for Sunday and, with the centre of the Typhoon will pass close by on Monday morning with widespread transport disruption, structural damage and possible injuries,” a statement from UBIMET reads.

“For Sunday there are no significant changes to previous forecasts. The rain will largely be persistent – possibly with an occasional drier interlude – but also it will become heavy at times, this more likely after midday. Thus, at the scheduled time by 15:00 local time, a wet race seems to be a likely scenario. The expert on-site meteorologists expect the passage of the typhoon centre between the early and the afternoon hours of Monday.

“The huge mass of equipment that Formula 1 operates must be dismantled and packed up immediately after the race – Sunday evening into Monday (local time) and after that transported from Japan to Russia. The Grand Prix of Russia takes place on the following Sunday, October 12th. Keeping to this tight schedule will be wholly dependent on how the typhoon behaves and will surely be a tough challenge.”

The challenge is two-fold for Formula 1. Firstly, it must contend with wet weather during the race. Quite how severe it will be is unclear, but with the green flag set to drop at 3pm local time, a possible option is an earlier start as any interruption or red flag period would probably cause the race to be cut short due to poor light.

This would also give the paddock more time to pack up and move out of the area before Monday, which is the second issue. There isn’t a chance to let this blow over and head out of Japan on Tuesday or Wednesday, as the Russian Grand Prix is next weekend. Everyone and everything must be in Sochi early next week.

Currently, there are no plans to change the original schedule, but a final decision will come at midday local time tomorrow.

Holding the race on Saturday was an option raised by many, but according to F1 journalist Adam Cooper, this was shot down by race promoters Honda.

Here’s the updated path for Typhoon Phanfone, courtesy of UBIMET.

Hunter Lawrence defends Haiden Deegan after controversial block pass at Detroit


Media and fan attention focused on a controversial run-in between Haiden Deegan and his Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing teammate Jordon Smith during Round 10 of the Monster Energy Supercross race at Detroit, after which the 250 East points’ Hunter Lawrence defends the young rider in the postrace news conference.

Deegan took the early lead in Heat 1 of the round, but the mood swiftly changed when he became embroiled in a spirited battle with teammate Smith.

On Lap 3, Smith caught Deegan with a fast pass through the whoops. Smith briefly held the lead heading into a bowl turn but Deegan had the inside line and threw a block pass. In the next few turns, the action heated up until Smith eventually ran into the back of Deegan’s Yamaha and crashed.

One of the highlights of the battle seemed to include a moment when Deegan waited on Smith in order to throw a second block pass, adding fuel to the controversy.

After his initial crash, Smith fell to seventh on the next lap. He would crash twice more during the event, ultimately finishing four laps off the pace in 20th.

The topic was inevitably part of the postrace news conference.

“It was good racing; it was fun,” Deegan said at about the 27-minute mark in the video above. “I just had some fun doing it.”

Smith had more trouble in the Last Chance Qualifier. He stalled his bike in heavy traffic, worked his way into a battle for fourth with the checkers in sight, but crashed a few yards shy of the finish line and was credited with seventh. Smith earned zero points and fell to sixth in the standings.

Lawrence defends Deegan
Jordon Smith failed to make the Detroit Supercross Main and fell to sixth in the points. – Feld Motor Sports

“I think he’s like fifth in points,” Deegan said. “He’s a little out of it. Beside that it was good, I don’t know. I wasn’t really paying attention.”

Deegan jokingly deflected an earlier question with the response that he wasn’t paying attention during the incident.

“He’s my teammate, but he’s a veteran, he’s been in this sport for a while,” Deegan said. “I was up there just battling. I want to win as much as everybody else. It doesn’t matter if it’s a heat race or a main; I just want to win. I was just trying to push that.”

As Deegan and Smith battled, Jeremy Martin took the lead. Deegan finished second in the heat and backed up his performance with a solid third-place showing in the main, which was his second podium finish in a short six-race career. Deegan’s first podium was earned at Daytona, just two rounds ago.

But as Deegan struggled to find something meaningful to say, unsurprisingly for a 17-year-old rider who was not scheduled to run the full 250 schedule this year, it was the championship leader Lawrence who came to his defense.

Lawrence defends Deegan
A block pass by Haiden Deegan led to a series of events that eventually led to Jordon Smith failing to make the Main. – Feld Motor Sports

“I just want to point something out, which kind of amazes me,” Lawrence said during the conference. “So many of the people on social media, where everyone puts their expertise in, are saying the racing back in the ’80s, the early 90s, when me were men. They’re always talking about how gnarly it was and then anytime a block pass or something happens now, everyone cries about it.

“That’s just a little bit interesting. Pick one. You want the gnarly block passes from 10 years ago and then you get it, everyone makes a big song and dance about it.”

Pressed further, Lawrence defended not only the pass but the decision-making process that gets employed lap after lap in a Supercross race.

“It’s easy to point the finger,” Lawrence said. “We’re out there making decisions in a split millisecond. People have all month to pay their phone bill and they still can’t do that on time.

“We’re making decisions at such a fast reaction [time with] adrenaline. … I’m not just saying it for me or Haiden. I speak for all the guys. No one is perfect and we’re under a microscope out there. The media is really quick to point a finger when someone makes a mistake.”

The media is required to hold athletes accountable for their actions. They are also required to tell the complete story.