MotorSportsTalk’s Predictions: Bahrain GP

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Lewis Hamilton may have dominated proceedings at the Chinese Grand Prix last weekend, but the real talking point coming out of Shanghai was the renewal of the tension between the Briton and his Mercedes teammate, Nico Rosberg – “renewal” being the right word if you believe it ever really went away.

Rosberg’s accusations following the race fell largely on deaf ears, but did provide a fascinating insight into the German’s bid for this year’s world championship. With nine defeats in the last ten races to Hamilton, a change is needed soon.

Ferrari also once again proved that it won’t roll over in the face of Mercedes dominance in 2015, and with a warmer race on the cards in Bahrain, Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen could prove to be serious threats this weekend.

As usual, we’ve made our picks for the coming weekend, so take a look and let us know your predictions in the comments section below.

Luke Smith (@LukeSmithF1)

Race WinnerLewis Hamilton. Ferrari will be a genuine threat to Mercedes once again in Bahrain, but I still cannot see past a victory for Lewis Hamilton. The defending champion is in the form of his life and well on the way to a third world title. Expect his good form to continue in Bahrain this weekend.

Surprising FinishKimi Raikkonen. The Finn has had something of a rotten deal so far in 2015, being hampered in Australia and Malaysia by incidents that he was blameless for. In China, he proved that he can compete with Vettel, and I’m tipping him for a podium finish on Sunday alongside his teammate.

Most to ProvePastor Maldonado. Contrary to what most may say, Pastor Maldonado is a quick and competitive racer – he just needs to keep the car on track. His efforts in China were hindered by a brake problem, but he now needs to prove in Bahrain that Lotus truly is the fourth-quickest team by scoring his first points of the season.

Additional Storyline to WatchThe podium ceremony. It’s the biggest non-story ever: Lewis Hamilton sprayed a girl with champagne; cue worldwide outrage. She didn’t care, nor do those who actually follow racing or know the context. There’s no champagne on the podium this weekend, but rose water instead. Will Lewis be more careful this time around? Who knows. And who cares?

Predict the Podium

1. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes
2. Sebastian Vettel Ferrari
3. Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari

Tony DiZinno (@tonydizinno)

Race WinnerLewis Hamilton. At the track where he delivered a mental and physical blow to Nico Rosberg with his pass for the win last year, I see no reason why he won’t continue his domination this time around.

Surprising FinishValtteri Bottas. The Ferraris have been clear second best to the Mercedes since the season started but I like the Williams-Mercedes to upend that trend this week. Few would have pegged a Sergio Perez podium this race last year, and a Bottas podium pick this year isn’t nearly as off the reservation – if it would still be a surprise to beat the Ferraris.

Most to ProveNico Rosberg. Less talk. More walk. If you want to beat Lewis, then actually go and do it on track…

Additional Storyline to WatchMcLaren’s continued improvement. Within 2 seconds in Q1 at China was a promising development, and both cars made it home for the first time this year. Is this the weekend where either Fernando Alonso or Jenson Button makes it out of Q1 and/or into the points?

Predict the Podium

1. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes
2. Nico Rosberg Mercedes
3. Valtteri Bottas Williams


For full broadcast information on the Bahrain Grand Prix, click here.

Heather Lyne, Dennis Erb Jr. make history in the World of Outlaws Late Model Series

Lyne Erb Outlaws Late
Jacy Norgaard / World of Outlaws

More than two decades in the making, the pairing of Heather Lyne and Dennis Erb Jr. produced a historical milestone in Dirt Late Model.

Last month, Erb and his long-time crew chief Lyne won their first World of Outlaws Late Model Championship and with this achievement, Lyne became the first female crew chief to win in a national late model series. Their journey together goes back 21 years and tells the story of hard work, persistence and belief in oneself.

After a career-best season with the World of Outlaws, Erb and Lyne secured the points championship at US 36 Raceway in Osborn, Mo. with three races remaining in the season. The consistency and success of their season came down to pinpoint focus. Lyne and Erb are a team of two living out a David vs. Goliath tale. In order to be as successful as possible this year the duo knew they had to do as much as possible with the resources they had.

“It’s always a challenge when you only have two people, both at the racetrack and at the shop,” Lyne told NBC Sports. “I also work full time, so during the day, Dennis has to do a significant amount of work so that when I get down there I can start working and maintaining. It’s planning ahead. It’s having that system in place and making sure that you’re prepared ahead of time.

“When you have a problem at the track, making sure you have all that stuff ready so it’s a quick change and not a lengthy process to make a repair. We had zero DNFs in the World of Outlaws, we had only one DNF out of 96 races [combined among all series].”

Dennis Erb clinched his 2022 championship before the World of Outlaws World Finals. Jacy Norgaard – World of Outlaws Late Model Series.

Taming Time

This was not an easy feat. Between a full travel schedule and Lyne’s full-time job as an engineer, time comes at a premium. What they lack in time and resources they made up for in patience and planning.

“We buckled down, and we got all the equipment that we needed back, motors freshened, and things of that nature,” Lyne said about the mid-point of last season. “We were able to keep up with that. We just had a higher focus. I tried to reduce my hours at my day job as much as I possibly could while still maintaining what I need to get done at work. I got rid of a lot of the other distractions and got a more refined system in place at the shop.

“We did certain tasks on certain days so we had time to recover. We were on the road a little bit more, as opposed to coming home to the shop. So we had to be more prepared to stay out on those longer runs. It was just really staying on top of things a little more. It was a heightened sense.”

This was Lyne and Erb’s fourth full season with the Outlaws, but they’ve been on the road together for the last 21 seasons starting in 2001. Their partnership began with Lyne’s bravery. When one door closed, she was quick to open another. In 2001, Lyne’s dad was ready to stop racing. Her mother wanted to regain her weekends, but Lyne knew this was her life path and wasn’t prepared to lose it.

“I’ve always been a tomboy at heart,” Lyne said. “I watched racing with my dad. Growing up he watched NASCAR. In high school, I got tired of playing at the lake house, so I went to the local dirt track and fell in love with it. I just couldn’t get enough. It took a year for me to convince my dad to come to the track with me. He finally did and we sponsored a car that year, the following year he started to race limited cars. He ran hobby stocks and limited late models.”

At some point, Lyne and her father’s level of commitment drifted apart.

“He did it for about five years,” Lyne said. “And then my mom said: ‘I’m done racing. I want my weekends back. It’s just not fun anymore.’ I wasn’t ready to hang up my wenches and Dennis raced out of the same hometown so I, on a dare, went down and introduced myself; told him if you ever need any help, I’ll drill out rivets, I’ll help wash, whatever you need. Twenty-one years later here I am.”

Heather Lyne became the first female crew chief to secure a national touring late model championship in 2022. Paul Arch / World of Outlaws Late Model Series.

Breaking Through

Lyne entered a male-dominated job in a field that is also male-dominated – and where there were few examples of women creating these places for themselves. In this way, Lyne became a blueprint for other women as they strive to find a place for themselves in racing and in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) overall. She has her mother to thank for providing a strong role model, her father for sharing her passion, Erb for taking a chance on an unknow entity and most importantly herself.

“I was raised to believe that I can do anything, I want to do, as long as I put my heart and soul into it.” Lyne replied when asked about role models in the sport growing up. “My parents did not raise me to have that limitation. But from a racing role model perspective, I went in there completely green and just introduced myself to Dennis, the fact that he was brave enough to take that risk and bring a girl to the racetrack. Someone he didn’t know at all speaks volumes for him.”

Lyne and Erb have learned how to survive and succeed with each other on the road. They do this by leveraging decades of combined experience and an ability to adapt to the everchanging landscape of dirt late models. Next year the World of Outlaws visits nearly a dozen new tracks and Lyne sees it as an opportunity for continued success.

“I just want to do it again,” Lyne says going into next season, “I’m looking forward to the competition, I always do. I wouldn’t do it if I wasn’t competitively driven.

“There are some new tracks on the schedule that I’m looking forward to trying for the first time that I haven’t been to myself,” Lyne said of the 2023 season, “Dennis seems to do well on those first timers. We won out at Marion center, we finished second at Bloomsburg. We have a good solid notebook of information to tackle them over the last three years with these rocket race cars that we’re running. It’s good to have that information and leverage it to try some new things.”