Renault bringing “temporary fixes” to Bahrain after power unit problems

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Renault engine bosses Cyril Abiteboul and Remi Taffin have said that temporary fixes will be used in Bahrain this weekend to try and prevent a repeat of the French marque’s power unit problems that blighted the Chinese Grand Prix.

Red Bull’s Daniil Kvyat and Toro Rosso’s Max Verstappen were both forced to retire from the race in Shanghai last weekend due to component failures on their Renault power units.

Speaking ahead of this weekend’s race in Bahrain, Abiteboul confirmed that temporary fixes had been put in place, but said that there could be no guarantee about the reliability of the Renault engines.

“We don’t take the issues we have seen lightly, but we have taken genuine steps forward and need to focus on our continuing programme of improvements while addressing the reliability concerns in parallel,” Abiteboul said.

“In the short time since the Chinese Grand Prix, we have been checking and rechecking systems and procedures to implement fixes for the next race in Bahrain.

“Due to logistics of the back to back races a complete guarantee will be difficult but we have made improvements to prevent the race stoppers we saw in China.”

Building on Abiteboul’s comments, Taffin revealed that Renault Sport is yet to get to the root of one of the power unit failures in China.

“A significant part of our preparations for this race have been and continues to be analyzing the issues from China,” Taffin said. “As a consequence, we will have to make some late calls.

“We now know that the failures on Kvyat and Verstappen’s ICEs [internal combustion engines] are different and unfortunately one of them was known but built in when the ICE was introduced early on.

“The other is still to be fully explained and temporary fixes will be used in Sakhir.”

Renault has faced a great deal of criticism so far in 2015, with Red Bull even saying that it is considering quitting F1 due to the severity of its engine supplier’s problems. However, Renault appears to be happy in the sport, and is even considering the acquisition of an existing team.

For full broadcast details for this weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix, click here.

Miguel Oliveira wins MotoGP Thai Grand Prix, Bagnaia closes to two points in championship

MotoGP Thai Grand Prix
Mirco Lazzari / Getty Images
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Miguel Oliveira mastered mixed conditions on the Chang International Circuit in Buriram, Thailand to win the MotoGP Thai Grand Prix. Oliveira showed the adaptability as he navigated a race that began in wet conditions and turned dry over the course of the race. Oliveira won the Indonesian GP in similar conditions.

“It was a long race, but I can’t complain,” Oliveira said on CNBC. “Every time we get to ride in the wet, I’m always super-fast. When it started raining, I had flashbacks of Indonesia. I tried to keep my feet on the ground, make a good start and not make mistakes and carry the bike to the end.”

All eyes were on the championship, however. Francesco Bagnaia got a great start to slot into second in Turn 1.

Meanwhile Fabio Quartararo had a disastrous first lap. He lost five positions in the first couple of turns and then rode over the rumble strips and fell back to 17th. At the end of the first lap, Bagnaia had the points’ lead by two. A win would have added to the gain and for a moment, it appeared Bagnaia might assume the lead.

Early leader Marco Bezzecchi was penalized for exceeding track limits, but before that happened, Jack Miller got around Bagnaia and pushed him back to third. Oliveira was not far behind.

After throwing away ninth-place and seven points on the last lap of the Japanese GP last week, Bagnaia did not allow the competition to press him into a mistake. He fell back as far as fourth before retaking the final position on the podium.

“It’s like a win for me, this podium,” Bagnaia. “My first podium in the wet and then there was a mix of conditions, so I’m very happy. I want to thank Jack Miller. Before the race, he gave me a motivational chat.”

Miller led the first half of the Thai Grand Prix before giving up the top spot to Oliveira and then held on to finish second. Coupled with his Japanese GP win, Miller is now fully in the MotoGP championship battle with a 40-point deficit, but he will need a string of results like Bagnaia has put together in recent weeks – and he needs Bagnaia to lose momentum.

Miller’s home Grand Prix in Australia is next up on the calendar in two weeks.

Bagnaia entered the race 18 points behind Quartararo after he failed to score any in Japan. The balance of power has rapidly shifted, however, with Quartararo now failing to earn points in two of the last three rounds. Bagnaia won four consecutive races and finished second in the five races leading up to Japan. His third-place finish in Thailand is now his sixth MotoGP podium in the last seven rounds.

Aleix Espargaro entered the race third in the standings with a 25-point deficit to Quartararo, but was able to close the gap by only five after getting hit with a long-lap penalty for aggressive riding when he pushed Darryn Binder off course during a pass for position. Espargaro finished 11th.

Rain mixed up the Moto2 running order in the MotoGP Thai Grand Prix as well. Starting on a wet track, Somkiat Chantra led the opening lap in his home Grand Prix. He could not hold onto it and crashed one circuit later, but still gave his countrymen a moment of pride by winning the pole.

Half points were awarded as the race went only eight laps before Tony Arbolino crossed under the checkers first with Filip Salac and Aron Canet rounding out the podium.

American Joe Roberts earned another top-10 in eighth with Sean Dylan Kelly finishing just outside the top 10 in 11th.