March 23 in Motorsports History: Iceman keeps cool in Malaysian GP

0 Comments

A future Formula One champion made his mark on the racing world on this date 17 years ago in the hot and humid conditions at Malaysia’s Sepang Circuit.

Though the initial race day forecast for the Malaysian Grand Prix called for rain, the only drops the 20 drivers competing in the race felt were those of their own sweat.

With a track temperature of nearly 135 degrees Fahrenheit, drivers needed to keep themselves cool both physically and mentally if they intended on winning the race.

Perhaps fittingly, it was Kimi Räikkönen, the driver nicknamed ‘Iceman,’ who found his way to victory lane.

Driving for McLaren, Räikkönen started the race from seventh but quickly challenged for the lead within a few laps.

As the cars entered the first corner behind pole-sitter Fernando Alonso, third-place Michael Schumacher made contact with Jarno Trulli, forcing Trulli off-track and Schumacher into the pits for a nose-cone replacement.

Kimi Raikkonen celebrates winning the 2003 Malaysian Grand Prix. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

During the chain-reaction crash in Turn 1, Antônio Pizzonia rear-ended Juan Pablo Montoya, and David Coulthard emerged in second place, followed by Nick Heidfeld and Räikkönen in third and fourth.

Coulthard experienced an electrical issue on Lap 2 that forced him to retire. Räikkönen passed Heidfeld and remained in second before inheriting the lead when Alonso pitted on Lap 14.

Räikkönen remained on the track before eventually stopping on Lap 19, briefly ceding the lead to Rubens Barrichello before retaking it when the Brazillian pitted on Lap 22.

The Finnish driver held on for the remaining 35 laps to score his first F1 victory. Barrichello was second, and Alonso finished third for his first F1 podium.

Räikkönen has scored 20 more victories in his Formula One career, including another Maylasian Grand Prix that also took place on this date in 2008. He won the World Championship in 2007 with Ferrari.

Also on this date:

1986: Nelson Piquet and Ayrton Senna finished 1-2 in their home Grand Prix of Brazil. The victory was Piquet’s second at the Jacarepaguá Circuit. Piquet previously won there in 1983.

1996: Alexander Albon was born in London. The Red Bull driver finished eighth in the Formula One points standings in his rookie season last year.

1997: Jim Guthrie pulled off one of the biggest upsets in IndyCar history, beating Tony Stewart to win at Phoenix. Guthrie entered the race weekend unsponsored and had taken a second mortgage on his house to get the money needed to race. The win was Guthrie’s lone podium in 15 IndyCar starts.

Follow Michael Eubanks on Twitter

Eli Tomac wins Houston Supercross: Hunter Lawrence takes early 250 East lead

0 Comments

With his 47th career victory and third of the 2023 season in Houston, Eli Tomac closed to within one win of tying Ricky Carmichael for third on the all-time Monster Energy Supercross list.

Tomac rebounded from last week’s crash by earning the holeshot in both his heat and the Main. At the start of the big show, he couldn’t shake Aaron Plessinger in the first four minutes and actually was in the process of losing the lead as a red flag waved for a crash involving Tomac’s teammate Dylan Ferrandis when he overjumped an obstacle and landed on Ken Roczen’s back fender as they raced for eighth.

“That was a tough race,” Tomac told NBC Sports’ Will Christien, referencing his loss to Chase Sexton in the heat. “And honestly, I was just beat down after that heat race and was searching quite a bit and was basically losing speed everywhere. I just rode better, straight up in the Main. I felt better.”

In their heat, Sexton passed Tomac at the two-minute mark and then simply rode away from the field. At the end, he had an almost eight-second gap on Tomac.

“It wasn’t great by any means,” Sexton told Jason Thomas. “I feel like the strengths I had all day, I really lagged in the Main event between the whoop and the sand section. I think I could have walked through it faster. It was still a good ride; it wasn’t great. I expected after the heat race he would be fired up.”

RESULTS: How they finished for the 450 Main in Anaheim 2

Jason Anderson scored his second consecutive pole, but he was not happy to finish third behind the two points’ leaders.

“We should be thankful every time we get to be up here,” Anderson said. “They’re making it tough on me, but all I can do is give my best.”

Tomac had to withstand a red flag and the distant second place finish in his heat to win the Houston Supercross race. In the post-race conference, he indicated that he did not make any changes to the bike and simply rode better.

Aaron Plessinger and Cooper Webb rounded out the top five.

Ferrandis was fitted with a neck brace, but still able to walk to the medical cart. He was still being evaluated by the medical staff as the night came to a close.


In 250s Hunter Lawrence entered the 250 East opener as the consensus favorite to win the championship this year with Christian Craig making the move into 450s and his brother Jett Lawrence in the West division. He answered quickly with a huge lead in Heat 1, but it almost went awry in the Main.

Lawrence got a good start, but he was passed early in the race by two-time MXGP champion (2020, 2022) Tom Vialle, who was making his Supercross debut this week. Vialle passed Lawrence on the first lap. When Lawrence tried to pass him back, Vialle scrubbed speed off a jump and pushed Lawrence wide, over the Tuff Blox.

Championships are made out of Lawrence’s response. He kept his composure and did not overcorrect before methodically working his way to the front.

“We had a little off track excursion. I wasn’t sure how hard across Tom was coming so I thought I’ll just go left, but then saw that was the side of the track. Thankfully I didn’t hit the Tuff Blox and got back on track safely. … Good start; put myself in position.”

Click here for full 250 East Main Results

Making a move from the 450 class to 250s, Max Anstie had immediate success. He finished second in his heat behind Jordon Smith and lined up with a great gate pick. He had to overtake Vialle in the opening laps and lost ground on Lawrence, that cost enough time to keep him from pressing Lawrence. This is Anstie’s first podium in the United States

“Honestly, I’ve dreamed of this for a long time to come up on these steps and man it’s a great feeling. I’ve really enjoyed the day and being on this 250, I feel like an 18-year-old kid. Everyday I’m learning.”

Smith backed up his heat win with a podium finish.

“It feels good to be back up here again,” Smith said. “It’s been a long time; a lot of injuries.”

Haiden Deegan proved the hype surrounding his debut in the 250 class was not unfounded. He finished fourth in his heat to advance to directly into the Main. During the early laps, he was circling the track in a podium position until a minor mistake sent him off the box. In the closing laps, he narrowly made an aggressive pass on Jeremy Martin and narrowly missed the podium with a fourth-place finish.

Martin held on to round out the top five.

Vialle was running in a podium position when went down with a 1:30 left on the clock. He ended his night seventh.

Chance Hymas was also making his 250 debut and scored a top-10 in eighth.

2023 Race Recaps

Anaheim 2: Triple Crown produces new winners Chase Sexton, Levi Kitchen
San Diego: Eli Tomac, Jett Lawrence double down
Anaheim 1: Tomac wins opener for the first time

Houston coverage

Houston by the numbers
Supercross unveils 16th edition of a Ricky Carmichael designed Daytona track
Power Rankings after week 3
Malcom Stewart out for “extended duration” after knee surgery
Haiden Deegan makes Supercross debut in Houston, Justin Cooper to 450s
Talon Hawkins set to relieve injured Jalek Swoll in Houston
Jalek Swoll out for an indefinite period with broken arm
Ken Roczen urgently needed a change
Chris Blose joins Pro Circuit Kawasaki in 250 East opener
Seth Hammaker to miss Houston with wrist injury
Jo Shimoda joins Seth Hammaker, Austin Forkner on injured list