By: Matthew Ganibi
“Let’s get things rolling here!” – Leigh Diffey, IndyCar play-by-play announcer for NBC
The world of motorsports is nearly firing on all cylinders! NASCAR took a trip to the West Coast, Formula E raced around the streets of Cape Town, South Africa and Formula 1 completed their 3-day pre-season testing in Bahrain. IndyCar’s Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg will go green next week while we’re two weeks away from the start of MotoGP pre-season testing, which means that we have a trio of 2023 season previews to dive into. Without further ado, let’s take a lap around this week’s action in the world of motorsports!
Formula E – Antonio Felix Da Costa conquers the streets of Cape Town!
Fresh off of a down to the wire Hyderabad E-Prix, Formula E took the world’s fastest bolt-powered racing series took a trip to the Southern Hemisphere for the 1st time in 2023. Portuguese TAG Heuer Porsche driver Antonio Felix Da Costa conquered the South African streets of Cape Town ahead of Frenchman Jean-Éric Vergne (2nd – DS Penske) and Kiwi “Quick Nick” Cassidy (3rd – Envision Racing). Germany’s Rene Rast (Neom McLaren) and Swiss driver Sebastian Buemi (Envision) rounded out the top 5 finishing in 4th and 5th, respectively.
Da Costa made a brave lunge for the win with a full throttle, wheel-to-wheel pass on the outside of Vergne on the right-handed Turn 8 and swiping the inside racing line for the left-handed Turn 9. From that moment on, Da Costa brilliantly defended and grabbed his first victory of the 2023 season. JEV crossed the line 0.281 seconds away from collecting his second-straight victory. French pole sitter Sacha Fenestraz (Nissan) conquered the Cape Town streets in qualifying w/ a blistering 1 minute, 7.848 sec. time to secure pole position – the first of his career. Despite a clean start from the front and being in line for a podium finish during a majority of the E-Prix, late race heartache found its way to the Frenchman as his Nissan smacked the wall in Turn 7. After what seemed to be a promising result, the young French driver and his Nissan-powered car limped home to a 16th place finish. Envision’s Nick Cassidy (New Zealand) was battling Fenestraz for the 3rd, final podium spot then ultimately inherited and secured that coveted position following Sacha’s Turn 7 incident.
Porsche’s Pascal Wehrlein remains parked on top of the Formula E drivers’ standings with 80 points despite a first-lap crash resulting in no points. Jake Dennis The Menace remains in 2nd place of the championship standings following a second straight race where he failed to score points coming home in 13th after serving a drive-through penalty on Lap 19. JEV’s P2 finish in Cape Town keeps him in 3rd spot while Saturday’s winner Da Costa launched up to 4th place in the driver’s points standings.
Shakas go out Antonio Felix Da Costa, who also captured the Cape Town E-Prix Driver of the Day award for his heroic charge through the field from 11th place. His ascent up 10 positions was the most out of the entire racing field. Formula E will take a month off to charge their batteries and resume action with the Julius Baer São Paulo E-Prix. You can catch all of the electrifying action on the weekend of March 24th (2 free practice sessions) and March 25th(qualifying and race day) with the race going green at 8:00 AM Hawaiʻi time. Stay tuned to Motorsport Minutes for broadcast details!
NASCAR – Take a bow, Rowdy! Kyle Busch wins at Auto Club Speedway!
The NASCAR Cup Series headed West to Fontana, CA. NASCAR’s West Coast Party seemed to be a bit jeopardized as rain power washed the Auto Club Speedway track and cancelled practice & qualifying sessions on Friday and Saturday, respectively. However, Mother Nature cooperated on Sunday providing a snow-capped mountain backdrop while allowing for the 200-lap Pala Casino 400 to proceed. Due to rained out qualifying and practice, NASCAR awarded the number 20 Toyota Camry of Christopher Bell (Joe Gibbs Racing) with pole position for the race. Unfortunately, he fell victim to a 10-car California Carnage that took place on a Lap 87 restart and resulting in a 32ndplace finish.
After narrowly missing out on a Daytona 500 victory last week, Las Vegas’ Kyle “Rowdy” Busch captured the California surfboard trophy winning the Pala Casino 400. Rowdy overcame a 21st-place starting position and patiently weaved his way through the field. Despite winning the race’s first two stages, Team Trackhouse’s Ross Insane Chastain brought his #1 Kubota Chevrolet in 3rd. Meanwhile, Insane Chastain’s Trackhouse teammate – Daniel Suárez of Mexico followed right behind bringing his #99 Freeway Insurance Chevrolet Camaro home in 4th place. Bakersfield, CA’s own Kevin Harvick came home 5th in his final home race in Southern California with the #4 GW Wrench Ford Mustang. Last year’s Fontana winner – Kyle Larson, experienced engine trouble on Lap 8 of the race and managed a 30th-place finish in his home race. Fellow California natives Tyler Reddick (#45 Monster Energy Toyota Camry) and AJ Allmendinger (#16 Farm Smart Chevrolet Camaro) came home in 34th and 36th, respectively. Daytona 500 champion Ricky Stenhouse Jr. was awarded a 3rd-place start and finished the race in 12th.
Despite coming home roughly three seconds short of victory, my shakas go out to the Pala Casino 400 Driver of the Day: Chase Elliot, who managed a 29-place comeback following a 31st-place start.
The 2023 NASCAR Cup Series season continues with a trip out to the 9th Island for the Pennzoil 400 presented by Jiffy Lube at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (green flag set to drop: 9:30 AM Hawaiʻi time).
You can follow the remaining part of the 2023 NASCAR schedule via the link below: https://www.nascar.com/nascar-cup-series/2023/schedule/
Formula One – It’s lights out and away we go! 2023 Preview, Part 2:
With pre-season testing now complete, the 2023 season is right around the corner, let’s dive into the second and final part of my 2023 preview ahead of the season-opening Formula 1 Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix (5:00 AM HI Time on ESPN). Part two of this preview will cover: Bahrain pre-season testing recap, the basics of Formula One, schedule preview and a profile on Williams’ American driver: Logan Sargeant.
The highly anticipated 2023 Formula 1 season got into gear with the 3-day Aramco Pre-Season Testing this past weekend at the Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir. Defending back-to-back driver’s champion Max Verstappen (Netherlands) remained in championship winning form finishing 1st on the first day timing sheets guiding his Oracle Red Bull Racing Honda-powered car around the 15-turn Bahrain circuit in just 1 minute and 32.837 seconds. Verstappen also completed the most laps on the first day with 157. China’s Zhou Guanyu hustled his Ferrari-powered his Alfa Romeo around Bahrain .04 seconds faster than the Flying Dutchman Verstappen on Day 2 of pre-season testing clocking in a 1 minute 31.61 second lap around the track enroute to 132 laps of testing. The third and final day saw the two-time defending champ Verstappen make way for his Mexican teammate Sergio “Checo” Perez, who saved his best for last. Red Bull’s Mexican Minister of Motorsports steered the RB19 around the Bahrain track 133 times and bagged the best time of the day with a blistering 1 minute, 30.305 second lap to ice the cake.
For more on each of the three testing days, here is link to each day’s recaps from Formula 1:
Formula 1 is an-open wheel racing series that pushes innovation and performance through cutting edge aerodynamics along with high-efficiency engine performance. Per my friends at One Stop Racing, F1 cars can sweep through corners at speeds as high as 192 mph while straightaway speeds can go as high as 231 mph thanks to their 1,000-horsepower 1.6-liter turbo charged, V6-hybrid engine. The series, which is owned by American conglomerate Liberty Media, travels to various countries around the world and will make three stops in the United States this coming season. Formula 1’s competitive grid is a mix of 10 total manufacturer (Mercedes, Ferrari & Alpine) and manufacturer customer teams (Alfa Romeo, Aston Martin, Haas, McLaren, Williams, Alpha Tauri and Red Bull) all competing for the Constructor’s Championship trophy. Each team has 2 drivers along with 1 or two reserve/back-up drivers who will compete for points throughout the 23-race season. The drivers are in charge of scoring points for their respective teams along with their personal battle for the Driver’s Championship title. This year’s grid will feature a trio of Formula 1 Driver’s Championship winners: Sir Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes, 7 titles), Fernando Alonso (Aston Martin, 2 titles) and Max Verstappen (Red Bull, 2 titles).
For a more on the basics of Formula 1, here is a link to a detailed page from INSIDER:
Formula 1’s longest racing schedule to date will offer 23 races in 2023. As previously mentioned, the lengthy schedule will include a trio of stops in the United States: Miami, FL’s Hard Rock Stadium (May 5-7) Circuit of the Americas in Texas (Oct. 20-22), and the Las Vegas Strip (Nov. 16-18). In addition to the three American races, my top races to watch include: Grand Prix De Monaco (Streets of Monte Carlo, May 26-28), Aramco British Grand Prix (Silverstone, July 7-9), Belgian Grand Prix (Spa, July 28-30), Pirelli Gran Premio D’Italia (Monza, Sept. 1-3) and the season finale Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix (Yas Marina Circuit, Nov. 24-26). Formula 1 goes racing this coming Sunday on March 5th with the Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix (5:00 AM HI Time on ESPN).
You can follow the entire F1 schedule via the link below:
The 2023 season will mark a significant milestone for the American-owned Formula 1 racing series as an American born driver returns to the grid for the first time since current IndyCar racer Alexander Rossi last raced for the now defunct Manor F1 Team in 2015. Led by American-owned, British-based Williams Racing, the racing world will welcome Fort Lauderdale, Florida’s Logan “Captain America” Sargeant to the Formula 1 racing fraternity. With the young American phenom set to make his debut on March 5th, let’s take a lap into who Logan Sargent is!
Who is Logan Sargeant?
Per the Sporting News Australia, the Flying Floridian, who was born on New Year’s Eve of 2000, started go-kart racing at the age of 8. He spent a combined seven years in both American & European karting series prior to graduating to open-wheel, single seater Formula 4 racing in late 2016. Sargeant captured 15 podiums through 18 total races during his first full season racing in the 2016-17 Formula 4 United Arab Emirates (UAE) Championship. His fast Formula 4 start gained him notoriety throughout the prestigious European racing scene. 2019 saw Captain America catapult into Formula 3 racing and enjoy noticeable success the following year as he surged to victories in: Great Britain (Silverstone) and Belgium (Spa). Despite a pair of victories, Sargent narrowly lost out on the 2020 Formula 3 title to fellow 2023 Formula 1 rookie – Australia’s Oscar Piastri, who will make his F1 debut with McLaren Racing. Sargent remained parked in F3 during 2021 due to funding issues, but maintained competitive form by capturing a win and four podiums with Charouz Racing (via www.driverdb.com).
Sargeant’s successful season drew the attention of the freshly acquired Williams Racing and ultimately led to him joining the Williams Driver Academy in October of 2021. This also provided him with sufficient financial backing to advance to the Formula 2 racing series. Despite losing out to Brazilian Felipe Drugovich for the Formula 2 series championship, Captain America managed a successful F2 rookie campaign highlighted by a pair of victories in Great Britain (Silverstone) and Austria (Red Bull Ring) along with multiple top-three podium finishes with Carlin Racing. Following a stellar performance at the season finale in Abu Dhabi, the young American heroically secured the 5thplace finish needed to acquire the necessary FIA Super License points. This gave him the green light to an F1 seat with Williams.
In addition to Williams’ existing Duracell Batteries sponsorship, Sargeant’s addition to the British-based team has attracted other American sponsors such as: Michelob Ultra Beer, PPG Paints and Gulf Oil. Learn more about the newest American addition to the Formula 1 grid via the links to the Sporting News Article I used & his Williams Racing driver profile along with his Instagram (@logansargeant).
IndyCar – Pedal to the metal! 2023 Preview, Part 2:
With IndyCar’s Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg going green in less than a week (7:00 AM HI Time on NBC), it is time for us to dive into part two of my 2023 preview, which includes a look at the series’ schedule, this season’s championship contenders and provide predictions.
IndyCar’s 17-race schedule includes: 5 speedway races, 7 road course races and 5 street course races. In addition to the season-opening race in St Petersburg, FL, my races to watch include: Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach (Streets of Long Beach, April 14-16), the 107th running of the Indianapolis 500 (Indianapolis Motor Speedway, May 26-28), Hy-Vee IndyCar Weekend (2 races at Iowa Speedway Race on July 22 & 23) and the season finale Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey (WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, Sept. 8-10).
Follow the entire IndyCar schedule on their website linked below:
2022 saw Australia’s Will Power of Team Penske capture the IndyCar Championship despite only winning a single race (Detroit) in his Chevrolet-powered Verizon car. His American Penske teammate Josef Newgarden fell 6 points short of capturing the 2022 title and will look to make a run at the title after making 5 Victory Lane visits last season. Other 2022 winner’s circle members included: Scott McLaughlin (Penske), Pato O’Ward (McLaren), Colton Herta (Andretti), Scott Dixon (Ganassi), Marcus Ericsson (Ganassi), Alexander Rossi (Andretti – now with McLaren), Álex Palou (McLaren – now with Ganassi). This season, I expect Newgarden to make up for falling short last year and capture his 3rd IndyCar title in 2023. However, I predict New Zealand’s Scott Dixon (Ganassi Racing) winning the marquee Indy 500. The Kiwi is a 6-time series champion and won the 2008 Indy 500. I believe that Dixon is due for number two!
IndyCar tire supplier Firestone created a page outlining the basics of the sport. Check out the link below! https://www.firestonetire.com/firestone-racing/indycar-experience/
MotoGP – 2023 preview of the world’s fastest two-wheel racing (Part 1):
Sometimes, the best things in life come in twos. Switching gears from four-wheel racing, we’ll lighten things up by previewing the upcoming season for the world’s premier two-wheel racing series: MotoGP. The high-performance motorcycle racing series will go green on March 10th with a pair of pre-season test sessions on both the 10th and 16th at the Autodromo Internacional do Algarve in Portimão, Portugal. The track will also play host to the season-opening Grande Prémio de Portugal on March 26th (Noon HI Time). Part 1 of this 2-part 2023 preview cover the basics of MotoGP & which riders to keep your eyes peeled for this season.
MotoGP is the world’s fast racing on two wheels as the latest and greatest motorcycle manufacturers tackle various tracks worldwide and pushing the limits of physics. Riders’ knees are inches above the track as their high-performance motorcycles sweep through turns angled in excess of 45 degrees. Per One Stop Racing, the 230-horsepower MotoGP bikes can reach speeds as high as 225 mph on straightaways while corners are taken at speeds ranging from 52 – 86 mph all while riders lean as far as 58 – 62 degrees to effectively optimize speed while sweeping through corners – where most time is either gained or lost. The way these riders dive into corners is truly a “hold your breath” kind of spectacle. Excess leaning through a corner can cause a ride to lose control and go either skidding or flying from their bikes. Fortunately, each rider is equipped with extremely sturdy leather suits complete with built-in, specially engineered plastic protection added to the knee, elbow and shoulder areas.
Italy’s Francesco “Pecco” Bagnaia will be the hunted rider going into the 2023 season as the Italian is fresh off of a come from behind title charge beating French 2022 championship favorite Fabio Quartararo. The Fast Frenchman was ahead of Bagnaia by as much as 91 points until the Italian went on a 6-race surge fueled by 4 podium finishes highlighted by a win at the penultimate race in Sepang at the PETRONAS Grand Prix of Malaysia. Expect these championship rivals to once again challenge for the 2023 crown. Other possible contenders include: Enea Bastianini (Ducati, Italy), Aleix Espargo (Aprilia, Spain), Jack Miller (Ducati, Australia) and Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda, Spain). These riders finished 3rd, 4th, 5th and 13th, respectively. Bastianini claimed 4 victories last season while the Spaniard Espargo managed seven 3rd-place finishes along with a visit to Victory Lane in Argentina. The Aussie Miller managed a handful of 2nd and 3rd place podium finishes along with a win at the Motul Grand Prix of Japan (Motegi). Spain’s Marc Marquez is always in the championship conversation as a 6-time MotoGP champion and managed a 2nd place podium at the Animoca Brands Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix (Phillip Island) despite an injury-shortened season that saw him parked for 8 out of 20 races. I expect a healthy Marquez to make a strong charge for title number 7.
Stay tuned for next week’s edition of Motorsport Minutes will take a look at the complete MotoGP schedule and provide predictions for the 2023 edition of MotoGP.
For more on MotoGP, here are some helpful sites to check out:
MotoGP Made Easy:
How fast do MotoGP bikes go:
You can follow the entire 2023 MotoGP schedule here: https://www.motogp.com/en/calendar
That is a wrap on Lap 5 of Motorsports Minutes! Mahalo a million for taking the time to read my articles and allowing me to share my passion for racing with you. Let’s keep the dialogue going on social media! Share this article with loved ones on Facebook/Instagram, tag @ESPN Honolulu, use the hashtag #MotorsportMinutes and message me on Instagram: @hamburgermatty. I’d love to hear your thoughts on these articles along with your NASCAR, Formula E, Formula 1, IndyCar and MotoGP predictions! Have a great week, Hawaiʻi! Mahalo to Chanel and the ESPN Honolulu ʻOhana for the opportunity to talk racing with you. Until next week, keep it full throttle! Chee Hoo!