On This Day: 19 April

There may be no live premier motorsport on this day in 2020 but in previous years there has been.

1998 500cc Malaysian Grand Prix

After the season opener in Japan the second round of the 1998 season would take place at the Johor Circuit in Malaysia.

After a difficult opening round, Mick Doohan (pictured below) claimed pole position ahead of Japan winner, Max Biaggi and Spaniard Carlos Checa.

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It was Kyoji Nanba, who had qualified fourth, who took the lead at the start with Biaggi, Doohan and Norick Abe behind.

It would be an eventful first lap further back as several riders fell including Nobuatsu Aoki, Tadayuki Okada and Alex Barros, although Aoki managed to continue. By the end of the first lap there had already been three retirements.

At the front Biaggi (pictured below) took the lead from Nanba on lap 2 going into the first turn. Nanba would become the fourth retirement very soon afterwards as he lost control of his bike on the proceeding straight, crashing out of the race.

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It meant that the new top three in the race consisted of Biaggi, Doohan and Abe, who had started seventh. with Checa in fourth and his teammate, John Kocinski in fifth.

Kocinski would however manage to get past Checa soon after as the top three pulled away from the two Movistar Honda Pons bikes.

One of the fallers on the opening lap, Aoki, suffered another crash on lap 3 which ended his race.

A couple of laps later saw Abe retire from third, promoting Kocinski (pictured below) to third, Checa into fourth and Alex Criville, who had started down in seventeenth, was now up to fifth. However both Checa and Criville would manage to get past Kocinski demoting him to fifth.

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There was entertainment at the very front as Biaggi and Doohan were close together, while Checa closed in on the pair.

A few laps later Doohan passed Biaggi for the lead going into turn 1 and managed to slowly pull away from the Italian.

Biaggi would now have Checa to contend with who was putting pressure on him which bore fruit when the Spaniard passed Biaggi on the start/finish straight.

Doohan would go on to claim victory ahead of Checa and Biaggi with Criville fourth and Kocinski fifth.

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It meant in the early stages of the championship that Biaggi led with 41 points ahead of Checa (28), who was two ahead of Criville while Doohan was fourth, five points ahead of Okada.

In the 125cc class Japanese rider Noboru Ueda won ahead of Mirko Giansanti and Tomomi Manako. Meanwhile in the 250cc class, Tetsuya Harada won ahead of countryman Tohru Ukawa with Olivier Jacque completing the top three.

1998 Formula Nippon Suzuka

The new season of Formula Nippon took place at the Suzuka track with Ralf Firman starting from pole position, who was entering his second season in the series.

He would however go on to finish outside the points, in twelfth, as Masahiko Kageyama won ahead of his younger brother, Masami Kageyama, with Norberto Fontana (pictured below in 1997) completing the podium places.

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Points were awarded down to sixth in the 10-6-4-3-2-1 format with those last three points finishes being filled by Katsutomo Kaneishi, Hideki Noda and Marc Goossens.

The other non-Japanese driver on the grid at Suzuka that day was Tom Coronel who was making his debut in the series and managed to finish eighth and claim the fastest lap.

1970 Formula 1 Spanish Grand Prix

The Spanish Grand Prix was the second round of the season and took place at the Jarama circuit in Madrid.

Going into the race weekend Jack Brabham held the early lead in the championship after finishing ahead of Denny Hulme and Jackie Stewart at the season opener in South Africa.

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The Spanish Grand Prix was a somewhat chaotic event, mainly for incidents taking place off the track. The issues that would raise their head during the weekend included debate over a new seeding system being introduced for qualifying, confusion over whether times set in Friday running counted towards qualifying as well as debate over how many cars would be allowed to start the Grand Prix.

This last point particularly dominated the weekend as it was initially announced by the organisers only sixteen starters would be allowed, this was then overturned only for the decision to be reversed to the original limit of sixteen.

This was such an issue that it wouldn’t even be resolved by the start of the Grand Prix with debate still raging minutes after the race was due to have started as officials constantly changed their mind, eventually deciding that some who had taken their place on the grid would not be allowed to start.

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To add to this, officials also tried to remove Graham Hill after they deemed him to have arrived late on the grid and attempted to force him off before deciding to let him start.

All of this had little impact on Piers Courage’s race as he would ultimately fail to start after suffering an accident during practice, having qualified thirteenth.

Away from the chaotic organising of the event, Brabham qualified in pole position ahead of Hulme (pictured below leaning on car talking to Bruce McLaren) and Stewart.

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At the start of the race Stewart managed to jump into the lead ahead of Hulme and Brabham with Pedro Rodriguez in fourth ahead of Henri Pescarolo, Jean-Pierre Beltoise, Bruce McLaren and Jochen Rindt, who debuted the new Lotus 72.

Further back on the opening lap there was a crash between Jackie Oliver and Jacky Ickx when Oliver suffered a mechanical failure, causing him to slide across the track, collecting Ickx’s Ferrari. The resulting collision between the two caused their fuel tanks to burst into flames (pictured below is Stewart passing the burning wreckage).

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Both would survive the accident, however the efforts to deal with the resulting flames and two wreckages had an affect on the race as the marshals initially attempted to extinguish the flames using water, which only worsened matters as it was ineffective at putting out the flames and meant that the nearby track became slippery. They eventually resorted to using foam extinguishers.

For a period however a plume of smoke blew over the paddock and above the start/finish straight. The accident would also lead to Oliver’s teammate, Rodriguez being called in, who was fourth at the time.

Brabham would be one of the first to be caught out at the site of the accident and spin, he was however far enough ahead to retain his third place.

The race would be dominated by attrition as Chris Amon fell down the order after encountering clutch trouble. Hulme would be the next to suffer reliability issues, which promoted Brabham up to second.

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Pescarolo (pictured above) was fourth but spun at the sight of the Oliver/Ickx accident, dropping the Frenchman down to fifth behind teammate Beltoise.

Rindt would be the next to retire with spark box trouble, ending a race weekend on which he celebrated his birthday the day before the race.

Hulme had continued despite his initial reliability issues, but he retired from the race on lap 10 with a broken distributor. Amon who had also continued on despite his clutch issues was forced into retirement.

Amongst all of this was a battle developing between McLaren, John Surtees, Mario Andretti, Hill and Rolf Stommelen. Further up the field Brabham had a second spin at the sight of the Oliver/Ickx accident while Beltoise battled Stewart for the lead of the race.

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Beltoise’s challenge would end however when he too retired, with an engine failure. He was followed by his teammate on the 33rd lap as Pescarolo suffered an engine failure of his own while running fourth.

A battle was still being waged between Andretti and Stommelen for sixth, but this too would be interrupted by reliability issues as Stommelen was forced into retirement on lap 43 with engine issues.

Brabham closed in on Stewart and a tense battle between the two took place over several laps, but this too ended when Brabham was forced to retire with engine issues. Soon after his retirement, Surtees also came into the pits to retire after suffering issues with his gearbox.

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All of this meant that with five laps remaining there were only five cars left running. Fortunately there would be no more retirements with Stewart claiming victory after 90 laps with McLaren second and despite issues with his car’s gears, Andretti finished third with Hill fourth and Johnny Servoz-Gavin fifth.

It was Stewart’s eleventh Grand Prix victory and the first for March as a constructor, despite it being only its second race.

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After the chaos with the organisation of the 1970 event, there were questions over whether Jarama would continue to host a Formula 1 world championship event.

In the drivers’ championship itself Stewart had taken the lead of the championship ahead of Brabham with four points separating the two with Hulme and McLaren tied for third on six points. Two points behind them were Andretti and Hill, Beltoise was on three, Servoz-Gavin was tied on two points along with John Miles, who had failed to qualify for the race.

2015 IndyCar Grand Prix of Long Beach

The Grand Prix of Long Beach was the third round of the 2015 season and a week after the Grand Prix of Louisiana.

The three scheduled qualifying segments took place with Helio Castroneves claiming pole position ahead of championship leader Juan Pablo Montoya with Scott Dixon third while Montoya’s nearest title rival, Will Power, qualified down in eighteenth. The winner at Louisiana, James Hinchcliffe qualified in thirteenth.

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At the start Dixon managed to move up to second while Ryan Hunter-Reay dropped down the field from fourth to sixth by the first corner.

The first and only caution period came out on lap 5 due to debris on the track from Gabby Chaves’s car. Many drivers pitted soon after this but there were issues for both Luca Fillipi and Will Power, the two stalling in the pit entrance. They would both rejoin the race, but at the back of the field and both at least a lap down.

Green flag racing returned on lap 10 with Dixon attempting to pass Castroneves on the restart, but failing to do so. Further back Jake Hawksworth managed to pass Dracone for fifteenth.

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Further into the race Sebastian Bourdais managed to pass Graham Rahal for eighth while Simon Pagenaud got pass Montoya for third. Another key pass was that of Dixon on Castroneves in the pits as he got passed the Penske driver who was delayed exiting his pit box by Kanaan whose pit box was directly in front of Castroneves’s.

A few laps later Pagenaud would attempt to pass Castroneves for second but failed, putting the French driver under pressure from Montoya directly behind. All of this meant that Dixon was able to pull away slightly. Elsewhere Rahal managed to pass Hunter-Reay for tenth while Conor Daly passed James Jakes for seventeenth.

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A new pit stop phase got underway on lap 55 with Dixon, Montoya and Josef Newgarden all pitting with Castroneves and Pagenaud pitting the lap after.

It was tight out of the pits with Dixon managing to stay ahead of Castroneves while Pagenaud exited ahead of Montoya. However Montoya managed to get past Pagenaud later on in the lap.

As the race entered the final ten laps it was the battle between Pagenaud and Montoya over third that was the main entertainment with Kanaan and Bourdais closing in on the pair.

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Dixon took the chequered flag ahead of Castroneves, Montoya, Pagenaud, Kanaan and Bourdais with Power having a weekend to forget, ultimately finishing down in twentieth.

It meant that leaving Long Beach, Montoya still led the championship, but his lead was now cut down to three points as Castroneves assumed the role of his nearest challenger. Kanaan was now third, six points ahead of Dixon who had leapt up the championship with his victory while Hinchcliffe was four points behind Dixon.

 

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