Motorsport wrap: Hamilton closes on title with Japanese win

Hamilton Japan

Lewis Hamilton won the Japanese GP

Your weekly results round-up: Meeke wins in Catalunya, Brit Russell clinches GP3 title

Lewis Hamilton took a huge step towards securing his fourth Formula 1 World Championship with victory in the Japanese Grand Prix, while title rival Sebastian Vettel retired with engine problems.

Mercedes racer Hamilton started the race at Suzuka from pole position, and immediately pulled clear of the pack. Vettel initially ran second in his Ferrari, but began to fall down the order with an engine problem that eventually forced him to retire.

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen took up the pursuit of Hamilton, and closed right in after a late-race virtual safety car, but the Brit held on for his 61st career victory.

Hamilton now leads Vettel by 59 points, and could secure the title at the next race, the US Grand Prix in Austin, Texas.

“It’s kind of unbelievable, to think we are where we are,” said Hamilton. “I was excited to have a good race with Sebastian, but he’s been incredibly unfortunate. F1 is a lot about reliability, it’s about the team’s whole performance, and [Mercedes] has shown for many years that we have a very solid platform.”

Daniel Ricciardo finished third for Red Bull, ahead of Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas and Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen.

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Briton Jolyon Palmer finished 12th in what will be his final outing for the Renault team. Palmer will be replaced by current Toro Rosso driver Carlos Sainz Jr, who has signed with Renault for 2018, in the final four races.

World Rally Championship: Rallye Catalunya

Northern Irish driver Kris Meeke took his second win of the 2017 season with a commanding performance on Rallye Catalunya in his Citroen C3 WRC.

The mixed surface event starts on gravel, switching to Tarmac for the final two legs. Meeke was third after the opening leg, but put in a storming time on Saturday morning’s first asphalt stage to take the lead, and was never headed after that. It was Meeke’s first victory on the event.

“It’s a special, special win,” said Meeke. “I remember walking up this road 20 years ago to watch Colin McRae in 1997 in a Subaru. Back then I didn’t even dream I’d drive a rally car here myself.”

Sebastien Ogier finished second in his M-Sport Ford Fiesta WRC to stretch his title lead with two events remaining. Ott Tanak was third in the second Fiesta. Thierry Neuville’s title bid was dealt a blow after hit a stone and broke a wheel.

The next event is Wales Rally GB on October 26-29.

GP3 Series: Jerez, Spain

British racer George Russell clinched the GP3 Series championship with a pair of solid drives in the two races at Jerez in Spain.

Mercedes junior driver Russell finished second behind ART team-mate Nirei Fukuzumi in the opening, with fifth place in race two enough to secure the crown. 

“Mercedes set a clear goal for me this year, and that was to go out and win this title no matter how I do it,” said Russell. “That was a clear objective, and I’m sure they’re happy.”

Alessio Lorandi won the second race.

Round-up: Formula 2, TCR, Supercars

– Ferrari junior driver Charles Leclerc clinched the Formula 2 Championship with a victory in Jerez, Spain. Artem Markelov won the second race.

– The new Hyundai i30N TCR touring car took victory in its first race, with Gabriele Tarquini securing victory in the TCR International Series event at the Zhejiang Circuit in Shaoxing, China.

– David Reynolds and Luke Youlden won the Bathurst 1000 in their Erebus Holden Commodore, taking the lead late on in mixed conditions in the Australian Supercars Championship’s marquee event.

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Source: Autocar Online

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