► Ten epic race finishes
► Spats, spills and surprises
► No foregone conclusions here
Think every race is decided in qualifying and a monotonous parade after the first corner? Think again.
Valentino Rossi’s MotoGP exploits are legendary, but none more so than this clash with Sete Gibernau. Gibernau led much of his home race at Jerez, until a monumental last-lap battle ends at the final corner with elbow-to-elbow contact, Sete in the gravel, and Rossi pulling a wheelie to celebrate.
Audi wins the 12hrs of Sebring, but as fireworks explode in the Floridian sky there’s just 0.532sec between Jamie Melo’s Ferrari 430 and Jörg Bergmeister’s Porsche 911 in the GT2 class. Bergmeister gets squeezed off the track and against the wall before the pair panel-bash through the last corner and finish just 0.202sec apart.
Sebring again, and this time it’s Olivier Beretta’s Ferrari 458 neck-and-neck with Joey Hand’s BMW M3 after a dozen hours of racing. Hand is forced off the track by the sister Ferrari, but never stops, never loses the lead and recovers to take the GT win. Phew!
4) Maybe he’s Australian
No one remembers who finishes third. Unless you finish third by crossing the line on your roof. So kudos to Dieter Quester, who flips his BMW M3 DTM coming out of the final corner but still claims a podium place. (Look out for the Kevin Bacon-lookalike marshal and his enormous mullet).
5) The last, last lap
Jan Magnussen dives his Corvette past Jörg Bergmeister’s 911 but uses the pitlane exit to take the place. Forced to concede the position, it all comes down to the last lap. Until the pair cross the line one second ahead of the race-winning Acura prototype and have to go round again. It ends with the ’Vette smashing into the pitwall.
6) Commentator’s curse
30 Nascar racers scream four-abreast around Talladega and the commentator yells: ‘We’re on the last lap – will they make it back?’ Err, no, as seconds later a huge 25-car smash decimates the field. Good Sam’s Roadside Assistance sponsored the race, and were doubtless busy in the aftermath.
7) The closest race no one’s ever heard of
There’s hardly a soul in the grandstands for this Indy Lights race, but they should be as four open-wheeled racers cross the line simultaneously with Irishman Peter Dempsey winning by a scant 0.0026 seconds. Not bad for IndyCar’s feeder series.
8) The BTCC at its best
Fighting up from the back of the grid, Steve Soper catches and passes fellow championship contender John Cleland in the last race of the season. On live TV Cleland gives Soper the finger (‘He’s going for first,’ deadpans commentator Murray Walker) and a few corners later the pair are in the tyre barrier. It ends Cleland’s title hopes, but Soper’s BMW teammate Tim Harvey finishes fourth and takes the championship.
9) Someone beats Seb!
Forget the collision with teammate Lewis Hamilton, the contact with Fernando Alonso, the drive-through penalty or the five pit stops, because Jenson Button’s Canadian GP victory is most memorable because he forced the usually unflappable Sebastian Vettel into a mistake on the final lap and nipped through to take the win. Take that, Blondie!
10) And finally…
Here’s how not to do it: X-Games biker Meghan Rutledge takes the penultimate jump, pumps her fist in mid-air to celebrate the impending win, then promptly stacks it in the dirt and loses the race. Oops!