Tue, Aug 23, 2005 - Page 20 News List

Kimi grabs his fifth victory of season

AUTO RACING Starting from the pole position in the inaugural Turkish Grand Prix, Kimi Raikkonen of Finland, racing for McLaren-Mercedes, ended first at Istanbul Park

AP , ISTANBUL, TURKEY

Finnish driver Kimi Raikkonen, left drives his McLaren-Mercedes F1 racer ahead of Renault Spain's Fernando Alonso, racing for Renault, during the Turkish Grand Prix in Istanbul, Turkey, Sunday. Raikkonen won the race ahead of Alonso, who finished second, and Colombia's Juan Pablo Montoya, racing for McLaren-Mercedes, who came in third. It was Raikkonen's fifth win of the season.

PHOTO: AFP

Kimi Raikkonen of McLaren-Mercedes won the inaugural Turkish Grand Prix from pole on Sunday, increasing the pressure on season-points leader Fernando Alonso.

The Finn's fifth victory of the season left him 24 points behind Alonso in the season standings with five races left.

Alonso was second in a Renault, with third going to Raikkonen's teammate Juan Pablo Montoya. McLaren should have had a 1-2 sweep, but on the second-last of 58 laps, the under-pressure Montoya drove wide on a turn and let Alonso slip by.

Montoya nearly lost second on the previous lap when he spun after a bump from behind by Jordan driver Tiago Monteiro.

The next race is Sept. 4 in Monza, Italy.

Seven-time champion Michael Schumacher endured a horrible weekend. He skidded off in qualifying, started from 19th on the 20-car grid, and went off the track after 16 laps following a minor collision with Mark Webber of Williams-BMW.

The German sat out 19 laps, but returned to run about 15 laps more before retiring again after what amounted to an extra practice session.

The new Istanbul Park circuit, which caused problems in qualifying and practice with slick conditions from sand and dirt on the track, provided a mostly incident-free race. The biggest problem came off the track, where traffic jams backed up for several kilometers leading to the new circuit 40km on Istanbul's Asian side.

Raikkonen lost the lead briefly during the first lap, when Renault's Giancarlo Fishicella surged ahead from No. 2 on the grid. But the 25-year-old Finn passed him on the initial lap and never trailed from that point.

Alonso started from third and never challenged the two McLarens -- the quickest cars in the second half of the season -- until Montoya's slip. McLaren has won three of the last four races, with the other win going to Alonso.

Officials were expecting a crowd of 75,000. Among the fans at the race were Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson. Erdogan apologized for minor problems leading up to the race.

"Next year, we will be even more successful," Erdogan said. "We have some shortfalls which we will improve and, in the coming years, ours will be considered the No. 1 event."

Dan Wheldon took his second lead with 60 laps left and wasn't challenged again, running away with the race for his record-tying fifth win of the season.

Wheldon started 11th and gradually worked his way to the front on the mile tri-oval at Pikes Peak International Raceway, taking the lead when he whipped past defending champion Dario Franchitti on lap 153. Franchitti took the lead back on lap 159 when Wheldon went to the pits, but the Englishman came charging back and had the lead six laps later.

Wheldon led by as much as 14 seconds after that and cruised to his first win since the Indianapolis 500 on May 29, beating Sam Hornish Jr. by 12.4763 seconds for his eighth career victory.

Wheldon also won at Miami, St. Petersburg and Motegi, matching Hornish's record for wins in a season, set in 2002. He celebrated with a series of doughnuts that shredded his back right tire, some well-deserved fun after five top-fives but no wins over the past seven races.

The win, which clinched Honda's second straight manufacturer's title, increases Wheldon's lead over Hornish to 97 points with four of the series' 17 races left.

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