Ford’s Spa win ‘a monkey off our backs,’ Johnson says
By: Stephen Kilbey | 7 hours ago
Saturday’s 6 Hours of Spa results sheet was littered with notable milestones, and one of the key ones didn’t come in LMP1 – which saw Fernando Alonso win on his WEC debut – but in GTE Pro.
Ford’s triumph in the hotly-contested 10-car class marked the No. 66 Chip Ganassi Team UK Ford GT’s first WEC race win. American driver Billy Johnson got to stand on the top step of the podium for the first time in the world championship as a result.
Billy Johnson, Olivier Pla, and Stefan Mucke celebrate at Spa (image by JEP/LAT)
“To be working on the car before I even knew what it looked like, and to have worked on the road car development too, is a huge honor to me,” Johnson, who is a full-time Multimatic driver, explained to RACER. “To race here and at Le Mans, as one of only two Americans in the Ford program, is also really special.
“To bring home a win, marking the 66’s first, and the first for Stefan and Olivier in the WEC with Ford was a big monkey off the whole team’s back. The pace has been there in the past – the hard work has too – it’s just the results that haven’t. It was very satisfying, now all four Fords racing in IMSA and the WEC have won races.”
It wasn’t a simple race for the No. 66 crew. Mucke, Johnson and Pla had to fight hard all race with the pair of Porsche GT Team 911 RSR GTEs, for much of the race without the sister car too, after the No. 67’s huge accident at Eau Rouge at the start of the second hour.
“That crash, which left us to fight for Ford alone, was huge, but thankfully Harry (Tincknell) was OK, it’s a real testament to the car that Multimatic and Ford have designed. For him to walk away was incredible.”
Johnson’s stint was spent battling for second with Gianmaria Bruni in the second half of the race, the American pushing hard to ensure Pla was in with a shout at the end. He made a bold move to get by the Italian, through traffic at Blanchimont, which turned out to be a key move in the race for the team in its run to the lead.
Then, despite the best efforts from Porsche’s factory roster, when the field was bunched up after the final safety car in the final 45 minutes, Pla completed the charge to the front. Johnson, Mucke and the team watched on in the garage, as Pla ran side-by-side with Richard Lietz’s No. 91 Porsche in the battle for the class lead, making a bold move up the inside at Eau Rouge to take the place and ultimately score the win.
While there wasn’t necessarily mounting pressure internally, Johnson said there was still a sense of relief as well as jubilation when the car crossed the line, after two winless years in the WEC for the No. 66.
Going forward, Johnson hopes that the form shown in Belgium translates to a good run at La Sarthe next month (where Ford will once again race with four cars in GTE Pro) and as a result, more drives with the team.
As it stands, his only other scheduled appearance in the WEC is at the Le Mans 24 Hours, though there are clearly other opportunities for him to race later in the 2018/19 ‘Super Season’ as a third driver, at the rounds at Sebring, Spa and Le Mans in 2019. Next month will therefore be of upmost importance to Johnson, who told RACER he’ll do everything he can to try and secure an expanded program.
“The Pro class is definitely stacked for Le Mans. I think it’s the best class in the race – the racing is good and the cars are relatable. To guess how the performance at Le Mans will be is hard – nobody knows, because of BoP and the Le Mans specific tire.
“We start square one there at the Test Day, you can’t relate the form here to it. And that’s why it’s going to be so tough for us.
“Hopefully we have a good result at Le Mans, and I can be in the position to do more races. I want to do the full championship, it’s not off the table, so we will have to see where it goes.”
IMSA i WEC 2018/19 (sportski prototipovi)
Posted 06 May 2018 - 19:50
Posted 06 May 2018 - 19:52
Marcelli storms to Mid-Ohio Continental Tire Challenge win
Image by Jake Galstad/LAT
By: IMSA | 21 hours ago
A double-digit deficit and a sputtering fuel tank wouldn’t keep Kyle Marcelli from victory in the IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge on Saturday afternoon.
Marcelli took the reins of the No. 60 Roush Performance / KohR Motorsports Ford Mustang GT4 from co-driver Nate Stacy and found himself over 10 seconds behind leader Patrick Gallagher in the No. 8 Multimatic Motorsports Ford Mustang GT4. Marcelli wiped the deficit clean with just over three minutes remaining in the race, eventually passing Gallagher – whose co-driver Chad McCumbee put the car on pole – to steal the win.
But it wasn’t without excitement.
On the final lap, Gallagher – competing in his hometown race – appeared to make significant gains back towards Marcelli in the lead, who ultimately was struggling with a lack of fuel. Gallagher pulled alongside Marcelli in the final set of turns, but the No. 60 regained its strength when it mattered and pulled away towards the checkered flag.
“It was one of those never give up races,” Marcelli said. “I just kept telling myself that anything can happen, to keep pushing, and our Ford Mustang GT4 was just really solid today. Really consistent. The tires held up great, the car just didn’t go off on me. I knew if I just didn’t make a mistake, that we had the pace.
“Finally, with just a few minutes to go it looked like I could make the pass and I knew when I finally caught him, I had to make it right away. We went door-to-door in Turn 2 and it was just really good racing. It was a lot of fun. Two-for-two for Ford and Roush Performance and KohR. Our strategy was awesome as well. It was a bit risky. We came in early to make our final stop shorter and it paid off with track position.”
Also recording its second podium finish this year was the No. 84 BimmerWorld Racing BMW M4 GT4 of James Clay and Tyler Cooke, finishing third after running well within the top 10 all day.
Controversial finish finds Wittmer, Sales atop TCR podium once again
While the No. 74 Compass Racing Audi RS3 LMS of Kuno Wittmer and Rodrigo Sales led 53 of 76 laps on Saturday afternoon in the Continental Tire Challenge TCR class, they didn’t lead the last lap. However, they walked away with the victory.
In an odd twist of events, a GS racecar pulled off track on the final lap with an empty fuel tank, creating a local caution, but not stopping the race. By rule, cars are not allowed to pass in an area of the racetrack that is under a local caution.
Wittmer held the lead – as he had during the previous 38 laps – but was overtaken in the local caution area by teammate Tom Long in the No. 77 Audi RS3 LMS coming to the finish line.
After the race concluded, the No. 74 was ruled the winner.
“First of all, the Compass team and the Audi RS3 LMS were amazing all weekend,” Wittmer said after the race. “We topped the charts in all of the practice sessions. My teammate Rodrigo really held up his end, he was awesome. We pitted with the perfect strategy and we ended up with a 30-second lead, but we ended up having to conserve a lot of fuel. We had to do a lot of fuel conserving thus putting a lot of debris on the front tires so when I had to push I had no grip.”
“(Long) initiated the pass and I was quite surprised, so I’m glad the stewards, the IMSA officials, acted on it because it was a straight up pass under yellow. I feel bad for them, but a regulation is a regulation. We’ll take the points, we’ll take the win. It’s a long season ahead.”
Long and co-driver Britt Casey Jr., who put the No. 77 on pole, wound up second, with Roy Block and Pierre Kleinubing making it a 1-2-3 finish for Compass Racing in the No. 75. Michael Johnson and Stephen Simpson in the No. 54 JDC-Miller Motorsports Audi RS3 LMS – returning for their first race of the season after Johnson suffered a broken leg during an incident at the Roar Before the Rolex 24 in early January – finished fourth after leading laps early in the race.
MINI repeats 1-2 performance in Street Tuner class
When it rains, it pours for MINI in the Street Tuner (ST) class.
After recording its second career 1-2 Continental Tire Challenge finish at Sebring International Raceway back in March, MINI repeated that performance at Mid-Ohio on Saturday afternoon, with the No. 73 MINI JCW Team MINI JCW of Mat Pombo and Mike LaMarra claiming the class victory.
Pombo’s brother Mark, sharing the No. 52 with series rookie Colin Mullan, finished second, completing a reverse order of the team’s result at Sebring.
“Mark and I don’t race each other, we want to play wingman unless one of us makes a mistake we don’t go by,” said Mat Pombo. “So this one was for both of us, Sebring was for both of us. To come home 1-2, our goal is to put MINI at the lead of the manufacturer standings with BMW coming in, so we took the lead coming out of here. We can’t wait to get to Watkins Glen and continue this because there’s a lot of momentum for us right now.”
Rounding out the podium in third place were class polesitters Nick Galante and Devin Jones in the No. 81 BimmerWorld Racing BMW328i.
The race broadcast for the Mid-Ohio 120 will air on FS1 on Saturday, May 12 at 12:30 p.m. ET. Up next, the Continental Tire Challenge will return to Watkins Glen International on June 28 – July 1 for its second of two four-hour endurance events in 2018, and the fourth of 10 rounds on the season.
Posted 06 May 2018 - 21:25
Spa win ‘like a test for Le Mans with points at the end’ – Alonso
World Endurance Championship
5th May 2018, 21:14
Fernando Alonso declared Toyota are ready for the Le Mans 24 Hours after their one-two result in today’s Spa Six Hours.
Alonso, Sebastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima shared victory in the first WEC round of the 2018-19 ‘super-season’, which is the last race before the teams head to Le Mans.
“Definitely this is a warm-up for Le Mans,” said Alonso. “Like a test but with points at the end of the chequered flag.”
“We wanted to test ourselves in a proper race conditions with other teams, the drivers [under] stress, the mechanics [under] stress, everyone in racing conditions. And we delivered a one-two, so I think we are ready for Le Mans.
“Definitely the race is a lot tougher, 24 hours, a lot of issues may appear but we are as prepared as possible so I think we will go with confidence into the race.”
The number eight Alonso/Buemi/Nakajima Toyota inherited pole position when the number seven car was forced to start last with a one-lap penalty after being excluded from qualifying. Alonso said his side of the garage adopted conservative tactics for the race which played against them when their team mates got back on the lead lap.
“We took quite a safe approach in the race knowing that we were in a good advantage. But then with the Safety Car probably that advantage went, so our safe approach was not the quickest and we had to fight until the end.
“But as I said the team is amazing. Six Hours race, it seems easy, but I think the other LMP1s were quick at the beginning of the race. We stopped before them in the first stop so they were a risk there.
“Anything can happen in six hours. A lot of traffic, a lot of risky moments. I think we executed the race to perfection and we got the one-two so it’s good for the team.”
Alonso’s victory is his first in international competition for almost five years. “I was telling Kazuki and Sebastien it is so nice to be on the podium and I will be here all night long, so pick me up tomorrow morning because I will try to sleep here,” he added.
Toyota confirms Alonso and Conway were told to hold position at Spa
World Endurance Championship
6th May 2018, 14:55
Dieter Rencken and Keith Collantine
Toyota confirms it called off the fight for victory between Fernando Alonso and Mike Conway in the closing stages of yesterday’s Spa Six Hours.
The number eight car of Alonso, Sebastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima led the team’s one-two finish in the first round of the World Endurance Championship yesterday. The result gave Alonso his first sportscar victory.
However a pre-race arrangement meant the number seven car of Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and Jose Maria Lopez was not to challenge for the lead in the latter stages of the race.
“We told the drivers they could race until the last pit stop,” a Toyota spokesperson confirmed to RaceFans. “After that they were told to hold positions and Mike was instructed to leave a safety gap to Fernando.
“It’s worth adding that we would have issued exactly the same instruction if car seven had been leading after the final stops,” the spokesperson added.
The Alonso/Buemi/Nakajima car inherited pole position after their team mates’ entry was stripped of its qualifying times and given a one-lap penalty for running with an incorrect fuel flow meter. Toyota said the mistake was due to an “administrative error” and it did not give the car a performance advantage.
A series of Safety Car periods helped the number eight car catch up to the sister machine, which led most of the race. Team radio during the race revealed Alonso was running without hybrid boost at one stage and also had to manage high gearbox temperatures.
Posted 06 May 2018 - 21:26
Todt aiming for seven manufacturers in new, low-cost LMP1 from 2020
World Endurance Championship
6th May 2018, 12:41
Dieter Rencken and Keith Collantine
FIA president Jean Todt aims to lure manufacturers back to the top class of the World Endurance Championship with a new, much cheaper formula from 2020.
The number of manufacturer competitors in the top flight of endurance racing has fallen from four to one since 2015. Todt told RaceFans and other media yesterday budgets must be cut to attract them back and did not rule out the possibility of introducing a cost cap.
“I will not get into the detail how to achieve it but clearly we want to find ways of drastically decreasing the costs and making it more attractive to manufacturers and also to private competitors,” said Todt.
“At the top category of the championship, it’s not crazy to think if we do a good job and taking into account what needs to be taken into account, I could foresee without being over-optimistic five to seven manufacturers,” he added.
The top class could also be given a new identity, added Todt. “At the moment LMP1 is the top category. In the future we will still have a top category but it’s not taken for granted that the name will remain the same.”
Toyota is the only remaining LMP1 hybrid competitor following the departure of Porsche last year. WEC responded by moving to the ‘super-season’ format for the 2018-19 championship and encouraging more customer team entries into LMP1. Todt said he is pleased with the short-term measures which have been taken to stabilise the championship.
“We were in a kind of emergency situation,” he explained. “So being in an emergency situation we had to find some innovative solutions.”
Todt added he wants the LMP2 and the GT classes to continue alongside LMP1 but wants all the categories to be closer in terms of performance.
“I think it’s a good distribution to have a top category which will be clearly different from what it is at the present time and to have an intermediate category like what is called today LMP2 which will have a lot of teams which are competing at affordable budget and then a lot of GT cars competing.
“I would prefer to have less gap. What is sometimes a bit scary you go in Le Mans and you see after the first lap you have a group of cars arriving which is at the moment LMP1, then a few seconds behind you have another group of cars, and then you have to wait and you have the third group. I can understand that you have this pyramid in endurance racing but I would like a closer gap with this pyramid.”
Posted 07 May 2018 - 15:13
Penske perfect for Acura at Mid-Ohio
By: Marshall Pruett | 17 hours ago
Sunday’s Acura Sports Car Challenge at Mid-Ohio was an exercise of Penske Perfection for Acura in Prototype, Porsche domination in GT Le Mans, and a big coming out party for Lexus in GT Daytona.
The Captain’s Acura ARX-05 DPi program swept the weekend in Acura’s Ohio backyard with a staggering 1-2 finish in all three practices, qualifying, and the 2h40m race as a hard scrap between the ARX-05 entries fell in favor of polesitters Helio Castroneves and Ricky Taylor in the No. 7 Acura.
Lead changes with the sister No. 6 driven by Dane Cameron and Juan Montoya, and passes made on the Acuras by the sprightly Mazda RT24-Ps kept the race interesting throughout the afternoon race held under soft blue skies.
At the line, Taylor held an easy 8.4s gap over Montoya and a comfortable 26.7s over Tristan Nunez in the No. 77 Mazda he shared with Oliver Jarvis who ran as high as second as the two Japanese brands took control of the podium.
Castroneves and Taylor share the winning moment. (Image by Scott LePage/LAT)
“This is an incredible team effort,” said an overjoyed Castroneves. “I’m just so proud to be part of this organization. Man, what a great battle. Great job, Team Penske.”
Image by Jake Galstad/LAT
The top WEC P2 finisher on the day was PR1/Mathiasen/AFS Racing’s No. 52 Ligier JS P217-Gibson driven by Sebastian Saavedra and Gustavo Yacaman. The all-Colombian line-up took sixth, albeit 1m13.9s behind at the checkered flag. In another Prototype note of interest, Mid-Ohio marked the first event since the DPi formula launched at Daytona in 2017 where a Cadillac failed to finish on the podium.
GT Le Mans followed a script that was nearly identical to Prototype. Other than missing out on pole to BMW’s No. 24 entry by 0.066s, the Porsche GT Team went 1-2 in all three practices and ran 1-2 for most of the race after quickly overtaking John Edwards pole-sitting BMW Team RLL BMW M8 GTE.
The Porsche 1-2 would get derailed at the hallway point when the No. 912 shared by Laurens Vanthoor and Earl Bamber lost the No. 911 of Patrick Pilet and Nick Tandy as its tail gunner on the final pit stop. GTLM’s story would come from the pits and the incredibly gentle right foot of Vanthoor as the No. 912 stopped on Lap 78 and the Belgian proceeded to nurse the car home.
BMW’s Connor De Phillippi would push his last stop to Lap 97 in the No. 25 and spent the remainder of the race – the checkered flew on Lap 125 – at maximum attack. With Vanthoor working miracles with his fuel reserves, De Phillippi’s prayers weren’t heard as the Porsche’s engine stayed alight to deliver a tension-filled win by 1.6s over the M8 GTE.
“That was an amazing race,” Bamber said. “Since Sebring, we’ve been on a roll. Long Beach got away from us so this is what we deserved. Laurens did a phenomenal job holding off the BMW.”
De Phillippi was drained and displeased to come up short.
“It was a two-hour stint like a two-hour sprint race,” he said of the race he shared with teammate Alexander Sims. “I had an issue with the drink bottle in the cockpit and my left leg cramped up, which I hadn’t experienced before. We’ll keep battling and get that first win soon.”
3GT Racing’s Lexus RC F GT3 duo did a stellar job to lead from the front row and pulled out a comfortable margin over the home state Meyer Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3 until late in the race when the No. 14 Lexus driven by Dominik Baumann was left to fend for himself against a charging Alvaro Parente in the No. 86 Acura.
With the Portuguese ace stalking the German, Baumann’s lead of more than two seconds was carved down to a scant 0.191s as the Acura cut left and right searching for a way past in corner after corner. Undeterred, the Lexus driver kept his eyes focused on the road ahead and made history for the brand as it captured its first IMSA GTD win since the program’s inception in 2017.
“What a day, what a weekend,” Kyle Marcelli said of the win he shared with Baumann. “Huge thanks to Lexus, huge thanks to 3GT racing. Today was not easy. Dominik had to work for it inside the car.”
For Legge, who handed over the MSR Acura to Parente, the close finish was a welcome surprise after the RC F GT3s spent the first half of the race well ahead of her NSX GT3.
“It was a great race,” she said. “I don’t think we had the speed to win outright. Alvaro did an awesome job; so proud of him and the whole team.”
Hearty crowds, non-stop action, and a big win for the series’ biggest names in Penske and Castroneves should, following the sizable news of IMSA heading to NBC Sports in 2019, launch the WeatherTech Championship into overdrive when it returns at Belle Isle on June 2.
Posted 07 May 2018 - 22:59
Team Penske revels in Acura's first DPi win
By: Marshall Pruett | 23 hours ago
If leading all 125 laps from pole wasn’t enough of a statement for how far the Acura Team Penske IMSA DPi program has come in its first four aces, the total mastery of Mid-Ohio from the first practice through the final checkered flag sent an even stronger message to the rest of the field.
The Captain’s twin-turbo V6-powered prototypes are ready to upset the establishment in their maiden season and barring big changes to IMSA’s Balance of Performance tables, the Penske drivers should expect to feature everywhere they go.
Helio Castroneves and Ricky Taylor turned their pole into Penske’s first sports car win since 2008, and as the team’s most tenured driver, the Brazilian knows how much the victory means to his boss.
“You know, the core of this team is sports cars; that’s where Roger [Penske] got his start and he’s always wanted to come back, so when Acura jumped in, he said ‘let’s go,’” Castroneves told RACER. “He invited me to be a part of it with Ricky [Taylor], and it’s a huge first win for Team Penske and Acura.
“And at Acura’s home track in Mid-Ohio with [the sister entry of] Juan Pablo [Montoya] and Dane Cameron right there behind us; it couldn’t be more perfect.”
For Taylor, the defending IMSA Prototype champion, earning the first win for Acura Team Penske and scoring his first victory as a Penske driver was a thrill and a relief.
“If we’re going to dominate a weekend, this is a good one to do it,” he said. “Man, it’s so hard to win these races. We’ve been fast, but it didn’t happen in the first three races. And we did it twice today with both of our cars leading. For us, nothing went wrong and every call was perfect, every pit stop was perfect, and it’s such a difficult accomplishment. Now I can breathe a little [after winning]. We have to take time and enjoy this one.”
Castroneves, in his first full season of sports car racing after an illustrious IndyCar career that netted three Indy 500 wins, was all smiles after climbing from the car. Almost an hour later, the grin was still there as he and his champagne-soaked teammate basked in the accomplishment. After decades of winning as a solo artist, he’s taken a liking to the group dynamic involved in endurance racing.
“At the beginning of the race, Dane [Cameron] was all over me,” he said. “We were the only one to change drivers early, guys got past Ricky, he kept his cool, passed them back, and we worked the strategy to win. It was all about teamwork, working together as a team. This is awesome.”
Posted 09 May 2018 - 03:12
PRUETT: Time To Untether IMSA's DPis and P2s
Image by LePage/LAT
By: Marshall Pruett | 9 hours ago
The time has come for IMSA to award separate points for the pro DPi and pro-am LMP2 cars within its Prototype class. It’s also time for IMSA to end the fruitless attempts to make these vastly different styles of prototypes perform at the same level.
Implementing those changes halfway through the 2018 WeatherTech SportsCar Championship isn’t an option, but with 2019 as a reasonable start date, there’s more than enough time to map out a new and happier direction for the Prototype category.
IMSA’s ongoing practice has been to take the fastest P2 chassis and balance the DPi field to match that model’s anticipated performance, and from this policy, immense tension has arisen. Eighteen months in, the efforts to achieve parity on the stopwatch between factory DPis and spec P2s teams have not met expectations, and nor will it without taking drastic measures.
Ask any of the DPi teams, and they’ll tell you the current state of BoP with their cars is well past drastic… Shift over to the P2 contingent, and they’ll tell you that despite reassurances to the contrary, being able to capture overall wins is little more than a dream.
And that’s not a critical jab at IMSA’s technical department. The concept of balancing DPis and P2s was ambitious from the beginning, and as time has shown, it’s only become more difficult as the manufacturers continue to make their DPis faster while the P2s entrants remain moored to a set of spec rules dating back to 2017. DPis move forward, P2s are frozen in place, and the divide widens with each new race.
Through four rounds, DPis have taken 11 of 12 possible podium spots. On Sunday at Mid-Ohio, the best P2 entry came home 1m13.876s behind the winning DPi. It was driven by Sebastian Saavedra and Gustavo Yacaman, two young veterans of open-wheel racing, and in a flat-out race that went caution-free, they were just a few seconds from being lapped when the checkered flag waved.
Image by Galstad/LAT
Nearly one lap behind, it’s all the customer P2s had to offer, and that’s after back-to-back BoP changes designed to stop the runaway DPis. At the previous race in Long Beach, a late caution resulted in a 19-lap sprint to the finish. The best P2 was 19.686s behind the winning DPi when it crossed the line.
We have one style of IMSA prototype having big factory dollars spent in wind tunnels, engine dyno cells, 7-post shaker rigs, and on all the virtual testing money can buy –chassis simulations and aero CFD – while the privateer P2s, run mostly by small business owners, are no match for the cubic dollars and resources on display in the DPi camp.
And despite the frequent BoP alterations, the extra weight, reductions in horsepower and torque, and losses in fuel capacity have not stopped the headlining prototypes from Acura, Cadillac, Mazda, and Nissan from trouncing the customer P2s.
From the 14 WeatherTech SportsCar Championship races held since the start of the DPi/P2 formula in 2017, DPis are 13-1. That’s a 92.3 percent win rate. And barring the occasional result where a P2 creeps up into the lead pack of DPis, most races have highlighted another fact we’ve known all along: the average pro-am lineup in a P2 car is no match for the stunning speed and consistency most DPi driver rosters can offer.
We’re left with race results that continue to defy IMSA’s grand wishes for DPis and P2s to trade poles and wins on a regular basis, and it’s fostered the obvious need for a wholesale change in how the Prototype class is facilitated. Unshackle the DPis, let the factories race among themselves for overall honors, and give the pro-am P2s a championship within a championship where they are untethered from the manufacturer entries.
The current entry numbers skew heavily in favor of DPis, and that won’t likely change in the years ahead. Among the full-time Prototype entrants, Mid-Ohio featured nine DPis and five P2s. Once the Spirit of Daytona Cadillac DPi team returns for Detroit, the number should be back up to 10, giving DPis a 66-percent share of the class.
Image by Levitt/LAT
Just as IMSA has said all along that it would balance the DPis to match the best P2 chassis, it has also been consistent in saying it would not break from the spec rules for P2s to make them faster. As a result, Prototype’s majority has been dragged down to wherever the minority finds itself at a given track. Watching the race trackside at Mid-Ohio, the DPis were especially hapless in traffic, all thanks to the ongoing cuts in power.
The estimates vary from each manufacturer, but most DPis started the season with something in the 575hp range and have been wound down to approximately 515hp to give the P2s a chance. No wonder they’re struggling to get by GT cars. Knowing how the BoP sanctions have not given rise to P2 competitiveness, we’re faced with DPis running slower than possible for no reason.
And, in light of the frequent BoP changes, consider the money being wasted by DPi manufacturers to improve their machines while the series pumps the brakes on behalf of a few P2s. For any car companies looking into DPi, the budget-wasting precedent must be a concern.
Rather than continue to apply BoP changes that needlessly frustrate the manufacturers (rumors of a ‘come to Jesus’ meeting with IMSA on the subject made the rounds at Mid-Ohio) and fail to deliver the real-world competitiveness the P2 owners seek, it’s time for the blended DPi/P2 experiment to end at the conclusion of the season.
It’s up to IMSA to decide whether using driver ratings system for a pro-am P2 championship is needed. I’d suggest that with all the aforementioned shortcomings in budget, resources, and top-tier driver talent in most instances, ratings wouldn’t be required. A proper customer P2 team is never going to be a match for a factory DPi program. And if a major team – an Andretti Autosport, or similar – turns up with an all-pro P2 lineup, it wouldn’t be hard to call it what it is and move the team into the DPi championship frame.
IMSA has two distinct types of Prototype entrants, and celebrating those differences without making unreasonable technical alterations to one type of car is the first step towards greater happiness. Giving the pro-am teams a title of their own to pursue is the other.
When DPis comprise most of the Prototype grid, yet face regular sanctions and still continue to own the P2s, something has to give.
Posted 10 May 2018 - 12:29
A video shot by a fan has revealed the shocking aerial crash suffered by WEC driver Matevos Isaakyan during last weekend’s Spa Six Hours.
Posted 11 May 2018 - 18:25
Ickx named Grand Marshal for Le Mans
Image by Andrew Ferraro/LAT
By: Stephen Kilbey | 1 hour ago
Jacky Ickx, six-time winner of the Le Mans 24 Hours, has been named the official Grand Marshal for this year’s running of the French endurance classic.
Ickx, who in his lengthy career competed in endurance racing, rallying and Formula 1, will lead the field out for its formation lap ahead of the race on Saturday afternoon as part of his position.
“Everyone knows that Jacky Ickx is a great driver and a great man and he will surely make a great Grand Marshal for the 24 Hours of Le Mans 2018,” said Pierre Fillon, president of the Automobile Club de l’Ouest.
“The 60-car field will be following in illustrious footsteps. With Jacky Ickx leading the way, the race can only be a success. We are particularly proud that he has accepted the role. He is a father-figure in the endurance community.”
Ickx added: “I’m delighted to be able to take part in the event. Le Mans has always been kind to me. I’ve had many good times here, as a driver. I’ve also been race director and have been race starter too. This year, I shall be Grand Marshal. This race has always held something special to me, as a driver and as a person.
“It brings out the fundamental elements of driving. It’s about sharing, daring, focusing, friendship and fans. It’s intense and it’s extraordinary. I can see myself already, at the wheel, behind me a field of heroic drivers, amateurs and professionals.”
Posted 15 May 2018 - 01:55
Montoya has seat fitting ahead of Le Mans 24 Hours debut
Images courtesy of United Autosports
By: Graham Goodwin | 10 hours ago
Team Penske Acura’s IMSA star Juan Pablo Montoya’s journey to the 2018 Le Mans 24 Hours took a step forward today with the Colombian undergoing a seat fitting in the United Autosports Ligier JS P217 Gibson LMP2 that he will share with Will Owen and Hugo de Sadeleer.
Montoya is just one of the big names set to contest the 2018 French classic, joining fellow IndyCar talents Tony Kanaan, Sebastien Bourdais and Ryan Briscoe – all of whom will race with the Chip Ganassi Ford team in GTE Pro – and former F1 world champions Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button, who will race in LMP1: Alonso with the hot favorites Toyota Gazoo Racing, Button with the Russian-flagged SMP Racing team in its new BR1 AER car.
Ex F1 drivers Pastor Maldonado and Felipe Nasr are among the well-known names going head-to-head with Montoya in LMP2 on June 16-17.
Posted 18 May 2018 - 12:16
Full Le Mans entry and Test Day lists revealed
By: Stephen Kilbey | 19 hours ago
The ACO has revealed the full entry list for the 86th running of the Le Mans 24 Hours, and the Test Day which will take place prior to race weekend, both including an updated reserve entry list.
In LMP1, the only change comes in the CEFC TRSM Racing squad. Both Ginetta G60-LT-P1s are still entered, although Ginetta factory driver Mike Simpson has been placed in the No.5 G60-LT-P1 instead of previously confirmed driver Dean Stoneman.
“I literally found out this morning!” he told RACER. “It’s been a bit of a day really! I got told I was in the car, because I have lots of endurance experience in 12- and 24-hour races. The company knows my skill set and that and that I can do solid and consistent jobs. That’s what they want me for Le Mans 24 Hours.
“I have already done the Le Mans sim test, which was all fine. I’ve been at all the tests, helped with the drivers and developed the drivers. I’ve been the guy helping to this point. I’d always tried to get a seat and was always the reserve driver, so to get a drive is amazing.
Mike Simpson, with Anna Walewska (Image by JEP/LAT)
“It’s the 60th anniversary of Ginetta, a British car manufacturer, which is racing at Le Mans in LMP1, so to be part of the story and the dream is something that for me is hard to describe.”
The rest of the list remains the same as it was for the 6 Hours of Spa Francorchamps. Both SMP Racing BR1 AERs and the DragonSpeed BR1 Gibson are still listed following their respective incidents at the season opener, though RACER understands that none of the three cars are 100 percent confirmed, due to investigations being undertaken into the incidents.
In the LMP2 class, both Jackie Chan DC Racing Ligier JSP217 Gibson driver crews have been set. David Cheng, Nicholas Boulle and Pierre Nicolet will drive one, while Penske Acura driver Ricky Taylor, former McLaren factory man Come Ledogar and 3GT Racing’s David Heinemeier-Hansson will drive the other.
The third driver in the No.26 G-Drive Racing ORECA 07 Gibson has also been confirmed as Andrea Pizzitola will drive with Roman Rusinov and Jean-Eric Vergne. Racing Engineering ELMS driver Norman Nato and reigning Asian Le Mans Series titleholder Harrison Newey have been named as the final two drivers in SMP’s Dallara P217 Gibson, alongside Viktor Shaitar.
GTE-Am’s entry has also seen some additions, with Spencer Pumpelly and Tim Pappas set to drive the No.99 Proton Competition Porsche 911 RSR with Porsche driver Patrick Long.
There have been no changes in the GTE Pro ranks for the full entry list, though there are some notable changes for the Test Day.
The reserve list has seen changes, the number of entries down to two. Currently, the No. 55 Spirit of Race Ferrari and the High Class Racing Dallara are the only remaining entries, the rest having been withdrawn, including the KCMG Dallara and Racing Engineering ORECA.
On the Test Day entry, there are multiple additions to the the driver line-ups for certain cars.
Toyota test and reserve driver Anthony Davidson is listed in both Toyota TS050 HYBRIDS; Fernando Alonso and Jose Maria Lopez are also listed in both.
Similarly in LMP2, Wayne Boyd is listed in both the United Autosports Ligiers. And Ryan Cullen and Matt McMurry are due to test the No.25 Algarve Pro Racing Ligier.
The No.26 G-Drive ORECA also has a fourth driver, Alexandre Imperatori, who stood in for Vergne in the European Le Mans Series season opener at Paul Ricard, will join the team’s Le Mans trio. The No.39 GRAFF ORECA has Alexandre Cougnaud as the extra man listed.
In GTE, Nick Yelloly has been named as a fourth driver in the No.56 Team Project 1 Porsche in GTE-Am, while in GTE Pro, Dirk Werner is scheduled to drive both the Nos. 92 and 93 911 RSRs.
Due to a clash with IndyCar’s race weekend at Detroit, Ford drivers Tony Kanaan, Scott Dixon and Sebastien Bourdais will not be present, nor will Augusto Farfus or Phillip Eng, who are both on DTM duty.