RACER's Marshall Pruett and Ford Chip Ganassi Racing's Sebastien Bourdais recap a chilly Day 1 at the Roar Before the 24 in Daytona where the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship field is readying itself for the Rolex 24 At Daytona.
Posted 06 January 2018 - 18:43
Posted 07 January 2018 - 02:59
WTR's Taylor posts fastest Roar lap in third session
Saturday, 06 January 2018
By J.J. O'Malley / Image by Marshall Pruett
Jordan Taylor posted the fastest time of the weekend to highlight session three of the Roar Before the Rolex 24 on Saturday morning at Daytona International Speedway.
Taylor ran a best lap of 1m37.188s in the defending race-winning No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R. He was followed by the No. 90 Spirit of Daytona Racing Cadillac, 1m37.384s set by Tristan Vautier.
"The car is very nice to drive and is very straightforward," Vautier said. "The car was just put together, and we had only a brief shakedown before coming here. It responds really well to anything we do. We've been able to run trouble free, and we hope it continues that way.
"The team has good chemistry and everyone in the driver lineup has come up to speed. No problems so far, and that's what you want in this kind of racing."
Romain Dumas led the LMP2 competitors, third overall at 1m37.537s in the No. 54 CORE autosport ORECA 07-Gibson.
"The ORECA is very nice to drive," Dumas said. "Today is only testing, but the team is very strong and all is running very good so far."
While Cadillac led the third consecutive session, three rival Daytona Prototype international manufacturers continue to improve. Nissan's Pipo Derani ran a lap of 1m337.917s in the No. 22 Tequila Patron Nissan Onroak DPi; Dane Cameron ran 1m38.099s No. 6 Acura Team Penske Acura ARX05; and Harry Tincknell matched Mazda's best with 1m38.876s in the No. 55 Mazda Team Joest RT-24P.
Two-time Formula 1 world champion Fernando Alonso improved on his final four laps of the morning, ending with a weekend best of 1m38.072s in the No. 23 United Autosports Ligier JSP217 Gibson, good for 11th overall in the session.
Scott Dixon ran the fastest lap in GTLM, 1m44.282s in the No. 67 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT, while Matteo Cairolli led GTD, 1m47.125s in the No. 59 Manthey Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R. Both times were run early in the session but were off the quickest laps in the respective classes from Friday.
All 50 entries participated in the 90-minute session, which was run in sunny but chilly 48-degree temperatures.
There were two brief red flag cessations. Bill Auberlen came to a stop in the No. 25 BMW Team RLL BMW M8 GTLM, but was able to refire and continue. Kyle Marcelli had an off-track excursion and continued in the No. 14 3GT Racing Lexus RCF GT3 late in the session. However, he pulled to a stop between Turns 1 and 2 of the superspeedway after instructions from his crew to stop when he radioed that he was overheating.
NEXT UP: FP4, 3:30-4:15 p.m. ET.
Posted 07 January 2018 - 03:01
AXR quick again as Cadillac sweeps top four spots
Saturday, 06 January 2018
By J.J. O'Malley / Image courtesy Action Express
Felipe Nasr posted the fastest lap for the second straight session Saturday evening at Daytona International Speedway, leading a 90-minute evening practice in the fifth session during the Roar Before the Rolex 24.
Nasr turned a lap of 1m37.322s in the Action Express Racing No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac DPi V-R, backing up his time of 1m36.973s in the afternoon period of IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship testing.
Cadillac scored a top-four sweep. Ryan Hunter-Reay was second in the No. 10 Wayne Taylor entry, followed by Christian Fittipaldi in the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Cadillac and Eddie Cheever III in the No. 90 Spirit of Daytona car.
Colin Braun led the LMP2 contingent in the 20-car Prototype class, 1m37.854s in the No. 54 CORE autosport ORECA 07-Gibson.
"Night practice was fun," said Braun, who has been a Rolex 24 regular since competing at age 16 in 2005. "This place at night, with the traffic and the speeds in a Prototype car brings me back to having a lot of fun in the old Grand-Am DP days.
"The test is going great. ORECA has been fast right off the bat, and having Romain [Dumas] and Loic [Duval] have been a great asset, because they know the car well. We've been going through our program, and we're very happy."
Sebastien Bourdais led GTLM with the best lap of the weekend, 1m43.798s, in the No. 66 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT. He was followed by Gianmaria Bruni, 1m44.353s in the No. 912 Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR, and Ryan Briscoe, 1m44.434s in the No. 67 Ford GT.
Dominik Baumann put Lexus atop the charts in GTD for the first time this weekend with a 1m47.496s in the No. 14 3GT Racing Lexus RCF GT3. Teammate Jack Hawksworth was third fastest, 1m47.590s, 0.094 seconds behind Mirko Bortolotti (1m47.528s) in the No. 11 GRT Grasser Racing Team Lamborghini Huracan GT3.
NEXT UP: Sunday's 30-minute sixth and final practice session starts at 10:45 a.m., followed by 15-minute qualifying rounds for each of the three classes to determine pit selection for the Rolex 24 weekend.
Posted 07 January 2018 - 22:22
Nasr nips Vautier as Cadillacs rule Roar qualifying
Sunday, 07 January 2018
By J.J. O'Malley / Images by Galstad, Cleary, Dole/LAT
Felipe Nasr led Sunday morning's back-and-forth qualifying session at the Roar Before the 24, leading a top-four Cadillac DPi-V.R sweep. Nasr unofficially eclipsed the Daytona International Speedway Prototype track record with a lap of 1m35.806s, driving the in the Action Express Racing No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac.
Each of the three IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship classes held a 15-minute qualifying session. On the line – choice of pit and garage locations for the Rolex 24 At Daytona on Jan. 27-28.
"We felt pretty confident," Nasr said. "We felt the car was behaving well. Myself and Filipe (Albuquerque) in our sister car gave everything we had. The times were pretty close up in front. Some cars are not showing fully what they can do, but I know we are. I pushed 100-percent – nothing to hide here."
Nasr denied a solid effort by Tristan Vautier, who came back again and again to top the efforts of Nasr and Albuquerque in No. 5 Mustang Sampling Cadillac. Vautier ran 1m36.037s in the No. 90 Spirit of Daytona Racing Cadillac, followed by Albuquerque, 1m36.135s.
"All the Cadillac teams came here in good spirits," Vautier said. "We wanted to show what we had and we pushed flat out the whole test, because we want to maximize everything we have for the race and we think it's the right thing to do.
"I gave it all I had. We pushed each other to learn more about the car. Our car hit the ground for the first time on Jan. 2. It's been pretty straightforward, with no major issues. The setup we showed up with seems to be in the window. We're looking forward to the race."
Renger van der Zande was fourth in the defending race-winning No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R, 1m36.481s, as Cadillacs led the opening six practice sessions in the Roar test prior to qualifying.
Penske Racing took fifth and sixth positions. Dane Cameron – 1m36.988s in the No. 6 Acura ARX05 DPi – was followed by Ricky Taylor, 1m37.231s in the No. 7. Next was Pipo Derani, 1m37.245s in the No. 22 Tequila Patron ESM Nissan Onroak DPi, followed by Harry Tincknell, 1m37.263s in the No. 55 Mazda DPi.
Alex Brundle led the LMP2 contingent with a lap of 1m37.510s in the No. 78 Jackie Chan DCR JOTA ORECA 07-Gibson.Formula 1 ace Fernando Alonso qualified the No. 23 United Autosports ORECA 07-Gibson 12th of the 20 Prototypes, at 1m37.515s.
Joey Hand – who won the GTLM pole en route to capturing class honors in the 2017 Rolex 24 – led GTLM qualifying. Hand ran a 1m43.610s in the No. 66 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT, 0.03 seconds better than Oliver Gavin, 1m43.640s in the No. 4 Corvette C7.R. Ryan Briscoe was third in the No. 67 Ford GT, followed by Earl Bamber in the No. 912 Porsche 911 RSR.
"This was unique – my first garage pole," Hand said. "But hey, if somebody says qualify, and you can get a pole, no matter what it is, I take it, and chalk this up on my list. You're always trying to win practice, top win qualifying, so we went for it."
Mirko Bortolotti nipped Andy Lally for GTD bragging rights. Bortolotti ran 1m47.374s in the No 11 GRT Grasser Racing Team Lamborghini Huracan GT3, followed by Lally, 1m47.436s in the No. 44 Magnus Racing Audi R8 GT3. The tight session saw the top 18 cars within one second.
A 30-minute practice session was held prior to qualifying. Cadillac led for the sixth consecutive session, led by Vautier's 1m36.960s – making the No. 90 Spirit of Daytona entry the fourth different Cadillac to top the practice charts. Hand led GTLM, 1m44.132 in the No. 66 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT, followed by Oliver Gavin in the No. 4 Corvette Racing Corvette C7.R. Andrea Caldarelli paced GTD, 1m47.913 in the No. 48 Paul Miller Racing Lamborghini Huracan GT3.
NEXT UP: FP7, 2:45-3:45 p.m. ET.
Taylor leads Cadillac sweep in final Roar practice
Sunday, 07 January 2018
By J.J. O'Malley / Images by Dole, Levitt/LAT
Jordan Taylor gave Cadillac a sweep of leading all seven practice periods as the Roar Before the 24 came to a close with a final one-hour session on Sunday afternoon, ending the three-day dress rehearsal for the 56th Rolex 24 At Daytona. IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championships competitors will return to Daytona International Speedway on Wednesday, Jan. 24, with opening practice and qualifying the following day.
Taylor was at the wheel of his father Wayne Taylor's No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R, setting a best of 1m36.757s, followed by the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac of Mike Conway, at 1m37.114s.
"We have a year of experience with the Cadillac, compared to many of the other competitors," said Cadillac representative Max Angelelli. "This is not our first time here, but it is for many of them, so we're taking advantage of it. When we come back for the race, everyone will go faster and faster – it's a normal progression. But right now, how can I not be happy?"
Jackie Chan DCR JOTA led the LMP2 cars, with Antonio Felix da Costa running a 1m37.442s in the No. 78 ORECA 07-Gibson. Fourth was Pato O'Ward in the No. 38 Performance Tech Motorsports ORECA 07-Gibson, 1m37.496s.
"The Roar went really well for us," said Performance Tech team owner Brent O'Neil, whose team – winner in the now-defunct Prototype Challenge category a year ago – has made the step up to the top class with the No. 38 ORECA 07-Gibson for James French, Kyle Masson and O'Ward. "We made a little mistake in that qualifying session, went the wrong way with the car and that cost us about five or six tenths, and this field is really close. We've been using every session as a test.
"The Roar has been a great learning experience. I hope we can continue improving and have a chance at a podium."
After setting the fastest time in Sunday's qualifying, Ford Chip Ganassi Racing parked both of its Ford GTs for the final session. The Porsche GT Team set the fastest two laps, led by Laurens Vanthoor in the No. 912 911 RSR with a 1m44.550s, followed by the two Corvettes, paced by Jan Magnussen in the No. 3 Corvette C7R, at 1m44,794s.
"As a driver, you always want more and more time in the car, but track time is at a premium at the Roar every year," said Mike Rockenfeller, driver of the No. 3 Corvette C7.R. "I feel we have maximized our efforts and run as many miles and as quickly as we can. We all know that in two weeks' time, the track conditions likely will be different. It has been quite cold this week but we have learned things that can help us for the race. I feel we are heading in the right direction."
Ezequiel Perez Compano used a late flier to lead GTD with a 1m47.802s in the No. 19 GRT Grasser Racing Team Lamborghini Huracon GT3. He was followed by A.J. Allmendinger at 1m47.821s in the No. 86 Michael Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3.
Forty-three of the 50 entries – including all 20 Prototypes – participated in the incident-free final session.
NEXT UP: Opening official practice for the Rolex 24, 9:20 a.m., Thursday, Jan. 25
Posted 07 January 2018 - 22:24
Jackie Chan DC Racing rides Le Mans wave into Daytona
Sunday, 07 January 2018
By J.J. O'Malley / Image by Jake Galstad/LAT
While Jackie Chan DCR JOTA might be a new name for American sports car fans, the team is experiencing a meteoric rise on the international scene.
Coming off an incredible finish at the 24 Hours of Le Mans – a 1-2 finish in LMP2 class and finishes of second and third overall, even leading in the late stages of the race – the two-car team is looking to carry that success to the opening round of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
"This is a new race for the boys and the team," said team co-founder David Cheng. "I've raced here a few years myself, but now I'm managing everything. It's a little different from what we're used to in WEC, but the guys are getting up to speed quite good. We understand the car quite well, and now we're coming up to grips with the Continental tire, as we've never tested it before. I think we're on track compared to everybody else. Obviously, our trap speed is hard to compete here, but that's the nature of the game."
Canadian Formula 1 driver Lance Stroll leads the lineup on the No. 37 ORECA 07-Gibson, joined by Felix Rosenqvist, David Juncadella and Robin Frijns. Alex Brundle, Ho-Pin Tung, Antonio Felix de Costa and Formula 3 driver Ferdinand Habsburg share the No. 78 ORECA. Last June, Tung piloted the LMP2 class-winning car at Le Mans with Oliver Jarvis and Thomas Laurent. Brundle and Cheng placed second, joined by Tristan Gommendy.
"I believe in the team, and I think all the boys have the potential [to carry over the momentum from Le Mans]," Cheng said. "Daytona is more of a gamble. You can never count on what you can't control, but we're doing very well in the parts we can control. I'm very pleased with the way all eight drivers are getting along."
Tung, who was introduced to American fans when he attempted to qualify for the 2011 Indianapolis 500, turned heads when he led overall in the late stages of the 2017 Le Mans race.
"Daytona is very different from Le Mans," Tung said. "There are a lot of things for the team to learn on the operational side, very different tires and no tire blankets. But it's a great atmosphere and we are slowly settling in. We've been the team to beat in LMP2 for most of the year in Europe – especially at Le Mans with a 1-2 finish. We're definitely coming here with one goal: to try to run at the front and try to add another iconic 24-hour race win to our column. I think the platform here is great, a nice mixture between the LMP2 and DPi cars, and arguably this is the one of the most competitive driver fields and car fields that this championship has ever seen."
Brundle is the team's veteran in the WeatherTech Championship, having run in the Rolex 24 in 2014 and 2015 among five IMSA races.
"These guys are new to this race and this tire, but we know the car so well," Brundle said. "The car's been excellent. The guys know this car so well and how to get the most from the chassis, and it's been excellent straight away. In WEC we're all racing with ORECA-Gibsons, so it's a bit of a surprise sometimes to see the variable performance and top speed of some of the other cars here. We just have to focus on making our own package as good as we can."
Now, Cheng expects to see his team high on everyone's radar when they return to Daytona in two weeks for the Rolex 24.
"Carrying the results we had last year at Le Mans, along with the reputation of some of our drivers, we're bound to be on the radar – and we're quite proud of that. We want to come in to this race and compete on merit, bringing the experience and knowledge we have from competing in the WEC, and to try to raise the game here as well."
That experience could also mean more races. Cheng said the team is seriously considering competing in the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring in March – depending on the outcome atDaytona.
“To be honest, we’re looking at Sebring,” Cheng said. “But it will be depend on what happens in the race here. If we have car damage or something like that, it could be a quick pull of the plug.”
The Florida endurance classics are only part of the team’s preparation for major competition on three continents.
“We also preparing for the super-season in WEC with two cars, and we have the Asian Le Mans going on – which is next weekend and the weekend after the Daytona race, along with keeping an eye on the ELMS," he continued. "The team’s quite busy with a lot of programs. We’re trying to expand, trying to get into everything, so the scope of our global program is very wide.”
Posted 08 January 2018 - 13:34
Alonso finds plenty of positives in Roar test
Sunday, 07 January 2018
RACER staff / Images by Dole/LAT & courtesy of Autined Autosports
Formula 1 star Fernando Alonso came away from the Roar Before the 24 satisfied with his progress, even though his United Autosports team's pair of Ligier LMP2 cars were well off the front-running Prototype pace. The two-time world champion was 12th in Sunday's "qualifying" session that determined pit positions for the Jan. 27-28 race, but the Spanish ace approached the weekend of testing at Daytona International Speedway more as a fact-finding mission than an immediate search for speed, and he seemed to like what he found out.
"I think it was a positive weekend. Obviously, it's nice to have the first time in the car and experience the circuit for the first time, small things that you keep learning lap by lap," Alonso related. "It was a good weekend to work with the team, the teammates, and entering this mood of sharing everything – adapting and making compromises between us. That was the main priority for the weekend and that's what we achieved.
"Probably the biggest surprise was the little time you spend in the car – the sessions were not very long and you share the car, so you lose a bit of time in the driver changes, the setup changes, so you end up doing very few laps. But that's part of the game and in the 24 hours we will accumulate enough laps, for sure."
Part of the adaptability process included some uncomfortable moments for Alonso early on in establishing seat belt settings that accommodated himself and junior teammates Phil Hanson and Lando Norris in the team's Ligier JS P217, but he was happy to get that resolved as the weekend went on.
"Seat belts now are good – on all our sizes, we are all happy," reported Alonso (at right above with fellow UA driver Paul di Resta). "There is still some tuning [to do] on the seat, because the more laps you do, the more little problems you discover. In a sprint race like F1 you can deal with that, but here you want to make sure that everything is perfect and comfortable, because you will spend many hours in the car.
"So there's still little changes going on, and more with the performance of the car. It's early days – it's only testing but we need to find more pace and hopefully be more competitive when we come back for the race."
Alonso said he found no new significant challenge in the nighttime aspect of endurance racing, at least under Daytona's effective lighting system.
"It was good; it was not a big difference from the daytime," he said. "In F1 we have some night racing, in Bahrain and Singapore and Abu Dhabi, and the circuit here is quite well illuminated – it's not maybe like some other endurance circuits, so I found no big issues there. Same with the traffic, which I was a little bit afraid of. There are always some moments and some risk, when you are overtaking cars or if they are fighting each other, but that's a normal thing that you will face, so it's something we should be on top of for the race."
As he did at Indianapolis last May, Alonso also said he enjoyed interracting with the American fans, many of whom came out to the Roar test bearing mementos from his first Indy 500 foray.
"They were great – again a very nice welcome," he said. "A lot of IndyCar fans as well, bringing the IndyCar replica to sign – a lot of '29' shirts as well. That was good to experience once more. I'm really looking forward to the race, because that will be even more close access for the fans in the garages and everything. That spirit and atmosphere that we liked in Indianapolis is the same here, so that's always a positive."
Posted 11 January 2018 - 21:57
Ginetta takes wraps off LMP1 challenger
Thursday, 11 January 2018
By Stephen Kilbey/ Images by Jakob Ebrey
The 2018 Ginetta G60-LT-P1 LMP1 car was unveiled today in the UK at the Racing Car Show in Birmingham's National Exhibition Center, in full TRS Racing Manor colors ahead of its debut FIA World Endurance Championship campaign this year.
The G60-LT-P1 was unveiled by Ginetta chairman, Lawrence Tomlinson, Ginetta technical director Ewan Baldry, Manor Endurance Racing sporting director Graeme Lowdon, TRS chairman Zhang Yi and TRS Vice President Li Qiao.
Following its launch, the car, designed by Ginetta's in-house design and development team coupled with a group of world-class consultants and technical partners, will embark on an extensive test program.
"We're very excited about the potential for the new car," Tomlinson said. "It will take Ginetta to our highest ever level of motorsport, and what better time to do that than at the start of our 60th year of manufacturing. And we are very confident that our customers have made the correct choice, and that this car will bring global success for them, and for us.
"While some aspects of this car have an international flavor, with only the very best of technical partners invited to work with us, this is, undoubtedly a British car looking to take on the world, the first British designed and built LMP1 car for several years.
"I am immensely proud of the scale of achievement from our team under technical director Ewan Baldry, with head of aerodynamics Andy Lewis, design engineer Stephan van der Burg and chief designer and race engineer Peter Smith.
"I have little doubt that when we can show the true potential of the car on track that our friends at TRS Racing Manor will have company in the pit lanes of the world from new Ginetta customers."
Here are the technical details of the Ginetta G60-LT-P1:
- Full carbon fiber coupe monocoque with integrated Zylon inserts, designed by Ginetta, produced by ARS tech, Italy
- Full carbon fiber bodywork, designed by Ginetta, produced by ARS tech
- Carbon/carbon braking system produced by AP Racing
- Suspension system and dampers, designed/defined by Ginetta, produced by Ohlins
- Seven-speed racing gearbox by XTrac, with custom casing defined by Ginetta
- Fly by wire gearshift with e-clutch and paddle shift by MEGA-Line
- Electronics systems by Bosch
- Development car features 3.4-liter turbocharged Mecachrome designed and built engine
Posted 13 January 2018 - 23:57
Cadillac Racing Special: Race Ready
Friday, 12 January 2018
By George Tamayo / Images by Jake Galstad, Richard Prince
Winning the Rolex 24 at Daytona on the Cadillac DPi-V.R's race debut, and following that with six more victories in the 2017 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship didn't happen by chance. Cadillac's philosophy of committing early and committing thoroughly to an all-new racecar built to an all-new set of technical regulations was key.
"Being prepared, and having the best product, is all down to the people," says Cadillac Racing's Director of Motorsports Competition, Mark Kent. "Not only the people within Cadillac, but in our race teams and technical partners, too."
"By the time we got to Daytona, everyone was familiar with the DPi-V.R," adds Wayne Taylor, team owner of Wayne Taylor Racing. "We'd done many miles of testing and even a 24-hour race simulation at that point, so our engineers and drivers really had a handle on the car before the season got off to a proper start."
But preparation can only take you so far if a car doesn't have the raw speed and performance to race at the sharp end of IMSA's ultra-competitive Prototype class. First impressions of the DPi-V.R for 2017 Drivers' champ Jordan Taylor told him he had nothing to worry about on that front.
"The first time you take a racecar out on track, you know if it's got what it takes," he says. "The Cadillac, from the very first lap I drove it, was incredible. The power and drivability, the downforce, the braking, and how nimble it felt – just wow."
For all the most successful racecars, the sum is greater than the parts, and that's certainly the case with the DPi-V.R.
"You can't just put a pile of parts together and expect to win," says Kent. "You need to put in the work to be successful. You have to balance the chassis, engine and aero, and then make the right compromises in each of those areas to ensure the overall package is optimized."
Central to the DPi-V.R package is its naturally-aspirated V8 engine. Given Cadillac's illustrious history with such a configuration – going all the way back to 1914 – it was the obvious choice. But sentiment doesn't win championships, and the V8 landed its role on merit.
"We looked at all the engine options from the Cadillac portfolio, and we felt a V8 would give us optimal performance across the range of tracks we'd race on," says Kent. "One of the key things that made it so successful was its reliability. To win races, you have to finish races..."
WORKING AS ONE
Dec. 2016: The Wayne Taylor Racing crew gets to grips with its DPi-V.R., helped on its learning curve by Cadillac's support structure.
In 2017, Cadillac was the only Prototype class manufacturer to split its cars between multiple teams: Wayne Taylor Racing with the No. 10 DPi-V.R, and Action Express Racing with its No. 5 and No. 31 entries. For 2018, two teams become three, with the addition of a fourth Cadillac for Spirit of Daytona Racing.
As Mark Kent notes, Cadillac sought out partner teams who could not just hold up their end of the bargain – as in, win races and, ultimately, championships – but would elevate the project as a whole.
"It's what we call a 'key-partner approach,'" says Kent. "The goal is to have our teams work and learn together. For our part, we bring the right resources, such as ECR on the engines and Dallara on the chassis, as well as our own experience, and we share knowledge across all the teams. That spirit of cooperation and sharing and working together raises the bar for everybody."
Ultimate validation of such an approach came on the race track, with all three Cadillac DPi-V.Rs winning at least once in 2017.
"Cadillac's way of doing things means everyone can play to their strengths," says Action Express team manager Gary Nelson. "Thanks to all the testing miles and work Cadillac put in on the DPi-V.R before the season began, we started with a strong base. It was then our task to optimize the cars for the races, which is where our expertise lies."
Posted 13 January 2018 - 23:58
Acura Team Penske on target
Friday, 12 January 2018
By Marshall Pruett / Images by Dole & Galstad/LAT
Acura Team Penske closed its first major outing in IMSA with the second fastest lap set among the four DPi constructors, and with the Roar Before the 24 in the rearview mirror, its speediest driver says the Captain and the Japanese brand are in a good place with the Rolex 24 at Daytona on the horizon.
"Nobody joins Team Penske without expecting to win races and win championships right out of the blocks," Dane Cameron told RACER. "I know it's almost a cliché by now, but that's really how everyone thinks inside this program. I've seen that from our very first tests all the way through last weekend at the Roar.
"Of course we're learning every day, but what I saw at Daytona was a team and a manufacturer that's preparing to win the Rolex 24, and I think that's crucial. I think that's what makes Team Penske so successful; everything they do is about winning. We don't really talk about any other outcomes."
Cameron's tone while discussing the team's mindset was far from arrogant. Some teams go into a major race like the Rolex 24 hoping to do well; inside Roger Penske's world, hope is a dirty four-letter word. The team, even as a brand-new entrant in the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, is held to the same lofty expectations found within Penske's IndyCar and NASCAR operations, and as such, Cameron has seen direct parallels in the Acura DPi program.
"We've done a lot of testing with the cars already, but the Roar was really the first time to see how we work and fit in with the other teams, and it was really impressive to observe," he said. "We've got chief mechanics who've been in IndyCar for like 20 or 30 years, crew from IndyCar, guys who were on Roger's [Porsche] RS Spyder [ALMS] team that won all those championships, and that's where you see the difference in action.
"You can say that Acura Team Penske is new, but not really from the inside. Everyone knows each other well, they work like they've been doing this in DPi for years, and that's what you want when you're trying to win your very first race together."
Cameron registered the best lap for Acura during Sunday's "qualifying" session at the Roar, which fell directly behind the four Cadillac DPi-V.Rs, but that lap was also more than one second slower than the session-leading GM prototypes. If Cameron and his teammates intend to deliver a debut win for Acura and Penske on pure pace, IMSA's Balance of Performance tables for the Rolex 24 will likely hold they key to their outcome.
"I wish we had more to show, but we don't; I was giving it all I had in that session," he added. "It's hard to know where everyone stands, but the timing information showed the Cadillacs were not only fast, but they also had more top speed than everybody, so if some of that comes back our way for the race, I think it will be a lot closer between us and them. We were quite good on the infield, but not so much on the straights.
"We can do some homework on our end to find areas where we can be better, so we're looking inward as well, but I think IMSA will play a part in adjusting the speed of some cars to erase the bigger difference we saw in the sector data and top speed data. All anyone is looking for is that balance – striking the right balance – so all the cars can be in the hunt for the win."
Posted 14 January 2018 - 23:39
Black Falcon wins Hankook 24H Dubai
Saturday, 13 January 2018
Abdulaziz Al Faisal drove the No. 2 Mercedes-AMG across the finish line after completing 606 laps of the 3.4-mile Dubai Autodrome. The result continues the event's domination by German manufacturers and cements Buurman, Haupt and Al Faisal as dual winners of the Hankook 24H Dubai following their first victory together in 2015 with Black Falcon.
"I can't express how happy I am," explained Al Faisal. "My thanks to my team and my teammates, it's been an amazing job from everyone. I've done this for 11 years now, and finally I've won it for a second time. It was a bit harder this year, the competition has grown, but I'm really happy to be here!"
The overall 24H GT and A6-Pro leaders finished just two laps ahead of the Manthey Racing Porsche 991 GT3 R (No. 12, Otto Klohs/Lars Kern/Mathieu Jaminet/Sven Muller), which replicated the runners-up spot it achieved at the same event 12 months earlier. Incredibly, the GRT Grasser Racing Team Lamborghini Huracán GT3 (No. 964, Mark Ineichen/Rolf Ineichen/Christian Engelhart/Mirko Bortolotti) finished just five seconds further back, completing the overall top three and A6-Pro podium in the process. The Lamborghini had qualified on the 24H GT pole position, but would fall to the back of the pack in the opening stages thanks to three successive punctures.
The SPS automotive performance Mercedes-AMG GT3 (No. 16, Valentin Pierburg/Tim Muller/Lance-David Arnold/Dominik Baumann) was the fastest A6-Am runner in fourth place overall, finishing just one lap ahead of the V8 Racing Chevrolet Corvette C6-ZR1 (No. 18, Luc Braams/Duncan Huisman/Alex van t'Hoff/Rick Abresch/Finlay Hutchison). The HTP Motorsport Mercedes-AMG GT3 (No. 25, Alexander Hrachowina/Indy Dontje/Bernd Schneider/Martin Konrad/Brice Bosi) had led the class until its fuel cap worked itself loose, coinciding with gearbox problems, but recovered to complete the A6-Am podium.
Reigning Champions of the Continents Herberth Motorsport (No. 911, Daniel Allemann/Ralf Bohn/Robert Renauer/Alfred Renauer/Dennis Olsen) could do no better than fourth in class thanks to power steering failure at an event the No. 911 Porsche 991 GT3 R won outright last year with Formula 1 Toro Rosso driver Brendon Hartley at the wheel.
In the newly segregated 991-Pro class, the FACH AUTO TECH Porsche 991-II Cup (No. 62, Matt Campbell/Julien Andlauer/Thomas Preining/Jens Richter) took class victory ahead of category polesitters race:pro motorsport (No. 63, Stanislav Minsky/Murad Sultanov/Klaus Bachler/David Jahn/Nicholas Foster) and Porsche 991-I Cup (No. 82, Artem Soloviev/Vadim Meshcheriakov/Denis Gromov/Roman Rusinov). The second race:pro motorsport entry (No. 26, Stephen Grove/Bertram Hornung/Matthias Jeserich/Glenn van Parijs) fared better in 911-Am, taking category honours ahead of the MRS GT-Racing Porsche 991-II Cup (No. 67, James Thorpe/Sean Mc Inerney/Phil Quaife/Claudio Cappelli). Former 24H SERIES champions Duel Racing (No. 95, Ramzi Moutran/Nabil Moutran/Sami Moutran/Jules Westwood) completed the 911-Am podium, two laps further adrift.
After several years away from the 24H SERIES powered by Hankook, Tsunami R.T. (No. 37, Andrii Kruglyk/Come Ledogar/Oleksandr Gaidai/Alessio Rovera) made a successful return to the series with its Porsche 991 Cup MR II, pulling a 21-lap gap over the MRS GT-Racing Porsche 991-II (No. 89, Helmut Rodig/Georg Bernsteiner/Altfrid Heger/Christopher Zochling) in the process to take SPX category honors. Further back, the category pole-sitting Leipert Motorsport Lamborghini Huracán Super Trofeo (No. 10, Oliver Webb/Lim Keong Wee/Melvin Moh/Aleksander Schjerpen/Tadas Volbikas) secured the final spot on the category podium, just ahead of last year's class winner's GDL Racing Team Middle East.
The VDS Racing Adventures MARC Focus V8 (No. 58, Raphael van der Straten/Karim Al Azari/Gregory Paisse/Wolfgang Haugg/Jose Close) got its SP2 title defence off to a good start with class victory ahead of the CCS Racing KTM X-BOW (No. 201, Charel Arendt/Holger Baumgartner/Tom Kieffer/Uwe Schmidt) and the Speed Lover Porsche 991-I (No. 78, Dominique Bastien/Jesus Diez/Carlos Rivas/Bob Wilwert), while the only other KTM X-BOW in the field – that of KTM MMotorsport Australia – suffered mechanical woes that ultimately dropped the No. 246 X-BOW to fifth in class in sight of the checkered flag.
Phoenix Racing meanwhile secured a provisional GT4 1-2 finish with its pair of brand new Audi R8 LMS GTs, a strong result on the category's 24H SERIES debut. The No. 248 entry (Philip Ellis/Joonas Lappalainen/Gosia Rdest/John-Louis Jasper) finished ahead of the No. 247 R8 LMS GT (Adderly Fong/Marchy Lee/Shaun Wei Fung Thong/Darryl O'Young/Charles Kwan) with both pulling away from BLACK FALCON Team TMD Friction Mercedes-AMG GT R SP-X (No. 264, Kevin Wing Kin Tse/Jonathan Hui/Antares Au/Frank Yu) throughout the night.
The first-ever endurance race for the McLaren 570S GT4 would come to an early end when the ALFAB Racing entry would retire with turbocharger failure. The most high-profile retirements of the 24H SERIES powered by Hankook season opener, however, involved a collision between the Black Falcon Mercedes-AMG GT3 (No. 3, Khaled Al Qubaisi/Jeroen Bleekemolen/Luca Stolz/Manuel Metzger) and the Mercedes of reigning Teams' and A6 champions Hofor-Racing (No. 1, Michael Kroll/Chantal Kroll/Roland Eggimann/Kenneth Heyer/Christiaan Frankenhout). The Black Falcon Mercedes had led 198 laps until that point and looked set for victory but a collision under braking meant both would retire on the spot.
Posted Yesterday, 13:20
IMSA sets BoP tables for Rolex 24
Thursday, 18 January 2018
By Marshall Pruett / Images by Jake Galstad/LAT
IMSA has made adjustments to numerous WeatherTech SportsCar Championship models following the recent Roar Before the 24 test at Daytona International Speedway.
The Balance of Performance changes will have a direct influence on how various manufacturers fare in Prototype, GT Le Mans and GT Daytona during the Jan. 25-28 Rolex 24 at Daytona.
Of interest in Prototype, Acura's brand-new ARX-05 DPi has received an increase in fuel capacity (+4L, 80L total) and will flow fuel faster during pit stops with a larger opening in the restrictor (+1.5mm).
Cadillac's DPi-V.R, which dominated every session at the Roar, has lost power to its 5.5-liter V8 engine with smaller openings feeding air to the motor (-0.6mm, 31.6mm total opening size), and has received an increase in fuel capacity (+1L, 68L total) and will flow fuel faster during pit stops (+0.5mm).
Mazda's RT24-P is the only DPi to receive a weight reduction (-15kg, 915kg total), has gained a rev limit increase for its 2.0-liter four-cylinder turbo engine (from 8300 to 8600), lost boost at the bottom and top of the rev range, and will flow fuel faster during pit stops (+0.5mm).
The Nissan Onroak DPi has received an increase in fuel capacity (+2L, 80L total) and will refuel faster during pit stops (+1.5mm). On the engine front, its 3.8-liter twin-turbo V6 will have a bump in boost as it reaches a peak RPM of 7100.
Aerodynamic changes have also been called for with most of the DPis. Taller Gurney flaps attached to the trailing edge of the Acura, Mazda, and Nissan engine covers are required; Mazda's Gurney is the tallest at 20mm, and a high-downforce upper rear wing element must be used. Nissan's rear wing main plane will run at a steeper angle. Of the four marques, only Cadillac, which set the fastest trap speeds on the banking, escaped Rolex 24 aero BoP changes, but the reduction in engine power could be the method chosen by IMSA to pull the DPi-V.Rs in line with Acura, Mazda and Nissan.
As IMSA previously told RACER, despite any change of plans within the ACO and FIA WEC to make BoP adjustments to the spec LMP2 cars on the grid, it has not and will not follow suit in the WeatherTech Championship.
In GTLM, BMW's new M8 GTE is the only model to lose weight between the Roar and Rolex 24 (-10kg, 1240kg total). Boost increased throughout almost the entire 7000rpm rev range for the BMW's twin-turbo V8 have has also been applied, and the M8 will have an increase in fuel capacity (+6L, 93L total), and will flow fuel faster during pit stops (+3.0mm).
Corvette's C7.R (+1L, 91L total), Ford's GT (+2L, 91L total, and +1.0mm), and Porsche's 911 RSR (-3L, 92L total, -1.0mm) also have capacity or flow changes in store for their cars. Only Ferrari's 488 GTE was left out of fuel-related adjustments.
On the aero front, Corvette will lose top speed with a taller minimum rear wing angle (up from 0deg to 2deg) and Ford has also been hit with the same change (up from 2deg to 5deg).
In GTD, two cars have weight changes to make with Acura's NSX GT3 increasing (+10kg, 1310kg total) and Mercedes' AMG GT3 decreasing (-15kg, 1375kg total) on the scale. Three engine power modifications have been called for, with Audi's V10-powered R8 LMS GT3 going to air restrictors with smaller openings (-1.0mm, 39mm total) along with the Audi-based Lamborghini Huracan GT3 (-1.0mm, 38mm total), and BMW's M6 GT3 has received more boost at every step of the rev range with its twin-turbo V8.
From the nine GTD models, five have fuel capacity and flow changes for the Rolex 24. Acura (+5L, 105L total, and +1.0mm), Audi (-3L, 91L total, and -1.0mm), BMW (+3L, 106L total, and +1.0mm), Ferrari's 488 GT3 (+2L, 94L total, and +0.5mm), and Lamborghini (-3L, 92L total, and -1.0mm) complete the extensive BoP efforts.
Practice for the Rolex 24 starts next Thursday, Jan. 25.
Posted Today, 08:35
Former Formula 1 driver and 2016 European Le Mans Series champion Giedo van der Garde has been announced as a driver for Racing Team Nederland, which will take on the 2018/19 FIA WEC Super Season with a Dallara P217.
This news means the Dutchman is set to make his second Le Mans start in June, after he took the start in the 2016 running with G-Drive Racing. It will also mark his return to the FIA WEC, in which he completed a partial season campaign in 2016 with Extreme Speed Motorsports and G-Drive Racing.