Toyo/Flying Lizard takes third straight 25 Hours of Thunderhill win
Sunday, 03 December 2017
By Gregg Mansfield/NASASpeednews
The Toyo Tires/Flying Lizard Motorsports team took its third consecutive overall win in the NASA 25 Hours of Thunderhill presented by Hawk Performance on Sunday, marking only the second time in the endurance race's 15-year history that a team has won three overalls in a row.
The Audi R8LMS took the overall lead just after sunrise Sunday and never looked back as the team's main competition, a pair of Ginetta G57 prototypes, dropped out late in the endurance race because of mechanical issues.
"It's still fun to win them," said driver Darren Law, who has helped drive the team to victory the past three years. "We literally didn't touch any other car. There's not a mark on it and we didn't have anything go wrong. It was perfect."
Toyo Tires/Flying Lizard Motorsports is only the second team to have three consecutive overall wins at the 25 Hours of Thunderhill since the race began in 2002. Team Mercer Motorsports won overall in 2009, 2010 and 2011.
The Toyo Tires team did have a brief scare with 90 minutes left in the race when driver Nathan Stacy went into the dirt in Turn 3 and for a moment it didn't look like Stacy would be able to restart the Audi. Stacy got the car started and the team won by six laps over second-place overall finisher Calvert Dynamics/Competition Motorsports. Third-place overall finisher was Crowd Strike/One Motorsports.
By the time race ended Sunday, Toyo Tires/Flying Lizard Motorsports drivers Darren Law, Nate Stacy, Charlie Hayes and Tom Haacker had put in 2,200 miles — nearly the equivalent of driving from coast-to-coast across the United States in 25 hours.
More than 50 teams participated in the famed endurance race that tested drivers' resolve against machine and fatigue. Much of the race is run in darkness, further challenging the field of amateur and professional drivers.
In additional to the overall champion, there were seven class winners crowned Sunday:
Despite having just one gear (fourth) for 12 hours of the endurance race, RK Motorsports/TC Design brought home the class championship in a 19-car-deep and competitive E0 class.
RK Motorsports/TC Design's Tony Colicchio was wondering if the string of bad luck at NASA's 25 Hours of Thunderhill would continue. He's competed in six Thunderhill races and has crewed nearly every race since its start 15 years ago.
"I've had some really bad luck here, especially given all my sprint races," Colicchio said. "I've actually qualified a car three times and not been able to start because the car has had some sort of problem. Winning it is pretty awesome."
What a difference a year makes for the Trim-Tex Racing team. Last year, the team had transmission issues and just missed winning the class.
"We were having transmission issues in 2016 and the same curse hit us again, but thankfully we were able to salvage it," said driver Britt Casey Jr. "We only lost one gear this time, and last year we lost every gear but one."
Just two laps separated Trim-Tex Racing and second-place class finisher Team MooreWood Racing.
KD Motorsports captured back-to-back 25 Hours of Thunderhill victories in E2 as the team dealt with a host of issues with the racecar. The team was dealing with issues on the 1989 BMW 325is, from brakes to the transmission.
"We lost every gear but fourth," said team owner Kevin Doyle. "We had oil pressure issues. We were down to our backing plates on the rear brakes, so it was metal on metal on the back. We were getting everything we could."
The team turned its fastest lap of 2:06.045 during the middle of the night, which crew chief David Stenner credits his drivers.
"How we won the race was down to incredibly fast laps at night," said Stenner, who beat second-place finisher RDR by five laps.
Team RAmotorsports40 had a Mazda Miata stuck in fourth gear, but the drivers made the most of it to get the E3 class win at 25 Hours of Thunderhill. Even with the transmission problem, the trio of drivers were able to beat second-place finisher CorkSport Performance by 22 laps.
"Likely something is going to break on the car before the end of the race," said driver David Biggar. "It's just how you manage it and then how you get through the rest of the race with that, and I think we did a great job."
Toyo Tires/Flying Lizard Motorsports' strong performance left the rest of the teams in ES class chasing the Audi R8 LMS and second place. Calvert Dynamics with its Porsche GT3 took home second and Prototype Development Group was third.
Crowd Strike/One Motorsports won its first 25 Hours of Thunderhill, but it didn't come without complications.
A problem with the alternator required creative solutions to keep the open-cockpit car running. The team had to shut down fuel pumps, reduce headlight output and even turn off the steering wheel heater despite racing in temperatures that dipped in the low 40 degrees.
"It was five hours of absolute thrashing," said driver Kenton Koch. "We had a couple issues with the alternator and keeping things charged, so we had half the lights shut off all night and we could hardly see straight. The only thing we had were the lights that point out so I could see the marks.
A pair of Ginetta G57 cars that were favorites to win the overall race and class had mechanical issues and dropped out late in the race. Norma's Last Chance finished in second, two laps behind Crowd Strike/One Motorsports.
The lone car in the class, the Toyo Tires/Flying Lizard Motorsports team had a water-line failure, but got it fixed and was able to get the car out in time to grab the checkered flag. The Porsche Cayman ended up 24th overall.
"It was obviously a little disappointing the other teams dropped out, and I do believe that next year is going to be a pretty big group, because obviously anything Toyo does, they do it right," said team manager Thomas Blam. "So, we were happy to run the tires. We had a phenomenal run for the first 20 hours, and at one point we were sixth overall, which I think is pretty remarkable for a DOT tire. We're hoping to be back next year and hoping to bring a couple of more cars with us."
Click here for full results.
Posted 04 December 2017 - 16:12
Posted 05 December 2017 - 17:04
Button confirms full-time Super GT program for 2018
Sunday, 03 December 2017
By RACER staff / Images by Yasushi Ishihara/LAT
Jenson Button has revealed he intends to race full time in the Japanese Super GT series next year, marking his return to regular racing after a year's sabbatical.
Button, the 2009 Formula 1 world champion, signed off as a regular in F1 with McLaren-Honda in 2016, but remained a reserve driver for the team while filling in for Fernando Alonso at the Monaco Grand Prix, while the Spaniard raced in the Indianapolis 500. Button also made a one-off appearance in Super GT and hinted earlier this year that he was considering various options for 2018, but announced at the Honda Racing Thanks Day festival at Twin Ring Motegi that he has opted for the Japanese series.
"I'll be racing for Honda and have a contract to race with Honda in Super GT in 2018," Button said. "It's been a dream for the last couple of years, I love the category. I did one race in Suzuka this year, and it got me very excited."
Button, 37, raced for Team Mugen in his Super GT debut at Suzuka (pictured above) but declined to say which Honda-equipped team he would be driving for or who his co-drivers would be.
"I'm very excited about the new season. There's a lot of testing to be done to feel comfortable and hopefully improve the package and go out next year and be competitive," he added.
Posted 06 December 2017 - 18:57
Kyle Busch wins second Snowball Derby crown
Sunday, 03 December 2017
By Kelly Crandall / Image courtesy of Kyle Busch Motorsports
Kyle Busch charged late at 5 Flags Speedway and claimed his second Snowball Derby victory.
The 2015 NASCAR Cup Series champion entered the prestigious late model race held in Pensacola, Fla., in his own No. 51 Toyota. After Kyle Benjamin practiced the car on Thursday, Busch got behind the wheel for the first time Friday, arriving after the NASCAR awards banquet in Las Vegas where he celebrated a runner-up effort in the championship.
Starting the day 15th, Busch slowly worked his way to the front. After gaining track position, he solidly ran inside the top five for most of the second half of the race and took the lead for the final time passing Jeff Choquette on Lap 284 of 300. Busch went untouched from there.
The victory was his second in the Snowball Derby, having also accomplished the feat in 2009.
"This is awesome. Man, what a day," Busch said to Speed51 in victory lane. "I didn't think we had it there for a while, for about 280 laps. Then the final 20, [the car] came to life. Just tried to persevere and save and work my way to those guys and finally be able to get my way around them.
"I wasn't sure that once I got there I'd have enough to get by them. But they just kind of kept falling off and mine just plateaued and kind of stayed."
Bubba Pollard finished third with NASCAR K&N Pro Series East champion Harrison Burton finishing fourth. Cassius Clark rounded out the top five.
Other competitors with NASCAR ties who ran the 300-lap race included Brandon McReynolds (10th), Tyler Dippel (11th), Noah Gragson (12th), Ty Majeski (17th), Spencer Davis (23rd), Corey LaJoie (24th), and Mason Mingus (31st).
Posted 06 December 2017 - 23:38
Goodbye to the WTCC, TCR and ETCC…and welcome to the WTCR 53 mins ago
By Neil Hudson
So there we have it, the WTCC is dead. It’s 13th season was its last. Unlucky for some. And just under a week ago, at the Losail circuit in Qatar, the Super 2000 era which was launched back in 2002 with the FIA European Touring Car Championship, has now been confirmed to be formally at an end, with Sweden’s Thed Björk winning the last FIA World Touring Car Championship drivers’ title.
What we have now in prospect is a fantastic two-year series in WTCR, or the FIA World Touring Car Cup, as WTCC’s promoter Eurosport Events leases Marcello Lotti’s hugely successful TCR formula until 2020.
A brief release today from the FIA World Motor Sport Council detailed some of the key changes, with many more known to be coming for next season.
First, the TCR regulations are locked in of course. There’s no changes to the world’s most successful touring car formula of the last decade – with nearly 500 examples already produced and racing around the world in just three years.
There are no manufacturer entries permitted – which is why the WTCC no longer carries FIA World Championship status. Having no manufacturer programmes has been a key principle of the TCR International Series, which also helped ensure it didn’t directly compete with the WTCC in its three years – though manufacturers have always provided technical support in the form of ‘customer racing’ programmes to the teams in the championship.
SEAT Sport, Volkswagen and Audi engineers have always been heavily prevalent at TCR International Series race meetings, with JAS Motorsport engineers also on hand to support those running the privately developed Honda Civic. It’s this particular programme which may now find itself with much more support from the Honda factory, now their WTCC programme has effectively come to an end.
Hyundai Motorsport Customer Racing have all but run their own two-car team at the last two rounds of the TCR International Series, with the i30 N TCR car which was showcased by Gabriele Tarquini and Alain Menu now at the top of many teams shopping lists for 2018.
The smaller, non-factory-backed TCR development programmes will likely suffer, especially with manufacturers showing more interest in TCR. The Kia programme run by Manfred Stohl’s STARD operation has been heavily sideswiped by Hyundai’s programme, and will likely find itself only an option in the smaller, national TCR series. The Ford Focus ST programme has all but been aborted by the Hong Kong-based FRD Team, with the 2.0-litre Ecoboost engine unable to meet the upgraded performance requirements that TCR introduced for its second season.
There are a few other manufacturer-backed customer cars that will likely gain some leftfield interest, with Peugeot and Opel, both part of the PSA Peugeot Citroën Group, having strong packages with the 308 TCR and Astra TCRs.
While always punching above its weight has been the Italian privateer Romeo Ferraris operation with its Alfa Romeo Giulietta TCR, despite its lower capacity 1.75-litre engine.
With all these cars available, a massive variety on the grid is possible for the WTCR’s inaugural season in 2018, though in reality, we should expect to see Honda, Hyundai, SEAT, Volkswagen and Audi make up the bulk of the field.
A 26-car limit is also a sensible call. Without manufacturer teams and programmes, the driver level won’t be quite a strong as that of the WTCC, but it’ll certainly have a strong mix of professional drivers and capable privateers, but the 40+ cars that have been seen in the most successful TCR series in terms of grid size, TCR Germany, has made for some problematic race weekends – with red flags and very limited green-flag running often the case due to numerous accidents.
Two additional wildcard entries per weekend will allow privateer teams to run cars in each race meeting at the discretion of the promoter – which harks back to the old spirit of the Super 2000 TC2 era, when local championships would often field drivers for their home races – such as in Sweden or the UK, when STCC and BTCC teams were able to enter cars that they were racing in their home championships when they were running in matching regulations.
The announcement also confirmed that the FIA and TCR between them would manage the Balance of Performance (BoP). This is also a popular call with many teams and engineers. The BoP has certainly been controversial in TCR, especially this season, and many have said that with the FIA having some input into the calculation, things should be a lot more equal.
The new arrangement will see Marcello Lotti’s WSC Ltd. work to promote the numerous TCR regional and national series throughout the world, with a Korean series announced just last week. The new-for-2018 TCR Europe Trophy will be promoted directly by WSC and effectively replaces the FIA European Touring Car Cup, which has been confirmed as now defunct by the WMSC, and WSC also promotes the TCR Middle East series, which kicks in just a month in Dubai.
Back to the FIA World Touring Car Cup, although the TC1 era was short (four years) and didn’t quite see the WTCC go where it could have gone, TCR for WTCC is perhaps not just a saviour, but the perfect formula for a global touring car series, which already has the best part of a dozen car manufacturers already involved in some capacity.
At the moment, it’s a two-year experiment, and also with Lotti and Eurosport back working together, it’s a bit of “let’s try again” situation after an awkward divorce, so it’ll be very interesting to see how things pan out for the new WTCR.
Posted 08 December 2017 - 16:03
Felipe Massa has announced that he will make his debut at the Brazilian Stock Car Championship opener on March 10.
The Brazilian and now former Williams driver is pursuing other interests now that his Formula 1 career is over and will race on home soil at Interlagos.
Massa is joining Cimed Racing and will share the car alongside five-time champion and good friend Caca Bueno. It is also the first time Massa has competed in a Brazilian Championship since 1999.
"I am honoured by the invitation and will be very proud to make my debut in Stock Car in double with the greatest champion in activity and my great friend, Caca Bueno," said Massa.
"Cimed Racing, as the current two-time champion, is the ideal team to face a challenge like this, in an extremely competitive championship."
Massa has also been linked with a full-time seat in Formula E but may have to wait until next season for that opportunity to arise.
Posted 12 December 2017 - 02:47
Kenny Koldsbaek lost his good friend Jason Leffler in a 2014 sprint-car crash before he could get a full-containment seat finished to protect a driver's left side. Following Dave Steele's fatal crash earlier this year, Carbon Kenny called safety pioneer Bill Simpson and they went to work developing the safest seat possible for a sprint or midget driver.
Koldsbaek and Simpson show Robin Miller their new seat design for sprints and midgets.
Robin Miller catches up with Davey Hamilton Jr. and Sr. and discuss how the younger Hamilton is recovering from injuries suffered in a hard sprint car crash in California, among other other topics captured during the PRI Show in Indianapolis.
Posted 18 December 2017 - 00:21
Massa apologizes after Brazilian go-kart race ends in on-track fight
Sunday, 17 December 2017
By RACER Staff
A violent fight broke out between two drivers toward the end of a 500-mile Brazilian karting race on Saturday, when a teammate of Felipe Massa tried to pummel a competitor after a crash into the tire barrier.
Rodrigo Dantas, who was driving for Massa's team, and Tuka Rocha were battling for the lead with 18 laps to go when Rocha sent both karts into the tires. Dantas got out of his car and the two exchanged punches before Dantas threw Rocha to the ground and appeared to attempt to strangle him between numerous punches.
All karts from the two teams were disqualified. A team featuring Rubens Barrichello, his son Dudu and former IndyCar driver Felipe Giaffone won the 12-hour race.
Massa and fellow team leader Thiago Camilo apologized for the incident in an interview with SporTV, with Massa calling it "one of the saddest things of his career," according to ESPN.
Posted 14 January 2018 - 19:14
Bell repeats at Chili Bowl as Larson's engine fails
Saturday, 13 January 2018
By Robin Miller / Images by Boyd Adams
Christopher Bell was one of the hottest race drivers in 2017, and the 23-year-old Oklahoma native has come out smokin' in 2018.
Bell, the 2017 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion who also won races in USAC, World of Outlaws, Poweri, Xfinity and ARCA last season, passed teammate Kyle Larson's disabled car with 12 laps to go Saturday night and breezed to his second straight Golden Driller trophy.
Starting second, Bell beat Keith Kunz teammate and two-time champ Rico Abreu by three seconds to give Kunz and Toyota their fourth consecutive triumph in the 32nd Chili Bowl at the Tulsa Expo Raceway.
"It was a big deal last year for an Oklahoma guy to finally win this thing again but going back-to-back is even cooler," said Bell, a Norman resident who also captured the winged midget A Main here last weekend.
"But I hate it for Kyle because I wanted to race this out with him."
Larson started on the pole in another Kunz Spike/Toyota and led the first 10 laps before Bell slipped past coming out of Turn 4. It stayed that way until they hit lapped traffic and Larson was able to retake the top spot on Lap 27.
From there it was a two-man show as Bell stalked Larson around the top of track before the latter's engine exploded in a cloud of smoke on Lap 43.
"I could tell he was struggling and slowing right before it happened," said Bell.
With Larson gone, Bell checked out and the popular Abreu had nothing for him.
"Those two just got away from me in traffic but it was a good night," Abreu said. "I'll take second place in the Chili Bowl."
Spencer Bayston gave Kunz's team a podium sweep by finishing third, but the drives of the night came from Tanner Thorson and Ryan Bernal.
Former USAC midget champ Thorson and sprint-car standout Bernal had to transfer through the B Main. Thorson started 17th and charged to fourth while Bernal stormed from 23rd to fifth.
A Feature (55 Laps):
1. 71W-Christopher Bell, 
2. 97-Rico Abreu, 
3. 97K-Spencer Bayston, 
4. 63-Tanner Thorson, 
5. 87-Ryan Bernal, 
6. 63D-Brad Sweet, 
7. 39BC-Justin Grant, 
8. 71R-Chase Johnson, 
9. 27K-Kevin Thomas Jr, 
10. 84X-Chad Boat, 
11. 71-Ryan Robinson, 
12. 7BC-Tyler Courtney, 
13. 35TE-Chris Windom, 
14. 67-Logan Seavey, 
15. 17W-Shane Golobic, 
16. 4-Tom Harris, 
17. 49ER-Caleb Armstrong, 
18. 77P-Billy Pauch Jr, 
19. (DNF) 01-Kyle Larson, 
20. (DNF) 37-Andrew Felker, 
21. (DNF) 91T-Tyler Thomas, 
22. (DNF) 24-Tracy Hines, 
23. (DNF) 1-Sammy Swindell, 
24. (DNF) 57BC-Giovanni Scelzi, 
For all of Saturday's results, click here.