Major update to 2020 'Hypercar' regulations announced
By: Graham Goodwin | 4 hours ago
In a major change for the 2020 technical regulations designed to provide the next generation of top-class sports cars, replacing the current generation of LMP1s, the FIA World Motorsport Council, at its meeting in Geneva, has approved an updated version of the regulations adding racing versions of road-going hypercars to the already proposed full race prototype cars with road car styling cues.
The addition comes after pressure from manufacturers taking part in the Technical Working Groups developing the final regulations, after several key players assessed the likely cost of programs against the original regulations and found that budgets would be substantially in excess of the circa 20 million Euros ($22.4m) per season for a two-car effort outlined by the ACO in presentations in the autumn of 2018.
The FIA statement accompanying the confirmation of the addition to the regulations states that, “This expansion is designed to enable additional manufacturers to enter the championship.”
An update in detail is expected to be released during the joint FIA WEC/ IMSA Sebring race meeting next week.
IMSA i WEC 2018/19 (sportski prototipovi)
Posted 08 March 2019 - 02:50
Posted 16 March 2019 - 17:09
1000 milja Sebringa (WEC) - jos jedna pobeda za Tojotu #8 (kao da imaju jaku konkurenciju pa smo iznenadjeni, jel'te):
No. 8 Toyota crew edge closer to title with Sebring 1000 win
By: Stephen Kilbey | 4 hours ago
Sebastien Buemi, Fernando Alonso and Kazuki Nakajima, drivers of the No. 8 Toyota TS050 HYBRID, edged closer to claiming the 2018/19 FIA WEC Drivers’ World Championship tonight, with a comfortable win in the series’ return to Sebring.
The trio were able to cruise to victory in the heavy rain that arrived during the final half hour, ahead of their title rivals in the sister Toyota, which lost valuable time in the pits to repair damage following an off for Jose Maria Lopez midway through the race.
“It was interesting but tough for me in the end. We knew we had a gap so I didn’t take any risks,” said Nakajima. “The track was so slippy, like ice! On the start straight I couldn’t even go flat. I’m so happy to finish without damage on the car.”
Unfortunately, the sixth round of the ‘Super Season’ was another race with very little competition in the LMP1 ranks, with fans forced to look elsewhere for excitement. Luckily, on a night where both prototype classes left a lot to be desired, the GTE categories delivered the goods, especially at the end when the conditions threw a spanner in the works.
Behind the two Toyotas, was the No. 11 SMP Racing BR1, which crossed the line 10 laps back from the winning car after recovering from an early mechanical issue. The No. 3 Rebellion Racing crew looked set to finish third, but faded late in the race with its own mechanical issues.
While there was a clear gap between the privateer and factory cars in LMP1 on pace, the nature of the grueling Sebring circuit played a huge part in making it a relatively forgettable race; it was a real war of attrition in the non-hybrid ranks.
Only four cars finished in LMP1, and two of those were heavily delayed. The other four retired, the No. 17 SMP Racing BR1 crashed out at Turn 1 early in the race after a light shower caught out Igor Orudzhev, and the No. 1 Rebellion R-13 and DragonSpeed BR1’s days came to an end with mechanical issues.
While it wasn’t an inspiring run for the non-hybrid runners, it was at the very least a valuable endurance test for the privateers ahead of the Le Mans 24 Hours.
In LMP2, Jackie Chan DC Racing scored its fifth win of the season, and a crucial win for Dunlop over Michelin in the LMP2 tire war. However, the team will be slightly disappointed that the No. 38 crew of Stephane Richelmi, Gabriel Aubry and Ho-Pin Tung didn’t finish first here.
It was a disastrous outing for the LMP2 points leaders, leaving the new-look crew of Jordan King, Will Stevens and David Heinemeier Hansson in the No. 37 sister car to fly the flag for the team up front and continue its near-perfect form.
“I can retire now with a 100% record in sports car racing!” LMP2 newcomer King said. “Everyone did so well — it was stressful at the end, but we gave Will enough of a buffer.”
The aforementioned No. 38 ORECA suffered a major title blow, after having to overcome electrical and transmission issues early in the race, and later a stop to have its driver door replaced. The car finished, but last in the class.
While the No. 38’s title rivals in the Signatech Alpine A470 didn’t win, Nicolas Lapierre, Andre Negrao and Pierre Thiriet did collect a strong haul of points by finishing second, and are now leading the standings with two races to go.
Completing the podium was the DragonSpeed ORECA, which recovered well after a tough outing. The crew was in the wars throughout, suffering tire issues and losing time due to offs into barriers, but still earned silverware thanks to other runners in the class falling even further back from the winning car.
Racing Team Nederland’s Dallara looked likely to take a podium during the first half of the race, but it all unravelled for the Dutch squad after losing 12 minutes in the pits in the final third.
GTE Pro on the other hand, provided plenty of action all the way to the end, especially when the rain came down hard…
Cars from BMW, Ford, Ferrari and Porsche were all in the running for the GTE Pro win throughout the race, and after hours of clean, hard racing, the No. 91 Porsche GT Team 911 RSR of Gianmaria Bruni and Richard Lietz took the win ahead of the No. 81 MTEK BMW.
The win was secured for Porsche by quick pit work when it mattered most, the No. 91 911 of Gianmaria Bruni leapfrogging the No. 82 BMW of Nicky Catsburg at the final set of stops to take the lead when much of the field came in to change from slicks to wets.
Once Bruni and Catsburg rejoined, they were together on track, just a second apart, but there was no time for Catsburg to reclaim the lead. The TDS Racing ORECA of Loic Duval brought out a safety car with just over 10 minutes to go, after hitting the barriers at Turn 10 hard, which would last until the end of the race, making it a slightly anti-climactic finale.
“It was a difficult decision for everyone to change tires because you didn’t want to lose time,” said Patrick Pilet. “But there was too much water so it was the correct choice — the boys changed the tires so quick and we were able to get past the BMW in the pits.”
At the Rolex 24 back in January BMW took a dramatic and somewhat lucky win in GTLM when the rain came down at the end; this time the Bavarian brand was on the other end of late-race confusion and a drastic change of weather.
The No. 67 Ganassi UK Ford, which led the class for two-thirds of the race, before being passed on track by the aforementioned BMW and Porsche finished third, ahead of the No. 51 AF Corse Ferrari 488 which narrowly missed out on a podium.
No. 67 drivers Andy Priaulx, Harry Tincknell and Jonathan Bomarito will head home from Florida wanting more after looking so strong early, the trio despite their best efforts falling back as the temperature dropped and the night hours wore on.
The two factories that faded into obscurity, interestingly, were the two that opted to sit out the pre-event test. Corvette Racing’s guest-entered C7.R finished eighth, and the pair of Aston Martin Vantage AMRs crossed the line a distant ninth and 10th. It was a deflating performance for the British team especially, after showing such promise with a breakthrough win last time out at Shanghai.
GTE Am was won by the No. 77 Dempsey Proton Racing Porsche, Matt Campbell, Christian Reid and Julian Andlauer rising to the top after a race-long battle with the Spirit of Race Ferrari and Team Project 1 Porsche that finished second and third respectively.
Spirit of Race’s Ferrari at times looked the class of the field, fighting for the lead early in the race. But it wouldn’t recover after a penalty was handed to the team for Giancarlo Fisichella punting Jorg Bergmeister’s Project 1 Porsche off at Turn 1 in a scrap for the top spot.
Project 1, too, was unable to regain control of the class fully after Bergmeister’s off into the barriers. Third is nevertheless a well-deserved result for the crew, who had to overcome real adversity during race week when its original 911 burned to the ground in the pre-event test.
The mechanics worked overtime throughout the opening days of the meeting prepping a brand-new 911 RSR that was shipped to the USA from Europe on short notice. A podium will, therefore, serve as a welcome reward for all the effort put in behind the scenes.
Next up on the schedule is the second 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps of the 2018/19 ‘Super Season’ in May.
Nek' se spremi IMSA za 12 h Sebringa...
Posted 17 March 2019 - 08:31
Cadillacs dominate sensational Sebring 12 Hour
By: J.J. O'Malley | 3 hours ago
Pipo Derani scored his third overall victory in the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, elevating new teammates Felipe Nasr and Eric Curran and the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac DPi-V.R to the top step of the podium for the first time.
The race started in the rain, went to dry with extended stretches of green-flag racing and ended with a short sprint following a short caution. The Whelen team was up to all of the challenges, leading 249 of the 348 circuits in the second IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship race of the season.
Nasr survived a restart with eight minutes remaining and took a 1.030-second victory over Jordan Taylor in the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R in the closest non-managed finish in the 67-year history of the event.
Co-driving Taylor’s Rolex 24 At Daytona-winning car were Renger van der Zande and Matthieu Vaxviere.
“Unbelievable,” said Curran. “We finished second and third here a couple of times and never got to the top step of the podium. My teammates were phenomenal. It feels so amazing to win this race after 15 years of trying.”
Derani won the race in 2016 as a rookie and again in 2018, both with Extreme Speed Motorsports. The Whelen Engineering team took second in 2016 and third in 2017 and 2018 prior to finally taking the top step.
“I’m out of words right now,” Derani said. “Man, this is amazing. It’s my third win here in four years. We couldn’t be happier.”
The No. 5 Mustang Sampling Cadillac DPi-V.R ran in podium contention throughout the race, leading 69 laps before finishing third with Filipe Albuquerque, Joao Barbosa and Brendon Hartley. That was the team’s fifth podium finish in six years at Sebring.
Taylor closed the gap to 1.030s after 12 long, hard hours. Image by Levitt/LAT
A key moment in the race came shortly before the eight-hour mark. Nasr passed Vaxiviere for the race lead, giving the Whelen team both the lead and its second five-point bonus in the Michelin Endurance Cup. The two teams ended the event tied for the lead with 28 points each.
The next turning point came late in the 10th hour, when the fourth full-course caution of the race waved for Parker Chase, off course in the No. 8 Starworks Motorsport Audi R8 LMS GT3. Derani’s 48-second lead over Hartley was erased, allowing the Wayne Taylor Racing Cadillac to close in while allowing both the No. 54 CORE automotive Nissan and No. 7 Team Penske Acura to regain the lead lap.
The fifth and final caution waved with just 16 minutes remaining when Bill Auberlen came to a stop with a broken front suspension in the No. 96 Turner Motorsport BMW M6 GT3. That set up a sprint to the finish — with the top two cars in each of the three classes running less than two seconds apart at the time of the yellow.
The No 7 Team Penske Acura ARX-05 DPi of Helio Castroneves, Ricky Taylor and Alexander Rossi finished fourth, followed by the No. 54 CORE automotive Nissan DPi of Colin Braun, Jon Bennett and Romain Dumas.
The race began like a continuation of the Rolex 24 At Daytona, with teams under caution at the start for 21 minutes before the green flag waved in very wet and rainy conditions and extremely limited visibility.
The slick tires came on after the two-mark, though, and from there on racing continued in earnest, slowed only by the four widely spaced cautions. The heavy rain forecast for late in the race failed to materialize.
Two of the major contending DPi teams experienced problems with both cars early in the race.
Timo Bernhard pulled off course in the sixth-place No. 77 Mazda he shared with Oliver Jarvis and Tristan Nunez with an electrical fire traced to a battery issue at the 2h19m mark. That car went to the garage for more than four hours for repairs.
Later, Jonathan Bomarito was battling for the lead in the No. 55 Mazda when he slid off course in Turn 13 at the 5h50m mark to bring out the caution for the third time. Once pushed out of the tires, the Mazda (also driven by Olivier Pla and Harry Ticknell) was back underway, but lost two laps in the pits. The team fought back to finish sixth, two laps down.
Bomarito’s off-course was just the start of a long afternoon for Team Joest. Image by Levitt/LAT
Acura Team Penske started on the pole but both cars struggled early in the race during the rainy conditions — both losing multiple laps. While the No. 7 managed to get back into contention and finish fourth, the No. 6 of pole-winner Dane Cameron, Juan Pablo Montoya and Simon Pagenaud had several lengthy stops due to electrical issues, eventually finishing ninth, nine laps back.
GTLM: Porsche Worst to First
Seemingly out of contention in the rainy opening laps, the pole-winning No. 911 Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR of Patrick Pilet, Nick Tandy and Frederic Malowiecki worked their way back from several laps down to take the GT Le Mans victory.
Worst to first for the GTLM winning Tandy/Pilet/Makowiecki Porsche. Image by Galstad/LAT
Tandy charged from fourth to second on the penultimate restart, then took the lead with 36 minutes remaining when Antonio Garcia pitted in the No. 3 Corvette Racing Corvette C7.R. It was the first green-flag lap led by the pole-winning car.
Tandy led the rest of the way, although chased by the No. 67 Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT of Ryan Briscoe, Richard Westbrook and Scott Dixon which led GTLM much of the race. After the final restart, Briscoe attempted a pass for the lead in heavy traffic but spun after being tapped from behind. He came back to finish sixth.
Storm clouds over the two-car Ford GT team in the cloing stages. Image by LePage/LAT
“It was really awesome,” Makowiecki said. “The beginning of the race in the rain was so difficult for us. We came back from last. It was really fantastic for us to win.”
Joey Hand finished second in the No. 66 Ford GT shared by Dirk Mueller and Sebastien Bourdais, 1.951 seconds back. Completing the podium was the No. 24 Team RLL BMW M8 GTLM of John Edwards, Jesse Krohn and Philipp Eng.
GTD: Lamborghinis 1-2
Mirko Bortolotti, Rolf Ineichen and Rik Breukers captured GTD in the No. 11 Grasser Racing Team Lamborghini Huracan GT3, winning by 2.724s over the No. 44 Magnus Racing Lamborghini of Andy Lally, John Potter and Spencer Pumpelly.
GRT Lamborghini paced a Huracan 1-2 in GTD. Image by LePage/LAT
“It was really awesome — Mirko did two incredible stints,” Breukers said. “He went in P6 and came out P1. We are really, really happy.”
Toni Vilander finished third in the No. 63 Scuderia Corsa WeatherTech Ferrari 488 GT3.
The tight class battle featured at least nine cars on the lead lap for most of the race.
The hard luck story was the No. 9 Pfaff Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R of Zach Robichon, Scott Hargrove and Lars Kern. The car was destroyed late in the Rolex 24 At Daytona, and sustained minor damage in a spin during Saturday’s warm-up, but then led 63 laps here, dominating the first half of the race. A wheel sensor eventually failed, losing ABS and traction control. The team replaced the sensor during a ninth-hour pit stop, losing two laps. They went on to finish ninth.
LMP2: Performance Tech gets the win
Performance Tech Motorsports locked up the LMP2 class in the third hour when the division-leading No. 52 ORECA Gibson of Anders Fjorback began smoking due to a broken suspension part on lap 60. The team went to the paddock and lost 20 laps for repairs, and with no other cars in the category, Kyle Masson, Cameron Cassels and Anders Fjordbach led the rest of the way, winning by 14 laps.
LMP2 winning Performance Tech team had only themselves to battle after rival PR1 Mathiasen ORECA lost 20 laps. Image by LePage/LAT
“This is harder than the Rolex 24 because you’re flat out the entire 12 hours,” winning car owner Brent O’Neill said. Everybody did a great job. You just have to persevere and push forward.”
Next up for the IMSA WeatherTech Championship is the Bubba Burger Grand Prix for the DPi and GTLM classes on the streets of Long Beach on April 13. All four classes return to action at Mid-Ohio on May 5 for the Acura Sports Car Challenge.
Posted 17 March 2019 - 16:03
INSIGHT: Why are the Hypercar rules taking so long to lock down?
By: Marshall Pruett | March 15, 2019 9:28 PM
It’s come in starts and stops, and with an increasing call for clarity from teams and manufacturers, the ACO and FIA World Endurance Championship expect to release the final regulations for their 2020 Hypercar class “in the coming weeks,” according to WEC president Gerard Neveu.
The ACO/WEC’s replacement for its current LMP1 category is meant to compete for the first time somewhere around September of 2020 when a new ‘Super Season’ begins. Despite revealing something close to final rules late last year, the Hypercar concept has been subject to an ongoing evolution that has prevented a fixed set of regulations being given to global auto manufacturers and smaller specialist constructors.
And the long roll-out means all parties are struggling with a decision on whether or not to take part in the category.
ACO technical director Vincent Beaumesnil, who cited “McLaren, Aston Martin, and Ferrari” as the three brands driving the rule changes, said some manufacturers who reviewed the first version of 2020 regulations called for “blockages” to be removed in order to increase their likelihood of participating. As a result, the Hypercar regulations remain in a state of flux as manufacturer needs shape the direction of the class.
“At this moment, it feels like it’s a long time and it’s a frustrating position,” Neveu acknowledged. “This is now on the final straight to come out. We would prefer to have this announcement last December, but it’s in the final straight.”
Without giving specifics, Neveu also confirmed the ACO/WEC has a “Plan B” if there are further delays in releasing the 2020 regulations by late March or early April. Whether Plan B involves pushing Hypercar’s launch to 2021 or beyond is unknown.
“In case [there’s a delay], there’s always a Plan B,” he said. “That would be depending [on] what happens and what is the final announcement. We cannot speak on that because definitely we are working on Plan A. But if something happens, there’s always Plan B.”
Of particular interest on the ACO/WEC front, the latest rule concessions will allow auto manufacturers to race production-based Hypercars against purebred, Hypercar-styled prototypes built by specialist LMP1 constructors. Adding to the allowances, the ACO/WEC will move away from the previous mandate calling for all Hypercars to use hybrid-electric power units as a complement to the primary internal combustion engines.
The Hypercar formula could tempt Ferrari back to the outright fight at Le Mans for the first time since the early 1970s, but there are a lot of hurdles to jump first. Image by LAT.
From Friday’s meeting in a small press briefing at Sebring, Beaumesnil confirmed hybrid systems will be optional. Where this change holds significance is found in another revelation from the ACO/WEC, that Balance of Performance will be introduced in Hypercar, replacing the current Equivalence of Technology system found in LMP1. BoP and EoT differ greatly.
EoT, which has been in place for more than a decade with LMP1, gives manufacturers a list of options to choose while considering the size of engines, vehicle weight, and other key items that have given a platform for turbodiesels, gas-powered engines, and hybrid systems all to be used without penalizing one manufacturer for making better choices than the others.
Although EoT has been used like BoP since Audi and Porsche withdrew from LMP1-Hybrid and the ACO/WEC opted to balance the Toyota TS050s against non-hybrid LMP1s, traditional BoP does not reward vehicular superiority. Instead, BoP seeks to balance different types of cars – slowing the fast or speeding up the slow – in search of parity.
Working as EoT is intended, the best car will win, and without the series’ hand being felt through manipulating performance levels. BoP is the exact opposite.
The acknowledged need to use BoP with Hypercar suggests the complexities ahead for the ACO/WEC technical staff are formidable. Considering the current struggles experienced by the ACO/FIA attempting to level the playing field between hybrid and non-hybrid LMP1s built to the same chassis standards, doubling the challenge for 2020 is an interesting decision.
With something akin to a current LMP1 wearing bodywork that makes it look like a Hypercar pitted against a true road-based Hypercar outfitted with the necessary safety and performance upgrades to compete at Le Mans and other WEC destinations – plus the option that will see some of those models running with or without hybrid systems, and the inevitable mix of turbocharging and naturally-aspirated engines factored in – Beaumesnil and his team have accepted a seemingly impossible task: balancing disparate road and racing concepts featuring dissimilar technologies.
Another revelation from the Sebring meeting, which could add another layer of BoP policing to manage, was Neveu’s suggestion the ACO/WEC would be open to having IMSA’s next-generation DPis compete against Hypercars. While the DPi formula was being fashioned ahead of its 2017 launch, the ACO/WEC said it would welcome IMSA’s custom LMP2-based DPis to race at Le Mans, but slowly moved away from that idea as stiffer regulations were proposed that made fielding a DPi at the world’s biggest endurance race impossible.
IMSA, which will park its current DPis at the end of 2021 and move to a second-generation DPi formula for 2022, is not expected to adopt the Hypercar regulations. Although the split in prototype philosophies was expected to keep Hypercars and DPis from sharing the same track, Neveu said it would be wrong to make that assumption.
“Clearly the wish, from both sides since the beginning, [is] if we can find with each other, similar performance levels with the top categories,” he said. “It would be very helpful from the visibility and the stories and the future together. There is permanent dialogue and discussion both ways. We know the [next DPi] evolution is for January 2022. The fact is, if we can find a way to rejoin someday, this is what we are looking for. There is always a discussion going on.”
Neveu pointed to the lap times produced by Hypercar 2020 and DPi 2022 as the driver for the topic. At Sebring, LMP1-Hybrids are more than five seconds faster than DPis. With the stated intent to slow the speed of Hypercars by a considerable margin, and the anticipated inclusion of modest hybrid systems to future DPis, the American and European formulas could hit similar performance targets.
“Why not? Very frankly, if it is possible to do it, why not?” Neveu added. “We can have different names, different stories, but if the performance is similar, if it’s the same level of performance, if they can race together, then that’s another story.”
Like many things with Hypercar 2020, the links between spoken intent and verified direction await discovery
Posted 12 April 2019 - 17:59
Long Beach sprint requires different approach
By: IMSA Wire Service | 5 hours ago
It’s a whole new ballgame for IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship drivers this weekend at the BUBBA burger Sports Car Grand Prix at Long Beach.
After the two longest races of the season — January’s Rolex 24 At Daytona and the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts last month — Saturday’s 100-minute sprint on the streets of Long Beach requires a completely different approach for the drivers and teams.
“It’s kind of a shock to the system, for sure, when you come from these really long weekends where we get a lot of track time to here, where we don’t get as much track time before and it is a really short race,” said No. 6 Acura Team Penske ARX-05 DPi driver Dane Cameron. “It’s a two-day weekend and it’s over before you know it.
“You have to be perfect to win at any venue in IMSA but for sure on these street course, 100-minute races. There is no margin for error. It is one, maybe two pit stops, depending on yellows, so it has to be perfect for us to win. Qualifying is really important because it can be difficult to pass here, so everything has to be perfect. It is nice to come to a track now for a second time with this program, so we have some notes and a memory bank we can use to be stronger than we were last year.”
“It is crazy in the way that works that we go from a 24-hour and a 12-hour race to a 100-minute race,” added No. 4 Corvette Racing Chevrolet Corvette C7.R driver Oliver Gavin, who is going for his third consecutive Long Beach victory in the GTLM class. “It is always so intense here. You have to be on your game the whole time.
“If you slip up by a quarter of an inch you can end up in the wall. It is short but it is super intense. So, you need full focus and all of the guys are very well prepared and well-versed in racing and competing here since we have been here every year since 2007. We have enjoyed the racing here, had a lot of success here, and hoping for another victory here on Saturday evening.”
Bourdais to pinch hit for Hand in No. 66 Ford GT
News broke Wednesday afternoon that Sebastien Bourdais would be stepping into the No. 66 Ford Chip Ganassi Ford GT this weekend in place of regular driver Joey Hand, who will miss the race due to flu-like symptoms.
It will be the third consecutive race for Bourdais in the No. 66 alongside season-long driver Dirk Muller. Bourdais, Mueller and Hand co-drove to the 2017 Rolex 24 At Daytona GTLM victory and the GTE Pro win in the 2016 24 Hours of Le Mans.
“Well first and foremost, I hope Joey gets well soon,” Bourdais said. “The team obviously needs him. I am going to be a bit of a super sub here this weekend in IndyCar and the Ford GT, but I am looking forward to it. This is a great place, but I have never driven anything else around here other than an Indy car or Champ Car. But you are never too old to learn new things.”
It will be Bourdais’ first sports car start at Long Beach, where he won three consecutive Champ Car races from 2005 through 2007. He also will drive in Sunday’s Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach IndyCar race in the No. 18 Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser-Sullivan Honda.
“Sebring is the only place that I have driven both cars,” said Bourdais. “The GT is a lot about flow. Braking late and carrying a lot of speed is the key in that car. The grip looks quite high in the GT cars around here. In those slow-speed corners, an open-wheel car is not super agile and there are a few of those here. It is going to be an interesting challenge that I am looking forward to.”
Montoya and Castroneves looking to add sports car trophies at Long Beach
Juan Pablo Montoya’s first Champ Car victory came on the streets of Long Beach back in 1999. Helio Castroneves won here in the 2001 Champ Car race, and also won the Indy Lights race at Long Beach in 1997.
But neither one of the Acura Team Penske teammates have yet won the BUBBA burger Sports Car Grand Prix at Long Beach. They’re looking to change that this weekend.
Montoya will share the No. 6 Acura ARX-05 DPI with Cameron, while Castroneves is co-driving the No. 7 Acura DPi with Ricky Taylor. Both Montoya and Castroneves were inducted into the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach’s Motorsports Walk of Fame last year.
“I am so excited to be back in Long Beach,” said Castroneves. “This place is about tradition. I’ve been very fortunate to win in IndyCar. I wasn’t able to win in a sports car last year, but now we are really excited because Acura is the main sponsor of the race and we’d love to combine not only great performance, but a victory as well.”
Montoya won the Motul Pole Award in qualifying here last year and acknowledged that racing the sports car is quite a bit different at Long Beach.
“There’s been races this year where you drive for 15 minutes and a caution comes out and you do a driver change,” Montoya said. “Or you don’t get a caution and you drive for an hour and a half and the other guy drives for 20 minutes. It’s a little different.
“The way we look at it, the guy who qualifies, his focus is to get the car in the best possible position and the other guy is closing. We will keep swapping all year. We are pretty comparable, there are tracks where I do a better job than him, and there are tracks that are the other way around.”
Posted 14 April 2019 - 17:38
Action Express lights the fireworks in Long Beach
By: Marshall Pruett | 16 hours ago
IMSA’s traditional fireworks show on the streets of Long Beach delivered Saturday evening as crashes and atypical errors shuffled the outcome in both classes during the Bubba Burger Grand Prix.
Acura Team Penske led from pole with Helio Castroneves in the No. 7 ARX-05 as the No. 5 Action Express Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R driven by Joao Barbosa and Filipe Albuquerque sank like a rock. But over 100 minutes of frenetic WeatherTech SportsCar Championship racing, the AXR duo produced blazing pace while saving fuel, which helped seal back-to-back DPi wins on the southern California street course.
The drama for the No. 5 car started on the opening lap as the field piled into Turn 1. With heavy aggression coming from all sides, Barbosa fell from fourth to eighth after admitting he wisely “avoided chaos.” With Albuquerque installed, the No. 5 began clawing back lost ground, but more adversity hit when a slow puncture to the right-front tire while running fifth necessitated an early final pit stop.
Left with no choice but to pit prematurely, AXR made the brave call to save time by changing nothing more than the right-front tire, which allowed Albuquerque to leapfrog his rivals as they pitted a few laps later.
Under intense pressure from Castroneves’ teammate Ricky Taylor in the final sprint to the checkered flag, Albuquerque was able to keep the Cadillac pointed straight as worn tires allowed the Acura to live within inches of his rear wing. Traffic on the last lap sealed the impressive day for the No. 5 team as it motored from eighth to first while its drivers dealt with conflicting requests.
Taylor in the Acura didn’t give Albuquerque a moment’s respite in the final part of the race. Image by Galstad/LAT
“I’m like, ‘What do you think I am, a magician here? Saving tires and saving fuel?’” Albuquerque said with a laugh as Cadillac celebrated its third consecutive win of the season. “I started to feel the tires [losing grip]. I said forget it, and pushed it. For the last 12 laps my rear was all over the race. The team did an amazing job on the strategy. This is the beauty of American racing. Everything can change and anyone can win.”
Taylor would come home 2.6 seconds behind the AXR car, and his teammate Dane Cameron completed the Acura 2-3 from 3.4 seconds back.
GT Le Mans was an all-Porsche affair as manufacturer led the majority of the race with the pole-sitting No. 911 Porsche 911 RSR, and closed with the No. 912 entry shared by Earl Bamber and Laurens Vanthoor leading home a sweep of the weekend for the Porsche GT Team.
The No.911 set it up for Porsche by claiming GTLM pole, but the No.912 brought it home for the win. Image by Galstad/LAT
The No. 66 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing GT threatened to spoil the Porsche party as a fortuitous pit stop got Sebastien Bourdais in shortly before a caution period paused the action, which placed teammate Dirk Muller in the lead once the rest of the GTLM class made their stops.
Slow out of the hairpin, Bamber rocketed by and never relinquished the lead. A hit from behind, however, dislodged the No. 912’s diffuser, which dangled and fluttered to the end.
“The Fords did a pit stop before the yellow and managed to cycle ahead of us,” Bamber said. “It was a key strategy for them. After the restart we had a strong car. I could feel the diffuser bouncing so I was super worried about that. I was praying every lap. The Ford, I think hit the pit limiter one time and we got around there. It was just a manner of controlling the race from there and just hoping the parts didn’t fall off, like the exhaust was falling off and a few bits here and there.”
The finish behind Bamber appeared to involve the No. 66 Ford in second until Muller’s GT coughed and ran out of fuel in Turn 8 on the final lap. A hard-charging Jan Magnussen, on Muller’s tail, was unable to avoid the Ford as it lost power. The ensuing impact speared Muller into the wall and smashed the nose of the No. 3 Corvette Racing C7.R, but with Corvette teammate Tommy Milner directly behind Magnussen, the tandem completed the final corners to seal a pair of podium spots.
“The end was pretty crazy with the 66 running out of fuel ahead of me,” Magnussen said. “I thought I was going to get stuck behind him, so I had to get on the throttle full to push him out of the way to get that last half-lap back to the checkered flag. Corvette Racing did a fantastic job setting the car up and thinking about what we needed at the end of the race. I don’t know if we had the best car, but it was close. I’m super happy today. For sure we’d like to get a win soon. We’ve caught up in the championship so it’s a good day.”
Muller and Bourdais gave Porsche a fright with some smart strategy work in the Ford, but their race came undone later when the car ran out of fuel. Image by Galstad/LAT
In the early stages of the race, it looked like the polesitting sister AXR Cadillac of Felipe Nasr and Pipo Derani would emerge victorious. The No. 31 DPi-V.R charged away from its first pit stop with four new items installed. Unfortunately, it was one shy of the count the crew was looking for as Derani took over from Nasr and was dispatched with three Michelin tires secured to the car. Despite waving his arms, the right-front tire changer was unable to catch the attention of the team before the car was dropped and sent without his wheel nut unsecured.
It would come off the car while the field circulated under yellow, which kept the No. 31 from losing a lap, but more oddities awaited the Brazilian when he returned to pit lane to address the issue and was initially blocked when the No. 24 BMW M8 GTE stopped in the middle of the lane—in front of Derani’s pit box—as its right-rear wheel started to fall off. The AXR Cadillac would make its way around the beached BMW, which was jacked up and serviced, allowing Jesse Krohn to rejoin the field.
“It’s a shame. I could lead the race easily,” Nasr said. “I really hope we can score some points today.”
Derani would soldier home to finish sixth overall.
More mayhem followed shortly after returning to green as Wayne Taylor Racing’s Renger van der Zande clouted the Turn 9 wall with the left side of the No. 10 Cadillac DPi-V.R. The Dutchman would steer the crabbing Caddy to the top of pit lane and climb from the car where the No. 10 would be credited with 18th overall and next-to-last in DPi, ahead of only Jon Bennett, who clipped the Turn 6 wall and damaged the No. 54 Nissan Onroak DPi beyond immediate repair on the opening lap.
Despite leaving the crash-happy pro-am GT Daytona class behind, the all-pro lineup of DPi and GTLM cars was far from clean and orderly, but it was never boring. Costly, for some who met Long Beach’s unforgiving walls, but always entertaining.
Posted 16 April 2019 - 15:37
The Le Mans 24 Hours grid will be increased to 62 cars for this year's race with the addition of an extra pair of pitboxes.
The High Class Racing and United Autosport LMP2 entries in first and second places on the reserve list will now take part in the race.
Le Mans organiser the Automobile Club de l'Ouest decided to build two temporary garages at the start of the pitlane in time for this year's World Endurance Championship finale on June 15/16.
Posted 25 April 2019 - 21:43
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