There was a bit of racing this week, but a lot more testing in preparation for what is going to be a mega 2016 season. We’ve got IMSA, F1, IndyCar, and NASCAR news, as well as some stuff about upcoming races and some new contracts/contract extensions. You know, the exciting stuff… There’s a good mix of stuff in this week’s post, so go check it out. There’s some vintage stuff, some in-depth investigation stuff, and some weekly press-release stuff. Just for funsies. Enjoy your extra February today, real life is for March!
Leap Day Special!
NASCAR Heads To Warm-Lanta
Testing, Testing, 1, 2, 3 – Indycar, IMSA, and Formula 1 Testing Reports
Rossi Official at Andretti/BHA
Formula E Makes Moves On Marrakech?
Stewart-Haas Racing Moving To Ford Power In 2017
WRT Audi Launches HUGE Program For Blancpain
Kremer Racing Launches New Aerokit For VLN GT3 Cup Cars
SVG And McLaren, Sitting In A Tree
Mardenborough Figures Out Where He Stands With Nissan
100+ Car Entry List For Pirelli World Challenge At COTA
Factory Backed Ginetta Entered For 15-Year-Old Parker Chase
NASCAR Race In Atlanta Sees Johnson Stick It In For The Win, Overtaking Earnhardt’s Victory Record
On Sunday, the roundy-rounders at NASCAR sent their best and worst to do battle on the oval in the sweltering 65 degree early spring heat of “Hotlanta”.
Kyle Busch outqualified Kurt by 13 thousandths of a second, but a tech infraction on Kyle’s car sent him to the back and promoted Kurt to the point.
The final restart sent the race into overtime (no surprise there), and Jimmie Johnson’s crew had worked some pit-stop magic to have him at the sharp end of the field going to that final green flag. Johnson got a great restart and pulled ahead of Kevin Harvick who was on the high side, and brought Kyle Busch with him in the tow. Coming around the back stretch, a wreck ensued (also no surprise) involving Aric Almirola (pictured below), Landon Cassill, David Ragan, and Ryan Blaney. Johnson maintained his lead through the finish, and took his 76th all time victory, tying Dale Earnhardt on the all-time win list. Interestingly, it was Dale Jr. who followed him to the checkers, taking second place.
In a Formula 1 pre-season test at Barcelona last week, Ferrari’s Vettel took the quickest time of the test on Pirelli’s new Ultra Soft compound, putting in a time 3 tenths clear of anyone else. That said, Nico Hulkenberg was the driver he was 3 tenths clear of, and Hulk was using a harder compound ‘Super Soft’ set of tires (That’s his secret, Cap!). Mercedes seemed to be down the time sheets, but looking at the data, it would seem they were running race simulations, and not aiming for fastest laps. Hamilton put in an astonishing 992 miles of testing, and Nico Rosberg did 960 miles. In total, the Mercedes team completed almost 700 more miles of testing than any other team. Ferrari was fastest, yes, but will that mean anything come race time?
Haryanto Spins Multiple Times In Testing
Haryanto, who replaced Alex Rossi within the Manor team saw a lot of trouble with multiple spins in each of the three days of testing. The team say this wasn’t a surprise, as the driver is just ‘trying to find the limits of the car’, but Haryanto could only manage a time that was more than 5 seconds off of the lead, and even more than 2 seconds slower than his teammate, Pascal Wehrlein. Good Luck Rio! You’re gonna need it.
Olivier Pla, apparently relieved temporarily of his Ford GT driving duties, was able to test for the Michael Shank Honda LMP2 at Sebring last week, and good thing, because he set the fastest time of the session in preparation for the 12 hour race coming up on March 19th.
Dirk Werner took the fastest time of the test on Friday for Team RLL BMW’s M6 in the GTLM class, Alessandro Balzan also found his pace on Friday and set the GTD field fastest time with his Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 488 GT3. In GTD, all 17 participating cars ran better times than the year-old GTD track record set by Jeroen Bleekemolen in the Viper GT3-R.
Penske-Chevrolet still looks like the combination to have if you want to excel in IndyCar this year. Well, maybe. Castroneves set the top times for the test, but Will Power suffered an engine failure. An IndyCar engine failure is pretty rare, and surprising, especially when Power had only gone 16 laps of Phoenix when the engine bit the dust. Castroneves’ time unofficially broke the Phoenix track record, though, so there is that.
Helio’s car was the only Chevy in the top 6, however, with Andretti HPD filling out the rest of the top 3 times. Could make for a good season with lots of dicing.
Rossi Ready For IndyCar Debut, Excited By Ovals
Andretti-Herta officially signed Rossi to their joint-run fourth car this week. Alex did not drive in the IndyCar Phoenix test, but he did attend, and his excitement for the coming season was apparent. Honestly, in his shoes, I’d rather have the Andretti-Herta seat near the front of the grid in IndyCar over the back-of-the-pack Manor F1 seat ‘taken’ from him by Haryanto and all of the money in Malaysia.
Morocco Wants Formula E, But Does Formula E Want Morocco?
Stephane Roux, Organizer of Marrakech WTCC race, to Motorsport.com –
“We are discussing with Formula E. The series’ organisers are interested in a venue like Marrakech. An African place, the only continent where the series is not established yet, which really appeals to them.
The constructors are for it, too, because the Moroccan automotive market is growing fast – it is among the few markets in the world with a double-digit yearly growth, after India and China. Hosting Formula E would make a lot of sense for Morocco. Marrakech will host the COP22 in November, which is a big deal here.
Moreover, His Majesty Mohammed VI is very devoted to clean, new technologies, with many large-scale plans for the country, including the photovoltaic infrastructures in Ouarzazate, which are among the largest in the world.”
SHR Shocks The World With Ford Switch In 2017
Stewart-Haas Raccing announced a move from Chevy to Roush-Yates Ford power in 2017, which was a ‘shock’ to the whole world. Well, the whole world except anyone who understands how money works…
Ford is really aiming their sights at motorsport this year and next, so hiring one of the better teams on the NASCAR grid to run your engines is pretty much a no brainer. Besides, that team is known for making headlines, so all the better. You can’t have a Le Mans car effort if you don’t have other high-level motorsport teams to back it up. Or, you can’t at least if you’re Ford.
Here’s the next question… Does Ford want to put Danica or Tony Stewart in a Ford GT? Talk about headlines!
WRT Readying Nine-Car Assault On Blancpain Endurance And Sprint Series
Nine Cars across two series for 14 drivers. Wow. That sounds like a huge program! Oh, and another car will be run for the 24 Hours of Spa.
Blancpain Sprint Cup –
1. Laurens Vanthoor & Frédéric Vervisch
2. Michael Meadows & Stuart Leonard
3. Sérgio Jimenez & Rodrigo Baptista
4. Dries Vanthoor & Robin Frijns
5. Enzo Ide & Christopher Mies
Blancpain Endurance Cup –
6. Laurens Vanthoor, Dries Vanthoor, and Frédéric Vervisch
7. Michael Meadows, Stuart Leonard, and Robin Frijns
8. Rodrigo Baptista, Sérgio Jimenez, and Filipe Albuquerque
9. Adrien de Leener, Peter Kox, and Pierre Kaffer
24 Hours of Spa Only –
10. René Rast, Nico Müller, and Laurens Vanthoor
Kremer Racing Launches New Aerokit For VLN GT3 Cup Cars
Okay, if you don’t think this is awesome, then get the heck out of here! Kremer has taken a brand new 991 GT3 Cup car and fitted it with an aerokit making it look similar to their 1979 Porsche 935 Kremer K3. Talk about the ultimate throwback!
And if that wasn’t awesome enough, here’s a pic of it testing in the snow, because who cares about physics?
SVG and McLaren Have Renewed Their Partnership For The 2016 Season
Not really news, I suppose. Shane Van Gisbergen was given another year extension on his contract with McLaren. After the showing that he made at the 12 hours of Bathurst earlier this year, that should come as no surprise.
The only surprise, I suppose, is that SVG didn’t get snapped up by a manufacturer with more money. Like Ford’s GT program, perhaps… A Kiwi at Le Mans in a Ford GT, now that would be something!
Nissan’s Star Driver, Jann Mardenborough, Shuffled To A Mixed Bag Of F3 & Super GT
With the death of the LMP1 program, NISMO has a bunch of excellent drivers floating around without much of a place to go. Jann Mardenborough is one of Nissan’s highest profile graduates of the GT Academy, so they certainly couldn’t just shove him off or end his contract. So they’re sending him to the relative obscurity of Japanese racing.
Prior to the LMP1 announcement, Mardenborough was running F3 pretty much full time in Europe. Mardenborough will team with another Nissan ace, Katsumasa Chiyo, in All-Japan F3 series with B-Max Racing. He will also run a second program in Super GT with the NDDP Racing Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 in GT300 class teaming with Kazuki Hoshino.
Ginetta Putting Their Eggs In 15-Year-Old’s Basket In PWC
Parker Chase will make his debut this weekend at COTA in the Ginetta G55 GT4 racing in the Pirelli World Challenge “GTS” Class.
Adolpho Rossi, Ginetta USA President –
“We have worked hard to prepare the G55 for competition in the Pirelli World Challenge and we are pleased to join the program for 2016. At the crisp age of only 15, we were excited yet admittedly a bit apprehensive about placing our program in the hands of such a young driver.”
Mike Simpson, Ginetta Factory Driver –
“It’s great for Ginetta to be able to expand the brand even further into the USA. We have worked closely with Adolpho for a number of years, and this progression represents another positive step. We believe the G55 is a perfect fit for the Pirelli World Challenge, and in the hands of young Parker, it’s bound to be competitive. His lap times were competitive with mine – and I helped develop the car!”
COTA PWC Entry List Features Over 100 Cars, Because EVERYTHING IS BIGGER IN TEXAS!
I mean, that’s all you really need to know. The story is completely wrapped up in the headline. That’s it. Nothing more to see here. Move along.
A Closer Look At Early Moveable Aero With A Porsche 908LH
I wrote this late last year for FLATSIXES.com, but it’s worth checking out if you are a motorsport nerd like I am (which you likely are if you’ve read this far…).
Jason Plato Bombs A mini Around GoodWood At The Revival Last Year, Video Is Awesome
Weekly Press Releases
Valvoline™ Announces 2016 Sponsorship Alignment with NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Driver Paul Menard
They want you to watch this video because reasons.
BF Goodrich Ambassador Andrew Comrie-Picard will be racing the Alcan Winter Rally (An 11 Day Journey!) this week, and we have an opportunity to interview him post-race.
What do you want to know? Do you have any questions for Andrew and what it takes to run a grueling event like this one? Seriously, anything. I need interview questions…
ACP is actually writing a blog about the event on FourWheeler.com, so go check that out, too!
[Photos Sourced From Racer.com, TheCheckeredFlag.co.uk, and Motorsport.com]