There was a time a few years ago when I would provide a racing recap post on the following Monday, and I thought it might be a good idea to bring that back. Racing is getting hotter with every passing season, and there is a lot of interesting stuff going down that really needs to be brought to you wonderful people. Besides, it’s something I’m passionate about, and they always tell you to write what you know. This weekend was the first weekend of a new motorsport season here in the US, there was some international stuff going on, a few big announcements, and some sad Dakar-related news. Just be aware of the fact that this post is filled with spoilers. Giant carbon-fiber, multi-element, DRS-equipped, Gurney-flapped, Spoilers! This week:
- Red Bull Frozen Rush Thrills In The Chill
- Dakar Competitors Continue On Their Way To Not Dakar
- Exciting New Cars Testing At Daytona During The 4-day “Roar Before the 24”
- The 3-hours of Thailand Is A Thing That Happened
- KCMG Quit The WEC
- Mike Shank Announces Plans To Enter Le Mans 24
- Spectator Killed During Dakar 7th Stage
- Haas F1 Team Cleared For Competition After Passing Crash Test
Red Bull Frozen Rush:
Let me begin by saying that Bryce Menzies is an absolute boss when it comes to driving a trophy truck in the snow. This is a unique event that has only been run three times, and trophy trucks are very rarely driven on ice and snow, but when they are, Menzies dominates completely. I watched the whole race live on Friday afternoon, and he gave a masterclass display on how to drive smooth, how to make ice and snow work for you, and how to make his truck dance like nobody else. In a tournament style event, Menzies took down Greaves in the quarterfinal, MacCachren in the semi-finals, and Johnson in the final to take the overall win. He drove every race with the exact same smoothness and panache. He never once looked like he was under pressure, and he was just plain fast all week. It was an excellent thing to watch, and if you missed it, you can catch the replay here.
After 7 stages of the rally, the rally robot Sebastien Loeb has the lead of the race by nearly two minutes over Peugeot teammate Stéphane Peterhansel. Peterhansel had taken the lead on Friday, but Saturday saw troubles for Stéphane that dropped him back to second place. Sunday was a well deserved rest day for the competitors who have seen monsoon rain and extreme dry desert weather across the preceding week. This will be a tight competition until the end, as Peugeot owns the top three (with Sainz in third), but the MINI of Nasser Al-Attiyah is only 17 minutes back from the lead with a week remaining in competition. Literally anything could happen from here to the finish. Price leads in the bikes class over Goncalves. In the trucks class, the Man of Versluis/Pronk/Klein leads by 6 minutes over the Iveco of De Rooy/Torrallardona/Rodewald.
Dakar Spectator Death:
It is with sad and heavy hearts that we have to announce the passing of a 63 year old spectator. The unnamed man was nearly-instantly dead from injuries sustained when he was struck by French driver Lionel Baud’s Mitsubishi Lancer. 82 kilometers into Saturday’s special stage, Baud’s car “hit a 63-year-old man who was isolated on the race course.” The full circumstances are not known, but it is obviously sad regardless. While further spectators were injured during the race’s prologue event ahead of this year’s running, this death is the first spectator death since the 2013 event.
The Roar Before the 24:
WeatherTech Sports Car Championship – This week’s events (7 full sessions of pre-season practice) at Daytona in the run up to the 24 hour endurance race there later this month have proven quite interesting. Obviously, in an Iverson way, we only talkin’ bout practice, but it’s always interesting to extrapolate potential results from the incomplete dataset we’re working with. There were some ups and downs, and some pretty surprising things going on here. It’s not really important to competition right now, but it is worth noting that three of the four Chip Ganassi entered cars suffered crashes throughout the week. Lets break the results down a little. 1. There are tons of new cars. Mazda debuted their new gasoline powered P2-style prototypes, and they were much faster than they have ever been as diesel-powered machines. The Nissan BRO1 made it’s stateside debut at Daytona as well. In the GTLM category we saw the new BMW M6, the new Ferrari 488, and the new Ford GTs. In the GTD category, all of the cars are new with a switch to GT3 regulations for the class, featuring new R8s, Vipers, 911s, a BMW M6, Ferrari 458s, and a handful of wickedly fast Huracan GT3s. 2. The P2-style prototypes are fast. Patron Racing’s Honda Ligier prototypes topped the time sheets for the weekend with a fastest time of 1:39.249 with Pipo Derani onboard. Only a handful of other prototypes dipped into the 1:39s, including Mike Shank’s nearly-identical Honda Ligier, and the vastly improved Deltawing. Whatever Skitter and his crew are doing over there, that car is getting much faster. P2-style prototypes made up the top 5 overall times for the week, leaving the DP-style prototypes looking for pace. Over the course of the race, however, the DPs could have the advantage still with better traffic negotiation and stronger cars. 3. GTLM field looks strong. The BMWs, Ferraris, and Corvettes were battling for top class times all week, but it was Lucas Luhr’s BMW that ultimately set the top time at Daytona with a 1:45.088. The Ford GTs were slightly slower than the top class cars, and the Porsche 911 RSRs stood a few tenths further back. Ultimately, the whole class was covered by about 1 second, which makes for very close competition. 4. GTD field is absolutely the best racing in the world right now. Sadly this is the class that will get the least amount of television coverage, but GT3 racing is ridiculously amazing at the moment. The class leader this week was Lehman Keen’s Porsche 911 GT3R Alex Job Racing car, with which he set a 1:47.852. Stevenson Motorsports’ new Audi R8 was quick as well, only a tenth shy of the best time. There were another dozen cars that were within shouting distance of that time as well, and you could throw the proverbial blanket over almost all of them. Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge – In addition to the WeatherTech series running their pre-season test, the Conti series was also there testing. With the new Porsche Cayman GT4 making its GS class debut at the track, it was immediately evident that this is going to be a strong car in the series this year. Up against a few Mustang GT350s, the GT4 was just a little bit quicker in pretty much every session. The older 987 version of the Cayman is still serving solidly with the 2.7 liter base model remaining the go-to car for the ST class. Most of the competitive Mazda MX-5s have disappeared for the 2016 season, as CJ Wilson Racing has moved from ST class MX-5s to GS class Caymans. This season will either be interesting, or a Porsche-fest.
The 3-hours of Thailand:
The third round of the Asian Le Mans Series was won overall by Sean Galael and Antonio Giovanazzi in their #9 Jagonya Ayam with Eurasia Oreca 03R Nissan. While it had threatened to rain, the race stayed dry until the very final moments of the race. Galael had actually suffered a punctured tire early and recovered to come back through the field with a storming speed and recovered the lead in the second hour. After handing over to his teammate, Giovinazzi was able to retain the lead through the end. In other classes, the DC Racing Ligier JS P3 took the P3 victory, and the Nexus Infinity Ferrari 458 took the GT3 class victory.
KCMG Forego WEC Effort In 2016:
After a disappointing finish to the 2015 season, and an even more disappointing ruling to the incident that took the KCMG car out of the final race of the season, the team have decided to sit out this year in anticipation of new 2017 LMP2 regulations that would render their current car useless anyhow. You can watch that incident below, and make your own decision. The ultimate outcome was that the KCMG car was penalized for ‘early braking’, and the G-Drive car was given a warning. As a result of the crash and subsequent non-penalty, G-Drive won the championship. [youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fJ00IFCeHdk[/youtube]
Mike Shank Plans To Run A 24 Hours of Le Mans Effort:
Shank’s team has accepted their invitation to the Le Mans endurance race. The invitation was extended thanks to John Pew’s efforts the previous year earning him the Trueman Award for the top ‘Am’ driver in the field. Shank will work with Onroak and Honda as technical partners for the Le Mans effort.