SO MUCH RACING! This weekend saw a whole lot of racing action, from sports cars to NASCAR to Formula 1, there was a little of something for everyone. IMSA’s 12 hours of Sebring happened, and frankly dominated my weekend. That was backed up by a Continental Sports Car Challenge race, as well. NASCAR was in Fontana. Formula 1 had its season premier at Albert Park in Melbourne. Alonso almost died, but walked away instead. Moto GP had a grand prix in Qatar. The 12 hours of Mugello went down in Italy and was won by something you’ve maybe never heard of before. Plus other news and reports and press releases.
The racing will only continue to get hotter from here, so we’ll do our best to help keep your finger on the pulse. Just be aware of the fact that this post is filled with spoilers. Giant carbon-fiber, multi-element, DRS-equipped, Gurney-flapped, Spoilers!
12 Hours of Sebring Finishes IMSA’s Time in Florida
CTSCC Has Great Race In Sebring
NASCAR Breaks New Records At Fontana
F1 Goes To ‘Straya, Mostly Looks Like 2015 All Over Again
Moto GP Takes Two Wheels To Tango In Qatar
Another 12 Hour Sports Car Race? On The Same Weekend? YEP!
Alonso Crash “The Worst” of His Career
Watch The V8 Supercars Races From The Weekend, If You Like
Alex Tagliani Signs For May Deal At Indy
Ben Keating Makes A Deal For His Team To Run At Le Mans, Just Not In A Viper
Ex-F1 Driver and Polish Hero Robert Kubica Makes Rocky GT Car Return In Mugello
Audi Building A GT4 Car?
Pat Long Shows You Around His GT3 R
Cobra Crash At Goodwood Member’s Meeting
Extreme Speed Motorsports Show They Are Awesome With A ’36 Hours of Florida’ Overall Victory
Here are the things you absolutely need to know about Sebring this weekend.
ESM takes the overall victory with a great last stint on fresh tires with Pipo Derani at the wheel. Only a few people have ever won both Sebring and Daytona in the same year, and the feat is known as taking the “36 Hours of Florida” victory. The 36 Hours of Florida sounds like a bad vacation to Miami in which your dad’s Chrysler Town And Country breaks down and you spend a whole day waiting for parts in Yeehaw Junction off ‘the pike’. Anyway, the team win came on fresh tires for the final stint with Pipo Derani in the driver’s seat. He made two late-braking maneuvers to get past the two Daytona Prototypes that were ahead of him on the final restart. It was a masterclass. You can see one of them, the pass for the lead, in the video above.
- It rained. A lot. According to the folks on IMSA Radio, this was only the 6th time that it rained in the history of the 12 hour, but when it rains, it really rains. Just look at 1965.
- There was a 2-hour red flag section. I used that time to go to Home Depot and buy some bolts for my Audi project, and eat some nachos while watching the new season of Daredevil on Netflix. I couldn’t watch the race, because the internet stream was GeoBlocked, so I listened to the race from the comfort of my shop on my back under a 2-ton Audi on the cold cement floor. Where I belong.
- Ferrari won the GTD category with the new 488 GT3. This was the car’s debut race (okay, one raced in Australia last week, but…), and marked the 50th anniversary since Ferrari’s first win at Sebring.
- The GTLM leaders did this dumb thing at one point…
- And early in the rain, Townsend Bell in the Lamborghini did this… Watch everyone else being so uneasy under braking in this clip.
So the laurels go to the following teams/drivers.
Prototype – Extreme Speed Racing Ligier JSP2 HPD – Ed Brown, Scott Sharp, and Luis Felipe Derani
Prototype Challenge – CORE Autosport ORECA-Chevrolet – Coli Braun, Jon Bennett, and Mark Wilkins
GT Le Mans – Corvette Racing C7.R – Oliver Gavin, Tommy Milner, and Marcel Fassler
GT Daytona – Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 488 GT3 – Jeff Segal, Christina Nielsen, and Alessandro Balzan
Congratulations, ladies and gents.
And in case you forgot…
Who is Pipo Derani?
Derani is a young Brazilian star that started racing in 2003 running karts at 10 years old. By 2005, he was already a champion, winning the São Paulo Junior Menor Championship.
2009 – started running Formula Renault 2.0. Two podiums and 13 points-scoring finishes later, and he finished 7th in the championship.
2010 – stepped into German Formula Three alongside Kevin Magnussen and Jimmy Eriksson at Motopark Academy Team. 10th in points.
2011 – moved to the British Formula Three Championship with Double R. Fifteenth in points with a podium to his name.
2012 – Switched teams to Fortec Motorsport. Improved to 8th in the championship with a pair of wins.
2013 – Stayed with Fortec. Moved to FIA European Formula Three, finished 8th in points with 3 podiums.
2014 – For the first half of the season, Pipo ran the Pro Mazda championship with Team Pelfrey, scoring a podium. For the latter half, Derani joined Murphy Prototypes in the European Le Mans championship LMP2 car.
2015 – Moved to the World Endurance Championship in LMP2 with G-Drive racing. Scored a victory at Spa, and 6 further podiums.
He’s stupid quick, and his lap times are indicative of a very competent driver, showing not only pace, but also consistency. It won’t be long before he is snatched up by one of the major LMP1 factory teams.
Continental Tire Race Has Close Racing, And The Cayman GT4’s First Victory
One and Won – Bodymotion Racing’s Cayman GT4 took the GS class victory on its first outing with the driver pairing of Cameron Cassels and Trent Hindman. Porsche had just started deliveries a few weeks before the Daytona 24 weekend, and Bodymotion decided that their car wouldn’t quite be ready for its first Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge race by then. Instead, they opted to sit the sidelines and develop the car in preparation for a Sebring 150 maiden race. As luck would have it, that may have been the best move.
Hindman via IMSA.com –
“Never in a million years did I think we could pull off a win in the first race for our new Clubsport. We have to keep our foot on the gas and hopefully we can keep this result going forward.”
The Cayman took the lead with about half an hour remaining in the 2 hour 45 minute race. The pole winning Mustang GT350R-C of Maxwell and Johnson (Multimatic Motorsports) finished the race some 13 seconds behind the Porsche. Rum Bum Racing’s #13 Porsche 911 finished third piloted by Hugh and Matt Plumb. Their 911 is easily 4 seasons old at this point, and still competitive. I remain impressed by Rum Bum.
In the Street Tuner class, Owen Trinkler and Sarah Cattaneo took the victory in their #44 Honda Civic Si over Michael Valiante and Chad Gilsinger’s HART-prepared Civic Si. Pole winners Tyler Cooke and James Clay finished third in their BimmerWorld Racing BMW 328i.
Trinkler to IMSA.com –
“We were under the radar all week, and we barely cracked the top five at any time. It was all about being consistent. We worked all week concentrating on longer runs on older tires, and if you look back at the lap times, you’ll see our car barely moved a second all weekend and during the race.”
40 Year-Old California Man Still Inexplicably Referred To As “Jimmie”, Dresses Up As Favorite Comic Book Hero And Wins 77th Career Race At Fontana
Mr. Jimmie Kenneth Johnson took his 77th NASCAR “Sprint Cup Series” victory over the weekend, passing Dale Sr on the career wins list (Which should be illegal. Everyone knows Dale Sr. is God!).
Johnson’s win comes in OVERTIME (go figure…), beating Kevin Harvick to the line in a two lap sprint. Kurt Busch slammed the wall with 2 laps to go, bringing out the final caution. Johnson and teammate Dale Jr. were sponsored by the upcoming Batman Vs. Superman film, with Johnson wearing Superman colors and Jr. playing the Batman role.
Johnson on his win to Racer.com –
“I got a great run off of Turn 2, and I thought, ‘Man I’ve got a shot at this thing.’ Which I didn’t expect to have. Harvick has been so fast. I cleared him and kind of got away. We saved our best for last, for sure.”
Harvick on his loss –
F1 Goes Downunder, Qualifying Sucks, Race Is Predictable, Haas Gets Points
The weekend started relatively predictably as the new “Knock Out” qualifying system was unveiled without enough time for the teams to understand how it works. The sessions were bleak and action was hard to find. There were many minutes where the track was completely empty as teams didn’t have time or tires to go out. Bernie Ecclestone called the qualifying proceedings “pretty crap”, and the teams agreed. An emergency meeting was held and determined that the old qualifying will return for the next race in Bahrain.
During the race, it was more of 2015 extended into 2016. Nico Rosberg won the race. Lewis Hamilton came second. Seb Vet played “best of the rest” in his Ferrari in third. Granted, there was some excellent racing going on in there, including a move that saw Vettel move into the lead at the standing start, which should be lauded. Behind him, Turn one saw Rosberg push Hamilton wide, and the other Ferrari of Raikkonnen took the opportunity to move into second place. In the end, none of it mattered, as tire strategy and superior steeds saw the Mercs take the win anyway. It would seem in F1, it isn’t the archer that kills you, rather the silver arrow.
Alonso violently crashed into Gutierrez, bringing out a red flag, but more on that later.
Kimi retired with an engine faiure. Mercedes later admitted that Rosberg’s car finished the race on the ragged edge of exploding as well. It held, though, and he took his 15th career victory.
We should say that we were surprised by Romain ‘Big John’ Grosjean taking 6th place in the Haas F1 Ferrari, scoring points for the team on their debut. It is possible that Gutierrez might have been in the points as well, had it not been for the collision.
Qatari Grand Prix Sees Lorenzo Take Convincing Win Over Dovi In Season Opener
The Yamaha phenom and 2015 Moto GP World Champion, Lorenzo stamped his dominance over the Ducati of Dovizioso and the Honda of Marc Marquez with a win in Qatar. Jorge won the pole, and streaked away from the start holding the lead until the end of lap one when Dovi and Iannone streaked past on the front straight. What Lorenzo lacked in top speed, he made up in patience.
The Ducati pair were attacking each other in frightful fashion, as Dovizioso dove down the inside of Iannone for the lead at turn one of lap 6. Iannone retook the lead with a masterful switchback, but the pair made light contact. At turn 6 of the same lap, Iannone fell on his own and exited the race. Dovi kept his Ducati at the point for only another 3 laps. Lorenzo made a bold outside move to retake the lead, and never looked back for the next 14 laps to the flag. At the end of lap 22, Lorenzo had the lead by 2 seconds, and had set the fastest lap of the race on his way to the win.
12 Hours of Mugello Is A GT3 Race Won By Not-A-GT3 Renault
Luc Braams, Max Braams, Nicky Pastorelli and Miguel Ramos drove an almost faultless race in their V8 Racing Renault RS.01 FGT3 (pictured above) and took home their first overall win in the Creventic-run 24H Series (which ran a 12 hour race over the weekend) at the 12 hours of Mugello. Second placed Mercedes AMG GT3 of Hofor Racing finished four laps down.
Keeping your nose clean is a good way to win an endurance race, and that remains true of the #333’s race. They stayed out of trouble, and stayed out of the pits to finish in first. The Optimum Motorsports Audi R8 led most of the laps of the race, but with 90 minutes remaining, suffered a gearbox failure. Stuff like that will cost you, and it sucks, but that’s racing.
The win is somewhat controversial, as the Renault is not officially homologated as a GT3 car, but was competing in the SP3 class against pure GT3 cars. A GT3 is supposed to be homologated on a roadcar platform, but the RS.01 was created by Renault as a single-make series racer. Creventic decided to give V8 Racing and Renault a waiver to run the car in the GT3-oriented category. It would seem that a car designed from the ground up as a racing car would be good at racing. Yeah…
Fernando Alonso Suffers Huge Crash, Walks Away
I love Mark Webber’s comment there about knowing how it feels to misjudge a pass. He may have done something similar a few years back in Valencia. Damn, was that already 6 seasons ago?
V8 Supercars Race 1 –
Race 2 –
Alex Tagliani Indy ‘Month of May’ Deal With AJ Foyt Racing
That’s pretty much it. That’s the story. A-Tags is running a Foyt car in May at Indy for both the road course race, and the 500. Why Tagliani doesn’t have a full season drive and Takuma Sato does, I’ll never understand…
Ben Keating’s Team Was Reserve-Listed For Le Mans, Signs Deal To Run LMP2 Car Already On The Grid
The ViperExchange Viper GTE Am car was wait-listed, and didn’t look likely to make the grid for Le Mans this June. As such, team owner Ben Keating decided to hire Murphy Prototypes to prepare an LMP2 drive for them, as they were already accepted into the big show. Joined by teammates Jeroen Bleekemolen and Marc Goosens, Keating will contest the 24 hour in a prototype. This will be Keating’s first time ever in a prototype, so we’ll see how that plays out.
Keating sells Vipers for a living, or at least owns a place that sells Vipers, “ViperExchange.com”. So it makes perfect sense for them to enter a Viper in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, as they did in 2015. Does it make sense to enter a Nissan-powered ORECA LMP2 car, or is this just rich dudes doing what rich dudes do?
Robert Kubica’s Team Crashes Out of Contention in 12 Hour Race On Lap 1. Polish Fans Say “Yeah, That Sounds Right.”
Kubica teamed with Martin Prokop and Quirin Muller’s MP Sports team for a run at the 12 hours of Mugello in a Mercedes SLS AMG GT3. The team qualified third on the grid, and the Pole looked to be laying down competitive lap times, even though he has not done any circuit racing since he left Formula 1.
The car received damage from contact on lap one that took them 35 laps to repair, putting them well out of contention.
Kubica is rumored to be transitioning back to a full billing of circuit racing after an uneventful multi-year stint in WRC. His left arm mobility is still a bit limited, but that should make less of a difference on a circuit than it does on the forest stages.
Mark Raffauf On The Differences Between DPi and LMP2 for 2017
SportsCar365 has a great piece on this topic. Read it here.
Audi Expanding Into GT4 Competition With New TT Cup-Based Car
Audi took its TT Cup racer to participate in SRO’s Balance of Performance tests last month, and Chris Reinke (boss of Audi Sport Customer Racing) admitted that this was in an effort to compare the TT Cup to existing GT4 competitors.
Reinke to SportsCar365 –
“There is for sure a vision in mind to expand the product range of customer vehicles that Audi Sport customer racing should supply in the future. To help with that evaluation process, we went to the test to evaluate the TT, which was available for us, against the competition, to see what kind of performance range a GT4 car should have. It did meet my expectations and it did confirm what we’d have to change on the car to maybe field there.”
Patrick Long’s New GT3 R
Karsten Le Blanc Wrecks An AC Cobra At Goodwood
Speed Comparison in Australia Is A Thing, I Guess. That Judd V10, Tho.
Toyota UK Just Posted This To Twitter, And It’s Awesome
Press Releases –
McLaren wants you to know that five 650S GT3 cars ran in the Aussie GT races in Melbourne this weekend, where they secured one win and 3 further podium positions. Good Job!
McLaren also wants you to know that they have introduced the new 570S Sprint, which is a track-only car that you can buy and field in track days, should you choose. It’s like a budget P1 GT-R. In conjunction with that, they also announced a 570S homologated GT4 car, which is legitimately exciting.
Porsche wants you to know that they will be debuting a new livery for their Le Mans conquering 919 Hybrid on Wednesday, March 24 at Paul Ricard for the WEC Prologue test. Follow @Porsche_Team on twitter for more updates.
FIA World Rallycross Championship wants you to know that Olsbergs MSE has announced a new driver lineup for 2016: Kevin Eriksson and Niclas Gronholm.
IndyCar wants you to know that John Andretti is building a modern IndyCar called “The Stinger” with a livery that replicates that of the 1911 Marmon Wasp that won the first-ever Indy 500. The car, featuring 249 Indy drivers’ autographs, will be auctioned on May 25th at Indianapolis to benefit children battling cancer.
EXR Racing Series wants you to know that they participated in a wheel-to-wheel real world racing test before the 2016 season over the weekend at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. The series fielded a three-car entry at SCCA San Francisco Region’s Club Racing opener. No word yet on how the test went.
[Photos Sourced From Formula1.com, Racer.com, Motorsport.com, sportscardigest.com, and Crash.net]