This week the SCCA Pro Racing season kicked off both in Texas with PCW and at Sebring with Trans Am, V8 Supercars flooded Adelaide, WRC was trouncing around Mexico, and we also saw NASCAR run apparently in Vegas (it’s another oval, it may as well be anywhere…). There are some more pre-season seat confirmations to talk about, as well as a few new rules changes. Be warned, I was in Los Angeles all weekend for a Porsche thing for work, and I got home late Sunday night, so this news update is brought to you by copious amounts of caffeine pills and slaps to the face. I put Pat Long’s Effort Racing GT3R up there because Patrick is a robot behind the wheel, GT3Rs look rad as all hell, and I’m a shill for Porsche, obviously (That’s sarcasm, don’t take me seriously. I need coffee. Lots). The racing will only continue to get hotter from here, so pay attention, class. Just be aware of the fact that this post is filled with spoilers. Giant carbon-fiber, multi-element, DRS-equipped, Gurney-flapped, Spoilers! NASCAR races somewhere… F1 Radio Coms Limited Rally Mexico PWC @ COTA V8 Supercars Struggle With Monsoons In Adelaide Nissan Micra Cup To Show At Autorama Audi’s Rast In An LMP2 Trans Am At Sebring
NASCAR @ Las Vegas
Keselowski won a big wrench for some reason, and he still looks like he’s 15 years old. Why does he have more teeth than can fit in his mouth? My namesake Brad took his 18th NASCAR Winston/Nextel/Sprint Cup Victory (brought to you by Combos: The official cheese filled snack of NASCAR) this weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, despite a penalty for pit-lane speeding midway through the race. Because of the BS ‘lucky dog’ rule, he was allowed to come from laps behind to take the win. I really hate manufactured victories, and the lucky dog rule is the dumbest thing ever. THANKS AARONS RENT A CENTER! Kyle Busch looked in the catbird seat for the victory when the 6th caution went green, but he developed a late race vibration that dropped him back. Logano also mounted a charge, but couldn’t keep it there and eventually settled for 4th.
Brad Keselowski on his win
“It seemed like there were plenty of challenges, whether it was pit road or the weather or cautions. They threw everything they had at us today but this Miller Lite Ford team was too strong, and we were able to fight them off and get to Victory Lane. He (Busch) had a really good short-run car, but it fell off on the long run. That’s part of this new package. Some are good on short runs and some are good on long runs, and we had a really good long-run car today.”
SCCA Pro Racing: Trans Am @ Sebring and PWC @ COTA
Last year’s champion Amy Ruman led the first 13 of 20 laps at the Florida track, but conditions forced a spin in her Corvette, allowing the win to be decided by the best of the rest. Paul Fix, another series frequent winner, tried to avoid the incident, but ended up in the tire barrier. Cliff Ebben moved his Mustang to the point after the top two fell out, but he suffered a tire failure shortly thereafter (cause unknown, but possibly related). John Baucom’s #86 Mustang moved into the lead for two laps before suffering a mechanical failure. This then moved AJ Henricksen’s Corvette into the lead for two laps, until contact forced him off the track as well. Then, as luck would have it, a little old guy named Kenny Bupp (most appropriate Trans Am name ever) moved into the lead and managed to keep it, probably because of the old-world magic hex he had placed on the rest of the field in front of him. Black magic. Sinister magic. This was the first race of Trans Am’s 50th season, by the way.
Bupp on his victory “This is absolutely incredible. To be here with so many members of our family, and all of Trans Am, which I consider family. I first raced here at Sebring in 1982…I’ve had a ton of fun here, and in Trans Am, for a long time but never more fun than today! It was absolutely a survivor’s race and so much of this comes down to good fortune, but the car was consistent the whole race. We ran into a little brake trouble and ended up having to pump the brakes, but they came right back. The car was perfect; my crew does such a great job, not just today but every time. It means a tremendous amount to be here racing with Jordan (Kenny’s son, a TA2 racer). Two years ago Jordan had acute kidney failure at the age of 25; he thought his life was over much less his racing career. But for him to come back here, doing nine hours of dialysis ever night, and get back in a racecar is thrilling to me beyond what you can imagine. We’re so blessed.”
Pat Long puts in Effort & Johnny O is back in the ‘lac! I’m a little miffed that I missed this one due to working all weekend (more on that later this week, and probably in depth on the C&T 100th episode coming this Friday), but the pair of rounds from the PWC opener in Texas showcased an excellent array of racers and cars. I love this series to death, and I wish it continued strength in years to come. Over 100 cars entered the COTA round, and it was spectacular. Race one was won by Pat Long from the pole position, because he’s a robot. Bryan Heitkotter initially moved his Nissan GT-R into the lead from a 6th starting position thanks to a rocketship start, and Long had to track him down in order to take the lead back. Effort Racing had just taken delivery of their new GT3R about a week ago. Here is the race in Pat’s own words as told to Racer.com.
“I was sort of shell-shocked on lap one when I saw the pace of Heitkotter and the Nissan. I thought, ‘Hmmm… this is going to be bleak and I’m not going to have much for him.’ Then I sort of had a conversation with myself and said, ‘You’ve got to suck this up, try to get away from [Heitkotter’s Nissan teammate JD] Davison and [Cadillac’s Michael] Cooper and try to get him to wear his tires out. I saw that we were catching lapped traffic so I mounted my charge. I knew I only had about two laps of tire to go all out, and I was able to put him under pressure starting at Turn 11, and the pass wasn’t really completed until the exit of 13, so probably about half a mile we were crossing over and under each other. He ran clean and hard, and I think I did too, and I really appreciate racing with people like that,” he said. “I think this is what Porsche does really well. They deliver a turnkey masterpiece of a racecar. It’s fast, it’s refined, it’s reliable. But to go up against the United Nations of GT3 racing and to get the first victory for the car, it’s a proud moment. I’m only a fraction of the whole equation. These guys never, ever drop their head; they’ve been working hard over at Effort, and it’s a proud moment to carry the cake across the line, but it’s a real team effort that gets us here.”
Race two was won by Caddy’s Johnny O (The Johnny That Zigs). Heitkotter led from pole in his GT-R, but Davison’s GT-R and Race One Winner Pat Long made contact at turn one, which ended with Long sliding headlong into the tire barrier (Effort’s week old GT3R is probably borked and they need a new one…), which brought out a long yellow period. On the restart Davison took the lead over from Heitkotter, but was issued a 10-second stop-and-hold penalty for contact. Heitkotter then had the lead again defending from a pair of Cadillac ATS-V.R driven by O’Connell and Michael Cooper. With 17 minutes to go, Johnny passed Bryan for the point, and pulled a gap as Heitkotter’s heavier GT-R started to run out of tire. Not long after, teammate Cooper managed to get by the Nissan as well, leading to a Cadillac 1-2, and giving the points lead at the end of round one to 4-in-a-row series champion Johnny O’Connell. Can anyone stop Jonny O this year from getting his fifth consecutive PWC GT champ trophy? Johnny O’Connell on his round 2 victory –
“The key for us was to get a decent start. Saturday (Round 1) I managed to go from third to ninth in the first corner as everyone seemed to be doing a rim shot on the outside. Today was better in turn one as I went from third to third. I thought there might be a penalty for the 33 Nissan (Davison) as he went on the far outside to pass me. When I saw the misfortune that Patrick Long had (with the front straight crash), I knew this was an important day. Patrick is a top line driver with a great team. When you see something like that happen, you need to make the most of it. You have to connect the dots. Heitkotter did an amazing job leading that race. I had an idea in my mind how the pass would go and I was doing little things to try and setup the pass for the lead. It took me a lot of time to get in position to make things right for the pass. I was able to set up the pass in turn 12 with more momentum. I faked like I was going left and went right. Then I didn’t want to make any mistakes. Then you hope everyone behind starts battling among themselves and they slow each other down. That is pretty much what happened. I’m very proud of everyone at Cadillac. They dug deep and it’s a good way to start the season.”
A victory for Jari Matti-Latvala has been his self-described ‘most satisfying win of his career’, and could be a ‘new beginning’ for his title challenge. The VW driver took an astonishing win after suffering suspension damage in Monaco and a mechanical failure in Sweden. This win actually might be because of his poor performances in earlier races, as the starting order for this rally was determined by points standings. Teammate Sebastien Ogier was forced to start each stage first on the road, and had a much rougher path to drive than JML, who was ninth over the course. Latvala managed 11 stage wins on his way to the overall lead and win. The win moves him up into 6th overall in points, which is far enough back to still provide a decent advantage for Rally Argentina as well. JML to Motorsport.com –
“It’s been a very difficult start for me, I arrived to Mexico with no points. I think [Mexico] has been one of the cleanest rallies I’ve ever done in my career. I felt very comfortable. It’s special because I’ve never won here before. Getting this result is a big positive positive because it brings me back into the fight. I think this can be a new beginning.”
Also this video proves why Ogier (and all other WRC drivers by extension) are badasses. https://www.facebook.com/WorldRally/videos/10153481331115678/
Clipsal 500 At Adelaide
RAIN! And lots of it! The race was started behind seven laps of yellow flag conditions thanks to cascading rain. Shane van Gisbergen, Fabian Coulthard, and James Courtney all had turns at the lead before Lowndes took over at the front for a while. For about 10 laps, the race dried out enough to try a run on slicks, but then more rain came and it was back to wets. It came down harder and harder, and eventually the race was called for weather. Chaz Mostert smashed his car hard at turn 8. Courtney suffered the same fate a few laps later. van Gisbergen had a couple of spins and could only manage 10th, the best of the Triple8 racing team cars. Lowndes led for a while, but suffered in the very wet, and hadn’t taken on the minimum amount of fuel for the race (The fuel drop is a weird rule, in which a car has to take on at least 140 liters of fuel in order to be classified for the final tally. With a mid-race red flag period, and a time-crunch finish, a number of cars hadn’t taken on the full load of fuel when the green flag came out for a 10 minute sprint to finish the race). Whincup had a spin early that dropped him back, and another spin later, and ended 16th. In the end, it was young Nick Percat who managed a victory in the rain-shortened race, coming out on top in the final 10 minute sprint.
Percat on his win – “This is unbelievable. I’ve watched this race since I was in a pram. The car was amazing in the dry, and I knew I had a good car in the wet. I couldn’t believe it coming into the last corner.”
Audi Phenom Rast Gets LMP2 Drive
Rast will be gearing up for a run in the G-Drive Racing LMP2 team for the full season of WEC racing in 2016. Rast, who ran in Audi’s LMP1 R18 e-Tron Quattro at Le Mans in 2015, will share a ride in the Jota Sport-run G-Drive ORECA coupe with reigning WEC LMP2 champion Roman Rusinov and Nathanael Berthon. Together, the trio should be unstoppable. The German driver is not the first Audi ace to race for Jota, as Filipe Albuquerque was part of their ELMS campaign for the 2014 and 2015 seasons. Jota has tried to make clear that this deal is between Jota and Rast, rather than between Jota and Audi. Yeah, sure it is…
F1 Limits Team Communication
In an effort to make ‘the driver the star’ again, F1 has limited what can be said by the team to the drivers over the team radios. Here is a list of what is allowed, as compiled by motorsport.com. (Discussions remain ongoing as to what can and should be included on this list. This is the provisional list.)
* Indication of a critical problem with the car, e.g. a puncture warning or damage+ * Indication of a problem with a competitor’s car+ * Instruction to enter the pit lane in order to fix or retire the car+ * Wet track, oil or debris in certain corners+ * Marshalling information (red flag, yellow flag, race start aborted or other similar instructions or information from race control)+ * Instructions to swap positions with other drivers+ * Acknowledgement that a driver message has been heard * Lap or sector time detail * Lap time detail of a competitor * Gaps to a competitor during practice session or race * ‘Push hard’, ‘Push now’, ‘You will be racing xx’ or similar * Helping with warning of traffic during a practice session or race * Giving the gaps between cars in qualifying so as to better position the car for a clear lap * Tyre choice at the next pit stop * Number of laps a competitor has done on a set of tyres during a race * Tyre specification of a competitor * Information concerning a competitor’s likely race strategy * Safety Car window * Driving breaches by team driver or competitors, e.g. missing chicanes, running off track, time penalty will be applied etc. * Notification that DRS is enabled or disabled * Dealing with a DRS system failure * Change of front wing position at next pit stop * Oil transfer * When to enter the pits * Reminders to check for white lines, bollards, weighbridge lights when entering or leaving the pits * Reminders about track limits * Information concerning damage to the car * Passing on messages from race control * Number of laps remaining * Test sequence information during practice sessions, e.g. aero-mapping * Weather information * Instructions to select driver defaults for the sole purpose of mitigating loss of function of a sensor, actuator or controller whose degradation or failure was not detected and handled by the on-board software. In according with Article 8.2.4, any new setting chosen in this way must not enhance the performance of the car beyond that prior to the loss of function+ (+) These are the only messages that may be passed to the drivers, whilst he is in the car and on the track, from the time the car leaves the garage for the first time after the pit lane is open on the day of the race until the start of the race.
Nissan Micra Cup Is The Coolest Ever, Makes 2016 Appearance At Toronto’s Autorama –
In what is mostly a waste of space press release, Nissan sent this info to Motorsport.com and they published it. Nissan Micra Cup is cool though, so we’ll publish it, too! Nissan, if you have a spare seat for an unexperienced ‘Journalist’ in one of your 2016 races, I’d be happy to make an appearance (and DOMINATE!).
The fast-growing Nissan Micra Cup road racing series will make its Ontario motorsports show debut with an appearance at the Motorama Custom Car & Motorsports Expo.
The show takes place March 11, 12 & 13 at The International Centre, across from Toronto’s Pearson International Airport. The ‘spec’ series took to the track for the first time in 2015. The inaugural schedule featured several events in Quebec, but the new tour made a big impression on the Canadian motorsports scene and demand quickly developed outside of the province. In response, the Nissan Micra Cup will add races at Calabogie and Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in 2016. Series founder Jacques Deshaies and his associates set out to create an affordable, entry-level series that put the focus of driver skill and competition, rather than budgets and horsepower. The Micra Cup cars are virtually ‘stock’ in nature. Updated suspensions and brake pads are the only notable performance improvements. Otherwise, the engine, gearbox, transmission, etc., are all exactly as they come on a base model Nissan Micra. The result was full grids of identically prepared Nissan Micra Cup cars, piloted by a wide variety of eager racers, including some of the country’s most talented youngsters and experienced veterans. Some of the familiar competitors who took part in series races last season were: Kevin Lacroix, Stefan Rzadzinski, Marc-André Bergeron and Richard Spénard. Former World Figure Skating Champion Elvis Stojko and journalist Jim Kenzie also took part. In the end, Olivier Bédard emerged as the first-ever Nissan Micra Cup champion. “The idea behind this series was to provide a car that could explore and display the talents of the drivers, rather than having them succeed based on the performance of their cars,” explained Deshaies. “These cars are all the same; it’s how they’re driven that leads to success. I especially believe that this series is the best way for drivers coming out of go karts to learn to properly drive a race car.” With the series’ expansion into Ontario in 2016, Deshaies hopes that the Motorama appearance of two Micra Cup entries – provided by Toronto’s ALTA Nissan – will attract the attention of potential new drivers and teams looking to get involved in this affordable, ultra-competitive series. “Last year we built 28 cars. For this year, we should have 35 cars ready to race,” continued Deshaies. “Everybody – including our first champion Olivier Bédard – has told me that they’re coming back, and the enthusiasm that we saw last year, is growing. Everyone we speak with views the Micra Cup series as a good alternative to open-wheel racing and a good stepping stone into other professional sports car divisions.” Visitors to the Nissan Micra Cup display at Motorama will have the opportunity to get an up-close look at a typical, race-ready Micra Cup car. The booth will also feature a video detailing the series’ inaugural year. Jacques Deshaies, former ASQ President and technical advisor Gilles Villeneuve, and several Nissan corporate representatives will also be on hand to answer questions.
A Thing From Trussers
Also, in the most ‘Straya move ever…
Notes On Running A Cayman GT4 Clubsport
A friend of mine works for a team that preps a GT4 Clubsport for Porsche Club of America racing. Here are some notes that he sent me. Team name, contact, and driver in question will not be named to protect their identity.
1. Do not run them close to the minimum ride heights as supplied by PCA. They are better run at 10mm higher than minimum. 2. The air intakes just act as a massive scoop for tire marbles 3. They can barely keep up with 996 Cup cars, which are easily a quarter of the price 4. The spring/shock package by KW are awful. Springs are waaaay too stiff
And from the ‘just because’ files.
[Photos Sourced From Racer.com, and Motorsport.com]