Audi, Ferrari sweep to WEC wins at Spa

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Audi and Ferrari swept to wins in the second round of the FIA World Endurance Championship in Spa-Francorchamps this weekend, in a race that serves as a tune-up for the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June.

Audi’s three R18 e-tron quattro hybrids took a 1-2-3 finish overall, led by the twice-defending Le Mans winning trio of Andre Lotterer (pictured at 2012 Le Mans 24 Hours), Benoit Treluyer and Marcel Fassler. Toyota premiered its new 2013-spec TS030 Hybrid, but the hybrid system failed on the No. 7 car. Meanwhile the debut of the 2013-spec car was explained further in an article by SPEED’s John Dagys.

In GTE Pro, where several ex-Formula One pilots have landed, Bruno Senna and Kamui Kobayashi again finished in the same order as they did in Silverstone. But while that was a win for Senna in his WEC debut, this time it was second and third behind Kobayashi’s teammate in the sister AF Corse Ferrari F458 Italia, driven by Italian ex-F1 drivers Gianmaria Bruni and Giancarlo Fisichella.

Senna switched to the No. 98 Aston Martin after winning in Silverstone in the No. 97 – the team added a fifth Vantage split between the GTE Pro and Am classes – and co-drove with Frederic Makowiecki and Rob Bell. Kobayashi resumed with co-driver Toni Vilander in AF Corse’s No. 71 Ferrari.

Pecom Racing (LMP2) and 8Star Motorsports (GTE Am) also took class victories. Mike Conway, who raced a Rahal Letterman Lanigan IndyCar in Long Beach, finished fifth in the LMP2 class.

The 90th anniversary of the 24 Hours of Le Mans occurs June 22-23.

NHRA Gatornationals: John Force has another spectacular motor explosion

Photo courtesy NHRA
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Legendary NHRA Funny Car driver John Force endured yet another spectacular motor explosion – his third in the NHRA’s first three national event races – during Friday’s qualifying at the Amalie Motor Oil Gatornationals in Gainesville, Florida.

It’s the kind of consistency the 16-time NHRA Funny Car champ could do without.

The 68-year-old Force came to Gainesville hoping to break the jinx that saw him endure explosions in both the season-opening Winternationals and the second race of the season in Phoenix.

Both motor explosions sent Force to the hospital for examination before he returned to the race track.

Friday, even though the motor in his Chevrolet Camaro blew up again (in the second round of qualifying), at least this time, Force didn’t wind up in the hospital.

He did have his right hand bandaged from a cut suffered in the explosion, but did not have to go to the hospital this time.

He even joked about not having to add yet another ambulance bill to the nearest Gainesville hospital.

But the explosion still proved costly.

“That was another body and that hurts the financial (bottomline),” Force said. “I was out $500,000 to $600,000, and now we are probably out $800,000, going on a million. In drag racing, you have to be tough.”

He ended the day qualifying 14th, not a very comfortable position with two more rounds of qualifying set for Saturday.

Force continues to be mystified why the motors keep exploding.

“I really thought we had it, I thought we were there,” Force said. “In the first round we drove it 500 feet and shut it off. It looked great. We ran it again that run and I was only going to drive it 800 feet even if we didn’t make The Show.”

Force will attempt to improve his qualifying spot during Saturday’s final two rounds to make Sunday’s eliminations.

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