Le Mans: A look at GRAND-AM, ALMS teams competing

Leave a comment

Here’s a look through some of the teams and drivers that might hold your attention from an American standpoint competing at this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans. There are six teams from the two sports car championships in the U.S., the American Le Mans Series and GRAND-AM Rolex Series, who have assembled efforts for this year’s race. They’re outlined below:

  • Corvette Racing: Corvette celebrates its 60th anniversary at this year’s Le Mans with the send-off of its GTE-spec C6.R in the GTE Pro class. The team’s two cars feature these driver lineups: Antonio Garcia, Jan Magnussen, Jordan Taylor (No. 73), Oliver Gavin, Tommy Milner, Richard Westbrook (No. 74).
  • SRT Motorsports: Viper returns to Le Mans for the first time in a decade with two of its bruising 8.4L V10s under the SRT branding and badging. Drivers of the two SRT Vipers in GTE Pro include: Marc Goossens, Dominik Farnbacher, Ryan Dalziel (No. 53), Tommy Kendall, Jonathan Bomarito, Kuno Wittmer (No. 93).
  • Dempsey Del Piero Racing: Patrick Dempsey’s team has partnered with Proton Competition for its first trip to Le Mans, Dempsey’s second as a driver. The No. 77 Porsche 911 GT3 RSR features Dempsey, Joe Foster and Patrick Long behind the wheel.
  • 8 Star Motorsports: Enzo Potolicchio branched off onto his own team that runs the full FIA World Endurance Championship and a Daytona Prototype in the GRAND-AM Rolex Series. Potolicchio, Rui Aguas and Australian V8 Supercars ace Jason Bright wheel the bright orange GTE Am class No. 81 Ferrari F458 Italia, which has the logo of the merged United SportsCar Racing series on its doors.
  • Level 5 Motorsports: Scott Tucker’s team podiumed in its first Le Mans appearance in 2011, but a class win in the 24-hour race has thus far eluded them. Taking the reins of the team’s HPD ARX-03b in LMP2 are Tucker, Dario’s brother Marino Franchitti, and Le Mans rookie and IndyCar star, Ryan Briscoe (No. 33).
  • Rebellion Racing: A full-time entrant in the FIA World Endurance Championship, Rebellion has also committed to a part-time effort in the ALMS. Its two Lola B12/60 Toyotas in LMP1 are best of the privateers, but unlikely to score an overall podium. Driver lineups include: Nick Heidfeld, Neel Jani, Nico Prost (No. 12) and Andrea Belicchi, Congfu Cheng, and Mathias Beche (No. 13).

F1 2017 driver review: Kimi Raikkonen

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Kimi Raikkonen

Team: Scuderia Ferrari
Car No.: 7
Races: 20
Wins: 0
Podiums: 7
Best Finish: P2 (Monaco, Hungary)
Pole Positions: 1
Fastest Laps: 2
Points: 205
Laps Led: 40
Championship Position: 4th

While this may have statistically been Kimi Raikkonen’s best campaign since his first year back in F1 in 2012, there is a good case for it being one of his most disappointing to date.

Raikkonen’s continued role at Ferrari has been questioned on a number of occasions, but the Finn looked capable of answering his critics heading into 2017 after impressing through pre-season testing as he appeared to get to grips well with the new-style cars.

But we soon grew accustomed to the same old story: flashes of potential, but otherwise an underwhelming, unsatisfactory campaign that saw Raikkonen be dwarfed by his teammate, Sebastian Vettel.

Raikkonen’s charge to his first pole position for over eight years in Monaco gave hope of a popular win, only for Ferrari to play its strategy in favor of title contender Vettel – why wouldn’t the team do so? – to leave him a disgruntled second.

While Vettel was able to impress at the majority of circuits, Raikkonen only looked strong at tracks that were unquestionably ‘Ferrari’ tracks, such as Hungary and Brazil. Like Vettel, Raikkonen should have racked up a good haul of points in Singapore, only for the start-line crash to sideline both Ferraris before they even reached Turn 1.

Again there is the question of ‘what could have been?’ in Malaysia had it not been for the spark plug issue on the grid, yet in Japan, Raikkonen was nowhere, finishing behind the Mercedes and Red Bulls.

Finishing just five points clear of Daniel Ricciardo despite having a much faster car for the best part of the season and the Red Bull driver’s own reliability issues sums up the disappointment of Raikkonen’s campaign.

He should have been an ally for Vettel in the title race by nicking points of Lewis Hamilton, much as Valtteri Bottas was doing for his Mercedes teammate. Instead, Raikkonen seemed to be tagging along for the best part of this season.

Season High: Pole in Monaco, his first since the 2008 French Grand Prix.

Season Low: Finishing a distant P4 at Spa – a circuit he made his own in the 2000s.