Vergne laments lack of downforce on final Q2 lap

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Jean-Eric Vergne has come away from qualifying in a surprisingly upbeat mood considering that he was knocked out in Q2 and finished behind teammate Daniel Ricciardo and Kimi Raikkonen, both of whom he is in contention for the Red Bull seat in 2014.

Vergne missed out on the final qualifying session by under two-tenths of a second, finishing P13 in the end, but he explained in an interview how some drag caught off the back of Sebastian Vettel lost him downforce, causing him to run wide during his final lap.

“I think it was a bit of bad luck,” Vergne explained. “I was getting some drag off Vettel, and just lost the downforce and went straight on the grass.”

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Despite the result, Vergne is confident that he could have made Q3.

“Q3 was easily reachable. I was doing the same time as Daniel at that moment which was obviously quite enough for Q3. It’s a big shame, I’m pissed off as well not to start tomorrow’s race a bit more at the front, but on the other hand we have a good car and the pace  is good, and everything is possible in the race.”

Toro Rosso have shown good pace all weekend, regularly finishing well inside the top ten. In fact, Daniel Ricciardo’s stand-out performance in P6 was the Australian’s worst result of the weekend so far.

The Callaway Corvette GT3 is coming to America, in PWC

Photo: Callaway Competition USA
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Pirelli World Challenge has been in need of some good news from a car count standpoint early into this offseason, and receives it Monday with confirmation Callaway Competition will bring its GT3-spec homologated Corvette C7 GT3-R Stateside next season.

The withdrawal of the factory Cadillac Racing program after PWC’s season finale in Sonoma in September has opened the door for the factory-blessed Corvette C7 GT3-R to run in North America, because Cadillac’s ATS-V.R has been the lone GT3-spec car under the General Motors awning for the last three seasons, while the Callaway Corvette has raced only internationally.

Reeves Callaway has been on site at the tail end of the PWC season to survey the opportunity and now a deal has been struck for a factory effort to run next year, before the Callaway Corvette program becomes a customer effort in 2019. This follows the same timeline as Acura did with its new NSX GT3 this year to run it as a factory program in 2017 before shifting to customer efforts in 2018.

“Joining the Pirelli World Challenge has been a long term objective for Callaway Competition,” Callaway said in a release. “Now the field is a roll-call of the most capable sports cars from every country. To do well here, you must beat the best in the world. What better way to showcase our iconic American car?

“For 2018, we will run a Callaway factory team to give us the best chance of continuing the championship record the Corvette has achieved in international competition. For 2019, we will not race against our customers, but provide high-quality support to them in the tradition of other manufacturer customer racing support programs.”

“For several years fans have asked when they would see the Callaway Corvette GT3 run in the Pirelli World Challenge,” added Greg Gill, President and CEO of Pirelli World Challenge. “The wait is over and we are very pleased to announce the arrival of the Callaway Corvette GT3 for the 2018 season.”

The Callaway Competition USA Corvette C7 GT3-R will be unveiled and both full season drivers announced at the Performance Racing Industry show in Indianapolis on December 7 at the Pirelli World Challenge booth. Following the unveiling event, the car will be on display for the remainder of the trade show. Details of the presentation will be announced in the coming weeks.

Callaway’s confirmation comes amidst the likely drawdown of potentially nine or 10 cars that raced in PWC’s GT and GTA ranks either all season or most of it in 2017, among at least five manufacturers. That’s not to say those losses can’t be recouped elsewhere on the grid, over the next several months before the St. Petersburg season opener in March.

PWC will hold its annual state of the series and competitor meeting to finalize the next year’s plans at the PRI show as well.