Weekend round-up: GRAND-AM championship gets tighter

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This weekend, Formula One staged a chaotic and exciting British Grand Prix while Sprint Cup continued its charge through the summer with a visit to Kentucky. But they weren’t the only series racing this past weekend…

ACTION EXPRESS TAKES IT AT THE GLEN

The GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series got back to work at Watkins Glen International with the Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen, and as you would expect of a long endurance race, there were plenty of twists and turns. But the battle still came down to the wire, with former open-wheeler Christian Fittipaldi in the No. 5 Action Express Racing Corvette hanging on by less than three-tenths of a second over the fast-closing Michael Valiante in the No. 3 8Star Motorsports Corvette. For AXR’s No. 5 combo of Fittipaldi and Joao Barbosa, it’s their second consecutive victory in GRAND-AM.

As for the Daytona Prototype championship, it got even tighter than before. Opening-lap problems for the No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing duo of Max Angelelli and Jordan Taylor took them five laps off the pace, and while they eventually made up four of those laps in an eventual 10th place finish, they’ve now fallen into a tie for the points lead, 194-194, with the No. 2 Starworks team of Ryan Dalziel and Alex Popow (who finished eighth with IndyCar’s Sebastien Bourdais after extensive time at the front). Fittipaldi is four points back after his victory, and the No. 99 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings team (Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty) have dropped to fourth in the standings at 189 points after suffering a suspension failure on Lap 38 on Sunday.

In the GT class, the No. 57 Stevenson Motorsports Camaro team of John Edwards and Robin Liddell took their fourth win in the last five events, while in GX, the No. 00 Speedsource Mazda trio of Joel Miller, Tristan Nunez and Yojiro Terada earned top honors.

SEBASTIEN LOEB SHATTERS PIKES PEAK RECORD

Nine-time World Rally Championship title-holder Sebastien Loeb annihilated the old track record at Sunday’s Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, throwing down a run of 8 minutes, 13.878 seconds in a Peugeot 208 T16 Pikes Peak car. That eclipsed the former mark by over a minute and a half.

“There was a lot of pressure to have to achieve a big project,” Loeb said to the Colorado Springs (Colo.) Gazette. “I love the people behind it, and I was really happy with my time.”

The previous record holder, Rhys Millen, was second to Loeb in the Unlimited Class with a time of 9 minutes, 2.192 seconds in a Hyundai PM580T, while Jean-Philippe Dayraut was third with a time of 9 minutes, 42.740 seconds in a 2011 Mini Countryman.

Alonso would be ‘very happy’ to finish F1 career with McLaren

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Fernando Alonso says he would be “very happy” to see out his Formula 1 career with McLaren after signing a new multi-year contract with the British team, announced on Thursday.

Alonso, 36, ended speculation about his future by agreeing a new deal with McLaren, hopeful of returning to the front of the field next year when the team swaps Honda power for Renault engines.

Alonso admitted to considering options outside of F1 before agreeing to stay at McLaren, and was thought to only be chasing a one-year extension in order to be in a position to snap up a more attractive seat in the volatile 2019 market.

However, Alonso confirmed in an interview with the official F1 website that the deal with McLaren stretched beyond the end of next year, adding he would be content to see out his time in the sport with the team.

“I never talk about contracts, but one thing I can say is it is a long-term partnership,” Alonso said.

“I am very happy to finish my career at McLaren. So I don’t think it is going to be only one year.”

Alonso also revealed he had options with teams high up the field in F1 for 2018 just a couple of months ago, but was always leaning to staying at McLaren despite not scoring a podium with the team in almost three years.

“There were some other options in F1. In the summer there were still some options at the top teams, but my desire was to stay with McLaren,” Alonso said.

“But at that time they were in conversation with different engine suppliers, so I had to give them time to sort out their situation.

“Then McLaren opted for a Renault engine which delayed my decision, because I had to understand what Renault’s plans were for next years.

“But when I had everything on the table, everything was pretty clear.”