Franchitti on Kimball: Fewer weaknesses, better team integration

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Dario Franchitti equaled his best result of the 2013 IZOD IndyCar Series season, with his third third-place finish on Sunday at Mid-Ohio. It came after a snap decision by his Target Chip Ganassi Racing crew to follow the lead of teammate Charlie Kimball from the Novo Nordisk camp, who was going flat out on a three-stop strategy.

“As soon as Charlie pitted, it became clear that we were on the wrong strategy and how much quicker you could go if you let loose, so my guys made a decision, a pretty brave decision I think, to change the strategy,” said Franchitti. “They did it probably two or three laps before Scott’s guys, and I think that made a huge difference to where we finished today, so they cut me loose there.”

Anyone betting on Kimball winning before Franchitti in 2013 would have been laughed out of a casino at the start of the year. But Franchitti was quick to note to the methodical improvement of team and driver as they, together, captured their first victories.

“When I first came to the team, Brad (Goldberg) was my assistant engineer with Chris (Simmons), so it was good to see him get that first win,” said Franchitti. “Charlie, his timing, man, he’s been so quick. The job he did at Barber, the job he did this weekend, he wrapped the thing up in Turn 1, and then go straight back on it first run in qualifying like it never happened.

“Especially on, I would say the strength right now on the permanent road courses has been great.  He’s learning quickly; he’s a smart guy so he learned quickly. Bit by bit you see him get rid of his weaknesses, and he’s smart and he’s taken full advantage of the fact that he’s a member of the  team, the Ganassi team and all the stuff that he’s got available to him, whether it’s experience or the engineering group or equipment at his disposal.  He’s taking full advantage of it.”

Audi bids farewell to Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich upon retirement

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Audi bid farewell to its iconic head of motorsport, Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich, at its end-of-season ‘Race Night’ event in Germany on Friday upon his retirement.

Ullrich took over the reins as Audi’s head of motorsport in 1993 and stayed in the role for 23 years, overseeing its arrival in the prototype class of sports car racing and domination of the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Ullrich stepped down from the position at the end of 2016, handing the reins over to ex-Audi DTM chief Dieter Gass, and attended his final racing event with the German marque at its first works Formula E outing in Hong Kong earlier this month.

Ullrich was honored at the Race Night event on Friday and thanked for his efforts in developing Audi into a force within global motorsport.

“In 566 factory-backed commitments during this period he celebrated 209 victories, 13 of them in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, eleven in the 12-hour race at Sebring and nine in the ‘Petit Le Mans’ at Road Atlanta,” a piece on Ullrich’s tenure for Audi’s website reads.

“31 driver titles in super touring car racing, in the DTM and in the sports prototype category are credited to him. 57 campaigners were Audi factory drivers during Wolfgang Ullrich’s era and he was responsible for 18 new developments of racing cars – an impressive tally.”