Lucas Luhr

Bleekemolen’s qualifying heroics, two bizarre races have hit ALMS at Baltimore

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Baltimore has been the site of two of the most abnormal race weekends in American Le Mans Series history.

In 2011, Jeroen Bleekemolen pulled off the above feat during GTC class qualifying. The Dutchman lost a tire on his Black Swan Racing Porsche GT3 Cup, but then picked it up and put it back in the passenger’s seat. He looped around to his pit box, the team reattached the tire and Bleekemolen promptly stuck the car on pole! Never mind that Bleekemolen and co-driver Tim Pappas won the race, because that was what was known for.

Additional 2011 surprises came in the form of the overall and GT class winners. Dyson Racing’s older, second Lola Mazda coupe, driven by the unheralded pair of Humaid Al Masaood and Steven Kane took the P1 and overall win. Meanwhile in GT, Team Falken Tire won its first race in dry conditions and second of that season with Bryan Sellers and Wolf Henzler in the No. 17 Falken Porsche 911 GT3 RSR.

A year ago, mixed weather conditions and more than a dozen cars on the lead lap between four of the five classes also made for a jumbled final finishing order. Level 5 Motorsports took the overall win the P2 class HPD ARX-03b, co-driven by Scott Tucker and Christophe Bouchut. The second Dyson Lola Mazda won again in P1 with another pair of lesser known drivers, Eric Lux and Michael Marsal, although they finished 13th overall.

Falken repeated in GT with Sellers and Henzler; that team seeks a three-peat of victories this season.

The two oddities have meant the pre-eminent prototype team and GT class tire – Muscle Milk Pickett Racing in P1 and Michelin in GT, respectively – have yet to visit victory lane at Baltimore (Michelin has supplied control tires to the PC class the last two years, but does not consider those official victories).

Expect those to change this weekend, with Michelin rubber on nine of the 11 GT class entries (excluding Falken and the West/AJR/Boardwalk Ferrari, which runs on Yokohamas), and with only one other P1 car entered besides Muscle Milk. Chris Dyson and Guy Smith return to action in Dyson’s No. 16 Lola Mazda for the first time since Lime Rock this weekend. Muscle Milk has Lucas Luhr back in his usual car after his first IndyCar start in Sonoma last weekend.

Button confused by Red Bull’s decision to drop Kvyat

SOCHI, RUSSIA - APRIL 30: Jenson Button of Great Britain and McLaren Honda in the garage during final practice ahead of the Formula One Grand Prix of Russia at Sochi Autodrom on April 30, 2016 in Sochi, Russia.  (Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images)
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2009 Formula 1 world champion Jenson Button questioned Red Bull’s decision to drop Daniil Kvyat for Max Verstappen as of the Spanish Grand Prix, saying the team has “short memories”.

Red Bull announced on Thursday that Kvyat would be returning to Toro Rosso, its B-team, as of the next race in Barcelona, with Verstappen moving in the opposite direction.

The decision sparked mixed reactions on social media, with many pointing out that Kvyat had been on the podium just three weeks ago in China.

Button made the exact same point in a couple of tweets sent from his Twitter account on Thursday.

IMS confirms 100th Indy 500 reserved seats are sold out

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Indianapolis Motor Speedway officials have confirmed Friday that the 100th Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil will have a sellout crowd, with confirmation all reserved seats have been sold.

“Every Indianapolis 500 is special, but the buzz surrounding the 100th Running has been building for nearly a year, ever since the checkered flag fell on the 99th,” IMS President J. Douglas Boles said in a release. “Our fans are the best in sports and their incredible support of this year’s race will make it a truly historic day for ‘The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.’”

Further information is linked here, via the IMS website.

Verstappen’s engineer Pujolar leaves Toro Rosso

SAO PAULO, BRAZIL - NOVEMBER 13:  Xevi Pujolar of Scuderia Toro Rosso and Spain during practice for the Formula One Grand Prix of Brazil at Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace on November 13, 2015 in Sao Paulo, Brazil.  (Photo by Peter Fox/Getty Images)
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Max Verstappen’s Toro Rosso race engineer Xevi Pujolar has left the team following the Dutchman’s move up to Red Bull Racing for the Spanish Grand Prix.

Red Bull announced on Thursday that Verstappen had been promoted to its senior Formula 1 team with immediate effect in place of Daniil Kvyat, who moves in the opposite direction.

Kvyat returns to Toro Rosso, moving in the opposite direction to Verstappen in a bid to ease some of the pressure he was facing following a disastrous outing at Russian Grand Prix.

In a tweet sent from his Twitter account on Thursday, ex-Williams and HRT engineer Pujolar confirmed that he would be leaving Toro Rosso after two and a half years.

Toro Rosso and Red Bull are yet to confirm which engineers will work with Kvyat and Verstappen from the Spanish Grand Prix next weekend.

Davidson would not turn down Jaguar Formula E drive

Anthony Davidson (GBR) 
Toyota Hybrid Racing
World Endurance Championship. 6 Hours of Bahrain. 18th-21st  November 2015. Bahrain International Circuit, Bahrain.
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SPA – Anthony Davidson is open to a move into Formula E with Jaguar upon its entry to the championship later this year, but is yet to receive a serious offer from the British manufacturer.

Jaguar confirmed at the end of last year that it would be entering Formula E from the 2016-2017 season, and is expected to be competitive from the very beginning thanks to its relationship with championship battery supplier Williams.

As a result, the Jaguar seats are among the most coveted for the new season, leading to speculation that 2014 FIA World Endurance Championship winner and Toyota racer Davidson could become the latest driver to combine endurance racing duties with Formula E.

Davidson confirmed to NBC Sports that he’d be interested in doing so, but said he is yet to receive a serious approach.

“If I was approached seriously and wasn’t messed about by having to do a driver shoot-out or anything ridiculous like that, then maybe I would,” Davidson said.

“So far I haven’t had a serious approach. I would be up for it. I’m always up for racing in different cars, especially to drive a single-seater again would be nice, but it’s not high on my priority list at the moment.”

When asked by NBC Sports if a move to Jaguar would be of interest, Davidson confirmed that preliminary talks had been held but nothing had been firmed up.

“I got in touch, we were in touch. We had a chat and that’s about all that came from it,” Davidson said.

“I wouldn’t turn down an offer, let’s put it that way. But I’m not going to break a leg falling over myself to get into one.

“I’m 37 years old now. If I can’t sell myself now then there’s no point.

“If people don’t know what I’m capable of then that’s their loss.”