Spirit of Daytona on pole for GRAND-AM Laguna Seca

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Going into today’s GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series race at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, five teams are within five points of each other in the battle for the Daytona Prototype class championship.

But one of the DP teams not involved in that battle will lead the field to the green flag this afternoon. The No. 90 Spirit of Daytona Corvette DP, driven by Richard Westbrook and Ricky Taylor, took the top spot on the grid yesterday with a lap of 1 minute, 21.557 seconds around the famous California circuit.

The Westbrook/Ricky Taylor combo has had a trying 2013 with just one podium finish to their credit so far, a third at Barber Motorsports Park. Naturally, Spirit of Daytona is itching to have a strong result today.

“We’re not happy with the way this season has gone; it’s been really tough for everyone,” Westbrook told GRAND-AM.com. “I’m proud of the way the team has bounced back. [Today] is very important for us.”

Starting alongside the No. 90 will be the DP-class leading No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing Corvette of Max Angelelli and Jordan Taylor. Angelelli narrowly missed out on pole by 21 one-thousandths of a second, but the No. 10 will still have a clear track ahead at the drop of the green.

As for the other DP title contenders, the No. 5 Action Express Racing Corvette of Christian Fittipaldi and Joao Barbosa will start fifth; the No. 01 Chip Ganassi Racing BMW/Riley of defending class champs Memo Rojas and Scott Pruett will start seventh; the No. 99 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Corvette of Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty will start eighth, and the No. 2 Starworks BMW/Riley of Alex Popow and Ryan Dalziel will start ninth.

A potential wild card is also in the mix at Laguna Seca, as two of Ganassi’s IndyCar drivers – Scott Dixon and Dario Franchitti – will start fourth on the grid in a second CGR BMW/Riley, the No. 02.

The GT pole for today’s race went to the No. 57 Stevenson Motorsports Camaro of John Edwards and Robin Liddell. Edwards threw down a lap of 1 minute, 27.529 seconds to take the honor over the No. 31 Marsh Racing Corvette of Eric Curran and Boris Said.

The Stevenson camp is part of the GT class’ own electric title fight. Alessandro Balzan currently holds a one-point edge over the Magnus Racing duo of John Potter and Andy Lally, while the Edwards/Liddell combo sits three points back.

17-year-old youngster Tristan Nunez took the GX class pole for the No. 00 Speedsource Mazda 6.

Rebellion confirms LMP1 return, all-star line-up for WEC super season

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Rebellion Racing has confirmed it will return to the LMP1 class of the FIA World Endurance Championship for the 2018/19 ‘super season’ with an all-star line-up featuring Le Mans winners Neel Jani and Andre Lotterer.

Rebellion raced in LMP1 as a privateer between 2009 and 2016 before stepping down to LMP2 for the most recent season, capturing the class titles at the first attempt.

Following a push from the WEC and Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO) to make LMP1 more appealing to privateer teams, Rebellion announced on Wednesday it would return to the premier class for the 2018/19 season with a two-car effort.

WEC LMP2 champion Bruno Senna will return with Rebellion next year, as will Mathias Beche, with the pair set to be joined by four new faces.

The most notable arrivals are Porsche factory drivers Lotterer and Jani, both of whom were left without an LMP1 drive following the closure of the German manufacturer’s program at the end of the season.

American racer Gustavo Menezes will also join Rebellion, stepping up after two years in LMP2, while outstanding 2017 rookie Thomas Laurent completes the Swiss team’s line-up.

“I am looking forward to coming back where my endurance career started nine years ago,” said Jani.

“Rebellion Racing played a huge role in my career and also helped me become a factory driver for Porsche. When Porsche stopped in LMP1, it was clear for me that I wanted to race again for Rebellion.

“With the new regulations, I hope we can reach the overall podium at Le Mans and with a bit of luck, maybe we can even grab some wins during the super season of WEC.”

“I am very happy to join the champion Rebellion team,” added three-time Le Mans winner Lotterer.

“The LMP1 project is very exciting and to be able to go on with the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the FIA WEC challenge is something I did not want to miss.

“I am motivated and looking forward to have a great time with great people there.”