Sports car racing fans should flock to Austin’s Circuit of the Americas this weekend, for a joint weekend of the FIA World Endurance Championship and the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patron.
The FIA WEC headlines the weekend for its lone North American stop of 2013, with a six-hour race to be held Sunday afternoon. Late Saturday, the ALMS makes its first trip to the circuit for a two-hour, 45-minute race.
Some news and notes for the weekend to follow:
- The much-hyped DeltaWing Coupe makes its race debut after its first test in Georgia a couple weeks ago. The car is shooting to run at P2 class speeds and serve as a possible option to customers interested in the car for the 2014 Tudor United SportsCar Championship. Katherine Legge and Andy Meyrick will drive, as they have for the team since Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in May.
- There are a number of entry list updates since the last round in Baltimore. Dyson’s P1 car sees Tony Burgess and Chris McMurry back in the No. 16 Lola Mazda. Anthony Lazzaro continues in Extreme Speed’s No. 01 HPD P2 car alongside Scott Sharp for the rest of the year. Several changes occur in PC, with Starworks adding the No. 5 car for Ryan Dalziel and John Pew, David Heinemeier Hansson replacing Alex Popow alongside Bruno Junqueira in RSR’s No. 9, and CORE autosport trading Colin Braun from its PC car to its GT car (No. 05 to No. 06) with Tom Kimber-Smith going the other way. Joey Hand also makes a surprise appearance alongside longtime friend and teammate Bill Auberlen in Rahal Letterman Lanigan’s No. 55 BMW Z4 with Maxime Martin committed to a Blancpain Endurance Series race this weekend.
- There’s a handful of car updates as well. CORE’s GT class Porsche is a new tub that has been built up; Team Falken Tire reverts to its 2010 model year Porsche, a backup car that won twice in 2011, and Paul Miller Racing has fixed the damage sustained on its Porsche after all three were involved in a start-line accident in Baltimore.
- In the points standings, GT is the closest battle with the Corvette pair of teammates split by two points. Oliver Gavin and Tommy Milner right now lead Jan Magnussen and Antonio Garcia. BMW’s Dirk Mueller, racing with John Edwards, is eight points behind the class leaders.
- This marks the North American debut of the Toyota TS030 Hybrid. Toyota did not have its car ready for the 2012 WEC curtain-raiser at Sebring, run in conjunction with ALMS, and also did not bring one to this year’s Sebring. Audi competed in both events; Audi is also undefeated in four prior WEC races this season.
- Porsche’s new-for-2013 991-coded 911 RSR makes its North American race debut, as well. Porsche finished 1-2 at this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans in the GTE Pro class with this car.
- Chris Dyson will be racing for Greaves Motorsport’s P2 Zytek Nissan in WEC rather than his usual P1 Dyson Lola Mazda in ALMS. Dyson is one of three American drivers in the WEC race, along with Kevin Weeda and Tracy Krohn.
- The contingent of ex-Formula One racers includes: Allan McNish (Audi), Stephane Sarrazin, Sebastien Buemi, Anthony Davidson (Toyota), Nick Heidfeld (Rebellion), Vitantonio Liuzzi (Lotus P2), Gianmaria Bruni, Giancarlo Fisichella, Kamui Kobayashi (AF Corse Ferrari), Pedro Lamy and Bruno Senna (Aston Martin).
Williams Martini Racing will announce its line-up for the 2017 Formula 1 season on November 3 following the Mexican Grand Prix.
Williams will change its line-up for the first time in three seasons next year when Felipe Massa retires from F1.
The Brazilian will be replaced by 17-year-old Lance Stroll, who won the FIA F3 title in 2016 with Prema Powerteam.
Stroll is set to join Valtteri Bottas, who, despite being subject to interest from Renault, is set to extend his stint as a race driver with Williams into a fifth season.
Stroll will become the second-youngest driver to make his F1 debut at the start of the 2017 season, and the youngest since the FIA introduced a lower-age limit of 18 to F1. The Canadian turns 18 this Saturday.
Williams currently sits fifth in the constructors’ championship with three races remaining in the 2016 season, with one podium to its name so far courtesy of Bottas in Canada.
Marcus Ericsson says that a move to Force India for the 2017 Formula 1 season is “definitely an option”, but is also excited by the prospect of remaining at Sauber.
Ericsson is currently embarking in his third season in F1 and his second with Sauber, having scored nine points during his stint with the Swiss team.
Sauber currently sits at the foot of the constructors’ championship, with neither Ericsson nor Nasr scoring a point after a turbulent financial period for the team.
Sauber’s long-term future was secured over the summer when Longbow Finance completed a takeover, its backers allegedly having links to Ericsson.
However, the Swedish driver is open to a move away from the team at the end of the season, and believes that the vacant seat at Force India is the most lucrative on the grid.
“I think all the drivers that don’t have a contract for next year yet are looking at the [Force India] seat,” Ericsson said.
“Force India is a competitive car at the moment so it’s definitely an option.
“Sauber is an exciting option for me for next year because they have a very strong project building.
“Hopefully sooner rather than later I will know what’s happening next year for me.”
Esteban Gutierrez says that he is strongly considering alternative options to Haas for 2017 as the American team continues to wait before making a decision on its Formula 1 line-up.
Gutierrez returned to F1 full-time in 2016 after one year away, joining NASCAR team co-owner Gene Haas’ new racing operation.
Gutierrez has failed to score any points in the opening 18 races of the year, while teammate Romain Grosjean has 29 to his name.
Haas is known to be currently considering its line-up for 2017, with Grosjean poised to stay.
Gutierrez’s future is less clear, but said in Thursday’s FIA press conference ahead of the Mexican Grand Prix that he wanted it to be resolved in the next two weeks.
“I think Gene has been very clear in the media. They want to wait a few races,” Gutierrez said.
“Fortunately we have other options which we are now considering strongly.
“I think it would be important to close something soon because we cannot risk to just wait a few more races to the end of the season, and risk falling between two chairs.
“Things are looking good for next season.”
When asked if he had a personal deadline for firming up his 2017 plans, Gutierrez said: “The deadline should be in the next two weeks.”
Should Gutierrez leave Haas, drives at Force India and Renault are likely to be on the Mexican’s radar, with both teams having one free seat.
Tony Kanaan and wife Lauren have welcomed a new baby into the world, with “TK” announcing the birth of son Max on Thursday.
Max joins other sons Deco and Leo in the Kanaan family. Kanaan reported both mom and baby are doing well.
This is the latest new arrival to the Verizon IndyCar Series, with Ryan Hunter-Reay and wife Beccy welcoming their third son Rhodes (after Ryden and Roczen) in September, and with Will Power and wife Liz expecting their first child in December.
Kanaan has re-signed with Chip Ganassi Racing and will drive the team’s No. 10 NTT Data Honda once more in 2017.