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Champions crowned at 50th SCCA Runoffs over the weekend

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Here’s a few news, notes and tidbits on the National Champions crowned at this past weekend’s 50th running of the SCCA Runoffs, the last for now held at Elkhart Lake’s Road America:

  • In GTL, Chris Bovis edged Bobby Lentz by 0.007 of a second, for the closest ever margin of victory at the Runoffs in the transponder era. Not to be outdone, Tim Kautz beat Reid Hazelton by 0.1 of a second in FF.
  • Andrew Aquilante (GT2, T1) and Lawrence Loshak (F1000, HP) took titles in two classes. Loshak’s titles gave him National Championships in four different classes (EP, DSR) for his career, only the fourth driver in history to do so.
  • John Heinricy captured his 12th National Championship at the Runoffs when the top three in front of him, Tom Sloe, Michael Lavigne, and Jeff Werth, were disqualified from AS. Greg Ira took the EP crown when Matt Reynolds was penalized for contact.
  • A tip of the hat to Peter Portante, the 17-year-old regular in USF2000 who took home the FC title in his Runoffs debut.
  • Charlie James took the inaugural B-Spec title, while Mark Mercer captured the 34th and final S2000 crown.
  • This year’s Runoffs had 701 drivers total, second-most all time trailing only Mid-Ohio in 2004 with 709.
  • The Spec Miata class had a Runoffs record field of 69 cars, beating its old mark of 60 in class in 2010.
  • All 28 class poles were set on Tuesday, with rain Wednesday and Thursday negating improvements.

Here’s a full rundown of class champions:

Class            Champion, Hometown
Formula Atlantic    Sedat Yelkin, Canfield, OH
Formula 1000        Lawrence Loshak, Grafton, WI
Formula Continental Peter Portante, Plainville, CT
Formula Enterprises Scott Rettich, Camden, OH 
Formula Vee         Michael Varacins, Burlington, WI
Formula F           Tim Kautz, Geneva, IL
Formula 500         James Weida, West Lafayette, IN
Formula Mazda       Darryl Wills, Houston
GT-1		    Cliff Ebben, Appleton, WI
GT-2		    Andrew Aquilante, Chester Springs, PA
GT-3		    Rob Warkocki, Frankfort, IL
GT-Lite		    Chris Bovis, Lawrence, KS
E Production	    Greg Ira, Plantation, FL
F Production	    Mark Carpenter, Charlotte, NC
H Production	    Lawrence Loshak, Grafton, WI
American Sedan	    John Heinricy, Clarkston, MI
Spec Miata	    Jim Drago, Memphis, TN
C Sports Racing	    Lee Alexander, Las Vegas
D Sports Racing	    Chris Farrell, Salt Lake City
Sports 2000	    Mark Mercer, Aurora, CO
Spec Racer Ford     Brian Schofield, Lakeland, FL
Touring 1	    Andrew Aquilante, Chester Springs, PA
Touring 2	    Andy Wolverton, Papillion, NE
Touring 3	    Chad Gilsinger, Marysville, OH
Touring 4	    Michael Scornavacchi, Matthews, NC
B-Spec		    Charlie James, Joplin, MO
STU		    Elivan Goulart, Shelton, CT
STL		    Rob Huffmaster, Clarkston, MI

Helmut Marko: Modern-day F1 drivers are overpaid

xxxx during practice for the Formula One Grand Prix of Austria at Red Bull Ring on June 19, 2015 in Spielberg, Austria.
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Red Bull Racing team advisor Helmut Marko believes that modern-day Formula 1 drivers are overpaid due to the reduced risk and easier driving conditions they experience.

Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton and Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel are two of the highest-paid drivers on the grid in 2016, earning upwards of $30 million per year from their teams.

However, Marko believes that drivers in F1 are overpaid as there is now a reduced risk of suffering a fatal accident, and that with the cars being easier to drive, their worth has decreased.

“Basically, the drivers of today are definitely overpaid for two reasons,” Marko told Sport Bild in Germany.

“Firstly, there is only a small risk that serious accidents can result in injury or even be fatal.

“Secondly, young top talent like [Max] Verstappen or [Pascal] Wehrlein can take the modern car and straight away easily do 100 laps without tiring.

“Previously you had even a Vettel have to take breaks because he was not used to the high centrifugal forces. This means that the cars are easier to drive. The drivers must do less.”

Wolff: Wehrlein, Ocon deserve Formula 1 roles

SPIELBERG, AUSTRIA - JUNE 23:  Pascal Wehrlein of Germany and Mercedes GP drives during Formula One testing at the Red Bull Ring on June 23, 2015 in Spielberg, Austria.  (Photo by Andrew Hone/Getty Images)
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Mercedes AMG Petronas team boss Toto Wolff believes that junior talents Pascal Wehrlein and Esteban Ocon have both earned their roles in Formula 1 for the 2016 season “on merit”.

Wehrlein will make his grand prix debut in 2016 with Manor Racing after winning the DTM title for Mercedes last year, becoming the youngest champion in the history of the series.

Ocon has been loaned to Renault Sport F1 Racing for its comeback season, and will work as the team’s reserve driver following his GP3 title success last year.

Wolff feels that both drivers deserve their chance in F1 this year, and also said that Mercedes will look to expand its junior program across the course of the season.

“We’re delighted that Pascal and Esteban will tackle a fresh set of challenges in 2016,” Wolff said. “Our aim is to build their experience in the best possible environment and, following positive discussions with our counterparts at Manor and Renault, it became clear that their respective Formula 1 programmes presented ideal opportunities to achieve that.

“It is very pleasing to see young drivers earning their spot in Formula 1 on merit and to see that talent is being rewarded by the system. Pascal and Esteban have proven themselves to be amongst the top young drivers out there – and both come into 2016 as champions of their respective series.

“But they still have plenty to learn and they will be staying humble, with their feet on the ground. This is an important year for them and we will be following their progress with great interest, while also looking to expand our junior program.

“Mercedes-Benz has a strong tradition of developing young racing talent and our eyes are very much open to other promising prospects for the future.”

Social roundup: When Mika Hakkinen met CJ Wilson, and other cool shots

SHANGHAI, CHINA - APRIL 15:  Former F1 World Champion Mika Hakkinen is seen during practice for the Chinese Formula One Grand Prix at the Shanghai International Circuit on April 15, 2011 in Shanghai, China.  (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
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What happens when you put a McLaren P1 owned by baseball star and CJ Wilson Racing team principal, and occasional driver, CJ Wilson, with two-time F1 World Champion Mika Hakkinen, and you turn them loose at The Thermal Club for a track day?

Pure awesomeness.

Of course there’s other cars besides the McLaren and hockey legend, Teemu Selanne, was also on site.

This really isn’t a post so much that needs words, but one that does need proper photos and noise.

The CJWR pairing of Marc Miller and Daniel Burkett, who drive the No. 33 One Capital/Motor Oil Matters Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport dubbed “Darth Cayman” in the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge, have been coaching and driving at an event this weekend out at The Thermal Club, a luxury race track in California.

See a mix of photos and videos below:

Ecclestone gives Monza until end of February to resolve F1 future

MONZA, ITALY - SEPTEMBER 06:  Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes GP celebrates on the podium next to Sebastian Vettel of Germany and Ferrari after winning the Formula One Grand Prix of Italy at Autodromo di Monza on September 6, 2015 in Monza, Italy.  (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
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Formula 1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone has given officials at the Autodromo Nazionale Monza until the end of February to resolve the future of the Italian Grand Prix.

Monza has hosted the Italian Grand Prix for all but one year since 1950 when the F1 world championship was formed, establishing itself as one of the series’ most historic and legendary venues.

However, its future has come under increasing scrutiny in recent months following a cut in the amount of tax relief that the race receives by the Italian government.

Ecclestone said back in November that he had “no doubts” the race would remain on the calendar and extend its contract beyond the end of 2016 when it expires.

However, the 85-year-old has now cast fresh doubt on the race in an interview with Reuters, giving the circuit until the end of February to resolve its future.

“It’s Italian. A lot of conversations at the moment and not much action,” Ecclestone said.

“They said to me a few months ago: ‘Everything is sorted out, we know exactly where we are and it’s all agreed and no dramas.’

“And now I heard yesterday it’s become very political… They’ll get on with it. Or not. I don’t know what’s going to happen. Nothing we can do about it.

“The only people that can sort this out are the people that are currently involved in Italy. They can take as long as they like, provided it’s by the end of this month.”

The 2016 Italian Grand Prix is set to take place at Monza on September 4.