UPDATE, 2:45 p.m. ET: The American Le Mans Series will pay tribute to Sean Edwards with a decal to be placed on all cars at this weekend’s Petit Le Mans. Renowned motorsports artist Andy Blackmore has created an illustration of Edwards’ helmet (see left).
“All of us at the American Le Mans Series extend our thoughts, prayers and deepest sympathies to the family and friends of Sean Edwards,” Scott Atherton, president and CEO of ALMS, said in a statement. “Sean was a rising star in sports car racing who found success in the United States and around the world. We will remember him as a driver and a human being with so much potential. He will be dearly missed.”
ORIGINAL, 9:25 a.m. ET: Rising sports car star Sean Edwards, 26, was killed in an accident Tuesday at Queensland Raceway in Australia.
According to media reports via SportsCar365 and the Courier Mail (Australia), Edwards’ Porsche 996 made impact with a tire wall at more than 200 km/h and it was reported his fatal injuries occurred instantly.
Edwards was coaching 20-year-old driver Will Holzheimer and was riding in the passenger’s seat. Holzheimer also suffered severe burns in the accident and needed three hours to be extricated.
The Englishman would have missed the American Le Mans Series finale, Petit Le Mans, with NGT Motorsport and co-driver Henrique Cisneros per a conflict this weekend, but has driven with him most of the year. No decision has yet been made by NGT regarding its participation the rest of this week.
The son of seventies F1 racer Guy Edwards drove his father’s car last year during filming for Ron Howard’s film Rush. Guy Edwards had been part of the rescue effort for Niki Lauda in Lauda’s crash at the Nurburgring.
The younger Edwards was in his fifth year of competition in the Porsche Supercup. Victories at the Circuit de Catalunya, Monaco (for the second year in a row) and the Hungaroring had helped him to an 18-point lead in the series with two races remaining at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix weekend next month. He also won 24-hour races at Dubai and the Nurburgring (with Bernd Schneider, Jeroen Bleekemolen and Nicki Thiim) this year, and won an ALMS race at Long Beach with Cisneros.
Edwards first came to prominence in 2006 by winning the FIA’s GT3 sports car championship at the age of 19, thanks to victories in the final three races at the wheel of his Tech 9 Porsche.
The two-day Chris Griffis Memorial Mazda Road to Indy Test concluded on Sunday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.
Combined times after the two days of running are below, with Nico Jamin (Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires) and Oliver Askew (Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires) remaining on top from Saturday to Sunday, and Darren Keane (Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda) supplanting Andres Gutierrez at the head of that field.
Previous notebooks are linked here (Friday, Saturday), with additional Sunday notes to follow.
Several drivers pulled double duty between series, namely Parker Thompson (Exclusive Autosport in Pro Mazda and USF2000), Carlos Cunha (Juncos Racing in Indy Lights and Pro Mazda) and Aaron Telitz (Team Pelfrey in Pro Mazda, RJB Motorsports in USF2000). Telitz (above) added a run in Pro Mazda in Team Pelfrey’s No. 82 car; the Wisconsinite has done a lot of the series’ testing for the new Pro Mazda Tatuus PM-18, and had hoped to run all three series. We’ll have more meanwhile on Thompson and Exclusive’s double in the days to come; the Michael Duncalfe-led team out of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan was one of three new Pro Mazda teams adding those cars to USF2000 efforts (Pabst Racing, BN Racing) this week.
There were a handful of drivers that changed cars or teams for Sunday’s second day of the test, primarily in USF2000. While Keane ran both days at Newman Wachs, the Brian Halahan-managed team ran David Osborne and Oscar DeLuzuriaga in the Nos. 37 and 38 cars, taking over from Jake Craig and Max Peichel. Osborne switched from Team Pelfrey, where he ran Saturday, and where Jacob Loomis ran Sunday. Justin Gordon ran a second Exclusive Autosport chassis, switching to the No. 90 on Sunday after running the No. 92 Saturday.
The PM-18 best lap set by Askew is more than three seconds faster than the series’ official track record (Pato O’Ward in 2016, at 1:22.8800, 105.941 mph). Askew’s best time of 1:19.8142 averages 110.010 mph around the 2.439-mile circuit. Neither the Indy Lights nor USF2000 cars eclipsed the existing lap records in those categories.
Drivers largely extolled the PM-18’s outright pace and potential with the horsepower upgrade, in what is a significant step forward for the series. “Following prototype testing of the new PM-18, I believed that we had a special race car and this weekend’s testing confirms that,” said Dan Andersen, Owner and CEO of Andersen Promotions. “Based on team and driver comments, this is a fantastic race car and I am very pleased with what Tatuus, Elite Engines and my team have assembled. It fits perfectly in between the USF-17 and the IL-15 in terms of lap times and, more importantly, it takes what a driver learns in the first step and introduces higher HP, higher grip and higher aero. This will be a great training car for years to come, and seeing our program now with three excellent and well-designed cars is very satisfying to me.”
Keane, one of the few veterans (relatively speaking) within USF2000 was plugged in this weekend as the only driver outside Pabst Racing to threaten the top of the timesheets. “It’s a good boost in confidence for me heading into next year. I am really happy with how everything is going with the team. They are a great group of guys and it’s just really good to see us improving and being where we want to be,” he said.
Rinus Veekay hailed the Indy Lights Dallara IL-15 Mazda this weekend in his first test there, although the talented Dutch teenager may well focus on Pro Mazda next season and shoot to win that championship, and continue his battle with Askew established in USF2000. “The car is very nice, quick,” noted VeeKay. “You can really feel the downforce and it was a pleasure to drive.”
The MRTI is done with official running for the year, but the $200,000 MRTI Scholarship Shootout remains in December at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park, the former Firebird Raceway, outside Phoenix. The winner of that will get a ticket into USF2000 for the 2018 season.
Full MRTI spring training will take place at Homestead-Miami Speedway in February 2018, with undoubtedly a bevy of driver and team announcements to come over the following months.