Nick Heidfeld

Rebellion reigns again at Petit Le Mans (UPDATED)

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With their main rivals from Muscle Milk Pickett Racing sidelined midway through with an overheating issue, Rebellion Racing claimed its second consecutive victory at the Petit Le Mans this evening at Road Atlanta, bringing the American Le Mans Series era to a close.

Neel Jani, who was part of Rebellion’s 2012 Petit-winning team, brought home the team’s No. 12 Lola B12/60 Toyota (co-drivers Nicolas Prost and Nick Heidfeld) for a six-lap win over the No. 551 Level 5 Motorsports P2 entry of Scott Tucker, Marino Franchitti and Ryan Briscoe.

“In some sense, it’s frustrating because [us and Muscle Milk] had a good race going,” Prost told Fox Sports. “I mean, I think it would’ve been really tight. But in the end, you’re happy to win and we’re happy to have back-to-back [Petit] wins in the final race of the ALMS. It’s fantastic.”

In P2, the class win from the No. 551 Level 5 team enabled Tucker to claim the 2013 P2 driver’s championship. Tucker, Franchitti and Briscoe bested the No. 01 Extreme Speed Motorsports machine of Scott Sharp, Anthony Lazzaro and David Brabham for top honors.

“These guys are the best,” Tucker said of his teammates Franchitti and Briscoe. “They did a great performance today. I couldn’t be more proud of the whole team. The [Extreme Speed Motorsports] guys put on a hell of a fight for us, and we’re lucky that we got here. But these guys did a great job.”

The narrow battle in GT went to the No. 17 Falken Tire Porsche squad of Nick Tandy, Bryan Sellers, and Wolf Henzler. Shortly after a restart with 11 laps to go, Tandy had a brief off-course excursion at the downhill esses while leading the race but was still able to keep the point over the No. 56 BMW Team RLL entry of Dirk Muller.

After that heart-stopping moment, Tandy settled down and hung on by .74 of a second over Muller, who also fell short in the GT driver’s championship as the No. 3 Corvette Racing duo of Jan Magnussen and Antonio Garcia claimed that crown with a sixth-place finish alongside Jordan Taylor.

“I couldn’t have wished for a better year to do it – the last year of the ALMS,” Magnussen said. “Who would’ve thought after Sebring [retirement due to gearbox problems] that we’d be here celebrating a championship…It just couldn’t be better.”

The No. 8 BAR1 Motorsports trio of Chris Cumming, Kyle Marcelli and Stefan Johansson were triumphant in Prototype Challenge for its third consecutive ALMS victory.

Even better for BAR1, Cumming was able to overtake PC points leader Mike Gausch and win the driver’s championship in that class. Or so we thought.

As it was later revealed, the second-place car in the PC class – the No. 25 8Star Motorsports entry of Ozz Negri and Sean Rayhall – was not a full-season entry and thus, they do not receive points and the teams behind them move up.

That meant Gausch, who had finished fifth, received a fourth-place points finish, enabling him to claim the driver’s championship by one point over Cumming.

In GTC, the No. 45 Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsche of Nelson Canache, Spencer Pumpelly and Madison Snow won, while a fourth-place finish enabled the No. 22 Alex Job Racing Porsche of Jeroen Bleekemolen and Cooper MacNeil to wrap up the driver’s championship there.

Formula E: Team Aguri confirms da Costa for second season

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Antonio Felix da Costa has been confirmed for a second season with Team Aguri for the 2015-2016 FIA Formula E Championship, which begins later this month in Beijing.

He won once this past year at Buenos Aires and finished eighth in the points despite missing both the season opener and season finale due to clashes with his DTM schedule.

Said the 24-year-old Portuguese driver, “I am really happy to continue with Team Aguri and Formula E for season two. This championship is earning its respect in the world of motorsport and I am honoured to be involved. Regarding the season, I am really looking forward to getting started.”

Team Aguri team principal Mark Preston added, “It is a great pleasure to have Antonio continuing with the team for season two of Formula E. Antonio brought us our maiden win in Buenos Aires and helped to develop the team from scratch, he will continue to build on that success for season two and beyond.”

The team that bares the name of ex-Formula 1 driver and team owner Aguri Suzuki has not yet confirmed its second driver, which is the last outstanding seat to be filled on the Formula E grid.

Amlin, which had partnered with Aguri last year, is now present with the Andretti Formula E team and its drivers, Robin Frijns and Simona de Silvestro.

Hulkenberg leads shorter than normal FP1 in Russia

Nico Hulkenberg
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Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg posted a 1:44.355 lap of the of the Sochi Autodrom to lead a fairly abnormal, and shorter than usual, first free practice for the Russian Grand Prix.

Hulkenberg posted the time to conclude the usual 90-minute session, to pip Nico Rosberg at 1:44.407 on his final lap. The usual 90-minute session was shortened due to a track delay for cleanup of diesel fuel on course.

Sebastian Vettel, Sergio Perez and Daniel Ricciardo completed the top five.

While the clock started on time for the full 90-minute session, track activity was halted for the opening 30 minutes to clean up diesel spillage on the track at Turn 8.

It left teams and drivers with just a 60-minute first free practice to tackle the Sochi Autodrom, but did not push the session later or affect the timetable for the rest of the day. However, with a damp if not entirely wet track, it made things difficult in FP1.

The delay also meant that teams weren’t able to use an extra set of Pirellis handed out at the start of FP1. Supersofts can be used for the first time in FP2.

During the delay, it did offer a chance for sarcasm, and Manor seized the opportunity following a comment from McLaren Honda’s Fernando Alonso noting that even with Mercedes engines next year, Manor wouldn’t move ahead of them.

NBC’s Will Buxton explained the track surface dilemma drivers would face in this session.

With just under one hour to go in the session, Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson was the first to head out on course, leading several others. Ericsson made the first laps of the weekend at the track where he made his final start for Caterham a year ago.

Both Williams drivers went on course on Pirelli’s wet weather tires for their installation laps. Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg tried the intermediates, and Alonso was first on course in slicks.

No official times were registered until there were less than 40 minutes remaining in the session, with Alonso registering a 2:00.736 time, while putting down a bevy of sparks. He quickly lowered the mark to 1:56.327, and 1:53.854 after that. Ericsson was next in at a 1:58.926, although dropped into the 1:54 range not long after.

Alonso’s teammate Jenson Button clocked in at 1:50.920 with just under 20 minutes remaining and for the first time this year, we could say we had a McLaren Honda 1-2 on track, albeit under abnormal circumstances.

The trsck got busy in the final 15 minutes, with Toro Rosso’s Max Verstappen posting a 1:50.870 to lead before Alonso clocked in a 1:49.240.

A 1:47.959 from Williams’ Valtteri Bottas, then a 1:45.987 from Hulkenberg followed in the final 10 minutes as times firmly began to drop. Vettel got down to a 1:45.491 shortly thereafter, and Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton came up two tenths shy of the mark at a 1:45.691.

Ericsson reported a power cut near the end of the session down at Sauber but otherwise there were no issues through the field, other than a handful of spins, including one from Hamilton on his final flier at the second-to-last corner.

FP2 begins from 7 a.m. ET on NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra.