India F1 GP Auto Racing

MotorSportsTalk’s predictions: Indian GP

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Ahead of the race today in India, the writing team on MotorSportsTalk has made its predictions for what looks set to be the scene of Sebastian Vettel’s coronation as a four time world champion. Should he finish fifth or higher and secure the title, Vettel will join some prestigious company: only Alain Prost, Juan Manuel Fangio and Michael Schumacher have won four world titles. It may be the final Indian Grand Prix until 2015, but the race is poised to cement itself a place in history today.

Tony DiZinno (@tonydizinno)

Race winner: Sebastian Vettel. Let’s see… chance for six straight wins, fourth title and a shot to three-peat leading every lap from pole in India. Again it’s a case of pick him until he gets dethroned.

Surprising finish: Jenson Button. A podium and another top-five on his Indian scorecard thus far. “Surprise” in this instance would be a top-five but I feel it’s possible for him this weekend.

Most to prove: Paul di Resta. He’s gone scoreless seven races in a row with a car that has clearly fallen off the second half of the year. F1 career in jeopardy and at his team’s home race, time to stave off the naysayers and put together a memorable weekend.

Christopher Estrada (@estradawriting)

Race winner: Sebastian Vettel. A third (final?) victory in India will have Vettel claim his fourth consecutive World Championship with a flourish. Love him or hate him, you better darn well respect him.

Surprising finish: Esteban Gutierrez. Suzuka had to be a confidence booster for Gutierrez as he finally made a contribution to Sauber’s recent surge (and, at six points, a weighty one). The question now is can he keep it going at Buddh? I’m going to say yes.

Most to prove: Force India. If this is the last Indian Grand Prix for a while, then the home team at least has a chance to leave their fans with some fond memories. But with only three points between Adrian Sutil (all his) and Paul di Resta in the last seven races, they’ll have to step it up.

Luke Smith (@LukeSmithF1)

Race winner: Sebastian Vettel. Just as he was in Japan, his fine run of form combined with his affinity for the circuit should see him take to the top step of the podium once again and clinch a fourth world title.

Surprising finish: Jenson Button. McLaren have been running well here in India, so Button may be able to take advantage of his alternative strategy to work his way up the order and pick up some solid points.

Most to prove: Daniel Ricciardo. The Australian driver needs a good result here to prove to Red Bull that they made the right decision to hire him, and a stand-out result in his final four races for Toro Rosso would go a long way to doing this.

Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine)

Race winner: Sebastian Vettel. Yes, he might be conservatively-minded as he was when the title beckoned in Japan two years ago. But with a half-second advantage even over his team mate he can afford to drive with his fingertips and still thrash his competitors.

Surprising finish: Nico Hulkenberg. The Sauber looks very good on the medium tyres – he could be an outside bet for a podium finish.

Most to prove: Romain Grosjean. He’s come on in leaps and bounds in recent races with excellent qualifying performances which have allowed him to stay out of trouble and race at the front. From 17th on the grid he has to show he can keep a cool head and make his way up through the field.

Sarrazin rounds out stacked Rebellion Racing lineup at Daytona

Photo: Rebellion Racing
Photo: Rebellion Racing
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Imagine taking the reigning 24 Hours of Le Mans and FIA World Endurance Championship champion from Porsche, the 2014 FIA World Endurance Championship and reigning FIA Formula E champion from Toyota, a multiple-time Petit Le Mans winner from Rebellion Racing, then pair them with Toyota’s longest active driver in the FIA WEC, and put them all in one car.

And in that one car, you have a ridiculously stacked lineup that Rebellion Racing is putting together in its Oreca 07 for the 2017 Rolex 24 at Daytona.

Stephane Sarrazin has been confirmed today as the fourth driver alongside Neel Jani, Nick Heidfeld and Sebastien Buemi in a thoroughly impressive lineup for the Bart Hayden-run operation, which makes its return to the U.S. starting with next year’s Rolex 24 as part of a Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup lineup. Jani and Heidfeld have raced together with Rebellion in the past and Daytona marks its reunion.

“After our success in the American Le Mans Series races in 2012 and 2013, we always wanted to find a way back to competing in the USA,” Hayden said when the team announced its U.S. return. “We are very excited to be able to return with a new prototype and to race in the North American Endurance Cup in 2017.  Reuniting Nick with Neel and adding Seb gives us a top line driver line-up and signals our intention which is to compete at the highest level and hopefully to win again in the USA.”

The Prototype class field at the Rolex 24 should be well north of 12 entries – perhaps 15 or more – and most of them will have pretty impressive lineups for the debut of the new Daytona Prototype international (DPi) format along with the new-for-2017-spec LMP2 cars.

Alexander Rossi’s likeness revealed on Borg-Warner Trophy (PHOTOS)

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All photos: LAT Photo USA for BorgWarner
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One of the hallmarks of the racing offseason is that the Indianapolis 500 winner gets to have his or her face immortalized on the Borg-Warner Trophy.

Alexander Rossi is the latest addition now, the rookie winner of the 100th running having had his face get added and revealed today at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum.

Rossi’s face is actually the 103rd on the trophy, because of two co-drivers that won the race and an additional tribute to Tony Hulman, who bought and saved the Speedway after World War II.

As part of the process, Rossi met with sculptor Will Behrends in September in Tryon, NC, getting his life-size image. That’s then shrunk down as part of a several-step process.

“I think it’s cooler than looking in the mirror for sure! Because as we were talking about it, this kind of reminds me; it’s the first time you see something that’s not reversed,” Rossi said. “And I’m still tripping out about it! I’ve been here for a couple of hours now, but it’s very cool. It’s very special and it’s way more detailed, accurate and amazing than I ever thought it would be.

“What Will was able to do, I mean, it blows my mind that he was able to get this so accurate just from pictures. I am so far from being anywhere close to an artist but you can really appreciate what he’s done and I don’t even know where to begin in how you acquire such an amazing skill set. It’s fantastic that I had the opportunity to work with him for a short period of time and I think that it’s a very special program to be part of.”

Behrends added, “This is of course my 27th year of doing these images on the Borg-Warner Trophy and going to see the race. This one was particularly interesting and exciting because of the way it ended and the winner. It was just a fantastic ending, everyone was on the edge of their seat, and standing up at the end. It was very exciting.”

Photos from the process leading to the reveal are below, with more to come tonight following the conclusion of the event itself.

All photos courtesy LAT Photo USA for BorgWarner:

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Flashback: When Max Chilton gave fiancee ‘terrifying’ ride in race car

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Somehow, we missed this one the first time it came around — but even a few months later, it still bears sharing. And thanks to the Goodwood Festival of Speed for re-posting on its Facebook page not long after the Verizon IndyCar Series season finale in Sonoma, which is where it caught our eye.

Back in late March, Verizon IndyCar Series driver Max Chilton wanted to give new fiancee Chloe Roberts an up close and personal insight into how a race car driver does his thing behind the wheel.

Chilton confirmed today during a Facebook Live video that they’ll get married during the August 2017 break in IndyCar’s schedule, likely between the Mid-Ohio and Pocono race weekends.

Alas, Chilton was at the 74th members meeting of the Goodwood Festival of Speed when he was given the opportunity to hop into an old car of NASCAR Sprint Cup driver Jamie McMurray’s.

“It’s very different from what I’m used to,” Chilton said in a video posted on the Festival’s official Facebook page. “It’s very big, heavy, it’s got similar paths to what I’m used to but it’s like a tank of a race car.

“But it’s perfect for what I’m doing today and hopefully it puts on a good show for everyone.”

That’s when Max got the bright idea to take Chloe for a spin.

“Chloe has never been in a racing car, and so she’s never seen what I get out to,” he said. “This isn’t really what I get out to, but it’ll give her the sensation of noise and smoke and the acceleration and adrenaline of having fun in these cars.”

Roberts approached the chance for a ride along with hesitation and trepidation – even requesting to don a helmet when Max informed her he’d be doing some doughnuts with the car.

Still, Roberts was a good sport and went through with it, even though there was a slight blip in plans early on.

“It’s always reassuring when you don’t know how to start a car,” she chided her boyfriend, who struggled to get the Chevrolet SS going.

The best part of the video was when Chilton decided to do a few burnouts. Let’s just say Roberts’ mouth went agape and her facial expressions were priceless.

When the ride ended, Chloe summed things up in just one word: “Terrifying.”

It’s a good thing Max asked Chloe to marry him a week earlier. If he would have waited until after the ride along, who knows what may have happened, right?

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IMSA’s December test entry list features DPi, new Porsche public debuts

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Top photo: Cadillac Racing. Bottom photo: Mazda.
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After private testing has taken place for the two manufacturers who have revealed their Daytona Prototype international (DPi) models, Cadillac and Mazda, both cars’ public debuts will occur at next week’s December 13-14 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship at the Daytona International Speedway.

Additionally, the new Porsche 911 RSR is set for its first official public running.

Official names for the DPi cars are the Cadillac DPi-V.R and Mazda RT24-P, respectively, although on this first version of the entry list they’re just labeled as Cadillac DPi and Mazda DPi. The VISIT FLORIDA Racing entry is listed as a Multimatic Riley LMP2.

Those five cars headline the entries for the test, which also features 23 combined GT cars from GT Le Mans and GT Daytona (eight and 15 cars, respectively).

Photo: Porsche
Photo: Porsche

In GTLM, both Corvette C7.Rs, both Ford GTs, both Porsche 911 RSRs (the new model’s anticipated public on-track debut, following Los Angeles Auto Show launch, see above) and a BMW M6 GTLM and Ferrari 488 GTE apiece will test.

GTD sees entries from Audi, Lamborghini, Lexus, Mercedes-AMG, Porsche, Ferrari and Acura.

The full list is linked here.