TUSC: Action Express tops in opening test at Sebring

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The weekend was a big one for Formula One and NASCAR, but it was also important for the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship, which staged its first open test of the winter at Sebring International Raceway. Topping the overall charts on both days of the test was the No. 5 Action Express Racing Corvette Daytona Prototype (pictured, from this past August at Road America).

On Saturday, Joao Barbosa led the way with an unofficial time of 1 minute, 53.266 seconds (118.871 miles per hour), and then on Sunday, IndyCar pilot Sebastien Bourdais took the No. 5 to P1 on the charts with a 1 minute, 53.748-second blitz (118.367 mph) around the famous Florida road course.

Both Barbosa and Bourdais were impressed with the newly modified Daytona Prototypes, which now feature bits such as a new diffuser, carbon brakes and a double-element rear wing.

“We were just bottoming out a little bit on the bumps in the first few laps, but we addressed that and the car felt really great,” Barbosa said to IMSA.com. “For the first few laps we have around here with carbon brakes, new aero and all the new stuff, it felt really good.”

“It’s a quicker car,” chimed in Bourdais. “I think we’ll gain about three seconds at Daytona. If we balance it, maybe there’s a bit more in it. The rear diffuser really helps set the back of the car down. These cars didn’t have much downforce before, but they have significantly more now.”

In all, over 2,800 laps and 10,000 miles were run in the two-day session at Sebring. Now, the TUSC heads to Daytona International Speedway for another two days of testing starting tomorrow.

The TUSC officially begins its inaugural season at Daytona with the Rolex 24 on Jan. 23-26, 2014.

Have a decent tax refund coming? Buy Ayrton Senna’s 1993 Monaco-winning car

Photos courtesy Bonhams
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Are you expecting a better than normal tax refund? Did you get a very nice bonus from your company due to the new tax cut?

Well, if you have a good chunk of change hanging around and potentially can be in Monaco on May 11, you can have a chance to bid on the 1993 McLaren-Ford MP4/8A that the late Ayrton Senna drove in — and won — that year’s Monaco Grand Prix.

We’re not just talking about any race winner. It’s also the same car Senna won his sixth Monaco Grand Prix, and the chassis bears the number six.

It’s also the same car Senna piloted to that season’s F1 championship (his third and final title before sadly being killed the next year) and is the first McLaren driven by Senna that’s ever been sold or put up for auction.

The famed Bonhams auction house is overseeing the sale of the car.

“Any Grand Prix-winning car is important, but to have the golden combination of both Senna and Monaco is a seriously rare privilege indeed,” Bonhams global head of motorsport, Mark Osborne, told The Robb Report.

“Senna and Monaco are historically intertwined, and this car represents the culmination of his achievements at the Monegasque track. This is one of the most significant Grand Prix cars ever to appear at auction, and is certainly the most significant Grand Prix car to be offered since the Fangio Mercedes-Benz W196R, which sold for a world record at auction.”

How much might you need? You might want to get a couple of friends to throw in a few bucks as well.

“We expect the car to achieve a considerable seven-figure sum,” Osborne said.

The London newspaper “The Telegraph” predicts the car will sell in the $6.1 million range.”

“This car will set the world record for a Senna car at auction,” Osborne said. “We are as certain as you can be in the auction world.”

While you won’t be able to take the car for a test drive before the auction, it’ll be ready to roar once you pay the price.

“In theory, the buyer could be racing immediately upon receipt of the cleared funds after the auction,” Osborne said. “All systems are primed and ready.”