TUSC: Rahal at BMW leads more Rolex 24 confirmations

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A few more Rolex 24 at Daytona lineups have been confirmed in the last 24 to 48 hours. Here’s a quick recap for more of the cars racing in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship opener:

  • Graham Rahal has been confirmed with the BMW Team RLL team in the GTLM class. Rahal will share the No. 56 BMW Z4 GTLM with John Edwards, Dirk Mueller and Dirk Werner; the sister No. 55 car will see Bill Auberlen, Joey Hand, Maxime Martin and Andy Priaulx behind the wheel.
  • Gustavo Yacaman has a full-season deal confirmed with OAK Racing in its No. 42 Morgan Nissan in the P class. The P2-spec car will also feature Olivier Pla, Roman Rusinov and a fourth driver to be named later in for the Rolex 24. Pla is confirmed at OAK for the full season, but it hasn’t been determined what championships he’ll be competing in yet.
  • Marsh Racing’s No. 31 Corvette DP will see full-season drivers Boris Said and Eric Curran joined by Max Papis and Sunoco Challenge winner Bradley Smith at the Rolex 24. The team steps up from the Rolex GT class into DP this season.
  • Via Sportscar365.com, Risi Competizione will feature a lineup of Matteo Malucelli, Giancarlo Fisichella and Gianmaria Bruni in its No. 62 Ferrari F458 Italia in the GTLM class.

Only a handful of teams are yet to confirm their full lineups. We’ll do a recap of who’s where in a separate post later this week.

Vettel edges Hamilton to lead opening Abu Dhabi GP practice

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Sebastian Vettel made a flying start to the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix weekend by leading the opening Formula 1 practice session at the Yas Marina Circuit for Ferrari on Friday afternoon.

A three-time winner in Abu Dhabi, Vettel enters the final race weekend of the season eager to score back-to-back victories for the first time in four years, having hit the top step of the podium last time out in Brazil.

Vettel sent out an early warning shot to Mercedes rival Lewis Hamilton by beating the recently-crowned drivers’ champion by one-tenth of a second in FP1, turning in a fastest time of 1:39.006.

Hamilton was left to settle for second place ahead of Max Verstappen, who finished a mere 0.148 seconds slower than Vettel for Red Bull.

Kimi Raikkonen took fourth after finishing half a second down on his teammate at the top of the timesheets, with Valtteri Bottas ending the session fifth in the second Mercedes.

Sergio Perez ended FP1 as the leading midfield driver in sixth for Force India ahead of the McLaren duo of Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne, while Felipe Massa and Daniel Ricciardo completed the top 10.

The final FP1 session of the year saw the ‘Halo’ cockpit protection appear on a number of cars ahead of its introduction for the 2018 season, with Bottas and Haas’ Antonio Giovinazzi among the drivers trialing it.

Giovinazzi was one of two junior drivers to feature in the session, with Force India running Mercedes youngster George Russell in place of Esteban Ocon. Russell ended the session 11th overall, while Giovinazzi took P18.