Jim Michaelian

TUSC: Rolex 24 Race Updates Hours 13-On

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UPDATE (12:42 p.m. ET): With 90 minutes to go in the Rolex 24 at Daytona, Jordan Taylor is the meat in an Action Express Racing sandwich.

Taylor and the No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing Corvette DP is in hot pursuit of IndyCar’s Sebastien Bourdais in the No. 5 Action Express Corvette DP and trying to also stave off third-place John Martin in AXR’s sister car, the No. 9.

The GTLM battle has taken an important turn, as the No. 4 Chevy Corvette was forced to go to the garage for gearbox repairs, abandoning second in class. The No. 911 Porsche North America machine of Nick Tandy remains out front, but BMW Team RLL’s No. 55 Z4 GTE, with driver Joey Hand, is your new class runner-up.

GTD remains very close, with the No. 555 Level 5 Motorsports Ferrari 458 Italia still on top after Townsend Bell battled for the lead with Spencer Pumpelly in the No. 45 Flying Lizard Motorsports Audi R8.

Pumpelly had to go to pit road shortly afterwards for fuel, however, and currently sits third behind the No. 555 (now driven by Alessandro Pier Guidi) and the No. 58 Snow Racing Porsche 911 GT America of Jan Heylen.

The PC category remains led by the No. 54 CORE Autosport ORECA FLM09, now in the hands of Colin Braun.

A note: GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing owner Bob Stallings, along with drivers Alex Gurney, Jon Fogarty and Darren Law, have issued their own statements on yesterday’s crash that involved team member Memo Gidely.

UPDATE (11:11 a.m. ET): Three Corvette DPs still run in the top three positions, and overall leader Jordan Taylor in the No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing entry avoided a major calamity when he took to the Turn 1 grass to evade a spinning GT car. Action Express’ pair will chase him down for the final three hours as, past the 21-hour mark, the race is under full course caution.

Other class leaders include the No. 911 Porsche North America Porsche 911 RSR (GTLM), No. 54 CORE autosport ORECA FLM09 (PC) and No. 555 Level 5 Motorsports Ferrari 458 Italia GT3 (GTD).

Less than three hours remain in this year’s running of the Rolex 24 at Daytona. Of note, Indy Lights champion Sage Karam made an appearance in the media center to describe his first Rolex 24.

“It’s the first time I’d ever been in for more than an hour at the time,” said the driver who’s nicknamed “SK$.” “It’s the first time I’ve ever had to share a car. But I love the sports car experience. You’re passing like 10 cars per lap; it’s definitely not boring.”

UPDATE (8:51 a.m. ET): We’ve also just received a medical update from IMSA regarding GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing’s Memo Gidley and Risi Competizione’s Matteo Malucelli.

IMSA confirmed an earlier report from the GAINSCO team that Gidley had undergone surgery overnight on his left arm and left leg at nearby Halifax Health Medical Center. But now we also know that Gidley has an “unstable fracture” in his back that will require additional surgery before he can be released from the hospital.

As for Malucelli, a further update regarding his condition will be provided later today but IMSA reports that he “continues to rest comfortably” at Halifax, where he was kept overnight for evaluations.

UPDATE (8:44 a.m. ET): As the sun rises over Daytona International Speedway and reveals an array of battered race cars still soldiering on through the 3.56-mile road course, you can’t help but think that these cars were all once spotless yesterday afternoon. It’s a reminder of how grueling the Rolex 24 (and endurance racing altogether) is.

We’re now within six hours of the finish in Daytona, and in the Prototype category, the No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing Corvette DP has become the closest challenger to Action Express Racing, which has their No. 9 Corvette DP on top.

AXR’s No. 5 Corvette DP, Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates’ No. 02, and the No. 6 Muscle Milk Oreca/Nissan P2 car are one lap down to the leader, but they’re still very much in striking distance.

The No. 5, with Joao Barbosa at the controls, got tagged with a stop-and-hold penalty for avoidable contact around 7:30 a.m. ET this morning. Shortly after that, Scott Dixon in the No. 02 was forced to pit for a flat right rear tire.

In GTLM, the two-car Porsche North America and Corvette Racing squads that have been battling for the class lead remain on top but each team has suffered as well. Porsche’s No. 912 has been forced to go behind the wall, while the No. 3 Corvette retired overnight with overheating issues.

CORE Autosport’s No. 54 and 8Star’s No. 25 continue to duel for the PC lead, and in GTD, the Level 5 Motorsports No. 555 continues to set the pace.

4:30 a.m. ET: The prototype (P) class battle is shaping up as a seven-car fight, six of which are Daytona Prototypes and the lone interloper the Muscle Milk Pickett Racing ORECA 03 Nissan, a P2 car.

The lead had shifted between the Wayne Taylor, Action Express and Spirit of Daytona Corvette DPs, along with the Ford EcoBoost Rileys from Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates (No. 02) and Michael Shank Racing.

Corvette and Porsche exchanged the lead in GTLM after SRT Viper had issues and BMW has struggled with its straight line speed.

8Star and CORE have battled for the PC lead in the all-spec ORECA FLM09 class. Ferrari has held the lead in GTD for most of the race with either Level 5 or Scuderia Corsa, in the 458 Italia GT3s.

See the Hours 1-12 recap for the rest of the news.

Or, if you want another stream, check out the Magnus Racing webcast for off-the-wall coverage.

Hill expects Rosberg to be ‘more formidable’ in 2016

xxxx during the Formula One Grand Prix of Mexico at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez  on November 1, 2015 in Mexico City, Mexico.
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1996 Formula 1 world champion Damon Hill believes that Nico Rosberg will be “more formidable” in 2016 following his back-to-back title defeats to Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton.

Rosberg took the title race down to the final race of the year in 2014 before losing to Hamilton, and proved to be the Briton’s closest rival again in 2015, albeit losing the championship with three rounds remaining.

Rosberg endured a five-month winless streak last season that led many to question his ability to battle with Hamilton for a championship, only for the German to answer by winning the final three races of the year.

Speaking to Sky Sports, Hill said that Rosberg showed his true strength with this trio of victories, signalling that he could put up a greater fight to Hamilton for the title in 2016.

“I think he is a little bit more formidable now,” Hill said. “I think after the Austin defeat, that day when he lost the championship and Lewis infamously tossed the cap and he tossed it straight back, there was a moment where Nico said ‘OK, I am not going to take this anymore’ and he did go ahead and win all the remaining races.

“He can go on ahead and become the other world champion’s son [Keke Rosberg won the F1 title in 1982] to become a world champion himself.

“He probably knows time is running out and when you get all those ingredients together you maybe get a little bit of a hardening of the determination. Maybe he will be more determined this year and harder to beat.”

MotoGP to introduce stewards’ panel for 2016 season

KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA - OCTOBER 25:  Marc Marquez of Spain and Repsol Honda Team leads Valentino Rossi of Italy and Movistar Yamaha MotoGP during the MotoGP race during the MotoGP Of Malaysia at Sepang Circuit on October 25, 2015 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.  (Photo by Mirco Lazzari gp/Getty Images)
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The FIM has confirmed that a new, dedicated stewards’ panel will be created for the 2016 MotoGP season following the controversy between Valentino Rossi and Marc Marquez at the end of last year.

Rossi and Marquez became embroiled in a tense rivalry that saw them clash in Malaysia, with Rossi appearing to raise his leg and cause his adversary to fall from his bike.

Rossi was handed a penalty that dropped him to the back of the grid for the championship decider in Valencia, where Yamaha teammate Jorge Lorenzo clinched a third world title.

The incident did little good of the reputation of the drivers involved nor MotoGP as a whole, prompting officials to create a new stewards’ panel for 2016 that will deal with similar affairs.

Previously, race direction has also dealt with stewarding matters, but these responsibilities will now be split for 2016.

“We want to let race direction focus on managing the races because there are a lot of responsibilities and delicate matters to do,” FIM president Vito Ippolito said.

“We want to let them be free to manage the race but not to involve them anymore with the task of penalizing riders. It needs more time and special dedication.

“On the other side we will have the panel of three stewards. It will be the current race director who is Mike Webb and two more stewards from the FIM.

“One of them possibily also a permanent steward as we think with this structure, with this panel of stewards completely dedicated to judge the behaviour of riders during the races and practice, we can achieve a very high level of decisions.”

Vandoorne was considered for Renault Formula 1 seat

LE CASTELLET, FRANCE - JANUARY 25:  Stoffel Vandoorne of Belgium and McLaren Honda drives during wet weather tyre testing at Circuit Paul Ricard on January 25, 2016 in Le Castellet, France.  (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
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Newly-appointed Renault Sport racing director Frederic Vasseur claims that the French manufacturer considered signing GP2 champion and McLaren junior driver Stoffel Vandoorne for its comeback season in Formula 1.

Renault will return to F1 this year with a works team for the first time since 2010, and unveiled its driver line-up of Kevin Magnussen and Jolyon Palmer at an event in France on Wednesday.

Magnussen was drafted in to replace Pastor Maldonado after the Venezuelan driver’s financial backing fell through and negotiations with the team broke down.

Speaking to DH.be, Vasseur revealed that Vandoorne was considered for the seat before Renault ultimately signed Magnussen for 2016.

“We had to put a cross next to Stoffel. He is under contract with McLaren and the team did not want to part ways,” Vasseur said.

“So we needed someone who was available and our choice was therefore focused on Kevin.”

Vandoorne is set to race in the Japanese Super Formula series in 2016, having tested a car over the winter. Despite winning the 2015 GP2 title in record-breaking fashion, the Belgian is not yet able to make the step up to F1, but looks set to do so with McLaren when either Jenson Button or Fernando Alonso leave the team.

Buemi content with fightback to second in Buenos Aires

BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA - FEBRUARY 6:  In this handout image supplied by Formula E, Sebastien Buemi (SUI), Renault e.Dams Z.E.15 & Sam Bird (GBR), DS Virgin Racing DSV-01, during the Buenos Aires Formula E race at Puerto Madero Street Circuit on February 6, 2016 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. (Photo by Sam Bloxham/LAT/Formula E via Getty Images)
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BUENOS AIRES – Sebastien Buemi felt content with his performance in Saturday’s Buenos Aires ePrix after bouncing back from a mistake in qualifying to finish second and extend his lead at the top of the Formula E drivers’ championship.

Buemi locked up during his 200kW lap in qualifying at Puerto Madero to resign himself to 18th position on the grid, handing his rivals an opportunity to overhaul him in the title race.

The Renault e.dams driver produced a spirited display to pick through the order during the race before coming into contention for the win late on after a safety car period.

Although Buemi could not overhaul DS Virgin Racing’s Sam Bird at the front of the pack, he remained happy with second place in light of his qualifying error.

“The mistake in qualifying was very annoying, because when you have such a good car and such a good team, you want to reward them with the best possible result,” Buemi told MotorSportsTalk.

“But in the end I did my best to come back. I think I did a good job. 18 points are better than zero so happy with that.”

Buemi is now targeting an error-free weekend at the next race in Mexico City as he looks to extend the four-point gap to Lucas di Grassi at the top of the standings.

“Clearly [the result] shows that we have a very strong car and we just need to make sure from now on we don’t miss any points,” Buemi said.

“Putrajaya, the team made a mistake, the car didn’t finish the race. But today obviously I made one [in qualifying] and I tried to work the car to catch it back.

“We’ve seen today that it’s easy to leave the weekend with zero points. I have only four points advantage in the championship, so I’m going to try to expand it as much as possible.”