Jim Michaelian

TUSC: Rolex 24 Race Updates Hours 13-On

Leave a comment

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.

Stewards confirm Alonso, Ericsson grid drops for Belgian GP

SPA, BELGIUM - AUGUST 26: Fernando Alonso of Spain driving the (14) McLaren Honda Formula 1 Team McLaren MP4-31 Honda RA616H Hybrid turbo on track during practice for the Formula One Grand Prix of Belgium at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps on August 26, 2016 in Spa, Belgium.  (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
© Getty Images
Leave a comment

Formula 1 race stewards at Spa have confirmed that Fernando Alonso and Marcus Ericsson will join Lewis Hamilton in taking a grid drop for this weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix.

Following the conclusion of the summer break, teams are now beginning to get tight on their power unit component allocations for the remainder of the season.

Each car is limited to just five of each power unit component for the season, with penalties being awarded for exceeding this limit.

After being forced to make unplanned changes earlier in the season, Hamilton took two complete new power units on Friday at Spa, meaning he will almost certainly start the Belgian Grand Prix from the back of the grid with a 30-place drop.

Hamilton won’t be the only driver to drop back, though. The FIA stewards confirmed on Friday that both Alonso and Ericsson had also been forced to make changes, resulting in penalties for both drivers.

Alonso has a 35-place grid penalty looming over him after taking a whole new power unit. The Spaniard was already on the limit of five of each component heading to Spa, making the penalty more severe than Hamilton’s.

Ericsson has taken a new turbocharger, his sixth, meaning he receives a 10-place grid penalty. For each of the remaining ‘sixth’ elements the Sauber driver takes over the rest of the season, he will drop a further five places.

Qualifying for the Belgian Grand Prix will settle matters at the front of the grid, but at the rear, it will very much be a case of ‘wait and see’ once all of the penalties are confirmed on Sunday morning.

You can watch qualifying from Spa live on the NBC Sports app from 8am ET on Saturday.

Button ‘almost there’ on deciding Formula 1 future

SPA, BELGIUM - AUGUST 26: Jenson Button of Great Britain and McLaren Honda sits in his car in the garage during practice for the Formula One Grand Prix of Belgium at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps on August 26, 2016 in Spa, Belgium.  (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
© Getty Images
Leave a comment

Jenson Button says he is “almost there” on deciding his future in Formula 1 as McLaren continues to deliberate its driver line-up for 2017.

Button is the most experienced driver currently racing in F1, and has been with McLaren since 2010.

Fernando Alonso is set to remain with McLaren for next season, but the team is yet to decide whether it will retain Button or promote junior driver Stoffel Vandoorne into a full-time seat.

Button has been linked with a return to Williams – the team he made his F1 debut with in 2000 – should McLaren drop him.

The 2009 F1 world champion is yet to decide whether or not he will continue in F1 next year, but feels he is close to a decision.

“I am almost there with my thought process and you will hear about it soon. I can’t put a timescale on it, but it will be soon enough,” Button told Press Association.

“I did think about it lot [over the summer]. I didn’t have a lot of time to lie on a sun-lounger and think about it to be fair.

“I was busy, but yes, of course, I thought about it.”

Button’s last race win came at the end of 2012 with McLaren, and has not finished on the podium since the start of 2014 thanks to difficulties with the team’s Honda engine last year.

Although McLaren is on the rise, Button stressed that he wants to be in a car that is capable of battling at the front of the pack in 2017.

“I have always said that if I feel like I can be in a car that is fighting for wins I will definitely stay. I think any racing driver would,” Button said.

“But if I am not and I feel like I am not, there is nothing else for me to achieve. I will go and play darts instead.

“I can’t just sit on the beach. I will do all sorts of racing after F1 whether it is in racing cars, push bikes, or triathlons because I am a competitive person and I always want to win.

“So, that is what I want to do. Something I can fight for wins in.”

Button has been linked with a move into the FIA World Endurance Championship should he decide to call time on his F1 career, and is also likely to take up rallycross in some form, following in the footsteps of his father, John.

A roof popped off a BMW M6 GTLM in IMSA’s VIR first practice

imsa_28902753
Photo courtesy of IMSA
Leave a comment

First practice for this weekend’s Michelin GT Challenge, a GT Le Mans and GT Daytona-only round of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship at VIRginia International Raceway is in the books.

Fastest times were set by Earl Bamber in the No. 912 Porsche North America Porsche 911 RSR (1:43.232, GTLM and overall) and Madison Snow in the No. 48 Paul Miller Racing Lamborghini Huracán GT3 (1:45.722, GTD).

Bamber told IMSA Radio’s Shea Adam, “It’s a good way to start the weekend. It’s a new surface; it already seems quicker than last year. The guys at VIR have done a great job to repave it. It’s been pretty difficult the last couple races for us.”

But the session was more notable because it featured a weird interruption, when the roof off the No. 25 BMW Team RLL BMW M6 GTLM popped off on course.

It left Dirk Werner needing to bring the car, sans the roof and rear window, into the pit lane but luckily without further damage following the inadvertent convertible debut of the car.

Werner’s befuddled co-driver, Bill Auberlen, attempted to explain the situation to Adam.

“I’m telling you… I’m dying to ask if it was cooler inside the cockpit!” Auberlen told IMSA Radio, noting how hot it is on track, as well (ambient temperatures are expected in the mid-90s with track temperatures in the 110-115 range).

“So no, we did not plan on this. This is very odd. It’s bizarre how the roof would blow off the thing.

“I went in the grass once. Couldn’t get the downshfits accomplished. Now this. Maybe we get all the troubles out now.

“But now the roof blew off? No idea how, it’s just bad luck.”

Here’s pics and a few tweets about the abnormal incident:

Dover agrees to sell Nashville track to real estate company

NASHVILLE, TN - JULY 15:  Scott Dixon driver of the #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara Honda, and Dario Francitti driver of the #27 Canadian Club Andretti Green Racing Dallara Honda, lead the field during the IRL Indycar Series Firestone Indy 200 on July 15, 2007 at the Nashville Superspeedway  in Lebanon, Tennessee.  (Photo by  Gavin Lawrence/Getty Images)
Getty Images
1 Comment

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Dover Motorsports Inc. has a new buyer for the Nashville Superspeedway in a commercial real estate development company.

The motorsports company said Thursday that Panattoni Development Company will buy the superspeedway for $27.5 million and also take over Dover’s obligations under bonds issued in 1999 to help build infrastructure supporting the track. The bonds currently have a balance of $17.2 million, and Panattoni will replace Dover Motorsports’ letter of credit with its own.

Dover expects the sale to close in 2017 pending zoning approvals.

This is the second time Dover announced a buyer of the 1.33-mile concrete track about 30 miles east of Nashville that closed in 2011. Dover announced in May 2014 a deal selling to NeXovation Inc. worth nearly $46 million, which later fell through.