2014 Rolex 24 at Daytona - Preview

TUSC: Rolex 24 Race Updates, Hours 1-12

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UPDATE (2:15 a.m. ET): We’ll start this update with further news on GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing driver Memo Gidley. The team recently tweeted that he’s undergone surgery on his left arm and left leg and remains under observation at Halifax Health Medical Center in Daytona Beach.

As for the other driver involved in today’s violent third-hour accident, Risi Competizione’s Matteo Malucelli, no further word has been given on his condition outside of IMSA’s previous confirmation that he, along with Gidley, was “awake and communicating.” Of course, when we do receive an update, we’ll let you know.

Meanwhile, the Rolex 24 has crossed the halfway point with the twin Action Express Racing Corvette DP machines fighting it out with the No. 02 Chip Ganassi Racing Riley/Ford Ecoboost for overall supremacy.

Ganassi’s sister car, the No. 01, has fallen 32 laps off the pace following repairs for damage to the right-front portion of the car. MRN Radio reported that driver Scott Pruett had something break on the car and then slammed into the outside wall while he was exiting the backstretch “bus stop” chicane.

Pruett was seeking to earn a record sixth Rolex 24 triumph, but it appears he’ll have to wait until 2015 to break that tie with fellow sports car legend Hurley Haywood.

Christian Fittipaldi, driving the No. 5 Action Express machine, gave up the lead to pit under green just before the 12-hour mark, handing the lead to Scott Dixon in the Ganassi No. 02. Tony Kanaan is slated to take over for Dixon at the next opportunity. The other Action Express machine, the No. 9 of Burt Frisselle, was second.

Also leading at 12 hours were Porsche North America’s No. 911 and 912 in GTLM, CORE autosport’s No. 54 in PC, and Level 5 Motorsports’ No. 555 Ferrari in GTD.

UPDATE (12:45 a.m. ET): It’s past midnight, but it’s not quite the 12-hour mark yet. Since we last checked in…

Sebastien Bourdais called some of the gentlemen drivers “terrorists” when it came to lapping them.

Scott Dixon is hunting down Joao Barbosa like a scalded cat.

Both SRT Vipers had issues that took them out of contention.

And RSR Racing’s No. 09 and Starworks Motorsport’s No. 78 have reached the end of the road.

Otherwise, it’s still rolling here in Daytona.

UPDATE (10:10 p.m. ET): It’s 10:10 p.m. in Daytona, and the No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing Corvette DP leads overall. It’s in the hands of the young man with the mullet, Jordan Taylor.

Other class leaders are the No. 911 Porsche North America Porsche 911 RSR (GTLM), No. 54 CORE autosport ORECA FLM09 (PC) and No. 63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 458 Italia GT3 (GTD).

More than eight hours are in the books, officially one third of the 24-hour race. It’s dark, it’s cool, there’s been a number of contact incidents and a handful of yellow flags.

The top eight overall and prototypes and top seven in GTLM are all still on the same lap. The PC and GTD classes are a little more spread out.

UPDATE (9:02 p.m. ET): James Sofronas has been released from the infield care center after having the entire front end of his No. 32 GMG Racing Audi R8 ripped off in a multi-car incident that also caused then-race leader Max Angelelli to spin while avoiding the debris.

Sofronas appeared to be turned into the wall that separates pit road from the track in the infield section. Shortly after safety teams arrived on the scene, he climbed out of the wrecked Audi under his own power.

Angelelli managed to come through unscathed despite his spin, but wound up losing the lead. He has now been replaced in the No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing Corvette DP by Jordan Taylor, his 2013 GRAND-AM championship partner.

Mike Rockenfeller currently leads overall in the No. 90 Spirit of Daytona Corvette DP. Other class leaders are the No. 3 Corvette (GTLM), No. 8 Starworks ORECA (PC), and No. 48 Paul Miller Racing Audi (GTD).

UPDATE (8:42 p.m. ET): IMSA has confirmed that Memo Gidley and Matteo Matucelli, the two drivers involved in this afternoon’s horrific accident during the third hour, are “awake and communicating and undergoing further observation” according to a tweet from its official account. IMSA adds that they will have more updates as they become available.

UPDATE (8:24 p.m. ET): NASCAR Sprint Cup rookie Kyle Larson and four-time Champ Car World Series champion Sebastien Bourdais have taken control of two of the top contending cars in this year’s Rolex 24 at Daytona. However, Larson has had an inauspicious start to his sports car racing debut in the No. 02 Chip Ganassi Racing Riley/Ford Ecoboost.

Before the six-hour mark, Larson took over for 2013 Indianapolis 500 winner Tony Kanaan, who had been running second overall. But right after getting into the car, Larson got popped for speeding on pit road and had to come back to serve a stop-and-go penalty.

Shortly after that episode, the caution came out for debris with Larson having fallen to eighth while Bourdais was up to second in the No. 5 Action Express Racing Corvette DP behind new leader Max Angelelli in the No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing Corvette DP. Before the yellow had come out, Angelelli had leapfrogged the AXR No. 5 in the pits while Christian Fittipaldi was making way for Bourdais.

After the green flag came out with 17 hours, 57 minutes remaining, Bourdais was dispatched by another IndyCar driver, Justin Wilson, now the current runner-up in the No. 60 Michael Shank Racing Riley/Ford Ecoboost.

Another NASCAR driver, veteran Jamie McMurray, has entered Ganassi’s No. 01 sister car to take over for Memo Rojas. Fox Sports reported that McMurray will be in the No. 01 for a triple stint.

Other class leaders include the No. 93 SRT Viper in GTLM, the No. 8 Starworks ORECA in PC, and the No. 555 Level 5 Motorsports Ferrari.

UPDATE (7:15 p.m. ET): Back under yellow past the five-hour mark for an incident involving the No. 09 RSR Racing PC car, which stopped off course. The former class-leading No. 08, in the hands of Alex Tagliani, Conor Daly, Chris Cumming and Rusty Mitchell, was assessed a controversial three-and-a-half minute penalty for what was deemed an illegal pass-around. Wayne Taylor’s done his stint aboard his own No. 10 Corvette DP; Max Angelelli has climbed aboard that car. Class leaders are Action Express Racing (No. 5, Corvette DP, P); SRT Motorsports (No. 91, SRT Viper GTS-R, GTLM); Starworks Motorsport (No. 7, ORECA FLM09, PC); and Level 5 Motorsports (No. 555, Ferrari 458 Italia GT3, GTD).

UPDATE (6:27 p.m. ET): Green-flag conditions have resumed in the Rolex 24 at Daytona after a short period of running under the yellow flag. An official update has not yet come in on Memo Gidley and Matteo Malucelli, both confirmed by IMSA to have been transported to Halifax.

UPDATE (5:34 p.m. ET): Multiple reports from Daytona state that both Memo Gidley and Matteo Malucelli are being transferred to nearby Halifax Health Medical Center, skipping the at-track medical center. Their conditions remain undisclosed at this time.

UPDATE (5:17 p.m. ET): A vicious accident involving the oncoming Memo Gidley in the pole-sitting No. 99 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Corvette DP and a slowing Matteo Malucelli in the No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari 458 Italia has marred the third hour of racing at the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

The incident took place near the kink in the infield section of the road course and has brought out the red flag, stopping the race.

Safety crews are now on the scene at this time, with Fox Sports reporting that Malucelli has been removed from his car and put into an ambulance. Fox also relayed word of a conversation between Malucelli and a Risi Competizione team member, in which Malucelli said he had lost all engine power and was slowing down.

No word has been given on the condition of either Malucelli or Gidley. As soon as we get it, we’ll pass it along to you.

START, 3:30 p.m. ET: The TUDOR United SportsCar Championship is officially underway. One accident, for the GTD class No. 46 Fall-Line Motorsport Audi R8 driven by Charlie Putman, brought out the first yellow flag. Despite heavy contact from an apparent tire issue, Putman emerged out of his car OK.

GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing’s polesitting No. 99 Corvette DP, started by Alex Gurney, led the majority of the opening hour overall. Other class leaders included RSR Racing (No. 09) and Starworks Motorsport (No. 8) in PC, the SRT Vipers (No. 93 and 91) in GTLM and a Paul Miller Racing Audi R8 (No. 48) and SMP/ESM Racing Ferrari 458 GT3 (No. 72) in GTD.

But at the one-hour mark, Action Express Racing (No. 5 Corvette DP) led overall with Joao Barbosa driving before the car needed to serve a drive-through penalty. SRT’s No. 93 (GTLM), Starworks’ sister No. 7 PC and the No. 73 Park Place Motorsports Porsche 911 GT America (GTD) were other class leaders.

The big mover was Starworks’ DP driver Brendon Hartley, who advanced as high as second overall in the No. 78 Dinan Riley after starting 64th overall.

Grace Autosport continuing to build program towards May

L to R: Grace Autosports Team Principal Beth Paretta and race driver Katherine Legge launch an all-female Indy 500 team to contest the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 in 2016 (PRNewsFoto/Grace Autosport)
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One of the newest teams planning to field an entry at this year’s 100th Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil, Grace Autosport, continues its preparations in what could be a hectic month of February.

The primarily female initiative, led by Beth Paretta with Katherine Legge as nominated driver, has gained traction in the last month or so with further meetings, STEM events and Legge’s standout drive in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season-opening race, the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

While announced last May, time is of the essence for securing both an engine lease and a team partner, to go along with the crew already established.

The target to confirm both the engine and team partner is coming up next month.

“[We’d need to finalize] by the beginning of March to give it proper time,” Paretta told NBC Sports in an interview following the Rolex 24.

Paretta was on site at Daytona for the Rolex 24 for a number of meetings with manufacturers and other key industry stakeholders, to continue to promote the Grace Autosport message, brand and team.

“Yes, there were a few key meetings – some planned, some impromptu – which went very well,” she said.

“The awareness still surprises me. I was wearing a Grace Autosport hat in the paddock and a few people asked me about the team. Many people in the racing community have said they think the concept is cool and have offered help.

“I get offers for help from some guys that have worked on teams I’ve worked with in the past, which is lovely.”

Legge’s drive at Daytona in the DeltaWing DWC13 coupe didn’t hurt matters, either.

The Tim Keene-led team opted not to qualify in the treacherous, rain-soaked conditions. Legge started the car and went from 13th and last in the Prototype class field up to third within the first 20 minutes, and led by the end of the first hour.

In a career that’s had occasional standout drives, this was one of them, and came at a good time.

“Her drive in the DeltaWing was just fantastic. While she was leading overall I was talking with some other racing drivers in pit lane and one said, almost dismissively, ‘Well, that car was really fast,’” Paretta said of Legge.

“Yes, it was, but she has been an integral part of the development of that car and part of the reason why it’s become faster. Any IMSA fan knows that the DeltaWing project has had a lot of challenges so I think to see it running up front was a nice surprise for many fans. People like an underdog so I think it was really exciting to watch her climb through the field and run up front.”

Legge was due to share the car with Andy Meyrick, Sean Rayhall and Andreas Wirth before Meyrick got caught up in a strange accident, where a radio issue meant Meyrick didn’t fully hear there was another PC car stopped on course in the middle of Turn 1.

Although Meyrick braked earlier than normal to avoid it, proved by the data, he still wound up hitting Chris Cumming’s stranded car which took the DeltaWing out of the race. Cumming’s PC car was also severely wounded.

The DeltaWing aside, where Legge and Grace really seek to make strides is in STEM events. Legge and Paretta recently did an event in Indianapolis with the Hoosier Association of Science Teachers, Inc., last week.

The STEM portion is a major component of the Grace Autosport effort.

“STEM and education for girls is the foundation of Grace Autosport. It isn’t a throwaway comment connecting racing with a ’cause.’ It is why we are racing,” Paretta said.

“Even though we have yet to turn a wheel, we are working with different groups supporting educational initiatives for girls and young women. We participated in the Society of Women Engineers’ annual conference, which was held in Nashville in October, and this week Katherine and I will be delivering the keynote address to a conference for science teachers in the State of Indiana.

“So STEM education isn’t a pet cause for us, it is the cause for what we are doing. We will be making a few more announcements in the coming months that we will explain how we will connect our message to the community and the classroom.”

Jake Eidson steps up to Pro Mazda with Cape in 2016

Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography
Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography
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Jake Eidson came up short of the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda championship last year, losing out to Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing’s Nico Jamin.

Now, at the next step on the Mazda Road to Indy ladder, they’ll be teammates.

Jamin was confirmed last week with Cape for his step up from USF2000 into the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires and this morning Eidson, the 20-year-old out of Littleton, Colorado, was confirmed as Cape’s second driver.

“I’m extremely grateful and excited to enter my first season of Pro Mazda and to rejoin Cape Motorsport with Wayne Taylor Racing,” Eidson offered.

“After finishing second in last year’s USF2000 championship, we weren’t sure if moving up to Pro Mazda was possible. When the season was over, we tested with the Capes and quickly knew that they have a winning team. Fortunately, we were able to make the 2016 season achievable.

“I know that my goal, as well as the team’s goal, is to aim for the top spot in the Pro Mazda championship and I have a lot of confidence in their ability to make it happen. This is a dream come true and I can’t wait to get started!”

It’s a natural progression for Eidson, who ran two full seasons in USF2000. His first came with Cape in 2014 where he finished third in points, before he moved to Pabst Racing and was one of only two drivers (Aaron Telitz) to pose a threat to Jamin as the year progressed.

Eidson is supported in his efforts by Rising Star Racing, DA Lubricants Company, Bell Helmets, OMP, Team USA Scholarship, and SafeisFast.

The top three USF2000 drivers all moving up to Pro Mazda is important for the second rung on the ladder; they’ll race arguably the championship favorite in Garett Grist plus his three young, hungry teammates at Juncos Racing, with other driver announcements to come in the coming days.

Red Bull GRC confirms Wild Horse Pass for season opener

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Phoenix was listed as the season opener for the 2016 Red Bull Global Rallycross season, but a location was not confirmed.

Today though, the series has confirmed where the Phoenix round will be held: at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park, the former Firebird Raceway.

It’s in Chandler, Arizona, technically, but it should still be a good spot for the season-opening doubleheader round.

The full release is below:

For the first time in series history, Red Bull Global Rallycross will visit the state of Arizona during the 2016 season. Red Bull GRC Phoenix, the season opener and first of four doubleheaders on the schedule, will take place at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park, one of the most diverse motorsports playgrounds in the United States.

“The southwest is a crucial market for Red Bull GRC, with many of our most passionate fans located in the region,” said Red Bull GRC CEO Colin Dyne. “The opportunity to bring our unique brand of racing to the Phoenix market for the first time was something we couldn’t pass up. Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park is the perfect setting for us as we look to open our finest season yet.”

Located just off of I-10, Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park is located only 15 minutes from downtown Phoenix, with ample parking and amenities on-site. Fans will be treated to a challenging and fast mile-long track, featuring the series’ signature 70-foot jump, and will be able to see all the action from great spectator areas overlooking the entire facility.

This will be the first time that a Red Bull GRC season begins with a doubleheader. Performing well in the opener has been a constant step towards winning a title, as no Red Bull GRC champion has ever finished worse than fourth in the first race of the year. Defending Supercar champion Scott Speed and defending GRC Lites champion Oliver Eriksson finished second and third in class, respectively, in last year’s opener; both drivers are expected to begin their title defense in Phoenix.

In no great surprise, McLaren also passes crash tests

xxxx during day four of Formula One Winter Testing at Circuit de Catalunya on February 22, 2015 in Montmelo, Spain.
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The new McLaren chassis, the MP4-31, has passed its crash tests ahead of the 2016 Formula 1 season, the team has confirmed today.

This means all 11 teams have had their new chassis complete the crash test and thus be ready for action starting with the first test of the winter February 22-25 at Barcelona, in Spain. Sauber has already indicated it will debut its new chassis at the second test.

McLaren, of course, will be looking for a better start to its season with race drivers Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button and reserve driver Stoffel Vandoorne. Alonso’s mysterious accident last spring at Barcelona ruled him out of the season-opening Australian Grand Prix.