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Sebring 12-hour race updates (UPDATED; 10 Hours)

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The 62nd running of the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring is underway. Some race updates follow:

HOUR 10

In brief, anyone could win in three of the four classes by this point. Nine Prototypes, six GTLM and four GTD cars are all on the lead lap. The battle in P is between DP and P2-spec cars, which was unlikely to occur at Daytona.

HOUR EIGHT

Extreme Speed Motorsports’ HPD ARX-03bs were the star fighters to the DPs as the race settled into a rhythm over the last two hours. Unfortunately for the leading No. 2 car, driven by Johannes van Overbeek, contact with the No. 48 Paul Miller Racing Audi R8 LMS at Turn 17 has eliminated that. “JVO” pitted for repairs after the two collided; the Miller car wasn’t sure the HPD was there.

That contact promoted the No. 5 Action Express Racing Corvette DP to the lead, with other class leaders CORE autosport (PC), Corvette Racing’s No. 4 Corvette C7.R (GTLM) and AIM Autosport’s No. 555 Ferrari 458 Italia GT3 (GTD).

A number of GTD class cars had issues, either punctures, fuel pressure or paddle-shift related.

HOUR SIX

We’re halfway home, but holy yellow flags, Batman. There were eight of them in the first six hours, four of which were caused by the No. 87 BAR1 Motorsports ORECA FLM09 PC class car as one of several PC-related incidents.

That said, there were some proper racing highlights as this headed to the crossed flags mark. Sebastien Bourdais and Ryan Dalziel had a great scrap in the lead in the diverse combination of the Action Express Corvette DP and Extreme Speed Motorsports HPD ARX-03b. Then Justin Wilson and Sage Karam went toe-to-toe in the pair of Ford EcoBoost Rileys, Wilson for Michael Shank Racing and Karam for Chip Ganassi Racing.

PC has more or less been a battle of survival with the CORE autosport and RSR Racing having mostly clean races to this point. Unfortunately even that went awry before the 6-hour mark, when Alex Tagliani’s No. 08 car was tagged by Gaston Kearby in the aforementioned No. 87 car exiting Turn 16 in a violent accident.

In GTLM, Porsche, BMW and SRT Viper have thus far had trouble-free races. Same for most of the Ferraris, the Turner BMW and handful of Porsches in GTD.

But otherwise, this first half of this race has been weird.

HOUR FOUR

As if the Riley GTD Viper and Risi GTLM Ferrari incidents weren’t bad enough, things got worse when two PC class cars collided just past the four-hour mark.

The No. 38 Performance Tech entry driven by David Ostella wrecked on exit to Turn 17 and careened into the path of No. 52 PR1/Mathiasen entry of Frankie Montecalvo. Montecalvo spun into the pit in area and the race was briefly red flagged.

At the four-hour mark, where points were awarded for the Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup, the Nos. 02 Chip Ganassi Racing (P), 52 PR1/Mathiasen (PC), 91 SRT Viper GTS-R (GTLM) and 94 Turner Motorsport BMW Z4 GT3 (GTD) were class leaders.

HOUR THREE

Just at the end of the third hour, following a third full-course caution for two BAR1 Motorsports PC class cars colliding, things got worse in terms of contact.

Matteo Malucelli, in the rebuilt Risi Ferrari, spun off at Turn 1. Upon rejoining, he entered right on the racing line of corner exit and contacted Christina Nielsen’s No. 30 MOMO NGT Motorsport Porsche 911 GT America. It put the race under a fourth full-course caution. Several others took evasive action to avoid.

IndyCar champion Scott Dixon led overall at the three-hour mark in the No. 02 Chip Ganassi Racing Ford EcoBoost Riley.

HOUR TWO

The race settled into a rhythm after the first yellow flag. Klaus Graf took the overall lead through the most recent pit stop cycle in the No. 6 Muscle Milk Pickett Racing ORECA 03 Nissan.

Risi Competizione’s No. 62 Ferrari F458 Italia and the No. 911 Porsche North America Porsche 911 RSR battled for the GTLM class lead. RSR Racing (No. 09, PC) and Scuderia Corsa (No. 63, GTD) were other class leaders at the two-hour mark.

HOUR ONE

The majority of the first hour was run under a caution flag as Ben Keating had to stop his No. 33 Riley Motorsports SRT Viper GT3-R on track, just at Turn 6. A blaze ignited underneath the car and made a massive fire; Keating got out under his own power but with the car, torched, was taken back to the paddock on a flatbed.

As the pit stop cycle commenced, the DeltaWing racing team took the opportunity to stay out and lead under yellow. Andy Meyrick was behind the wheel of the No. 0 DeltaWing DWC13 cope.

Esteban Ocon secures Mercedes DTM seat for 2016

2015 GP3 Series Round 9
Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE.
Sunday 29 November 2015.
Esteban Ocon (FRA, ART Grand Prix) 
Photo: Sam Bloxham/GP3 Series Media Service.
ref: Digital Image _G7C8733
© GP3 Series
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2015 GP3 Series champion Esteban Ocon will race in the DTM championship this year with Mercedes in tandem with a reserve role in Formula 1 at Renault.

Ocon joined Mercedes’ junior program in the spring of 2015 before becoming a fully-fledged member at the end of the year just days before his GP3 title success.

The Frenchman was known to be considering a move into either DTM or GP2 for 2016, but will now replace F1-bound Pascal Wehrlein at Mercedes’ factory team for the new DTM campaign.

“It’s an incredible feeling to be part of such a professional and strong racing series,” Ocon said.

“I’m very pleased to be driving for Mercedes-Benz. It’s the best team in the DTM and I’m very grateful for this fantastic opportunity.

“Mercedes is the most successful manufacturer in DTM history. You can only achieve that with real passion and hard work, and those are characteristics that we share. After driving in free practice during the final race weekend of the 2015 season at Hockenheim, I can’t wait to start a DTM race.

“I obviously have a lot to learn, but my goal – and that of everyone in the team – is to fight for wins as soon as possible.”

Trident completes 2016 GP2 line-up with Armand

2015 GP2 Series Test 3.
Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
Friday 4 December 2015.
Philo Armand (INA, Status Grand Prix).
Photo: Zak Mauger/GP2 Series Media Service.
ref: Digital Image _L0U4261
© GP2 Series
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Trident has completed its line-up for the 2016 GP2 Series season by signing Indonesian driver Philo Paz Armand.

Armand has previously raced in a number of European Formula Renault 2.0 championships, and most recently took part in half of last year’s Formula Renault 3.5 rounds, scoring one point.

Armand will now step up to GP2 for the 2016 season, racing alongside 2015 GP3 runner-up Luca Ghiotto at Trident.

“We are very excited to start this collaboration with Philo and we are confident he will express all his talent thanks to the team’s help,” Trident team manager Giacomo Ricci said.

The grid for GP2’s support series, GP3, is also beginning to come together for the new season following the announcements of Tatiana Calderon and Honda junior Nirei Fukuzumi.

Calderon moves into GP3 from FIA F3 and will race for Carlin, while Fukuzumi joins ART Grand Prix, continuing the French squad’s association with Honda.

Marchionne calls for Alfa Romeo to consider F1 entry

LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 20:  The Alfa Romeo 4C on display at the Vanity Fair Campaign Hollywood Alfa Romeo Ride and Drive luncheon at The Polsky Residence on February 20, 2015 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Michael Buckner/Getty Images for Vanity Fair)
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Fiat-Chrysler CEO and Ferrari president Sergio Marchionne believes that Italian car manufacturer Alfa Romeo must consider entering Formula 1 with a team in the near future.

Alfa Romeo last raced as a constructor in F1 between 1979 and 1985, but has enjoyed no involvement within the series since 1988 when it supplied engines to the Osella team.

Marchionne believes that a return to F1 would be an effective way for Alfa Romeo to grow as a brand and gain more public awareness.

“In order to restore their name, they must consider returning to Formula 1,” Marchionne told Italian publication La Gazzetta dello Sport.

“Alfa Romeo are capable of making their own chassis, just like they are capable of making their own engine,” he added, before conceding that it could enjoy an engine supply from Ferrari should it wish to enter F1.

Marchionne believes that adding more manufacturers to the F1 grid is key to safeguarding the long-term future of the series.

“In the end this sport must be saved,” Marchionne said.

“The important thing is to make other car manufacturers enter grand prix racing.”

Grosjean unveils new helmet design for first F1 season with Haas

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© Romain Grosjean
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Romain Grosjean has revealed his new-look helmet design ahead of his first Formula 1 season with Haas in 2016.

NASCAR team co-owner Gene Haas won the race to get an F1 team on the grid back in 2014, and has spent the past 18 months meticulously planning its arrival in the sport.

Haas F1 Team’s full debut is now just five weeks away, with the first on-track test of its new car coming on February 22 in Barcelona.

Grosjean walked away from Lotus at the end of last year to join Haas for the new season, where he will race alongside former Ferrari reserve Esteban Gutierrez.

In a post on his Twitter account on Saturday, Grosjean unveiled his new helmet design for the 2016 season, featuring plenty of Haas signage.

Grosjean also revealed earlier this week that he would be racing with a tribute to Jules Bianchi on his helmet, who died at the age of 25 last July.