Consistency pleases Alonso, but progress is needed (VIDEO)

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Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso has said that he is pleased with the points that the team has picked up in the first two races of the 2014 Formula 1 season, but he believes that progress needs to be made if the Italian marque is to challenge Mercedes and Red Bull for race wins.

Alonso finished today’s Malaysian Grand Prix in fourth place, capitalizing on Daniel Ricciardo’s bad luck to gain a position after spending most of the race in P5. Despite lying third in the drivers’ championship with 24 points, Alonso has said that the team is still on the back foot.

“It was okay,” Alonso explained to NBCSN’s Will Buxton. “We didn’t have the pace, the chance to fight with Mercedes and Red Bull today. They were a little bit too fast for us. But we managed to get this fourth place like in Australia. It gives us a valuable 12 points which puts us 3rd in the drivers’ championship one point behind Hamilton, some points in front of some of the favorites.

“That is probably the positive news about these two grands prix, the drivers points and championship points.

“On the other side, we know that the performance is not quite there yet, so we will work hard in the next couple of points because we want to close that gap.”

The Spanish driver brought home Ferrari’s only points from Malaysia after a first-lap run-in for Kimi Raikkonen meant that the Finn spent the rest of the race languishing outside of the points.

The Callaway Corvette GT3 is coming to America, in PWC

Photo: Callaway Competition USA
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Pirelli World Challenge has been in need of some good news from a car count standpoint early into this offseason, and receives it Monday with confirmation Callaway Competition will bring its GT3-spec homologated Corvette C7 GT3-R Stateside next season.

The withdrawal of the factory Cadillac Racing program after PWC’s season finale in Sonoma in September has opened the door for the factory-blessed Corvette C7 GT3-R to run in North America, because Cadillac’s ATS-V.R has been the lone GT3-spec car under the General Motors awning for the last three seasons, while the Callaway Corvette has raced only internationally.

Reeves Callaway has been on site at the tail end of the PWC season to survey the opportunity and now a deal has been struck for a factory effort to run next year, before the Callaway Corvette program becomes a customer effort in 2019. This follows the same timeline as Acura did with its new NSX GT3 this year to run it as a factory program in 2017 before shifting to customer efforts in 2018.

“Joining the Pirelli World Challenge has been a long term objective for Callaway Competition,” Callaway said in a release. “Now the field is a roll-call of the most capable sports cars from every country. To do well here, you must beat the best in the world. What better way to showcase our iconic American car?

“For 2018, we will run a Callaway factory team to give us the best chance of continuing the championship record the Corvette has achieved in international competition. For 2019, we will not race against our customers, but provide high-quality support to them in the tradition of other manufacturer customer racing support programs.”

“For several years fans have asked when they would see the Callaway Corvette GT3 run in the Pirelli World Challenge,” added Greg Gill, President and CEO of Pirelli World Challenge. “The wait is over and we are very pleased to announce the arrival of the Callaway Corvette GT3 for the 2018 season.”

The Callaway Competition USA Corvette C7 GT3-R will be unveiled and both full season drivers announced at the Performance Racing Industry show in Indianapolis on December 7 at the Pirelli World Challenge booth. Following the unveiling event, the car will be on display for the remainder of the trade show. Details of the presentation will be announced in the coming weeks.

Callaway’s confirmation comes amidst the likely drawdown of potentially nine or 10 cars that raced in PWC’s GT and GTA ranks either all season or most of it in 2017, among at least five manufacturers. That’s not to say those losses can’t be recouped elsewhere on the grid, over the next several months before the St. Petersburg season opener in March.

PWC will hold its annual state of the series and competitor meeting to finalize the next year’s plans at the PRI show as well.