Chevy, Ford, Toyota execs talk Sprint Cup season so far

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When NASCAR created its new rules package over the off-season for the Generation 6 cars, a key goal of the project was to boost the racing product on the 1.5-mile ovals, which make up a good portion of the schedule.

So far, the Sprint Cup Series has visited one of those tracks (Las Vegas) and will reach its second 1.5-miler this weekend at Texas Motor Speedway for the Duck Commander 500. Chevrolet vice president of performance vehicles and motorsports Jim Campbell is looking forward to seeing how the racing improves there.

“I think clearly Texas will be another datapoint for that,” said Campbell, who was joined on a NASCAR teleconference today by executive counterparts Jamie Allison of Ford and David Wilson of Toyota. “We’ve just had one race under our belt. I think actually we’re heading in the right area, and the racing has been quite good.

“But with only one race at that kind of category of a track, I think Texas will be another one to look at here and see how the racing is.”

Overall, however, the three executives indicated that the new package has been a step in the right direction for the Gen-6, which made its on-track debut last season.

Wilson, the president/GM of Toyota Racing Development, went so far as to call the collaboration between the sanctioning body and its manufacturers an “unqualified success,” adding that while their work together may not always yield a home run, “we’re going to hit them more often than not.”

“Each of us continues to reap the benefits of the Generation 6 cars introduced last year,” Wilson said. “Having our respective brand identities in front of the fans and letting the fans and letting the broadcasters talk about the rivalries between Ford, Chevy and Toyota, that’s what this sport was founded upon…We’re just delighted for that result.”

In recent years, NASCAR has implemented new projects pertaining to the sport’s technology, from ethanol fuel and fuel-injection technology to the Gen-6.

Ford Racing director Allison indicated that the next step to bring the race cars closer in line to the manufacturers’ road cars could involve bringing in some of the latter group’s interior features.

However, he feels that no matter which area of the car is targeted, that free-flowing dialogue between NASCAR and the manufacturers is essential.

“As long as we continue to look at the teams and the elements that are in the automotive sector and what is making its way into production cars and then having an open conversation with the sanctioning series about what product, what categories, what elements could be timely considered – that is the process that we the manufacturers are advocating for,” he said.

Rebellion confirms LMP1 return, all-star line-up for WEC super season

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Rebellion Racing has confirmed it will return to the LMP1 class of the FIA World Endurance Championship for the 2018/19 ‘super season’ with an all-star line-up featuring Le Mans winners Neel Jani and Andre Lotterer.

Rebellion raced in LMP1 as a privateer between 2009 and 2016 before stepping down to LMP2 for the most recent season, capturing the class titles at the first attempt.

Following a push from the WEC and Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO) to make LMP1 more appealing to privateer teams, Rebellion announced on Wednesday it would return to the premier class for the 2018/19 season with a two-car effort.

WEC LMP2 champion Bruno Senna will return with Rebellion next year, as will Mathias Beche, with the pair set to be joined by four new faces.

The most notable arrivals are Porsche factory drivers Lotterer and Jani, both of whom were left without an LMP1 drive following the closure of the German manufacturer’s program at the end of the season.

American racer Gustavo Menezes will also join Rebellion, stepping up after two years in LMP2, while outstanding 2017 rookie Thomas Laurent completes the Swiss team’s line-up.

“I am looking forward to coming back where my endurance career started nine years ago,” said Jani.

“Rebellion Racing played a huge role in my career and also helped me become a factory driver for Porsche. When Porsche stopped in LMP1, it was clear for me that I wanted to race again for Rebellion.

“With the new regulations, I hope we can reach the overall podium at Le Mans and with a bit of luck, maybe we can even grab some wins during the super season of WEC.”

“I am very happy to join the champion Rebellion team,” added three-time Le Mans winner Lotterer.

“The LMP1 project is very exciting and to be able to go on with the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the FIA WEC challenge is something I did not want to miss.

“I am motivated and looking forward to have a great time with great people there.”