Lewis Hamilton a cut above in final day of Bahrain testing

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Capping a stellar run this week at the Bahrain International Circuit for Mercedes, Bahrain Grand Prix winner Lewis Hamilton paced today’s second and final day of Formula One testing.

Hamilton logged a lap of 1 minute, 34.136 seconds and turned 120 laps in the Mercedes W05. His time was 1.4 seconds ahead of the second-fastest time, which was set at 1 minute, 35.557 seconds by Toro Rosso’s Jean-Eric Vergne.

Mercedes later confirmed that Hamilton’s hot lap was set on a development tire from Pirelli, which got good use out of both Merc and Williams (with driver Felipe Nasr):

Yesterday, Hamilton’s teammate Nico Rosberg – who finished second to the former World Champion in the Grand Prix after a spirited late-race duel – topped the charts in Day 1 of the Bahrain test with a lap of 1 minute, 35.697 seconds.

McLaren rookie Kevin Magnussen was third-fastest today despite sustaining a suspension failure that threw him into a gravel trap before the lunch break.

Fourth-quickest was Sergio Perez of Force India, who turned in a 63-lap day, and Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo completed the Top 5 – albeit at almost 3.2 seconds off the pace of Hamilton.

Marussia’s Jules Bianchi was sixth on the charts, with the second-highest total of laps at 93. Giedo van der Garde stepped in for Sauber today and went P7.

Following the Dutchman was Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso (eighth), who had his day cut short when his F14 T chassis was found to be damaged.

“After the necessary checks were made, the team decided to bring the test to a premature end as a precautionary measure,” the team said in a statement that also disclosed that Alonso was to run a series of “set-up tests, carried out on data based from yesterday.”

Caterham rookie Marcus Ericsson was ninth-fastest but got 66 laps in until an electrical problem with his CT05’s Energy Recovery System caused him to stop the car on track and wound up ending his day.

Williams tester Nasr was 10th on the charts, with Lotus’ Romain Grosjean left in last place among the competitors. Like teammate Pastor Maldonado yesterday, he suffered a terminal issue on his Renault power unit.

FORMULA ONE TESTING – BAHRAIN, DAY TWO
Unofficial Times
1. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes – 1:34.136, 120 laps
2. Jean-Eric Vergne, Toro Rosso – 1:35.557, 64 laps
3. Kevin Magnussen, McLaren – 1:36.203, 26 laps
4. Sergio Perez, Force India – 1:36.586, 63 laps
5. Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull – 1:37.310, 67 laps
6. Jules Bianchi, Marussia – 1:37.316, 93 laps
7. Giedo van der Garde, Sauber – 1:37.623, 77 laps
8. Fernando Alonso, Ferrari – 1:37.912, 12 laps
9. Marcus Ericsson, Caterham – 1:39.263, 66 laps
10. Felipe Nasr, Williams – 1:39.879, 64 laps
11. Romain Grosjean, Lotus – 1:43.732, 16 laps

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.