IMSA: Ganassi, Corvette Racing take Long Beach wins

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Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas have gone back-to-back in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship. The pair took their No. 01 Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates Ford EcoBoost Riley to a controlled but dominant victory in the Patron Showcase at Long Beach, Round 3 of the season.

Pruett, Rojas and Marino Franchitti took the first win for the new engine last time out in the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring. This 100-minute race, the pole sitting car was the class of the field.

Despite a late rally, Jordan Taylor was unable to close the gap in the newly sponsored Konica Minolta No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing Corvette DP. He and older brother Ricky finished second.

In third was the Action Express Racing Corvette DP, the No. 5 co-driven by Christian Fittipaldi and Joao Barbosa.

In GTLM, Corvette Racing took the win for the new C7.R, the pole sitting No. 3 entry co-driven by Jan Magnussen and Antonio Garcia. Garcia started after Magnussen stuck the thing on pole on Friday, and got out to a big lead as the No. 2 Extreme Speed Motorsports HPD ARX-03b was in-between it and the rest of the GTLM field.

There was a great battle for second behind them, with the No. 56 BMW Team RLL BMW Z4 GTE of John Edwards and Dirk Mueller holding off the second Corvette C7.R, the No, 4 of Oliver Gavin and Tommy Milner.

The race ran caution-free, although there were still several retirements due to mechanical issues. The No. 60 Michael Shank Racing Ford EcoBoost Riley, which started second, had two instances where it had nowhere else to go.

In three weeks, all four TUDOR Championship classes return to action at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in May. The P/GTLM and returning PC/GTD classes will run separate two-hour races.

Fernando Alonso completes first test with United Autosports

Photo: United Autosports
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Two-time Formula 1 World Champion Fernando Alonso enjoyed his first outing with United Autosports, with whom he will contest the 2018 Rolex 24 at Daytona, in their Ligier JS P217 LMP2 chassis.

The McLaren Formula 1 driver completed the test at Motorland Aragon in Spain alongside co-driver Phil Hanson, who will be a teammate with Alonso at next year’s 24-hour Daytona enduro. Filipe Albuquerque, a former GT class winner at the Rolex 24, was also on hand to help Alonso and the team ahead of Alonso’s first run in an LMP2 car, which comes only a couple days after he made his LMP1 testing debut with Toyota. Albuquerque races with Mustang Sampling Racing in IMSA, but will return to United’s European Le Mans Series program for all but one race in 2018.

“I had a great first test with United Autosports. Obviously, we are on a really tight schedule between now and Daytona, but it was nice to jump in the car for the first time,” said Alonso, who will rejoin the team at the official Roar Before the 24 test on January 5-7.

Alonso added, “There’s quite a few switches and things to study so it was important to do this initial shakedown before Daytona, so I could fully learn about the car. I’m happy with everything – the car felt great and the team were fantastic. The atmosphere here is wonderful, like a big family, so today has been amazing. I cannot wait for Daytona.”

Team owner Zak Brown, who also serves as executive director of McLaren Technology Group and helps lead the McLaren Formula 1 effort, shared Alonso’s enthusiasm and was not surprised he was able to acclimate himself relatively quickly.

“Fernando’s first test with United Autosports went awesome as expected. He is a world champion and it is a pleasure to have him in our car,” he said of Alonso’s debut with the team.

Alonso is currently schedule to contest the Rolex 24 with the aforementioned Hanson and McLaren test driver Lando Norris.