Sports car racing may be confusing, but that’s no excuse for this graphic (PHOTOS)

Leave a comment

Yes, between the FIA World Endurance Championship (LMP1-H, LMP1-L, LMP2, GTE-Pro, GTE-Am), TUDOR United SportsCar Championship (P, PC, GTLM, GTD), Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge (GS, ST) and Pirelli World Challenge (GT, GT-A, GTS, TC, TCA, TCB) you have 15 different classes and two in-category subclasses (LMP1-L and PWC GT-A, respectively), so sports car racing is confusing.

Still, if you’re promoting an event, that’s still no excuse to not do some basic research as to which cars fit into which class when you’re creating a promotional poster for said event.

Hat tip to Rebellion Racing for finding this gem off the cotaexperiences.com website, in advance of the FIA WEC/IMSA combined weekend Sept. 19-20 at Austin’s Circuit of the Americas.

This GTE-Am group shot is littered with errors.

For 8Star Motorsports, the car pictured is a pre-bodywork update Corvette Daytona Prototype, that 8Star ran in the 2013 GRAND-AM Rolex Series DP class. 8Star this year runs a year-old Ferrari F458 Italia in the FIA WEC GTE-Am category; it also runs a PC class Oreca FLM09 in the TUDOR Championship, but its PC car would be just as irrelevant to GTE-Am as is this older DP.

AF Corse is misspelled as “AF Course.” And the chassis is the older model Ferrari F430 GT, which has been out of commission since 2010, before the introduction of the F458 in 2011. What’s particularly egregious here is that AF Corse ran no less than seven combined GTE-Pro and GTE-Am F458s in this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans… yet this creator decided to grab a four-year old car because, hey, it’s a red Ferrari, who’s going to know the difference?

The errors roll on in GTE-Am with the next car, which is a whopper. A customer Lola-Aston Martin LMP1 car from maybe 2007 or 2008 is utilized in the place of where the factory Aston Martin Racing Aston Martin Vantage should be placed. And again, come on guys, basic research here… AMR ran four Vantages at this year’s Le Mans, and actually won the GTE-Am class with the “Dane Train” No. 95 car. Instead, they’ve gone for this car. I’ll let Twitter user Fred Smith point out how much skill it takes to get a car this wrong.

Lastly, ProSpeed Competition rounds out this page with something that’s actually in range. The team had an older Porsche 911 GT3 RSR in its arsenal, and I believe the No. 75 car pictured here is the one drafted into last-minute action at this year’s Le Mans, and then shifted from the GTE-Am to GTE-Pro class where Jeroen Bleekemolen and Cooper MacNeil drove the race on their own. But this ProSpeed photo wouldn’t fit the comedy of errors without being wrong itself, too. The team runs a 991-spec Porsche 911 RSR in the FIA WEC this year, so the photo’s still wrong.

Like Rebellion Racing, which competes in the LMP1-L category with its Rebellion R-One Toyota, Aston Martin poked a bit of fun at this perplexing quartet when discussing the loved/hated acronym we all know from sports car racing: BoP (Balance of Performance).

The actual cars these teams – and the rest of the FIA WEC field – will be at Austin Sept. 19-20.

Cooper solidifies PWC GT presence with Callaway Corvette

Callaway, Cooper, Gill. Photo: PWC
Leave a comment

Pirelli World Challenge could use a “face” of the series from a driving standpoint, and American Michael Cooper is a good candidate to fill that role for 2018.

Cooper, 27, has won PWC Touring Car, GTS and, most recently the SprintX GT titles within the series and has quickly blossomed into one of the series’ top GT stars.

It’s been a rapid rise for the Syosset, N.Y. native, entering into a world filled with series stars and champions such as Johnny O’Connell, Patrick Long, Alvaro Parente and a host of others.

But under O’Connell’s tutelage, Cooper admirably filled the rather gaping shoes vacated by Andy Pilgrim at Cadillac Racing, steering the Cadillac ATS-V.R to multiple race wins in the last two years – including a sweep of this year’s season finale weekend at Sonoma.

Cooper and Jordan Taylor were the model of consistency in SprintX this year, winning once at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park and surviving contact at Circuit of The Americas to take that title.

With Cadillac withdrawing its ATS-V.R program at the end of the year though, Cooper was left a free agent for 2018. Fortunately with one door closed another opened, in the form of the GM-blessed but full Callaway Competition USA effort with its Callaway Corvette C7 GT3-R that will come Stateside next year. Cooper and Daniel Keilwitz will be in the team’s two cars for the full season; the car was fully unveiled last week at the PRI Show in Indianapolis.

The Callaway is a proven commodity in Europe but couldn’t run in the U.S. unless the path was cleared by one of GM’s factory programs to end a direct, potential head-to-head competition.

Moving from the Cadillac to the Callaway Corvette should be a natural transition, Cooper said last week.

“It worked out incredibly well that GM decided to allow Calloway to run the car in the United States and it created an opportunity for me that wouldn’t have been there otherwise,” he told NBC Sports. “I talked to a lot of other GT teams and at the end of the day, I felt like this was the best direction for me to be competitive next year and to also continue furthering my career with General Motors.”

Indeed Cooper has graduated from the Blackdog Speed Shop Chevrolet Camaro Z/28.R in GTS to the Cadillac and now to the Callaway Corvette. Cooper hailed the Cadillac team for what they did for his career growth.

“Working with Cadillac Racing has been instrumental in developing my abilities both on and off the track,” he said. “So I’m definitely a much more well-rounded driver now and have a lot of experience in the World Challenge GT field, so I kind of know what to expect going into that first race and going into that first corner in St. Pete.”

As noted, the car’s success in Europe means it’s a well-oiled machine by the time Reeves Callaway has worked with PWC to bring it Stateside next year. And as Cooper explained, discussions had been underway for a bit of time to ensure his presence in this car and team.

“I think the car is going to be extremely capable. It’s already won championships and races in Europe. I think, in bringing it over here, we’re going to hit the ground running straight away,” he said.

“Calloway had wanted me to come drive for them in July or August. We always kept in touch since then, and there was a lot of work trying to put together a program before they decided that they were going to do a fully fledged factory program. So once they made that decision, I think the pieces were kind of in place already, and the conversations had been had to be able to say ‘You’re going to be our guy.’”

December is late for IMSA programs to get finalized, but it’s relatively early for PWC, with the season not starting until mid-March in St. Petersburg. An extensive testing program should follow, as Callaway establishes its U.S. base and infrastructure.

“It’s definitely early for a Pirelli World Challenge program to be announced in December when we start racing in March. So that’s very good,” he said. “But, the team has a lot of work ahead of them in terms of getting infrastructure set up here in the United States, because a lot of their racing program has been in Europe. So, there will be a testing program, but they have to get the infrastructure in place first. But, we’ll be well prepared for St. Pete, I’m certain of it.

“Last year was the first year when I could sit back, kick my feet up, and know what I was doing next year. So, to be able to have everything done and be able to announce it this early on makes my life less stressful and now I can just focus on preparing myself and my team for next year.”