Photo courtesy of IMSA

Jani, Rebellion secure the pole for 12 Hours of Sebring

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SEBRING, Fla. – A Rebellion defeated the Galactic Empire (the trio of Cadillac DPi-V.Rs) in the first battle to win the war that is Saturday’s Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, with Neel Jani’s LMP2-spec Oreca 07 Gibson emerging ahead of Christian Fittipaldi’s Daytona Prototype international (DPi)-spec Cadillac for pole.

Full qualifying reports are below:


Jani has delivered Rebellion Racing the overall pole for Saturday’s Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring with a record (since IMSA merger of 2014) lap time at the 17-turn, 3.74-mile Sebring International Raceway circuit.

Jani uncorked a flier of 1:48.178, which smashed the previous mark of 1:51.152 set in 2015 by Olivier Pla, in a previous generation LMP2-spec car, the Ligier JS P2 Judd for Krohn Racing.

Jani shares Rebellion’s No. 13 Oreca 07 Gibson with Nick Heidfeld and Sebastien Buemi.

It was less than a tenth ahead of the top of the Daytona Prototype international (DPi) car, Christian Fittipaldi in the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R at 1:48.273.

Fittipaldi and Joao Barbosa, who won overall at Sebring with Sebastien Bourdais for the Action Express team in 2015, roll off second with third driver Filipe Albuquerque; the trio finished second at Daytona.

The second Action Express car, the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Racing Cadillac qualified by Dane Cameron, starts third.

The No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac, which won the Rolex 24, starts sixth with the car shared by Ricky and Jordan Taylor and U.S. debutante Alex Lynn.


Two of the three Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GTs completed a front row lockout in the GT Le Mans class.

The two U.S.-based, Indianapolis-housed entries were 1-2 with Ryan Briscoe edging Dirk Mueller for the pole position. Briscoe’s time in the No. 67 Ford he shares with Richard Westbrook and Scott Dixon was 1:55.931, which was nearly a full 2.5 seconds faster than last year’s pole, Bill Auberlen at 1:58.402 in a BMW M6 GTLM.

Mueller laid down a 1:56.175 in the No. 66 Ford, which looked good before Briscoe’s lap. Mueller, Joey Hand and Sebastien Bourdais are going for both their own and Ford’s triple endurance race sweep at Le Mans, Daytona and Sebring and will start their quest from second.

The pair of Corvette C7.Rs, which themselves have split the last two Sebring races between them, start third and fifth with the No. 4 car qualified by Tommy Milner ahead of the No. 3 car qualified by Antonio Garcia. Kevin Estre split the pair of yellow Corvettes in his No. 912 Porsche 911 RSR. Top BMW was Nicky Catsburg in eighth, at 0.678 off the pole.

Nine of the top 10 cars in class were separated by 0.721 of a second, with the only exception the No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari 488 GTE of Giancarlo Fisichella more than 1.5 seconds off the pace.


Past Pro Mazda combatants Tristan Vautier and Connor De Phillippi relived their open-wheel battle for supremacy now in sports cars, both having found homes in their new teams, in the quest for GT Daytona class pole at Sebring.

Vautier took the top spot in the No. 75 SunEnergy1 Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 to deliver the car its first IMSA pole, having obliterated last year’s track record. Vautier’s pole lap was 1:59.738, more than 2.5 seconds quicker than Jeff Segal’s last year in the debuting No. 63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 488 GT3 at 2:02.350.

The French driver now lives in North Carolina near the team’s headquarters, and shares the car with Kenny Habul and Boris Said.

De Phillippi, meanwhile will start the No. 29 Montaplast by Land-Motorsport Audi R8 LMS from the same position the car finished at the Rolex 24 at Daytona, second. His best lap of 2:00.490 was over seven tenths of a second in arrears. He shares the car with Christopher Mies and Jules Gounon.

Posting an impressive run to third was Corey Lewis in the No. 16 Change Racing Lamborghini Huracán GT3, which is a built up new chassis after an accident at Daytona. Lewis, who was in potential win position at Sebring last year for Robby Benton’s team before passing the pace car to trigger an improper wave around, shares the car with fellow youngsters Jeroen Mul and Brett Sandberg; Mul is new to Sebring.

The pair of 3GT Racing Lexus RC F GT3 entries clocked in fourth and fifth for their second race, the No. 15 car qualified by Robert Alon ahead of the No. 14 car qualified by Scott Pruett.

Christina Nielsen qualified the No. 63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 10th as the team looks for a rebound after an engine issue halted their Daytona hopes and after she, Alessandro Balzan and Segal won here last year. This year’s Daytona winners Alegra Motorsports start 12th, with Daniel Morad qualifying the team’s No. 28 Porsche 911 GT3 R. NBCSN IndyCar analyst Townsend Bell is 15th on the grid in the No. 23 Alex Job Racing Audi R8 LMS.


Gustavo Yacaman took the PC class pole in the No. 26 BAR1 Motorsports Oreca FLM09, his first WeatherTech Championship pole since 2014 at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park before he won the race overall in an OAK Racing Morgan Nissan. Yacaman shares the car with Colin Thompson, Marc Drumwright and Chapman Ducote. Yacaman’s pole time of 1:53.506 beat last year’s pole time by more than 2.3 seconds set by Tom Kimber-Smith, which was a 1:55.843.

Rolex 24 winners Performance Tech Motorsports start second after James French qualified its No. 38 car; he shares that car with Pato O’Ward and Kyle Masson. French only just missed the pole at a lap of 1:53.575.

VIDEO: A unique look at Mexico’s famous Carrera Panamericana

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Since returning to the Formula 1 calendar in 2015, the Mexican Grand Prix has already established itself as one of the sport’s most exciting and vibrant races, with hundreds of thousands of fans flocking to the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in Mexico City.

In order to get a flavor of Mexico’s rich racing heritage, NBCSN pit reporter Will Buxton took time out of his summer break to explore Mexico City and also take part in the famous Carrera Panamericana road race.

The Carrea Panamericana is Mexico’s equivalent of the Mille Miglia, initially acting as a border-to-border sportscar event before being cancelled in 1955.

The race was revived in the 1980s, and continues to this day, offering drivers a gruelling, week-long challenge against the clock at high speed on public highways through the mountains of central Mexico.

2017’s Formula 1 race is set to be a poignant one for Mexico following the devastating 7.1 magnitude earthquake that struck earlier this week, claiming the lives of over 200 people.

With the race set to go ahead as planned, it will be an important statement of unity from Mexico when it welcomes F1 at the end of October, the grand prix taking place on October 29 and acting as another chapter in the nation’s steeped motorsport history.

Mexico’s only F1 driver, Sergio Perez, has set up a fund through which donations can be made to help those affected by the earthquake with full details below.

Donations can also be made via PayPal by clicking here.

F1/IndyCar clashes frequent for 2018 as schedules shape up

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The latest meeting of the World Motor Sport Council may not have yielded much in the way of groundbreaking news, but the confirmation of Formula E and the World Endurance Championship’s 2018 schedules did help us get a grip on next year’s racing calendar.

Perhaps the most notable thing with next year’s schedules is the heavy reduction in clashes between the FIA’s three premier track championships – F1, Formula E and WEC – next year, making good on its plans for calendar harmonization moving forward.

WEC confirmed its ‘super season’ schedule earlier this month, stretching 13 months from May 2018 to June 2019, and added Silverstone last week, with the calendar gaining FIA approval in Paris.

Of the 2018 WEC rounds, there is just one clash with another FIA track championship: between the 6 Hours of Fuji and the F1 United States Grand Prix on the October 21 weekend.

While the more pressing worry for drivers is between WEC and Formula E after the July 16 debacle this year, no WEC and F1 clashes is good news for Fernando Alonso, who could well appear at Le Mans next year as part of his Triple Crown bid.

Formula E does have a number of F1 clashes, albeit not until the sixth event of its season, with the Rome race being held on the April 15 weekend where the Bahrain Grand Prix also sits (for now – China is due to swap dates).

Other Formula E and F1 clashes come on April 29 (Paris/Azerbaijan), June 10 (Zurich/Canada) and July 29 (Montreal/Hungary), although by shifting the New York City ePrix back one week to July 14-15, a gap has been found in the schedule.

For those operating across all three series (including yours truly), there is now a busy run between the start of the F1 season in Australia and the start of the summer break in Hungary with just three empty weekends.

As for IndyCar clashes? The condensed nature of the series’ schedule and the expansion of F1’s calendar to 21 races means they are inevitable. That said, as IndyCar is outside of the FIA’s realm of control, it was never really in the mix for its harmonization plans.

Yet again there is a clash between the Indianapolis 500 and the Monaco Grand Prix, sadly something we have become accustomed to in recent years, but over half the IndyCar calendar faces an F1 clash next year. There may be further ones to come when a couple other race dates get announced.

Here’s a full run-down of the F1/IndyCar double dip weekends thus far:

April 7-8: Chinese GP, Phoenix Grand Prix
April 14-15: Bahrain GP, Grand Prix of Long Beach
May 12-13: Spanish GP, Indianapolis GP
May 26-27: Monaco GP, Indianapolis 500
June 9-10: Canadian GP, Texas 600
June 23-24: French GP, Road America GP
July 7-8: British GP, Iowa Corn 300
August 25-26: Belgian GP, Gateway 500
September 15-16: Singapore GP, Sonoma GP

Bahrain, China ‘on-track’ to swap F1 race dates for 2018

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Next year’s Formula 1 races in China and Bahrain are “on-track” to swap dates in order to maximize their local exposure, according to the sport’s commercial chief, Sean Bratches.

The provisional F1 schedule for 2018 lists the Chinese Grand Prix as the second round of the season, taking place on April 8, with the Bahrain Grand Prix taking place one week later on April 15.

However, plans are afoot to swap the races around due to the Qingming national holiday that is set to take place in China on the April 8 weekend, potentially having a negative impact on crowd numbers at the Shanghai International Circuit.

“We’re trying to take into account global events, local events, religious holidays and things to ensure we’re maximizing the opportunity for fans to attend the grands prix,” Bratches told Reuters.

“We’re talking to both of them to that end and if we can reach a mutually agreed upon solution, which appears to be on-track to happen, you’ll probably see that,” he said.

No updates were made to the F1 schedule for 2018 at the latest meeting of the World Motor Sport Council in Paris this week, meaning no switch between Bahrain and China will be ratified until the start of December at the earliest.

NASCAR America: Scott Speed’s quest for Red Bull GRC three-peat

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Red Bull Global Rallycross points leader Scott Speed is going for his third consecutive championship next month (Saturday, October 14, 4:30 p.m. ET, NBC from Los Angeles) for the Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross team.

Prior to that, he joined Thursday’s edition of NBCSN’s NASCAR America, checking in with his former Red Bull Racing teammate Brian Vickers, show host Carolyn Manno and analyst Steve Letarte.

Speed talked teammate dynamics – he and Tanner Foust have been the class of the Red Bull GRC field for several years – and what it takes to succeed in the diverse championship that features racing on both pavement and dirt.

“Tanner comes from more of a more rally background and I come from more of an open-wheel, road course background,” Speed explained. “You have to meet in the middle and often times that creates success. Our personalties are polar opposites and that’s a good thing.”

One other thing Speed addressed was Austin Cindric’s couple notable incidents in the last month or so. Going for his maiden NASCAR Camping World Truck Series win, Cindric hit Kaz Grala at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park to move for the lead and ultimately the win.

Cindric then made his GRC Supercars debut at the most recent weekend in Seattle and the two collided after a miscommunication in a preliminary race, prior to the Joker section of the course.

“He’s a young kid with not a lot of experience. He’s made a couple big mistakes. He came in like a wrecking ball,” Speed laughed.

“I was more mad because the car couldn’t restart at first. But it did, and we got going.”