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Vettel keen to avoid overhyping Hamilton F1 clash, wants to move on

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Sebastian Vettel has called on the Formula 1 community to move on from his clash with Lewis Hamilton behind the safety car in Azerbaijan two weeks ago, having apologized to his rival and expressed his regret over the incident.

Vettel was deemed to have driven dangerously when he gave Hamilton’s car a side-swipe in Baku, reacting after believing he was brake-tested by the Mercedes driver.

Vettel was hit with an in-race penalty before being further investigated by the FIA, who opted against taking further action when the Ferrari racer took full responsibility for his actions.

Facing the media in Thursday’s FIA press conference in Austria, Vettel said that he would like to move on from the incident after speaking privately with Hamilton to clear things up.

“I had the chance to quickly talk to Lewis after the race but I don’t want to pump this up more than it is already,” Vettel said.

“I think it is my right, our right, to keep this between us. But I think I’ve said everything I need to say.

“I think it was the wrong decision. Obviously I got a penalty in the race and lost a potential race win. We couldn’t foresee Lewis was running into a problem with his headrest but it could have been a lot more points at stake.

“It was the wrong move to drive alongside him and hit his tires. That’s what you’re all here to hear about, but there’s not much more to talk about.

“At the time I was surprised, it felt like Lewis hit the brakes and I couldn’t stop running into the back of his car but as I said in the statement and afterwards I don’t think there was any intention and that he actually brake-tested me.

“That’s why I was upset and overreacted. Am I proud of moment? No. Can I take it back? No. Do I regret it? Yes.

“So I don’t think we need to drag it out any further.”

With the clash now behind him, Vettel has turned his attention to this weekend’s Austrian Grand Prix where he does not think the incident will have any bearing on his decisions behind the wheel.

“I am quite happy to get into the car tomorrow. I think come practice, come race day you try to do your best,” Vettel said.

“Obviously you’re very busy driving the car, when you fight someone. We know that overtaking is not easy so I don’t think you have much time to think, you’re planning an overtake etc.

“I think here I would say that it doesn’t impact on the next race and who you’re racing.”

The clash with Hamilton was not the first example of Vettel’s emotions boiling over behind the wheel, with the four-time champion risking the wrath of the FIA in Mexico last year when he insulted the race director over the radio.

Vettel was asked directly in Thursday’s press conference if he felt he had a problem with his temperament, to which he said: “I don’t think so. I can see why you might believe it’s not.

“I think I have faced a lot of situations which have been quite hot, but I don’t think so.”

GAINSCO partners with JDC-Miller for Simpson, Goikhberg

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The bright yellow No. 85 JDC-Miller Motorsports Oreca 07 Gibson, nicknamed the “JDC Banana Boat,” will morph into the latest incarnation of the bright red “Red Dragon” for 2018.

The now GAINSCO Auto Insurance-backed No. 99 JDC-Miller Motorsports Oreca 07 Gibson will run the full 2018 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season, and the new livery will be revealed at the Roar before the Rolex 24.

GAINSCO revealed last month it wouldn’t run its own team, having partnered with Bob Stallings Racing for more than a decade with great success in GRAND-AM Rolex Series competition. But it was still going to partner with a team and received multiple proposals from other teams. The initial deal with JDC-Miller Motorsports is one year for 2018 with an option for 2019, but both parties envision this growing into a multi-year deal.

The last few years the team has run only on-and-off, with a one-off appearance in the 2014 Rolex 24 at Daytona as Alex Gurney scored pole, but a devastating accident for Memo Gidley having left him seriously injured. Gidley has made significant strides in his recovery.

Since that point, GAINSCO/BSR moved into Pirelli World Challenge, running first a Hyundai Genesis, then a McLaren 650S GT3, and then a Porsche 911 GT3 R with Gurney’s longtime co-driver Jon Fogarty. The same level of success was hard to find and while the team scored several podium finishes, wins eluded them over two years.

Alas, this provides John Church’s quality operation a major supporter both from visibility and agent standpoints, as GAINSCO is one of the biggest at-track activators in the sport. Primary drivers Stephen Simpson and Misha Goikhberg continue for the full season with Chris Miller the third driver for Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup rounds.

A fourth driver will be named later (likely within the next week to 10 days), but won’t be Jon Fogarty, as Bob Stallings offered him the opportunity but Fogarty declined owing to other business commitments.

“We offered Jon Fogarty the opportunity, took a couple days (to think), he couldn’t feature anyone else driving but him… he has successful business ventures and that takes priority at this time,” Stallings said.

Church and Stallings. Photo courtesy of GAINSCO Racing

Stallings, Executive Chairman of GAINSCO, as well as the founder of the GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Race team, recently decided not to run his own race team, but is committed to continuing the legacy of the Red Dragon by partnering with an organization capable of a long-term winning program.

“We had many opportunities to continue our quest for championships and JDC-Miller MotorSports was an easy pick,” said Stallings of the Minnesota-based team. “John Church and John Miller have established themselves as a team to be reckoned with, even against the formidable competition in IMSA.”

“We are very honored to gain the support of GAINSCO Auto Insurance and to carry on the livery of the No. 99 Red Dragon,” Church added. “It was immediately evident that the GAINSCO folks are as committed as we are.  This is a tremendous opportunity for JDC-Miller MotorSports and we look forward to the season ahead.”

Andy Jordan, Sr. Vice President of Marketing and Business Development led the search for the GAINSCO’s 2018 racing partnership.

“We were amazed and flattered by the amount of interest we received from teams who felt their racing programs would be elevated by an opportunity to partner with us and run the famous “Red Dragon” livery.  There were several important considerations for GAINSCO; the team had to compete at the highest level, and it had to feel like the kind of family we could be a part of and believe in.

“JDC-Miller Motorsports was the team we kept coming back to.  They race prototypes, they are great people, they are committed to win and the parallels between JDC-Miller Motorsports today and GAINCSO/Bob Stallings Racing in 2006/2007 were abundant.  I couldn’t be prouder and more excited to join John and his team for the 2018 season and hopefully beyond.”

JDC-Miller is adding a second car this season, with Simon Trummer its first confirmed driver and Robert Alon having tested with the team at Daytona earlier this month. This car will maintain the “banana boat” livery and will announce the rest of its program later.

Church said there “hasn’t been a discussion” in terms of adding Bob Stallings Racing personnel to JDC-Miller’s lineup as it sits, but it could be integrated.

The JDC-Miller Oreca 07. Photo courtesy of IMSA