Photo courtesy of IMSA

Cadillac look to end dominant IMSA season with Petit Le Mans win

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To say that the new Cadillac DPi-V.R has been dominant in its first season would be somewhat of an understatement. The fastest and most tested DPi effort out of the box, its teams (Wayne Taylor Racing and Action Express Racing) won the first seven races of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, so were not headed until the second half of the season.

Wayne Taylor Racing, under the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R banner, is poised to clinch the team and driver’s championships with drivers Ricky and Jordan Taylor. They also still have a chance to win the Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup as well.

At Action Express, both of its entries, the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Cadillac and the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac, have visited victory lane this year. Joao Barbosa and Christian Fittipaldi won at Watkins Glen in the No. 5 with third driver Filipe Albuquerque, with teammates Eric Curran and Dane Cameron doing so in the No. 31 at the very next race at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.

Further, Barbosa, Fittipaldi, and Albuquerque enter Saturday’s Petit Le Mans currently leading the Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup.

As a result, all of the Cadillac teams are in position to clinch championships this weekend. For Wayne Taylor Racing, this means having a smooth start to the race, as completing the first 45 minutes of Saturday’s race will see them lock up both the team and driver’s titles.

“I would like to get the first 45-minutes out of the way cleanly, then we can race with nothing to lose for the final 9 hours and 15 minutes,” said Ricky Taylor, the elder of the two Taylor brothers. “It is a unique position because we can truly take risks and enjoy the race instead of being on eggshells for the championship. Petit Le Mans is a classic event and one of the biggest races on our calendar. Although we won the first five races of the season, winning at Petit Le Mans would be the cherry on the cake.”

Teammate and younger brother Jordan shared identical thoughts, a win here meaning the No. 10 car would have won Daytona, Sebring and Petit Le Mans in the same season – three of the four Patron Endurance Cup rounds.

“The number one goal heading into the race is getting to the 45-minute mark to clinch both championships,” Jordan asserted. “Once that is done, we can switch to treating the race like we treated the races early in the year, being aggressive and taking risks we need to, to win the race. It’s one of our biggest races of the year, plus it’s an important race for the TPNAEC, so we’ll be fighting hard.”

For Action Express and its No. 5 entry, while an overall championship may not be in the cards, securing the Patron Endurance Cup would serve as a consolation prize, and a race win would be a nice boost of momentum heading into the offseason.

The No. 5 Mustang Sampling entry from Action Express currently leads the Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup. Photo courtesy of IMSA

“We are leading the (Patron Endurance Cup) so that is our goal on Saturday and the best way to achieve that is to have a clean and good race and finish first. It would be great to finish the year on a high to get ready for 2018,” Fittipaldi said of the team’s goals entering the weekend.

For third driver Albuquerque, it’s also a chance to again get acclimated with the team before he becomes a full-time driver in the No. 5 Mustang Sampling machine next year. And, as he described, he hopes to make up for a disappointment last year.

“We were in a good position last year but we had a puncture with three hours to go and that lost us a lap,” Albuquerque explained. “We will have to stay away from problems, and Road Atlanta is a narrow track so that can be a challenge! I am really enjoying racing the Cadillac Dpi-V.R, it is a very sophisticated car with good grip and power so it is a very good car to drive and hopefully it will help us navigate the traffic and stay out of trouble this weekend.”

Finally, the race will also be the swan song for Cameron, who will leave the team for Team Penske and its new Acura DPi program at race’s end. And he would like nothing more than to end his tenure with the team with his first victory at Petit Le Mans.

Saturday’s Petit Le Mans will be Dane Cameron’s final race in the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac. Photo courtesy of IMSA

“It is a great event but the race is hard with the traffic and with the car count making it pretty tricky to make up time while also being smart. I’ve not got a Petit win, so that is a very big box that I’d like to check off this weekend!”

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F1 2017 driver review: Kevin Magnussen

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Kevin Magnussen

Team: Haas
Car No.: 20
Races: 20
Wins: 0
Podiums: 0
Best Finish: P7 (Azerbaijan)
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Points: 19
Championship Position: 14th

Kevin Magnussen’s move to Haas proved to be a win-win situation for both parties through 2017 as they banished the struggles of the previous Formula 1 season.

For Magnussen, the move came after a difficult one-season stint with Renault who despite offering him a way back into F1 after a year on the sidelines were unable to produce a car allowing the Dane to fight far up the order.

Haas had not expected to be able to be that much further ahead, but Magnussen nevertheless immediately offered an uplift in performance after replacing Esteban Gutierrez, who failed to score a single point through 2016.

Magnussen picked up Haas’ first points of the season with a solid drive in China, and was able to capitalize on the bonkers Baku race to take P7, which would ultimately be his best result of the season.

Consistency was a real issue for Haas throughout the year as it continued to have teething problems most new teams encounter, and while Magnussen was more able to drive around the problems than teammate Romain Grosjean, he lacked the ultimate pace of his teammate.

That said, Magnussen’s season highlight came in Mexico, a track Haas expected to be its worst of the season. The ex-McLaren driver qualified on the last row but produced a stunning display to finish eighth, soaking up pressure from Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton late on.

The signs are positive moving forward. Next year should be Haas’ best yet thanks to the stability in the regulations, presenting a good opportunity for Magnussen to prove his star quality.

Season High: Taking P8 in Mexico when Haas expected to be slowest.

Season Low: Lagging home P15 at Spa as Grosjean hit the points.