Jeansonne and Kotyk. Photo courtesy Team USA Scholarship

Big weekend for Americans abroad in ELMS, Formula Ford Festival

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This weekend, the Formula 1 world came to the United States for the United States Grand Prix from Circuit of The Americas. But it was also a big weekend for Americans racing in Europe this weekend.

American teams claimed titles in European Le Mans Series competition in Portimao, Portugal, while this year’s two Team USA Scholarship drivers excelled in the Formula Ford Festival at Brands Hatch, England.

PAIR OF AMERICAN TEAM CHAMPIONS IN ELMS

At the European Le Mans Series finale in Portimao, Portugal, two American teams captured titles with the DragonSpeed-run, G-Drive Racing-backed entry driven by Memo Rojas, Leo Roussel and Ryo Hirakawa in LMP2 and with the Anglo-American United Autosports team in LMP3, with a pair of American drivers in Sean Rayhall and John Falb.

Rojas and Roussel are the LMP2 driver’s champions with Hirakawa not on equal points after missing a couple races in the No. 22 Oreca 07 Gibson. Elton Julian’s DragonSpeed team has focused primarily on Europe in recent years, and propelled both the team’s No. 22 and 21 cars to success in ELMS throughout the year, and made its debut at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

United Ligier leads Panis-Barthez Ligier and G-Drive Oreca, which won LMP2 title. Photo: Onroak/DPPI

United Autosports missed out in LMP2 with its trio of Filipe Albuquerque, Will Owen and Hugo de Sadeleer in its No. 32 Ligier JS P217 Gibson, coming both second in the race (to Graff Racing’s trio of Richard Bradley, James Allen and Gustavo Yacaman) and the championship (down 12 points to Rojas and Roussel). The result was unfortunate as it came with a 55-second stop-and-go penalty for exceeding the maximum pit speed limit.

But it did defend its LMP3 title as last year, with Rayhall and Falb finishing second in the race in its No. 2 Ligier JS P3 chassis, behind teammates Wayne Boyd, Mark Patterson and Christian England in the No. 3. Rayhall has blogged for NBC Sports this season and undoubtedly will have a fun read soon as the pair recovered from an issue in qualifying that resigned them to the back of the field.

“Winning the ELMS LMP3 title is extremely satisfying – it’s a great series – six, four-hour races is a great formula. Zak (Brown) and Richard (Dean) at UA have been fantastic as have our car crew. Their professionalism gives us confidence in the car and its paid dividends for us all. Christian [England] was catching me before I made a small mistake which allowed him to get ahead,” Falb said.

JEANSONNE, KOTYK IMPRESS IN FORMULA FORD FESTIVAL

We’ll leave it to Team USA Scholarship founder Jeremy Shaw to recap the outings of Aaron Jeansonne and Jonathan Kotyk, this year’s recipients, in the Formula Ford Festival at Brands Hatch this weekend, linked here.

The pair finished just outside the top 10 in the 20-lap final, Kotyk in 11th and Jeansonne in 13th. Both improved from 16th (Kotyk, in No. 21) and 18th (Jeansonne, in No. 22) on the grid, with Kotyk’s fastest time of 50.809 seconds slightly quicker than race winner Joey Foster’s best of 50.892. The full results from the weekend are here.

All the news covering this year’s crop is linked here, and here’s a link to their blog pages (Jeansonne, Kotyk).

Verstappen doesn’t want F1 season to end after recent run of form

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Max Verstappen says he is not ready for the 2017 Formula 1 season to come to an end after enjoying a run of strong form through the closing stages of the campaign.

Verstappen endured a rocky run of form through to the end of the European season that saw him suffer a number of reliability issues and score just a single podium finish, taking third in China back in April.

However, the Dutchman has rallied to score more points than any other driver in the last five races, including victories in Malaysia and Mexico, as well as a podium finish in Japan.

Verstappen heads into next weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix chasing a third win of the year to sign off, but joked he does not want the season to end just as he’s got into a good groove.

“We will, of course, try and end the season with a strong result in Abu Dhabi,” Verstappen said. “Last year was actually quite a good race after skipping a pit stop following a spin at Turn 1, it was hard to manage the tires to the end of the race but we did it and finished fourth.

“I would say that my favorite part of the track is at Turns 2 and 3, the fast left, right. It’s also very cool driving underneath the hotel and racing in the darkness with all the lights.

“The final sector at Yas Marina is actually quite technical so you have to be really precise there, but it should also be our strongest part of the track.

“There are quite a few overtaking opportunities to make the race interesting, before the long straight at the hairpin and then at the end of the straight under braking for the next chicane section.

“Abu Dhabi is the last race on the calendar, but I don’t actually want the season to end. I’m really fired up at the moment and I just want to keep going.

“The nice thing will be to spend some time with friends and family over the winter break and then I will look ahead to January and get back into training before it all starts again.”