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F2, GP3 2018 schedules released

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Both the FIA Formula 2 and GP3 schedules for their 2018 seasons have been revealed on Monday, largely mirroring the Formula 1 calendars.

The F2 schedule expands by one weekend from 11 to 12 compared to 2017, and GP3 expands by one weekend as well from eight to nine.

Both championships are added to the weekend slate at Paul Ricard in France and Sochi in Russia. The standalone round at Jerez this season, where both Charles Leclerc (F2) and George Russell (GP3) clinched their championships, drop off.

Also notable is the lack of inclusion for a German round at Hockenheim, as that country returns to the F1 calendar next season.

Bruno Michel, CEO of both F2 and GP3, had this to offer about the respective schedules:

“I am pleased to announce that next year’s calendar will hold twelve events alongside Formula One. One of our mission statements is to prepare young drivers to the next step: F1. Having all of our race weekends take place with F1 will help our drivers to learn as many F1 tracks as possible, but also to prove their race crafts directly in front of the F1 paddock.

“The 2018 calendar includes two new venues: Le Castellet and Sochi. It features one more event compared to this year, and is a good balance between racing on F1 circuits in Europe and overseas,” he said of F2.

As for GP3, Michel said,  “I am pleased to confirm that we have expanded the 2018 calendar to include a ninth round for the new season, with all of the race weekends taking place alongside Formula One. We are delighted to race for the first time in Le Castellet and to return to Sochi once again, balancing the need to control costs and to provide a full season for our teams and drivers, and to create more entertainment for the fans.

“This campaign will bring new challenges for the teams with the addition of the new circuits, and for the drivers in mastering the DRS to our third generation GP3 car. I am convinced that there will be many opportunities for our drivers to showcase their talent in front of the F1 paddock and the fans.”

The full calendars are below.

2018 FIA Formula 2 Championship Calendar*

Date

Venue

06-08 April

Sakhir, Bahrain

27-29 April

Baku, Azerbaijan

11-13 May

Barcelona, Spain

24-26 May

Monte Carlo, Monaco

22-24 June

Le Castellet, France

29 June – 01 July

Spielberg, Austria

06-08 July

Silverstone, Great Britain

27-29 July

Budapest, Hungary

24-26 August

Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium

31 August – 02 September

Monza, Italy

28-30 September

Sochi, Russia

23-25 November

Yas Marina, UAE


*Subject to final approval by the FIA WMSC

2018 GP3 Series Calendar

Date Venue
11-13 May Barcelona, Spain
22-24 June Le Castellet, France
29 June – 1 July Spielberg, Austria
6-8 July Silverstone, Great-Britain
27-29 July Budapest, Hungary
24-26 August Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium
31 August – 2 September Monza, Italy
28-30 September Sochi, Russia
23-25 November Yas Marina, UAE

IMSA: Heavy news week leading into Thanksgiving holiday

Photo courtesy of IMSA
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After the weekend and before the Thanksgiving holiday this week, IMSA has rolled out a number of announcements itself, while IMSA could be set for further announcements in the weeks to come starting next week.

Here’s a roundup:

QUALIFYING AT ROAR SET FOR PIT POSITIONS, GARAGES AT ROLEX 24

Here are key notes from IMSA’s Monday release about how Sunday at the Roar Before the Rolex 24 will take on a greater significance:

  • The pit boxes and garages each team will use during the Rolex 24 will now be allocated based on fastest qualifying times set during Sunday’s third and final day of the Roar. Each of the three WeatherTech Championship classes – Prototype (P), GT Le Mans (GTLM) and GT Daytona (GTD) – will have a 15-minute qualifying session on Sunday, Jan. 7.
  • The fastest-qualifying Prototype will receive the first pit box on pit lane starting at pit-in and also will be assigned to the first garage in the Prototype section of the WeatherTech Championship garage. The fastest GTD car will receive the second pit box on pit lane and the first garage in the GTD section, with the fastest GTLM car receiving the third pit box and the first garage in the GTLM section.
  • New for 2018 – P and GTLM will pit together under a full course yellow. Therefore, to give class separation in the pits, P and GTLM teams are assigned pit boxes to ensure they are separated by a GTD Team.

This, coupled with the addition of the first IMSA Prototype Challenge Presented by Mazda one-hour, 45-minute race with two drivers, will make this a more shaken up Roar.

REGS, REGS, GET YOUR REGS

IMSA has released the Sporting and Technical Regulations for 2018 this week. The aforementioned note about P and GTLM teams pitting together is a change from P and Prototype Challenge (PC) class cars pitting together, with GTLM and GTD together as it was this year.

Restart procedures changed will see P cars moved to the lead ahead of GT cars; this created confusion at times throughout 2017 as sometimes another class leader in PC, GTLM or GTD had been the first car behind a pace car.

Each team will be limited to one car change in-season only, subject to “force majeure.”

On the off chance a driver is racing in two cars, his or her maximum drive time will be counted cumulatively between the two cars.

There are other tweaks, of course, but most are largely procedural or within the fine print.

RATINGS REVEALED

The good news with IMSA going down from four classes to three for 2018 is that only one designated pro-am class remains in the form of GT Daytona, which requires at least one Silver (or Bronze) full-season driver alongside the designated pro. Those sneaky “Super Silvers” remain an invaluable asset for using his or her results to their benefit.

The FIA released the initial driver ratings for 2018 this week with a few changes, some young pros going up from Silver to Gold and others getting their request to get downgraded from Gold to Silver approved. Drivers have a couple weeks to appeal if they so desire.

Here’s your friendly reminder of what drivers can be in what GTD cars for the first two races at Daytona and Sebring:

  • Daytona (5 drivers max): GTD: In any nominated two (2) or three (3) Driver combination, a maximum of one (1) Platinum or Gold rated Driver is permitted. In any nominated four (4) or five (5) Driver combination, a maximum of one (1) Platinum and (1) Gold rated Driver are permitted or a maximum of (2) Gold Drivers.
  • Sebring (4 drivers max): GTD: In any nominated two (2) or three (3) Driver combination, a maximum of one (1) Platinum or Gold rated Driver is permitted. In any nominated four (4) Driver combination, a maximum of one (1) Platinum and (1) Gold rated Driver are permitted or a maximum of (2) Gold Drivers.

MAZDA KEEPS ON TESTING, CLOSES ON ANNOUNCEMENTS

The Los Angeles Auto Show, held after Thanksgiving, is a likely landing spot for Mazda Team Joest to reveal, officially, its revised “Evo” version of the Mazda RT24-P and its driver lineup for the 2018 season. While most of the Prototype class lineups (DPi and LMP2-spec cars) have been revealed, Mazda’s has been an exception. In the interim, not long after its Daytona test late last month, they’ve also been testing at Sebring.

FROM SPACE CENTER TO DOWN UNDER

Jordan Taylor undertook testing of a different kind not long ago at, of all places, the Kennedy Space Center. One of this year’s Prototype class champions was undertaking a straight line test in his No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R. Taylor being Taylor, the moment couldn’t pass without him winning at social media (see third tweet).

Taylor goes from down a long runway to down under, visiting his first Virgin Australia Supercars Championship race this weekend at its season finale in Newcastle.

‘MAKING OF A CHAMPION’ PIECES ROLL OUT

The fourth installment of IMSA’s “making of a champion” series highlights Jordan Taylor, who co-drove with brother Ricky to the Prototype class championship this year. These two are part of four done by IMSA so far, along with Pato O’Ward (PC) and Christina Nielsen (GTD). More should follow in the coming weeks.

SPEAKING OF CHAMPS, HINDMAN, AGOSTINI, PRESTIGE WIN LAMBORGHINI WORLD FINAL

The Lamborghini Super Trofeo World Final was held last weekend at the Imola circuit in Italy and the American Prestige Performance team won the World Final overall, with co-drivers Trent Hindman and Riccardo Agostini.

The World Final brings together teams from North America, Europe and Asia that campaign the spec Lamborghini Huracán LP 620-2 in Super Trofeo regional competition. Hindman and Agostini got the weekend off on the right foot by winning the North American championship first, then followed it up at the World Final itself to topple all other domestic and international entries.

You might remember we profiled Hindman last month, as the 22-year-old’s star in the sports car world is clearly on the rise.

Somehow, someway, at the end of the day today we received the title 2017 Lamborghini Super Trofeo World Champions. Race 2 was not perfect and much more nerve racking than we would have hoped but fortunately in the end the job was done. I am honored to be sharing this with @rickyagostini as well as the entire @prestigeperfctr @waynetaylorracing team and I thank them for their incredible effort all year. With this result, we are the first ever American team to win the Lamborghini Super Trofeo World Championship overall. 3/4 overall wins along with the Super Trofeo North America and World titles marks the end of a successful 2017 campaign. Back to reality tomorrow. Thank you all for following us along on this incredible journey.

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