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Massa honored with son on radio, special podium after P7 in Brazil

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Felipe Massa’s ultimate final Brazilian Grand Prix, run today for Williams Martini Racing, made up for with a result what last year’s emotion-laden send-off in the rain lacked.

After crashing out in the rain in 2016 and then walking down pit lane to cheers and applause from his home crowd in Sao Paulo, Massa more than made up for it on track this afternoon following a spirited fight to P7 – best of the rest today behind the top six finishers from Ferrari, Mercedes and Red Bull.

Massa’s race, after starting 10th, saw him escape the first lap carnage that took Esteban Ocon, Kevin Magnussen and Stoffel Vandoorne out of contention and move ahead of Fernando Alonso into fifth place, with Alonso sixth.

The two former Ferrari teammates sparred from there, Massa holding off Alonso for the bulk of the rest of the race despite Alonso’s Honda-powered McLaren appearing to have better balance and pace in the infield section.

However it was the Mercedes-powered Williams that held the advantage on the straights and Alonso was unable to make a pass of Massa for seventh. While seventh isn’t much to celebrate, it was Massa’s second-best result this year, after coming sixth in both Australia and Bahrain in March and April. The result gave Massa six points and also slots him back ahead of Lance Stroll for 10th in the driver’s championship.

Massa’s send-off this go-around lacked the pure spontaneous moment that 2016’s did, but it was still no less sweet.

To start off, son Felipinho offered a special message of thanks to his dad over the team radio as he crossed the line, which gave the usually prickly Formula 1 paddock “all the feels.”

“Daddy, I’m so proud of you, and wherever you go I will support you. By the way, I loved your start!” the younger Massa enthused over the radio (at 2:04 in the above clip).

That was followed up a thumbs up from Alonso as he entered parc ferme, an embrace of his Williams crew and teammates, and a salute to the home crowd.

“I’m happy for him. Zero mistakes. I tried to put pressure on him. Hopefully he has a great future in another category and a happy life,” Alonso told NBCSN post-race.

Then he got another special sign-off – a surprise trip to the podium after the top three had completed their interviews, with the most experienced F1 driver in history in countryman Rubens Barrichello.

“I’m really emotional today because of all of you guys,” the senior Massa said. “Thank you for everything we’ve done together. All the support.

“There was all the energy I felt today for making the best race I could. To be honest I’m so happy for my race, did the best with what the car could achieve. Even the people I didn’t work together with, I love you guys.”

Massa’s next racing move following the end of his F1 career after the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in two weeks is yet-to-be-determined. Speaking to NBCSN this weekend, he ruled out an IndyCar switch, but has still been linked to potential drives in the FIA Formula E Championship and FIA World Endurance Championship down the road.

As far as encores to end in Brazil though, this was a good one for a driver who once again had given it his all.

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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