MotorSportsTalk’s predictions: Singapore GP

3 Comments

As darkness descends on the 2013 Formula One season, the sport heads to its only night race in Singapore this weekend. The race has a tendency to provide drama, with the most famous race coming in 2008. After Nelson Piquet Jr. intentionally speared his Renault into the wall, Felipe Massa ended up dragging his fuel hose down the pit lane whilst Fernando Alonso jumped from P15 to win the race comfortably thanks to his team’s trickery. Every race held in Singapore has seen a safety car, and the high rate of attrition does allow for the midfield runners to fight their way into the top ten. As a result, this week’s MST predictions become all the more difficult…

Tony DiZinno (@tonydizinno)

Race winner: Lewis Hamilton. The 2009 Singapore winner has traditionally done well here even if his results haven’t shown it. Mercedes of course thrived on the only other street circuit this year in Monaco, and it will be interesting to see whether they can match it with the different construction tires here compared to earlier in the season.

Surprising finish: Jean-Eric Vergne. Starred at Monaco and can do similarly if his car makes the finish. He’s been a frequent retirement this season. 

Most to prove: Force India. Early season promise and results have faded since the Pirelli construction change. Adrian Sutil and Paul di Resta posted a double points-scoring result at Monaco and need a similarly good weekend here.

Christopher Estrada (@estradawriting)

Race winner: Lewis Hamilton. The Monaco-esque nature of the Marina Bay street circuit could play well for the Mercedes camp. And after losing out on a potential win last year here thanks to a gearbox failure, expect Hamilton to be on top form.

Surprising finish: Felipe Massa. Massa’s moving on from Ferrari at season’s end and has declared that he’s in it for himself, not for teammate Fernando Alonso. The Brazilian will be bent on showing that he’s still got it, and that could make him quite intriguing to watch.

Most to prove: Paul di Resta. di Resta has gone scoreless in the last four events after gaining points in seven of the first eight. Fortunately for him, he comes to a circuit that saw him claim his career-best result last year, a fourth-place finish.

Luke Smith (@LukeSmithF1)

Race winner: Sebastian Vettel. As boring as this prediction may be, it’s hard to see Seb not making it three wins in a row in Singapore. His form of late has been relentless and his affinity for this circuit makes a Red Bull win all the more likely.

Surprising finish: Charles Pic. Putting my neck on the line here… but if there are a high number of retirements and Caterham’s drivers keep their noses clean, we could see them overhaul Marussia in the constructors’ championship. P12 or higher required.

Most to prove: Romain Grosjean. Following Raikkonen’s departure, RoGro now has to prove to Lotus that he is worth keeping instead of taking on Felipe Massa and/or Nico Hulkenberg in his place. A good showing in Singapore would do the Frenchman a lot of good.

Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine)

Race winner: Kimi Raikkonen. The Lotus hasn’t just been stronger on high-downforce tracks, it’s also been the car to beat in warmer conditions. Singapore will be a case of both, so although Raikkonen is yet to post a top-five finish here, I’m backing him to win.

Surprising finish: Pastor Maldonado. He planted the Williams second on the grid last year and produced one of his best drives in the race. If the Williams is good enough to get within range of the midfield, it could be one of his better weekends.

Most to prove: Felipe Massa. For the first time in a long while, Massa is racing for himself. Not only has he said he won’t be supporting Alonso, but he’s got to prove he’s quick enough to deserve a seat with a top team. Over to you Mr Massa.

Heather Lyne, Dennis Erb Jr. make history in the World of Outlaws Late Model Series

Lyne Erb Outlaws Late
Jacy Norgaard / World of Outlaws
0 Comments

More than two decades in the making, the pairing of Heather Lyne and Dennis Erb Jr. produced a historical milestone in Dirt Late Model.

Last month, Erb and his long-time crew chief Lyne won their first World of Outlaws Late Model Championship and with this achievement, Lyne became the first female crew chief to win in a national late model series. Their journey together goes back 21 years and tells the story of hard work, persistence and belief in oneself.

After a career-best season with the World of Outlaws, Erb and Lyne secured the points championship at US 36 Raceway in Osborn, Mo. with three races remaining in the season. The consistency and success of their season came down to pinpoint focus. Lyne and Erb are a team of two living out a David vs. Goliath tale. In order to be as successful as possible this year the duo knew they had to do as much as possible with the resources they had.

“It’s always a challenge when you only have two people, both at the racetrack and at the shop,” Lyne told NBC Sports. “I also work full time, so during the day, Dennis has to do a significant amount of work so that when I get down there I can start working and maintaining. It’s planning ahead. It’s having that system in place and making sure that you’re prepared ahead of time.

“When you have a problem at the track, making sure you have all that stuff ready so it’s a quick change and not a lengthy process to make a repair. We had zero DNFs in the World of Outlaws, we had only one DNF out of 96 races [combined among all series].”

Dennis Erb clinched his 2022 championship before the World of Outlaws World Finals. Jacy Norgaard – World of Outlaws Late Model Series.

Taming Time

This was not an easy feat. Between a full travel schedule and Lyne’s full-time job as an engineer, time comes at a premium. What they lack in time and resources they made up for in patience and planning.

“We buckled down, and we got all the equipment that we needed back, motors freshened, and things of that nature,” Lyne said about the mid-point of last season. “We were able to keep up with that. We just had a higher focus. I tried to reduce my hours at my day job as much as I possibly could while still maintaining what I need to get done at work. I got rid of a lot of the other distractions and got a more refined system in place at the shop.

“We did certain tasks on certain days so we had time to recover. We were on the road a little bit more, as opposed to coming home to the shop. So we had to be more prepared to stay out on those longer runs. It was just really staying on top of things a little more. It was a heightened sense.”

This was Lyne and Erb’s fourth full season with the Outlaws, but they’ve been on the road together for the last 21 seasons starting in 2001. Their partnership began with Lyne’s bravery. When one door closed, she was quick to open another. In 2001, Lyne’s dad was ready to stop racing. Her mother wanted to regain her weekends, but Lyne knew this was her life path and wasn’t prepared to lose it.

“I’ve always been a tomboy at heart,” Lyne said. “I watched racing with my dad. Growing up he watched NASCAR. In high school, I got tired of playing at the lake house, so I went to the local dirt track and fell in love with it. I just couldn’t get enough. It took a year for me to convince my dad to come to the track with me. He finally did and we sponsored a car that year, the following year he started to race limited cars. He ran hobby stocks and limited late models.”

At some point, Lyne and her father’s level of commitment drifted apart.

“He did it for about five years,” Lyne said. “And then my mom said: ‘I’m done racing. I want my weekends back. It’s just not fun anymore.’ I wasn’t ready to hang up my wenches and Dennis raced out of the same hometown so I, on a dare, went down and introduced myself; told him if you ever need any help, I’ll drill out rivets, I’ll help wash, whatever you need. Twenty-one years later here I am.”

Heather Lyne became the first female crew chief to secure a national touring late model championship in 2022. Paul Arch / World of Outlaws Late Model Series.

Breaking Through

Lyne entered a male-dominated job in a field that is also male-dominated – and where there were few examples of women creating these places for themselves. In this way, Lyne became a blueprint for other women as they strive to find a place for themselves in racing and in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) overall. She has her mother to thank for providing a strong role model, her father for sharing her passion, Erb for taking a chance on an unknow entity and most importantly herself.

“I was raised to believe that I can do anything, I want to do, as long as I put my heart and soul into it.” Lyne replied when asked about role models in the sport growing up. “My parents did not raise me to have that limitation. But from a racing role model perspective, I went in there completely green and just introduced myself to Dennis, the fact that he was brave enough to take that risk and bring a girl to the racetrack. Someone he didn’t know at all speaks volumes for him.”

Lyne and Erb have learned how to survive and succeed with each other on the road. They do this by leveraging decades of combined experience and an ability to adapt to the everchanging landscape of dirt late models. Next year the World of Outlaws visits nearly a dozen new tracks and Lyne sees it as an opportunity for continued success.

“I just want to do it again,” Lyne says going into next season, “I’m looking forward to the competition, I always do. I wouldn’t do it if I wasn’t competitively driven.

“There are some new tracks on the schedule that I’m looking forward to trying for the first time that I haven’t been to myself,” Lyne said of the 2023 season, “Dennis seems to do well on those first timers. We won out at Marion center, we finished second at Bloomsburg. We have a good solid notebook of information to tackle them over the last three years with these rocket race cars that we’re running. It’s good to have that information and leverage it to try some new things.”