Audi wins in Shanghai, also claims WEC driver’s title

0 Comments

The Six Hours of Shanghai proved doubly successful for Audi, which came away with both the race win and the FIA World Endurance Championship driver’s title in China.

The No. 1 Audi R18 e-tron quattro of Benoit Treluyer, Andre Lotterer, and Marcel Fassler (pictured, from this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans) took the checkered flag after what had been a strong effort from their rivals at Toyota. But in the race’s fifth hour, the race-leading No. 8 Toyota TS030 Hybrid of Anthony Davidson was forced to retire with a suspension failure.

Then, in the final hour of the race, the No. 7 Toyota of Alex Wurz came to the pits from the lead for a final, fuel-only stop. But with older tires, Wurz was unable to stop Treluyer in the No. 1 Audi from taking the point with a half-hour remaining in the event.

“Our Audi was outstanding,” Treluyer said in a post-race statement  After we didn’t have the right tires at the beginning of the race, we became notably faster on a different type of tire. [Audi] No. 2 helped us out with these tire sets – thank you very much for that! This way, I was able to overtake Alex Wurz in traffic. It was a thrill all the way to the end.”

Treluyer went on to win over Wurz by 15.3 seconds, while the No. 2 Audi of Allan McNish, Tom Kristensen and Loic Duval finished third to claim the WEC driver’s crown.

“I’ve been waiting for this moment since 1985,” McNish said in his own thoughts. “Even in karting, I battled for the World Champion’s title – back then at Le Mans by the way. In Formula 1, I didn’t have a real chance. Now, in my third motorsport discipline, it’s worked out.

“I’m proud of what we’ve achieved together this year. Things were going really well. For me, the race at Austin was a very important element on the way to today’s success. Now I’ve got a feeling of special warmth in my body and of special wetness on my back, after Alex Wurz drenched me in champagne…”

IndyCar part-timer Mike Conway helped the No. 26 G-Drive Racing Oreca/Nissan team earn top honors in the P2 category, winning alongside co-drivers John Martin and Roman Rusinov. The team was able to recover from having to repair bodywork damage in the middle stages of the race.

Also winning in Shanghai were the No. 97 Aston Martin Vantage V8 of Stefan Mucke and Darren Turner in GTE-Pro and the No. 81 8Star Motorsports Ferrari 458 Italia of Enzo Potolicchio, Davide Rigon and Rui Aguas in GTE-Am.

Cadillac, Acura battle for top speed as cars back on track for Rolex 24 at Daytona practice

0 Comments

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The new hybrid prototypes of Cadillac and Acura battled atop the speed chart as practice resumed Thursday for the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

Chip Ganassi Racing driver Richard Westbrook was fastest Thursday afternoon in the No. 02 Cadillac V-LMDh with a 1-minute, 35.185-second lap around the 12-turn, 3.56-mile road course at Daytona International Speedway.

That pace topped Ricky Taylor’s 1:35.366 lap that topped the Thursday morning session that marked the first time the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship was back on track since qualifying Sunday afternoon that concluded the four-day Roar Before The Rolex 24 test.

In a final session Thursday night, Matt Campbell was fastest (1:35.802) in the No. 7 Porsche Penske Motorsports Porsche 963 but still was off the times set by Westbrook and Taylor.

Punctuated by Tom Blomqvist’s pole position for defending race winner Meyer Shank Racing, the Acura ARX-06s had been fastest for much of the Roar and led four consecutive practice sessions.

DETAILS FOR THE 61ST ROLEX 24How to watch, entry lists, schedules for the IMSA season opener

FIVE THINGS TO WATCH IN GTPRolex 24 at Daytona kicks off new golden era for sports cars

But the times have been extremely tight in the new Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) category that has brought hybrid engines to IMSA’s premier class. Only 0.9 seconds separated the nine LMDh cars in GTP in qualifying, and though the spread slightly widened to 1.378 seconds in Thursday’s practices with teams on varying strategies and preparation, Westbrook still pooh-poohed the importance of speeds.

“It’s always nice to be at the top, but I don’t think it means too much or read too much into it” Westbrook said. “Big fuel tanks in the GTP class this year, so you have no idea what fuel levels people are running. We had a good run, and the car is really enjoyable to drive now. I definitely wasn’t saying that a month ago.

“It really does feel good now. We are working on performance and definitely unlocking some potential, and it just gives us more confidence going into the race. It’s going to be super tight. Everyone’s got the same power, everyone has the same downforce, everyone has the same drag levels and let’s just go race.”

Because teams have put such a premium on reliability, handling mostly has suffered in the GTPs, but Westbrook said the tide had turned Thursday.

“These cars are so competitive, and you were just running it for the sake of running it in the beginning, and there’s so much going on, you don’t really have time to work on performance,” he said. “A lot of emphasis was on durability in the beginning, and rightly so, but now finally we can work on performance, and that’s the same for other manufacturers as well. But we’re worrying about ourselves and improving every run, and I think everybody’s pretty happy with their Cadillac right now.”

Mike Shank, co-owner of Blomqvist’s No. 60 on the pole, said his team still was facing reliability problems despite its speed.

“We address them literally every hour,” Shank said. “We’re addressing some little thing we’re doing better to try to make it last. And also we’re talking about how we race the race, which will be different from years past.

“Just think about every system in the car, I’m not going to say which ones we’re working on, but there are systems in the car that ORECA and HPD are continually trying to improve. By the way, sometimes we put them on the car and take them off before it even goes out on the track because something didn’t work with electronics. There’s so much programming. So many departments have to talk to each other. That bridge gets broken from a code not being totally correct, and the car won’t run. Or the power steering turns off.”

Former Rolex 24 winner Renger van der Zande of Ganassi said it still is a waiting game until the 24-hour race begins Saturday shortly after 1:30 p.m.

“I think the performance of the car is good,” van der Zande said. “No drama. We’re chipping away on setup step by step and the team is in control. It’s crazy out there what people do on the track at the moment. It’s about staying cool and peak at the right moment, and it’s not the right moment yet for that. We’ll keep digging.”


PRACTICE RESULTS:

Click here for Session I (by class)

Click here for Session II (by class)

Click here for Session III (by class)

Combined speeds