Lotus to skip first F1 pre-season test at Jerez

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Lotus has confirmed that they will not be present at the first Formula One pre-season test at Jerez de la Frontera, Spain at the end of this month. Instead, the team is aiming to unleash its upcoming E22 challenger ahead of next month’s sessions at the Bahrain International Circuit.

“We’re going to keep our car under wraps a little longer than some other teams,” team technical director Nick Chester said on the Lotus web site this morning.

“We’ve decided that attending the Jerez test isn’t ideal for our build and development program. We are likely to unveil the car before attending the Bahrain tests, and in Bahrain, we should really be able to put the car through its paces in representative conditions.”

Chester reports that the E22 is almost ready for homologation, citing that the car has “made very good progress” through the process and has just a “nose test” to pass before it is ready to go. He also says that chassis fittings have been made for both of their 2014 drivers, Romain Grosjean and newcomer Pastor Maldonado.

“Certainly, our partners who have seen the car have reported themselves to be very impressed with the layout and various solutions to the new technical challenges,” Chester said.

However, while insisting that development on the E22 has been positive so far, he said that Lotus is working with “very little idea” of what their competitors have in mind for 2014.

“This is the first year of radically different regulations which means that all teams are developing their cars along potentially quite different avenues,” he said. “It’s fascinating for us engineers and I hope it is fascinating for the fans too.

“We think we have a very good solution to the challenge and hopefully this will be seen when the E22 turns its wheels in anger.”

As a result of Lotus’ decision to skip Jerez (Jan. 28-Feb. 1), the E22 will have just eight days of on-track running prior to the start of the 2014 season in mid-March at Australia. The Bahrain tests run from Feb. 19-22 and Feb. 27-March 2.

However, the fact that Lotus is opting out of Jerez may not be all that surprising; the team reportedly asked last month that this particular test be delayed by a week.

Starting lineup grid for IMSA Petit Le Mans: Tom Blomqvist puts MSR on pole position

Petit Le Mans lineup
IMSA
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IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar championship contender Tom Blomqvist put the Meyer Shank Racing Acura at the front of the starting lineup for the Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Road Atlanta.

Blomqvist turned a 1-minute, 8.55-second lap on the 2.54-mile circuit Friday to capture his third pole position for MSR this season. Earl Bamber qualified second in the No. 02 Cadillac for Chip Ganassi Racing.

Ricky Taylor was third in the No. 10 Acura of Wayne Taylor Racing, which enters Saturday’s season finale with a 19-point lead over the No. 60 of Blomqvist and Oliver Jarvis (who will be joined by Helio Castroneves) for the 10-hour race.

PETIT LE MANS STARTING GRID: Click here for the starting lineup l Lineup by car number

PETIT LE MANS: Info on how to watch

With the pole, MSR sliced the deficit to 14 points behind WTR, which will field the trio of Taylor, Filipe Albuquerque and Brendon Hartley in Saturday’s race.

“We really needed to put the car in this kind of position,” Blomqvist said. “It makes our life a little less stressful tomorrow. It would have given the No. 10 a bit more breathing space. It’s going to be a proper dogfight tomorrow. The guys gave me such a great car. It’s been fantastic this week so far, and it really came alive. I’m hugely thankful to the boys and girls at MSR for giving me the wagon today to execute my job.

“That was a big effort from me. I knew how important it was. It’s just awesome for the guys to give them some sort of reward as well. It’s always nice to be quick. If you do the pole, you know you’ve got a quick car.”

Though WTR has a series-leading four victories with the No. 10, MSR won the Rolex 24 at Daytona and has five runner-up finishes along with its three poles.

The strong performances of the ARX-05s ensure that an Acura will win the final championship in IMSA’s premier Daytona Prototype international (DPi) division, which is being rebranded as Grand Touring Prototype in the move to LMDh cars next season.

Taylor qualified third despite sliding into the Turn 5 gravel during the closing minutes of qualifying while pushing to gain points.

“Qualifying was important for points,” Taylor said. “Going into it, if we outqualified the No. 60 Meyer Shank Acura, they had a lot to lose in terms of championship points. So, we were trying to increase the gap over 20 points which would’ve made a big difference for tomorrow. We would have loved to get the pole and qualify ahead of the No. 60, but in the scheme of the points, it didn’t change a whole lot. I’m feeling good since it’s such a long race, and the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura team does such a good job strategizing and putting us in a good position.

“I’m very confident in our lineup and our team compared to them over the course of 10 hours. I’d put my two teammates up against those guys any day. I think we are all feeling optimistic and strong for tomorrow.”

In other divisions, PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports (LMP2), Riley Motorsports (LMP3), VasserSullivan (GTD Pro) and Paul Miller Racing (GTD) captured pole positions.

The broadcast of the 10-hour race will begin Saturday at 12:10-3 p.m. ET on NBC, moving at 7 p.m. to USA Network. Peacock will have flag-to-flag coverage.


QUALIFYING

Results

Results by class

Fastest lap by driver

Fastest lap by driver after qualifying

Fastest lap by driver and class after qualifying

Fastest lap sequence in qualifying

Best sector times in qualifying

Time cards in qualifying

PRACTICE RESULTS: Session I l Session II l Session III