Insight: Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup’s presence in F1, and America

1 Comment

One of the staple partner championships on a Formula One weekend is the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup, which provided a thrilling climax to its 2014 season alongside the United States Grand Prix in Austin this year.

Earl Bamber emerged as this year’s champion after a great battle with Kuba Giermaziak in the pair of races at Circuit of the Americas.

This past weekend, Bamber has now been named as Porsche’s newest factory driver slightly more than a month after Austin.

At Austin, MotorSportsTalk had the opportunity to speak with Jonas Krauss, manager, Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup. Krauss has now left Porsche, with Oliver Schwab replacing him as head of Supercup.

Nonetheless, with the 2014 season in the books, Krauss provided some good insights on where the single-make championship is following this season and where it can go in the future.

Q: What does it mean for Porsche to be on F1 weekends?

JK: F1 for us is a great place. It’s a good place for the teams and our sponsors to present themselves. Worldwide, we have a very good television package, although in America we need to do better. Marketing-wise it’s very good, and for the drivers it’s a very good place.

Q: If drivers are in Supercup, does that mean they are done looking at single-seaters?

JK: If you come to Supercup, your single-seater road is gone most of the time. Richie Stanaway did one season here, and is now back to GP3, but usually that doesn’t happen. A lot of guys come from the single-seater world, in say GP3 or Formula 3. But then they say, maybe we need to go a different way, and they step into our Porsche one-make cups.

Q: Has there been any recent single-seater talent you’ve pinpointed?

JK: There’s a market for us, yes. We have our own driver development program; when you look at a couple of our juniors, they mostly come out of the formula world. Michael Christensen did two years in GP3, then went into our driver development program, and now he’s a works driver. He tested our LMP1 car. If you’re in GP3 or Formula 3, you’re already kind of a professional. You know what needs to be done to race; those series are very intense.

Q: What does it mean for Supercup to have two U.S. races as opposed to standard one on a weekend?

JK: If we go abroad, overseas, we need to have two races. It’s a huge investment we take, logistically, so it makes sense. Having two races for the season final is huge, since most of the time we have the title decision in the last race.

Q: What were your impressions of Americans Sean Johnston and Connor De Phillippi this season? 

JK: Sean Johnston did this a very good way. He moved to Germany. He stays with his racing team, he works with the car, he learns German, and his German is perfect. He’s improved a lot. It’s absolutely the right approach. That’s the same with Connor. It’s very difficult if they live in the U.S. and race in Europe. If they do it, they do it properly (Note: De Phillippi has since been retained as an official Porsche Junior for a second straight season –Ed.)

Q: Has having celebrity/guest drivers such as Patrick Dempsey race in the championship help raise the series’ profile?

JK: Absolutely, it improves it overall. Dempsey raced in Hockenheim for us. The media value he created was large, and he’s great for the series as he is a great person who perfectly fits in.

Q: When Supercup drivers come to America, why is it they are often “under-the-radar” or not recognized?

JK: It’s always tough for them. We found that out with our (previous) juniors, Klaus Bachler and Michael Christensen. They are our junior drivers, yet the Americans said when they first arrived “we’ve never heard of them.” Still, it worked well. At this level, we’re providing them a big step forward. American teams now understand the potential of our Supercup drivers and what they can bring to the team.

Q: Do you see the potential to expand outside more than Europe and the U.S.?

JK: It was always a case to run at all the European events, and to have one overseas event is OK. But we don’t want to be a global worldwide race series. You have to consider the costs and budgets. To do more events outside Europe adds costs for logistics. The cost efficiency is very important for us.

Q: Is cost a factor why drivers go to Supercup instead of single-seaters?

JK: Formula drivers, when you talk to them, in the end they have to decide what they want to do. It’s a dream of almost every racing driver to go to Formula One. That’s the fact. But you need to be realistic sometimes, and that’s the time to move to GT racing. It depends on your personal goal, but don’t go into GT racing if F1 is your goal.

Q: What’s the ultimate goal of Supercup and its drivers?

JK: We want to show the drivers who don’t make it to Formula One that this is a good option. When you look at the guys coming out of a one-make cup, there’s a lot of drivers who are not professional drivers. But here it’s all about the driver. There is no BoP. We can see which drivers have the capabilities.

Kyle Larson wins third consecutive High Limit Sprint race at Eagle Raceway, Rico Abreu second again

Larson High Limit Eagle
High Limit Racing - Twitter

It took four attempts for Kyle Larson to win his first High Limit Sprint Car Series race in the series he co-owns with brother-in-law Brad Sweet, but once he found victory lane, he has been undefeated with his win at Eagle (Nebraska) Raceway. For the second week, Abreu led early only to fall prey to Larson.

The win was Larson’s third straight victory and the fifth consecutive top-five, giving him a perfect sweep of the season after finishing 10th in last year’s inaugural race at Lincoln Park Speedway in Putnamville, Indiana.

Larson started third behind Abreu and Brent Marks but was embroiled in a fierce battle with Anthony Macri for third during the first dozen laps. Larson slipped by Macri in traffic until a red flag waved for a flip by Lachlan McHugh.

Meanwhile at the front of the pack, Marks retook the lead from Abreu on Lap 18. Larson followed one lap later and then caution waved again. Tyler Courtney lost power and fell to 24th after starting eighth.

Marks scooted away on the restart but tragedy struck in Lap 26. Leading the race, Marks hit a pothole in Turn 1, bicycled and then flipped, handing the lead to Larson.

Abreu caught Larson again during the final laps and in a reprise of their battle at Tri-City Speedway, the two threw sliders at one another for several laps until Larson built some separation and ran away to the checkers.

“I didn’t feel like my pace in [Turns] 1 & 2 slowed down a ton,” Larson said from victory lane. “I missed it once there and then I saw his nose in 3 & 4. I didn’t know if he nailed the bottom that well behind me and I think he might have slid me in the next corner, so he was definitely on the top.

“I was nervous to move up there because my car was really pogoing up in the entry of 1. I got up just in time, made a few mistakes and he threw a couple more sliders at me but he was just a little too far back and I was able to squirt around him. Then I really had to commit to hitting my marks – back my effort down a bit to avoid mistakes.”

After leading early, Abreu fell back as far as sixth, but faith in his car kept hope alive.

“I just needed to do a few things a few laps before I did and fix some angles, then my car got a whole lot better,” Abreu said. “I’m thankful for this team; they do an amazing job. They don’t give up on me. I know my car is going to be there right at the end of these races, so it’s just the discipline of being patient.”

For Abreu, it was his third near-miss this season. He was leading at Lakeside in the 2023 opener until a tire went flat in the closing laps and he lost the lead to Larson late in the Tri-City Speedway race. Abreu has finished sixth or better in his last three High Limit races with each result being progressively better until his pair of runner-up results.

Third-place finisher Scelzi was the hard charger, advancing from 17th.

“I had a very specific plan; don’t go near [the hole in Turn 1],” Scelzi said. “It worked out. No one wanted to start on the top. I think I gained a couple of rows there on the choose cone and ran the middle, which seemed to be better than right around the bottom.”

Michael “Buddy” Kofoid in fourth and Macri rounded out the top five.

World of Outlaws star and former NASCAR driver Kasey Kahne was one of 41 entrants, but he was not among the 26 starters. He failed to advance to the Main after finishing eighth in the B Main and seventh in his heat.

Feature Results

A Feature (40 Laps): 1. 57-Kyle Larson[4]; 2. 24-Rico Abreu[1]; 3. 18-Giovanni Scelzi[17]; 4. 71-Michael Kofoid[5]; 5. 39M-Anthony Macri[3]; 6. 9-Chase Randall[9]; 7. 26-Zeb Wise[14]; 8. 1X-Jake Bubak[15]; 9. 8-Aaron Reutzel[10]; 10. 14D-Corey Day[18]; 11. 11-Cory Eliason[12]; 12. 5T-Ryan Timms[11]; 13. 88-Austin McCarl[13]; 14. 21H-Brady Bacon[22]; 15. 48-Danny Dietrich[16]; 16. 7S-Robbie Price[19]; 17. 21-Brian Brown[23]; 18. 22-Riley Goodno[26]; 19. 52-Blake Hahn[25]; 20. 15H-Sam Hafertepe Jr[21]; 21. 3J-Dusty Zomer[6]; 22. 14-Cole Macedo[7]; 23. 19-Brent Marks[2]; 24. 7BC-Tyler Courtney[8]; 25. 25-Lachlan McHugh[20]; 26. 53-Jack Dover[24]

2023 High Limit Sprint Car Series

Race 1: Giovanni Scelzi wins at Lakeside Speedway
Race2: Anthony Macri wins at 34 Raceway
Race 3: Kyle Larson wins at Wayne County Speedway
Race 4: Kyle Larson wins at Tri-City Speedway