MotorSportsTalk 2015 Rolex 24 at Daytona Saturday blog

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12:15 p.m. ET – More than 10 hours are in the books and the best part of the race has been a double-barreled scrap for the lead in two of the four classes.

Larson and Ricky Taylor exchanged the top spot several times with Larson ahead overall at the 10-hour mark.

Meanwhile in the GTLM class, five cars have traded the top spot. Right now, it’s Pierre Kaffer in the No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari F458 Italia on top.

This will be my last update in this post before doing a separate round of updates on Sunday… since it’s now Sunday.

11:11 p.m. ET – The race is back green after a yellow for the Action Express Racing Corvette DP, the No. 5 car that won last year, stopped on track with fuel pressure issues per IMSA Radio.

Meanwhile NASCAR star Kyle Larson is now behind the wheel of the No. 02 Chip Ganassi Racing Riley-Ford.

10:15 p.m. ET – The race is past the eight-hour mark, I’m starting to get a little punchy, and the man, the myth, the legend that is Rommy – anyone who has been at a NASCAR, IndyCar or sports car race in years will know who he is – has taken over the Magnus Racing webcast.

Yes, there is still a race going on, but lord have mercy this is surreal.

9:25 p.m. ET – Francois Perrodo has not covered himself in glory this month at Daytona.

The French gentleman driver, paired with two Ferrari aces in Gianmaria Bruni and Toni Vilander and former Rolex 24 overall winner Emmanuel Collard, spun at Turn 6 but then later attempted another baffling reentry into the track. In doing so, he took out a harmless and luckless Brandon Davis, who was in the polesitting No. 007 TRG-AMR Aston Martin Vantage GT3.

This is Perrodo’s second wreck this month after also crashing during the Roar Before the Rolex 24 test in the No. 51 AF Corse Ferrari F458 Italia.

While TRG-AMR team principal Kevin Buckler had every right to go off in a TV interview, he was very restrained and respectful under the circumstances.

“I don’t even know what to say. Francois something,” Buckler told FOX Sports’ Andrew Marriott. “How can you not see us coming in there? My god. Brandon had a great drive. Christina (Nielsen) was gonna get in. Riduclous. Gotta be real careful. No excuses. We worked for a year for this.”

With the TRG-AMR car now damaged, it brought out the sixth full-course caution of the race.

Meanwhile the No. 02 Chip Ganassi Racing Riley-Ford has been in-and-out of the garage to make a splitter change. Tony Kanaan was running in second but lost a lap.

17-year-old Matt McMurry now leads overall in the No. 60 Michael Shank Racing Ligier JS P2 Honda.

9:00 p.m. ET – One of the Mazdas is out. The No. 70 SpeedSource Mazda SKYACTIV-D is officially out with what the team termed, comprehensive oil pump failure. Meanwhile the Magnus Porsche is back out after a quick gearbox change. Yes, it cost the team 27 laps, but as a full-season entrant it’s all about getting points.

Class leaders as the race nears the 7-hour mark include Joey Hand (P), Mark Wilkins (PC), Olivier Beretta (GTLM) and Ben Keating (GTD). Multiple cars in all classes – roughly two to nine cars per class – remain on the lead lap.

7:55 p.m. ET – Trouble has hit two engaging cars. Gearbox issues have sidelined the No. 44 Magnus Racing Porsche 911 GT America, then driven by Andy Lally, and apparent oil pressure issues have sent the No. 57 Krohn Racing Ligier JS P2 Judd, then driven by Alex Brundle, to the garage.

The Krohn car stands out for its “Krohn Green” livery and Magnus, which also has a shade of green along with gray and white on its car, has a 24-hour webcast it’s streaming during the race. These are two instances where it was not easy being green.

7:15 p.m. ET – Sage Karam is ridiculous, and I mean that in the best way possible.

Karam took the lead on the strength of a bonkers, three-wide outside pass around the outside of Taylor’s No. 10 and CGR teammate Jamie McMurray in the sister No. 02, while also in GT Le Mans traffic.

“It’s one of the craziest things of my career I’d say,” Karam said in the Daytona press room. “Jamie was in front of me. We got checked up, I went on the outside, took it, and it got kinda sketchy there. But I made it through in turn 1. We put in consistent laps from there.”

Karam led most of his stint until turning back to Joey Hand. Karam said he wanted “a massage and food” … and also wants to seal up a long-awaited full-season Verizon IndyCar Series deal.

“I’m pretty wound up. I’m fighting to get a full-season drive… hopefully in a Ganassi IndyCar,” Karam said. “So I’m driving pretty hard out there. And now I want a massage and to eat. And then sleep… I’m probably back in around 2 a.m.”

5:25 p.m. ET – The No. 2 Tequila Patron ESM HPD ARX-04b is also retired, with the team determining the cause of retirement.

Meanwhile we had a near disaster when Long Beach Grand Prix head and annual Daytona participant Jim Michaelian spun the No. 19 Muehlner Motorsports America Porsche 911 GT America at the first hairpin, and then attempted to rejoin by slowly going across the road and forcing Sebastiaan Bleekemolen onto the grass. Bleekemolen did well to avoid him but was a near Gaston Kearby-at-Sebring last year-esque type of maneuver.

Jordan Taylor, now in the No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing Corvette DP after taking over from brother Ricky led overall during the third full course caution – caused, incidentally – by Michaelian stopping again between oval turns 1 and 2. The field has now gone back to green.

4:45 p.m. ET – First confirmed retirement for 2015 is the No. 0 DeltaWing DWC13, unfortunate given the car’s early pace. Gearbox – a new one for this race – is the culprit. Only Andy Meyrick had the chance to drive, with co-drivers Katherine Legge, Gabby Chaves and Memo Rojas unable to have a shot.

4:30 p.m. ET – Two hours are in the books. And a monumental achievement has just been achieved, as Tom Long at one point took the overall lead in the No. 07 SpeedSource Mazda SKYACTIV-D diesel prototype, for the developmental car.

The No. 0 DeltaWing and No. 98 Aston Martin are in trouble, and the No. 25 BMW got a left rear puncture that led to an irate Bill Auberlen – who went off on Porsche’s Nick Tandy on IMSA Radio.

Auberlen called Tandy an “idiot” live on air, and Tandy replied that this was another of the pair’s history of disagreements.

Did we mention we’re just two hours into this thing? For a bit of normality, Scott Dixon still leads for Ganassi, before NASCAR star Jamie McMurray takes over next.

3:35 p.m. ET – Full-course yellow number two has flown for a myriad of incidents. Damien Faulkner had a strange incident in the run into turn 1 in the No. 81 GB Autosport Porsche 911 GT America with his left rear bumper damaged. Andy Meyrick and Tom Kimber-Smith have both stopped on track at Turn 5, with Meyrick in the No. 0 DeltaWing DWC13 coupe and “TKS” in the No. 52 PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports Oreca FLM09. Meanwhile the No. 31 Corvette DP and No. 97 Turner Motorsport BMW Z4 GT3 have gone to the garage.

Class leaders are Scott Dixon (P and overall), Johnny Mowlem (PC), Oliver Gavin (GTLM) and Jeroen Bleekemolen (GTD).

3:20 p.m. ET – Hello from Daytona Beach, where the first hour of the 53rd Rolex 24 at Daytona is in the books. The race is just back green following the first full-course caution for the stopped Audi R8 LMS of Satoshi Hoshino, driving the No. 45 Flying Lizard Motorsports entry.

Three-time Verizon IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon dominated the opening hour in the No. 02 Chip Ganassi Racing Riley-Ford, after taking the lead from polesitter Ozz Negri in the No. 60 Michael Shank Racing Ligier JS P2 Honda.

Other class leaders at the one-hour mark included Johnny Mowlem (PC), Oliver Gavin (GTLM) and Daniel Serra (GTD).

More to follow throughout the day on MotorSportsTalk.

F1 tests: Mercedes innovates with wheel adjustment system

Photo by Charles Coates/Getty Images
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MONTMELÓ, Spain — Veteran Kimi Raikkonen set the fastest time on the second day of Formula One preseason testing on Thursday, but Mercedes still garnered more attention by introducing an innovative wheel adjustment system.

On-board footage showed defending champion Lewis Hamilton pulling the steering wheel back and forth on the front straight to apparently change the angle of the front wheels on his Mercedes car.

The team stayed tight-lipped about the car’s new feature but guaranteed it was “safe” and “legal.”

“I probably won’t shed a great deal more light than what you saw on the TV but yeah we have a system in the car, it’s a novel idea,” team technical director James Allison told F1 TV. ”We’ve got a name for it, it’s called DAS, if you’re interested, and it just introduces an extra dimension for the steering, for the driver, which we hope will be useful during the year. But precisely how we use it and why we use it, that’s something we will keep to ourselves.”

Allison said governing body FIA knew in advance that the team was introducing the new system.

“It’s something we’ve been talking to them (about) for some time,” he said. “The rules are pretty clear about what’s permitted on steering systems and we’re pretty confident that it matches those requirements. I’m pleased we got it on the car, it seems to be useful, and we’ll see over the coming days how it benefits us.”

Hamilton said he was still trying to get used to the system, but praised the team for coming up with the innovation.

“I’ve only had one morning on (it, so) I don’t really have a lot to talk about with it. We’re trying to get on top of it, understand it, but safety-wise no problem today and the FIA are OK with the project.

“For me it’s really encouraging to see that my team is continuing to innovate and stay ahead of the game, and I think that’s down to the great minds in the team and so hopefully that’ll work to our benefit.”

Hamilton led the time charts on Wednesday but was only ninth-fastest on Thursday.

MORE: Lewis Hamilton, Valtteri Bottas fastest in Day 1 of F1 practice
MORE: Sergio Perez fastest early on Day 2 of F1 Practice

The 40-year-old Raikkonen, who has a chance this season to break the record for most race starts in F1, was fastest with a time of 1 minute, 17.091 seconds in his Alfa Romea. He was 0.2 seconds quicker than Sergio Pérez with Racing Point. Daniel Ricciardo of Renault was third.

Raikkonen caused a red flag near the end of the afternoon session when his car stopped on the track with an apparent mechanical issue. The Finnish driver had spun earlier in the session, as did Valtteri Bottas of Mercedes, Romain Grosjean of Haas and Pierre Gasly of Alpha Tauri, formerly known as Toro Rosso.

Grosjean had the most laps among the 13 drivers who went to the track on Thursday, with 158.

Bottas was the slowest driver of the day, while Sebastian Vettel was sixth-fastest with Ferrari.

Pérez had set the quickest time in the morning session. The Mexican driver had been third fastest on Wednesday, behind Hamilton and Bottas.

Drivers will be back on the track on Friday to close out the first week of testing. Teams will have another three days to test next week.

Preseason testing has been reduced from eight to six days to help compensate for the record 22 races on the calendar, including a new Vietnam Grand Prix and the return of the Dutch GP. Midseason testing also has been eliminated.

The season opens on March 15 at the Australian GP.

The Barcelona-Catalunya track will host the Spanish GP on May 10.