Here’s a handful of news and notes from the media preview days at the 2015 Chicago Auto Show:
Nissan GT-R LM NISMO’s public debut
While it was revealed to the world on the whole during Super Bowl XLIX, this week’s Chicago Auto Show marks the first time the new Nissan GT-R LM NISMO LMP1 car has been revealed in a public setting.
The wraps came off the car during a Nissan launch event on Wednesday night, before they came off again during the Auto Show media preview itself on Thursday.
Darren Cox, NISMO’s global head of brand, marketing & sales, was on hand along with NISMO CEO Shoichi Miyatani, and three past Nissan GT Academy winners (Jann Mardenborough, confirmed to the LMP1 program, and past U.S. winners Steve Doherty and Nic Hammann).
The FIA World Endurance Championship season begins April 12 at Silverstone.
Ford GT a strong presence
After its official unveil at Detroit last month, the 2016 Ford GT – now adorned in Liquid Silver with black racing stripes – was also on hand as part of Ford’s fleet this show. Ford’s Garen Nicoghosian, (Ford GT senior designer) and Jamal Hameedi (Ford performance chief engineer) spoke Friday to give more details of the primarily carbon fiber car, which focuses on aerodynamics, efficiency and the EcoBoost powerplant.
Small racing presence outside the Nissan
While the Nissan was the star of the show among racecars, it wasn’t the only racecar on display.
Infiniti had the Red Bull Formula 1 show car at its booth, now listed with new driver Daniil Kvyat’s name alongside that of Daniel Ricciardo. The Alfa Romeo booth had some classic F1 cars as well, that were a sight to behold.
Two Andretti Autosport cars were featured. Ryan Hunter-Reay’s 2014 Indianapolis 500-winning No. 28 DHL Honda was featured in the Honda booth, and Tanner Foust’s No. 34 Rockstar VW Beetle (from Red Bull Global Rallycross) was at the VW stand. Both Foust and his Red Bull GRC teammate Scott Speed were on hand.
An early 1990s Eagle MK III Toyota GTP car, one of Carl Edwards’ No. 19 ARRIS Toyota show cars, and an NHRA Funny Car were in the Toyota booth. Additionally, the new Dallara IL15 Mazda Indy Lights chassis had prominent placing in Mazda’s booth.
Lawrence led all 16 laps of both races after taking the holeshot in the second moto and grabbing the lead from Dylan Ferrandis in Turn 2 of Moto 1. Lawrence claimed a four-second lead in Moto 1 and five seconds in Moto 2, but as dominant as it seems on paper, there were some exciting moments during the weekend. In the second race, Lawrence wanted to build an advantage that would allow him to maintain his pace and he nearly high-sided a couple of times in heavy ruts.
In his second race back from a concussion, Ferrandis finished in the runner-up spot with a second in Moto 1 and a third in Moto 2. While his finish of second overall goes into the record books, Pro Motocross points are rewarded for each individual race and that meant Ferrandis lost eight points in championship battle to Lawrence. With Sexton failing to mount up for the race, Ferrandis advanced to second in the standings with an 18-point gap to Lawrence. Equally important, Ferrandis gained ground in the SuperMotocross World Championship (WSX) points and now has a gap of 44 over 21st-place Justin Starling.
Cooper Webb is also in his second round since returning from a Supercross injury suffered in Nashville at the end of their season. Claiming results of fourth and second in the two races, Webb earned 40 SuperMotocross points at Hangtown and closed in on Sexton in the WSX battle. Sexton entered Hangtown with a large enough lead that he could not be overtaken, but he is now only 38 points up and could face a difficult decision next week at Thunder Valley in Lakewood, Colorado if he wants to hold onto his lead.
Aaron Plessinger had an adventurous weekend in which he seemed to close on Lawrence in his second race before crashing and dropping to fourth. Coupled with a fifth-place finish in Moto 1, he earned 35 points and was credited with fourth overall.
Cashing in on confidence he gained in the final rounds of the Supercross season, Adam Cianciarulo earned his first top-five of the Pro Motocross championship after narrowly missing out last week with a sixth. He earned the distinction with consistent results of fifth in Moto 1 and fourth in Moto 2.
The Lawrence brothers made history last week as the first siblings to win in two Pro Motocross divisions on the same day. Fans should get accustomed to seeing this happen with some regularity as Hunter Lawrence posted identical results in Hangtown to those he had at Fox Raceway in the season opener.
In both races, Lawrence got off to a slow start in Moto 1 and had to claw his way back to the podium. He dominated Moto 2 in both rounds to earn the overall victories.
Justin Cooper did not allow Lawrence to gain much of an advantage in the Motocross points’ standings, however. Finishing second in both motos, the earned only one point less than Lawrence. His modest showing in Round 1 of the outdoor season has him 12 points out of first in the championship standings.
Haiden Deegan scored his first moto win in just his fourth start in the series. In the first race of the day, he had to withstand constant pressure from Cooper, but when his teammate closed in on him, Deegan reached down and found a little more speed. Now that he’s won one of these races, he has his sight set on challenging Lawrence for the title. Deegan is second in the Pro Motocross championship standings with a 10-point deficit to the leader.
RJ Hampshire rounded out the top five with a pair of fifth-place results and 32 points for the round. Even though the deficit is a whopping 61 points, Hampshire climbed to second in the SuperMotocross championship standings now that Jett Lawrence has moved to the big bikes.
Jalek Swoll struggled last week and finished 21st overall at Fox Raceway. This week, he finished on the cusp of 10th in both races with a ninth in Moto 1 and 11th in Moto 2. In the SuperMotocross standings, he has a lot of ground to make up. He currently sits 49th on the chart with a 70-point gap to Chance Hymas, who is on the bubble to earn a guaranteed position in the SMX Mains for the three playoff races that will be held on September.