Volkswagen Andretti pair of Foust, Speed seek better fortunes, consistency

Leave a comment

Scott Speed won the most races in 2014 and Tanner Foust is arguably one of the most successful drivers in Red Bull Global Rallycross history.

Together, they look to bounce back from season-ending disappointment in their first full year with Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross’ pair of Volkswagen Beetles, which they’ll have for the full year in 2015.

The team completed a recent test in Germany (more here from the Red Bull GRC website).

Both drivers have said the change from the venerable but not great for GRC VW Polos to the Beetles have paid dividends, and the more fully developed cars should be better this year.

“It is infinitely nicer,” Speed told MotorSportsTalk at the Red Bull GRC media day in Long Beach. “It’s more in our control as well. There was a lot of stuff outside of our hands. It’s on us. We have to make it work. If it doesn’t, we fix it.”

Foust expanded more on the change in car.

“I will say the Polos went pretty quick once Andretti sprinkled some racing powder on them,” Foust told MotorSportsTalk. “Driving back-to-back with the Polo and the Beetle was night and day.

“The car is sorted. It does what you expect it to do lap after lap. You know how much mileage is left on every part, so you feel secure in the hardware, making it through heats and races … it’s a completely different experience.”

Asked what they could change for this year, both drivers had a common thread: luck.

“We have a better car than what we had to start and we got unbelievably unlucky with tons of mechanicals,” Speed said. “There were tons of stuff outside our control. Hopefully we have high expectations. I’m looking forward to getting started.”

Added Foust, “I think the car was not the quickest on the gravel. We’ve worked hard to get better dirt performance out of the car, speaking of the Beetle specifically.

“I think that when it came to us, it came to the men and women that built the Polos for VW. It was an incredibly strong car but not built for hand-to-hand combat. It got bumped and knocked. We could improve upon this structurally from a contact standpoint.”

Last year Speed finished third in points, with the series-high three wins, while Foust was ninth with one. Figure both should be in the top-five this year, with at least one if not both in title contention.

Toyota No. 8 car wins the 24 Hours of Le Mans for third consecutive year

24 Hours of Le Mans

LE MANS, France — Toyota Gazoo’s No. 8 car comfortably won the 24 Hours of Le Mans by five laps Sunday to secure a third straight victory in the prestigious endurance race.

It was also a third consecutive win for Swiss driver Sebastien Buemi and Japan’s Kazuki Nakajima driving. Brendon Hartley was the other driver, having replaced two-time Formula One champion Fernando Alonso.

Buemi and Hartley sat on the side of the car as Nakajima drove toward the podium. Hartley won for a second time after tasting success with the Porsche LMP Team in 2017 before an unhappy season in Formula One.

The Swiss team’s Rebellion No. 1 featured American driver Gustavo Menezes and Brazilian Bruno Senna – the nephew of late F1 great Ayrton Senna.

It finished one lap ahead of Toyota Gazoo’s No. 7, with Rebellion’s No. 3 finishing in fourth place.

For much of the race it looked like Toyota’s No. 7 would win after leading comfortably from pole position. But late into the night the car encountered an engine problem and the 30-minute stop in the stands proved costly.

The race was first held in 1923. A total of 252,500 spectators attended in 2019, but there were none this year when the race started three months late because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“We miss the fans,” New Zealander Hartley said. “I look forward to seeing all the fans again.”

In other divisions:

United Autosports won the LMP2 division with the entry of Filipe Albuquerque, Paul Di Resta and Phil Hanson.

–In LMGTE Pro, the victory was claimed by Aston Martin Vantage AMR of Maxime Martin, Alex Lynn and Harry Tincknell (who drives for Mazda in the DPi division of IMSA).

–TF Sport won the LMGTE Am class.

The Toyota No. 7 took pole after former F1 driver Kamui Kobayashi narrowly edged out the Rebellion No. 1 team in qualifying.

In damp and humid conditions Mike Conway got away cleanly from the start, while Senna held off Buemi.

After nearly seven hours, Toyota’s No. 8 fell back after a 10-minute stop in the stands to fix a brake-cooling problem on Kazuki Nakajima’s car. Rebellion’s No. 1, driven by Frenchman Norman Nato, took advantage to move into second place behind Toyota’s No. 7.

Then came the decisive moment at 2:40 a.m. as the No. 7 – also featuring Argentine Jose Maria Lopez – encountered a turbo problem. When the car came back out it was back in fourth.

“We had a few problems early in the race,” Nakajima said. “Later they had a bigger issue than us.”

Rebellion’s No. 1 encountered a problem on the hood at around 9 a.m. and the change took six minutes, allowing the Rebellion No. 3 (Nathanael Berthon-Louis Deletraz-Romain Dumas) to close the gap.

It was becoming a tight battle between the two Rebellion cars behind Toyota’s No. 8.

At 12 p.m. Rebellion No. 3 with Dumas behind the wheel was only one second ahead of No. 1 driven by Menezes. Then both cars came in for a driver change with Deletraz swapping for Dumas on a lengthy stop, and Nato for Menezes as Rebellion No. 1 suddenly moved ahead of its team rival.

Dumas, a winner in 2016 with Porsche, appeared unhappy at the strategy decision to bring his car in first and the length of the stop. There were tense explanations in the team garage.

Colombian Tatiana Calderon, an F1 test driver with Alfa Romeo, was in the Richard Mille Racing Team in the LMP2 category. She was joined by German Sophia Florsch – an F3 driver – and Dutchwoman Beitske Visser. They placed ninth out of 24 in their category.