Wurz: Closed cockpits ‘the most logical choice’

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Grand Prix Drivers’ Association chairman Alexander Wurz has become the latest figure to support the drive for the introduction of closed cockpits to single seater racing, believing it to be “the most logical choice”.

The debate about closed cockpits and driver safety in single seater racing has been reignited in recent weeks following the death of IndyCar driver Justin Wilson at Pocono Raceway last month.

Wilson was struck on the head by debris from another car that had crashed and died one day later due to the severe injury that he had sustained.

Other accidents for Felipe Massa (2009), Henry Surtees (2009) and Jules Bianchi (2014) have also prompted many to call for the introduction of closed cockpits to single seater cars, where drivers’ heads are currently exposed.

Speaking to MotorSportsTalk, Wurz explained his involvement in the research into closed cockpits and expressed his belief that they would one day be introduced.

“I’ve been – me, personally, as the GPDA director – in the research group of the institute and we have looked into the canopy and everything,” Wurz said.

“I’m a big supporter of this idea. I always have been. I’ve been quite public a few years ago about it.

“And I think we’re all going to end up with the most logical choices to protect the drivers which is in the closed cockpit.

“It’s called ‘open wheel racing’ and not ‘open cockpit racing’. I think evolution will bring us there in the end.”

Wurz explained how the GPDA is continuing to push for improved safety standards in Formula 1 and global motorsport, with particular attention being paid to head and back injuries.

“It’s always in the spotlight and we’ve always pushed,” Wurz said. “We work very closely with the FIA institute on improving. But such tragic reminders such as Justin or Jules… just keeps accelerating the process.

“We still have a long way to go. We are a long way better than we have been, but it’s an ever-learning curve and currently full attention is on head and back injuries whilst until 15, 20, 30 years ago it was more you were breaking your legs when chassis were ripped apart etc.

“Now it seems we have to really pay attention to quite a few back injuries we have seen with impact forces and compression breaks, and obviously head injuries from Henry Surtees onwards to now Justin.

“So it’s definitely and area we need to look into, and we are looking into.”

Final 2023 Rolex 24 at Daytona results, stats

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — The 2023 Rolex 24 at Daytona overall results were all streaks: two consecutive victories in the endurance classic for Meyer Shank Racing and three in a row for Acura.

And Helio Castroneves became the second driver to win three consecutive Rolex 24s and the first to win in three straight years (Peter Gregg won in 1973, ’75 and ’76; the race wasn’t held in ’74 because of a global oil crisis).

Starting from the pole position, Tom Blomqvist took the checkered flag in the No. 60 ARX-06 that led a race-high 365 of 783 laps with co-drivers Castroneves, Simon Pagenaud and Colin Braun.

RESULTS: Click here for the finishing order in the 61st Rolex 24 at Daytona l By class

Meyer Shank Racing now has two Rolex 24 victories and the 2022 championship since entering the premier prototype category of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship in 2021.

“I think what’s so special about this team is we are a small team compared to some of our opponents, but the atmosphere, the way we work, enables people to get the best out of themselves, and I think that’s why we’re such high achievers,” Blomqvist said. “I think there’s no egos. It’s a very open book, and that just enables each and every one of us to reach our potential. I think that’s why we’ve achieved so much success in really a short time at this level of competition.”

It’s the 16th IMSA victory for MSR.

The 61st running of the Rolex 24 at Daytona marked the debut of the Grand Touring Prototype category that brought hybrid engine technology to IMSA’s top level.

In other categories:

LMP2: James Allen passed Ben Hanley on the final lap and delivered a victory in the No. 55 ORECA by 0.016 seconds. It’s the second IMSA victory for Proton Competition, which last won at Sebring in 2012. It was the first Rolex 24 victory for Allen and co-drivers Gianmaria Bruni, Fred Poordad and Francesco Pizzi.

GTD Pro: Cooper MacNeil won in the last start of his IMSA career as the No. 79 Mercedes-AMG GT3 scored the first Rolex 24 at Daytona for WeatherTech Racing and the team’s fourth career victory.

MacNeil, who co-drove with Maro Engel, Jules Gounon and Daniel Juncadella, earned his 12th career victory and first at the Rolex 24.

“Winning by last IMSA race is tremendous,” MacNeil said.

GTD: The No. 27 Heart of Racing Team delivered the first Rolex 24 at Daytona for Aston Martin, which has been competing in endurance races at Daytona International Speedway since 1964. Drivers Marco Sorensen, Roman De Angelis, Darren Turner and Ian James (also the team principal) earned the victory in the English brand’s 13th attempt.

It’s also the first Rolex 24 at Daytona win for Heart of Racing, which has seven IMSA wins.

LMP3: Anthony Mantella, Wayne Boyd, Nico Varrone and Thomas Merrill drove the No. 17 AWA Duqueine D08 to victory by 12 laps for the team’s first class win in IMSA.


STATS PACKAGE FOR ROLEX 24 HOURS OF DAYTONA:

Fastest laps by driver

Fastest laps by driver after race (over the weekend)

Fastest laps by driver and class after race

Fastest lap sequence

Lap chart

Leader sequence

Race analysis by lap

Stint analysis

Time cards

Pit stop time cards

Best sector times

Race distance and speed average

Flag analysis

Weather report

NEXT: The 2023 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season will resume with the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring March 18 with coverage across NBC, USA and Peacock.