Lotus freight arrives late in Japan as financial concerns grow

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The financial uncertainty facing Lotus F1 Team grew in the lead up to this weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix as its freight only arrived at Suzuka halfway through Thursday.

Most of the teams had their freight delivered to the track well in advance of the weekend, allowing the crews to work on their cars and prepare accordingly for the race.

Lotus has faced a great amount of financial uncertainty in recent months, and although talks with Renault about a possibly buy-out for 2016 are ongoing, the future of the Enstone operation is becoming less and less clear.

The team’s freight only arrived at Suzuka on Thursday due to outstanding bills, leaving it with a race against time to get everything prepared for practice on Friday.

Remarkably, the crew was not forced to break its work curfew as it managed to get the cars set up and prepared, and even managed to make light of the situation with its choice of music.

Sadly though, it might well be a ‘road to nowhere’ for Lotus. Last week, the High Court in England agreed to adjourn a hearing relating to outstanding payments to Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC), saving the team from administration.

However, the judge did say that “it is to be regarded as a final adjournment”, with the next hearing scheduled for Monday following the Japanese Grand Prix.

“With the Renault deal still not done, they risk going back to court on Monday and then it is game over,” a source in Suzuka told MotorSportsTalk.

The team did not erect its hospitality unit on Thursday, leaving drivers Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado to complete their media commitments standing in the middle of a drizzly Suzuka paddock.

On Friday morning ahead of practice, it still remained empty.

Lotus confirmed via its Twitter account that it had been given access to the canteens used for the staff in Bernie Ecclestone’s VIP Paddock Club as the sport’s CEO ensured that the team did not go hungry.

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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.