Red Bull GRC’s 2016 schedule has several IndyCar conflicts

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Five of the 12 rounds in the 2016 Red Bull Global Rallycross season, over four weekends, will run on the same weekend at a different location as the Verizon IndyCar Series.

While this might not seem to mean much given the wide gap in equipment, it’s very important to note.

There were five IndyCar or Indianapolis 500 teams which ran full GRC Supercars or GRC Lites programs in 2015: Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross, Chip Ganassi Racing, SH Rallycross, Bryan Herta Rallysport and Dreyer & Reinbold Racing.

There is not a ton, but still some, staff crossover that comes with these teams to try to utilize the same personnel at multiple events. Of that group, for example, only Andretti had a dedicated specific PR person just for GRC, while the other four teams had their IndyCar PR reps assist in the process, if not serve as the outright or lead PR person for the GRC program.

That becomes more difficult to accomplish when races are on different coasts at the same time, as at least one event will have to be covered remotely.

It also becomes harder for TV, noting that production was done last year by IMS Productions for all shows to be on NBC, and with NBC also and again committed to shows this year. The talent is different in most cases, but there is still some crossover between IndyCar and GRC talent at selected GRC rounds.

On the bright side, the first two conflicts from a TV standpoint are ABC races for IndyCar, so it’s the ABC/ESPN production happening on the IndyCar side compared to the NBC production group.

The five IndyCar/GRC conflicts are as follows next year:

Round Date   Location Conflict 
1 May 21 Phoenix, AZ (I)  Indy 500 quals (ABC)
2 May 22 Phoenix, AZ (II)  Indy 500 quals (ABC)
3 June 4 Dallas, TX  Detroit (ABC)
8 July 30 Washington, DC  Mid-Ohio (CNBC)
10 September 17 Seattle, WA  Sonoma (NBCSN)

There were just two conflicts between IndyCar and GRC last year and teams and partners who participate in both got through OK. Those occurred at Fort Lauderdale (IndyCar at Detroit) and X Games (non-points, IndyCar at Texas), and by June the schedule cleared up to where the rest of the GRC rounds did not fall on IndyCar weekends.

Here’s another less important wrinkle, but still good to note. GRC and F1 will race on the same weekend six times, including on five weekends when NASCAR would be on NBC.

Come July 2-3 when NASCAR returns to NBC for the second half of the season, it’s going to be a lot of channel and time surfing, most likely, to keep track of all four major motorsports properties (NASCAR, F1, IndyCar, GRC) across the NBC Sports Group family of networks.

Round Date   Location Conflict 
4 June 18 Daytona Beach, FL (I)  Baku
5 June 19 Daytona Beach, FL (II)  Baku
6 July 2 The Base (I)  Austria
7 July 3 The Base (II)  Austria
8 July 30 Washington, DC  Germany
9 August 28 TBA  Belgium
10 September 17 Seattle, WA  Singapore
11 October 8 Los Angeles, CA  Japan
12 October 9 Los Angeles, CA  Japan

Note there, there’s two weekends (July 30 and September 17) where all of F1, IndyCar and GRC will be running. Those weekends:

  • July 30: F1: Germany, IndyCar: Mid-Ohio, GRC: Washington DC
  • September 17: F1: Singapore, IndyCar: Sonoma, GRC: Seattle

There’s good faith in the process that everyone involved will get through. But if you’re involved in two or more series, get your calendars out and call up Dolly the Sheep for cloning advice…

The full Red Bull GRC 2016 schedule:

2016 Red Bull Global Rallycross Schedule

Round Date Location  
1 May 21 Phoenix, AZ (I)
2 May 22 Phoenix, AZ (II)
3 June 4 Dallas, TX
4 June 18 Daytona Beach, FL (I)
5 June 19 Daytona Beach, FL (II)
6 July 2 The Base (I)
7 July 3 The Base (II)
8 July 30 Washington, DC
9 August 28 TBA
10 September 17 Seattle, WA
11 October 8 Los Angeles, CA
12 October 9 Los Angeles, CA

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

24 Hours of Le Mans
JEAN-FRANCOIS MONIER/AFP via Getty Images
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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.