Sebring weekend, Thursday notes

Photo courtesy of IMSA
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SEBRING, Fla. – Here’s a mix of news and nuggets from the ground at Sebring International Raceway, ahead of this weekend’s Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh from Florida.

The IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship has run two practice sessions, prior to night practice this evening from 7:30 to 9 p.m. ET and local time.

Meanwhile, the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge has qualified and the Mazda Prototype Lites presented by Cooper Tires and Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama have run their first races of the year.

IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship

  • Action Express Racing led both afternoon sessions. Dane Cameron’s 1:52.447 lap in the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Corvette DP was the fastest overall. Other class leaders in the morning were Colin Braun in the No. 54 CORE autosport Oreca FLM09 (PC), Dirk Werner in the No. 25 BMW Team RLL BMW M6 GTLM (GTLM) and Jeroen Bleekemolen in the No. 33 Riley Motorsports Dodge Viper GT3-R (GTD).
  • The No. 5 Corvette DP of Christian Fittipaldi was fastest in the afternoon at 1:53.850; times slowed as the heat increased. CORE also led in PC with Mark Wilkins, with Patrick Pilet in the No. 911 Porsche North America Porsche 911 RSR (GTLM) and Mathias Lauda in the No. 98 Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3 (GTD) were other class leaders.
  • In the third and final session, the 90-minute night practice, Action Express completed a Thursday practice session sweep. Filipe Albuquerque posted a 1:52.832 near the end of the session in the No. 5 car which was fastest by more than a second over the No. 55 Mazda Prototype, driven by Jonathan Bomarito. Braun completed a CORE practice sweep in PC, with Lucas Luhr top of GTLM in the No. 100 BMW and Bleekemolen again in the GTD lead. Bleekemolen’s best time of 2:03.417 was quicker than his pole time last year, which was a 2:03.485 lap.
  • The big story out of night practice was an accident for John Pew in the No. 60 Michael Shank Racing Ligier JS P2 Honda, in an odd accident where the car snapped right. Pew was evaluated and released from the infield care center but the Shank crew – not for the first time – has a long night of work ahead.
  • First and second session times are linked in this bullet point.
  • Add Jan Heylen and Ryan Lewis to the list of those competing this weekend, both in last minute call-ups. Heylen will be a fourth driver with the No. 73 Park Place Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R along with Joerg Bergmeister, Patrick Lindsey and Matt McMurry, while Lewis steps in for Tomy Drissi in the No. 20 BAR1 Motorsports Oreca FLM09 alongside Johnny Mowlem, Marc Drumwright and Don Yount.
  • Scott Dixon is expected to head to France next week for his simulator test ahead of his debut in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. All Le Mans rookies are required to pass the simulator test prior to racing at Circuit de la Sarthe – even if you’re a four-time and reigning Verizon IndyCar Series champion.
  • Cameron Lawrence hopes to have more races with Alegra Motorsports, which premieres the workhorse Riley-BMW DP this weekend. The team may continue with the car past this week in Sebring.
  • Both Stephen Simpson (JDC/Miller Motorsports) and Sean Johnston (Starworks Motorsport) like the electronic updates that have come to PC, with Simpson being particularly praiseworthy of the Motec system. Simpson seeks his second straight win after co-driving with Kenton Koch, Chris Miller and Misha Goikhberg to victory at Daytona.
  • Continental Tire helped Starworks get back to Sebring after Starworks had its transporter stolen last month. More here from Sportscar365.
  • Wednesday, IMSA took an all-car shot. It’s cool. It’s the lead image on this post.

Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge

  • Scott Maxwell (GS) and Tyler Cooke (ST) made it two non-Porsches that won pole positions in the heavily Porsche populated Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge. Maxwell co-drives the No. 15 Multimatic Motorsports Ford Shelby GT350R-C with Billy Johnson; Cooke co-drives the No. 84 Bimmerworld BMW 328i with James Clay. Qualifying results are linked here.

IMSA Development and Single-Make Series

  • Clark Toppe, who was the only other driver besides Kenton Koch to win in Mazda Prototype Lites presented by Cooper Tires competition last year, won Thursday’s season opener ahead of Pato O’Ward and Austin Versteeg. O’Ward raced last weekend in the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires, where he won the first of two races. Results are linked here.
  • Jesse Lazare, who returns to the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama this season, won the first race of that season. Results are linked here.
  • The IMSA North American Cup was announced Thursday, which will see joint races for Porsche’s USA and Canadian GT3 series at the Canadian Grand Prix weekend at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve June 10-12 and at Watkins Glen International June 30-July 2. You saw the U.S. name ahead and the Canadian series is called the Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Canada by Yokohama. More here from IMSA’s website.

2023 SuperMotocross Power Rankings after Houston: Eli Tomac retakes 450 lead, Hunter Lawrence tops 250s

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After his Anaheim 2 crash, Eli Tomac was surprised he was not injured, but despite getting knocked down momentarily, he picked himself up, rode to last week’s win and reascended to the top of the SuperMotocross Power Rankings after Houston. This is the third time in three weeks Tomac has topped the rankings.

SuperMotocross Power Rankings Houston
Jason Anderson has back-to-back podiums to his credit and sits second in the Power Rankings. – Feld Motor Sports/MX Sports Pro Racing/Align Media

Last week, Tomac finished second in his heat before winning the Main – and that translated to near-perfect points in the Power Rankings, which award 100 for a win in the feature and 90 for a heat victory. Tomac’s average was marred by the Houston accident when he finished 13th in that heat before settling just outside the top five in overall standings. Racing is about bouncing back and last year’s Supercross and Motocross champion Tomac did just that as he chases a third consecutive title.

Jason Anderson earned his second consecutive podium finish with a third at Houston. He momentarily rolled past Aaron Plessinger into second during a restart following an accident involving Dylan Ferrandis and held that position for four trips around the track until he was tracked down by Chase Sexton. Afterward Anderson faded and finished 12 seconds off the pace, but along with a heat win, he easily leapfrogged Ken Roczen and Cooper Webb, who struggled in the fourth race of the season.

MORE: Eli Tomac rebounds from Anaheim 2 crash with Houston win

Webb held his position by passing Roczen in NBC’s SuperMotocross Power Rankings after Houston. Webb has been solid in 2023 with a worst moto result of seventh in the first Triple Crown race at Anaheim 2, but in order to be considered a solid challenger to Tomac he needs to win either a heat or main this week in Tampa.

Roczen was involved in the incident that sidelined Ferrandis in Houston. Racing for eighth at the time, his bike may have sustained some damage when Ferrandis landed on his back tire, but he was not overly impressive in his heat either with a fifth-place finish. That was enough to drop him three positions in the standings, but he still has Tomac in sight.

After his disappointing heat in San Diego when he crashed and sustained enough damage to place him last, Sexton has roared back. He won the overall in Anaheim 2’s Triple Crown format and narrowed the points’ gap slightly on Tomac. Last week he yarded the field in his heat race and won by a wide margin. A modest start in the Main kept him from getting to Tomac’s back wheel early in the Houston round, and he lost a little ground in the championship.

450 Rankings

This
Week
Rider Power
Avg.
Last
Week
Diff.
1 Eli Tomac
[3 Main; 3 Heats Wins]
85.20 2 1
2 Jason Anderson
[2 Heat Wins]
82.60 4 2
3 Cooper Webb 82.10 3 0
4 Ken Roczen 81.70 1 -3
5 Chase Sexton
[1 Main; 3 Heat Wins]
80.70 6 1
6 Dylan Ferrandis 71.60 5 -1
7 Aaron Plessinger 71.30 8 1
8 Justin Barcia 70.10 7 -1
9 Justin Cooper 68.00 NA
10 Adam Cianciarulo 67.40 9 -1
11 Joey Savatgy 61.20 10 -1
12 Marvin Musquin 61.00 10 -2
13 Malcolm Stewart
[1 Heat Win]
58.75 11 -2
14 Christian Craig 57.20 13 -1
15 Colt Nichols 56.50 14 -1
16 Dean Wilson 49.30 15 -1
17 Justin Hill 39.67 18 1
18 Shane McElrath 36.33 22 4
19 Brandon Scharer 34.00 21 2
20 Logan Karnow 33.33 19 -1

Supercross 450 Points


The 250 East division debuted in Houston and with only one race – and therefore no chance yet to stumble – three of their riders jumped to the top of the chart.

Hunter Lawrence had a perfect week with wins in both his main and heat. It wasn’t without drama, however, as he was forced to jump wide early in the feature to avoid contact with Tom Vialle, who was making his Supercross debut. Without a former 250 champion in the field, it is guaranteed someone new will grace the top of the box at Salt Lake City after the season-ender and it looks like it’s going to be Lawrence’s to lose.

SuperMotocross Power Rankings Houston
Jordon Smith’s last podium before Houston came four years ago in Detroit. – Feld Motor Sports/MX Sports Pro Racing/Align Media

It was more than four years ago that Jordon Smith scored his last Supercross podium in Detroit. Despite finishing second that afternoon, he was battling a wrist injury that eventually sidelined him. More injuries have followed, but Smith was a favorite to win the title in 2019 and he’s shown how well he can ride when he’s healthy.

Debuting third in the Houston SuperMotocross Power Rankings, Max Anstie moved from the 450 class last year to 250s in 2023 and the change has gone better than he anticipated. Finishing second in both his heat and main, Anstie was edged by Smith because he finished second behind that rider in their heat. That is Anstie’s first top-10 since finishing sixth at Southwick, Massachusetts last year on his 450. In that race, he scored fifth-place results in both motos.

Supercross 250 Points

Haiden Deegan proved the hype surrounding his graduation into the 250 class was well deserved and he landed fourth in his division and fifth overall in the SuperMotocross Power Rankings. In his first professional Supercross race, he finished fourth in his heat. In a field with twice the talent, he finished fourth again in the main. At Houston, he balanced aggression with patience. Now that he has a taste of that success, everyone will be watching him closely at Tampa to see if he can continue tiptoeing on the line.

Michael Mosiman, Jeremy Martin, and Vialle are tied for fifth in the 250 East division and seventh overall.

Vialle is the most notable of these three because he challenged for a podium position during the Main before making a mistake and falling in a turn. Significantly, this was not only his 250 debut, but his first time in Supercross. As with Deegan, he has generated a lot of attention for the coming weeks.

250 Rankings

This
Week
Rider Power
Avg.
Last
Week
Diff.
1 Hunter Lawrence – E
[1 Main; 1 Heat Win]
95.00 NA
2 Jordon Smith – E
[1 Heat Win]
90.50 NA
2 Max Anstie – E 90.50 NA
4 Jett Lawrence – W
[2 Main; 2 Heat Wins]
89.13 1 -3
5 Haiden Deegan – E 81.50 NA
6 Cameron McAdoo – W
[1 Heat Win]
77.63 2 -4
7 Mitchell Oldenburg – W 77.00 3 -4
7 Michael Mosiman – E 77.00 NA
7 Jeremy Martin – E 77.00 NA
7 Tom Vialle – E 77.00 NA
11 Stilez Robertson – W
[1 Heat Win]
76.75 4 -7
12 Chance Hymas – E 74.50 -12
13 Levi Kitchen – W
[1 Main Win]
73.75 5 -8
14 RJ Hampshire – W
[3 Heat Wins]
70.00 6 -8
15 Max Vohland – W 69.29 7 -8
16 Cullin Park – E 66.00 NA
17 Chris Blose – E 65.50 NA
18 Derek Kelley – W 63.75 8 -10
19 Enzo Lopes – W 63.25 9 -10
20 Pierce Brown – W 61.29 10 -10

* The NBC Power Rankings assign 100 points to a Main event winner and 90 points for each Heat and Triple Crown win, (Triple Crown wins are included with heat wins below the rider’s name). The points decrement by a percentage equal to the number of riders in the field until the last place rider in each event receives five points. The Power Ranking is the average of these percentage points over the past 45 days.

POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 3 AT ANAHEIM 2: Consistency makes Ken Roczen king
POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 2 AT SAN DIEGO: Roczen moves up, Chase Sexton falls
POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 1 AT ANAHEIM 1: Eli Tomac, Jett Lawrence gain an early advantage