Provisional 2017 FIA Driver Ratings are out, as is the consternation

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“It’s the most wonderful time… of the year,” is a lyric that comes around this time of year for Andy Williams’ fabled Christmas carol.

It vehemently does not apply to sports car racing in mid-to-late November and early December, when the next round of FIA Driver Ratings comes out for the following season.

Last week, the provisional 2017 FIA Driver Ratings list came out.

As usual, there’s a few questionable examples of drivers who are ranked as Silver – unofficially called “Super Silver” – whereby their line of results and/or age qualifies them for an amateur rating despite the fact they’re either a young pro unproven in sports car racing or an old pro who’s 55 years of age or older.

Two particularly humorous examples of this come with the lineups in 3GT Racing’s pair of Lexus RC F GT3s and in Michael Shank Racing’s pair of Acura NSX GT3s.

The Lexus lineups are Sage Karam and Scott Pruett in one car, and Jack Hawksworth and Robert Alon in the other. Karam and Hawksworth – young IndyCar drivers-turned-sports car full-timers who still hope to keep the open-wheel dreams alive at some stage – are the Gold-rated drivers, even though neither has a full-season of sports car experience.

Pruett is tied as the winningest driver overall at the Rolex 24 at Daytona with five, and Alon starred in IMSA’s PC class last year… yes they run the gamut of experience in sports car racing but because of Pruett’s age, he’s considered the “am” in that car while Alon is a more traditional Silver.

Shank, meanwhile, has four full pro drivers in Katherine Legge, Ozz Negri, Jeff Segal and Andy Lally as the full-timers for Acura. But because of Legge’s recent results and Negri’s age, they’re considered Silvers, while Segal got bumped up for seemingly the umpteenth time from Silver to Gold.

In both cases, you cannot fault the teams from playing the game to their advantage, but just because they’ve played the game well to their advantage does not mean the game is a good game.

The “Super Silver” problem is arguably the biggest one from a pro-am system designed to actually have pros and ams sharing a same car.

Then again, if you’re a businessman who enjoys racing, why do you even want to be called an “am” in the first place?

In my view, you’re only an amateur if A., you have no experience whatsoever – whereas guys like Ben Keating have years of it and are successful businessmen – or B., you’re a wanker who can’t get out of his/her own way and actually draws the ire of your competitors for poor pace and/or poor race craft. Otherwise, you’re a “gentleman driver,” which isn’t much better of a descriptor, but a descriptor that at least makes you feel like you belong rather than being an “am” which makes you feel like you don’t.

Lest IMSA’s WeatherTech Championship be the only area of confusion over driver ratings, this issue has also cropped up in the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge – where a memo came out that Platinum-rated drivers are no longer eligible from 2017.

This is stupid because in a series primarily featuring gentlemen drivers, they want to judge themselves against the best without paying the costs of a WeatherTech budget.

And the removal of would-be Platinum drivers would prevent the kind of battles we saw this year in GS, for instance, where a younger pro driver who’s relatively inexperienced in sports cars such as Danny Burkett could go head-to-head vs. a Billy Johnson or a Scott Maxwell and try to prove himself or get better (which he did over the course of the year). Same with Trent Hindman – a young ace – versus arguably one of the best sports car drivers in the planet in Jeroen Bleekemolen.

Also stupid about this? Within the same memo, it says “having a driver rating is not required.” Yet if you’re the highest driver rating, you can’t race.

Here’s the line:

“Drivers in Continental Challenge are not required to possess a FIA Driver Rating, however, Drivers listed on the FIA Driver Categorization List as rated Platinum are prohibited from participation and additional limits may be applied at the sole discretion of IMSA.”

And again, lest IMSA be the only series where this is an issue, also look at the FIA World Endurance Championship – where Tequila Patron ESM purposely trolled the ratings system by running its actual gentleman driver, Chris Cumming (Bronze-rated), up against three pros from G-Drive Racing (Rene Rast), RGR Sport (Filipe Albuquerque) and Signatech Alpine (Nicolas Lapierre).

The ESM Ligier JS P2 Nissan was leading the race courtesy of Ryan Dalziel and Pipo Derani, and while Cumming fought valiantly as best he could in the final hour and 15 minutes and change, he was simply unable to match the true pros. Not his fault; the Canadian is a gentleman driver and Rast and Albuquerque were Audi factory drivers, and Lapierre used to be one for Toyota. That dropped them to P4.

The Cummings and Ricardo Gonzalezes of the world don’t want to be up against all-pro lineups in a class designed to have one gentlemen driver, but they press on anyway.

Driver ratings appear set to also be a thing throughout Pirelli World Challenge next season too, with its varied complement of classes and race styles (sprint vs. SprintX), so that’ll be fun to witness the consternation there as well.

So, driver ratings. This is why, as I’ve said before, even if you work in or cover sports car racing, it’s still bloody confusing.

2023 SuperMotocross Power Rankings after Detroit: Chase Sexton narrowly leads Cooper Webb


For the fifth time in 10 rounds of the 2023 Monster Energy Supercross season, the three riders at the top of the championship standings shared a podium and while those points tell one story, the NBC SuperMotocross Power Rankings after Detroit tell a slightly different tale.

SuperMotocross Power Rankings Detroit
Cooper Webb is peaking at the right time. – Feld Motor Sports

Chase Sexton has been all but perfect during the past 45 days with podium finishes in each of his heats and Triple Crown features. His only stumble during this period was a 10th-place finish in the Indianapolis Main. Last week, Sexton was perfect with wins in both his heat and the feature, although he needed a little help from an Aaron Plessinger mistake to take the top spot on the podium at the end of the night.

Cooper Webb finished fifth at Houston and was beginning to worry ever so slightly about his position in the points. Prior to the race in Tampa, he told NBC Sports that it was time to win and like Babe Ruth pointing to the outfield fence, Webb went out and captured it. Following that race, Webb has swept the podium and earned the red plate two weeks ago in Indianapolis. At Detroit, he added two more points on Eli Tomac as the season begins to wind down.

Tomac struggled with a stiff neck at Indianapolis and after a modest third-place showing in Detroit, he revealed he was still suffering a little. Webb and Sexton have been able to close the gap on Tomac in the past 45 days, but one of the main reasons he is so close in the points was a pair of wins that started the year. Seattle is going to be important for the defending champion because Tomac cannot afford to lose any more momentum with seven rounds remaining.

MORE: Chase Sexton inherits the win in Detroit

It appeared Jason Anderson was turning things around. He earned his fifth heat win at Detroit, which was also his sixth consecutive race (including features) in which he scored a top-five. A fall in the Detroit Main dropped him a lap off the pace and sent him home with a season-worst finish of ninth, causing a ripple effect in the SuperMotocross Power Rankings.

Justin Barcia was a huge part of the show last week in Detroit. He swapped positions with both Webb and Tomac in the middle stage of the race, which allowed Sexton to close the gap. Barcia finished fourth in that race to earn his third consecutive top-five. He’s been outside the top 10 only once in the first 10 rounds.

Adam Cianciarulo had a great start to the Main. He led a couple of laps before losing a lap and slipping back to eighth in the final rundown. That run was strong enough to elevate him three positions in the SuperMotocross Power Rankings after Detroit.

450 Rankings

Driver Percentage
1. Chase Sexton
[2 Main, 6 Heat wins]
87.00 1 0
2. Cooper Webb
[2 Main, 1 Heat win]
86.71 2 0
3. Eli Tomac
[5 Main, 6 Heat wins]
84.57 3 0
4. Jason Anderson
[5 Heat wins]
80.71 4 0
5. Ken Roczen
[1 Main, 1 Heat win]
80.50 5 0
6. Justin Barcia
[1 Heat win]
79.07 7 1
7. Aaron Plessinger 77.14 6 -1
8. Adam Cianciarulo 69.75 11 3
9. Christian Craig 68.86 10 1
10. Justin Cooper 63.90 9 -1
11. Justin Hill 58.57 15 4
12. Dean Wilson 51.50 12 0
13. Colt Nichols 51.25 13 0
14. Shane McElrath 46.86 17 3
15. Josh Hill 46.79 16 1
16. Benny Bloss 45.31 18 2
17. Jared Lesher 39.00 NA
18. Joey Savatgy 38.63 14 -4
19. Cade Clason 37.50 21 2
20. Grant Harlan 35.54 23 3

Supercross 450 Points

The NBC SuperMotocross Power Rankings look at the past 90 days in the 250 class in order to have a balanced comparison between the East and West divisions and Hunter Lawrence has been all but perfect this year. At Detroit, he earned his fifth win of the season and kept alive a streak of podium finishes in six rounds. He tied his brother Jett Lawrence with 10 250 wins one week before the West riders take to the track for back-to-back races at Seattle, Washington and Glendale, Arizona.

SuperMotocross Power Rankings Detroit
Nate Thrasher is settling into a comfortable role as ‘best in class’. – Feld Motor Sports

The Lawrence brothers are dominating the points in each of their respective divisions, which means the remainder of the field is battling to be best in class.

In the East, that rider is Nate Thrasher, who beat Hunter in a head-to-head matchup in their heat only to finish second in the main when the majority of points were awarded. Thrasher seems to have accepted his position in the championship standings, but that doesn’t mean he won’t keep trying for wins.

Haiden Deegan showed a lot of aggression in his heat last week. He threw a couple of block passes at his teammate Jordon Smith and set up a series of events that kept Smith from making the big show while Deegan settled into second in the preliminary. Deegan was unconcerned about how he raced his teammate and would not let a little controversy keep him from celebrating his second career podium in Detroit.

Supercross 250 Points

Jeremy Martin just keeps clicking off solid results. He won his heat last week by making a pass on Deegan and Smith while they were in the heat of their battle. Martin finished fourth in the Main, which means he continues to have only one finish worse than sixth in any of the features or mains.

Smith fell one position in the points standings, but the damage was even worse in SuperMotocross Power Rankings after Detroit. Crash damage in his heat contributed to a last-place finish in that race, for which he earned minimal points. He was not able to advance from the Last Chance Qualifier after stalling his bike in heavy traffic.

250 Rankings

Rider Power
1. Hunter Lawrence – E
[5 Main, 5 Heat wins]
90.43 1 0
2. Jett Lawrence – W
[3 Main, 3 Heat wins]
90.30 2 0
3. Nate Thrasher – E
[1 Main, 3 Heat wins]
84.00 5 2
4. Cameron McAdoo – W
[1 Heat win]
79.80 9 5
5. Haiden Deegan – E
[1 Heat win]
78.21 7 2
6. Jeremy Martin – E
[2 Heat wins]
78.00 8 2
7. Jordon Smith – E
[3 Heat Wins]
76.77 4 -3
8. Levi Kitchen – W
[1 Main]
75.30 3 -5
9. Mitchell Oldenburg – W 75.20 11 2
10. RJ Hampshire – W
[4 Heat wins]
74.50 17 7
11. Max Anstie – E 74.43 6 -5
12. Tom Vialle – E 72.07 12 0
13. Max Vohland – W 71.56 10 -3
14. Stilez Robertson – W
[1 Heat win]
69.22 14 0
15. Chris Blose – E 67.43 18 3
16. Chance Hymas – E 67.10 15 -1
17. Enzo Lopes – W 66.00 20 3
18. Michael Mosiman – E 65.80 16 -2
19. Pierce Brown – W 65.78 13 -6
20. Phil Nicoletti – W 59.25 21 1

* 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 for the 450 class and last 90 days for 250s (because of the split nature of their season).

POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 8 AT DAYTONA: Chase Sexton unseats Eli Tomac
POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 7 AT ARLINGTON: Jason Anderson narrowly trails Tomac
POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 6 AT OAKLAND: Perfect night keeps Tomac first
POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 5 AT TAMPA: Sexton, Cooper Webb close in
POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 4 AT HOUSTON: Tomac rebounds from A2 crash, retakes lead
POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 3 AT ANAHEIM 2: Consistency makes Ken Roczen king
POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 2 AT SAN DIEGO: Roczen moves up, Sexton falls
POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 1 AT ANAHEIM 1: Tomac, Jett Lawrence gain an early advantage