The lone Audi Sport LMP1 driver who has found a full-time ride in next year’s FIA World Endurance Championship, Andre Lotterer, has made his debut aboard his new car with his new team this week.
Lotterer joined several others of his Porsche Team drivers at a test at the Motorland Aragon circuit in Spain. Porsche LMP1 head Fritz Ensinger officially welcomed Lotterer to the team after the images were revealed.
He’ll be part of a new-look lineup in the No. 1 Porsche 919 Hybrid next year, with reigning World Champion Neel Jani and Porsche factory ace Nick Tandy, who’s now a full-time LMP1 driver after stepping up from the Porsche GT program. Brendon Hartley, Timo Bernhard and Earl Bamber, who replaces the retired Mark Webber, are in the No. 2 Porsche.
The three-time 24 Hours of Le Mans winner and 2012 FIA WEC World Champion shifts to Porsche for the 2017 campaign, following Audi’s withdrawal from the championship announced late last year. He has competed in every FIA WEC race since the series’ inception at 2012 at the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, one of only a handful of drivers to do so.
The remainder of Audi’s six factory drivers are yet to sort their FIA WEC plans. Loic Duval and Audi GT ace Rene Rast will join the manufacturer’s DTM program. Lucas di Grassi is set to focus on FIA Formula E with the Audi ABT Schaeffler squad, while Oliver Jarvis, Marcel Fassler and Benoit Treluyer’s full 2017 programs remain to be determined.
Fassler and Duval will race at the Rolex 24 at Daytona, Fassler in an encore with Corvette Racing while Duval will make a one-off run with Elton Julian’s DragonSpeed team.
The Red Bull Racing pit crew may have already made headlines last weekend when it completed the fastest pit stop in Formula One history, changing Max Verstappen’s tires in 1.82 seconds, but the team’s most recent stunt took their skills to new heights – quite literally.
With the help of the Russian Space agency Roscomos, a group of the team’s mechanics completed the world’s first zero-gravity pit stop, on-board a IIyushin II-76K cosmonaut training plane.
Using a 2005 BR1, the team filmed the viral video over the course of a week, enduring seven flights and about 80 parabolas – periods in which the plane climbs 45 degrees before falling again at a ballistic arch of 45 degrees, creating a period of weightlessness for approximately 22 seconds.
With such a short time frame between weightlessness periods, the car and equipment had to be both quickly and safely secured before gravity once again took effect. Each filming lasted roughly 15 seconds, and the stunt was the most physically and technically demanding activity the live demo team had ever undertaken.
“It pushed us harder than I thought it would,” said Red Bull Support Team Mechanic Joe Robinson. “You realize how much you rely on gravity when you don’t have any!
“It challenges you to think and operate in a different way – and that was brilliant. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity and honestly, I could have stayed and done it all month. It was amazing. I think it’s the coolest, most fun thing the Live Demo team has ever done with a show car.”
Though Red Bull was the first team to perform a pit stop in zero gravity, surprisingly Red Bull was not the first team to put a car through zero gravity. In 1999, McLaren driver David Coulthard and his car experienced zero gravity as part of a promotion for then-sponsor West Cigarettes.
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