The ByKolles LMP1 team has confirmed that Marco Bonanomi will join its line-up for the 24 Hours of Le Mans after James Rossiter was forced to withdraw from the event due to clashing commitments.
Rossiter raced in the opening two rounds of the FIA World Endurance Championship season alongside Oliver Webb and Dominik Kraihamer, the trio finishing sixth overall at Spa last month in the ENSO CLM P1/01 car.
However, Rossiter has been forced into testing a Super GT car for Toyota over the Le Mans weekend and is unable to race, with Audi factory driver Bonanomi taking his place.
“We deeply regret that James had to call off his participation at Le Mans just to attend a test in Japan,” ByKolles director of racing operations Boris Bermes said.
“We had to find a replacement on short notice. In Marco Bonanomi, we found a very fast and experienced LMP1 driver. Marco already was racing on the highest level at Le Mans as an Audi factory driver three times.
“During our test in Spa-Francorchamps last week, we were convinced by his unsurpassed qualities and we could make further progress with our car. We will be well positioned at Le Mans in regards to technic and drivers.”
“I am very happy that I am allowed to climb into the ByKolles Racing car for the best and most important race of the year,” said Bonanomi, who last raced at Le Mans in 2015.
“In the course of my career, the participation in the 24 Hours of Le Mans was always a dream. Being on the podium at my debut in 2012 will stay in my memory forever.
“This race has so much history and holds a great fascination. You can feel the atmosphere in the cockpit and soak it up literally.
“I would like to thank the team for giving me this chance. I cannot wait to race a LMP1 car at the Sarthe again.”
Chase Sexton stumbled in San Diego and Eli Tomac had a hard fall in Anaheim 2, but the Monster Energy Supercross numbers for Houston suggest they will continue to be the ones to beat in Houston. To do so, they will have to turn back challenges from another pair of riders who have swept the top five in the first three rounds and another with a worst finish of sixth.
There are reasons to believe Webb and Roczen can keep those streaks alive.
Webb is the only multiple winner at Supercross’ current Houston stadium. His pair of wins came in 2019 and 2021, the same year he won his two 450 championships.
Clinton Fowler points out this week, that Webb has carried that strength into 2023. Webb had a late surge in Anaheim 1, advancing from fifth to second in the final six laps. In San Diego, he set his ninth fastest lap with two to go and his eighth fastest on the final lap. He posted his fastest lap of Anaheim 2 on Lap 12 while the rest of the field did so on Lap 6 on average.
By comparison, Tomac set his 14th fastest lap on the final circuit in route to winning the Main at San Diego while he was trying to keep Webb at bay.
With a sixth at San Diego, Dylan Ferrandis barely missed sweeping the top five in his first three races as did Tomac with a sixth last week at Anaheim 2.
This will be the 46th year Supercross has visited Houston and with 55 races the city is tied for the second-most with Detroit.
Webb won most recently in 2021 in the final race of three held there that year as the series executed a strategy of racing in residencies to limit travel during height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Tomac and Justin Barcia also won in Houston in 2021.
Two privateers have started the season on a high note.
Joshua Cartwright and Joshua Varize have each made the last two Mains. Cartwright finished 18th in San Diego and 21st last week in Anaheim 2 – all while working fulltime as a Business Intelligence Analyst at the University of Texas, Dallas. Varize earned a top-15 (12th) in San Diego and was 21st in Anaheim 2 in his third season on a 450.
The numbers show none of the active 250 Supercross East riders have won in Houston, so no matter who steps on top of the box, there is going to be a fresh face. That is not surprising since most of the top competitors have not raced at this venue yet.
Michael Mosiman has a pair of top-fives there, however. His best finish was a second in the second 2021 race. Garrett Marchbanks scored a top-10 in his rookie season of 2019 in Houston.
In the 250 East division, Hunter Lawrence is one of the favorites to win the title now that Christian Craig has moved to 450s. Last year he had four wins and nine podiums, but failed to set a fast lap in a race.