Photo: Porsche

FIA WEC: Porsche claims 1-2 at Nurburgring

Leave a comment

Porsche Team dominated proceedings in Sunday’s 6 Hours of Nürburgring, the first post-24 Hours of Le Mans race of the 2017 FIA World Endurance Championship season.

The No. 2 Porsche 919 Hybrid that won at Le Mans carried through to a second straight win with the trio of Earl Bamber, Brendon Hartley and Timo Bernhard. It’s also Bernhard and Hartley’s third straight victory at the Nürburgring, having done so with Mark Webber each of the last two years.

This car moved ahead of the sister No. 1 car on the final pit stop sequence, done just within the final 15 minutes of the race. The No. 1 car of Neel Jani, Nick Tandy and Andre Lotterer led most of the race but pitted for its final stop with 15 minutes remaining on Lap 196, with the No. 2 car pitting a lap later after inheriting the lead, completing a shorter stop and staying out front to the flag.

Porsche now has its first overall 1-2 finish in the FIA WEC since, surprisingly, Shanghai in 2015. Although Porsche won a number of races in 2016, all of them saw either Audi or Toyota come second.

Toyota was down to a single bullet today almost from the off, with the No. 8 Toyota TS050 Hybrid of Sebastien Buemi, Anthony Davidson and Kazuki Nakajima having had a fuel pump issue at the start of the race, and having lost five laps.

While the car made it back to fourth overall it was never in with a shout of a result from there, finishing behind the pair of Porsches and the No. 7 Toyota, in the hands of Kamui Kobayashi, Mike Conway and the returning Jose Maria Lopez.

Jackie Chan DC Racing’s dream season in LMP2 continued with its third win in four races for the trio of Ho-Pin Tung, Oliver Jarvis and Thomas Laurent in the No. 38 Oreca 07 Gibson. It was a dominant win in the nearly all-spec class over the No. 31 Vaillante Rebellion Oreca and No. 36 Signatech Alpine Matmut Alpine A470 cars, the latter car having got ahead of the second Rebellion in the final hour.

In GTE-Pro, AF Corse’s No. 51 Ferrari 488 GTE broke through for its first win of the year, with the new pairing of Alessandro Pier Guidi and James Calado winning their first race as teammates. The No. 71 car of Sam Bird and Davide Rigon won at Spa. This Ferrari victory made it the first manufacturer to get to two wins in the category after Ford (Silverstone), Ferrari (Spa) and Aston Martin (Le Mans) won the first three races.

Porsche’s new mid-engined 911 RSR looked promising after its first WEC pole set on Saturday, but was unable to break through for its first win yet on a global platform. Nonetheless the pair of cars, the No. 91 of Richard Lietz and Fred Makowiecki and No. 92 of Kevin Estre and Michael Christensen, completed the podium for Porsche’s first double podium of the year.

Porsche’s older and previous generation 911 RSR did break through in GTE-Am with the No. 77 Dempsey-Proton Racing, the Proton team’s first win in WEC since the Bahrain season finale last year. Christian Ried shared the car with young guns Marvin Dienst and Matteo Cairoli, the latter two winning their first races in FIA WEC. The No. 54 Spirit of Race Ferrari was second with the No. 98 Aston Martin third to make it three manufacturers in as many positions.

The FIA WEC has another month-plus break before its next race at Mexico City the first weekend in September.

Mario Andretti says Colton Herta could be next American star in F1

Leave a comment

Mario Andretti’s last Formula One victory is also the last by an American driver in more than 42 years on the international open-wheel road racing series.

If you had told Andretti that while he was celebrating on the Grand Prix of the Netherlands podium on Aug. 27, 1978 at the Vandzoort circuit, he wouldn’t have believed it.

“Absolutely not,” Andretti told Kyle Petty during the most recent “Coffee With Kyle” episode (video above). “It’s a shame. Somehow we have so much talent here, and either there’s no invitation or something there. But I think it’s time to give some of this young talent that, in my opinion, is absolutely capable.”

The Dutch GP was the last of Andretti’s 12 victories in F1 and came during his championship season. No one since has come close to matching his success in F1.

Mario Andretti drives his Lotus-Ford to victory in the 1978 Grand Prix of the Netherlands (Bernard Cahier/Getty Images).

Andretti’s son, Michael, took a full-time ride with McLaren in 1993 but left with three races remaining in a season marred by crashes and mechanical problems.

Scott Speed was the last American to run a full F1 season in 2006, and Alexander Rossi made the most recent F1 start by a U.S. driver in 2015. Rossi has said he has no desire to return to racing in Europe after winning the 2016 Indianapolis 500 and becoming an IndyCar championship contender.

But Mario Andretti believes Andretti Autosport has another rising star with F1-caliber ability.

“Colton Herta is one that comes to mind,” Mario Andretti said. “As a young lad, his dad sent him to Europe, he was doing Formula 3, and he knows most of the circuits there. He’s trained. He’s showed in his rookie season and won some premium races at COTA (and Laguna Seca), beat two of the very best Indy has to offer (in) Will Power and Scott Dixon.

“This is one kid I’d love to see him get a break over there to fly the U.S. colors again.”

Herta, 20, seems interested in exploring an F1 leap over the next few years. After winning Sept. 13 at Mid-Ohio from the pole position (his third career victory in the NTT IndyCar Series), the No. 88 Dallara-Honda driver is ranked fourth in the standings in his sophomore year and regarded as one of the series’ top prospects.

Herta recently told RACER.com “I’d love to give Formula 1 a crack” but said he also would be happy driving in IndyCar and IMSA.

A naturalized U.S. citizen who told Petty about spending several years with his family in an Italian refugee camp before coming to America, Mario Andretti said F1 brought an enormous sense of patriotic pride.

“Formula One is like the Olympics in a sense,” he said. “You’re in a different country, a different continent. When you earn that highest step of the podium, they play your national anthem. That’s when you take nothing for granted. You feel like I’m representing my country, and the proudest moments are those.

“I’d just like to see some other American drivers experience that. It’s time.”

Mario Andretti with four-time NASCAR champion Jeff Gordon and six-time Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton before the Nov. 22, 2015 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images).

During the “Coffee With Kyle” conversation, Andretti also discussed:

–His versatility as a winner in IndyCar, sports cars, NASCAR and Formula One;

–His 1967 Daytona 500 victory and how he enjoyed racing with crew chief Jake Elder at the famed Holman-Moody team;

Mario Andretti Colton Herta
Mario Andretti and Kyle Petty saluted “The King” by wearing their Richard Petty-style hats during the latest “Coffee With Kyle” (NBCSN).

–Why he delayed his entry to F1 for a few years because of his earnings power in IndyCar. “I always say I’d race for free, but at the same time, you’re thinking of family and the future,” he said. “It was in the back of your mind that you can’t give up the earning power of IndyCar. That kept me from going full time in Formula One, but I always said that sometime in my career, I’d have to devote a period to Formula One.”

–On what it was like racing in an era when driver deaths were more prevalent. “If you’re going to do this, you’re not going to dwell on those negatives,” Andretti said. “There’s no way. You knew it was present. Especially in the ‘60s at the beginning of the season at the drivers meetings, you couldn’t help but look around and say, ‘I wonder who is not going to be here at the end of the season.’ We’d lose four to five guys. In ’64, we lost six guys.

“It’s something if you dwell on that, you’re going to take on a different profession. It’s a desire and love to want to drive that overcame all that and then the confidence it’s not going to happen to me. And then you pray.”

Watch the full “Coffee With Kyle” episode in the video above or by clicking here.

Mario Andretti looks on before the 103rd Indianapolis 500 on May 26, 2019 (Chris Graythen/Getty Images).