Photo courtesy of IMSA

IMSA: BAR1 steps up to prototype

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BAR1 Motorsports, stalwarts of the now defunct Prototype Challenge class of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and recent PC class winners at the Motul Petit Le Mans, confirmed on Tuesday that they will make the jump up to Prototype in 2018, using a Riley Mk. 30 Gibson platform. The team confirmed that it will contest the entirety of the 2018 season with its new chassis, doing so with an eye toward branching out even more in the future, possibly even to the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

“Obviously, this is an important step for us,” said team owner Brian Alder. “The move to LMP2 opens up a lot of opportunities for the team. Running in the series’ flagship class attracts a higher level of marketing partners, top tier drivers and, for me personally, a chance to return to Le Mans.”

Alder added that the team’s decision to use a Riley Mk. 30 comes after evaluating how the chassis is developing with help from Multimatic and Mazda Team Joest, whose Mazda RT24-P is based on the Riley chassis.

“After spending the past few months researching the different options for our move into the prototype class, we feel this car has the most potential of the P2 cars and is the best fit for our program in 2018,” Alder explained. “Multimatic’s continued support from Mazda and their new relationship with Team Joest only enhances the attractiveness of this program. Clearly, they learned quite a bit in 2017… I’ve seen first hand the changes they have made for 2018 and they are impressive. They have definitely done their homework and the initial testing results from overseas are exceeding everyone’s expectations.”

Further, the ACO’s decision to allow Ligier, Dallara, and Riley to update their respective LMP2 platforms – nicknamed a “joker” rule – also got the attention of Alder and team, noting that it signifies the importance of maintaining a competitive environment in the LMP2 field.

“The development allowances and ‘joker’ rule are very important to us,” Alder added. “It demonstrates that organizers are adamant in their desire to maintain the competitiveness of the class and their ultimate aim to ensure that LMP2 remains a category that contains variety and a high level of competitiveness.”

Further announcements regarding a driver lineup will be revealed in the coming weeks.

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Valtteri Bottas wins chaotic season-opening F1 Austrian Grand Prix

Mark Thompson/Getty Images
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SPIELBERG, Austria — Valtteri Bottas won a chaotic season-opening F1 Austrian Grand Prix while six-time series champion Lewis Hamilton finished fourth after getting a late time penalty Sunday.

The Formula One race was interrupted three times by a safety car, and nine of 20 drivers abandoned, including both Red Bulls of Max Verstappen and Alexander Albon – who tried to overtake Hamilton on the outside with 10 laps left, touched wheels and flew off track.

Hamilton was given a 5-second time penalty for causing the collision, having earlier been hit with a three-place grid penalty after an incident in Saturday’s qualifying was reviewed by stewards.

SHOW OF SUPPORT: Drivers take knee before race

Bottas led all 71 laps in the eighth victory of his career. It was the second consecutive victory in the season opener for the Finn, though he won four months earlier in 2019 after this season’s start was delayed by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Lando Norris of McLaren F1 celebrates after his first podium finish (Mark Thompson/Getty Images).

Bottas started from pole position and Hamilton from fifth, but it looked like a straight fight between the two Mercedes drivers as has been the case so often in recent years.

But late drama in Spielberg ensured otherwise and Hamilton’s time penalty meant Charles Leclerc took second place for Ferrari, and Lando Norris sent McLaren’s garage into raptures – and threw all social distancing rules out of the window amid the euphoria – with third place.

It was the 20-year-old British driver’s first career podium, and his superb final lap was the fastest of a dramatic season opener.

Norris became the youngest British driver to secure a podium finish and the third-youngest ever in Formula One.

Valtteri Bottas leads Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton during the Formula One Grand Prix of Austria (Mark Thompson/Getty Images).