INDYCAR: KOHLER Grand Prix at Road America Fast Facts

Scott Dixon celebrates last years win at Road America. Photo: IndyCar.
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After a weekend off, the Verizon IndyCar Series resumes with the 10th race of its 17-race 2018 season.

This weekend, the series visits one of the most popular and also most difficult road courses in the U.S., Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.

IndyCar points leader Scott Dixon is the defending race winner and comes into the weekend having won two of the last three races (Belle Isle 1 and Texas).

Don’t forget to tune in to the race on NBCSN.

Here’s what you need to know about this weekend’s event (courtesy IndyCar Media Relations):

INDYCAR: KOHLER Grand Prix Fast Facts

Race weekend: Friday, June 22 – Sunday, June 24

Track: Road America, a 4.014-mile, 14-turn permanent road course (clockwise) in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin

Race distance: 55 laps / 220.77 miles

Entry List: KOHLER Grand Prix (PDF)

Push-to-pass parameters: 200 seconds of total time with a maximum time of 20 seconds per activation.

Firestone tire allotment: Eight sets primary, four sets alternate. Teams must use one set of primary and one new set of alternate tires for at least two laps in the race.

Twitter: @RoadAmerica @IndyCar, #KOHLERGP, #IndyCar

Event website: www.roadamerica.com

INDYCAR website: www.IndyCar.com

2017 race winner: Scott Dixon (No. 9 NTT Data Honda)

2017 pole winner: Helio Castroneves (No. 3 REV Group Team Penske Chevrolet), 1 minute, 41.3007 seconds, 142.649 mph

Qualifying record: Dario Franchitti, 1:39.866, 145.924 mph, Aug. 19, 2000

NBCSN television broadcasts: Qualifying, 6:30 p.m. ET Saturday, June 23 (same-day delay); Race, 12:30 p.m. ET Sunday, June 24 (live). Leigh Diffey is the lead announcer for the NBCSN broadcasts this weekend alongside analysts Townsend Bell and Paul Tracy. Pit reporters are Marty Snider, Kevin Lee, Kelli Stavast and Robin Miller.

Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network broadcasts: Mark Jaynes is the chief announcer alongside analyst Anders Krohn. Jake Query, Nick Yeoman and Michael Young are the turn announcers, with Dave Furst and Ryan Myrehn reporting from the pits. All Verizon IndyCar Series races are broadcast live on network affiliates, Sirius 217, XM 209, IndyCar.com, indycarradio.com and the INDYCAR Mobile app. All Verizon IndyCar Series practice and qualifying sessions are available on IndyCar.com , indycarradio.com and the INDYCAR Mobile app.

Video streaming: All practice sessions for the KOHLER Grand Prix will stream live on RaceControl.IndyCar.com and on the INDYCAR YouTube channel (www.youtube.com/indycar).

At-track schedule (all times ET):

Friday, June 22

Noon – 11:45 p.m. – Verizon IndyCar Series practice #1, RaceControl.IndyCar.com (Live)

4:15 – 5:15 p.m. – Verizon IndyCar Series practice #2, RaceControl.IndyCar.com (Live)

5:20 – 5:40 p.m. – Verizon IndyCar Series pit stop practice, RaceControl.IndyCar.com (Live)

Saturday, June 23

Noon – 12:45 p.m. – Verizon IndyCar Series practice #3, RaceControl.IndyCar.com (Live)

4 p.m. – Qualifying for the Verizon P1 Award (three rounds of knockout qualifying), RaceControl.IndyCar.com (Live); TV: NBCSN (6:30 p.m. ET, same-day delay)

Sunday, June 24

9 – 9:30 a.m. – Verizon IndyCar Series warmup, RaceControl.IndyCar.com (Live)

12:30 p.m. – Driver introductions

1:06 p.m. – Command to start engines

1:12 p.m. – KOHLER Grand Prix (55 laps/220.77 miles), NBCSN (Live)

Race notes:

  • There have been six different winners in the nine previous Verizon IndyCar Series races in 2018: Sebastien Bourdais (Streets of St. Petersburg), Josef Newgarden (ISM Raceway and Barber Motorsports Park), Alexander Rossi (Streets of Long Beach), Will Power (INDYCAR Grand Prix and Indianapolis 500), Scott Dixon (Raceway at Belle Isle-1 and Texas Motor Speedway) and Ryan Hunter-Reay (Raceway at Belle Isle-2). Dixon’s win at Texas on June 9 gave him sole possession of third on the all-time Indy car victory list with 43 wins.
  • The KOHLER Grand Prix will be the 28th Indy car race at Road America since it hosted its first Indy car event in 1982.
  • The KOHLER Grand Prix will be the seventh race on a road/street course in 2018. Each of the previous six races was won by different driver: Sebastien Bourdais (Streets of St. Petersburg), Alexander Rossi (Streets of Long Beach), Josef Newgarden (Barber Motorsports Park), Will Power (INDYCAR Grand Prix), Scott Dixon (Raceway at Belle Isle-1) and Ryan Hunter-Reay (Raceway at Belle Isle-2).
  • Will Power, Scott Dixon and Sebastien Bourdais are the only entered drivers who have won an Indy car race at Road America. They are the three most recent winners at the track. Dixon won the race last year while Power won in Indy car’s return in 2016 – the first race at the track since Bourdais’ win in 2007. Mario Andretti, Michael Andretti and Emerson Fittipaldi have the most wins by an Indy car driver at the track (three).
  • Eighteen drivers entered this weekend have previously raced Indy cars at Road America. Seven of those drivers have led laps at the track (Sebastien Bourdais 92, Will Power 46, Scott Dixon 24, Josef Newgarden 13, Simon Pagenaud 2, Graham Rahal 2 and Charlie Kimball 1).
  • Seven drivers have won the Road America race from the pole: Mario Andretti (1983, 1984 and 1987), Danny Sullivan (1989), Paul Tracy (1993), Jacques Villeneuve (1995), Bruno Junqueira (2003), Sebastien Bourdais (2007) and Will Power (2016).
  • Drivers who have won at Road America have gone on to win the Indy car championship six times: Mario Andretti (1984), Michael Andretti (1991), Jacques Villeneuve (1995), Alex Zanardi (1997), Cristiano da Matta (2002) and Sebastien Bourdais (2007).
  • Team Penske has won four times at Road America (1989, 1992, 1993 and 2016) and is one of two current teams with wins at the track. Chip Ganassi Racing has won three times at Road America (1997, 2001 and 2017). Newman/Haas Racing won a record 10 times at Road America.
  • At least five drivers – Alfonso Celis Jr., Zachary Claman De Melo, Matheus Leist, Zach Veach and Robert Wickens – will race a Verizon IndyCar Series car at Road America for the first time this weekend. Wickens participated in Friday practice for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports at the track in 2017. Celis will be making his series debut with Juncos Racing.
  • Tony Kanaan seeks to start his 293rd consecutive race this weekend, which would extend his Indy car record streak that began in June 2001 at Portland. Scott Dixon has made 233 consecutive starts heading into the weekend, which is the second-longest streak in Indy car racing. Marco Andretti has made 209 consecutive starts, which is the fourth-longest streak in Indy car racing.

NEOM McLaren Racing Formula E and Ian James set to race ahead of electric motorsports’ curve

James McLaren Formula E
McLaren Racing
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As Formula E enters their ninth season and McLaren Racing is set to compete in last year’s championship winning car, Ian James is passionate about pushing electric motorsports forward at a critical stage as race technology begins surpassing that of the street cars.

Midseason, McLaren acquired the assets of the Mercedes-EQ team as they were already on their way to winning a second consecutive championship. With those assets in place and coming off a successful debut in the Extreme E series, James is set to usher in a new era in electric car racing.

Last week’s announcement that Jake Hughes will join Rene Rast behind the wheel of the NEOM McLaren Formula E team was the last piece of the puzzle.

McLaren’s electric portfolio is building with the Formula E team coming one year after they entered the Extreme E rally series in 2022 with Tanner Foust and Emma Gilmour. There were a lot of lessons to learn in that series with growing pains during the first three of five rounds. Rounds 4 and 5 were a completely different matter with the team crossing the finish line first in Chile before being assessed a time penalty.

In the final round in Uruguay, they scored an elusive podium.

“McLaren kicked off the season in Extreme E at the beginning of this year, so our first [electric] race took place Neom, actually out in Saudi,” NEOM McLaren Racing Team Principal James told NBC Sports. “At the time, we were in very early discussions about opportunities with the Formula E team. I actually went out there to meet with Zak [Brown, CEO McLaren Racing] and that was my first taste of Extreme E.

“Since the transition, I joined them in Chile in Atacama Desert, and then Uruguay last weekend. [The second-place finish was] a lovely way to round out the season. The fact that they got that podium. It was very well deserved. It’s a great team and a great series actually. It’s just so very different from anything else. The team’s done a great job in getting set up, and it’s nice now to, we’re trying to use that momentum that we’ve got from Uruguay to get us into next season when it kicks off next year, which will be great. I think we’re mid-March is looking like the first race, so a little bit of time to get things prepped for that.”

 

James McLaren Formula E
The NEOM Mclaren Racing Formula E team was created through the acquisition of last year’s championship car from Mercedes-EQ. – McLaren Racing

Synergies exist between the single seater and rally series. Lessons learned about battery power and sustainability in the electric SUV carry over so long as one is mindful of keeping focus on the individual needs and nuances of each series.

Especially now that electric racing technology has caught up, and is ready to surpass, the existing technology that has gone into building street cars.

When internal combustion engines gained the upper hand soon after automobiles were invented, racing paced alongside. The pressure of competition pushed the development of their commercial equivalents. The same has not necessarily been true of electric cars. Street cars were not designed to undergo the same stress as racecars – and that vulnerability showed up on the racetrack.

“Formula E has come along a long way,” James said. “I think one of the most notable developments is in the battery technology. In Gen 1, you had the drivers jumping from one car to another car midrace because the battery technology and capacity simply wasn’t where it needed to be to do the full distance. That obviously changed in Gen 2 and we saw a power increase as well to the 250 kilowatts.

“Now going to Gen 3, we have 350 kilowatts in a smaller battery. But that means that we’re relying on the regeneration of energy and for that reason, we’ve got also the opportunity to regenerate on the front axle as well as the rear axle now. So, there’s all sorts of things that are developing in the right direction.

“In terms of throttle response, actually, we’re now in a situation with electric racing and the motors that it’s instantaneous. And one of the advantages of electric over combustion engine is that the torque is instantaneous as well, so that gives you a lot more room to play with.”

No matter the power source, racing has always been about resource management. Drivers and teams select tire strategies they believe produce the fastest elapsed time and fuel conservation comes into play.

On one hand, electric racing is the same, but there is a critical difference. With the battery as both the power source and an integral part of the engine, there are multiple reasons to manage it.

In electric racing, the brain of the car is the software – and that is where James sees the greatest room for advancement.

“As we are working with our drivers and engineers – and start to look at functionality to improve our efficiency and our performance, that’s something we’ll continue to push because that development is open throughout the season,” James said. “That’s going to be our focus going forward and provides enough of a challenge for us to get our teeth into.

“What’s going to be fascinating is as Formula E continues, is to really look at which areas of development on the car are going to be the most relevant and ensuring that we can focus on those together with the manufacturers so we continue and use the series as a platform for technical development that can then feed back into the road car side of things as well.

“At the end of the day, that’s what motorsports always been, a very powerful tool for, and I see Formula E as no exception.”

James McLaren Formula E
Jake Hughes and Rene Rast were chosen for their ability to drive fast and execute the necessary strategy for energy management. – McLaren Racing

Selecting Rast and Hughes as McLaren’s Formula E drivers was not simply because they know how to drive fast. James believes both drivers have the mental aptitude to execute energy management strategies throughout the race and squeeze maximum performance.

“As with many other motorsports, you’ve got a certain amount of energy that you’re able to deploy during the race and the management of that energy is absolutely crucial,” James said. “What we’re seeing typically in electric motorsports now is the hardware side of things. The efficiencies that we’re seeing in the powertrain as a whole, they’re getting up to the sort of 96%, 97%, 98% efficiency, so the gains that you get through that further and further become more marginal.”

With much more room for improvement, software is a different matter. To make the best decisions, the drivers need data, and that is where James believes McLaren Formula E will make their greatest impact.

“And then you really switch that focus to the software and that’s where you’re going to see the most the most improvement and the most gains,” James continued. “It’s then using that software to ensure that you’re deploying the energy in the most efficient manner during race, and thereby giving the driver the most performance. And that’s something which is incredibly complicated, but I find it a fascinating area to work in.

“The benefit of being involved in racing is you can really push the envelope in a way that you can’t do on road cars. And I think that that’s where that value comes in. It means that you accelerate the development a lot quicker. We will get ahead of the curve – and we are getting ahead of the curve now – and that will mean that the electric motorsports remain part of the overall development process.

“The key to that is also making sure that the racing’s exciting and fun for the fans. If we can, we can tick both of those boxes, then it’s got a very bright future ahead of it.”