IMSA.com

IMSA: Roar Before the Rolex 24 Hours At Daytona – Sunday Notebook

Leave a comment

IMSA Wire Service

Jarvis Unofficially Breaks 26-Year-Old Daytona Track Record in No. 77 Mazda DPi

“Drivers, start your engines” may be the most famous words in motorsports, but “And… it’s a new track record,” is pretty close behind.

And today at Daytona International Speedway, there was another – albeit unofficial – new track record. In the 15-minute IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Daytona Prototype international (DPi) qualifying session for Rolex 24 At Daytona garage and pit selections, Oliver Jarvis drove the No. 77 Mazda Team Joest Mazda RT24-P to a lap of one minute, 33.398 seconds (137.212 mph).

Jarvis’ lap was more than half a second quicker than the 26-year-old track record of 1:33.875 (136.521 mph) set by PJ Jones in the No. 98 Toyota Eagle MKIII. If he – or anybody else – does it again or goes even quicker in Rolex 24 qualifying on Thursday, Jan. 24, they’ll go into the record books officially. Get your tickets now.

“The car was an absolute joy to drive,” Jarvis said. “We ran it full qualy spec. I don’t think many of our competitors can say the same, but in that low-fuel configuration, it felt incredible. You could really push the car to the limits and it’s what us drivers live for, that feeling of getting everything out of the car.”

In LMP2 qualifying, Gabriel Aubry posted the fastest time in the No. 52 PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports ORECA at 1:35.930 (133.591 mph). The Roar was Aubry’s first exposure to the high banks of Daytona International Speedway and this weekend was just the Frenchman’s second visit to the United States.

Magnussen, Corvette Take Advantage of Perfect Tow to Qualify First in GTLM at The Roar

For the second consecutive WeatherTech Championship GT Le Mans (GTLM) class qualifying session, Jan Magnussen led the way. The now two-time and defending GTLM co-champion led the 15-minute session with a best lap of 1:42.651 (124.844 mph) in the No. 3 Corvette Racing Chevrolet Corvette C7.R.

The Danish racer remarked, after Sunday’s session to set garage and pit selections for Rolex 24 race week, that the Corvette team employed the same strategy it used to put Magnussen and the No. 3 Corvette on the pole for the 2018 Rolex 24 At Daytona. Today’s lap was one tenth of a second quicker than Magnussen’s pole-winning time of 1:42.779.

“We did exactly the same as we did last year where we agreed who was going to tow who,” Magnussen explained. “It was me again like in race qualifying last year. That gave us a good top-speed advantage in that session. Olly (Gavin) did a fantastic job placing himself at the right distance out of Turn 6 [in the No. 4 Corvette] so I could take full advantage of the tow down to the Bus Stop and then go by him at start/finish to get the fastest lap.

“We did the exact same thing at the Roar and the race last year, so I don’t really know why everyone else isn’t doing the exact same thing. But it seems we’re the only one doing it at the moment, and it’s working out really well for us.”

Billy Johnson Enjoying Return IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge Paddock

IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge 2016 Grand Sport (GS) class champion Billy Johnson was back to the series paddock this weekend with Multimatic Motorsports’ No. 22 Ford Mustang GT4. After a two-year hiatus, his return was prompted by the change in his FIA driver rating from Platinum to Gold, as Platinum-rated drivers are not eligible to compete in the support series.

“It’s great to be back,” said Johnson. “I’ve always followed the racing here in the now Michelin Pilot Challenge. The racing has always been great, a lot of fun, a lot of great drivers and teams. I’ve kind of built my career in this series, so it’s meant a lot to me going from the ST class up to the GS class and then winning the championship in 2016. This platform has given me many opportunities in NASCAR and prototypes and to race the Ford GT at Le Mans. I feel like I’m coming home back here at Daytona in the GS GT4 class cars.”

While he assisted in developing the Ford Mustang GT4, Johnson has yet to compete in the car, which he’ll race full-time in the 2019 British GT Championship. However, in the four-hour BMW Endurance Challenge at Daytona on Friday, Jan. 25, he’ll share the steering wheel with two drivers from Ford’s Driver Development Program, Austin Cindric and Chase Briscoe. Ty Majeski and Cole Custer, also part of the program, will race in the No. 15 Ford Mustang GT4 with Scott Maxwell.

“I’ve worked with all four of those guys in many different capacities to help them on road courses,” said Johnson. “In NASCAR, I’ve spotted for them and coached them, so it’s great to be in a car with them competing. They’re all very talented, great drivers and it’s just a lot of fun to be here.

Follow Dan Beaver on Twitter

Three-time F1 champion Niki Lauda dies at 70

AP Photo/Luca Bruno, File
1 Comment

BERLIN (AP) Three-time Formula One world champion Niki Lauda, who won two of his titles after a horrific crash that left him with serious burns and went on to become a prominent figure in the aviation industry, has died. He was 70.

The Austria Press Agency reported that Lauda’s family said in a statement he “passed away peacefully” on Monday. Walter Klepetko, a doctor who performed a lung transplant on Lauda last year, said Tuesday: “Niki Lauda has died. I have to confirm that.”

Lauda won the F1 drivers’ championship in 1975 and 1977 with Ferrari and again in 1984 with McLaren.

In 1976, he was badly burned when he crashed during the German Grand Prix but made an astonishingly fast return to racing just six weeks later.

Lauda remained closely involved with the Formula One circuit after retiring as a driver in 1985, and in recent years served as the non-executive chairman of the Mercedes team.

Born on Feb. 22, 1949 into a wealthy Vienna industrial family, Nikolaus Andreas Lauda was expected to follow his father’s footsteps into the paper-manufacturing industry, but instead concentrated his business talents and determination on his dreams of becoming a racing driver.

Lauda financed his early career with the help of a string of loans, working his way through the ranks of Formula 3 and Formula 2. He made his Formula 1 debut for the March team at the 1971 Austrian Grand Prix and picked up his first points in 1973 with a fifth-place finish for BRM in Belgium.

Lauda joined Ferrari in 1974, winning a Grand Prix for the first time that year in Spain and his first drivers’ title with five victories the following season.

Facing tough competition from McLaren’s James Hunt, he appeared on course to defend his title in 1976 when he crashed at the Nuerburgring during the German Grand Prix. Several drivers stopped to help pull him from the burning car, but the accident would scar him for life. The baseball cap Lauda almost always wore in public became a personal trademark.

“The main damage, I think to myself, was lung damage from inhaling all the flames and fumes while I was sitting in the car for about 50 seconds,” he recalled nearly a decade later. “It was something like 800 degrees.”

Lauda fell into a coma for a time. He said that “for three or four days it was touch and go.”

“Then my lungs recovered and I got my skin grafts done, then basically there was nothing left,” he added. “I was really lucky in a way that I didn’t do any (other) damage to myself. So the real question was then will I be able to drive again, because certainly it was not easy to come back after a race like that.”

Lauda made his comeback just six weeks after the crash, finishing fourth at Monza after overcoming his initial fears.

He recalled “shaking with fear” as he changed into second gear on the first day of practice and thinking, “I can’t drive.”

The next day, Lauda said he “started very slowly trying to get all the feelings back, especially the confidence that I’m capable of driving these cars again.” The result, he said, boosted his confidence and after four or five races “I had basically overcome the problem of having an accident and everything went back to normal.”

He won his second championship in 1977 before switching to Brabham and then retiring in 1979 to concentrate on setting up his airline, Lauda Air, declaring that he “didn’t want to drive around in circles anymore.”

Lauda came out of retirement in 1982 after a big-money offer from McLaren, reportedly about $3 million a year.

He finished fifth his first year back and 10th in 1983, but came back to win five races and edge out teammate Alain Prost for his third title in 1984. He retired for good the following year, saying he needed more time to devote to his airline business.

Initially a charter airline, Lauda Air expanded in the 1980s to offer flights to Asia and Australia. In May 1991, a Lauda Air Boeing 767 crashed in Thailand after one of its engine thrust reversers accidentally deployed during a climb, killing all 213 passengers and 10 crew.

Lauda occasionally took the controls of the airline’s jets himself over the years. In 1997, longtime rival Austrian Airlines took a minority stake and in 2000, with the company making losses, he resigned as board chairman after an external audit criticized a lack of internal financial control over business conducted in foreign currency. Austrian Airlines later took full control.

Lauda founded a new airline, Niki, in 2003. Germany’s Air Berlin took a minority stake and later full control of that airline, which Lauda bought back in early 2018 after it fell victim to its parent’s financial woes.

He partnered with budget carrier Ryanair on Niki’s successor, LaudaMotion.

On the Formula One circuit, Lauda later formed a close bond with Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton, who joined the team in 2013. He often backed Hamilton in public and provided advice and counsel to the British driver.

Lauda also intervened as a Mercedes mediator when Hamilton and his former Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg feuded, argued and traded barbs as they fought for the title between 2014-16

Lauda twice underwent kidney transplants, receiving an organ donated by his brother in 1997 and, when that stopped functioning well, a kidney donated by his girlfriend in 2005.

In August 2018, he underwent a lung transplant that the Vienna General Hospital said was made necessary by a “serious lung illness.” It didn’t give details.

Lauda is survived by his second wife, Birgit, and their twin children Max and Mia. He had two adult sons, Lukas and Mathias, from his first marriage.