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Hamilton vexed home race clashes with cricket, tennis finals

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SILVERSTONE, England – In a season of often mundane racing, the one time Lewis Hamilton can hope to grab the attention of home Formula One fans is the British Grand Prix.

On Sunday, that will be a whole lot harder.

Down in London, England’s cricketers will be contesting their first men’s World Cup final in 27 years.

And taking place at the same time near the British capital will be the men’s final at Wimbledon.

Hamilton, the reigning F1 champion and current championship leader, is not happy he has to share the limelight with so many other sports.

With the trio of big events, the clashes are proving even more problematic than last Sunday when three soccer finals were played on three continents in different time slots: the Women’s World Cup in France, the Copa America in Brazil and the CONCACAF Gold Cup in the United States.

“I don’t understand why the organizers put the race on the same day as all these other big events,” Hamilton said Thursday at Silverstone, discussing the Cricket World Cup and Wimbledon finals. “I hope in future they (don’t). This is such a special weekend it needs the focus of the whole country. People will be switching between channels on Sunday not knowing what to watch.”

Channel Four, the free channel showing the British Grand Prix, landed late rights to show England play New Zealand and will squeeze the racing around coverage of the cricket final. During Hamilton’s bid for a record sixth home race win, cricket coverage will switch to a secondary channel.

“I come here to raise the flag and do the country proud,” Hamilton said. “It’s such a privilege to be here. The British Grand Prix is the most special of the year. The sheer magnitude of it, how many people come here. It’s a special weekend, there’s excitement, adrenaline.

“My whole family is coming this weekend so it’s that one weekend where it’s the most special because your closest support surround you. I’ve had some spectacular races here.”

In the last race in Austria two weeks ago, Hamilton started fourth and lost time to replace the front wing of his Mercedes after 31 laps. He finished fifth.

“We’re here to improve this weekend as a team,” Hamilton said. “The last one was difficult for us. I think it will be close.”

What is certain is that Hamilton will have more chances to win at Silverstone in the future. Organizers struck a new deal this week to continue the race on the central England circuit through 2024.

“It feels like a long way away. Who knows if I will still be here then?” said the 34-year-old Hamilton, who is under contract at Mercedes until 2020. “If I’m not, if I stop racing, then I won’t be here in any other capacity.”

O Canada! Why plaid has been rad for Pfaff Motorsports at Daytona

Courtesy of IMSA
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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – In Canada, plaid is beautiful.

In the 2020 Rolex 24 at Daytona, it’s also extremely fast.

Pfaff Motorsports’ Porsche 911 GT3 R has been one of the most colorful sensations this January at Daytona International Speedway. The Toronto-based team has been a checkerboard blur of black and red in the GTD division, winning the pole position with Zacharie Robichon and leading the first four hours Saturday.

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But it also is turning heads with its stylish paint scheme and firesuits, all of which are in a classic plaid pattern.

The “Plaid Porsche” has a nice ring to it, and the team embraces the label even if its outfits might seem more appropriate for a grunge rock band or a lumberjack convention than an elite motorsports event.

“It’s great for people to call us that,” Robichon said. “You’re laughing about it, because it’s funny, but that means you’re talking about it.

“A lot of teams and car liveries, they all blend in together, and it’s a good way to stand out and a fun way to stand out. If you spend some time with the Pfaff Porsche team, you’d see a lot of guys are there and all happy to be there and everybody’s having fun. So having something that’s kind of funny and joyful associated with the team, I think is really good.”

The No. 9 team celebrated after Zacharie Robichon won the GTD pole at Daytona (courtesy of IMSA).

Car liveries typically offer a prominent display of a sponsor’s colors, and the team was able to incorporate the silver branding for new sponsor Motul on the lower rear of the car. “It was kind of best of both worlds,” Robichons aid. “They loved it because people talk about it.”

It’s the second consecutive year that the team has sported a plaid paint scheme at the Rolex 24. Last year, it took delivery on its car with only a week before the Roar before the Rolex test session.

The team was scrambling to assemble the car on Boxing Day in Canada (two days after Christmas) when Pfaff marketing director Laurance Yap was struck by a bolt of inspiration.

“All the crew guys at the shop, they were there over the holidays, and they were were wearing plaid because it’s just kind of what you do at home,” Robichon said. “In Canada it’s quite popular. I’ve got like six or seven plaid shirts, and I’m not embarrassed to say that. You go on a ski hill in the winter, and half the people, that’s what they’re wearing.

“It’s just something that a lot of people wear. We were trying to figure out what to do for the livery, and Lawrence said well, why don’t we just wrap the car in plaid. It was a joke, and we ran with it because we didn’t have any other ideas. And it was really only for Daytona, but everybody loved it, so we just had to stick with it for the whole year.

Zacharie Robichon

This year, Pfaff decided to up the game with plaid firesuits – and bringing the team in line with others that hail from the Great White North.

“The Canadian ski team has plaid jackets,” Robichon said. “Even curling in Canada, the guys wear plaid. If you’re not from Canada, you don’t necessarily make that association, but anybody who is Canadian immediately makes that connection, which is what we’re going for.”

Robichon, who hails from Ottawa and lives in Montreal, is the team’s only Canadian. But teammates Lars Kern (Germany), Dennis Olsen (Norway) and Patrick Pilet (France) have bought into the “plaid is rad” conceit.

“We adapted pretty quick,” Kern said. “We are not Canadian, but we feel like the Canadian national team, so it’s cool as a German to be on the Canadian national team.”

It would be even cooler for the Pfaff drivers if they can match their plaid garb with a Rolex watch.

Robichon liked the team’s chances after a strong week continued into Saturday’s green flag. After crashing and finishing 16th in class last year, he and his teammates managed to maintain pace and the lead through the first four hours.

“My job was to keep the car clean and out of trouble and play it safe with the traffic, and luckily we did that,” Robichon said after his first stint.

The No. 9 of Pfaff Motorsports started on pole in the GTD division of the 2020 Rolex 24.