IndyCars - The off-season: Series news and comment until the March 2014 kick-off


#400

+++

.
While we wait for the full driver line-ups for the Roar Before the Rolex 24…

.
…we CAN tell you that new GTD-class team AIM Vasser Sullivan has finally made their choices for the full season, as well as the four Michelin Endurance Cup races - the Rolex 24 at Daytona, the 12 Hours of Sebring, the 6 Hours at the Glen and the Petit Le Mans.

AIM Vasser Sullivan, which will campaign two Lexus RCF GT3 machines this season, had already nailed down Frankie Montecalvo and IndyCar drivers Townsend Bell and Jack Hawksworth for the regular season squad, as we reported in post # 289.

left to right, Jack Hawksworth, Frankie Montecalvo and Townsend Bell

.
The fourth driver, to be paired all season with Jack Hawksworth in the # 14, will be Porsche Supercup series driver Richard Heistand.
.

Richard Heistand

.
.
.
For the Rolex 24 at Daytona the team have enlisted Super GT and Super Formula whiz kid Nick Cassidy, whose success in Super GT has been with Lexus. Additionally, teamed with Nick, Jack Hawksworth and Richard Heistand in the # 14 will be IndyCar, SportsCar, Rally and NASCAR standout Austin Cindric, who did the 4 Tequlia Patron Endurance Cup races in the Lexus last year.

.
Nick Cassidy

.
Austin Cindric

.
.
.
For the # 12 Lexus of Bell and Montecalvo, the Daytona adds will be SportsCar driver Jeff Segal and 2016 Pro Mazda Champ and Indy Lights driver Aaron Telitz. Aaron is also confirmed in the car for Sebring, Watkins Glen and Road Atlanta - the other 3 Endurance Cup venues. Jeff, with Townsend Bell and Bill Sweedler, WON both the 2014 Rolex 24 at Daytona (driving for AIM Vasser Sullivan’s Ian Willis), and the 2016 24 Hours of Le Mans, so it’s a great reunion with Townsend.

Jeff Segal (left) and Aaron Telitz.

.
.
.
No word yet on whether Aaron can pull together another season of Indy Lights, but it’s great to see he will be working in 2019 for AIM Vasser Sullivan, at least.

.
.
.
M

.


#401

+++

.
Righteous!

.
Every year Autoweek magazine names the Driver of the Year from all of motorsports. This year they picked IndyCar 2018 Champion Scott Dixon:

Congratulations to Driver of the Year Scott Dixon. Last season, Dixon won his fifth IndyCar Championship, further cementing himself as one of the sport’s greatest drivers.

.

.
.
.
'Nuff said!

.
.
.M


#402

This thread is bizarre, the title says “until the March 2014 kick-off”, but the first post is in 2018…???

And it is one guy posting to himself. Weird.


#403

+++

.
IMSA has finally released a preliminary driver list for the Roar Before the Rolex 24…

.
…and as we suspected would be the case, there are a BUNCH of IndyCar folks on it - more than 35, so far. These are all folks who will either be driving in the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship series or the Michelin Pilot Challenge series or the IMSA Prototype Challenge series - and will be RACING - either this weekend or the last weekend in January.

.

.

Let’s see who the IndyCar folks are, starting with the 4 classes of the WeatherTech gang who will compete in the Rolex 24 at Daytona in late January:

.
DPi class - IndyCar driver Juan Pablo Montoya will drive the full season in the # 6 Acura ARX-05 with co-driver and former champion Dane Cameron, for Acura Team Penske. Added in for Daytona will be IndyCar driver Simon Pagenaud.

Juan Pablo Montoya (left) and Simon Pagenaud

.
.
IndyCar driver Helio Castroneves will be in the sister car all season, the # 7 Acura ARX-05 DPi for Acura Team Penske, with co-driver and former champion Ricky Taylor. Added in for Daytona will be IndyCar driver Alexander Rossi.

Helio Castroneves (left) and Alexander Rossi

.
.
Pro Mazda (now called “Indy Pro 2000”) alum Pipo Derani will run the full season in the 2018 Champion’s car, the # 31 Whelen Cadillac DPi-V.R. for Action Express, with co-driver Felipe Nasr. Added in for all four Michelin Endurance Cup races will be Eric Curran. Felipe and Eric were the 2018 Champs of the P class.

Luis Felipe “Pipo” Derani

.
.
Pro Mazda alum Will Owen is running the full season for Juncos Racing in their first year campaigning the # 50 Cadillac DPi-V.R. Added in for Daytona are Agustin Canapino, IndyCar driver Rene Binder and fellow IndyCar driver and 2017 Indy Lights Champion Kyle Kaiser. All three of the adds are - like Will Owen - former or current Juncos drivers in other series - it’s a family for Ricardo Juncos. Rene is slated to do all 4 Michelin Endurance Cup races in the car.

left to right, Will Owen, Rene Binder and Kyle Kaiser

.
.
Indy Lights alum Juan Piedrahita is slated to drive the # 84 Cadillac DPi-V.R. for JDC-MIller Motorsports as an add for Daytona to the regular squad of Stephen Simpson and Simon Trummer. Also added for Daytona will be Chris Miller. Juan was just at Daytona last weekend for Kart Week, tuning up for this event. (see post # 356 and 358)

Juan Piedrahita

.
.
Indy Lights Champion and IndyCar driver Tristan Vautier will be in the other Cadillac DPi-V.R. for JDC-Miller, the # 85, for the full season with co-driver Misha Goikhberg. Formula 1 legend and IndyCar driver Rubens Barrichello is an add for Daytona, along with GP3 young gun Devlin DeFrancesco.

Tristan Vautier (left) and Rubens Barrichello

.
.
.
LMP2 class - 2018 IMSA Prototype Challenge Champion and Pro Mazda (now “Indy Pro 2000”) driver Kris Wright will drive the # 38 ORECA 07 for Performance Tech Motorsports at the Roar. His co-drivers will be season regular Kyle Masson and adds Cameron Cassels and Dr. Robert Masson. At this time Kris is just driving the Roar and Daytona and Indy Lights driver James French is slated to drive the full season in the car. No word on whether James will jump into the car at the Roar.

Kris Wright

.
.
DragonSpeed Racing has entered 2 ORECA 07s in the LMP2 class but no drivers have been confirmed for the cars as of now. There is a rumor that Ben Hanley - to be an IndyCar driver in 2019 - might be in one of these cars.

.
.
.
GTLM class - Two-time IndyCar Champion Alex Zanardi will come to Daytona as an add in the # 24 BMW M8 GTE for BMW Team RLL. Co-drivers will be team regulars John Edwards and Jesse Krohn and fellow add Chaz Mostert of Supercars fame. The car is fitted with a special steering wheel so that double-amputee Zanardi can compete. (see post # 342)

Allesandro Zanardi

.
.
In the # 25 sister BMW M8 GTE for BMW Team RLL will be season regular Connor de Phillippe - a Pro Mazda alum and also a Team USA Scholarship WINNER. Co-drivers will be fellow regular Tom Blomqvist and adds Philipp Eng and Indy Lights / IndyCar driver Colton Herta.

Connor de Phillippe (left) and Colton Herta

.
.
.
continued…
.
.
.
M


#404

+++

.
IMSA has finally released a preliminary driver list for the Roar Before the Rolex 24…(part 2)…

.
4-time IndyCar Champion Sebastien Bourdais will jump into the # 66 Ford GT for Ford Chip Ganassi for Daytona, helping out regulars Joey Hand and Dirk Mueller. This same teaming has been very successful at both Daytona and Le Mans in the past.

Sebastien Bourdais

.
.
The sister car, the # 67 Ford GT for Ford Chip Ganassi, will be piloted by IndyCar driver Ryan Briscoe for the season, with co-driver Richard Westbrook. Added in for Daytona will be 5-time - including 2018 - IndyCar Champion Scott Dixon. As with the other Ford, this teaming has yielded a lot of success at both Daytona and Le Mans.

Ryan Briscoe (left) and Scott Dixon

.
.
.
GTD class - Scott Hargrove - the holder of multiple race WINS in the Road to Indy and the holder of multiple Porsche Cup titles - will make his IMSA season debut with fellow Canadian and 2018 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada Champ Zacharie Robichon, driving the # 9 Porsche 911 GT3 R for PFAFF Motorsports. Added in for Daytona will be Lars Kerns and Dennis Olsen.

Scott Hargrove

.
.
New team AIM Vasser Sullivan will put IndyCar driver and broadcaster Townsend Bell in the # 12 Lexus RCF GT3 for the season, with co-driver Frankie Montecalvo. Added in for Daytona will be Jeff Segal and Indy Lights driver Aaron Telitz, the 2017 Pro Mazda Champion.

Townsend Bell (left) and Aaron Telitz

.
.
In the sister car, the # 14 Lexus RCF GT3 for AIM Vasser Sullivan, the drivers for the season will be IndyCar driver Jack Hawksworth and Richard Heistand. Added in for Daytona will be Nick Cassidy and the very versatile USF2000 alum Austin Cindric.

Jack Hawksworth (left) and Austin Cindric

.
.
2017 Pro Mazda (now “Indy Pro 2000”) Champion and Indy Lights driver Victor Franzoni will drive the # 13 Ferrari 488 GT3 for Via Italia Racing at the Roar, along with co-drivers Chico Longo and Marcos Gomes. This young trio is coming off a spectacular WIN at the 500K of Sao Paulo in a Lamborghini Huracan GT3, also for Via Italia Racing (see post # 351). No word yet on the future of this team and this squad.

Victor Franzoni

.
.
IndyCar driver Katherine Legge will campaign for the full season in the # 57 Acura NSX GT3 for Meyer Shank Racing with co-driver Jackie Heinricher, but Jackie is out for Daytona with a back injury, so 2-time GTD-class Champion Christina Nielsen will substitute at Daytona. Added in for Daytona will be former IndyCar drivers Ana Beatriz and Simona de Silvestro, making this an all-female squad with a lot of talent on board. Beatriz will also do Sebring, Watkins Glen and the Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta.

left to right, Katherine Legge, Ana Beatriz and Simona de Silvestro

.
.
In the sister car, the # 86 Acura NSX GT3 for Meyer Shank Racing, IndyCar alum AJ Allmendinger returns to drive for MIke Shank for Daytona, with co-drivers and team regulars Trent Hindman and Mario Farnbacher. Also added in will be Justin Marks.

AJ Allmendinger

.
.
.
continued…

.
.
.
M


#405

+++

.
IMSA has finally released a preliminary driver list for the Roar Before the Rolex 24…(part 3)…

.
Next, let’s look at the IndyCar guys in the Michelin Pilot Challenge series, formerly known as the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge. These folks are going to race on the same late-January weekend as the WeatherTech gang in the Rolex 24 at Daytona. There are 7 listed at this time, starting with 3 in the GS class:

.
Grand Sport class - Road to Indy ace driver and multiple Porsche Cup title-holder Scott Hargrove will pull double duty, as in addition to his debut in the GTD class of the WeatherTech series, he will also debut in the Michelin Pilot Challenge in the # 13 Porsche Cayman GT4 MR for AWA. His co-driver will be fellow Canadian Orey Fidani.

Scott Hargrove

.
.
Also pulling double duty this year will be multi-talented USF2000 alum Austin Cindric. Not only will Austin be in the WeatherTech GTD class for AIM Vasser Sullivan but he will also campaign the # 22 Ford GT4 Mustang for Multimatic Motorsports - a duty he has done in years past. His co-drivers will be Chase Briscoe and Billy Johnson.

Austin Cindric

.
.
Champ Car veteran driver Jan Heylen will drive the # 28 Porsche Cayman GT4 MR for RennSport 1. His co-drivers will be Charlie Luck and Fred Poordad.

Jan Heylen

.
.
.
Touring Car class - USF2000 driver Russ McDonough will drive the # 12 Audi RS3 LMS TCR for eEuropartsDotCom ROWE Racing. His co-driver will be New Yorker Ryan Nash.

Russell McDonough

.
.
Pro Mazda alum and paraplegic Micheal Johnson will once again drive the # 54 Audi RS3 LMS TCR for JDC-Miller Motorsports, using hand controls. MJ’s co-driver will be Stephen Simpson. Simpson and Johnson earned 8 podiums last season, including their first series WIN.

Michael Johnson

.
.
Indy Lights driver Shelby Blackstock will drive the # 73 Honda Civic TCR - a new car make to the series - for LA Honda World Racing. His co-drivers will be Mat Pombo and Road to Indy Shootout entrant and Team USA member Colin Mullan. Mat and Colin were a WINNING team in the Street Tuner class last season, driving a Mini JCW.

Shelby Blackstock (left) and Colin Mullan

.
.
.
Finally, let’s look at the IndyCar guys in the IMSA Prototype Challenge series.These guys will actually be racing this weekend, as the series does Season Round 1 - a three-hour endurance race. All cars are LMP3-class.

.
Dakota Dickerson will make his IPC series debut in the # 2 Ligier JS P3 for Ansa Motorsports. Dakota is a USF2000 alum, a Team USA alum and the current F4 United States Champion. His co-drivers will be veterans Jon Brownson and Michal Chlumecky - a stout squad.

Dakota Dickerson

.
.
Indy Lights driver Neil Alberico will also be making his series debut in the # 4 Ligier JS P3 for Ansa Motorsports. Neil, a Vice Champion in both USF2000 and Pro Mazda, will have Leo Lamelas as a co-driver.

Neil Alberico

.
.
USF2000 alum Austin McCusker was the 2018 Vice-Champion of the Prototype Challenge series. He returns to drive the # 47 Norma M30 for Forty 7 Motorsports. His co-driver will be Rodrigo Pflucker from Lima, Peru.

Austin McCusker

.
.
Indy Lights driver Garett Grist will pilot the # 51 Ligier JS P3 for K2R Motorsports. The multiple race-winning Canadian will co-drive with Rob Hodes.

Garett Grist

.
.
IndyCar veteran Alex Barron will make his series debut in the # 64 Ligier JS P3 for K2R Motorsports. His co-driver will be Californian Naveen Rao.

Alex Barron

.
.
Indy Lights alum and WeatherTech 2017 PC class Champion James French will drive the # 75 Ligier JS P3 for Performance Tech Motorsports. His co-driver is Cameron Cassels. French is slated to drive the team’s LMP2 car in the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship series for the season, but is not yet placed in that car for the Roar. It’s not yet clear if James will do the full season of IPC, as well. Perf Tech’s boss, Brent O’Neill, is moving all his chess pieces around.

James French

.
.
.
That’s it for the current Entry Lists for all three series at the Roar, but there are a lot of “TBA” - to be announced - in several cars, so more IndyCar folks may yet show up. We’ll keep you abreast.

Friday will be the first day of practice and all three series will be out to do just that. Each series will get two practices and then the IMSA Protoype Challenge gang will also qualify late in the day for Saturday’s race.

.
.
.
Let’s GO!

.
.
.
M


#406

+++

.
IndyCar drivers at Daytona - updated…

.
In addition to all the folks we outlined in the three posts above, we can now confirm a few more IndyCar folks in the line-ups, as practice began at Daytona today.

Back in post # 343 we reported that IndyCar driver Mike Conway was going to drive for Action Express at Daytona, bur he wasn’t on the official driver list. Well, we’re happy to report that the English ace is indeed at Daytona and will drive the # 5 Mustang Sampling Cadillac DPi-V.R. with regulars Filipe Albuquerque and Joao Barbosa, as well as fellow add Christian Fittipaldi, who will be doing his final IMSA race at Daytona, before retiring.

.
Mike Conway

.
.
.
In addition, DragonSpeed Racing has started their practices of their two LMP2-class cars with a full driver line-up, even though none had been previously announced. As we surmised in post # 365 Brit Ben Hanley is one of them and is in the # 81 ORECA 07 machine, with co-drivers Nicolas Lapierre and Henrik Hedman. Hanley WILL BE an IndyCar driver in 2019, so he makes our cut, though we cannot claim his ability is due in any part to being an IndyCar driver.

.
Ben Hanley

.
.
.
M


#407

+++

.
Friday at Daytona - Practice begins for all 3 series present…

.
…and in addition, the IMSA Prototype Challenge series qualified for their Saturday 3-hour endurance race. We have the TOP THREE from each series, following two practice sessions each, starting with the 4 classes of the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship series:

.
DPi class - The TOP TIME of the day in both class and overall was turned in by Oliver Jarvis, driving the # 77 Mazda RT24-P for Mazda Team Joest in the P-1 session. Oli turned in a time of 01:35.989s for a speed of 133.509mph, beating out Jordan Taylor in the # 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R for Wayne Taylor Racing by 0.418 seconds. 3rd fastest - also from the morning - was Harry Tincknell in the other Mazda DPi, the # 55. Co-drivers in the # 77 are Tristan Nunez, Timo Bernhard and Rene Rast. Co-drivers in the # 10 are Fernando Alonso, Kamui Kobayashi and Renger Van Der Zande. Co-drivers in the # 55 are Olivier Pla and Jonathan Bomarito.

.
The # 77 Mazda RT24-P - TOP TIME of the day

.
.
.
LMP2 class - Gabriel Aubry took the # 52 ORECA 07 for PR1/ Mathiasen Motorsports to the TOP TIME of the day in the P-2 session with a time of 01:39.575s for a speed of 128.701mph. He beat out IndyCar driver Ben Hanley in the # 81 ORECA 07 for DragonSpeed by 0.213 seconds. 3rd for the session and the day was IndyCar driver Kris Wright in the # 38 ORECA 07 for Performance Tech Motorsports. Co-driver in the # 52 is Matt McMurray. Co-drivers in the # 81 are Nicolas Lapierre and Henrik Hedman. Co-drivers in the # 38 are Kyle Masson, Robert Masson and Cameron Cassels.

.
the # 52 ORECA 07 for PR1/ Mathiasen Motorsports

.
.
.
GTLM class - The rabbit for the day was Davide Rigon in the # 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari 488 GTE at 01:44.718s for a speed of 122.380mph. He bested IndyCar driver Ryan Briscoe in the # 67 Ford GT for Ford Chip Ganassi by a mere 0.131 seconds. 3rd on the day was Patrick Pilet in the # 911 Porsche 911 RSR for Porsche GT Team, with his time from the P-1 session. Co-driver in the Ferrari is Miguel Molina. Co-drivers in the # 67 are IndyCar driver Scott Dixon and Richard Westbrook. Co-drivers in the Porsche are Nick Tandy and Freddie Makowiecki.

.
the Risi Competizione Ferrari 488 GTE

.
.
.
GTD class - TOP DAWG for the day was Jeroen Bleekemolen in the # 33 Mercedes-AMG Team / Riley Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT3 with a time of 01:46.452s for a speed of 120.386mph. He was able to beat out Daniel Serra in the # 51 Ferrari 488 GT3 for Spirit of Race by 0.334 seconds. 3rd fastest on the day was Jens Klingmann in the # 96 Turner Motorsport BMW M6 GT3. Co-drivers in the Mercedes are Luca Stolz, Felipe Fraga and Ben Keating. Co-drivers in the Ferrari are Paul Dalla Lana, Pedro Lamy and Mathias Lauda. Co-drivers in the Bimmer are Robby Foley, Dillon Machavern and Bill Auberlen.

.
The Mercedes-AMG GT3 for Mercedes-AMG Team / Riley Motorsports

.
.
.
continued…

.
.
.


#408

+++

.
Friday at Daytona - Practice begins for all 3 series present…(part 2)…

.
Next, we’ll look at the Michelin Pilot Challenge gang and see how they did in practice on the day, starting with the top-performing Grand Sport class:

.
Grand Sport class - TOP TIME of the day was put in by Charlie Luck in the # 28 Porsche Cayman GT4 MR for RS1 with session 1 time of 01:54.280s for a speed of 112.140mph. Charlie was better than Owen Trinkler, whose P-2 time was 0.536 seconds in arrears. Owen was in the # 46 Mercedes-AMG for Team TGM. 3rd-fastest on the day was the P-1 session effort of Russell Ward in another Mercedes, the # 33 for Winward Racing / HTP Motorsport. Co-drivers in the Cayman are Fred Poordad and IndyCar driver Jan Heylen. Co-driver in the # 46 is Hugh Plumb. Owen and Hugh are the 2018 Champion of the GS class. Co-driver in the # 33 is Indy Dontje.

,
the Porsche Cayman GT4 MR for RennSport 1

.
.
.
Touring Car class - The rabbit on TCR class was Mike LaMarra in the new Honda, the # 37 Honda Civic TCR for LA Honda World Racing. Mike’s P-1 session time of 02:00.678s for a speed of 106.195mph was better than Stephen Simpson’s P-2 session time by 0.191 seconds. Stephen is in the # 54 Audi RS3 LMS TCR for JDC-Miller Motorsports. 3rd on the day was IndyCar guy Colin Mullan in another Honda Civic TCR, the # 73 for LA Honda World Racing. Co-driver in the # 37 is Tom O’Gorman. Co-driver in the Audi is IndyCar driver Michael Johnson and co-drivers in the # 73 Honda are Mat Pombo and IndyCar driver Shelby Blackstock.

.
the LA Honda World Racing Honda Civic TCR

.
.
.
Finally, the IMSA Prototype Challenge series also had their two practices, but they followed that up with qualifying for Saturday’s Round 1 of the season. Here are the TOP THREE:
.

The fastest guy for the day in practice was Stevan McAleer in the # 10 Norma M30 for Robillard Racing that he shares with Kenton Koch, but when it came time to qualify the TOP DAWG was IndyCar driver Garett Grist in the # 51 Ligier JS P3 for K2R Motorsports with a time of 02:00.030s for a speed of 106.768mph. Stevan McAleer posted the P2 grid time and P3 on the grid will be the # 23 Norma M30 of Alianza / Gilbert Motorsports, thanks to Anthony Simone. Garett’s co-driver is Rob Hodes and Anthony’s co-driver is Jason Bell.

.
the K2R Motorsports Ligier JS P3

.
.
.
Saturday will not only be raceday for the IPC but will also be a bunch more practice for everyone else and the WeatherTech gang will also start qualifying sessions - not to grid the Rolex 24, but to allocate pit stall positions.

.
.
.
M


#409

+++

.
Saturday at Daytona - More practice, some qualifying and some racing!..

.
Saturday was a busy day at Daytona International Speedway as IMSA continues the Roar Before the Rolex 24 - the big test for all participants in the iconic classic 24 hour race to be held in late January. Both the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship series cars and the Michelin Pilot Challenge series cars did a heap more practice - with one of the three WeatherTech sessions at night - and the IMSA Prototype Challenge series held their Season Round 1 on the big Florida track… a barn-burner with a great finish for us.

Let’s start off with the TOP THREE in all four classes of the WeatherTech gang. They had two daylight sessions and a third session at night, as the Rolex 24 at Daytona will require a LOT of nighttime driving:
.
.
DPi class- It was Jonathan Bomarito who put in the best time of the day in the P-5 nighttime session, driving the Mazda Team Joest # 55 Mazda RT24-P DPi with a time of 01:34.533s for a speed of 135.565mph, besting the P-4 session top time of Renger Van Der Zande in the # 10 Caddy DPi-V.R. for Wayne Taylor Racing by a TEENSY, TINY 0.001 second - the wonders of modern on-board electronics allow them to know that. 3rd fastest on the day was the same Mazda, but this time in the hands of co-driver Harry Tincknell - also a P-5 session time. By the way, the 4th fastest on the day was the OTHER Mazda, the #77 driven by Oli Jarvis in the P-5 session. The Mazdas own the night.

The other co-driver of the # 55 is Olivier Pla, while Renger’s co-drivers are Jordan Taylor, Fernando Alonso and Kamui Kobayashi - a stout squad, to say the least.

.
The # 55 Mazda RT24-P DPi for Mazda Team Joest

.
.
LMP2 class - It was Nicolas Lapierre in the # 81 ORECA 07 for DragonSpeed who topped the day, with a P-4 session post of 01:36.553s for a speed of 132.729mph, beating out the P-5 night session time of yesterday’s speedster, Gabriel Aubry, in the # 52 ORECA 07 for PR1 / Mathiasen Motorsports by 0.437 seconds. 3rd best on the day was IndyCar driver Ben Hanley in the same # 81 car for DragonSpeed, but this time in the P-5 session.

Co-drivers in the # 81 are Henrik Hedman and James Allen. Co-driver in the # 52 is Matt McMurray.

.
DragonSpeed’s # 81 ORECA 07 with Gibson power

.
.
.
GTLM class - The # 67 Ford GT for Ford Chip Ganassi in the hands of Brit Richard Westbrook was the fastest car in class all day, thanks to his P-4 session time of 01:43.148s for a speed of 124.242mph. Richard bested the Porsche 911 RSR # 911 of Patrick PIlet in the same session by a scant 0.075 seconds. 3rd fastest was Nick Tandy in the same Porsche for Porsche GT Team, but in the P-5 nighttime session.

Co-drivers for Richard are IndyCar drivers Ryan Briscoe and 2018 IndyCar Champion Scott Dixon. Frederic Makowiecki is the other guy in the # 911 Porsche.

.
The # 67 Ford GT for Ford Chip Ganassi

.
.
.
GTD class - This class also did 3 practices on the day but between sessions 4 and 5 they also did a qualifying - not to grid the Rolex 24 but rather to allocate the pit stalls and paddock areas at the Rolex 24 with the pole-sitters getting the advantageous 1st choice. All the classes will eventually do the same thing.

Topping the day in the GTD class was Trent Hindman in the # 86 Meyer Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3 with a P-4 session time of 01:45.533s for a speed of 121.435mph. The 2nd fastest time of the day in class was set in qualifying and by IndyCar driver Ana Beatriz who took pole in the # 57 Meyer Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3. Ana’s time was 01:45.537s for a speed of 121.430mph and she beat out the 3rd-fastest time of the day - also during qualifying - set by Frankie Montecalvo in the new AIM Vasser Sullivan # 12 Lexus RCF GT3. Frankie was only 0.050 seconds in arrears.

Trent’s co-drivers are Mario Farnbacher, Justin Marks and IndyCar driver AJ Allmendinger. Ana’s co-drivers are Jackie Heinricher, Christina Nielsen and fellow IndyCar drivers Katherine Legge and Simona de Silvestro. Frankie’s co-drivers are Jeff Segal and IndyCar drivers Townsend Bell and Aaron Telitz.

.
Meyer Shank Racing # 86 Acura NSX GT3 - TOP TIME of the day…

.
.
…and the Meyer Shank Racing # 57 Acura NSX GT3 - Pole-sitter in the GTD class.

.
.
.
continued…

.
.
.
M


#410

+++

.
Saturday at Daytona - More practice, some qualifying and some racing!..(part 2)…

.
Next, let’s look at the practice sessions of the Michelin Pilot Challenge series, which held sessions 3 and 4 today:

.

Grand Sport class - Trent Hindman, who toppped the GTD class of the WeatherTech series today, is pulling double duty and also driving in the MPC series and he topped that, too! Trent took the # 7 Porsche Cayman GT4 MR for Park Place Motorsports to the time of 01:53.754s for a speed of 112.658mph in the P4 session, besting the # 47 nolasport Porsche Cayman GT4 MR driven by Jason Hart by a very TINY 0.007 seconds. Jason’s time was from P-3. 3rd-fastest on the day was Eric Foss in the # 56 Murillo Racing Mercedes-AMG, from the P-4 session.

Co-driver for Trent Hindman is Alan Brynjolfsson. Co-drivers in the nolasport Porsche are Mike Vess and Matt Travis. Co-driver for Eric Foss is Jeff Mosing.

.
Wunderkind Trent Hindman

.
.
Touring Car class - The TOP DAWG in TCR class today was Jon Morley in the # 61 Audi RS3 LMS TCR for Roadshagger Racing by eEuropartsDotCom. Jon’s P-4 session time was 02:00.254s for a speed of 106.569mph, besting the P-3 session time of Tom O’Gorman in the # 37 LA Honda World Racing Honda Civic TCR by 0.221 seconds. 3rd on the day was another Honda Civic TCR, the # 84 for Atlanta Speedwerks driven by Todd Lamb.based on his P-4 session time.

Co-driver for Jon Morley is Gavin Ernstone. Co-driver for Todd Lamb is Brian Henderson. Finally the co-driver for Tom O’Gorman is Mike LaMarra, but it won’t matter for the rest of the weekend, as BOTH LA Honda World Racing Honda Civic TCRs - the # 37 and the # 73, driven by Mat Pombo, Colin Mullan and Shelby Blackstock - were found to be marginally underweight today, and both cars have been suspended from further testing as a penalty.

.
The # 61 Audi RS3 LMS TCR for Roadshagger Racing by eEuropartsDotCom.

.
.
.
continued…

.
.
.
M


#411

+++

.
Saturday at Daytona - More practice, some qualifying and some racing!..(part 3)…

.
Finally, the IMSA Prototype Challenge boys held Season Round 1 today at Daytona - a 3-hour LMP3-class race - and when the shouting was over the WINNERS were the guys in the # 4 Ligier JS P3 of Ansa Motorsports - Leo Lamelas and IndyCar driver Neil Alberico, in his SportsCar debut.

.
Leo Lamelas (left) and Neil Alberico - victorious!

.
.
.
The boys lost their engine during qualifying on Friday and Leo had to start from P16, near the rear of the grid, due to an engine change. It was Neil in the car who held off a late-race charge by IndyCar driver Austin McCusker in the # 47 Norma M30 for Forty7 Motorsports, co-driven by Rodrigo Pflucker. The trio of Bruce Hamilton, Tonis Kasemets and Scott Maxwell pulled in P3 in the # 60 Ligier JS P3 for Wulver Racing. Kasemets set the fastest lap of the race.

.
Neil Alberico leads for his first SportsCar race and first WIN

.
.
.
The next round for the IPC series will be at Sebring, during the 12 Hours of Sebring weekend in mid-March - a 1 hour and 45-minute race.

.
.
.
On Sunday, the Michelin Pilot Challenge will hold two more practices, as will the DPi, LMP2 and GTLM classes of the WeatherTech series. The 3 WeatherTech classes will also qualify for pit-lane stall allocations and paddock spaces, as did the GTD class today.

.
.
.
M


#412

+++

.
Sunday at Daytona - The Roar concludes with a new track record…

.
…albeit an unofficial track record, but it shows the potential of the DPi class on the Michelin tires. The DPi, LMP2 and GTLM classes of the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and the Michelin Pilot Challenge series concluded their testing for the 2019 Rolex 24 on Sunday with sessions 5 and 6 for the Pilot Challenge and sessions 6 and 7 for the Weathertech gang. In addition, the DPI, LMP2 and GTLM classes of the WeatherTech gang had a qualifying session between practice sessions, for the purpose of allocating pits stalls and garage locations for the Rolex 24 at Daytona, in late January. The WeatherTech GTD class concluded all their participation on Saturday, including their own qualifying.

We have the TOP THREE performers from all 5 classes of cars that practiced on Sunday, starting with the three classes of the WeatherTech gang:

.
.
DPi class - During the qualifying session Oliver Jarvis set what would have been a new track record for any kind of car at Daytona, had it been a true race qualifying, in the # 77 Mazda RT24-P DPi for Mazda Team Joest, with a time of 01:33.398s for a speed of 137.212mph. Oliver’s lap was more than half a second quicker than the 26-year-old track record of 01:33.875 at 136.521mph set by PJ Jones in the # 98 Toyota Eagle MKIII. Making it an even better day for the team, it was the other RT24-P, the # 55 car, that came in 2nd fastest, with Harry Tincknell at the wheel and also during the qualifying. 3rd fastest for the day was the # 7 Acura ARX-05 DPi for Acura Team Penske with former champion Ricky Taylor qualifying it.

Co-drivers with Oli Jarvis are Tristan Nunez, Timo Bernhard and Rene Rast. Co-drivers in the # 55 Mazda are Jonathan Bomarito and Olivier Pla. Co-drivers in the # 7 Acura are IndyCar drivers Helio Castroneves and Alexander Rossi.

.
The Mazda RT24-P DPi - new unofficial track record and TOP TIME of the Roar

.
.
.
LMP2 class - Gabriel Aubry, who topped the Friday speed charts in class, did it again on Sunday, taking the same # 52 ORECA 07 Gibson for PR1 / Mathiasen Motorsports to the top in qualifying and for the Roar with a time of 01:35.930s for a speed of 133.591mph, besting the P-6 session time of IndyCar driver Ben Hanley in the # 81 ORECA 07 Gibson for DragonSpeed Racing by a scant 0.045 seconds. Ben’s co-driver, Nicolas Lapierre, was 3rd fastest on the day from his P-7 session time.

Co-driver for Gabriel is Matt McMurray. Co-drivers with Ben and Nicolas are Henrik Hedman, James Allen and Miki Weckstrom.

.
TOP qualifier and tops for the Roar in LMP2 class, the # 52 for PR1 / Mathiasen Motorsports

.
.
.
GTLM class - The 2018 series class champion Jan Magnussen scored the TOP TIME in qualifying in the # 3 Corvette C7.R for Corvette Racing posting a 01:42.651s for a speed of 124.844mph - the first TOP TIME for a 'Vette at the Roar. Jan bested the qualifying time of Richard Westbrook in the # 67 Ford GT for Ford Chip Ganassi by 0.128 seconds. The other Ford GT, the # 66, took 3rd fastest on the day, also in qualifying and with Joey Hand driving.

The other drivers in the Corvette are fellow 2018 Champion Antonio Garcia and Mike Rockenfeller. Co-drivers in the # 67 Ford are IndyCar drivers Ryan Briscoe and Scott Dixon, while co-drivers in the # 66 Ford are Dirk Mueller and IndyCar driver Sebastien Bourdais.

.
The # 3 Corvette C7.R - TOPS for the Roar and for qualifying

.
.
.
continued…

.
.
.
M


#413

+++

.
The 2 classes of the Michelin Pilot Challenge series held sessions 5 and 6 but did no qualifying, as was only required for the WeatherTech participants in the 2019 Rolex 24 at Daytona. We have the TOP THREE on times here, startting with the GS class:

.
.
Grand Sport class - Driving for Park Place Motorsports, Trent Hindman once again TOPPED the day and TOPPED the Roar with a time of 1:53.522s for a speed of 112.889mph in the # 77 Porsche Cayman GT4 MR, during the P-5 session. He beat out Dillon Machavern’s P-5 time in the # 66 Porsche Cayman GT4 MR of TRG - aka, The Racers Group - by 0.012 seconds. 3rd fastest for the day was Spencer Pumpelly, also in the # 66 for TRG and also in P-5.

Trent’s co-driver in the # 77 is Norwegian Alan Brynjolfsson who owns Volt LIghtning, the car’s sponsors.

.
the TOP GS-class time of the Roar, the Volt Lightning Cayman GT4 MR

.
.
.
Touring Car class - Jon Morley repeated his Saturday feat of topping the charts again on Sunday in the # 61 Audi RS3 LMS TCR for Roadshagger Racing by eEuropartsDotCom with a session 6 time of 01:59.900s for a speed of 106.884mph. He bested the P-5 session time of Lee Carpentier in the # 10 Audi RS3 LMS TCR for eEuropartsDotCom ROWE Racing by 0.353 seconds. 3rd fastest on the day was Stephen Simpson in the # 54 Audi RS3 LMS TCR for JDC-Miller Motorsports, based on his P-5 session time.

Co-driver for Jon Morley is Gavin Ernstone. Co-drivers for Lee Carpentier are Kieron O’Rourke and Kenton Koch while co-driver for Simpson is IndyCar driver Michael Johnson.

.
The # 61 Audi RS3 LMS TCR for Roadshagger Racing by eEuropartsDotCom - TOPS for the Roar

.
.
.
That’s it for the Roar Before the Rolex 24. The next time the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship cars and the Michelin Pilot Challenge cars take to Daytona will be for the Rolex 24 at Daytona and the BMW Endurance Challenge at Daytona, January 24-27th. Expect records to fall.

.
.
.
M


#414

+++_

.
Two more IndyCar drivers are headed to the 2019 Race of Champions…

.
While we were watching the Roar Before the Rolex 24 IndyCar drivers Ryan Hunter-Reay and Josef Newgarden made the announcement that they would once again team as Team USA for the first day of the two-day 2019 Race of Champions, to be held in Mexico this year, the first day being the competition for the Nation’s Cup. The pair were Team USA in 2018 - Ryan’s 5th appearance and Josef’s 1st at a ROC.

.
Ryan Hunter-Reay (left) and Josef Newgarden - Team USA for the Nation’s Cup, 2019

.
.
.
This year the ROC will be held at the Foro Sol, the amphitheater that forms part of the Formula One road course at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, in Mexico City. Previously announced are IndyCar drivers Helio Castroneves who will be on Team Brazil and Patricio O’Ward, who will be on Team Mexico. In addition, IndyCar driver Juan Pablo Montoya fell in love with the Race of Champions following his first appearance at the event in 2017, returned in 2018, and has vowed to return as often as he can - probably representing Colombia - and we wait for his announcement.

Also in, (left to right), Helio Castroneves, Pato O’Ward and likely JPM

.
.
.
Of course, once the Nation’s Cup is awarded on Day 1, Day 2 becomes every-driver-for-him-or-herself, as they all go for the Champion of Champions.

.
.
.
M


#415

+++

.
Wednesday - IndyCar and NBC release the broadcast schedule for 2019…

.
IndyCar CEO Mark MIles and President Jay Frye held a presser today, also attended by 2018 Champion Scott Dixon and 2018 Vice-Champion Alexander Rossi, The subject was the new broadcast schedule and other bits of promotion news that will make IndyCar racing all the more popular in 2019. Before the presser this vid of the 17-race broadcast schedule was released, with 9 races on cable on NBC-SN and 8 races over the airwaves on NBC, including the Indy 500 ;

.
.

.
.
.
…And here is the presser:

.
.

.
.
.
IndyCar qualifying and selected Road to Indy races will likely be on NBC Sports Gold, which is their subscription streaming channel, but no solid information has yet to be released on what will be offered and how much it will cost. The exception is the Indy 500 which will have both days of qualifying either on NBC OR NBC-SN.


#416

+++

.
We know he’s been working out a lot lately, and now we know why…

.
Former IndyCar Champion and broadcaster Paul Tracy is going to be racing in 2019. The rumor was that he has been getting in shape to make a return appearance in IndyCars, but we knew the 50-year-old “Thrill from West Hill” wasn’t foolish enough to try that, and he’s not.

He is INSTEAD going to return to Australia - the site of one of his many, many Champ Car victories - to compete in this year’s Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour, driving a MARC Car which he will co-drive with 2014 Bathurst 1000 winner Paul “the Dude” Morris and car owner Keith Kassulke, who was the 2018 class champion in the same car.

.
Paul Tracy

.
.
.
IMSA legend Boris Said was originally slated for the ride but suffered an injury recently that will keep him out of the car. Fellow broadcaster and Aussie Leigh Diffy made the connection between recent Stadium Super Trucks Champion Paul Morris and Tracy and the rest is going to be history.

Says Paul, “It was a pleasant surprise to be asked to come back to AU and compete in a class-winning car with a guy like Paul Morris. He is a legend down under and making a name for himself in the States driving in Robby’s (Gordon’s) SST trucks. I must thank Leigh Diffey for teeing this up for me. We have become great mates working together.”

.
.
.
This will be Tracy’s first attempt to assault the legendary Mount Panorama course which hosts the Bathurst 12-Hour - one of the world’s greatest endurance races. To make his task easier he is not only getting in shape, but also using iRacing simulations to help prepare himself for the track and the race.

“I always come to win. I am training like a mad man to be ready for the challenge of arguably the toughest track in the world. It will be a great start to a year where I plan to do a lot more racing."

.
Scary…tough…beautiful… Mount Panorama

.
.
.
We can get behind that. The 2019 Bathurst 12 Hour takes place from January 31-February 3. Good luck, Paul!

.
.
.
M


#417

+++

.
It’s been more than a week since our last look at Patricio O’Ward’s vid series “Behind the Visor”…

.
…and that’s too long! This great-looking series has Pato recounting his 2018 Championship season in Indy Lights, race by race, through all the ups and downs. We last left off in post # 359 at the Freedom 100, held on Carb Day of the Indy 500 weekend at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Now, let’s do Episode # 5 …Road America:

.
.

.
.
.
We’re loving it.

.
.
.
M


#418

+++

.
Great vid with Alex Zanardi and John Edwards…

.
The 2-time Champ Car champion is going to drive in the # 24 BMW M8 GTE for BMW Team RLL at the 2019 Rolex 24 at Daytona in late January, with co-drivers John Edwards, Jesse Krohn and Supercars ace driver Chaz Mostert. The team adjustments that have to be made to allow Zanardi, a double-amputee, to compete include the driver change - an essential part of any endurance race with multiple drivers in a car.

Watch here as Alex and John explain what they are doing to smooth the transition:

.
.

.
.
.
Neat!

.
.
.
M


#419

+++

.
Rinus VeeKay is taking the off-season very seriously, again…

.
The 2018 Pro Mazda (now “Indy Pro 2000”) Champion drove in the Indian MRF series in the 2017-2018 off-season to stay sharp and it obviously helped him to secure his 2018 title. The 18-year-old Nederlander is doing it again, but this time he’s driving in the Asian F3 Winter Series - 3 race weekends with 3 races per weekend - and he’s off to a GREAT start! - 2 WINS and a P3 in the season opener at Chang International Circuit in Thailand.

.
Rinus VeeKay in Buriram, Thailand, this weekend - 2 WINS and 3 podiums

.
.
.
Rinus started Race 1 in P3, dropped to P5 and recovered for the WIN. In Race 2 Rinus started on pole and never gave up the P1 spot to the end. Race 3 was more difficult as though he started on pole Rinus was necessarily on old tires and dropped to P3 by the end. After this first weekend, Van Kalmthout is leading the championship by 22 points.

.
Rinus van Kalmthout - aka Rinus VeeKay - in his Dragon Hitech GP Formula 3 car.

.
.
.
The next 3 races will be at the Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia, 20 January.

.
.
.
M