Alpine's Road Racing Column

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Alpine's Road Racing Column

Post by Alpineopossum on Sat Dec 22, 2012 6:41 pm

Episode I

Some ALMS & Grand Am Updates

TRG and Aston Martin
TRG has formed a partnership with Aston Martin and will run a team (probably a two car team) in the ALMS starting at Sebring. They will also run 911s in Grand Am. As for the Aston ALMS program, there is no word on drivers because TRG has used paydrivers for most of its history. Spencer Pumpelly and Patrick Pilet were exceptions this year, but Pumpelly is going to the Flying Lizard team and Pilet is a Porsche factory driver. So my predictions for possible drivers are as follows

Eilseo Salazar ran for the team in the Rolex 24 in 2012 and the Chilean has experiance in Sportscars, Indycars, and F1 so he would be a good pick for the team. He ran a number of additional races for TRG's Grand Am program in 2012. A name that has been floated around is Timothy Gaffney, who ran a few races in 2006-2007 in Grand Am but has mainly been a test driver since. He was the development tester for Multimac Aston Martin in the Continental Tire Series so he has the manufacture links. But due to a lack of recent race experiance, consider Gaffney to be a long shot. Ben Keating, Alan Simonson, and Steven Bertheau got on the TRG team for money but all three are capable drivers in their own right. I would imagine at least one of them found there way into a TRG car in 2012. Jeroen Bleekmolen drove for TRG recently as well. The Dutchman won the Carrera Cup championship a few years ago and is very capable. He is probably a top contender for a seat. One of Aston Martin Racing's former drivers, Adrian Fernandez, could be an outside contender. Although at the moment he has a management role with I believe Sergio Perez, he stated he wants to continue racing in the United States. Aston Martin had a Young Driver Development team in 2011 and those drivers could be contenders for a TRG ride. Alex Muller probably has a good shot, but Tomas Enge is banned from racing after failing a drug test (he was stripped of him his 2002 F3000 title for the same reason earlier in his career). Andrea Piccini, another GT1 Aston Martin driver is a name to watch. Then there is the list of fast road racers that have no rides including David Murray, Peter Kox, Jean Denis Deletraz (God help us), Stephane Ortelli, David Donahue, and many more.

So what will TRG / Aston Martin do? An clue could be in another major manufacture's entry into the ALMS GT ranks: the Vipers. They employed Marc Goossens (an international sportscar ace), Tommy Kendall (a US road course legend), Kuno Wittmer (an up and coming guy from world challenge) and Dominik Farnbacher (a young international racer with experiance). So for TRG a lineup could look like this:
* David Donahue (US Racing Icon)
* Jeroen Bleekmolen (Young International Star)
* Lawson Aschenbach (Up and comer from World Challenge)
* Peter Kox (International Veteren)

If I could form the lineup it would be:
Car #66 - David Donahue / Jeroen Bleekmolen
Car #67 - Jacques Villeneuve / Alex Muller
Endurance Drivers: Peter Kox, David Murray
Test / Reserve Driver: Timothy Gaffney


Last edited by Alpineopossum on Fri Jun 06, 2014 10:29 am; edited 4 times in total
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Re: Alpine's Road Racing Column

Post by Alpineopossum on Mon Dec 24, 2012 12:36 pm

What the 2014 Class Structure Should Be

Reportedly, the newly merged ALMS and Grand Am series will annouce the 2014 class structure on Janurary 4th. This new series has the potential to do great things for sportscar racing. Sadly, sportscar racing has been a blip on the American Sports radar compared to NASCAR and IndyCar. If they can get the merger right, there is the potential for a great increase in popularity. Here are my suggestions for the class structure

Prototype 1 - Will consist of P2 cars as well as P1 cars will slightly smaller engines. Unrestricted P1 cars could be allowed for the Rolex 24, Sebring, and Petit Le Mans to bring teams such as Toyota and Audi over from Europe.

Prototype 2 - The current Daytona Prototypes and the LMP challenge cars. Both are similar performance wise and both have strong fields.

Grand Touring 1 - The current ALMS GT cars. This category is already very strong with manufacture involvement from Porsche, Ferrari, Chevrolet, BMW, Dodge, Aston Martin, and Lotus.

Grand Touring 2 - The current Grand Am GT cars as well as the GTC Porsches from ALMS.

This way there are four classes and no one is left behind. I'm not sure if GX could be brought up to GT performance so it's status is TBA.
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Re: Alpine's Road Racing Column

Post by Alpineopossum on Wed Jan 02, 2013 1:15 pm

Not really sportscars but open wheel racing.
A continuation of IndyCar with F1 Points.

We now go back to the first season of CART, 1979.

Using 25-18-15-12-10-8-6-4-2-1 system.

1. Bobby Unser 239
2. Rick Mears 225
3. Gordon Johncock 154
4. Johnny Rutheford 149
5. Al Unser 131
6. Tom Sneva 98
7. Tom Bagley 74
8. Wally Dallenbach 70
9. Danny Ongais 54
10. Mike Mosley 42
11. Pancho Carter 23
12. Lee Kunzman 22
13. AJ Foyt 18
14. Joe Saldana 17
15. Mario Andretti 15
16. Salt Wathers 12
17. Vern Schuppen 12
18. Bill Aslup 10
19. Howdy Holmes 6
20. Herm Johnson 6
21. Spike Gelhausen 5
22. Bill Vukovich II 4
23. Tim Richmond 4
24. Don Whittington 4
25. Steve Krisloff 2
26. Larry Rice 2
27. Al Loquisto 2
28. Tom Frantz 2
29. Frank Weiss 2
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Re: Alpine's Road Racing Column

Post by Cynon on Sat Jan 05, 2013 8:04 am

Alpineopossum wrote:Not really sportscars but open wheel racing.
A continuation of IndyCar with F1 Points.

We now go back to the first season of CART, 1979.

Using 25-18-15-12-10-8-6-4-2-1 system.

1. Bobby Unser 239
2. Rick Mears 225
3. Gordon Johncock 154
4. Johnny Rutheford 149
5. Al Unser 131
6. Tom Sneva 98
7. Tom Bagley 74
8. Wally Dallenbach 70
9. Danny Ongais 54
10. Mike Mosley 42
11. Pancho Carter 23
12. Lee Kunzman 22
13. AJ Foyt 18
14. Joe Saldana 17
15. Mario Andretti 15
16. Salt Wathers 12
17. Vern Schuppen 12
18. Bill Aslup 10
19. Howdy Holmes 6
20. Herm Johnson 6
21. Spike Gelhausen 5
22. Bill Vukovich II 4
23. Tim Richmond 4
24. Don Whittington 4
25. Steve Krisloff 2
26. Larry Rice 2
27. Al Loquisto 2
28. Tom Frantz 2
29. Frank Weiss 2

I actually made a calculator that will do this provided I have all of the results. Laughing

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Re: Alpine's Road Racing Column

Post by Alpineopossum on Sat Jan 05, 2013 11:23 am

That would be useful...


======

Episode 3

January 5, 2012

The Rolex 24 at Daytona is approaching. For a sports car fan like me, it’s one of the big races every year along with Sebring, Le Mans, and the Nürburgring among others. It isn’t as important as it once was, although that may change: The Automobile Club de I’Ouest, the sanctioning body for Le Mans, is reportedly considering adding a Daytona Prototype class to Le Mans in 2013. Also with Grand Am and ALMS merging, the scope of sports car racing in America is growing.

Going through the Daytona Prototype class, one of the favorites for the win has to be Chip Ganassi Racing. Overall, they are one of the greatest teams in American motorsport today and have scene success in the IZOD IndyCar Series, Grand Am, and in NASCAR. Their first car #01, will be driven by normal drivers Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas. This pair has won the DP championship before and are both phenomenal drivers. They defiantly know their way around the Daytona road course. They are joined by Juan Pablo Montoya, who drives for Ganassi’s NASCAR program and by Charlie Kimball, who races for their IndyCar team. This is Kimball’s first year at the Rolex 24. Previously his spot was occupied by Graham Rahal, but the Medina, Ohio native lost his ride with Ganassi’s IndyCar squad in the offseason. Kimball is an unknown here. Montoya is an amazing talent. He has won in Formula 1, NASCAR, and IndyCar as well as the Rolex 24 earlier in his career (2007…I was there.) But Montoya is also extremely aggressive, and in an endurance event that is not the best attribute to have. If the Columbian veteran can keep the car on the track and not hit others, he should be fine. But his last appearance in Grand Am, at the Brickyard Grand Prix (held on a track that, like Daytona, is a combination oval and road course) he gained the ire of many Grand Am competitors after causing a series of accidents.

The second Ganassi car, which, like its sister entry is sponsored by Target and Telmex, won’t run the full season and has a lineup consisting entirely of guest drivers. Scott Dixon, Dario Franchittim Joey Hand, and Jamie McMurry will be behind the wheel. McMurry has a history of success at Daytona: He won here in 2007 and 2010 in NASCAR (the latter being in the Daytona 500) but has little experience in road racing. He is still a talented driver and will do a decent job in the #02 car. Expect him to keep the car on the track and run consistently. Joey Hand is a BMW factory driver (the Ganassi team used BMW engines in Grand Am). He has a full plate in 2013: In addition to the Rolex 24, he will also run for the RLL BMW team in the American Le Mans Series and will race in the DTM (German Touring Car Masters) series. Scott Dixon is a very capable driver. An Indianapolis 500 champion (and two time IndyCar champion) Dixon is a great road racer and will be a contender. As will his IndyCar teammate, Dario Franchitti. The Scotsman’s 2012 IndyCar season was a disappointment by his standards, but that doesn’t mean he was uncompetitive: He won the Indianapolis 500, finished in the top ten in points, and nearly won at California, finishing second to Ed Carpenter of all people. Dario should be very fast and will put this car in the contention for the win.

The next team on the entry list is the #2 Ford of Starworks Motorsports. The team, owned by Peter Barron, has an all-star lineup. Leading off is IndyCar driver and four time champion Sébastien Bourdais of France. Bourdais is one of the fastest open wheel drivers in the world and won for the team at the Brickyard Grand Prix last year. Ryan Daizel was recently declared the Sports Car driver of the year by Speed TV. He found success in the Grand Am Rolex Series and the World Endurance Championship (where he was class champion). Next is another Scottish driver, Alan McNish. McNish has won pretty much everything there is to win in Sportscar racing except the Rolex 24. He finished second last year. Never, ever, count him out. Finishing the lineup is Alex Popow from Venezuela. Although he brings significant sponsorship, Popow is comparable to Paul Menard: Someone who is there for the money but is a decent driver in their own right.

The next team on the list was founded by a former Starworks driver. Enzo Potolicchio founded EightStar (or 8Star) Motorsports in the offseason and has recruited a talented driver lineup to join him. Starting off is Pedro Lamy who has raced in a wide variety of series. He had a stint in Formula 1, but never made it to victory lane and eventually faded from the F1 scene. He moved to Sportscar racing, and was very competitive behind the wheel of the Prodrive Aston Martin DBR9s, winning at Sebring and Le Mans among other places. He was later drafted onto the Peugeot Le Mans squad and saw success there. However when that team closed in 2012, he couldn’t find a ride. the Portuguese driver landed with Labré Competition, which was a Pro/Am team. Lamy will be very competitive. So will another Peugeot veteran, Nicolas Minassian, who in recent years has run a Toyota TS030 in the World Endurance Championship. Enzo Potolicchio is the team owner and is to be honest nowhere near the caliber of his teammates, but that won’t slow the car down so much that they cannot win. Stéphane Sarrazin was one of the lead Peugeot Le Mans drivers before the team shut down at the end of 2011 and he may be the fastest driver on the 8Star team. Sarrazin, who hales from France, has many years of experience under his belt. Rounding out the lineup (which has five drivers compared to the average of three or four) is Anthony Davidson, who spent most of last season out of the cockpit after breaking his back when Pierregiuseppe Parrazini wrecked him at Le Mans. 8Star could be in contention. There’s no questioning the talent of the relief drivers Enzo Potolicchio has brought in, but the rest of the team in an unknown quality. It would be a Herculean achievement to win one of the worlds premier Sportscar races in the team’s debut.

Action Express Racing is a much different team that last season. Still running a Corvette DP the team will run only three drivers in the race. Christian Fittipaldi, the nephew of IndyCar and F1 champ Emerson, is joining the team. Fittipaldi sometimes gets lost in his uncle’s shadow but is a decent driver in his own right. Felipe Nasr isn’t well known in America but the man won a British F-3 championship in 2011 (along with a 2009 Formula BMW Europe title), so he’s clearly talented. Rounding off the lineup is disgraced Formula 1 driver and current NASCAR competitor, Nelson Piquet, Jr. Interstingly enough, Piquet’s father and Fittapaldi’s uncle raced each other in both Formula 1 and in IndyCar. I would consider this team a Longshot for the win. Victory isn’t impossible but it would be an upset. That said the team has won the race before (in 2010) so don’t totally count them out.

Michael Shank Racing has a car #6 entered but no drivers have been confirmed. Australian NASCAR star (and ex-V8 Supercars driver) Marcos Ambrose has been strongly linked to this car (and he tested for the MSR team) but nothing has been confirmed.

There is a second Starworks car entered but it currently has only two drivers. I would expect a third to be on the team. Currently the lineup is IndyCar star and 2011 Indianpolis 500 pole winner Alex Tagliani of Canada, and an Italian driver with whom I am unfamiliar named Ivan Bellarosa.

There is a second Action Express car entered. Driving it are Joao Barbosa, Burt Frisselle, and Brian Frisselle. Barbosa is the only carryover from last year, and the only driver who has won this race before still on the team. Barbosa is one of the best Grand Am drivers currently in the series. The Frisselle brothers haven’t raced in a while so they may be a bit rusty, but they have talent and have demonstrated it before, so once they get back up to speed, expect great things.

Wayne Taylor Racing has a new primary sponsor: Velocity. Sun Trust will remain with the team as an associate sponsor. Ricky Taylor left the team for Spirit of Daytona and is replaced by Jordan Taylor, who came over from the recently closed Autohaus Motorsports. Jordan is a capable driver and has a chance to bloom driving for his Dad’s team. The South African driver will be joined by Italian veteran Max “The Ax” Angelelli. and Ryan Hunter Reay. Angelelli is a road racing legend and has tasted victory all around the world. Hunter Reay recently won the IndyCar championship. WTR has one of the best driver lineups in the series and will contend for the win.

A new team called BTE Sport has appeared on the entry list with Emamanuelle Anassis, Anthony Massari, and Doug Peterson. I haven’t heard of any of them.

Team Sahlen is a small operation based in North Canton, Ohio, very close to where my Dad grew up. They’ve been racing for many years in GTs and have recently moved up to the prototype ranks. Simon Pagenaud, Wayne Nonnamaker, and Dane Cameron will be the team’s lineup in their #42 prototype. This a is a great lineup. Pagenaud was recently crowned IndyCar’s rookie of the year, and Dane Cameron has shown incredible speed for some very underfunded DP teams in the past few years.

The other car consists of two other members of the Nonnamaker family, Joe and Will, along with Joe Sahlen, who brings the team’s title sponsorship. This car won’t contend for the victory.

Highway to Help is a team carrying the title of AC/DC frontman Brian Johnson’s charity, which raises money for pediatric cancer research. Frank Beck, Carlos de Quesada, Byron DeFoor, and Jim Pace are currently listed as drivers. It is a possibility that Brian Johnson could join them.

Michael Shank Racing’s #60 car, the defending winner of the race, has no listed drivers but is believed to have a lineup of John Pew, Oswaldo Negi, and AJ Allmendinger. The team won last year with that same lineup plus Justin Wilson and will be contenders again.

Doran Racing has showed up with an old Dallara but with a somewhat good driver lineup. Dr. Jim Lowe is a pay driver and not at the level of a pro. Jon Bennett is better: he won the ALMS LMPC title in 2012. But the team’s two best drivers are Paul Tracy and Colin Braun. Tracy is an open wheel veteran who quit open wheel racing after Las Vegas last year, but says he would someday be interested in a return. Colin Braun had a successful NASCAR career before moving to open wheel racing. This car is alongshot for victory.

Spirit of Daytona Racing is another of the Corvette DP teams and will feature ultra-fast Brits Richard Westbrook and Oliver Gavin as well as newcomer Ricky Taylor from South Africa (although he lives in the US) and Spaniards Antonio Garcia. Gavin won the ALMS GT championship for Corvette, Westbrook has won numerous races in many categories, most famously in Porsche Supercup. Garcia is another Corvette GT driver, and Ricky Taylor previously drove for his Dad’s team in DP racing. Spirit of Daytona has a legitimate shot at winning in 2013.

GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing, or The Red Dragon as Leigh Diffey enthusiastically calls them has always been mentioned as a contender but has never delivered a win in the 24. Their two longtime drivers, Jon Fogarty and Alex Gurney are former champions and will be competitive. Their relief drivers are also impressive: Memo Gidley and Darren Law. But I can’t predict a win for them. They’ve been the odds on favorites a number of times and never delievered.

-CT

GT Preview is Next.
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Re: Alpine's Road Racing Column

Post by Chives2112 on Sun Jan 06, 2013 9:11 pm

motorsport.com has some articles about the Roar Before the 24 test session:

http://www.motorsport.com/grandam/news/features/
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Re: Alpine's Road Racing Column

Post by PKligBKFan on Sun Jan 06, 2013 10:00 pm

Keep your eyes on Team Sahlen. They ran fairly well in testing.
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Re: Alpine's Road Racing Column

Post by Alpineopossum on Thu Jan 10, 2013 5:07 pm

It seems like the ALMS GT grid seems set. Here's how it looks
- 2 cars for Corvette (Magnuson and Garçia, Milner and Gavin)
- 2 cars for SRT (Wittmer and Farnbacher, Goossens and Kendall)
- 2 Z4s from BMW (Auberlan and Summerton, Jörg Müller and Hand)
- 1 Falken Porsche (Sellers and Henzler)
- 1 Miller Porsche (Miller and Marco Holtzer)
- 2 Extreme Speed Patrón Ferraris (Sharp and Overbeek, Brown and Cosmo)
Possible Entries include
- 2 TRG Aston Martins - Says they will run an ALMS campaign but little has been heard about any details
- Alex Job Racing - Lotus short changed them but they could go to another make
- Risi - Closed in 2012 but could come back. Daily Sports Car said they will.
- Patrick Dempsey - could run a 911 in GT
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Re: Alpine's Road Racing Column

Post by Alpineopossum on Tue Jan 22, 2013 3:50 pm

Some more ALMS silly season stuff:

P1:
- the two full time cars from last year plus a new one from Rebellion Racing
Muscle Milk (Honda) - 6 - Graf/Luhr
Rebellion (Lola-Toyota) - 12 - Jani/Bellechi
Dyson (Lola-Mazda) - 16 - Dyson/Smith
Part time cars are believed to be:
Audi (Audi) - 1 - McNish/Kristenson/Rockenfeller
Audi (Audi) - 2 - Lotterer/Tréyluner/Di Grassi
Dyson (Lola-Mazda) - 20 - ???

P2 is really anybody's guess.

LMPC will have Core Autosports be back with one car with Jon Bennett and Colin Braun (the same Colin Braun that ran Nationwide for Roush). Joining them will be the Merchant Services cars which are expected to run Tony Burgess + the Downs family army. PR1 Mattheson will be back. Also look for RSR unless Jaguar decides to get back into GT.

GT is probably the most exciting class:
Risi is back, Core Autosports has a new entry, TRG will run an Aston (or two), Dempsey is in the mix as well, etc.
Corvette Racing (Chevrolet Corvette) - 3 - Magnuson/Garçia
Corvette Racing (Chevrolet Corvette) - 4 - Gavin/Milner
Extreme Speed Motorsports (Ferrari 458 Italia) - 01 - Sharp/van Overbeek
Extreme Speed Motorsports (Ferrari 458 Italia) - 02 - Cosmo/Brown
Core Autosport (Porsche 911) - 05 - Long/Kimber-Smith
Team Falken Tire (Porsche 911) - 17 - Sellers/Henzler
Dempsey Del Piero Racing (???) - ?? - Dempsey/Foster
Dempsey Del Piero Racing (???) - ?? - ???/???
TRG (Aston Martin Vantage) - 66 - ???/???
Paul Miller Racing (Porsche 911) - 48 - Miller/Holzer
Risi Competizone (Ferrari 458 Italia) - 62 - ???/???
BMW Team RLL (BMW Z4) - 55 - Martin/Auberlan
BMW Team RLL (BMW Z4) - 56 - Hand/Müller
SRT Motorsport (SRT Viper) - 91 - Wittmer/Farnbacher
SRT Motorsport (SRT Viper) - 93 - Goossens/Kendall

Possible entries include the Alex Job Lotus (on hold right now), RSR (long shot) and another GT team that is reportedly entering but the identity of which I don't know.


GTC will feature one TRG car, at least one car each from Flying Lizard and Alex Job as well as likely entries from NGT Motorsports, Competition Motorsports, and JDX Racing.
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Re: Alpine's Road Racing Column

Post by Spannerhead29 (Nelson) on Tue Jan 22, 2013 4:07 pm

I think for the first time ever Sportscars got mention on the news last night. Italian soccer superstar Alessando Del Pierro, who plays for local soccer club Sydney F.C., has teamed up McDreamy Patrick Dempsey.
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Re: Alpine's Road Racing Column

Post by flyingturns89 on Tue Jan 22, 2013 5:56 pm

Spannerhead29 (Nelson) wrote:I think for the first time ever Sportscars got mention on the news last night. Italian soccer superstar Alessando Del Pierro, who plays for local soccer club Sydney F.C., has teamed up McDreamy Patrick Dempsey.

I'm disturbed by the fact that you called Patrick Dempsey "McDreamy".

That being said, it'll be interesting what Dempsey can do with his partner. This team I'm sure will take time to build up, but I'm sure they have some GOALS!
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Re: Alpine's Road Racing Column

Post by Spannerhead29 (Nelson) on Wed Jan 23, 2013 8:15 am

flyingturns89 wrote:
Spannerhead29 (Nelson) wrote:I think for the first time ever Sportscars got mention on the news last night. Italian soccer superstar Alessando Del Pierro, who plays for local soccer club Sydney F.C., has teamed up McDreamy Patrick Dempsey.

I'm disturbed by the fact that you called Patrick Dempsey "McDreamy".

That being said, it'll be interesting what Dempsey can do with his partner. This team I'm sure will take time to build up, but I'm sure they have some GOALS!
That's because he's mostly known world-wide as McDreamy for his starting role in Gray's Anatomy. lrn2tv.
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Re: Alpine's Road Racing Column

Post by Alpineopossum on Fri Feb 01, 2013 4:41 pm

After the Rolex 24, the dominance of the Ganassi team was obvious. Had Grand Am not been so caution happy they would have won by a much bigger margin. The word from people who were there is that Wayne Taylor's team would have had its car run out of gas in the last sector of the last lap. They had a massive lead and it isn't implausable to think that they could have costed across the line. They had a strong international lineup featuring "Max the Ax" from Italy, Jordan Taylor from South Africa, and American Ryan-Hunter Reay. They could have done it.
But ultimatly, nobody will be able to consistantly challange Ganassi. Sure, other teams might win races here and there but no one has the resources or, arguably, the know how to challange them for a full year.
In GT, the story was without doubt Audi. Has Markus Whinkelhock not pushed as hard as he did they would have gotten a 1-2-3. Audi brought out the big guns for this race. Whinkelhock, Frank Biela, Felipe Albaquerque, Oliver Jarvis, Eduardo Mortara, Rene Rast, Marc Basseng, Frank Strippler, etc.

The ALMS debut at Sebring is coming in a little over a month but there is already some considerable buzz about the event. Audi will show up with two R18s. Which gurantees them the overall win because Rebellion Racing can't come close to the Audis and Rebellion itself is considerable faster than Muscle Milk Pickett Racing and the Dyson team. I would pick Rebellion Racing for the P1 title. The real action is in GTE. Rumors indicate that TRG will have a amatur lineup in its Aston Martin which would render it a backmarker. SRT Motorsports had a strong finish to last year and all four of its full time drivers will be back. Tommy Kendall and Kuno Wittmer aren't listed for Le Mans, possibly because people who make a name for themselves in SCCA racing are looked down upon by the series organizers. I can see why they would have that attitude, as the SCCA has a bad reputation that it in large part deserves. But Wittmer and Kendall were the best of the best in Pro Racing in the SCCA and they will do well at Le Mans if given the oppertunity. Corvette Racing will be a contender as always. Risi Competizone is returning. BMW is running a Z4. There are quite a few question marks going into Sebring.
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Re: Alpine's Road Racing Column

Post by Alpineopossum on Sat Mar 09, 2013 2:39 pm

Sebring is coming soon and the entry list has been recently released.

In P1 the favorites are the Audi factory team, run by Joest. The #1 car will be driven by Marcel Fassler, Benoit Treluyer, and Oliver Jarvis. Fassler and Treluyer are Le Mans champions. Jarvis is more of an unknown. While certainly a capable driver he is not a proven endurance race winner like his teammates - yet. The second Audi R18, #2, will be driven by Tom Kristensen from Denmark, Scottish driver Alan McNish, and Brazil's Lucas Di Grassi. Kristenen and McNish are two of the greatest endurance drivers of all time. Di Grassi, a former F1 driver, is a weaker link. Although he had disappointing results in F1, he was not in terribly good equipment. Still, he lacks the the endurance prowess of Kristensen and McNish. The race in P1 (and for the overall victory) will likely be a competition between the two Audis and the win will go to whichever one encounters the least amount of trouble along the way. I think the #1 car may have a slight advantage, but it will be close.
There are other entries in P1 however. Rebellion Racing has entered a pair of Lola/Toyotas. The #12 entry has a fantastic lineup of Nicolas Prost (the son of F1 legend Alain Prost), Neel Jani, and Nick Heidfeld. Prost and Jani drove this car to victory at Petit Le Mans in 2012, scoring Rebellion's first major win in an international race. Ironically enough this team at one point employed Prost and Bruno Senna, despite their ancestor's intense rivalry. The second Rebellion entry is driven by Mathias Beche, Andrea Belicchi, and Cong Fu Cheng. Mathias Beche is a driver I have never heard of, but according to Wikipedia he is the reigning ELMS champion, so clearly he is good. Belicchi is a talented veteren and judging from his Petit Le Mans victory last year, the Italian knows how to win endurance races. Cong Fu Cheng is a Chinese driver that I have heard of but don't know much about. He won the Asian Formula Renault championship and was 3rd in the British Formula Renault championship four years later but his results are mixed. He might be a paydriver but I am not entirely sure. The #12 Rebellion car is much more competitive. One of the most intersting entries in the field is the DeltaWing. The DeltaWing project began as a IndyCar but morphed into an endurance prototype that debuted at Le Mans last year. Andy Meyrick and Olivier Pla will be the drivers on the two man team, which is unusual at Sebring. Meyrick and Pla form a strong driver lineup. Meyrick has experiance and Pla had some great showings in GP2 a few years back. But the DeltaWing is still experimental and can't be regarded as a threat to the dominant Audis.
The two championship contenders from last season are back for this year. Muscle Milk Pickett Racing is the defending series champion running a Honda HPD ARX03c. Their driver lineup from last season of Germans Klaus Graf and Lucas Luhr return to the Greg Pickett lead squad. Also returning from Petit Le Mans last year is Frenchman Romain Dumas. This is one of the best driver lineups in the field. Still, they probably won't be able to pull what would be one of the biggest upsets in endurance racing history and beat the Audis. The Dyson Racing Team has been around for years and is a formidable group of people. Chris Dyson, the son of team founder and driver Rob Dyson will be partnered by Guy Smith and Butch Leitzinger. Although family connections got him the ride, Chris Dyson is a top notch driver. Guy Smith is a vary capable endurance driver. He won the 2003 Le Mans 24 Hours driving for Bentley. Butch Leitzinger, who has been with the Dyson team for years, will be the third driver. It's a great lineup but, like the Pickett team, is a longshot for the win.
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Sebring P2 Preview

Post by Alpineopossum on Sat Mar 09, 2013 3:24 pm

P2 is a far more open category than P1. There are only five entries but all feature at least one-two strong drivers. Greaves Motorsport is a British team that has entered a Zytek with a Nissan engine. It's driver lineup is Tom Kimber-Smith, Eric Lux, and Christian Zugel. Tom Kimber-Smith is an excellent driver with three class wins at Le Mans and a British Formula Ford title to his credit. At Laguna Seca he will begin driving the CORE Autosport GT Porsche. Eric Lux appeared in a number of races last year for the Dyson Racing Team in P1. He's quick but Kimber-Smith is clearly the lead driver at the Greaves team. I've heard of Christian Zugel but I don't know much about him other than he has appeared in a number of major sports car races around the world in recent years. Greaves is a serious team and they have the potential to contend for a class victory.
Level 5 Motorsports is a major team in road racing. It is owned by Kansas-based Gentleman driver Scott Tucker. Tucker has come under fire after allegations were made that his payday loan company, Westfund, was treating customers unethically. Tucker's team lost its Microsoft Office sponsorship because of this issue (although they may regain this if Tucker is exonerated and found to be innocent). Tucker will drive the No. 95 car and his co-drivers will be Marino Franchitti (brother of IndyCar champion Dario) and unemployed IndyCar driver Ryan Briscoe. Despite his gentleman driver status, Tucker is a fierce competitor and has won a number of races in the Ferrari Challenge Series. I would imagine that he will take care of his equipment, given that it is his equipment. He is good at finding some top-notch co-drivers. Franchitti and Briscoe are very quick and should not be discounted. The second Level 5 HPD prototype is numbered 055 and somehow also has Scott Tucker listed as a driver (Scott Tucker is notorious for this). Partnering him is defending IZOD IndyCar Series champion Ryan Hunter-Reay and another IndyCar driver, last year's Rookie of the Year Simon Pagenaud. As I stated above, Scott Tucker has a knack for hiring talented people to be his relief drivers and that tendency will put the two Level 5 Motorsports entries in contention for the P2 win.
Extreme Speed Motorsports has left the GT category for 2012 and has moved to P2. In the process they shuffled their driver lineup. Scott Sharp is now partnered by Guy Cosmo in car #01. The third driver will be David Brabham. Sharp won two races in the ultra competitive GT class last year (Mosport and Petit Le Mans), and the owner driver from Jupiter Beach, Florida will be quick. Guy Cosmo has shown a lot of speed but has hurt from having Ed Brown as a relief driver in the past. This year will be a good opportunity for him to show what he can do. David Brabham is one of the best and most experienced road racers. You won't find many drivers better and endurance racing than the Second generation Aussie racer. The Second ESM car features Johannes van Overbeek and Anthony Lazzaro, but it won't contend due to the presence of Ed Brown. Johaanes van Overbeek is a great driver by any stretch. He finished third in Le Mans in 2005 and won a pair of GT races in the ALMS last year. The Oakland native is the best driver in the #02 HPD ARX 03. Anthony Lazzaro knows how to drive (as evidenced by strong runs in ALMS and Grand Am). Ed Brown, on the other hand, is on the team because he is the CEO of the Patron Spirits Corporation. Not to be hard on Brown but he is an amateur, pure and simple. Don't expect the #02 to contend for a class win unless Brown has a very short stint.
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PC Sebring Preview

Post by Alpineopossum on Sat Mar 09, 2013 4:00 pm

Every car in the Prototype challenge class is a Chevrolet powered Oreca with Continental tires. BAR1 Motorsports (formerly Merchant Services Racing if I'm not mistaken) has entered two cars. Rusty Mitchell, Chapman Ducote, and Tomy Drissi will be in the #7. Rusty Mitchell has some considerable success in SCCA but his career in the higher echelons of road racing has been less successful. To be honest I do not known much about Chapman Ducote. My knowledge of him is little more than knowing of him, so the jury is still out on Ducote. Tomy Drissi (who's day job is designing movie posters and displays) is a driver who really doesn't need an introduction. He's ran in a wide variety of road races from ALMS to Grand Am to the NASCAR road course events. He is a very talented driver. Drissi's only weakness is a tendency to be over aggressive at times, which doesn't bode well in an 12 hour race. If he can stay clean he could propell the #7 car to a class victory. The second BAR1 car (#Cool will be piloted by Canadians Kyle Marcelli and Chris Cumming and Swedish driver Stefan Johansson. Marcelli and Cummings have run the ALMS in the PC and GTC classes respectively and both have shown speed. The real ace on the team, however, is Stefan Johansson. An eleven year veteran of F1 (1980-1991), Johansson has won his class at Le Mans three times including an overall triumph in 1997 (with Michele Albereto and Tom Kristensen). He is one of the oldest drivers in the field at 56 but I think he still has what it takes.
RSR, the former Jaguar factory team, has a two driver entry for Bruno Junqueria and Alex Popow. Junqueria is a race winner in ChampCar and a capable driver on all fronts. He made a successful transition to endurance racing in recent years and is very quick. Alex Popow brings major funding from Venezuela. He's not as good as Junqueria but isn't a total moving chicane either.
Performance Tech has entered a car with two drivers I have never heard of. I honestly have no idea who Charlie Shears is. The name Tristan Nunez seems familiar but I don't really know anything about him. The third driver is David Heinemeier Hansson. DHH is from Denmark and although he is a gentleman driver he is a quick one. He had some very strong showings for Conquest Endurance last year (a team which is reportedly coming back in the PC category later this year). The PR1 Mattheson Motorsports entry has three drivers who I am not informed about (David Cheng, Mike Guasch, and David Ostella). DragonSpeed is in a similar position. I don't know who Mirco Shultis or Patrick Simon are, but the team's third driver, Pierre Kaffer, is the real deal. The German has won in GT for the Risi Competizone team. I can't make prediction about these three teams because I'm not informed enough.
CORE Autosport will be fielding a GT team starting at Laguna Seca. Their PC car, which won the championship last year, is driven by Colin Braun, Jon Bennett, and Mark Wilkins. Wilkins previously raced in Grand Am and won a race in that series. Jon Bennett is the team owner and while certainly capable isn't on par with his teammates. Colin Braun drove for Krohn Racing in Grand Am during their championship year. He's also done NASCAR and World Challenge. With a good driver lineup and a history of success, CORE would be my pick for the PC win.
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Sebring GT Preview

Post by Alpineopossum on Sat Mar 09, 2013 4:19 pm

GT is the best class in ALMS. Their are factory entries from the manufactures, great drivers, and fantastic racing. I think that GT racing has enormous potential for growth but unfortunately it represents only a blip on the sports radar screen compared to NASCAR and IndyCar. Anyway, there is a great field for this years Sebring 12 Hours. Corvette Racing is the defending GT champion and is, as one might imagine, extremely well funded. The #3 car, which had its first winless season last year, is piloted by Antonio Garcia, Jan Magnussen, and Jordan Taylor. Featuring a Spaniard, a Dane, and a South African, this is a very strong lineup. The Spaniard, Antonio Garcia, is an accomplished road racer who is perhaps best known for his wins at the 24 Hour races at Daytona and Le Mans. His Rolex 24 win was an overall one in 2009 and he won his class at Le Mans in 2008, 2009, and 2011. The results really do speak for themselves. Jan Magnussen is the same way. He's won Le Mans four times (including three straight from 2004-2006) and was on the podium in his class for an astonishing seven years in a row from 2003-2009. The Danish driver has had some difficulty with staying clean, as the famous last lap battle he had with Jorg Bergmeister in 2009 at Laguna Seca shows. Jordan Taylor hails from South Africa and finished second in this year's Rolex 24 driving the Daytona Prototype owned by his father, Wayne. Taylor (no relation to me) isn't as good as his teammates as of now but he is young and has amazing potential. The second Corvette is run by Oliver Gavin, Tommy Milner, and Richard Westbrook. Gavin is a four time Le Mans winner and one of the best in the business. The sole American on the Corvette team (unless you count Jordan Taylor, who is a duel citizen of South Africa and the United States. Still, Jordan is only on the team for the endurance races) is the son of PTG founder Tom Milner and won the ALMS championship in 2012. Richard Westbrook is a very talented driver who has had success in ALMS, Grand Am, and Porsche Cup. Both Corvettes will be top contenders.
Team Falken Tire is run by Derrick Walker and Mark Ritchter. The latter is a long time family friend, so I'm a fan of the Falken team. Bryan Sellers is a underrated driver that is capable of contending for wins. Wolf Henzler is among the best in the world. Nick Tandy is the newest Porsche factory driver and he can be considered a future star of endurance racing. Falken could be a contender to pull a massive upset. The team has three wins to their credit. It should be noted that Falken makes the best rain tire by far and that Wolf Henzler has been called "Regenmeister" or Rainmaster.
To be continued
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Re: Alpine's Road Racing Column

Post by Alpineopossum on Sat Apr 06, 2013 9:41 am

Best Sports Car Racing Moments

In 2013 we are on the cusp of a new era in sportscar racing. In the US, the sports car racing scene is a blip on the radar screen compared to NASCAR and IndyCar. Hopefully, with the merging of Grand Am and the ALMS it can get more publicity. With that said, in the past few years there have been some excellent moments to look back on. Here are some of them.

- One of the greatest rivalries in GTs was between Ferrari driver Jamie Melo and Porsche man Jörg Bergmeister. Melo, of Cascaval, Brazil, became famous (or infamous) for his ultra aggressive racing and would frequently wreck rivals to win. Bergmeister wasn't as aggressive as Melo but was one of those drivers who didn't hold back. The racing was fantastic. At Sebring in 2007, after twelve hours of racing, the two were neck and neck. There was close racing constantly for the closing laps of the race, and this action reached its climax as the race drew to a close. On the final lap at Sunset Bend (the final corner of the track) Bergmeister drove around Melo to take the lead. The Brazillian pushed his German adversary toward the wall and after a series of hits Melo prevailed.
- Bergmiester found himself in a similar situation in 2009 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca when he faced the Corvette factory team and their star driver, Jan Magnussen. Like at Sebring, a long hard fought battle ensued between the two drivers. Bergmeister led for a number of laps but he was passed by the Dane with a few laps to go. Coming into the ultratight final corner Bergmeister saw a gap and went for it. Magnussen pushed hard against the #45 Porsche, intending to shove it off the road. However, Bergmeister, having learned from the 'Melo treatment' didn't let this happen and pushed back. Magnussen tried again and found himself turned into the wall on the final stretch. It was a chaotic climax to ten laps of close racing.
- Jörg Bergmeister isn't the only Porsche factory driver that has been envolved in exciting racing. The equally German Wolf Henzler had one of the greatest drives in racing history at Mid-Ohio in 2011. After falling to the back when Colin Braun in the Ford GT spun him, Bryan Sellers handed his car to Henzler mid race. Then the rains hit. While many of the other drivers were spinning out in every corner, Henzler powered by them. At one point he passed an unbelievable six cars in one lap. In some of the heaviest rain I've ever seen Henzler prevailed. I'm a big fan of the Falken team and my dad knows a man who works on it. I had met Sellers and Henzler earlier that day, and it was great to see the Falken team finally prevail.
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Re: Alpine's Road Racing Column

Post by Alpineopossum on Sun Sep 01, 2013 6:37 pm

A year ago Randy Bernard said that IndyCar was considering ex-F1 venues in Europe for a European tour. Some venues that could make an appearance:

Imola (Italy) - last hosted F1 in 2006. Has some iconic corners and a lot of heritage.

Mugello (Italy) - not a former F1 venue but has been mooted as an IndyCar track. It's good but I'd prefer Imola, because Imola has more of a classic feel to it.

Brands Hatch (England) - In my opinion the second best circuit in the world behind only Spa Francorchamps. IndyCar should race here. The track hasn't had big time open wheel racing since A1GP, and it should draw a decent crowd because it is so close to London.

Zolder (Belgium) - Zolder hosted ChampCar in 2007 and is a casualty of F1's one race per country rule. Although it can't compete with Spa, it is a good circuit in its own right and it would be well suited for IndyCar.

Assen (the Netherlands) - Like Zolder, Assen had ChampCar in 2007. Better known for motorcycle racing, Assen could be a decent choice but there are other tracks (Brands Hatch, Imola, etc.) that would be better.

Paul Ricard (France) - A good track but not really an option because Bernie Eccelstone controls it.

Magny Cours (France) - Not really that interesting of a venue. France has better tracks to offer.

Claremont Ferrand (France) - Circuit Louis Rosier, better known as Claremont Ferrand, is the best track France has to offer with the exception of the now defunct Rouen street circuit and Le Mans. It has undulating elevation changes and great corners. Not sure about spectator capacity, but in terms of racing it would be brilliant.

Eurospeedway (Germany) - Memories of the Zanardi crash as well as the fatal accident of Michele Albereto give the Eurospeedway a bad reputation that it doesn't entirely deserve. I doubt that IndyCar will go back there. There are many ovals to go to in the US, and the whole point of going overseas is great classic road courses.

Zandvoort (the Netherlands) - a track without a major race, which is a shame because it has some classic corners. The section from Tarzan through the Gerlach corner and into Hugenholtz is fantastic. This track should get some strong consideration, but not before Brands Hatch, Claremont Ferrand, and Imola.

Estoril (Portugal) - another venue abandoned by Formula 1 that could use a major race. I would have to wonder whether IndyCar would want to do the street race at Boavista or even a revival of the brilliant Monsanto Park street circuit in Lisbon, given the series liking of street circuits.

Pau (France) - a track that has remained unchanged since 1933. It's a nice street circuit and IndyCar could make a good headliner for the Pau Grand Prix weekend.

Jerez de la Frontera (Spain) - had a ChampCar race scheduled in 2008 but it was a casualty of the merger. Could be a great choice, its one of spain's better venues.

Other venues outside of Europe

Fuji International Speedway (Japan) - an iconic track whose F1 comeback stalled in 2008. It would make a good race but its owned by Toyota, who wouldn't allow a series with Honda in it access to the circuit.

Kyalami (South Africa) - A storied name that hasn't had many international races recently. They also removed the chicane, making the track more fun to drive. Without any other major racing in South Africa the race could draw a big crowd, especially if Tomas Scheckter could find a ride for the race.

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Re: Alpine's Road Racing Column

Post by RealRacingRoots on Mon Sep 02, 2013 1:22 am

Alpineopossum wrote:Best Sports Car Racing Moments
- Bergmiester found himself in a similar situation in 2009 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca when he faced the Corvette factory team and their star driver, Jan Magnussen. Like at Sebring, a long hard fought battle ensued between the two drivers. Bergmeister led for a number of laps but he was passed by the Dane with a few laps to go. Coming into the ultratight final corner Bergmeister saw a gap and went for it. Magnussen pushed hard against the #45 Porsche, intending to shove it off the road. However, Bergmeister, having learned from the 'Melo treatment' didn't let this happen and pushed back. Magnussen tried again and found himself turned into the wall on the final stretch. It was a chaotic climax to ten laps of close racing.
Watching that fight live at the track was a awesome experience. Those two were going at it and it was cool watching from the start/finish line as you could see them go round at the top of the circuit. If they weren't going to crash at the finish like they did (which, incidentally, was right in front of where I was standing) they would have in those last 20 or so minutes. Some of the best racing you will ever see.
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Re: Alpine's Road Racing Column

Post by Metro 6r4 on Mon Sep 02, 2013 2:01 am

Alpineopossum wrote:A year ago Randy Bernard said that IndyCar was considering ex-F1 venues in Europe for a European tour. Some venues that could make an appearance:

Brands Hatch (England) - In my opinion the second best circuit in the world behind only Spa Francorchamps. IndyCar should race here. The track hasn't had big time open wheel racing since A1GP, and it should draw a decent crowd because it is so close to London.

Rockingham announced last year that they were apparently looking to get their hands on a big event. Seeing as Brands has a Nascar styled festival and how Rockingham is an oval-ish circuit, I would have though that would be a better option. I think the circuit needs safer barriers though.
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Re: Alpine's Road Racing Column

Post by navycook75 on Mon Sep 02, 2013 2:51 am

Metro 6r4 wrote:
Alpineopossum wrote:A year ago Randy Bernard said that IndyCar was considering ex-F1 venues in Europe for a European tour. Some venues that could make an appearance:

Brands Hatch (England) - In my opinion the second best circuit in the world behind only Spa Francorchamps. IndyCar should race here. The track hasn't had big time open wheel racing since A1GP, and it should draw a decent crowd because it is so close to London.

Rockingham announced last year that they were apparently looking to get their hands on a big event. Seeing as Brands has a Nascar styled festival and how Rockingham is an oval-ish circuit, I would have though that would be a better option. I think the circuit needs safer barriers though.
We need another international NASCAR Event.

but on a more realistic note, I want to see Indycar go to Rockingham.
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Re: Alpine's Road Racing Column

Post by tommykl on Mon Sep 02, 2013 3:55 am

Alpineopossum wrote:A year ago Randy Bernard said that IndyCar was considering ex-F1 venues in Europe for a European tour. Some venues that could make an appearance:

Imola (Italy) - last hosted F1 in 2006. Has some iconic corners and a lot of heritage.

Mugello (Italy) - not a former F1 venue but has been mooted as an IndyCar track. It's good but I'd prefer Imola, because Imola has more of a classic feel to it.

Brands Hatch (England) - In my opinion the second best circuit in the world behind only Spa Francorchamps. IndyCar should race here. The track hasn't had big time open wheel racing since A1GP, and it should draw a decent crowd because it is so close to London.

Zolder (Belgium) - Zolder hosted ChampCar in 2007 and is a casualty of F1's one race per country rule. Although it can't compete with Spa, it is a good circuit in its own right and it would be well suited for IndyCar.

Assen (the Netherlands) - Like Zolder, Assen had ChampCar in 2007. Better known for motorcycle racing, Assen could be a decent choice but there are other tracks (Brands Hatch, Imola, etc.) that would be better.

Paul Ricard (France) - A good track but not really an option because Bernie Eccelstone controls it.

Magny Cours (France) - Not really that interesting of a venue. France has better tracks to offer.

Claremont Ferrand (France) - Circuit Louis Rosier, better known as Claremont Ferrand, is the best track France has to offer with the exception of the now defunct Rouen street circuit and Le Mans. It has undulating elevation changes and great corners. Not sure about spectator capacity, but in terms of racing it would be brilliant.

Eurospeedway (Germany) - Memories of the Zanardi crash as well as the fatal accident of Michele Albereto give the Eurospeedway a bad reputation that it doesn't entirely deserve. I doubt that IndyCar will go back there. There are many ovals to go to in the US, and the whole point of going overseas is great classic road courses.

Zandvoort (the Netherlands) - a track without a major race, which is a shame because it has some classic corners. The section from Tarzan through the Gerlach corner and into Hugenholtz is fantastic. This track should get some strong consideration, but not before Brands Hatch, Claremont Ferrand, and Imola.

Estoril (Portugal) - another venue abandoned by Formula 1 that could use a major race. I would have to wonder whether IndyCar would want to do the street race at Boavista or even a revival of the brilliant Monsanto Park street circuit in Lisbon, given the series liking of street circuits.

Pau (France) - a track that has remained unchanged since 1933. It's a nice street circuit and IndyCar could make a good headliner for the Pau Grand Prix weekend.

Jerez de la Frontera (Spain) - had a ChampCar race scheduled in 2008 but it was a casualty of the merger. Could be a great choice, its one of spain's better venues.

Other venues outside of Europe

Fuji International Speedway (Japan) - an iconic track whose F1 comeback stalled in 2008. It would make a good race but its owned by Toyota, who wouldn't allow a series with Honda in it access to the circuit.

Kyalami (South Africa) - A storied name that hasn't had many international races recently. They also removed the chicane, making the track more fun to drive. Without any other major racing in South Africa the race could draw a big crowd, especially if Tomas Scheckter could find a ride for the race.

Alright, I'll give my opinion on a few of these:
-I could see IndyCars at Imola, although I believe Mugello was already seen as a more likely candidate. Mugello is faster and more flowing than Imola, so it would make a better circuit, in my opinion.
-Brands Hatch is a definite "yes" on my part, but the track would need to improve the safety first.
-I'm not sure Zolder would be able to have IndyCars. All it has right now is sportscar races, and the infrastructure is falling into disrepair, so a very substantial amount of money would need to be found, and I'm not sure the circuit owners would be a ble to find it.
-Clermont-Ferrand, as it's actually spelled, shouldn't have a race at all. The track you have in mind is the old circuit, consisting of dangerous public roads filled with volcanic ash and stone famous for taking Helmut Marko's eye out. There is a new track built around the old pits, but it's short and filled with unnecessary chicanes, and barely used.
-I've been to Zandvoort recently, and two things struck me. The lack of good infrastructure and the narrowness of the circuit. With the locals apparently whining about the track as it is, I can't see them accepting IndyCar or the renovations that would come with it.
-Estoril wouldn't happen, although I'd like to see it. Quite simply, Portugal has no money. Anywhere.
-Pau is far too narrow and twisty. Formula 3 cars can barely make it around.
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Re: Alpine's Road Racing Column

Post by Alpineopossum on Sun Dec 08, 2013 3:35 pm

Yep, the column is back, and now it's refocused on road racing in general. IMSA, F1, and IndyCar are featured prominently along with road racing history. There will also be coverage of Touring Car Racing, with some occasional posts about DTM, BTCC, WTCC, and V8 Supercars and some articles about FIAGT and the World Endurance Championship. We start with some history.

I just saw an excellent documentary about one of the more obscure names in racing history, Richard Seaman. He had an impressive resume; he won in Britain before having a strong record in Grand Prix racing. But he's largely forgotten today, perhaps because of his connections with the brutal regime of the Nazis, who funded the Mercedes team he drove for.

Seaman was born to a well to do family in England, but he still had to fight his way to the top. In those days, the world of Automobile Racing was greatly different from today. In America, the scene was dominated by the AAA Championship Trail, a mostly oval championship (occasional road races occurred, notably at Elgin) based on tracks including dirt ovals at fairgrounds. One of these remains in IndyCar today, now as a paved oval called the Milwaukee Mile, but that's a story for another day. It's centerpiece was at Indianapolis. Europe had a vibrant racing scene. At the top of it was the Grand Prix circuit, a loosely organized series of races across the continent. They included the Nürburgring and AVUS in Germany, the Montlhery Autodromo in France, and many events in Italy (Monza, Pescara, etc.). By the early 1930s there were events sprouting up elsewhere in Europe. The Masaykring in Czechoslovakia, Hungary's Nepliget Park, the Penya Rhin race in Spain. These events were dominated by the carmakers and drivers of Italy, Germany, and France. In Britain, however, there was little participation of Alfa Romeo, Maserati, Mercedes, Auto Union or Bugatti. In England, the top car to have was an ERA, built by Raymond Mays. Fast but unreliable, they could be compared to the BRM V16 of the early 1950s. Well promoted and powerful, but short on results.

The other barrier to Seaman's rise was his father. Usually a wealthy father propels a driver to the top (just ask Paul Menard or Hiro Matsushita). But for Seaman, it was different. His father was opposed to young Dick's racing exploits. His mother underwrote his expenses but only did so reluctantly. Seaman bought an ERA but found it was massively unreliable and held a disdain for Mays because of it. He separated from the ERA team after realizing he was getting second rate parts and started his own team with his own mechanics. Success began coming to the young driver. He won in Bremgarten, getting his name onto the international scene. His father would have none of it, and promised to write his son out of his will unless he quit racing. But he died of a heart attack before he could do so.

In Germany, the newly installed Nazi regime saw in the early 1930s how a revived German racing program could have benefits for German industry and national pride. By this point, the French and Italians were at the forefront and Mercedes-Benz was at a low point. It was decided that a 500,000 mark grant (a considerable sum in 1933) would be given to Mercedes-Benz for the construction of a new Grand Prix car. However, Ferdinand Porsche, a brilliant engineer who had developed numerous breakthroughs (including a gas electric hybrid in 1901) persuaded the Nazis to split the subsidy between Mercedes and the newly established Auto Union group. While Porsche led Auto Union, Mercedes' racing department was led by a man who would have on of the most distinguished careers in racing history. Alfred Neubauer. Neubauer hired a legendary list of drivers including Rudolf Caracciola and Manfred von Brauchitsch. By 1938, Neubauer realized Seaman was the next big prospect. He sent a telegram to Seaman asking him if he would be interested in a test with the team. Seaman's mother hid it from him initially but decided to give him the note. Seaman accepted the offer and after a strong test session was given a ride.

His shining moment came at the Nurburgring for the 1938 German Grand Prix. The Nurburgring was then as it is now the world's longest and perhaps its most challenging race circuit. Seaman was joined by von Brauchitsch, Caracciola, and Hermann Lang at Mercedes. All of the best teams in the world were on the grid. Auto Union, Mercedes, Alfa Romeo, Delahaye. The German teams were the favorites to win and the favored driver at Mercedes was Manfred von Brauchitsch. His uncle had just been promoted to a general in the German army. In a nation obsessed with race and genetics, the Nazis loved von Brauchitsch, who's German lineage went back generations. Manfred was also famously unlucky, often having wins stolen from his grasp due to bad luck. At the Nurburgring in 1935, he was leading in the closing stages until a tire blew, causing him to crash. Tazio Nuvolari won in his Alfa Romeo that year. This time around, von Brauchitsch was dominant again. Seaman was instructed to hold back and not challenge von Brauchitsch. But during a late race pit stop, a flash fire engulfed von Brauchitsch's car. Seaman sped off into the lead and did not relinquish it. He gave the Nazi salute on the podium. He was now at the top of his career. He raced across Europe, in Italy, France, and in England at Donington, where he beat the local drivers. These included, to his delight, Raymond Mays.

Other forces were intervening on his rise. Tensions were building in Europe. The union between Germany and Austria enraged Europe. Hitler remilitarized the Rhineland and occupied the ethnically German part of Czechoslovakia. This blatent violation of previous treaties made war seem a distinct possibility. Seaman, who married Erica Popp, a German heiress, became estranged from his mother and lost her financial support.

In 1939, he was entered in the important Belgian Grand Prix, held at Spa Francorchamps. On race day, the undulating, twisting, and ultra fast Spa circuit was drenched in a rainstorm. Seaman was excited, as he was skilled at racing in the wet. His teammate, Rudolf Caracciola, was also famed for his abilities in the wet. He was hailed as the regenmeister (Rainmaster). Caracciola took an early lead, while Seaman rose through the field from fifth to forth and then to second. Caracciola, the accepted rainmaster, spun and crashed from the lead. He was not injured. Seaman was now in the lead and drove as fast as his ability would allow. The Englishman seemed to have the victory in his hands when, with a few laps to go, he lost control of his car in Club Corner (where the chicane is today). He hit a tree, and ruptured the fuel tank. He was still alive when he was pulled from the wreckage, but he died at the hospital that night.

Great grief surrounded his death. Mercedes-Benz ordered all dealerships around the world to display his picture. His fellow drivers attended his funeral. Many wreaths accompanied his casket. The largest one was donated from Adolf Hitler. Later that year, the world went to war and racing was put on hold. When the war was over, the regimes in Germany and Italy had fallen, and Seaman was scene by many as a traitor to Britain. As a result he is largely forgotten today. That's a shame. In order to win races in Grand Prix racing in the late 1930s, a driver's best bet was to drive a German car. Seaman took that bet, and it paid off for him. He was a driver of exceptional skill who's misfortune was being on the wrong side of history. He seemed to be naive about the storm brewing in Europe at the time. He was not alone in this. Many of the drivers racing in the 1930s failed to recognize the coming war. So it serves the racing fan well to remember that before there was Mike Hawthorn, Stirling Moss, and Tony Brooks, there was Richard Seaman. Britain's first Grand Prix winner.
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Re: Alpine's Road Racing Column

Post by Alpineopossum on Fri Jan 03, 2014 10:25 am

A Roundup of Silly Season News
IMSA

- Mike Rockenfeller has joined Spirit of Daytona Racing for enduros
- Ricky Taylor has returned to his father's team.
- Wayne Taylor is coming out of retirement to run the IMSA enduros.
- Ganassi's new Rolex 24 lineup will be Rojas, Pruett, Kimball, and McMurry in the #01 and Dixon, Kanaan, Kyle Larson, and Marino Franchitti in the #02.
- SRT Motorsports returns with a lineup of Dominik Farnbacher, Marc Goossens, Kuno Wittmer, and Jonathan Bomarito. Enduro drivers are expected to be team regular Tommy Kendall, "an open wheel star" (Hunter Reay?) and a driver recommended to the team by Marshall Pruett.
- Porsche's new factory team (through CORE Autosport) will feature Richard Lietz, Patrick Pilet, Nick Tandy, Jorg Bergmeister, Patrick Long, and newcomer Michael Christensen from Denmark.
- Ryan Briscoe and Robin Liddell are the new enduro driers for Corvette.
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Re: Alpine's Road Racing Column

Post by Alpineopossum on Sun Feb 02, 2014 12:02 pm

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Re: Alpine's Road Racing Column

Post by Milan655 on Sun Feb 02, 2014 12:49 pm

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Re: Alpine's Road Racing Column

Post by Alpineopossum on Sun Feb 02, 2014 3:11 pm


I was trying to capture the spirit of the original layout, and make it faster.

Ultimately, the best proposal that could realistically be done is to keep the current circuit until just after Mineshaft and then take the track back out into the undeveloped area for a high speed approach to the pits. The removal of that ridiculous chicane is a good first step.

I also decieded to make a revision of Zandvoort.

http://www.gmap-pedometer.com/?r=6197216

It was important to keep the Tarzan-Gerlach-Hugenholtz complex intact, because it's the tracks signature section and I want to preserve it. The only change I made was the replacement of the tight complex before Bos-Uit (I think it's called the Audi-S) with difficult bend that tightens and then opens up onto the following straight.
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Re: Alpine's Road Racing Column

Post by Alpineopossum on Sat Mar 22, 2014 10:50 am

The Next Big Thing in Road Racing?

Here are a few candidates...


Jack Hawksworth got a full season ride from Bryan Herta Autosport, and deservingly so. He's shown a lot of potential in Indy Lights, winning his very first race in St. Petersburg in 2013. And then he finished second in his second ever race. This year might be too early for him in IndyCar (he could use another season in Indy Lights) but he's deserving of an opportunity.

Michael Christenson is Porsche's newest factory driver. The Porsche factory driver program has recently produced such drivers as Timo Bernhard, Patrick Long, Jörg Bergmeister, Sacha Maassen, Wolf Henzler, and Romain Dumas among many others. Christenson, a Danish driver, seems poised to follow in their footsteps. He has incredible talent, and Porsche has what is probably the best sports car program in the world with a factory prototype team in WEC, a factory GT team in WEC, a factory GT team in IMSA, and a wide array of factory backed teams. Look for Christenson to make waves in GT racing for many years to come.

Axcil Jeffries is a guy few on this forum have heard of, but having seen him drive in person, he's the real deal. Jeffries hails from Zimbabwe (although he is of British decent) and made a few starts in Indy Lights last year. At Mid Ohio, he stunned many by posting the third fastest time in practice despite having never previously driven an Indy Lights car. From what I hear (and what I've seen on his facebook page) he may be driving for Trident next year in GP2 if he can find the funding. Zimbabwe (or Rhodesia, to use its historical name) hasn't had a major racing driver since John Love in the 1960s and 70s, but Jeffries may be the next in that line.

First off, I have absolutely no clue how to say Stoffel Vandoorne. Especially the first name. But I imagine that we'll hear more from him, because he's been quite the sensation in Formula Renault recently, finishing second in his rookie season in 2013, finishing second to Kevin Magnuson. That series also has given us Antonio Feliz da Costa, Sergey Sirotkin, Mikhail Aleshin, Oliver Webb, Carlos Huertas (who seems poised to head to IndyCar with Panther), Sam Bird, Jules Bianchi, Richie Stanaway, Davide Rigon, Alex Rossi, Daniel Riccardio, Jean Eric Vergne, Robert Wickens, Adrien Tambay, JK Vernay, Brenden Hartley, and Adam Carroll. And that's just since 2011. He will also be running sports cars this year. Stay tuned.

I would also keep an eye on Robin Frijns. The Dutch driver won the Formula Renault title in 2012 and has a test driver role for the Sauber team. He drove an F1 car in an exhibition event in Rotterdam in 2013 and says he'll devote this year to testing in F1.

Madison Snow is kind of unique in racing because both his father and his mother were successful racing drivers. Snow ran the Rolex 24 this year and many were impressed with his skill. He lacks experience but when he gets more of it expect to see more of him, perhaps with a top GT team.

One driver you've heard of on this list is Jordan Taylor (no relation). The South African/American driver has been recoginzed as a top talent, and has a Le Mans drive for Corvette Racing, which is undoubtedly one of the world's premier GT operations along with AF Corse, Manthey Porsche, BMW RLL, and AMR. We could see him win Le Mans several times if his career takes off. We also may see him, or his brother Ricky, in IndyCar at some point. Either way, he has the talent of his father but without the tendency to complain. Which is good.

So who do you think is the next big thing?

Share your thoughts...
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Re: Alpine's Road Racing Column

Post by RetrogradeRenegade on Sat Mar 22, 2014 7:59 pm

I'm not holding my breath for Hawksworth, he was fairly useless in Formula Renault UK a couple years ago. And he had some moments of severe brain fade last year as I recall... very disappointing to see him in IndyCar ahead of Sage Karam.

I'm quite impressed with Stoffel Vandoorne, however - IMO he's the top talent in junior series right now. I'm expecting big things from him in GP2.

Aside from the ones you listed, I'd say to key an eye out for Raffaele Marciello, who's also in GP2, as well as Pierre Gasly and Sergey Sirotkin (yes, that Sirotkin who almost drove for Sauber this year) - both of them look pretty quick in FR3.5 right now.
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Re: Alpine's Road Racing Column

Post by Milan655 on Sat Mar 22, 2014 9:06 pm

I reckon Stoffel and Raffaele will be at the front of GP2 this season. Maybe not immediately, the cars are much different to WSR3.5 and F3, and I think Stoffel will be up to pace faster, but definitely by the end of the season they will be the drivers to beat.

Jeffries so far has been quite off-pace in GP2 pre-season testing so far, hardly helped by the fact he's driving in a team with near to no money at all. Not to mention, he's now lost the pay-drive slot at Trident to Vittorio Ghirelli. Not much to say about Vittorio either apart from an AutoGP championship win. He did beat Karthikeyan in some of those races I guess.

Pierre Gasly is a great talent, as well as Matt Parry in Euro FR2.0.

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Re: Alpine's Road Racing Column

Post by tommykl on Fri Apr 18, 2014 3:35 am

I know it's a big bump here, but just to answer Alpine's question, Vandoorne's name is pronounced "Stoffle Van-door-nuh"
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Re: Alpine's Road Racing Column

Post by Alpineopossum on Sat Apr 19, 2014 9:11 am

tommykl wrote:I know it's a big bump here, but just to answer Alpine's question, Vandoorne's name is pronounced "Stoffle Van-door-nuh"

Ah... I expect we'll here more from him. He won at Bahrain in GP2, so my predictions are going well. That being said, Jeffries hasn't done all to well but he is driving for the HRT of GP2. Trident does have Johnny Cecotto Jr. who has shown some real speed, but the lack of proper funding will hurt them.
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Re: Alpine's Road Racing Column

Post by Alpineopossum on Wed Apr 23, 2014 10:45 pm

Ideal IndyCar Schedule

1. Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg
2. Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach
3. Honda Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park
4a. Indianapolis Grand Prix
4b. Indianapolis 500
5. Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix
6. Grand Prix of Cleveland
7. Honda 200 at Mid Ohio
8. Firestone 600 at Texas
9. SRT Baltimore Grand Prix
10. Pocono 500 fueled by Sunoco
11. United States 500k at Michigan (or some other oval)
12. Iowa Corn Indy 250
13. Honda Indy Toronto
14. ABC Supply Wisconsin 225 at the Milwaukee Mile
15. Wisconsin Grand Prix at Road America
16. Camping World Grand Prix of the Glen
17. Chicago Grand Prix (Street Circuit or Chicagoland)
18. GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma
19. Shell and Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston
20. Circuit of the Americas Lone Star Grand Prix
21. Californian Grand Prix at Laguna Seca
22. MAVTV IndyCar World Championships at California Speedway
==
WORLD TOUR
a. South African Grand Prix at Kyalami
b. Brasilia Indy 300
c. Eifelrennen (Nürburgring)
d. Imola Coppa Acerbo
e. Silver City Trophy at Brands Hatch
f. Surfers Paradise Indy 300

As you can see I brought back some old names for the World Tour.



What do you think? What's your ideal IndyCar schedule?
I understand this one is a bit too long, this is idealistic.
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Re: Alpine's Road Racing Column

Post by Alpineopossum on Wed Apr 23, 2014 10:55 pm

http://www.gmap-pedometer.com/?r=6282204

My proposal for Providence.
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Re: Alpine's Road Racing Column

Post by Spannerhead29 (Nelson) on Thu Apr 24, 2014 10:54 am

Indycar should totally go to Homebush instead of Surfers Paradise for maximum lels
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Re: Alpine's Road Racing Column

Post by bsoyuz on Thu Apr 24, 2014 11:14 am

If Indycar has to go to Brazil, they need to go or to Velopark (Only oval in the whole country) or Penha (Probable new place for the F1 GP, as the new track is being constructed)
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Re: Alpine's Road Racing Column

Post by f1fan12 on Thu Apr 24, 2014 1:51 pm

Spannerhead29 (Nelson) wrote:Indycar should totally go to Homebush instead of Surfers Paradise for maximum lels

Calder?
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Re: Alpine's Road Racing Column

Post by Spannerhead29 (Nelson) on Thu Apr 24, 2014 6:47 pm

f1fan12 wrote:
Spannerhead29 (Nelson) wrote:Indycar should totally go to Homebush instead of Surfers Paradise for maximum lels

Calder?
That track is basically dead unless someone with $100 million pops out of no where to fix absolute everything.

Plus Melbourne already has F1 and MotoGP.
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Re: Alpine's Road Racing Column

Post by Alpineopossum on Sun Apr 27, 2014 10:33 pm

Spannerhead29 (Nelson) wrote:
f1fan12 wrote:
Spannerhead29 (Nelson) wrote:Indycar should totally go to Homebush instead of Surfers Paradise for maximum lels

Calder?
That track is basically dead unless someone with $100 million pops out of no where to fix absolute everything.

Plus Melbourne already has F1 and MotoGP.

There's plenty of ovals in the US. In fact, I think there was a bit of oval overbuilding in the late 90s and early 2000s. Chicago Motor Speedway ran for four years and now all that's left is the outline of half of the oval in a vacant lot next to a store. Nashville Superspeedway sits abandoned and is very unlikely to ever host a race again. Gateway went silent and only recently re-emerged. Pike's Peak is only used for club events.
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Re: Alpine's Road Racing Column

Post by Mother of Invention on Wed May 28, 2014 8:14 am

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Re: Alpine's Road Racing Column

Post by Milan655 on Wed May 28, 2014 9:21 am

Is it Krohn? Laughing Flying Lizards maybe?
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Re: Alpine's Road Racing Column

Post by Alpineopossum on Wed May 28, 2014 4:50 pm

Mother of Invention wrote:https://twitter.com/radiolemans/status/471342177713680384

So any guesses guys?


Krohn wasn't gone for very long. And they had already announced their return when that tweet went out. You'd have to take a look at longtime entries that disappeared recently, or recent fan favorites that are off the grid.

- SRT Motorsports pulled out. I doubt they'd be back, but you never know.
- Flying Lizards are assisting JNW this year.
- RML might be it. They are still involved in WTCC (though not as a team) and I could see them coming back.
- Gerard Welter - I hope this is it.
- Pescarolo disbanded but they have a tendency to reincarnate every once in a while.
- BMS Scuderia Italia? who knows.
- Maybe the Advanced Engineering Pecom will come back...but they never really left as they are the same operation as AF.
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Re: Alpine's Road Racing Column

Post by Milan655 on Wed May 28, 2014 5:08 pm

Alpineopossum wrote:
Mother of Invention wrote:https://twitter.com/radiolemans/status/471342177713680384

So any guesses guys?
- BMS Scuderia Italia? who knows.

Yes please! Their dominance in the FIA GT with the Ferrari 550 Maranello (my favourite GT car to date) made me a fan of GT racing. They still run in the Italian GT championship with Alessandro Pier Guidi in a Ferrari 458 towards the front.

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Re: Alpine's Road Racing Column

Post by Mother of Invention on Wed May 28, 2014 5:21 pm

recent tweets have gone on to say a bit more, and RLM personality Graham Goodwin has stated "In terms of American race history and heritage, I can't think of a more significant announcement."

Some of the suggestions I've seen are Penske will enter a privateer Porsche, Corvette announces an LMP-1 program, or Ford is returning in some capacity.
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Re: Alpine's Road Racing Column

Post by Milan655 on Wed May 28, 2014 6:05 pm

Mother of Invention wrote:Corvette announces an LMP-1 program

LMP1 is really starting to come a live now. This year is Audi vs Porsche vs Toyota and Rebellion making up the numbers. Next year Nissan are joining in and hopefully Corvette could add to that. Luca di Montezemolo also hinted that Ferrari are open to return to prototypes earlier this year.

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Le Mans Preview Part I

Post by Alpineopossum on Fri Jun 06, 2014 10:29 am

The P1 cars.

Entry List:
Audi Sport Team Joest - 1 - Lucas di Grassi (JAP), Loic Duval (FRA), Tom Kristensen (DEN)
Audi Sport Team Joest - 2 - Benoit Treyluner (FRA), Andre Lotterer (DEU), Marcel Fassler (CHE)
Audi Sport Team Joest - 3 - Felipe Albequerque (PRT), Marco Bonanomi (ITA), Oliver Jarvis (GBR)
Toyota Racing - 7 - Alex Wurz (AUT), Stephane Sarrazan (FRA), Kazuki Nakajima (JAP)
Toyota Racing - 8 - Anthony Davidson (GBR), Nicolas LaPierre (FRA), Sebastien Buemi (CHE)
Rebellion Racing - 12 - Nicolas Prost (FRA), Nick Heidfeld (DEU), Mathias Beche (CHE)
Rebellion Racing - 13 - Dominik Krailheimer (AUT), Fabio Lemer (CHE), Andrea Belicchi (ITA)
Porsche AG - 14 - Romain Dumas (FRA), Neel Jani (CHE), Marc Lieb (DEU)
Porsche AG - 20 - Timo Bernhard (DEU), Mark Webber (AUS), Brendon Hartley (NZL)

Current WEC Standings (Top 5)
1. Toyota #8 - 50
2. Toyota #7 - 34
3. Audi #1 - 18
3. Rebellion #12 - 18
5. Porsche #20 - 15.5

The nine entries in P1 are split between the LMP1-H teams (the three factory teams) and the LMP-L teams (Rebellion Racing and the now withdrawn Lotus team). My understanding is that the separate L class is to give the privateer teams that seldom challenge the big money operations something to run for.

Audi is the best endurance program in the world right now. Although Toyota has be victorious in the opening two rounds of this year's World Endurance Championship, Audi is still the favorite. Toyota has not won this long of an endurance race. It will be interesting to see if the USCR has an effect on this battle, because with LMP1s not competing at Sebring for the immediate future, none of the prototype teams have run an enduro longer than six hours with their current cars (Toyota and Audi have redesigned cars and Porsche and Rebellion are fielding all new cars). Anyway, Audi for its part is undergoing a changing of the guard, a process that has been afoot for the past few years. Tom Kristensen is the last of the Audi old guard still at the team as a driver, with Alan McNish, Frank Biela, Dindo Capello, Emanuele Pirro, and others having hung up the helmet while JJ Letho faces problems of a rather different type. The Dane is still the living legend he always has been; the winningest all time Le Mans driver is as fast as ever. The bigger question centers around Loic Duval and Lucas di Grassi. Are the two of them quick enough and can they replicate the chemistry that the Capello/Kristensen/McNish trio once had. Although they have shown some speed, neither has shone the markings of a Le Mans legend, but they could easily fix this with a win this year. Di Grassi had a rather uneventful stint in F1, but he has been rather impressive at Audi. Duval has won Le Mans (last year with Kristenson and McNish) and is a very strong driver. The #1 car is very much capable of another win.

The #2 team might be even stronger for Audi. I think the Tréyluner/Lötterer/Fässler combination is the likely sucessor to the Kristensen/Capello/McNish juggernaut I mentioned above. The three have chemistry, they have talent, and they are proven winners. There is no question they are capable. All three are still somewhat young (Le Mans drivers routinely have careers extending into their forties and even their early fifties) and one can expect several Le Mans victories from the three if Audi maintains its position as the lead international endurance team.

The third Audi is a bit of a question mark. The first time I heard of Filipe Albuquerque was when he won the Race of Champions in 2010. The rest of the field comprised of the likes of Jeroen Bleekemolen, Sebastian Loeb, Carl Edwards, Alain Prost, Sebastian Vettel, Jason Plato, Andy Prialux, Tom Kristensen, and Heikki Kovalainen. And Albuquerque, who at that point was an obscure Italian GT driver, beat them all. In a field of F1, Le Mans, Rally, and BTCC champions among many others it was the young Portugese driver who prevailed. Albuquerque has been racing in DTM since then without that level of success, but it is clear he has talent, and is a star of the future. At 28 he has time on his side, and Audi has made a smart investment in him. I still don't really know who Marco Bonanomi is. Apparently he's been racing in Formula Renault. He ran Le Mans in 2012, but I don't know enough to say much about him. We will see how he does this year. Oliver Jarvis is a very strong endurance driver. In 2013, he won his class at the Rolex 24. Although the Rolex is a very different animal than its French counterpart (and Jarvis won in GT not in a Prototype), a victory in any 24 hour race is a strong indicator for Le Mans success. 2013 proved to be an excellent year for the DTM driver, as he claimed victory at Sebring this time in a Audi R18 P1 car. He topped it off with an excellent third at Le Mans. The #3 car is at first glance an unknown quantity, but it has talent and its drivers stand a strong chance of being Audi's next endurance superstars.

Toyota is entering Le Mans with its head held high. They've won two races and the worst finish by the team was a third at Spa. Yet Toyota has, during the past two years, struggled to mount a strong enough challenge to beat the Audis. It won't get any easier this year as Porsche has joined with a factory team. But their early pace is a good sign, and Toyota is not a team to be counted out. The #7 car is probably the weaker of the two entries. Kazuki Nakajima, a former F1 driver, is probably their because he's Japanese and there is considerable pressure to have a Japanese driver on the team. He is joined by another ex-F1 man Alex Wurz. Wurz is a very underrated driver. He was underrated in F1 and he is underrated in Le Mans. Don't underestimate what the Austrian is capable of. If it wasn't for Audi, Stephane Sarrazin would probably be a multiple time Le Mans winner. He always seems to drive for the best non-Audi team, which has variously been Team Oreca (whom Sarrazin drove for in 2002), Pescarolo (Where he drove in 2003), Peugeot (2007-2011), and Toyota (since 2012). The Frenchman has finished second three times ('07, '09, and 2013) as well as third in 2011 and fifth in 2002 and 2008. He's overdue for a win. He might just get it this year.

However, the other Toyota is the unquestioned leader of the team in my view. They have won the opening two rounds and have an all-star lineup. Anthony Davidson, who thanks to Piergiuseppe Perrazini (Who by the Grace of God is mercifully absent from the entry list this year) broke his back in 2012, is quicker than ever and is one of Toyota's lead drivers. Both Toyotas topped the speed charts during the test days by the way. Nicolas Lapierre is another driver who is vastly underrated. Before joining Toyota Lapierre was a long time driver for Oreca and won Sebring for the team in 2011 driving a second hand Peugeot. He is talented and will likely have a strong shot at a Le Mans victory. The World Endurance Championship has given Sebastien Buemi a new lease on life. After several mediocre years in F1 Buemi is now a top competitor in the WEC. Like his teammates, he is very skilled, although in Buemi's case there seems to be more aggression than Lapierre, which is not he best thing in Endurance racing, especially when it comes out (as it often seems to with Buemi) early on and not at the end of the race when it is warranted. However, this is not a prevalent issue with him and the #8 car is still a strong contender. If a non Audi wins, the #8 team is the most likely car to do it.

Rebellion Racing is the underdogs in this race. They face herculean odds. That being said, although it is a thousand to one shot, it is not impossible that at some point this season Rebellion could pull what would probably be the greatest upset of the 21st century. The are running an Oreca designed car, which is a good sign, and they are running Toyota engines, which is also a good sign. Their driver lineup is solid with Nicolas Prost, Nick Heidfeld, and Mathias Beche headlining their lead car. Prost is the team's long time driver and I'm surprised he remains such an unknown, particularly because his father is Alain Prost, the F1 legend. Nicolas, although not as incredible as his father, is an outstanding driver. Nick Heidfeld has been given a career rebirth by Rebellion Racing and is showing that he still has it. Mathias Beche has also competed for Rebellion for a while but I do not know much about him.

Rebellion's #13 entry is interesting. The team's longtime driver, Andrea Belicchi (a man who is widely respected in Endurance racing and has remained obstinately loyal to Rebellion Racing, and they have taken good care of him. He's a capable driver, but he's a rather conservative choice. Putting Belicchi is your car is a pretty safe bet. The same cannot be said of Fabio Leimer. The young Swiss driver won the GP2 title last year, and instead of advancing in open wheel racing he headed to Le Mans, and signed with Rebellion. Rebellion is a team in the ascendency, but the deal was a huge risk by both Leimer and Rebellion Racing. Its not clear how he will do. Dominik Kraihamer wisely bailed on the "Lotus Factory Team" in LMP2 last year (which had German, Czech, and Romanian involvement and was mostly a sponsored car) and has landed with the much more stable (and competitive) Rebellion organization. The #13 is a solid car, but they are somewhat of a wild card, comparable to the #3 at Audi: They have talent but it is unclear whether they will find success. A win is too far-fetched to be a realistic goal for Rebellion, but a podium finish is by no means out of the question, especially if reliability trouble plagues the top teams. However, Rebellion has its own chassis after several years with tried and true Lolas, and reliability could be an issue for them as well.

As a Porsche fan this is an important year. Porsche is back with a full factory team for the first time since the late nineties, when they raced the GT1-98. Which (somehow) I sat in at an auto show. When I was a toddler. The guy at the booth was too nice (and probably could have and maybe should have lost his job). Nostalgic memories aside, Porsche has one of the most, and probably the most, extensive sports car racing program the world over. From GTs to LMPs, they are at the forefront. Their driver lineup is extremely potent. Romain Dumas, Marc Lieb (both in the #14) and Timo Bernhard (in the #20) are proven winners in Porsche's GT program and in Dumas and Bernhard's case are proven Le Mans winners when they were loaned to Audi a few years ago. Mark Webber is a proven winner of a different kind: in Formula 1. He made a lateral move of sorts, but one that is good for his career. He needed an change of scene, and I think it was a good move to start fresh in a new series and help Porsche rebuild their prototype division than to try to change teams in F1. Webber did race at Le Mans previously...in a Mercedes Benz CLR-Class in 1999. And I think we all know how that turned out.. Although the famous footage was of Peter Dumbreck's accident, Mark Webber had a similar crash during practice. That is why they took the top few feet off of the hump on the Mulsanne Straight. Neel Jani proved his talent in a variety of cars from ChampCars to Rebellion's prototypes. He is a very capable driver and is a good addition to the Porsche team, although a rather odd one. So is New Zealander Brendan Hartley. Hartley has proven his worth with some amazing performances in Grand Am with Starworks, however it is strange that Porsche has reached out so extensively from their own outstanding talent pool. At any rate, Porsche has the potential to win, but they haven't show it this year. That being said, it would not surprise me if they have been sandbagging. They've done it before.

This is shaping up to be an outstanding Le Mans. I will continue with the P2 class in my next post.
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Re: Alpine's Road Racing Column

Post by Milan655 on Fri Jun 06, 2014 10:48 am

I look forward to the P2 post, this years grid is fantastic.

I reckon the Albuquerque/Bonanomi/Jarvis Audi could do very well-all 3 are great GT drivers and have had relative success in single seaters too (Albuquerque in WSR3.5 and A1GP, Bonanomi in Italian F3 although not to a great extent, and Jarvis in F3 and A1GP). It's an interesting team.
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