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AudiLEAD-REPORTIn years to come, the statistics books will show what appears to be a crushing display of Audi dominance at Circuit of the Americas. But the WEC's second visit to the 3.427-mile track in Austin, Texas, was anything but a straightforward affair for Audi Sport – or any of its rivals. In the end, Andre Lotterer, Marcel Fassler and Benoit Treluyer triumphed over their teammates Loic Duval., Tom Kristensen and Lucas di Grassi.

The race started with the Toyota TS 040 Hybrid of Sebastien Buemi bursting to the front and accruing a near-30sec lead, despite a time consuming spin, while the Audis took 45mins to get ahead of the two Porsches. But Lotterer was being super aggressive and he and Duval double-stinted which vaulted them ahead of the Toyota No. 7 of Alex Wurz, Stephane Sarrazin and Mike Conway to grab second and third.

At the 90-minute mark, rain fell hard and with most cars trying to push their luck on slicks, several cars were left stranded in the gravel, which brought out the red flag. Nicolas Lapierre, who'd taken over from Buemi, was one of those victims, and he was narrowly missed by the aquaplaning No. 20 Porsche of Timo Bernhard. That effectively knocked the Porsche out of contention.

However, after the race was restarted with 3hrs18mins left to run, some truly scintillating driving from Buemi, Lapierre and Anthony Davidson, meant No. 8 Toyota recovered to become Audi's strongest opposition by the end and finished third.

While the track was wet, Neel Jani in the No. 14 Porsche was magic and pulled out a half-minute lead on the Audis, but the No. 2 Audi R18 e-tron quattro, with Lotterer on board, was a match as the track started drying, and as the dry line became established, he reeled in the Porsche 919 HYBRID and had the edge over the final hour. Jani, Romain Dumas and Marc Lieb drove hard, but eventually the No. 1 Audi got ahead as the strategies played out, and Buemi's blistering pace in the final two stints pushed the Porsche drivers out of a podium position.

LMP 2 saw victory for KCMG's ORECA-Nissan, driven by Tsugio Matsuda, Richard Bradley and Matt Howson, followed by SMP Racing's similar car of Nicolas Minassian, Maurizio Mediani and Sergey Zlobin. But it was Extreme Speed Motorsport who stole the show, with Scott Sharp driving aggressively throughout the first hour of the race, Ryan Dalziel lapping 5-6sec quicker than the opposition during his stints, and Ed Brown bringing home the HPD-ARX03b in one piece and in third place at the end.

GTE Pro featured a fine and race-long battle between the Porsche of Patrick Pilet/Frederic Makowiecki and the Aston Martin Vantage of Stefan Mucke and Darren Turner. In the end, it was the British marque that prevailed. The second Porsche of Nick Tandy/Jorg Bergmeister should have been right up in the mix, too, but late in the race, the car took forever to refire after a pit stop, which cost it a lap.

In GTE-Am, Christian Ried, Khaled Al-Qubaisi and Klaus Bachler in the Proton Porsche were strong opponents for the Aston Martins, and held an 80sec lead at the mid-point of the race, but in the final 10 minutes, it was the AM Vantage of Pedro Lamy, Paul Dalla-Lana and Christopher Nygaard that prevailed by one second, ahead of teammates Richie Stanaway, Kristian Poulsen and David Heinemeier-Hansson.

Click here to read the play-by-play rundown of the race.

 

AUDI-WETPolesitter Sebastien Buemi retains his advantage at the start of the race, heading Romain Dumas's Porsche and immediately pulls out a gap of 10sec. But Dumas is under investigation for his start.

The second Toyota of Alex Wurz runs third ahead of Mark Webber's Porsche with Andre Lotterer and Loic Duval fifth and sixth in the Audis.

• Dumas is cleared of transgression, but he loses second to Wurz, so we now have two Toyotas followed by two Porsches and two Audis.

• After 17mins, Lotterer ruins the symmetry by slotting the No. 2 Audi past Webber and into fourth. Now, Duval is all over the No. 20 Porsche.

• With 30mins gone, in P2, the ORECA-Nissan of Richard Bradley leads the class with Ryan Dalziel in the Extreme Speed HPD second, chased by the Ligier of Olivier Pla.

• Lotterer dives past Dumas to grab third. Now, what can he do about hunting down the Toyotas? Buemi's lead is 25sec over Wurz after 34mins.

• Dalziel is into the lead of P2 following a spin for polesitter Bradley.

• 42mins in, Stefan Mucke's Aston Martin leads Gimmi Bruni's Ferrari and Nick Tandy's Porsche in GTE Pro, while Richie Stanaway, is top of the GT-Am pile in another Aston Martin.

• Sebastien Buemi spins away much of his lead with an incident at Turn 13 on his 24th lap. However, he retains his place in P1...and carries on setting faster times than teammate Wurz!

• Duval demotes Dumas to fifth, so it's now two Toyotas, two Audis, two Porsches.

• Scott Sharp has taken over from Dalziel in the ESM HPD, while Pla has taken the lead, with Bradley second and Sharp third.

• No. 1 Audi makes its first pit stop after 50mins.

• Five hours to go. The leader stops and hands over to Nicolas Lapierre. Meanwhile the second Toyota, the No. 7, is now in the hands of IndyCar race winner Mike Conway, Neel Jani has replaced Romain Dumas in Porsche No. 14 and Webber hands off No. 20 Porsche to Timo Bernhard.

• Frederic Makowiecki leads the GTE Pro cars into the pits.

• After 1h10mins, the order is Lapierre, Lotterer, Duval, Conway, Jani, Bernhard, Kraihamer, Prost as the top 8, the latter two in Rebellions.

• In P2, Olivier Pla leads Richard Bradley and Scott Sharp.

• In GTE Pro, Toni Vilander's Ferrari heads Darren Turner's Aston Martin, Jorg Bergmeisters' Porsche and Patrick Pilet's Porsche.

• P2 in P2 changes hands as Mr Scott Sharp dives past Bradley into Turn 1. That then becomes the lead as Pla hits pit road, having handed off to Roman Rusinov.

• 4hr30min into the race...and the rain hits hard at Turn 11.


TOYOTA-SPIN

• Now it's falling hard everywhere and a festival of spinning begins - including the leading Toyota and the No. 7 Toyota (ABOVE) – Pic, Loran Hygema.

To be honest, this is turning ridiculous. The Porsches are apparently beached.

Andre Lotterer kept his head and took the lead and handed over to Benoit Treluyer.

And now there's a RED FLAG.

The survivors are assembling on the grid (BELOW, Pic - Marshall Pruett) . Meanwhile flatbeds and cranes are about to start trying to remove cars from gravel traps.

RED-FLAG-PARKED

• Both Audis survived the rain-induced farce with Benoit Treluyer keeping the No. 2 car on the island, and Tom Kristensen now in second with Audi No. 1

Mike Conway has the No. 7 Toyota up into third, and we saw Lapierre made it back to the pits in the No. 8 car.

Timo Bernhard is driving cautiously back to the pits in the No.20 Porsche.

• If you're an American or a Scot or just a fan of Tequila Patron, three cheers for Scott Sharp and Ryan Dalziel who currently run third in P2.

• Darren Turner's Aston Martin heads Toni Vilander's Ferrari and Jorg Bergmeister's Porsche in GTE Pro.

• In GTE Am, David Heinemeier-Hansson's Aston Martin is top dog, ahead of teammate Paul Dalla-Lana.

So that's up to date for now...

 

GREEN FLAG with 3hr19min left of the race

• Everyone behaving themselves on the restart. Lapierre passes Kristensen but he is a lap down, so it's currently Treluyer leading TK in an Audi 1-2, with Neel Jani third in Porsche No. 14, Lapierre fourth in the Toyota No. 8, Bernhard in fifth in the second Porsche and Nick Heidfeld sixth in the Rebellion and Conway 7th in the No. 7 Toyota.

• SMP Racing's ORECA-Nissans run 1-2 in P2 ahead of Sharp's ESM Racing entry.

• 3h11m to go - Patrick Pilet grabs third in GTE Pro from Vilander's Ferrari to complete a Porsche 2-3 behind Turner's Aston Martin.

• Khaled Al-Qubaisi is leading GTE Am in the Proton Porsche ahead of Francois Perrodo in the Prospeed Porsche.

• No. 20 Porsche, currently a lap down in fifth, pits after 59 laps and receives new front bodywork.

• Toyota No. 8 pits, as does leader, the No. 2 Audi.

• Neel Jani's Porsche is now right up on the tail of Kristensen and this is now a duel for the lead, following Treluyer's stop.

• Perrodo's GTE Am Porsche running very slowly off-line.

• Jani puts Porsche into the lead on lap 65,  and he's rapidly pulling away from the nine-time Le Mans winner. It's a three-second lead after just one lap.

• 2h55 to go and Jani is rocketing away from the field. Pulls another 4sec out next time through.

• Patrick Pilet has overtaken his teammate Bergmeister and is now only 1.9sec behind Turner's Aston Martin. Battle to be joined shortly, it seems.

• Well that didn't take long. Pilet is into the lead of GTE Pro, having taken some very interesting lines trying to find grip and avoid Turner's spray.


2014COTAMPruettThurs918 572

 • With 2h39min to go, Lapierre's No. 8 Toyota (ABOVE, Pic. Marshall Pruett) slips easily past his teammate Conway into fourth. Almost simultaneously, Kristensen pits from second place, handing the spot to Audi teammate Treluyer's No. 2 car who is now carving into the sub-2min category, like Lapierre. Treluyer is 33sec behind leader Jani.

• While this was going on, Bernhard finally moved the No. 20 Porsche past the No. 12 Rebellion car of Heidfeld to take sixth place.

• Mike Conway has pitted No. 7 Toyota after 74 laps and handed over to Stephane Sarrazin.

• Treluyer is making no inroads into Jani's 30sec-plus advantage at the front.

• Frederic Makowiecki and Nick Tandy have taken over the Team Manthey Porsches leading GTE Pro, from their respective co-drivers Pilet and Bergmeister. The lead Porsche (Makowiecki) has a 4sec lead over its stablemate, with Stefan Mucke's Aston Martin now 22sec behind.

• 2h21m to go - Jani pits the lead Porsche 919 HYBRID which allows Treluyer's Audi into the lead. It will be interesting to monitor how quickly the Swiss star can reel in the Audi R18 e-tron quattro.

• The No. 37 SMP Racing ORECA-Nissan has been pulled into the garage for a long stop.

• We don't want to get overexcited about our friends at Extreme Speed, but Ryan Dalziel is in the middle of a remarkable performance. He's been setting 1min59sec laps – some 5sec quicker than the three cars ahead of him in P2.

• Regarding the lead battle, Jani, with 2h05m to go, is only matching, not catching Treluyer. They remain around 25sec apart. However, now it's Treluyer's turn to pit and he hands the No. 2 Audi over to Marcel Fassler.

• 2 hours to go - Jani's Porsche leads Kristensen's Audi by 53sec and Fassler's Audi by 60sec. Anthony Davidson is fourth, a lap down in the Toyota TS 040 Hybrid, but a lap ahead of Brendon Hartley in the second Porsche.

• Rebellion Racing No. 13 has been dragged into the garage.

• 1h50m to go, and Fassler his hassling Kristensen for second … and he's got it on the 98th lap. He's 53sec behind Jani's Porsche. Again, let's see what Fassler can do, if anything, about that 919 HYBRID.

• Sorry, the battle of the Prototypes has been a bit distracting, as have the fireworks (literally) up at Turn 1. But let's not neglect GTE Pro where the Porsches of Makowiecki and Tandy remain just 1sec apart with Mucke's Aston Martin a further 20sec down. In fourth and fifth are the two AF Corse Ferraris.

• Meanwhile in GTE Am, with 1h41m to go, the No. 88 Proton Porsche of Christian Ried (currently driving), Klaus Bachler and Khaled Al-Qubaisi is leading by 80sec from the two Aston Martin Racing Vantage GTEs.

• Neel Jani pits the No. 14 Porsche and hands over to Marc Lieb and Kristensen hands the No. 1 Audi to Lucas Di Grassi, that guy who won the inaugural Formula E race ;-)

• We were about to declare either Anthony Davidson or Ryan Dalziel as our unofficial Beast Of The Hour, but di Grassi just set the No. 1 Audi's quickest lap of the race, ducking straight into the 1min51secs. Lieb has done the same as he attempts to close the 35sec gap to Fassler in the No. 2 Audi.

• 1h23m to go - Extreme Speed Motorsports is leading P2 by half a minute and has made the same number of pit stops as its rivals. Tsugio Matsuda in third for KCMG, which suffered a long stop in its ORECA-Nissan, is doing a great job matching Dalziel's times, but from 1min40sec behind.

• Nick Tandy has his second mechanical disaster in as many races when he has engine difficulties and it takes forever to restart after a pit stop. He's now a lap down on teammate who has Darren Turner's Aston Martin less than five seconds behind him.

• Finally Davidson pits the No. 8 Toyota from third place and hands over to Sebastien Buemi.

• 1h06m to go - Marc Lieb is back in front for Porsche as Marcel Fassler has pitted the lead Audi. A lap later, Brendon Hartley pits the No. 20 Porsche.

• Fassler is only 1.1 sec behind Lieb in the Porsche following the No. 2 Audi's pit stop…, with 62minutes to go.

• Maurizio Mediani has moved to the front of P2 for SMP Racing, and Matsuda has taken second for KCMG, as Ed Brown plays hismelf in carefully in the Extreme Speed HPD.

• GTE Pro is looking predictably interesting, as Darren Turner is just 1.3sec off Pilet's Porsche.


No14-PORSCHE-BLURRED

• No. 14 Porsche (ABOVE, pic. Marshall Pruett) of Lieb has a lead of 2.239sec over Fassler with 50mins to go.

• Di Grassi pits No. 1 Audi for fuel and tires

• Turner takes the lead from Pilet on their 118th lap, with a move that started in Turn 1 but only finished in Turn 3. Damn, Circuit of The Americas layout is great for allowing so much side-by-side action.

• Lieb pits with 43mins to go, allowing Fassler back in front. It's a quick stop but he rejoins some 55sec behind.

• Half an hour to go, and Sebastien Buemi just set the No. 8 Toyota's fastest time of the day with a 1min50.390sec lap. He's third, hurtling along 20sec in arrears of Lieb's Porsche. Mind you, he has to get on with it for another reason - the No. 1 Audi of Di Grassi only nine seconds behind him.

• 28 mins to go and Hartley brings Porsche No. 20 into the pits and hands over to Mark Webber.

• Buemi slashes by into second as Lieb does a 1min58sec lap after getting badly baulked by a backmarker. Buemi is setting some sensational lap times, sometimes as much as three seconds quicker than the leader, but he's 73sec in arrears… and he's got to stop again.

• Lucas di Grassi is into third ahead of Lieb…which becomes second as Buemi pits and drops to fourth, behind the Porsche once more. This final quarter-hour should be a treat if you're a Toyota fan though. Buemi is crazy-quick around here.

• Buemi is up into third after an around the outside maneuver on Lieb at Turn 19…on his out lap!

• Fassler pulls No. 2 Audi from the lead onto pit lane. He resumes in the lead, still 90sec clear of teammate di Grassi who is 12sec ahead of Buemi's Toyota. Do not discount the Swiss's chances of splitting the Audis by the time they reach the checkers.

• Scratch that. Di Grassi is actually going quicker. The Audis are well on their way to a 1-2 finish here at Circuit of The Americas.

• Nicolas Minassian has put up a strong fight for SMP Racing, but P2 class honors will fall to the KCMG lineup of Richard Bradley, Tsugio Matsuda, and Matthew Howson.

• Darren Turner/Stefan Mucke takes GTE Pro honors ahead of Patrick Pilet and Frederic Makowiecki's Porsche 911 and Gimmi Bruni/Toni Vilander in the AF Corse Ferrari 458 Italia.

• GTE Am 1-2 goes to Aston Martin Racing, with Pedro Lamy sending the No. 98 across the line just one second ahead of the No. 95.

And that's a wrap from a warm Circuit of The Americas and a cold media center. Thanks for sticking around folks. Report to follow.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

GANASSI-WINNER

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Scott Pruett held on by 2.336sec to win the IMSA United SportsCar Championship's Lone Star Le Mans race and score Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates' first win since Long Beach back in April.

The veteran champion and his teammate Memo Rojas had been in fighting mood from the very start of the race at Circuit of The Americas (see photo gallery, BELOW), when Rojas went three abreast with Wayne Taylor Racing's Corvette DP and OAK Racing's polesitting Ligier JS P2 Honda. While OAK's Yacaman bundled Ricky Taylor into the run-off area at Turn 1, Rojas was up to second, and remained in touch with the leader.

Action Express Racing duo Christian Fittipaldi and Joao Barbosa were also in the lead mix from the start, and slightly differing pit strategies saw Barbosa emerge ahead of Brundle. But both were chasing Pruett, as Ganassi had elected to go for just two pit stops. (Pruett would finally run out of fuel on the slow-down lap.)

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Although Brundle swiftly hunted down the DP pair, he was struggling in traffic, whereas Pruett squirted the Ganassi Riley-Ford Ecoboost smartly ahead of traffic, and always seemed to have at least a 1.5sec cushion between himself and Barbosa, and sometimes it stretched to three times that much.

In the final 15mins, Barbosa got held up by the battling GTLM BMW Z4s just enough to allow Brundle to muscle his way past into second, but it was too late for the OAK car to catch Pruett.

Another car that should have been in the mix was the Spirit of Daytona Racing Corvette DP, but when Michael Valiante spun Yacaman following the restart after the race's solitary caution period, he received a drive-through penalty from which the team never recovered. They finished sixth behind Ed Brown/Johannes van Overbeek (ESM Racing HPD ARX-03b) and Ozz Negri/John Pew (Michael Shank Racing Riley-Ford Ecoboost).

In the Prototype Challenge class, polesitters Sean Rayhall and Luis Diaz conquered for 8Star Motorsports but their race was not without its hitches, as it got spun around mid-race. However, the team's day was saved by some typically strong driving from both its drivers and problems hitting some of its strongest opposition - RSR Racing and Starworks Motorsport. The latter scooped third, courtesy of Renger van der Zande and Mirco Schultis, but it was the No. 54 CORE autosport team of Jon Bennett and Colin Braun who came out the biggest winners – second place sealed the PC championship title one race early.

VIPER-WINNERMOPAR fans had their day of days, as Jonathan Bomarito and Kuno Wittmer headed Marc Goossens/Dominik Farnbacher in a 1-2 finish for the Dodge SRT Viper GTS-Rs in the GT Le Mans category, while Jeroen Bleekemolen and Ben Keating took their second GT Daytona victory of the season in the GT3-R Viper.

Right from the drop of the green flag, the Vipers and Porsche 911s were evenly matched at the front of GTLM – and in a class of their own. What appeared to have decided the race was the caution period, since the lead Porsche of Nick Tandy and Jorg Bergmeister had stopped already whereas their opposition had not. And so from the 1-hour mark until 20 minutes before the end, they held an apparently solid 40-second lead. However, a mechanical failure in the closiing stages rendered this talented pair as a DNF.

This handed the Vipers the advantage, as the second Porsche of Pat Long and Michael Christensen, an early leader after ducking around Wittmer, was 20sec adrift at the checkered flag. Bomarito and Wittmer have now unofficially moved into the lead of the GTLM Drivers' Championship

In GTD, Ben Keating did a fine job in the early stages of the race to hold onto a car which had been rendered loose by over-correcting an understeer issue during practice and when he handed over to Jeroen Bleekemolen, he was running fifth, albeit some way off the pace of the Alex Job Racing and Snow Racing Porsches. However, Bleekemolen started eating into the lead of the Turner Motorsports BMW Z4 of Dane Cameron and Markus Palttala, which had led the first stint.

Bleekemolen moved into the lead with half-an-hour to go and never looked back. Meanwhile Cameron also lost second place to the Magnus Racing Porsche 911 of Andy Lally/John Potter in the closing stages.

Click here for full results.

Click here for play-by-play rundown of the race.

 

 

SusieSebastian copyTony Kanaan figured out the fast line on the last lap and held off James Hinchcliffe to win Saturday’s Dan Wheldon Pro-Am Memorial go-kart race at Mark Dismore’s nifty road course in New Castle, Ind.

Watched by Dan's widow, Susie [ABOVE, with their son Sebastian], 13 former or current IndyCar drivers participated for the second year in a 15-minute sprint benefitting Alzheimer’s research. And Wheldon’s longtime friend and former teammate claimed his second straight victory.

TKHinch“It was a lot of fun and I want to keep racing,” said the 2013 Indianapolis 500 winner who also captured the Verizon IndyCar season finale at Fontana last month. “It’s great to see all the guys turn out for this and honor Dan’s memory. He loved karting and I think he’d be happy to see all his buddies out here.”

Hinchcliffe, currently being pursued by Schmidt-Peterson and KV Racing for 2015, led about half the race before T.K. got by and he refrained from using the “chrome horne” to get a win although it was close [ABOVE].

“I thought about parking him, of course,” said the 27-year-old Canadian breaking into a grin, “but I was thinking I could pass him clean on that last lap because I’d been running flat out and he hadn’t figured it out. At least I didn’t think he had but he did, dammit!”

RobinHollyDixieScott Dixon finished third and praised all the participants, which included Marco Andretti, Ed Carpenter, Ryan Briscoe, Josef Newgarden, Sebastian Saavedra, J.R. Hildebrand, Sage Karam, Conor Daly, Jay Howard, P.J. Chesson plus Matthew Brabham, Spencer Pigot and Mark Dismore Jr.

“It’s a fantastic event and a great way to remember Dan,” said Dixon. “It didn’t get as ugly as I thought it might on the last lap but it’s always fun.”

Holly Wheldon [RIGHT, with Robin and Dixon], sister of the two-time Indy 500 champ who lost his life in 2011, flew in from England to drive in her brother’s honor and did him proud by knocking a couple of fellow karters out of her way.

“Yeah, I think DW would have approved,” she smiled. “It means a lot to see all the support this race gets and I’m just thrilled we’ve had it two years in a row and I hope it keeps going.”
       

lat-levitt-cota-0914 10591THE TIMES ARE A CHANGING: Speeds have been a point of interest so far this weekend with cars from all three sports car series that raced at Circuit of The Americas together in 2013 at the same event in 2014. The 2013 Rolex Series Daytona Prototype pole went to Jon Fogarty in the No. 99 Corvette DP at 2:00.179 and the Rolex GT pole went to Alessandro Balzan in the No. 63 Ferrari F458 at 2:08.846.

With the numerous DP performance upgrades in mind, the No. 10 Corvette DP piloted by Ricky Taylor qualified second in the TUDOR Championship Prototype class with a 1:58.643, a full 1.536 seconds faster than the best DP one year ago.

Qualifying for the ALMS series was wet last year, making a direct comparison between P2 pole laps a challenge, but if we look to the race, the winning No. 555 HPD ARX-03b driven by Ryan Briscoe and Scott Tucker posted a best lap of 1:58.099 on Michelin tires. The 2014 TUDOR Championship Prototype pole went to the Continental-shod Ligier JS P2-Honda of Alex Brundle whose lap of 1:57.809 was set in conditions that weren't ideal.

For the sake of comparison, the World Endurance Championship LMP1-H pole set by the No. 8 Toyota TS040 Hybrid on Friday night included an impressive individual lap of 1:48.993 on a mostly dry track, just shy of the 1:48.355 average set by Audi to earn the COTA pole in 2013.

The best individual lap from the pole-sitting No. 26 Ligier JS P2-Nissan in qualifying yesterday was a 1:55.752 on Dunlop tires, 2.057 seconds clear of Brundle's TUDOR Championship Prototype pole lap.

Toyota's WEC P1 pole is 9.65 seconds faster than the best DP qualifying lap, 8.816 seconds clear of the best TUDOR Championship pole set by a P2, and 6.759 seconds faster than the WEC P2 pole.

Interesting stuff...

2014COTAMPruettWed917 142PIT LANE LOGJAM: With 51 TUDOR Championship cars entered, 51 Continental Tire Series entries and 29 more from the WEC, pit lane looked like a wall-to-wall clearing house for refueling tanks, timing stands and air hoses. Cramming the necessary endurance racing equipment from three different series into a single pit lane had an element of comedy to it as the inevitable logjam took place from the moment practice began on Thursday. Prior to the Conti race on Friday, as many as five teams shared space normally reserved for two to three, yet with their event now completed, IMSA and WEC teams will have a bit of breathing room thanks to one series packing up their equipment and heading home.

NEW AK FOR PORSCHE: The Porsche 919 Hybrids appeared to lack the final bits of downforce needed at the opening WEC rounds in England and Belgium, and the Germans have used the three months since Le Mans to come up with a new body kit that made its debut this weekend. The differences are subtle, with rear treatments standing out above everything else to help plant the car's light powertrain.

2014COTAMPruettWed917 100


photo a

TOUGH START FOR PARK PLACE: The Park Place Motorsports GTD team was a victim of the nasty weather that besieged the track Wednesday and early Thursday. The team's aluminum canopy structure was badly damaged, bending the long poles into U shapes. Fixing the structure was impossible, leading the Porsche entrants to rent a tent that was erected for the weekend.

COOP'S NOT SURE: College student and Alex Job Racing Porsche GTD racer Cooper MacNeil tells RACER he's not sure how much he'll drive next season. The team's new Porsche GT America will enter 2015 as a lame duck; IMSA is adopting full GT3 regulations for 2016, and for MacNeil, it's thrown a considerable curveball. "I'm not sure how much I'll drive, we're not sure what we're going to do, and it sucks with buying a Porsche that was made for [the GTD class] that won't be eligible after next season," he said.

THREE TEAMS FOR HPD? Chatter this weekend at COTA from a well-placed source says three teams could run HPD's new ARX-04b P2 coupe next year. Of the six cars being built, two have been bought by Extreme Speed Motorsports, and two single-car entries could be on the grid in IMSA. The other two are expected to race in the WEC

BIG NUMBER FOR WILL: BMW entrant Will Turner is reaching a milestone this weekend at COTA: His turner Motorsport team will complete its 300th race using products from the German brand.

2014COTAMPruettWed917 008SMALLER BRAKE DUCTS FOR AUDI: The electric motors used at the front of the Audi R18 e-tron quattros to harvest energy under braking are so powerful, the team has reduced the size of brake ducts at the front of their cars due to the reduced workload required from the carbon discs and pads.

STEF TO PC? Indy Lights veteran Stefan Wilson says he's close to going racing in the Verizon IndyCar Series next year, and wants to add some sports car racing to his schedule: "I've been talking to some PC teams this weekend, and I really think the class is perfect – a real driver's car – that works well with a pro driver and a gentleman driver. I've had some good discussions and I hope they work out to get me in a car at some races next year."

McNISH ON THE GAS: Three-time 24 Hours of Le Mans winner Allan McNish is at COTA in his official capacity with Audi, and has also been giving guests rides around the circuit in one of the brand's R8s. He enjoyed himself so much Thursday night, he actually ran out of fuel and was stranded on track with a passenger in the car...

DELTAWING DEVELOPMENT DELAYED: The DeltaWing team raced its DWC13 coupe for the first time at COTA last year, yet decided to skip this year's event to concentrate on numerous updates that will appear at the season finale in two weeks at Petit Le Mans.

CHARLIE PUTNAM INCIDENT: Fall-Line GTD Audi R8 driver/sponsor Charlie Putman had a scary incident just prior to COTA that forced the team to withdraw from the event. A crash while off-roading saw Putman stranded for approximately 20 hours with a number of broken bones. He was eventually found and rescued and is said to be recovering with no recollection of how the incident was triggered. The team could miss Petit Le Mans unless funded replacement drivers are found.

FIRST HPD ARX-04b TEST APPROACHING According to HPD vice president Steve Eriksen, the firm's new P2 coupe will run in November. "That's what we're shooting for. You've got to be ready for Daytona so you need as much track time as you can. The car will be going together – we've got guys over in the UK right now doing the wiring on the car, the wiring layout and all that. The first car will go together in the UK in October. Then go across to ESM, ESM will then take it back apart, do a beautiful job of putting it back together to be race ready and then we'll go to the track."

ONROAK WELCOMES P2 COST-CAP INCREASE: Says Oak Racing team principal Jacques Nicolet: "Most of the current open LM P2 chassis are from the LM P1 chassis, and so it was possible to work with a cost cap of 370,000 euros [$475,000] excluding tax, as most of the development costs had been distributed over time and across the LM P1 and LM P2 models. The new generation of closed LM P2 chassis are 100 percent new creations, with specific developments: this required an adjustment of the cost cap [to 450,000 euros/$577,000] to cover the price of these new cars."

Hamilton beats Rosberg to pole

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Lewis Hamilton beat Formula 1 title rival Nico Rosberg to pole position for the Singapore Grand Prix by seven thousandths of a second.

Hamilton was only sixth fastest on his first run in the Q3 top 10 shootout but despite a lock-up at Turn 1 on his final lap, a particularly strong run through the middle part of the lap allowed him to pip Rosberg.

Red Bull swept the second row, with Daniel Ricciardo third ahead of Sebastian Vettel, just half a tenth separating the two. Fernando Alonso was fifth fastest, only a tenth behind the lead Red Bull, although Ferrari teammate Kimi Raikkonen was not able to do better than seventh after suffering a car problem on his second run.

Splitting the Ferraris was Felipe Massa, the Williams driver putting in an impressive lap to go fastest in Q3 on first-run times, but only able to make a tiny improvement on his second lap. Valtteri Bottas was eighth in the second Williams, the Finn unable to improve on his second run.

Kevin Magnussen was ninth, only 0.569sec off Hamilton's pole position time, while Daniil Kvyat was slowest in Q3 after having only one set on super-soft rubber available for the final session.

Jenson Button and Jean-Eric Vergne were in the top 10 in Q2 on their first runs, but with both Williams drivers setting slow times after choosing to run used super-softs for their first run, were always in danger of missing the cut. They were bumped down to 11th and 12th when Massa and Bottas improved on fresh rubber.

Button was able to improve on his second run, but a lock-up at the hairpin cost him time and he missed the cut by 23 thousandths of a second, ending up 11th.

Vergne was unable to improve on his second run, complaining about front-end grip and suffering a costly lock-up, meaning he qualified 11th.

Force India pairing Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez also both failed to improve on their second runs, ending up 13th and 15th, respectively. They were split by Esteban Gutierrez, showing a strong turn of pace in the upgraded Sauber.

Romain Grosjean was slowest of those who made it to Q2, complaining vociferously over the radio about an engine problem that cost him time.

Adrian Sutil came close to escaping Q1, but failed to relegate Perez into the dropzone with his final lap in the first segment of qualifying and ended up 17th.

Pastor Maldonado blamed a power unit problem on his final run for failing to reach Q2. He was unable to fully recharge the battery, meaning he was lacking full power on his final lap, ending up 18th, behind Jules Bianchi. The Frenchman put in a superb lap on his final effort to jump ahead of teammate Max Chilton, who ended up 21st, with Caterham driver Kamui Kobayashi doing a good job to separate the pair.

Marcus Ericsson joined the session late after the Caterham team had to work flat out to solve an electrical problem that had struck in free practice, ending up last.

PosDriverCarTimeGap
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m 45.681s -
2 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m 45.688s 0.007s
3 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull/Renault 1m 45.854s 0.173s
4 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull/Renault 1m 45.902s 0.221s
5 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m 45.907s 0.226s
6 Felipe Massa Williams/Mercedes 1m 46.000s 0.319s
7 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1m 46.170s 0.489s
8 Valtteri Bottas Williams/Mercedes 1m 46.187s 0.506s
9 Kevin Magnussen McLaren/Mercedes 1m 46.250s 0.569s
10 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso/Renault 1m 47.362s 1.681s
11 Jenson Button McLaren/Mercedes 1m 46.943s 1.262s
12 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso/Renault 1m 46.989s 1.308s
13 Nico Hulkenberg Force India/Mercedes 1m 47.308s 1.627s
14 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber/Ferrari 1m 47.333s 1.652s
15 Sergio Perez Force India/Mercedes 1m 47.575s 1.894s
16 Romain Grosjean Lotus/Renault 1m 47.812s 2.131s
17 Adrian Sutil Sauber/Ferrari 1m 48.324s 2.643s
18 Pastor Maldonado Lotus/Renault 1m 49.063s 3.382s
19 Jules Bianchi Marussia/Ferrari 1m 49.440s 3.759s
20 Kamui Kobayashi Caterham/Renault 1m 50.405s 4.724s
21 Max Chilton Marussia/Ferrari 1m 50.473s 4.792s
22 Marcus Ericsson Caterham/Renault 1m 52.287s 6.606s

 

Originally on Autosport.com

 

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The most recent meeting of the FIA's World Motor Sport Council revealed an interesting cost-cutting initiative that will be implemented at the start of 2015.

"Introduction of cost management measures have been agreed as from January 1, 2015 including limitations of testing and tire limitations per category," the WMSC briefing stated. "Further details will be included in the 2015 Sporting and Technical Regulations."

Speaking with WEC CEO Gerard Neveu at Circuit of The Americas, the Frenchman told RACER the series can make some cost-cutting changes on their own, but sizeable reductions can only come if and when the manufacturers and team owners are in total agreement.

"I really believe that this is a responsibility for each member in the paddock to control the situation we're facing," he said. "We have to be reasonable and take into consideration the financial side. Probably 10 years ago it wasn't the case, but this is the real true world now. What we try to do as a promoter is to provide all the right conditions to help the members of the paddock work in a better financial way.

"A few weeks ago we created a working group and we include all the different members of the paddock to say: What can we do to help you reduce the costs and to make sure that you have good visibility and that you have a good return in the future? But we have to take into consideration all the different people in our paddock. Huge teams, private teams, big manufacturers, promoters, staff, everybody. The idea is if everybody is working in the same direction, that we have to control the costs, it can be a big help. That is the target.

"But we cannot make the decision for them. The manufacturers and everyone must want to agree. For example, I'm in charge for the organization, so logistics and transportation is a very important side. I'm looking after that. But regarding the cost to develop an engine or a new chassis, I cannot control that directly. Only the WEC's regulations can help for that. We just make sure that all the technical department, the people create the future regulation, never say people can do whatever they want. We have to make sure that all the new rules take into consideration the fact that we cannot spend money like this."

Audi pitIn the most affluent portion of the paddock, LMP1 giant Audi is rumored to spent more on its WEC program per year than many Formula 1 teams, and according to its LMP project leader, expanding cost-cutting beyond the limited scope outlined by the WMSC would not be welcome.

"For me, I'd rather talk about cost efficiency," said Audi's Chris Reinke. "There's one thing to bring costs down and, the other side, to get more out of the money you spend. There are two ways of approaching it and I like to do the dual way. Yes, we've got to seize it, we've got to make sure that the cost doesn't sky rise. On the other side, there's a lot to do to get more out of the product, more marketing wise, better publicity. So there are two ways of approaching it.

"At the moment, yes, there are talks going on how we make sure that the cost doesn't rise any further. And there are small wheels to be turned. We have already the test restrictions confirmed for next day to limit them to 50 days. We're discussing tire limitation; things which shouldn't matter in the final racing, shouldn't limit us in proper preparation, but it shouldn't rise any more costs."\

Asked if he was concerned about LMP1 costs spiraling out of control, Reinke offered a forthright response.

"Too expensive would mean that it doesn't make sense for Audi to spend these budgets to run here," he said. "We are here. We have a confirmed program. Therefore, for us it does pay off. On the other side, we do realize that the competition gets harder, therefore we would like to be wise enough to foresee what might come up and try to freeze to a level that everybody can afford."


2014-6-heures-du-Circuit-dia-DSC-0049.JPG hdAudi LMP1 rival Toyota has worked from a limited budget since the Japanese manufacturer returned to prototype competition in 2012. Toyota Racing technical director Pascal Vasselon has a different view on the topic, and sees the possible benefits of working from a cost reduction agreement.

"We are extremely favorable to this initiative from the ACO and the FIA simply because we need to, I would say, to make sure the costs stay under control," he said. "Of course, already the baseline car costs a lot, now we have to make sure that all the items where you can buy performance are under control.

"What do I mean, we are buying performance? We know that the more we test, the more we develop the car, we know that the longer we spend in the wind tunnel, the better the performance is. All these items you could just buy performance. And this we have to keep it under control, otherwise it could kill the series. So from our side, we are extremely favorable to this cost saving initiative and we are determined to really contribute to it."

Vasselon holds the view that without more comprehensive cost cutting in the future, P1 manufacturers could elevate budgets to unsustainable levels.

"This is exactly the point," he added. "In our opinion, LMP1, as it is at the moment, the perspective to have a cost explosion would not be sustainable. At least for us, it is a condition that costs become under control to stay in this category. So the there is a risk, the series is facing a risk; with this cost savings working group we have a good chance to avoid this risk."

amrWithin the GTE paddock, Aston Martin Racing has excelled at creating programs where a blend of manufacturer funding, corporate backing and paying drivers has allowed AMR to field four cars across the Pro and Am categories. Its position as a works entrant with privateer entries gives AMR boss Dave Richards a unique perspective the issue of costs, and as the veteran team principal shares, the WMSC's efforts could be in vain.

"The first issue is that you will never control costs because costs are a direct ratio to value," said the Briton. "So as the championship increases in value, so people will spend the money on it because that's – I am quite convinced if you took a Formula 3 car and gave it to all the Formula 1 teams, their budgets wouldn't change at all. They would just spend it differently. Right?"

Looking up from the GT paddock toward the cash-rich LMP1 entrants, Richards believes the cost-cutting initiative, while intended for every class, will have a more meaningful impact in the WEC's marquee category.

"I think I can only speak for GT racing, and I don't think it's a particular issue in GT racing," he noted. "Yeah, you can control certain aspects of it but I don't think today there's any great problem. You've got to control the number of races, that's a factor of how much it's going to cost. The travel arrangements, another factor of cost. But if those things are managed properly I don't think the technical side of it is out of control at all.

"I can see why the FIA might wish to change some of the things with the LMP cars and the costs around those. We've looked at it, and it's prohibitive for a car company like Aston Martin to even consider competing with a prototype at the moment in the current rules. But I think GT racing has got a great formula about it, this balance of performance. I have always joked with my engineers and my guys and asked why I should go spending a fortune over the winter months, increasing the performance of the engine by another 20 hp to have another 10 kg of [Balance of Performance] lead put on the car?"

Rather than continue down a path of reducing test days and other assets that are valuable to teams, using BoP adjustments, in Richards' estimation, could be the best cost-cutting tool the WEC has at its disposal.

"I think performance balancing is the best form of cost containment that you've got in any form of motorsport today if it's done properly – and over the years it's become more and more refined," he said. "The early days there were big disparities, but you don't hear too many gripes about it today. Occasionally, we get it a little bit wrong, but generally, it's just fine tuning of it now. I think that's the way to go.

"That inhibits people from spending ridiculous amounts of money on the cars themselves. What they should be doing is spending money on marketing the activities, bringing spectators to here, getting the dealers engaged in the championships. That's the way to go."

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The RACER Channel catches up with Porsche's Mark Webber who speaks on Formula 1, sports cars, and his favorite part of the COTA circuit."Formula 1 from about 2009 to '13 was a bit of a dinosaur, the engine was very old, that's why they had the engine freeze like that, to try and control costs.

"Formula 1 is very advanced now, as is this category," said Webber. "Obviously the technology that we're using, we're on a very steep learning curve. The stuff we've learned just in the last six months is quite impressive – obviously chasing weight, chasing more power, more reliability. What's exciting for me is I know some of this stuff will be going into the road car...."

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Audi Sport engineer Brad Kettler takes The RACER Channel through the interesting hybrid charging and systems check process performed by the team prior to the unit's use.

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