Corvette

  • Pla puts Mazda on top after first day of IMSA practice at Sebring

    Olivier Pla’s fastest lap in Free Practice Two ensured Mazda Team Joest ended the first day of the IMSA Sportscar Championship’s Sebring 12 Hours on top of the standings.

    Pla, who is also competing in the WEC’s 1000 Miles of Sebring in a Ford GT, used Thursday afternoon’s session to pull ahead of Felipe Nasr in the Action Express Racing Cadillac DPi and Dane Cameron, who set the fastest lap for the #6 Acura Team Penske crew. It wasn’t plain sailing for Mazda though, as the car stopped out on track during FP2 having ran out of fuel. However, it managed to complete the session having been recovered to the pitlane.

    Daytona 24 Hours winner Wayne Taylor Racing ended Thursday fourth as Renger van der Zande – another one of the 11 drivers double-heading the two races – finished three-hundredths of a second behind Cameron. Timo Bernhard waited until the final session to put the second Mazda into the top five, finishing 0.725s off Pla’s fastest time.

    Colin Braun added to the mix of marques at the top of the DPi category as he finished the day sixth-fastest overall in the CORE Autosport Nissan DPi – just a tenth ahead of Helio Castroneves’ fastest time in the second Penske Acura.

    In the two-car LMP2 class, the PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports entry of Matthew McMurry, Gabriel Aubry and Anders Fjorback finished the day comfortably ahead of the Performance Tech machine, as it paced all three sessions in its Oreca 07.

    Corvette Racing gave the fans a reason to cheer as Antonio Garcia left it until the final 30 minutes of Free Practice Three to set the fastest time in GT Le Mans as he clocked a 1m56.970s in the #3 Corvette C7.R. Just 0.013s behind the Spaniard was the fastest of the Porsche GT Team crews as Laurens Vanthoor in the #912 edged out Nick Tandy in the sister #911 Porsche 911 RSR by 0.008s. Ford Chip Ganassi Racing finished fourth and fifth in the combined standings with the #67 of Richard Westbrook finished 0.111s ahead of Sebastien Bourdais’ best time in the #66.

    There was a mix of manufacturers at the top of the standings in GT Daytona as Bill Auberlen – in the Turner Motorsport BMW M6 GT3 – edged out the Mario Farnbacher-driven Meyer Shank Racing Acura NSX by two-tenths of a second. Third went to the GRT Grasser Racing Team Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo with Mirko Bortolotti setting the best time of the day for that car, half-a-tenth ahead of Andy Lally in the Magnus Racing Lamborghini. Fifth and sixth in Thursday’s combined classification went to a pair of Porsches as Patrick Long put the Park Place Motorsports entry ahead of Scott Hargrove in the Pfaff Motorsports car. The only crash of note throughout the day of running came from the #47 Precision Performance Motorsports Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo, which had a disrupted day of running as the team missed the majority of FP2 following a crash for Don Yount. The American was caught out by a bump at the exit of turn three which pitched the car round and hit the barriers. Despite a herculean effort to repair the car, it wasn’t able to return to the track for FP3.

  • Round up from Daytona

    DragonSpeed dominated the final days testing at Daytona International Speedway, topping the time sheets in FP6 and FP7.

    Ex GP2 Driver Ben Hanley put the #81 Oreca 07 Gibson on top of the time sheets by just 0.02 seconds from the #55 Mazda RT24 DPI, both times were set during the first session of the day on Sunday morning. Hanley will share the car with Nicolas Lapierre, Loic Duval and Henrik Hedman for the Rolex 24 At Daytona.

    Despite early dominance, the #13 Rebellion Oreca Gibson finished third overall after leading the test early on. Sebastien Buemi took the teams quickest time on Sunday Afternoon posting a time of 1:38.408. The #52 PR1/Mathiasen Ligier took fourth place ahead of the #5 Action Express Cadillac DPI after the trio of cars showed an improved pace in the final session of the weekend. Joao Barbosa was within four tenths of the leading DragonSpeed car. The final time sheet of the day showed that all 12 prototypes, both LMP2 and DPI, were split by just 1.3 seconds, a result that is full of promise of things to come at the Rolex 24 At Daytona in 3 weeks time. There was good improvements from the team at VISIT FLORIDA Racing, the car was classified seventh at the end of the day, however, Marc Goossens, Renger van der Zande and Rene Rast were just 0.57 off the pace of the #81 DragonSpeed car.

    Performance Tech once again led the way in the PC Category, they were the first of just five cars on the grid.

    Ford topped the time sheets in GTLM once again finishing 1-2 overall. The #67 car with Ryan Briscoe at the wheel posted a time of 1:44.38 during the morning session, beating Scott Dixon’s quickest lap of Saturday by nearly two tenths in the same car. Brazilian Indy car driver put the #69 Ford GT second quickest in his first outing in the new Ford GT.

    The #59 Manthey Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R lead the way in GT Daytona in their first appearance at the event in nearly 20 years. Sven Mueller put the car at the head of the field with a 1:46.810 on Sunday Morning ahead of the #33 Riley Motorsports Team Mercedes AMG GT3.

    The morning session was red flagged with a big fire for the #4 Corvette. Marcel Fassler escaped unharmed but the car was heavily damaged. The fire was caused by a fuel leak when a fuel injector line split. The fire burned through the bodywork of the front of the car, damaging key components under the front bonnet panel. The team are confident in getting the car repaired and back out for the Rolex 24 At Daytona, after all, it is nearly a year since the team experienced a fire in 2016 before going on to finish and incredible race with a dramatic 1-2 finish.

    Photograph motorsport.com

  • Toyota Lead The Way At Quarter Distance

    The #7 Toyota TS050 has led the way in the opening six hours of the Le Mans 24 Hours, with Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and Jose Maria Lopez not relinquishing their lead throughout the opening stages.

    Making a quick getaway from pole position, the sister #8 couldn’t challenge from second as Sebastien Buemi found himself briefly relegated to third by a hard-charging Gustavo Menezes in the #3 Rebellion Racing R13. Menezes had a straight-line speed advantage over the Toyota, but Buemi’s acceleration out of the corners allowed him to quickly nip back up into second. By that point, though, Conway had powered off into the distance and was adding chunks of time to his advantage every lap as the #8 struggled for pace around the Circuit De La Sarthe. Throughout the opening quarter of the race, the front of the field continued much in that fashion with the #7’s lead ever so slightly decreasing as Fernando Alonso – in the #8 as the first six hours reached its conclusion – started to eat into the deficit.

    As 9pm local time came up on the clocks, the #7’s lead is down to 22 seconds as the field bunches up under a safety car following a crash for Marcel Fassler in the #64 Corvette Racing C7.R at the Porsche Curves. The American car went off after receiving contact from the #88 Dempsey-Proton Porsche which has been having a race to forget after an early spin from the lead of GTE Am while Satoshi Hoshino was behind the wheel. With the Toyotas comprehensively in the lead, albeit with the #7 extending its advantage over the #8, the focus of the LMP1 class fell to the captivating battle for third between the #3 Rebellion and the #11 SMP Racing BR1.

    For the majority of the opening quarter, third belonged to the Swiss team but throughout his stint Stoffel Vandoorne in the Russian car was gradually looming ever larger in Nathaniel Berthon’s mirrors. The eventual move didn’t come on track. A slow stop for the #3 as Berthon handed the car over to Thomas Laurent allowed Vandoorne to power past before making his own handover to Mikhail Aleshin. A slick stop from SMP allowed the #11 to swoop out ahead.

    However, just as the six-hour mark was reached Laurent had a better restart after the safety car – to recover the stricken Corvette – came back in. Tucking himself underneath the rear-wing of the BR1 coming out of a slow zone at the second chicane on the Mulsanne Straight, Laurent was all over the back of Aleshin, eventually making his move at the Porsche Curves. Fifth is currently safely in the hands of the second SMP car, which has a two-lap advantage over the #1 Rebellion which lost time in the opening hour with a puncture.

    A frenetic LMP2 battle currently has Signatech Alpine leading the way after a mega back-and-forth battle between the French team and G-Drive Racing in the last couple of hours which has seen the crews swapping the top spot on a number of occasions. With strategies roughly similar, the action has been taking place out on track with Job Van Uitert fending off the advances of fellow Silver – but less experienced – Pierre Thiriet during the pair’s respective stints. The Dutchman’s hard work was undone though, as the team was slapped with a ten-second penalty for speeding under a Full Course Yellow. The additional delay handed Signatech the lead, but that seemingly fired up Roman Rusinov – who took over from Van Uitert – as he bridged the gap and retook the top spot in class. However, that changed again just before the end of the sixth hour as Andre Negrao stuck his elbows out and muscled his way past Rusinov at the second Mulsanne chicane.

    Third was held by the DragonSpeed entry with Pastor Maldonado finding his way past the #38 Jackie Chan DC Racing Oreca – which had pitted just before a full course yellow was called to recover the stricken Spirit of Race Ferrari as Francesco Castellacci had a wild spin at the Porsche Curves and beached the 488 in the gravel. With its rivals able to pit under the caution, the #38 dropped from third to fourth.

    The GTE Pro battle has been a merry-go-round for most of the opening quarter as a number of teams have taken stints at the head of the field. The pole-sitting #95 Aston Martin Racing Vantage started by Nicki Thiim found itself quickly relegated to second as Antonio Garcia powered the #63 Corvette up the field in the opening hour and into a lead he retained for a significant chunk of the running as the American muscle car proved it had the speed at Le Mans. However, as the race went into the evening, the Porsche GT Team showed its hand with the #92 and #93 Porsche 911 RSRs moving to the fore as Laurens Vanthoor and Nick Tandy – normally team-mates in IMSA competition – squabbled between themselves for the lead. Despite Daniel Serra briefly taking the lead in the #51 AF Corse Ferrari just before the safety car was called to recover Fassler’s C7.R, he ended the sixth hour in second as Kevin Estre – who took over from Tandy – reclaimed the lead as the pitstops started to cycle through. The sole Corvette – taken over again by Garcia – currently runs in third, with the #67 Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK Ford GT of Harry Tincknell in fourth.

    GTE Am continued to be dominated by the Keating Motorsport Ford GT as Felipe Fraga and Jeroen Bleekemolen did a great job to power the Blue Oval up through the class and into a commanding lead. Thanks to a clean run, they have a three-minute lead over the #84 JMW Motorsports Ferrari. Third is the #56 Team Project 1 Porsche with the WeatherTech Racing 488 further back in fourth.