Friday, November 19, 2010

2010 World Finals – Force is still ‘da Man!

NHRA Full Throttle Series 2010 Champions
Top Fuel - Larry Dixon, Al-Anabi Racing
Funny Car - John “da Man” Force, Castrol GTX Ford Mustang
Pro Stock - Greg Andersen, Summit Racing Pontiac GXP
ProStock Bike - LE Tonglet, NitroFish Suzuki
Super Stock - Ryan McClanahan, “Sgt Ryan” SS/AM Cobalt

The most exciting race last weekend was the Funny Car championship. John Force began the weekend in 2nd place behind Matt Hagan. To win the race, Force needed to go 2 rounds further than Hagan. - tough job, even for a legend. When Bob Tasca knocked Hagan out in the first round, it looked good for the 14-time champ to make it 15 as he only needed to make it to the semifinal round. But, in the normal John Force-style, he took them out one-by-one - Densham, Bode, Troxel and in the final round went 4.085s, 310.41 mph against Jeff Arend’s 4.109s, 307.65 run. "I've been 25 years with Castrol and I want to go for 30!” Force said. "I've got to give credit to all the kids on my team.” It was unbelievable the racecar they gave me all year.” On a sadder note, Force’s crew chief, Austin Coil announced his resignation from the Force organization citing “financial issues,” and “some animosities.” Austin stated, “Overall, there’s no real terrible issues going on. It was just time to go. Kind of like when you’ve been married for 26 years and heard all the bullshit.”

With a first round victory on Sunday, Larry Dixon clich├ęd the Top Fuel title beating out Mike Strasbourg when the over-zealous driver smoked the tires before the 660 lights. "I've never had so much excitement for a first round win in my life," Dixon said. Progressing to the semi-final round, Dixon was paired with Shawn Langdon in his Lucas Oil/Speedco Dragster. Unfortunately for the champ, his 3.856 s, 319.98 mph run was not enough to overcome Langdon’s 0.017s better light. Langdon and Antron Brown went to the final round with Antron piloting the Matco Tools dragster to win the Winternationals Top Fuel event running 3.840s, 311.99 mph.

The Pro-Stock Championship went to Greg Anderson very early in the weekend. With a 115-point lead over Mike Edwards, by simply qualifying for the race, Anderson clinched his 4th championship title. It was a herculean effort to get back on top after a dismal start of the season. He dedicated the championship to team owner Ken Black who has battled his way back from a stroke through most of the season. "We've had to fight scratch and claw our way back to respectability," Anderson said. "We had to find a way to cope with the fact that our team leader Ken Black wasn't with us. We weren't sure we'd ever see Ken back at the race track.” The other saga in Pro-Stock was Greg Stanfield and Mike Edwards. Edwards, who appeared unbeatable early in the season, felt the championship slip from his hands over the last three races. Then, in the first round of eliminations on Sunday, an engine problem at the line finished him for the season. It was exciting news for Greg Stanfield who moved into number 2 spot for the season.

The Pro-Stock Motorcycle Championship went to rookie LE Tonglet. The first rookie since Gary Scelzi claimed the Top Fuel championship in 1997 Tonglet at only age 20, also became the youngest champion in NHRA history in Pro Stock Motorcycle. Interestingly, John Force became the oldest champion in NHRA history on Sunday. "It's been larger than life," Tonglet said. "We just stepped up at the right time." Andrew Hines led the championship and also like Force, Tonglet had to go two rounds further than Hines. Tonglet’s chances much improved with Hine’s red-lighting in the first round. Tonglet blasted past Matt Guidera in the first round and clinched it up with an impressive win over Steve Johnson in the second round. "We've been on a roll since Indy and this is just huge," Tonglet said. "Especially for my dad, this is just awesome to win the championship."

Finally, in Super Stock, Ryan McClanahan, Alta Loma, Calif., took home a pair of winning both the NHRA Lucas Oil national championship and the Pacific Division championship before falling in the final round to Eric Bell, Chandler, Ariz., and his '70 Challenger. Bell went 137.34 mph in 9.540 seconds for the win.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

SEMA 2010 - A Renewed Enthusiasm

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – The 2010 SEMA show was a pretty impressive event. After 2-3 years of doom-and-gloom, the energy and excitement we experienced at the show was a welcome change. One of the most impressive cars at the show was the Bisimoto Honda CRZ hybrid. What you ask can be so exciting about a Honda hybrid? How about 533 horsepower from a turbocharged 1.5 liter engine – sounds almost like the old days of F1! What is really impressive, is that ‘Bisi only had 6 weeks to pull-off his magic. When ‘Bisi was presented with the possibility of preparing a CRZ for SEMA, he chose as his goal to build a hybrid with more power than the Porsche GT3 hybrid racer – 480 hp. He far exceeded even his own expectations and was the hit of the SEMA show. Even the New York Times believed it worthy of print. With a 64mm Turbonetics turbo-charger, Golden Eagle intake, Burns Stainless muffler and StopTech brakes, ‘Bisi is ready to hunt Porsches.
At the Mobil One booth, Underground Racing displayed one of their awe-inspiring Twin Turbocharged Lamborghini Superleggera masterpieces. The low-slung, matte-yellow super car could really draw a crowd. Built and owned by Underground racing, this twin-turbo beast does zero to 60 mph in 2.5 seconds and the quarter-mile in 9.1 seconds, and has a top speed of 169 mph. UR-owner, KC Howeth was at the booth and recounted their recent experience at the Texas Mile. If you haven’t heard of the Texas Mile, it is one of the premier “go-fast” events in the country. Racers from all-around the country meet just outside of Austin TX for the ultimate drag race. A 1-mile blast from a standing start to see who is the “fastest-one-of-all.“ A UR Lambo driven by Tim Holt holds the automobile speed record of 250.1 mph. The fastest speed this year in a car was also a UR Lambo at 243.0 mph. An unfortunate incident this year saw one of the UR Lambos experience a horrible accident during braking. Thank God the driver walked away with only mild bruises.
Other wild cars included a chopped and channeled ’59 caddy (yeah, the one with the biiggg fins). Known as the “Wild Cad”, this right hand drive car sported a neon-purple and silver paint scheme and another fin on the center console – like there wasn’t enough fin already!
My favorite was the “Mercedes-Bent,” a 2004 MBZ 600SL wrapped in a sumptuous 1961 190SL body painted in Ivory White. The twin-turbo-charged V-12 was tuned by Burns Stainless customer Renn-Tech and included a reprogrammed ECU and intercooler. The 19” custom wheels were the finishing touch with a design hearkening back to the ‘60s Mercedes Benz heritage.

And of course, there were girls, girls girls.

Let’s all hope that the excitement of SEMA will extend into 2011 and fuel a resurgence in the automotive racing and aftermarket industries.

Friday, October 22, 2010

CONCORD, NC – Kyle Busch dominated Saturday night’s Bank of America 500 for most of the race, except where it counted the most – at the finish. Jamie McMurray surprised everyone by roaring away from Busch in the final laps of the night giving him his third win of the season. During a restart with 21 laps remaining in the race, McMurray sprinted past Busch and pulled away finishing 1.86 sec ahead of Kyle. Some have attributed McMurray’s surprise win to the new rear-spoiler rules allowing the crew chiefs some ability to control the aerodynamics of the COT. Jaime attributed his win elsewhere. “We had a really good car there. As those laps were winding down I was thinking about Daytona and why I cry and the power of prayer,” said McMurray. “Thanks to God and everything he’s blessed my family and I with.”

Denny Hamlin finished the race in 3rd place barely dodging a lap 2 wreck. The avoidance maneuver forced him into the pits to replace a set of flat-spotted tires. Hamlin was followed by Jimmie Johnson in 4th and Greg Biffle in 5th place. Chase contender Kevin Harvick finshed in 8th place. Hamlin, Johnson and Harvick stand the best chance to win the Chase. Martinsville will be an exciting race next week.
Another surprise of the evening was pole-sitter Jeff Gordon who ran strong for the first half of the race. On lap 191, Jeff’s primary battery failed and lost a lap while switching to a second battery. Though he got a free pass to the lead lap following a spin by Ambrose, Gordon struggled the rest of the night finishing 23rd and putting him 156 points behind in the Chase – nearly a race worth. Kurt Busch also experienced some bad luck spinning on lap 23 grazing the wall at turn 4 in the No 2 Dodge. Too bad for Kurt as he was hoping to sweep the Charlotte triple after winning both the All-Star Race and the Charlotte 600. There’s always next year.

In another bit of news, NASCAR has announced that beginning in 2011, Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Camping World Trucks will run E15 fuel, a blend of 15% ethanol and gasoline. The change is part of the “NASCAR Green” environmental initiative and is targeted at reducing emissions, though NASCAR has declined to say by how much. An added benefit of the fuel is a small increase in horsepower accompanied by a small loss of fuel economy. When you think about it, what is more American than burning a fuel grown in the American heartland in the All-American Sport of NASCAR.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Peugeot 908s placed 1 and 2 at the Petit Le Mans, Corvettes Win GT2

ROAD ATLANTA, GA – Leading 299 of 394 laps, the diesel-powered Peugeot 908s placed 1 and 2 at the Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta. With a 61-second lead, the 908 of Magny/Sarrazin/Lamy placed 1st with the Davidson/Gene/Wurz entry in second place. Suffering a late-race tire puncture, the once mighty Audi T15 TDI finished in third place, 2-laps down. After the race, Magny commented, “Last year we proved we were fastest, we didn't get to go to the end of the race but we really think and knew that we were fastest last year. The results we got last year we didn't get to prove it. But this year, we had the same team, same car, and knew we could pull it out again.”
Patron Highcroft Racing clinched the LMP2 championship with the Brabham/Pagenaud/Franchitti HPD finishing first in class. “To win Petit Le Mans… it’s a classic, one of the biggest in the world,” said Pagenaud, who won his first career Series title. “The PHR team was fantastic all weekend. The car was perfect, but it was like driving a video game all day. It’s great to be champion and thanks to my teammates for their brilliant work. Without them I wouldn't be here today. This was a chance to work with them and I have enjoyed it so much.” Should also note that co-driver Marino Franchitti’s brother, Dario, finished 8th in the IRL race in Homestead on Sunday and claimed the driver’s championship in that series.

The most exciting race in the series this year has been the GT2-class with the Ferrari’s, Corvettes and BMW fighting for wins at each race. This time, the once unstoppable Corvettes claimed their first win in 12 races, and first this season. On the final lap, the Risi Ferrari F430GT of Vilander ran out of fuel at turn 10 allowing the Gavin/Magnussen/Collard C6.R on to victory. The Extreme Peed Ferrari driven by Scott Speed and Johannes van Overbeek placed second with 3rd attributed to the Risi F430GT. The GT Team championship was clinched by BMW Rahal Letterman Racing with 4th place finish. The Flying Lizards Porsche ended up in fifth place. Claiming his 5th driver’s championship Bergmeister stated, “It was definitely an unbelievable season. I would have never expected at the beginning of the year to win this championship. Its’ a shame we didn’t win the team championship because we wouldn’t be here without them. They did a fantastic job giving us a great car all season. It was a pleasure to drive for the Lizards.”
This was the last race for the Porsche RS Spyder. After 35 class victories over 6 years of racing, Porsche has decided to pull the plug on the RS Spyder customer support program. Greg Pickett, owner of the Muscle Milk Team that has campaigned to RS Spyder stated "As I'm sure most people in this industry know, Porsche has come to the point where they need to close the chapter on the Porsche RS Spyder and I understand that.” Ironically, drivers Maasen and Luhrs drove the first RS Spyder at Laguna Seca and were the last drivers for this remarkable car.

Monday, September 27, 2010

“You can’t win a pissing contest with a skunk.” Richard Childress

DOVER, DE – In only the second race, The Chase is firming up to be a competitive contest in 2010. After Clint Bowyer’s win at Las Vegas last week, NASCAR impounded the car and was concerned that the rear left was out-of-spec. Following a meeting at RCR last Wednesday, NASCAR imposed some strict fines on Bowyer and RCR including a deduction of 150 driver points (dropping Bowyer from 2nd to last place in the Chase), 150 owner points, a $150,000 penalty, and 6-race suspension of Crew Chief Shane Wilson. Car Chief Chad Haney was also suspended for 6 races. RCR has appealed the decision. But the excitement didn’t end there. During a press conference on Friday, Denny Hamlin commented on the integrity of the RCR organization. “Everyone has known it for months… they knew it was wrong” stated Hamlin. He continued, “They are lucky to be in The Chase.” In a seemingly retaliatory move, Kevin Harvick, clipped Hamlin’s rear bumper and cut him off in practice resulting in both cars return to the garage area for repairs. Tempers flew as Harvick and Hamlin exchanged curse words. Commenting on the incident, Richard Childress stated "When you're talking about comments, you can't win a pissing match with a skunk," Childress said in obvious reference to Hamlin. "There are two things I've learned. One thing is that. The other is that you don't throw stones if you live in a glass house."

On Sunday, it appeared that the incident may have affected Hamlin as he was only able to finish ninth. Good enough to remain in first place, but only 35 points of race-winner Jimmie Johnson. AJ Allmendinger ran an impressive race leading 143 laps until a leaking rear tire knocked him from the lead and sending him two laps down and a 10th place finish. Clint Bowyer had a bad day with a 12th place finish. Tony Stewart incurred a pit-speeding penalty and a pit strategy error dropping him to 21st place.

But the real story was Jimmie Johnson. It seemed to be a picture-perfect weekend. Qualifying for the pole, Johnson was never out of the top tem positions. “Qualifying went well,” Johnson said of his Dover weekend. “Our goal was to come in and qualify well. It starts the ball in motion. It starts kind of the trend for the team, just the arc of what the team is going to deal with. If you qualify badly, you're in such a hole from pit-road pick to what takes place on track, its stuff to overcome. We met our goals this weekend, moved up a lot today.”
Denny Hamlin remains in the Top of The Chase 35 points ahead of Johnson. Kurt Busch is in third place followed by Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick. Next week should be exciting with Denny Hamlin in the sights of Jimmie Johnson and the other Chase contenders.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

US National - Dixon, Force-Hood, Stanfield, and Tonget

INDIANAPOLIS, IN – An exciting week at Indy culminating in the Pro finals on Sunday. Larry Dixon, #1 qualifier, ran against Cory McClenathan in the final on Sunday and emerged victorious with a 3.83s, 319.6 mph blast vs. Cory’s 3.87s, 319.82 mph run. Dixon has had an extraordinary year with Al-Anabi Racing. I guess it is hard to beat a team that has an oil-dynasty backing it!
In Funny Car, it was another family feud with John Force going up against his daughter Ashley. After being the first female Funny Car winner, Ashley again topped her Dad at the start. “This has been an amazing day.” Ashley continued, “Maybe people don’t believe this, but the pressure really is off when you run against a teammate… We were going up there and having fun.”

Greg Stanfield pulled an upset in Pro-Stock. The four-time Super Stock national champion didn’t have an easy path to victory driving his Nitro-Fish Pontiac past Warren Johnson, Jason Line, and finally Allen Johnson in the semi finals. Greg then faced Pro-Stock champion and #1 qualifier Mike Edwards on Sunday. Stanfield pulled an impressive 0.020 s hole shot compared to Edward’s 0.084 s, beating the champ with a slower 6.665 s et – Mike’s et was 6.627 s. “We were struggling a lot earlier in the season,” Greg commented, “but I had promised Kenny that I’d get him at least one Wally this season, and I’m going to give him the trophy right after this race.”

LE Tonglet also pulled an upset beating Andrew Hines in the final round. This was somewhat of a miracle as Tonglet seriously hurt their only motor while running at Brainerd last week. But the team and engine builder – Vance and Hines coincidentally – worked hard to repair the damage. As history is a witness, they did a great job. Tonglet ran a 6.86s, 195.22 pass against Hines’ 6.96s, 194.13 mph. This was Tonglet’s first Indy win.

The other interesting story of the weekend was the Mopar Hemi Challenge on Friday. Always a crowd pleaser, the 24 AH/SS ‘cudas and Challengers raced to claim the title of the “world’s fastest Hemi.” After 2 qualifying rounds on Friday, Charlie Westcott earned top qualifier with an 8.413 s ET. Gary Wolkwitz was second with an 8.546 s time with Charlie Westcott Sr. rounding 3rd place with an 8.59 s run. Saturday was a different story with the Westcott cars nowhere in the pits. The Westcott’s apparently hurt both motors during Thursday’s qualifying. Charlie probably decided that he has said “’nuff” with his dominating run and would fight another day. The final round pitted Dave Barton against his customer Jim Daniels. Both ran impressive times, but Jim Daniels took the win with an impressive 0.018s light.

Monday, August 30, 2010

“The Lord Definitely Had His Hand Over Me…”

SPA, BELGIUM – Some were blessed and other cursed at the 2010 Belgian Grand. As those that have spent any time in Belgium knows, it rains a lot. This past weekend was not an exception, and it caused a series of mishaps and calamities ending with Lewis Hamilton as the “golden child.” Late in the race, Hamilton chose not to pit when his crew radioed that rain was on its way. Hamilton recounts his excursion unto the gravel in turn 8, “I braked quite late and locked my wheel and went wide…, the Lord definitely had his hand over me there as I was able to get away with it.”

Lewis continued, “yeah, it is a difficult call. The team are telling you there is rain coming, and in the previous times it was just a light shower and it dries up very quickly. You didn’t know what to expect. Although there were very dark clouds above, but it began to rain and quite heavily, and you are praying that you wish you could come in, but it is too late once you get past the pit lane. Fortunately I got round and changed the tires and had a fantastic pit stop. The best one I have had this year, and I guess that’s what helped get us out there.” Lewis went on to win the race, beating pole-sitter and points leader Mark Webber. Lewis has now claimed the points lead title ahead of Webber by three points.

Others’ fortunes were not as rich. Webber’s Renault sputtered at the start of the race dropping him back as far as seventh place. Mark commented, “These days it's very, very easy to come away with nothing with a small mistake from anybody." Fernando Alonso survived after tangling with Rubens Barrichello on the opening lap only to crash on lap 38 of the 44 lap race, placing him 41 points away from the championship. Running in 2nd place. Sebastien Vettel lost control on lap 17 making hard contact with Jensen Buttons. The McLaren suffered heavy damage and retired in 22nd place. Vettel’s Red Bull continued with minimal damage, but he was penalized with a drive-through penalty.

The top 5 in the driver’s championship now stands with Hamilton 182 points, Webber 179, Vettel 151, Button 147 and Alonso 141.

Monday, August 16, 2010

No Respect For Elders In That Family!

BRAINERD, MN – Shane Gray and father Johnny Gray are sure shaking up the NHRA Full Throttle Pro-Stock series. Driving for the Tire Kingdom Pontiac team, Shane and Johnny both made the semi-final round this weekend at Brainerd, the last regular season event of the year. As fate would have it, they were matched with each other and son Shane drove past his Dad in a close 6.63s vs. 6.66s run. No respect for elders in that family! Shane went up against 52 time Pro-Stock winner Jeg Coughlin Jr, in the final round. If not for a -.001 red-light, Shane might have taken his first Pro-Stock win. "Shane did a heck of a job, and had he turned that thing green by a couple of hundredths, he would have smoked the yellow and black car. We got away with one there because I was late on the Tree in the final,” commented Jeg. Coughlin continued, “For a rookie team, the Gray’s are having a remarkable year… I do have to say, the Gray family has done an unbelievable job, and they’re getting a program from nothing to several final-round runnings between the two of them… (Shane) has made two final round matches this season.” Shane has moved into sixth place in the points with 2040. Jegs is in third place with 2080 points and on top of the heap is Mike Edwards with 2110.

In Funny Car, Bob Bode, in his first-ever final round in Funny Car, drove past heavily favored Jack Beckman when his dragster lost traction leaving the start line. “All of this is kind of like a dream I’m afraid I’m gonna wake up from,” said Bode. “I didn’t know if it would ever happen, but now that it did, I can’t believe it happened. It’s the best thing that ever happened to me in my entire life in the racing world. I have a wife and kid, wonderful things there, but the racing world, this is it.”

Larry Dixon won his ninth straight event beating Cory McClenathan in one of the quickest races in NHRA history. Dixon posted a 3.78s et to Cory’s 3.81s. This is Dixon’s 56th Top Fuel victory. "I feel fortunate," said Dixon. "We've won finals so many different ways this year, and there are so many variables that if you have just one hiccup, someone else wins. I've had seasons where I haven't won one race, so to win nine is overwhelming. These races are so hard to win; to win nine period let alone to win nine straight in finals is something."

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

“Dirty, Thieving Cheats?”

HOCKENHEIM, GERMANY - The 2010 Formula 1 series is certainly not lacking for controversy. After comments posted on the Ferrari website called the FIA a “federation of thieves,” this week at Hockenheim, the Sunday Press is referring to Ferrari as “dirty, thieving cheats.” What has caused the uproar this time? It appears to many that Ferrari is playing the “team order” game by asking Felipe Massa to stand-down to Alonso’s apparently quicker car. Though banned in 2002 as the result of Rubens Barrichello’s obvious move allowing then Ferrari driver Michael Schumacher to win the 2008, Ferrari allegedly ordered Massa to allow Alonso to pass on lap 49 of the 67 lap race. Massa finished 4.1 seconds behind Alonso, with pole-sitter Sebastien Vettel following 1 sec behind in 3rd place.

The “smoking gun” is Massa’s race engineer Rob Smedley’s radio message to the Brazilian "Fernando is faster than you. Can you confirm you understood that message?" Despite leading the race from the start, Massa had been struggling on hard tires. So he “decided to do the best thing for the team,“ Massa continued, “and a one-two finish is the best possible result, isn’t it?” Ferrari needed to have this 1-2 win, worth 43 points, as they are only 3rd in the Constructors Championship with Alonso 5th for the Driver’s Championship.

The press is not the only ones who think Ferrari cheated, as the FIA race stewards have fined Ferrari $100,000 for imposing illegal team orders, also finding them guilty of “disrepute.” The matter has been directed to the World Motor Sport Council for review. Ferrari is not appealing the verdict. "In the interests of the sport, we have decided not to go through a procedure of appealing against it (the decision), confident that the World Council will know how to evaluate the overall facts correctly," said team boss Stefano Domenicali. Or does Ferrari believe that $ 2,326/point is worth it? Less than a bottle of 1998 Dom Perignon Lagerfield!
Other comments by the press and colleagues have been derogatory towards both Alonso and Massa. The Swiss newspaper Blick correspondent wrote: "There are different ways for Alonso to return to the throne. Lying and cheating should not be one of them." And a scathing remark from three-time World Champion Niki Lauda. "…Nobody was fooled by Alonso's argument that he wasn't aware of the fix. I've never heard a driver talk such (junk). He has no character," said Austrian great Lauda. And Rubens Barrichello quipped, "I will speak to Felipe myself. Nothing has changed at Ferrari.” He later commented, "I think you can read my opinion better from my face." Even Massa did not escape scrutiny. Rio de Janeiro's Lance writes: "We regret writing it, but from Massa it was a lack of courage."

But not everyone is down on Ferrari. Italy’s Corriere dello Sport states “It is fair to recognize that the problem is with the regulations. Renault’s Fabric Lom speaks of the “hypocrisy” of the regulations. It seems that F1 is always embroiled in controversy. Is it me, or does this year seem to have a little something extra? Stay tuned.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Alonso Accuses FIA of "Manipulation."

VALENCIA, SPAIN – The Spanish Grand Prix is being termed by some as “one of the darkest chapters of modern Formula One.” A horrific accident involving Mark Webber in the opening laps of the race was caused when Webber tapped Kovalanien’s Lotus which sent him airborne slamming him into the tire wall. By God’s grace, Webber was able to walk away from the accident unhurt, but the events following the accident has resulted in reports on the Ferrari’s official website quoting fans as saying Hamilton is a liar and a cheat, McLaren "thieves", and the FIA a "Federation of clowns". In fact, Fernando Alonso even accused the FIA officials as “manipulating” the outcome.

What has caused this virulent outcry? When the safety car came out for Webber’s accident, Lewis Hamilton running in 2nd place, overtook the safety car resulting in a pit drive-through penalty for the McLaren driver. The penalty however allowed him to stay in 2nd place. The Ferraris were running 3rd and 4th and per rules, followed the safety car around the course before a pit stop to take on hard tires. This resulted in Alonso dropping from 3rd to 10th. Ferrari maintains that Hamilton’s penalty was anything but a penalty and cost Ferrari a strong finish since the track is not amenable to overtaking. “I think it was unreal this result, and unfair this result as well,” said the Spaniard. “We had been fighting for podium. We were one meter behind Hamilton, we respect the rules, we don’t overtake under the yellow, we finish ninth and he finishes second. So that’s something to think about. It completely destroyed the race. We need to say sorry and apologize to the fans who came here, 60-70,000 people, to see this race… We need to improve for the next race, we need to be a little bit more competitive, hopefully start on pole position, and maybe avoid these problems. Silverstone will be the next chance for us to recover these positions we lost.”
Nine other drivers were handed out 2 second penalties for driving too fast behind the safety car. This was little satisfaction to Ferrari as it moved Alonso only 1 spot from 9th to 8th place.
Webber’s teammate, Sebastien Vettel need not make any apologies as he was the dominant force of the race winning from the pole position. “We had a sensational race weekend last year and we try to repeat that. One more thing. Most important of today is the fact that Mark (Webber) had quite a big shunt but he is fine. It shows that the cars get safer and safer but still there is a lot of risk. I am happy. I asked on the radio, so I am happy to hear he is all good.” At least there was one class act in Valencia.

Monday, June 14, 2010

1-2-3 For Audi and Heartbreak for Corvette Racing.

LE MANS, FRANCE – 24 hours is a long time in racing, and anything can happen at any time. The championship defending Peugeot LMP1 cars started 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th on the grid and had an amazing run that day and into the night. During an interview with Romain Dumas, the Speed commentator prophetically asked if the Peugeots could keep up their amazing speed during the whole race. Dumas replied that he did not know, but that the Audi teams just need to concentrate on running a clean race. Well, that strategy certainly paid off as the Peugeots one-by-one began to drop out of the race. First, the pole-sitting #3 car of Pedro Lamy dropped out with a suspension failure. Then, in the early morning hours, Montagny’s entry retired. With only two hours to go, Wurz’s Peugeot dropped out with an engine failure. Finally, the Oreca entered Peugeot had to drop out leaving the victory to the Audi contingent. The 3 factory Audis swept the 1, 2, and 3 spots with the Bernhard /Dumas/Rockenfeller entry claiming the top tier of the podium. The Audi set a new distance record of 3,362.19 miles. "To come here and drive for a factory team like Audi with such a long history of victories - now nine in the last 11 years - is something special to be here as a driver," Bernhard said. "I felt very strong team spirit from the beginning of the weekend. We shared every bit of information and improved the car. It was a combined team effort and we put it all together. All three cars ran perfectly." Audi has tied Ferrari for the number of manufacturer wins at Le Mans with 9 wins. Porsche claims the top spot with 16 wins.
GT2 also turned out to be a race of attrition. The favorite, Corvette Racing dominated qualifying and much of the race. The #82 Ferrari of Risi Competizione fought the Corvettes in an intense battle but dropped out in the seventh hour with a transmission issue, ending the 6-race winning streak for Ferrari. Running 1 and 2, it appeared to be clear sailing for the American team as BMW was plagued with problems and the venerable Porsche’s did not have the speed necessary to challenge the ‘vettes. But as fate would have it, a little after 7 am, the #63 C6R retired due to an apparent engine failure. "Unfortunately it appears to be an engine failure, our first in 11 years of racing at Le Mans," said Corvette Racing program manager Doug Fehan. "We'll get the car back, take it apart, determine what the problem was, resolve it, and move forward. The engine was running perfectly one minute, and then not perfectly the next. There wasn't any indication leading up to it - no loss of oil pressure, no degradation in performance. The cause could be any number of things, so we'll look into it further before reaching a conclusion."
Then, at 8:42 am, an aggressive pass by the first place Peugeot LMP1 car, Emanuel Collard hit the wall in the Porsche curves. Limping the car back to the pits, the Corvette Racing crew was able to repair the damage, including replacement of the gearbox and clutch, and return the car to the track in an amazing 31 minutes and in 6th place. Amazingly enough, Oliver Gavin turned the fastest lap of the event - even faster than his qualifying run - following the repairs. But at 9:42 am, the second C6R also had to retire due to another apparent engine failure. "The guys fixed the car brilliantly after the crash, and I was able to run my fastest lap of the race with a rebuilt car," Gavin said. "The Corvette Racing team is fantastic, and I literally trust them with my life. I'm impressed with their spirit, guts, and determination to take on everybody. We had the fastest car for 18 hours, but unfortunately it wasn't enough."The retirement of the last C6R paved the way to the podium for the Porsche entry of Felbermayr-Proton. "After two hours, we thought it would be very tough to beat the Ferrari and Corvettes today," driver Henzler said. "We couldn't go the speed, but we pushed from the beginning and treated it like a sprint race. The only thing we could have done was run our own race and stay out of trouble. Finally we had a car which was very reliable with absolutely no problems. We saw what happened to the other cars, and that's how we won the race."