Hooniverse Motorsport News For April 11th, 2016

IMG_1432 There was a lot of racing this weekend, and much of it was centered on Texas for some reason. There was a NASCAR race, some two-wheel action, Blancpain GTs, Japanese Super GTs, Brazilian stock cars, and some TransAm. Also some testing was run by DTM, IndyCar, and at least one IMSA team, two historic names in racing closed their doors this week, and some news was released regarding the 2016 endurance racing season. Lots of cool stuff happening, and some sad stuff. Just… stuff. The racing will only continue to get hotter from here, so we’ll do our best to help keep your finger on the pulse. Just be aware of the fact that this post is filled with spoilers. Giant carbon-fiber, multi-element, DRS-equipped, Gurney-flapped, Spoilers! (This normally runs on Mondays, but this week I was late because I drove to Los Angeles to attend the Porsche-centric Luftgekuhlt show. It was rad, but I was driving home until midnight, so I didn’t have time to get this done for Monday. Sorry it’s late, it’ll probably happen a couple times here and there.) NASCAR Races In Texas So too does MotoGP Brumos Closes Their Doors Blancpain GT’s Italian Job Super GT Racing Is Okay(ama) Stock Car Brazil At The Velopark Trans Am Runs To Empty Stands At Road Atlanta Bob Vandergriff NHRA Top Fuel Team Shuts Down IndyCars Test Safety Of New Aero At The Brickyard Mike Shank Tests Updated HPD ARX-04b LMP2 Car Zakspeed Running Nissan At N24 IMSA Does An AMA About 2017-spec DPi Regulations Chevy Announces Fourth Corvette C7.R To Run Le Mans DTM Test At Hockenheim Racer Investigates The Chaparral 2J & Toyota’s Pro/Celeb Race Mazda’s Yoshimi Katayama Passes Away At 75

NASCAR – Texas Motor Speedway

7763e90b56f3648b1e7f45fd029b3be9 Another week, another Kyle Busch win (and weekend sweep). After a two hour rain delay, it was actually Truex who looked in the right position to take the victory. He’d run near the front all day, and had traded the lead with polesitting Carl Edwards a few times. Edwards was dropped out of contention when a pitstop error dropped him a lap back, though he would eventually finish 7th due to a (dumb) lucky-dog free-pass. Martin Truex decided to stay out on the final caution, and Kyle took four new stickers. At the restart, Busch managed to motor his way to the front with an unlikely outside move on Truex. With this win (the 36th of his career), Busch has already guaranteed himself a position in the season ending so-called “Chase”. Mr. Banana/Mayonnaise, Dale Jr. finished in 2nd, and Joey Logano managed 3rd. Chase Elliot, meanwhile, was disappointed by a career-best 5th place finish.


08-hector-barbera-esp-41-aleix-espargaro-esp_gp_9974.gallery_full_top_fullscreen Four in a row for Honda’s Marc Marquez with his most recent victory at Texas’ Circuit Of The Americas track this weekend. Lorenzo led into turn one with a great start, but ran wide. Marquez and Rossi both passed him and battled for the top spot, nearly having a coming-together at turn 2. Marquez moved into the lead, and Lorenzo pushed past Rossi for second. Jorge made an attempt at the lead in Turn 11, but ran wide again and had to settle in for second. Dovizioso pushed past the trio on the start/finish straight at the start of lap 2, but Marquez made back the lead in turn 1. Rossi struggled with clutch issues, and eventually crashed out. On lap 5, Lorenzo re-made second place, but was already over 2 seconds down to the lead, and that was that.

Blancpain GT – Misano

Thing 1 – Mirko Bortolotti talks you through a lap of Misano. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d7Wb9wjMhwI Race 1 – “Qualifying Race” Bentley Team M-Sport took the victory in race 1 thanks to a late race yellow flag and a tire gamble that paid off. In mixed conditions, the Bentley started the race on slicks while most of the rest of the grid was on rain tires. At the start of the race, the slicks struggled to find grip, and they lost position. As the dry line formed, they started to make up ground, however. During the first yellow flag period to clean up debris, they were able to leapfrog the entire field, and found themselves with a significant lead. Bentley’s Andy Soucek and Maxime Soulet won race one. ROWE Racing’s BMW M6 GT3 finished second with Philipp Eng and Alexander Sims on board. The podium was rounded out by the Audi WRT R8 LMS of Laurens Vanthoor and Frederic Vervisch. Here are the highlights. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GJd4OJ7RK3Y Race 2 – “Main” Making good on their poor tire stop in race one, the WRT Audi team took the victory in Sunday’s main race. The Bentley lost the lead at the start as Philip Eng went streaking past in his BMW, and the Audi crew starting third were hot on their tail. After losing the lead, that Bentley was spun by Dries Vanthoor (Laurens’ brother) in a different WRT Audi (CONSPIRACY!!!!!!). Vervisch muscled his way by the leading BMW after 15 minutes of fighting. From there it was just keeping things in order and waiting for the finish for the Audi team. They would go on to win by a margin of 1.6 seconds over the HTP-run Mercedes AMG GT. Vervisch had this to say of the Main race:

“Philipp Eng did a good job with a car that was a bit less good as ours. I could overtake him in a safe manner and then everything fell into place with a great pitstop. We were not the quickest today, but we managed to put it together and P1 is what counts.”


Super GT – Okayama

Tsugio Matsuda and Ronnie Quintarelli have won the opening round of Super GT in Japan driving their NISMO GT-R. The back-to-back championship victors have started their bid for a third season championship in fine fashion. Quintarelli qualified third, and after settling into a rhythm for a while, mounted a charge through traffic to mount a pass on second place. At lap 20, the gap was 3 tenths of a second, and it took 8 further laps for Ronnie to make the pass into second position with a perfect setup at the hairpin. Ronnie closed the gap to the leading Lexus and took over the lead when they pitted. After clicking off a few quick laps, Quintarelli pitted to hand over to Matsuda. With quick work on the stop, Matsuda returned the GT-R to the course still in the lead. From there, he was unchallenged to the flag, taking the victory in resounding fashion. The Lexus team finished second (James Rossiter and Ryo Hirakawa), and another GT-R finished in third (Katsumasa Chiyo and Satoshi Motoyama). Here are the highlights. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nSytAo-81cA

Stock Car Brazil – Velopark

Stock Car Brazil Race 1 – Cacá Bueno started from pole in the 44 lap event, and was only overtaken for a short period (by his teammate) before recovering the lead and finishing with the victory. Daniel Serra finished second, completing the Red Bull Chevrolet 1-2. Marcos Gomes finished in third. Race 2 – With a 10 place grid inversion, race two was a 22 lap sprint to the finish. Diego Nunes kept the lead from the start, and was closely followed by a gaggle of cars. While he was challenged closely by Valdeno Brito, Nunes managed to hold his lead all the way to the checkers in his União Química Peugeot. Brito finished in second, followed by Átila Abreu. Daniel Serra followed up his race one 2nd position with a 6th in race two, netting him the points lead at the end of the weekend.

Trans Am Runs – Road Atlanta

Clark TA RdATL P1 PR-2 In a move that really surprised nobody, Amy Ruman won her third career Road Atlanta Trans Am victory in a flag-to-flag run that shows she is serious about winning the title again this year. It was a great race for her, but sadly nobody was in the stands to see it. Hey ho, that’s the way life goes. Ruman had this to say:

“My dad just has the setup dialed in here at Road Atlanta. We were fast right off the trailer this weekend, led every session, and last year we had a dominant race as well. I don’t really know, I just like this track and we have the setup working – we changed a few things but it was for the better. We laid down a really good lap at the end of the race, a 1:21.744, so I was pretty happy about that. The McNichols 23 today was on fire. I’m glad that we’ve rebounded like we have from Sebring – we should have had that win; I just made an error and that happens sometimes. Hopefully that’s done and over-with, and we’ll move on with more wins and get the ball rolling from here. The season is so long and so much can happen. We had a nice lead last year, and it dwindled away midseason. I’m just taking each race one at a time. If we have a bad race, we’ll move on from it; if we have a good one, we’re just going to try and continue the momentum and persevere. We’re chasing our second championship, and I’m here to defend that title – hopefully we’ll wrap that up and do it again this year.”

With the win, Ruman moves into the lead of the 2016 season championship points standings.

Brumos Dealer Closes Down/Changes Ownership

Lead photo shows Andrew Davis and Leh Keen winning their Grand Am GT championship for the team at Mid Ohio in 2011. SportsCar365 has a discussion with legendary driver Hurley Haywood about the team, their legacy, and his role in it.

Bob Vandergriff NHRA Top Fuel Team Closes Doors

nhra-dallas-2015-dave-connolly Having been a part of NHRA since 1994, Vandergriff is calling it quits this week, thanks to a strange set of circumstances. BVR was joined by Leah Pritchett this year, bringing sponsorship from Quaker State, Gumout, and FireAde to join C&J Energy Services, the primary sponsor of the team. C&J suffered the loss of Josh Comstock (CEO and chairman) who died recently and unexpectedly. The subsequent tanking of the company’s stock, coupled with the low price of crude, have forced their hand as sponsorship is concerned.

IndyCar Safety Test – Indianapolis Motor Speedway

phpThumb_generated_thumbnailjpg Andretti Autosport recorded the two top times of the test at Indy with Marco Andretti at 223.427 mph and Ryan Hunter-Reay at 222.047. The team contends, however, that the Chevrolet powered teams were intentionally running a far sight from their potential speeds (AKA Sandbagging). Andretti to Racer.com: “The level of frustration is unbelievable. We have Chevy sandbagging; they’re out there doing 216s, everybody sees it, and they’re complaining how fast I am. A 223 is slow on opening day in May. They’re going to have to do better than that. They tried to say we were equal to them, and we’re not.” Last year, speeds entering the month of May were well above 225 mph, so take from this what you will.

Mike Shank/HPD ARX-04b Test – Sebring 

In 2015, the ARX-04b lacked a whole lot of luster. The car showed up at Daytona and with less-than-great aero was immediately much slower than it had any right to be. Further issues, believed to be engine cooling issues, caused the ESM Patron team’s Honda turbo engine to pop. ESM abandoned the car and reverted to the previous ARX-03b chassis for Sebring. Over the course of the last year, the ARX-04b was hauled out to Pikes Peak for the hillclimb, but was pulled from the event with reliability concerns. Since then, HPD has been working to develop the car into a proper racer, has made the car lighter, and has modified the aero (including fitting 03b-spec sidepods). Last weekend, HPD and MSR ran the car in a test session at Sebring. Michael Shank to Racer.com:

“We got a lot done and the car is significantly better. And remember we were here just two weeks ago for the 12 Hours, so we got a good feel for the car in good conditions like we had before all the rain in the race. It’s a lot closer than it was last year and the gains they came up with were pretty significant. A lot of people worked really hard to get it where it is. They got the weight way down. It’s right where it is supposed to be. We have plenty of room to move the weight around to put it where we want. The aero balance is much better. It’s not very far off our Ligier. I can’t go into lap times, but I can say we were pleased. We had no expectations with the car going in, and Sebring is a tough track to make a car work, so when you can, you’re doing something. It’s all positives that we’re taking out of here, and we just ran it and ran it and had no issues. Everyone at Honda was happy, Ozz was happy, and that’s no B.S.”

Honda has not yet given an indication of what the future holds for the 04b, but the car will now reside at the MSR shop in Ohio awaiting further instruction. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ievzNK_0_g Video courtesy Lanky Turtle on YouTube.

DTM Test – Hockenheim

At the pre-season DTM test at the Hockenheimring, Audi drivers ran the top three fastest timed laps of the three-day event. Mike Rockenfeller – Audi – 1:33.197 Edoardo Mortara – Audi – 1:33.222 Mattias Ekstrom – Audi – 1:33.401 Robert Wickens – Mercedes – 1:33.458

Zakspeed Moves To Nissan For Nurburgring 24 Hour

Zakspeed-Nissan-GT-R-NISMO-GT3-1 Zakspeed has won the event three times. The Nissan GT-R GT3 is a tough competitor, and the GT-R already has a great history at the Nurburgring. Zakspeed team principal Peter Zakowski on the deal:

“We are delighted about the partnership with Nissan Germany and are looking forward to this new exciting challenge. The Nordschleife is not like any other track in the world and the Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 is equally something special. We have been working on this project for a long time and therefore we are very pleased about it.”

IMSA Answers Questions About 2017-Spec Prototype Rulebook

This is a thing you should read. http://www.dailysportscar.com/2016/04/08/imsa-releases-dpi-qa.html

Fourth Corvette C7.R At Run Le Mans

Chevrolet has two GTE Pro Corvettes lined up for Le Mans, as usual. There is a full-season GTE Am class WEC entry for Larbre Competition using a 2015 spec C7.R. Team AAI, who were previously on the wait-list, but have made the big show, were scheduled to bring an old-spec C6.R. Chevy have graciously provided them with a 2015 C7.R for the LM weekend. Here’s hoping it goes well for them. Rumor has it that the AAI car is the very same car that won the race in GTE Pro last year.

Racer Investigates The Chaparral 2J & Toyota’s Pro/Celeb Race

These are things you need to read. This is a retrospective on the Chaparral 2J Sucker Car. And this is a look back on the last 40 years of Pro/Celebrity racing at Long Beach.

Mazda’s Yoshimi Katayama Passes Away At 75

Katayama was a grand prix motorcycle racer who later became an integral part of Mazda’s motorsport programs. As a driver he mainly raced in Japan,  though he did have success at Le Mans with a pair of class victories, and further two class victories at Daytona as well, giving him four 24 hour victories in 7 years. Many of his racing victories helped prove the Mazda Rotary was an excellent racing engine, as he often had spinning magic triangles in his engine bay. John Doonan of Mazda Motorsports had this to say:

My father told me at a young age that we always need to remember those who have come before us…those who laid the groundwork for what we are able to do today.  It is with that in mind that all of us at Mazda Motorsports celebrate the life and contributions of Yoshimi Katayama in his recent passing.  Katayama-san served as a key factory driver for Mazda as we continued to challenge ourselves in the journey to victory at Le Mans.  It is with that same challenger spirit that all of us in the Mazda Motorsports family and all of the young talented drivers we have in the Mazda Road to 24 and the Mazda Road to Indy need to continue to push the limits to show the value of the Mazda brand and learn on the race track help make all current and future Mazdas the best driving cars that they are.

GMG Racing selling their Audi R8 LMS Ultra on eBay

s-l1600 You can buy it here for just a couple hundred grand. From the ad:

The No. 14 Audi was the first-ever R8 to take victory in Pirelli World Challenge competition. Upgraded to the latest 2015 FIA GT3 specifications, the car is perfect for both Pro Racing and Club Racing, as well as for the historical collector. CAR FEATURES: -Sequential, six-speed paddle shift racing gearbox -Rear wheel drive -Centrally mounted engine -570hp V10 -2,750lbs -Full GT3 bdywork/downforce package -Full electronic aid package with Traction Control and ABS -Brembo Brakes -Massive Spares package available as well for an extra cost, value over $200K No. 14 Specifics: -First R8 to win in Pirelli World Challenge competition -Victories at the Grand Prix of Long Beach, Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, Circuit of the Americas -Seven Podiums -Championship Runner-Up, GT Category -Perfectly maintained; all records available This car is very easy to drive and would be the perfect track car for someone looking for a complete package vs upgrading their street R8 for the track. This car not only safe but very strong and durable. Available Roll out Test and shakedown option for new owner of car at the Thermal Club in Southern CA.

2017 Volkswagen Polo WRC Sketch Released

160406_PoloWRC_PressSketch_blue_redbull Here’s what VW says about the new-era car.

About 50 millimetres wider, 25 kilograms lighter, and roughly 380 hp/280 kW powerful — that is the key data for the 2017 rally Polo. The increase in performance of about 60 hp/45 kW is achieved by widening the air restrictor from 33 millimetres, as it is at present, to 36 millimetres. Furthermore, electronic centre differential can now be used for the power transmission. The most visually striking changes are the larger rear wing and broader front spoiler. The minimum length of the car is now 3,900 millimetres, whilst the minimum weight is reduced from 1,200 to 1,175 kilograms. Although the new technical components have already been applied in numerous tests, the appearance of the Polo R WRC will still change significantly by the start of the season at the Rally Monte Carlo in January 2017. Whilst the final phase of development of the Polo R WRC is already underway, Volkswagen currently tops the standings in all of the classifications in this year’s world championship, having won the first three rallies of the season.


In other news, Combos are still the official ‘Cheese Filled Snack of NASCAR’.
[Sources and Photos from DailySportsCar.com, SportsCar365.com, Racer.com, Motorsport.com, and RoadAndTrack.com]

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