Greaves Rules Out Rolex 24; Optimistic about LMP2 Future

Photo: Peter May

By: Kobe Lambeth

After months of evaluation, European Le Mans Series regular, Greaves Motorsport will not take part in the 2017 Rolex 24 at Daytona in January, which is the season opener of the IMSA WeatherTech Sportscar Championship. The team had been considering a potential LMP2 or Daytona Prototype International (DPi) program for the twice around the clock American endurance classic.

Although the British team will not be racing on the high banks of Daytona International Speedway to kick off their 2017 program, team principal Jacob Greaves is looking forward to the new year with a possible move to the FIA World Endurance Championship on the horizon.

“Daytona will be too early for us in 2017 but don’t rule it out for 2018,” Greaves told Daily NASCAR Scoop and More. “We are in discussions for the FIA WEC in 2017 and we would love to race back in the WEC next season.

“For the Asian LMS and IMSA again we would love to race there and I think with the new cars it gives you a level playing field again to go and compete in some IMSA races. We’ve very much enjoyed racing in the States both with IMSA and the FIA WEC.

The new 2017 LMP2 regulations will consist of four constructors (Onroak, Oreca, Dallara, Riley/Multimatic) and a spec Gibson engine. Greaves confirmed that the team has not decided on a 2017-spec LMP2 car, but there are discussions in place.

“I think the new rules from the car and engine package look good, it will make the gap between LMP2 and GTE bigger which I think will make for easier overtaking especially for the gentlemen drivers,” said Greaves. “The uptake on the new cars sounds very promising as well so it will be good to see who is on the grid for next season.

“LMP2 was good in 2016 and the previous couple of years, good grids, and very competitive racing. It has been effectively 4 chassis manufacturers but with 2 engine options so from that side of things, it doesn’t change much. I think it’s good just to stop someone coming in with a car to beat everyone when other cars are tied into a homologation process, everyone now starts at the same time and can make changes at the same time so it should be fairer going forward.”

FIA Driver Ratings will also be a hot topic for another year after much controversy of the “sneaky silvers.”

“I think it is the impossible fix,” said Greaves. “You need young drivers with less experience to come in as a Silver to give them value and the chance to get that experience.

“Some of them will come in and be very quick and do a great job. At the same time, you have some great gentlemen racers that run businesses etc… and this will put them off. The only way to try and make things fair could be in season BOP.”

Greaves Motorsport operated two Ligier JS P2’s (One with Krohn Racing) during the 2016 European Le Mans Series season.

“It was a different year for us and a new experience running 2 Ligier Chassis, 2 new cars for the team to learn and develop, but the cars were good out of the box and with the support from Onroak the cars were topping the time sheets during official testing,” said Greaves. “Working with Tracy and the Krohn Racing team was great and was a pleasure to work with them all season, the effort and the performance put in by all the guys were great, it was just some hard luck that denied the results that the car and team deserved.

Greaves Motorsport finished 6th (Krohn Racing) and 7th respectfully in the 2016 European Le Mans Series LMP2 standings.

 

 

Krohn Racing Satisfied with Silverstone Result

Photo: Krohn Racing

By: Kobe Lambeth

The No. 38 Jota Sport/G-Drive Racing Gibson 015S-Nissan driven by ex-Formula One driver, Giedo van der Garde, Harry Tincknell, and Simon Dolan claimed overall honors in the European Le Mans Series season opener at historic Silverstone. Although this trio won the Four Hours of Silverstone in dominating fashion, Krohn Racing had plenty to smile about after finishing 4th overall.

Last season, Krohn Racing used Judd power, but switched to Nissan over the offseason as series veterans, Greave Motorsport, has taken over their program. Krohn Racing team owner, Tracey Krohn, had positive words about the first race of the season.

“A great day at Silverstone, our goal was to finish in the top five and we achieved through speed and a great fuel strategy,” said Krohn.

“The engine stumbled at the last corner, so we didn’t waste any, it was very close. The team did a great job, everything went off very well and we are very pleased with how today went. I made one little mistake in my stint, that might have cost a place but otherwise I was very pleased for our first race of the year here at Silverstone and I am looking forward to Imola.”

The tall, Texan gentleman driver drove flawlessly throughout the entire race and gave his co-drivers an opportunity to capitilize on great stints. His longtime co-driver, Nic Jonsson, was also pleased with the finish considering the depth of this year’s LMP2 field.

“A great result for us, especially considering the weather conditions this weekend, a fourth place is a fantastic result for Krohn Racing,” said Jonsson.

“The team has done a phenomenal job, choosing the right tires at the right time and the fuel strategy that we had secured us this result, Lee, our engineer, should get credit for that. Tracy did a great job in his stint after Björn got the car up into the top three both deserve credit. It is a great start to the season and now we must keep the momentum going.”

Bjorn Wirdheim, last year’s LMP2 driver’s champion with Greaves Motorsports, joined Krohn Racing this weekend and provided veteran leadership, which helped the team reach 4th place overall.

“It was a really, really great day, it was a great result for Krohn Racing to finish fourth today,” said Wirdheim.

“A really great performance from the whole team, especially Tracy and Nic. It has been a fun weekend but really tricky because my time in the car before the race was limited. It was only in the first stint that I became comfortable with that and able to push. I had a good start, even though it was a bit chaotic but I was able to take advantage of that. The car was set up really well and the Michelin Tires were fantastic and this helped me advance through the field. We stayed out of trouble and scored some really good points and it has been a great experience being part of the Krohn Racing team.”

The next round of the European Le Mans Series takes place on May 15th with the Four Hours of Imola. Will Krohn Racing ride the momentumn from Silverstone and make it onto the podium? Tune in, next time to find out who will claim top honors in LMP2!

Greaves Looking to Defend Title; Rojas Ready to Tackle Europe

Photo: John Brooks

By: Kobe Lambeth

As the season opener of the 2016 European Le Mans Series approaches, defending champions, Greaves Motorsport, is ready to take on Silverstone.

The opening round of the championship starts with the 4 Hours of Silverstone on April 16th as many LMP2, LMP3, and GTE machinery battle for glory at the historic circuit. The competition this season will be fierce and intense, so minimum mistakes will be the difference between 1st and 2nd place in the championship.

If Greaves Motorsport wants to be victorious once again, they must be flawless and hold off fantastic competition in the LMP2 class this season. Team principal, Jacob Greaves, is very optimistic about their chances in the European Le Mans Series.

“We are defending European Le Mans Series Champions and are keen to retain our titles, so we go into the season expecting to do so, that is natural,” said Greaves.

“However it is clear that the opposition from last year, Jota Sport (now G-Drive), Thiriet by TDS Racing, and the other teams in LMP2 will be very strong and looking to claim our crown, to beat them we will have to be at the top of our game.”

The pre-season test at the Paul Ricard Circuit certainly gave the team plenty of confidence heading into the 2016 season.

“We went to Le Castellet with a program of areas to test and evaluate, the Ligier JS P2 chassis is new to us even if the Nissan power and Dunlop tires are not,” said Greaves.

“Aside from a few minor issues, the test went to plan and we have data that will give us a good basis for racing. The three drivers really gelled as a team and they were also able to develop a good relationship with the crew, and, perhaps most importantly, they were fast. This leads us to believe that we will be competitive but there will be no easy races.”

It appears that it will be another competitive season for Greaves Motorsport in the European Le Mans Series. Although they have had much success in Europe, could the team be on the move to America with IMSA’s intriguing new Daytona Prototype International (DPi) formula set to debut next season to replace the current Daytona Prototypes and open-cockpit LMP2 cars? Current LMP2 coupes will be grandfathered one year, but it is unknown if they will be competitive against the DPi and ACO-spec cars.

Team principal, Jacob Greaves, had plenty to say about IMSA’s plans for the future of American prototype racing.

“It is difficult to say without seeing the new regulations in detail and they have not been available till just recently. However, we certainly feel that the direction that IMSA and the WeatherTech series is taking is one that will satisfy needs of manufacturers and professional teams in creating a platform for racing that is credible in marketing and financial terms. We also believe that the regulations will generate close competition on these fantastic tracks, that should keep the fans happy, it is a very promising prospect.”

With the exciting prospect of choosing from the four LMP2 constructors, having the opportunity to join forces with a manufacturer, and designing custom bodywork, DPi has the potential to take off in many years to come.

Along with staying in the European Le Mans Series for the immediate future, could we see Greaves Motorsport move to the IMSA WeatherTech Sportscar Championship for the full season or a program based around the NAEC rounds?

“It is no secret that we are examining the possibility of adding a North American element to our 2017 season, that much has been reported in the media already,” responded Greaves.

“We would seek to retain our activity in Europe that has been the foundation of the team’s successes to date and build on this in the IMSA series which, as I have already said, is an attractive platform. The program would be based on the aims of our partners and that might be just confined to the NAEC or a full season, it is too early to speculate further.”

How cool would it be for a European team like Greaves Motorsport to join the competitive IMSA WeatherTech Sportscar Championship next season? Hopefully, everything will come together, so many sportscar fans will have the opportunity to watch them race on American soil.

2016ELMSRicardTest_jb_0160

Photo: John Brooks

Long-time IMSA driver, Memo Rojas, will lead the charge for Greaves Motorsport in 2016. After spending time in America, Rojas will make the transition to Europe. Although he might be racing in a different series, Jacob Greaves had many positive things to say about Rojas.

“Memo has a fantastic track record in North America as a multiple champion and a winner at the classic endurance events at Daytona and Sebring, this does not happen by accident,” said Greaves.

“So, we have a champion in the car and he is seeking fresh challenges in Europe and, most importantly, I would suggest, at the Le Mans 24 Hours. We have to respond accordingly and give Memo the car, and the opportunity, to be as successful his side of the Atlantic as he has been before. We also have to do this for his team-mates as well, they also have racing records that command respect including victories and titles. Endurance racing is a team sport and we all have to perform to best of our abilities to succeed, it is part of the challenge.”

Rojas spent the majority of his sportscar racing career driving Chip Ganassi Racing’s Daytona Prototype, and the Deltawing last season in the IMSA WeatherTech Sportscar Championship. It appears that Rojas is definitely ready for the challenge driving an LMP2 car on European circuits.

Rojas said, “It’s a big change, the European racing culture is very different than the American racing culture, but I really like it!” 

“The biggest challenge will be adapting to the new circuits, but I’m happy to be a driver for one of the best teams which will definitely make the transition easier.”

According to Rojas, an LMP2 car is different compared to previous prototypes that he has driven.

“The Ligier JS P2 is very different from the Daytona Prototypes I had been driving in America,” said Rojas.

“First of all, the car is a full carbon monocoque and it has state of the art technology. The Daytona Prototype had a technology a bit older and was heavier. Both cars are really fun to drive, they are just different.”

Along with running the full European Le Mans Series season with Greaves Motorsport, Rojas will join the team for the 24 Hours of Le Mans this summer. He has very high expectations when it is time for the twice around the clock French endurance classic.

“My goal is to win! I know it will be tough and there are many good teams and drivers but we’ll certainly do our best to achieve that goal.”

Rojas has the talent and Greaves Motorsport has the experience at Le Mans to make those goals a reality when June zooms around the corner!

It was previously mentioned, Greaves Motorsport could join the IMSA WeatherTech Sportscar Championship next season with a DPi program. With the experience of Rojas in America, could he be the lead driver if the European squad decides to take their talents across the pond?

“That would be something for me to consider, although it’s still too early to know,” said Rojas.

Life is good if your name is Memo Rojas.

JOTA Sport signs ex-F1 driver for ELMS season

Photo: http://www.autosport.com

By: Kobe Lambeth

JOTA Sport has confirmed that ex-Formula One driver, Giedo van der Garde, will run for the LMP2 championship in the European Le Mans Series. He previously drove for the Caterham F1 Team in 2013 and has been searching for a “quality” ride since his departure from Formula One.

I am excited to watch Giedo in his LMP2 debut because I know he is a very talented driver. He did not get to showcase his talents in Formula One as he drove for a backmarker team. However, he will definitely show the sportscar racing world how good he can be!

Giedo van der Garde will drive alongside JOTA Sport regular, Simon Dolan and a third driver (not announced yet). Giedo will also make his debut in this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans. It is always wonderful to see drivers with Formula One experience fly down the Mulsanne Straight.

The ex-F1 driver said, “To make my debut with JOTA Sport this season is a very good start to the year. I’ll do my utmost to be successful for JOTA during ELMS, but also in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, one of the biggest events in racing. It is a huge challenge, but a dream come true. I can’t wait to go flat out.”

I predict that Giedo is going to have a special season in Europe, although it is his first year with LMP2 machinery. How do you think Giedo will do in his debut season in the European Le Mans Series?

Simon Dolan said, “I am very much looking forward to sharing a car with Giedo this season. He has a very strong pedigree in racing and I am sure he will be a great asset to the team. From what I have heard he has already made a good impression at the workshop and it is evident he is hungry to forge a good career in endurance racing. 2016 is a big year for JOTA Sport with an expanded program, so there is a lot of hard work to come, but also a lot to look forward to. We cannot wait to get started.”

This is going to be a strong lineup and I cannot wait to who they pick as their third driver for this season of the European Le Mans Series. It was previously announced that JOTA Sport will also field an Oreca 05 Nissan in the FIA World Endurance Championship. I believe running two different cars in separate series is going to be beneficial when the new LMP2 rules arrive in 2017. Oreca is one the four LMP2 constructors and the cars are going to be powered by a spec-Gibson engine. Very smart thinking for JOTA Sport to run an Oreca chassis in the FIA World Endurance Championship and the continuation of using the Gibson engine in the European Le Mans Series. I believe that they will be ready for 2017!

For more information on this topic, go to: http://www.jotagroup.com

Mike Guasch moves to ELMS in 2016

Photo: http://www.vapementors.com

By: Kobe Lambeth

United Autosports announced that LMPC veteran, Mike Guasch, will join the team in 2016, alongside Alex Brundle driving a Ligier JS P3.

Guasch will move to the European Le Mans Series after a successful 2015 season in the IMSA WeatherTech Sportscar Championship. He was able to win the North American Endurance Cup in the Prototype Challenge class. Securing victories in the Rolex 24, 12 Hours of Sebring, Lime Rock, and the Petit Le Mans, Guasch had a very successful season.

He is also an LMPC champion from the former American Le Mans Series. Moving to the LMP3 class is very smart for Guasch to do. There has been a lot of concern towards the future of the Prototype Challenge class in the IMSA WeatherTech Sportscar Championship. Driving LMP3 machinery for a full season is a great idea for the LMPC veteran to see if it could potentially make its way to America. However, I do not know if Guasch will return to IMSA in the immediate future.

Mike Guasch said, “I am thrilled to come back to United Autosports with Richard Dean and Zak Brown. I spent two great years racing in Europe with them in 2010 and 2011 in the Audi R8 LMS. I moved back to the States to drive prototypes and found that endurance racing in those types of cars suits my driving style very well. I am excited to drive the Ligier JS P3 car because it is the new, modern version of the LMPC car that I have been driving for the last few years. I can’t wait to get back to racing in Europe, working with my old team, friends, teammates and Alex Brundle, my new co-driver. I’ll be pushing hard to win the ELMS title for United.”

I am excited to see Mike Guasch race in the European Le Mans Series this season. He is one of the best amateur drivers in the world and LMP3 is a growing category. It is always a nice sight to see Americans race in Europe. Guasch has a great co-driver, Alex Brundle, who is returning from an illness that kept him out of action for most of 2015. I predict that Brundle is going to have a monster comeback as he, Guasch, and an unnamed driver will go for the LMP3 title. If this team has a great season, then they could potentially get an LMP2 invite to Le Mans in 2017. The team is currently searching for a bronze rated driver to complete their lineup. It will be exciting to see United Autosports compete in the LMP3 category this season.

For more information on this topic, go to: http://www.united-autosports.com

#ThrowbackThursday

Photo: http://www.sportscarglobal.com

By: Kobe Lambeth

On March 1, 2015, I submitted a letter to IMSA and the ACO regarding the 2017 LMP2 regulations. Most race fans were not pleased with the new rules and neither was I. After lots of research on the regulations, I wrote a lengthy letter to IMSA and the ACO. Below, you will find the letter I submitted to the two organizations.

Dear Mr. Pierre Fillon and Mr. Jim France,

Hello, my name is Kobe and I am a major fan of sportscar racing. I understand that you two are extremely busy men who have a lot to deal with in your respectable series. There is one concern I have about the future of sportscar racing worldwide. Before getting down to business, I want to say that I admire everything that the ACO and IMSA does to provide terrific racing for the fans to enjoy. On the ACO side of things, a new championship was created in 2012 called the FIA World Endurance Championship. Many people were skeptical on whether or not this series would survive when Peugeot withdrew, and Audi was the only manufacturer who began as the season’s only “factory team.” Later on that season, Toyota showed up at Le Mans, then Porsche debuted in 2014, now we have Nissan coming to Le Mans this year with a revolutionary prototype. The ACO has truly did magnificent job with creating an amazing championship with top level racing on a worldwide stage. Along with the FIA World Endurance Championship , it was a great decision for the ACO to sanction the European Le Mans Series. They used to have low car counts and struggled to fill the grid, but now the series is really exciting to watch. The LMP2 class is very exciting and diverse, and the GT classes are also competitive! Adding LMP3 to the mix this year will definitely help increase car counts and bring more exciting racing. In my opinion, I firmly believe that the future of the FIA World Endurance Championship and the European Le Mans Series will definitely be a bright one. I applaud the ACO’s decision to take over management in the struggling Asian Le Mans Series. It has been painful to watch this series produce an average of eight cars on the grid in 2014. Two LMP2 prototypes and the rest of the field being filled with GT cars is not going to last long in this society. The introduction of LMP3 is a step in the right direction, because we may see more cars on the grid, due to the lower cost of buying this certain prototype compared to an LMP2 car. I have faith that this series with thrive in many years to come, because the ACO is one of the best racing organizations in the world. IMSA has also did an amazing job with the Tudor United Sportscar Championship. I remember the day when the news broke about the Grand-am Rolex Sportscar Series and the American Le Mans Series merger. It is definitely the best thing that has happened to sportscar racing in the United States. I know that it has not been an easy job merging two different organizations together into one big happy family. Like most new championships, 2014 was a very challenging year for IMSA. Troubles with Balance of Performance in the Prototype Class caused a lot of trouble between the LMP2 cars and Daytona Prototypes. However, the IMSA tech team did not give up and the cars are closer than ever. IMSA definitely has a bright future, due to so many improvements that you have made since the 2014 Rolex 24 at Daytona. Speaking of the future, I have some concerns about the proposed 2017 LMP2 Regulations.

The news about the new regulations for LMP2 was recently made public and I was completely shocked. The first thing that caught my eye is that the ACO is proposing LMP2 to have a single engine supplier for teams running in the FIA World Endurance Championship, European Le Mans Series, and the Asian Le Mans Series. My first thoughts is LMP2 going to be the faster version of an LMP3 car or is this another version of LMPC? There is nothing wrong with having a spec engine supplier as LMPC has been successful with their open cockpit Chevrolet powered Oreca prototypes. I also agree that this is a great way for teams to save money, but is it really worth the risk of losing the different variation of technology? I understand that this would make the Balance of Performance process much easier, but I do think having multiple engines is the best way to produce wonderful racing for years to come. IMSA’s approach to this situation of welcoming multiple types of engines is a great way to keep the diversity in LMP2. I understand that IMSA teams wanting to run the 24 Hours of Le Mans will be allowed to race, but they will be balanced with the ACO’s LMP2 cars. The only thing that does not make any sense is that Le Mans is the only race where they would be allowed to run. For example, an current IMSA LMP2 team Michael Shank Racing has a Ligier JS P2, and he has expressed interest in racing around the world in the future. In 2017, Shank and other LMP2 teams in the Tudor United Sportscar Championship may want to race in a few races overseas, but that will only happen if they have a proposed ACO spec car. My dream for LMP2 is to have a car that you can take from the United States and race in overseas in ACO sanctioned championships and vice versa. It is extremely hard to understand why IMSA cars would not be allowed to compete in various races in the foreign championships. If the ACO is willing to balance the different engines at Le Mans, then they can balance the cars at high downforce circuits. If both organizations agree on that, then everyone will be happy.

Another concern I have involves plans to limit LMP2 chassis constructors to four, in another effort to reduce costs of the prototype. Although I believe that it is a brilliant way to reduce costs, but there is a chance that it is going to cause the LMP2 class to suffer in the ACO sanctioned series. On the bright side, it was very nice for the ACO to promise to have at least one chassis being North American based. Riley and Coyote currently have Daytona Prototypes, but they are considering building an LMP2 for 2017. This is a good way for the ACO to build a good relationship with American constructors, but there are other constructors that we have in LMP2 today that will possibly end their programs, due to the proposed regulations. With only four constructors, Balance of Performance will not be a headache, but I believe it should be done if the ACO and IMSA both want sportscar racing to succeed worldwide. I understand that LMP1 is all about technology, but we have seen technology grow in LMP2 over the years. Multimatic, Onroak Automotive, Gibson Technology, Dome, SMP, Honda, and Oreca are current constructors with LMP2 cars. Do you really want to destroy many years of hard work that made this class thrive? Limiting choices in 2017 could turn this class into a repeat of the FIA World Endurance Championship in 2014 or the final season of the American Le Mans Series. In 2014, there was only four full-time entrants in the LMP2 in a “global” championship. This is what the series may look like in 2017 if the ACO and IMSA are not willing to find a common solution to keep this class running strong for years to come. I remember the final season of watching the American Le Mans Series, and seeing Level 5 Motorsports and Extreme Speed Motorsports fighting for the P2 championship. Four cars is not really exciting from a fan’s point of view, but I am hopeful that the future of the LMP2 class will be fun for lots of people to watch. My dream is for the ACO to change their minds and follow IMSA’s lead by allowing multiple constructors to race. This is a great way for the relationship between IMSA and the ACO to grow by sharing common ideas.

I understand that the new car will be eligible for four years, but a new constructor will not be allowed to enter during this time period. Why would you want to limit new cars wanting to race? The ACO should welcome anyone wanting to be a part of their wonderful series. There are many LMP2 drivers out there hoping to get a ride in LMP1 someday. Allowing some manufacturer involvement in LMP2 will help those drivers get a feel of what a “ real factory ride” will be feel like. This would help make the transition from the division of prototypes much easier. With the current regulations, I believe that the cars race well, and they safe enough to protect the drivers in case of an massive accident. In 2017, it would be wonderful to see the continuation of the safety requirements, using an LMP1 tub, along with more safety updates to the cars. I praise the ACO and IMSA both for making these fast cars safe enough for the drivers to race their hearts out. Another concern I have is about only gasoline powered cars being eligible for LMP2 which has been a rule for many years. How come the ACO does not want to deal with a diesel powered prototype? I understand that Balance of Performance is the main reason for that, but I firmly believe that there is a future for diesel in LMP2. In the past, I have heard members of the ACO stating that balancing gasoline with diesel would be a complete nightmare, but look what IMSA did with the Daytona Prototypes and the LMP2 cars. Many people thought it would be impossible to balance two different kind of prototypes, but the lap times and racing is closer than ever today. The balance is terrific, because IMSA worked extremely hard and never gave up. I believe that the ACO has the ability to balance gasoline and diesel powered cars, because they have an amazing tech team. If the ACO believes that balancing diesel is too difficult, then they should collaborate with IMSA and work together on it. Speedsource, which is a “factory team” in the Tudor United Sportscar Championship has expressed running the 24 Hours of Le Mans in the future with their Mazda Skyactiv-Diesel prototypes. It is quite a shame that they will not be allowed to compete in the LMP2 class due to the diesel ban, and no “factory car” rule. If the ACO does not want works supported teams to race full-time in their series, then at least allow them for the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Doing that would give “factory teams” such as Speedsource a chance to run the biggest race in the world.

My next concern is about manufacturer bodywork that is currently seen on the Daytona Prototypes and the Alpine LMP2 car. As we all know, the life of the Daytona Prototypes is going to end soon, so those teams will be looking for a car to continue running in their respectable championship. Both Coyote and Riley have expressed interest in building an LMP2 car with manufacturer bodywork that is similar to the current Daytona Prototypes. However, it is against ACO policy as this type of bodywork is only allowed in LMP1. I do not understand why there is such a problem with building a car using the carbon fiber LMP1 tub and throwing on a Corvette style of body on it. It would be a beautiful car and the fans would adore it. The LMP2 rulebook specifically states that the class is for privateers, and no major manufacturer involvement is allowed. I know the classes in the FIA World Endurance Championship are LMP1, LMP2, GTE Pro, and GTE Am. LMP2 is suppose to be for privateers with no manufacturer bodywork allowed, but why do you allow factory support in GTE Am? In the past years, some teams in that category have received supported from AF Corse which is a “factory team.” In my opinion, I believe that the ACO should take a few practices from GTE Am and let American constructors build their Coyote and Riley prototypes with the bodywork that identifies them. In a way, this is very similar to letting teams like AF Corse and Aston Martin Racing to help privateer teams be successful on the worldwide stage, but it is not exactly the same. This season in the FIA World Endurance Championship, the Alpine Team decided to run for the championship, but they have to run the Oreca 03 body kit, instead of using their own unique one. How come they cannot race their stunning body kit? It would only take a little Balance of Performance testing to equalise it with the other cars. I strongly believe that it is worth the time to make the teams and the fans happy to see a variation between the cars. In the future, I would love to look at the LMP2 grid and say “oh look, there’s a Corvette engine in a Coyote chassis, and there is a Ford engine in a Riley chassis.” This is what made the Daytona Prototypes really successful, and it has a chance to be a terrific thing on the world stage.

There are a few things that I really like about the proposed 2017 regulations. An increase of horsepower is a great idea, which will give a good distance between each class. I also believe that following IMSA’s lead of a spec tire is the best way to go. Dunlop and Michelin are two good options, but I would also consider Continental if they are able to produce a more “P2 friendly” tire. This will help make the Balance of Performance process much easier than trying to balance cars running on two or three different kinds of tires. The main reason for me writing this letter is not to complain about the proposed rules, but to give my own opinions on how to make the future of sportscar racing better. If the rules became final today, then IMSA would have a really bright future, and ACO sanctioned series would be struggling to find LMP2 cars to race. I want both sanctioning bodies to succeed together, and to continue building a relationship that will last forever. It is sad to see the divide between IMSA and the ACO, because both of you are world class organizations. The world of sportscar racing would be so much better if each sanctioning body collaborated, and worked together on Balance of Performance. This would make everyone happy when teams like Speedsource could run the 24 Hours of Le Mans and run their diesel fuel as a factory team. Coyote and Riley could build cars with their manufacturer bodywork, and race it overseas in ACO sanctioned championships. Teams in the ACO sanctioned championships would also be allowed to race in America without having to change cars and vice versa. I really hope that Mr. Pierre Fillon or Mr. Jim France will read this letter and think deeply about some of the things that I have mentioned.

Sincerely, Kobe

*I wrote this in March and it is already December! Wow, where does the time go? A lot has changed since March as IMSA will stand alone on the superior island. 2017 has the potential to be the greatest season in American Prototype history if IMSA handles the situation properly. We should see returning manufacturers and a few new ones. Months ago, I believed that the new regulations would cause trouble in IMSA. Now, the series has great potential as manufacturer bodywork and multiple engines will be allowed. The new car will be a Daytona Prototype using the ideas from the ideas of the current LMP2 car. In my opinion, Daytona Prototype International is going to be extremely popular when the green flag drops on the 2017 Rolex 24 at Daytona. Please share your thoughts and opinions race fans! I want to hear what you all have to say about the 2017 LMP2 rules.*

Mikhail Aleshin returns to IndyCar in 2016

Photo: http://www.motorsport.com

By: Kobe Lambeth

Schmidt Peterson Motorsports has confirmed that Mikhail Aleshin is returning to the Verizon IndyCar Series in 2016. The Russian driver spent his 2015 season driving full-time in the European Le Mans Series for AF Racing. He also made his 24 Hours of Le Mans debut in the BR01 LMP2 car with fellow Russians, Kirill Ladygin and Anton Ladygin. The trio finished 13th in the LMP2 class.

Looking to move away from sportscar racing, Aleshin will return to a series where he had much success in 2014. The Russian driver had a very consistent rookie season in American open wheel racing. However, the season ended on a sad note as Mikhail was injured in 2014 finale at Fontana.

His Number 7 SMP Dallara DW12 Honda was running the bottom on the track in the turn 4. The car spun and hit the wall with a hard impact. Aleshin’s car made contact with the catchfence and he suffered various injuries.

I am so happy to see Mikhail Aleshin return to the Verizon IndyCar Series in 2016. He had an amazing season in 2014 and proved that he belongs in American open wheel racing. When I heard that Mikhail was not returning to IndyCar in 2015, I was extremely disappointed. He became one of my favorites in his only season. I understand that U.N. sanctions against Russia played a major role in Aleshin seeking a drive in the European Le Mans Series. It is such a shame when politics impacts a driver’s dream to race in America. What can be done to prevent something like this from happening to our foreign drivers? On the bright side, it is great that Aleshin will race in America full-time in 2016! What is your take on Mikhail Aleshin’s return to IndyCar race fans?

For more information on this topic go to: http://www.spmindycar.com