Twas The Night Before Le Mans

Photo: Travel Destinations 

By: Kobe Lambeth

1 ‘Twas the night before Le Mans, when all thro’ the paddock,

2 Not an engine was running, not even a Hybrid;

3 The cars sat on the grid in such a beautiful place,

4 In hopes that the green flag would wave and start the historic race;

5 The crews and drivers sound asleep in their beds,

6 As they dreamed of standing on the top step of the podium in their heads;

7 And the teams get ready and the fans prepare,

8 It is time to settle in for a 24 hour sprint race;

9 My alarm clock buzzed and I left my bed in a blur,

10 The world’s greatest race was about to begin at Circuit de la Sarthe.

11 Prototypes at the front and GT’s at the rear,

12 Gives any fan a reason to cheer;

13 The pre-race grid filled with joy,

14 This day is truly better than any childhood toy;

15 All the stars from the FIA WEC, ELMS, Asian LMS, and IMSA came to play,

16 Each individual hoping Le Mans will treat them to a memorable day;

17 Months of preparation and meetings to attend,

18 The teams and fans are anxious for the festivities to begin;

19 Early on a special morning in the gorgeous country of France,

20 All of the drivers beg for Le Mans to give them a chance.

21 The cars are on the grid as everyone is so chill,

22 Sportscar racing fans all over the world are so thrilled;

23 Everyone sits and waits patiently for the command,

24 Drivers in their cars and fans rise from their seats;

25 The command has been said so let’s go racing,

26 LMP1’s the fastest class in the land;

27 All of the factory teams have masterful plans,

28 Toyota and Porsche are set for a fierce battle;

29 Hold your belts tight as it time to rattle,

30 Don’t count out the little ByKolles car.

31 LMP2 a class full of new rules,

32 The winner of this class must make the best of their tools;

33 From Oreca, to Onroak, Dallara, and Riley,

34 All the constructors ready for battle on the world stage;

35 Strong Gibson motor leading the fight,

36 The racing throughout the class should be very tight;

37 GTE with divisions of professional and amateur,

38 All looking to become victorious in diverse pieces of machinery;

39 Aston Martin, Corvette, Ferrari, Ford, and Porsche make up the field,

40 That’s definitely a pretty good deal.

41 The cars have rolled off the grid as the parade lap is underway,

42 The field of 60 are prepared for the grueling challenge;

43 Down the frontstretch they go as the diverse cars fly under the Dunlop bridge,

44 On the way to Tertre Rouge, the danger is real;

45 Over 200 mph down the fast Mulsanne Straight with traffic everywhere,

46 Only braking at the chicanes keep us mentally sane;

47 Prototypes in both categories traveling at their fastest pace,

48 Don’t overdue it as it is a 24 hour race;

49 As they make their way into Indianapolis,

50 We think about the Brickyard, but this is a totally different animal.

51 Headed through Arnage at a high of speed,

52 Oh please, don’t tell me the Porsche Curves are next;

53 Cars roaring through the most treacherous part of the track,

54 How many pairs of underwear should’ve been packed;

55 Time to double up with a 60 car field,

56 Everyone at Circuit de la Sarthe can feel the tension build;

57 Approaching the Ford Chicane and nerves out the window,

58 Let’s get this show on the road for 24 hours of spectacular racing;

59 The green flag is waving and it is time to say goodbye,

60 Happy 24 Hours of Le Mans race day to all, and to all a good night.

 

 

 

 

 

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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.

 

 

Pew Satisfied with Le Mans Debut

Photo: Brian Cleary/Michael Shank Racing

By: Kobe Lambeth

IMSA prototype entrant, Michael Shank Racing, had a successful debut in the 24 Hours of Le Mans by finishing 9th in the LMP2 class with their drivers Ozz Negri Jr, John Pew, and Laurens Vanthoor. A category with Nissan-powered Oreca 05’s and Ligier JS P2’s made up the majority of the field of 23. Michael Shank Racing used a Ligier JS P2-Honda, which is the same chassis Tequila Patrón ESM used to win the first two rounds of the North American Endurance Cup, the Rolex 24 at Daytona and Mobil1 12 Hours of Sebring.

The Honda power proved to be an excellent choice as Michael Shank Racing had one of fastest Ligiers in the race. The longtime Michael Shank Racing driver, John Pew, was pleased with his first trip to Circuit de la Sarthe.

“It was a fantastic experience,” said Pew.

“Although not on the podium, for our first attempt at Le Mans, I am very happy with ninth in class and finishing the race.”

A great accomplishment for the American team from Ohio finishing the race on debut at the famous twice around the clock French endurance classic. Instead of going for the overall victory, the team had to battle for class honors. Michael Shank Racing is a full-time entrant in the IMSA WeatherTech Sportscar Championship, which has completely different rules than the FIA World Endurance Championship. Did Pew have trouble adjusting to ACO rules?

“There are a lot of differences that took some getting used to,” said Pew.

“The slow zones, and having three safety cars, and flashing blue lights to let you know a faster car is coming behind.  Also, pit stops are different with fueling and tires being done separately, which means a driver change doesn’t have the same time pressure. Also, it took some getting used to the LMP1 cars flying by us.”

Along with having to adjust to a different world of racing, the Ligier JS P2-Honda runs in two different configurations in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and ACO sanctioned series.

“The biggest difference is the difference in tire manufacturer, and using a smaller displacement engine otherwise it’s pretty much the same,” explained Pew.

In ACO sanctioned series, teams are free to choose any tire manufacturer such as Dunlop or Michelin, while IMSA prototype teams must use spec Continental tires. On the engine side, the ACO requires a small 2.8 displacement engine, while IMSA allows the larger 3.5 displacement engine.

After a successful debut at Le Mans, do you think Michael Shank Racing will return next year?

“It’s too far in the future at this point to say, but I would love to go at it again,” said Pew.

The American fans would most likely be thrilled to see Pew and the entire Michael Shank Racing team return to Le Mans and battle for the top step on the podium.

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Photo: Brian Cleary/Michael Shank Racing

With the 24 Hours of Le Mans in the rearview mirror, Michael Shank Racing shifts its focus to the upcoming Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen at historic Watkins Glen International. The team continues to ride the momentum from a fantastic result at Le Mans and a victory at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. John Pew only had a few words to say about him and Ozz Negri Jr taking Michael Shank and the entire team back to victory lane.

“It felt great and was overdue,” stated Pew.

After a few setbacks in the past few years, the team was able to put together a complete race, which led them to the checkered flag. Now being stateside for the remainder of the season, what are the expectations from Michael Shank Racing?

“We can’t always control the outcome, but I am very confident in both the Michael Shank Racing crew and the Ligier HPD package for the rest of the season,” said Pew.

Tune in at 10am EST on Fox Sports 1, Sunday, July 3rd, to watch to No. 60 Michael Shank Racing Ligier JS P2-Honda fight for overall victory against the Corvette DP’s, Deltawing, Tequila Patrón ESM, and the Mazda prototypes.

Cookies and Milk?

Photo: José Mário Dias

By: Kobe Lambeth

This past weekend, the 84th running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans took place. One major storyline from France concerns the future of global prototype racing.

DPi vs LMP2

It appears that trouble is brewing between IMSA and the ACO over the future of prototype racing. It was recently announced that IMSA DPi (Daytona Prototype International) cars will not be allowed to race in the LMP2 category. Originally, the American prototypes were going to be balanced alongside the ACO-spec Gibson engine.  No need to worry about this now as DPi cars will not be allowed to race. The idea of DPi and LMP2 competing together for class honors appears to be in a garbage truck heading to a landfill.

The DPi engine ban might change the minds of team owners who want to go to Le Mans. It is known that Visit Florida Racing is looking to race in the twice-around-the-clock endurance classic as early as next year. The main question is, “which LMP2 chassis does the team choose?” They could run a Mazda DPi customer program, return to the General Motors family with a Cadillac DPi, or purchase the ACO-spec LMP2 Gibson. Do you think the DPi engine ban has made it easier for Visit Florida Racing to decide which car to purchase?

We will not see DPi in LMP2, but is there a future in LMP1-Lightweight? This is a very interesting idea to consider in the next few months. IMSA wants to make DPi their top class where you pick one of the four LMP2 constructors (Onroak, Oreca, Dallara, Riley/Multimatic), have the option of running multiple engines, and bodywork which will give the car identity. There is nothing wrong with IMSA’s vision as this will be their top class. LMP1 is where the ACO wants the manufacturers and rightfully so. With the four different chassis and spec engine, LMP2 is the stepping stone for teams wanting to enter LMP1. Once again, there is nothing wrong with the ACO’s philosophy because it works for their championship.

If the 2017 LMP2 regulations were the same as DPi, it would pretty much defeat the purpose of LMP1. It is completely understandable why DPi and LMP2 cannot race together from their point of view. Switching roles, what would the reaction in America be if IMSA used the ACO-spec car as their leading prototype? It would not make any sense for the two prototype divisions to be spec. The DPi formula is perfect for IMSA and they should not let the ACO dictate how they run the show. Two championships, two sets of rules, why can’t we all just get along?

A compromise between the two sanctioning would be a miracle, but anything is possible these days. Close your eyes and imagine DPi cars from the likes of Mazda and Cadillac flying down the Mulsanne straight. All you can do is dream on because this is unrealistic in the ACO’s eyes.

If the DPi cars are not welcomed to Le Mans, then why should ACO-spec cars be welcomed to Daytona? Why is IMSA’s new prototype called “Daytona Prototype International” when there is absolutely nothing international about the formula? Why are we even discussing this topic?

There are so many questions concerning the relationship between IMSA and the ACO. Maybe we need to go old school and have both parties sit down in a room with cookies and milk until a common idea can be reached. The ACO needs IMSA and vice versa. A divorce will not benefit anyone. It will hurt both series, teams, drivers, officials, and everything that makes sportscar racing beautiful. Please, I am begging for the sanctioning bodies to get their act together or we will not like the outcome of the situation. We should definitely be worried about the future of sportscar racing. Do we risk losing the link between America and France?

Will cookies and milk save this rocky relationship? Only time will tell.

 

Derani Ready for Anything

Photo: José Mário Dias

By: Kobe Lambeth

At last weekend’s Mobil1 12 Hours of Sebring, Tequila Patrón ESM’s Pipo Derani put together a spectacular drive as he led the team, along with co-drivers, Scott Sharp, Johannes van Overbeek, and Ed Brown to overall victory.

Tequila Patrón ESM is entering the 2016 FIA World Endurance Championship season riding a huge wave of momentum after sweeping the “36 Hours of Florida.” Pipo Derani is definitely ready to showcase his talents on the world stage for the second straight season.

“I expect to continue to be competitive to win races in WEC which is a totally different championship then IMSA with different tires, engine, and rules,” said Derani.

The IMSA WeatherTech Sportscar Championship’s top class is “Prototype”, which consists of Daytona Prototypes, LMP2 machinery, and the Deltawing. They use spec Continental Tires. Also, pit stop procedures differ from ACO rules where you cannot change tires and refuel at the same time. In the FIA World Endurance Championship, “LMP2” is the second-tier class and is “open-tire.” The IMSA WeatherTech Sportscar Championship and the FIA World Endurance Championship, two great series for stars like Derani to rise.

After racing full-time on the world stage last season, Derani made his fantastic debut in this year’s Rolex 24 at Daytona and the Mobil1 12 Hours of Sebring. If you witnessed those two events, then you saw a star born and something very rare: one of the most spectacular performances by an individual in their first attempt at two of the crown jewel races in American sportscar racing.

Derani stated, “Daytona and Sebring are not only the biggest races in America but also considered classics all over the World. To be able to become the first driver in history to win both in the first attempt and same year is a pretty special feeling.”

“I give all the credit to the team that gave me all that I needed to understand quickly those circuits and rules.”

JM1_5909

Photo: José Mário Dias

After a spectacular performance at Daytona and Sebring, do you think Pipo Derani has attracted some factory LMP1 teams or potential Daytona Prototype International (DPi) programs?

Derani explained, “That’s something my manager takes care of and all I want to do is continue to perform for Patron as we still have a long year ahead in WEC.”

“I honestly hope I can continue at the highest level possible to help them to win races in WEC. Like I said is a different championship with different engine, tires, and rules and we need to be on top of each topic to be up there.”

Wherever Pipo Derani’s career takes him, he will be successful and help make others around him better. If you have not heard of this talented young man, you certainly will as he will continue to prove himself against the best sportscar drivers in the world.

 

 

 

Kobe’s Daily Scoop: Interview with Pipo Derani

Photo: http://www.racintoday.com

By: Kobe Lambeth

Last weekend, the annual Roar Before the 24 took place at the historic Daytona International Speedway. Old faces, some in new places, and a few newcomers to the IMSA WeatherTech Sportscar Championship. One driver was very impressive in his first trip to Daytona and that driver is Pipo Derani.

I watched Derani race in the FIA World Endurance Championship last season and I was impressed with the speed displayed by “the rookie.” He is definitely going to be a driver to watch for many years to come. Last season, Derani drove for G-Drive Racing in one of their Ligier JS P2-Nissans. It was fantastic to watch a newcomer to a world championship drive just like a veteran. Derani reflected on his rookie season with G-Drive Racing.

“It was amazing to have this opportunity to race in WEC with G-Drive and definitely an opportunity which I will remember for the rest of my career. It was an amazing season working with great people and with a big team spirit which allowed us to achieve great results and eventually finish 3rd in the championship fighting for the world title until the end. It was a great first season in the World Endurance Championship and I’m looking forward to 2016.”

Derani did well in his first season, but I had no idea how he found himself to LMP2 racing on the world stage.

He answered, “I did European Formula 3 in 2013 and also finished 3rd in the Formula 3 Macau Grand Prix in this same year. In 2014, I did 2 races in the European Le Mans Series with Murphy Prototypes in LMP2 which then gave me the opportunity to move on to WEC in 2015.”

What an interesting way to get to the big leagues! He is entering his second year in the FIA World Endurance Championship but with a new team. He will drive for the American squad, Tequila Patrón ESM, which will be taken over by the famous OAK Racing team.

Derani said, “I’m delighted to be racing for such a great team and such a great brand. They have great history in the world of sportscar racing and I am looking forward to continuing that legacy with all the other team members. Hopefully, we can achieve great results together.”

I am so excited to see Pipo Derani join one of my favorite teams in the world championship. He will definitely bring his “A” game as he will contribute to Tequila Patrón ESM’s efforts to obtain the trophy at the end of the season. Luckily, Derani got to work with the team earlier than expected at the Roar Before the 24. He turned a lot of heads in the sportscar community after getting up to speed right out of hauler!

Derani said,”It was a nice learning experience at Roar. I had to learn the track which wasn’t the only new thing to me. I also had to learn the Continental tires and drive the Honda for the first time but as I raced with Ligier in WEC and I already knew the car, it made my life a little bit easier. The objective at this test was obviously to setup the car for the race and for myself to acclimatize with the new team and I think we achieved our objectives.”

Surprisingly, Derani might not compete in the race, which would be a MAJOR disappointment to sportscar racing fans.

“I’m still waiting for the team to confirm if I am doing the race with them and an official announcement so I would prefer not to say anything about it.”

It would be a shame if Derani does not race at Daytona because he was one of the fastest drivers at the Roar! Hopefully, we will get an announcement that the talented racer will “officially” compete for the hard-earned Rolex watches. As I have said before, Pipo Derani is a talented driver and I expect him to have an amazing career. This made me wonder, will he become a factory driver in LMP1? Could he move to IMSA in 2017 with the new Daytona Prototype International (DPi) Regulations?

Derani responded, “Today racing in WEC full time my main objective is to drive for one of those LMP1 manufacturers although the new IMSA rules for 2017 are also very attractive not only for me but for manufacturers as well. The ultimate goal is to become a factory driver either in the US or in the World stage.”

I hope that all of Derani’s dreams come true. He has tremendous upside and is going to be a star for many years to come. Where do you think Pipo Derani’s career is headed sportscar racing fans?

*Special thanks to Fernanda Goncalves for making this interview possible. I also wish Pipo Derani a successful 2016 racing season!*

Risi Competizione, AF Corse announce 2016 plans

Photo: http://www.motorsport.com

By: Kobe Lambeth

Ferrari has confirmed its 2016 plans in the FIA World Endurance Championship and the IMSA WeatherTech Sportscar Championship.

Risi Competizione will return to IMSA competition with the brand new Ferrari 488 GTE with drivers Giancarlo Fisichella and Toni Vilander. Fisichella has spent the past two seasons racing in the United States alongside Pierre Kaffer, who has departed the team. Vilander leaves AF Corse’s FIA World Endurance Championship squad as he makes the move to America. This is going to be an extremely strong duo in GT Le Mans this season. Look for Fisichella and Vilander to compete for wins every race. The team is not at the Roar Before the 24 this weekend as they have not taken delivery of their new car. However, they will be on the grid for the Rolex 24 at Daytona. Endurance drivers have not been announced, but look for the usual suspects such as Olivier Beretta, Davide Rigon, or brand new Ferrari factory driver Sam Bird.

On the FIA World Endurance Championship side, AF Corse will return with two cars in GTE-Pro. The Number 51 Ferrari 488 GTE machine will see Gianmaria Bruni return, alongside his new driving partner, James Calado. Davide Rigon and Sam Bird will pilot the Number 71 Ferrari 488 GTE car. I believe that AF Corse will have a strong 2016 season as they have four high-quality drivers filling each seat. Le Mans is only months away, but I am predicting that we will see the drivers from Risi Competizione fill the third seats for the race. Vilander will probably return to the Number 51 car with Bruni and Calado while Fisichella joins Rigon and Bird. What do you think of Ferrari’s new lineups in 2016 race fans? Any Le Mans predictions of your own?

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

Kobe’s Daily Scoop: Interview with David Heinemeier Hansson

Photo: http://www.24h-lemans.com

By: Kobe Lambeth

I had the pleasure of talking to FIA World Endurance Championship driver, David Heinemeier Hansson. In the past few years, I started following his career and his accomplishments are fantastic! He is one of the drivers that I have been anxious to chat with. Let me tell you one thing, it is very interesting how “DHH” became interested in sportscar racing.

DHH said, “A friend of mine took me to the Autobahn Country Club near Chicago in 2007, I got a taste of driving on the track, and that really sealed it. This was just two years after I had gotten my driver’s license! But I had played Forza Motorsports, Gran Turismo, and pretty much every other racing game for years. So while I didn’t have much experience driving real cars, I did have a fair amount of experience wrangling the joystick!”

Wow, quite a way to find your way into motorsports! Many young individuals (including myself) dream of becoming a race car driver someday. David Heinemeier Hansson shows us that ANYTHING is possible at any age! Imagine playing video games for years, then accomplishing your dream of becoming the racer that you have always wanted to be.

DHH continued, “A couple of years later, in 2009, I finally got involved in some real club racing with the Cayman Interseries, which lead to the IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge in 2010, then a bunch of different one-off races in 2011, That was really the season where things got serious. It was also my first year at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.”

How amazing is it to go from test driving a car to drive in the 24 Hours of Le Mans? DHH should inspire any person currently working a “typical job” to never give up on their dreams of making it onto the race track. I repeat myself, anything is possible if you are willing to put in lots of hard work and have dedication. There are many opportunities for beginners to work their way through the ranks of a specific series that interests you. Speaking of beginners, DHH is definitely not one! He is one of the fastest and most accomplished “silver” drivers in the world. And this guy has not been racing his entire life! What a fantastic story of a young man who wanted to race and his hard work put him where he is today. His entry into the motorsports is very inspiring, but DHH also advocates for safety.

DHH explained, “I made a proposal earlier this year for IMSA to adopt ACO-style tire and fueling practices. It’s sad to see that we’re still running such needless risks. After my proposal, there were plenty of examples of drivers going on track with loose belts, as well as the dangers demonstrated by having cars running, and potentially spinning wheels hitting crew members.”

Heinemeier Hansson made some great points on the safety in sportscar racing. It is extremely dangerous for the drivers to ride around with loose belts! What would happen if a car became airborne and the driver had a loose belt? I do not want a nightmare like that to occur in real life. Also, I agree that IMSA should consider the ACO’s tire and fueling practices mentioned by DHH. It decreases the risk of injuring crew members. We saw a scary accident at last year’s Mobil1 12 Hours of Sebring. A crew member was injured when the Number 50 Highway to Help Daytona Prototype struck him in the pits. We should not witness scary moments like that. IMSA might have a few things to consider with safety, but the ACO has room for improvement according to Heinemeier Hansson.

“But the ACO also has plenty of room to improve. Mostly around track safety at Le Mans. It was very scary to see Roald’s Aston Martin crash at the exit of the Porsche curves into a concrete wall. Race cars and concrete walls mix very poorly. So I hope that led to yet another full review of safety at Le Mans.”

Safety is the most important thing in all of motorsports. Why do we not have SAFER barriers EVERYWHERE? I hope that the ACO will consider adding more “soft walls” to Le Mans in the immediate future. If the safety does not improve, then we might, unfortunately, see fatalities. “Slow zones” are another concern of mine. I have no idea how this process is supposed to work. Do you remember last year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans when there was confusion with the slow zones? I remember seeing an accident as this rule appeared to confuse some of the drivers. Slow zones are my biggest fear as I remember an incident at Le Mans before this rule was installed by the ACO. A few years ago, some of you might remember Mike Rockenfeller’s scary accident during the night when he was trying to get around a GT car. I fear that confusion with the slow zones might lead to an incident of that nature. Hopefully, there is a solution to prevent further confusion and “limit” danger as the ACO (wishing) improves safety.

Previously, I referred to David Heinemeier Hansson as one of the most successful amateur drivers in the world. However, FIA Driver Ratings have become a major topic of discussion in the sportscar racing world. Heinemeier Hansson had plenty to say about the pain of driver ratings.

“I believe in the concept of the ranking system: That gentleman drivers who pay to fill the grids should have categories where they can compete for wins. In WEC, we have GTE-Pro and LMP1 that are exclusively for all-pro lineups. Unfortunately the implementation falls far short of the concept.”

“There are now so many professional drivers who’ve managed to secure an amateur ranking that it’s rendering the whole thing a bit ridiculous. I can certainly understand why some pro drivers look at their colleagues who managed to get an amateur rating and say, hey, that’s BS!”

Well said, Mr. David Heinemeier Hansson! Nobody else could have said that any better. Makes me wonder why drivers like Scott Pruett and Katherine Legge are classified as amateurs. Is there a way to fixed this flawed system?

DHH said, “I believe the system can be fixed, but I don’t know if the powers that run that believe so or are even interested in it. It’s frustrating.”

How should the FIA Driver Ratings Dilemma be solved race fans? My answer is simple, drop them ASAP.

Heinemeier Hansson spent only one season with Tequila Patrón ESM. He reflected on the frustrating 2015 season.

“It was a tough year. First, we got a brand-new HPD package that simply didn’t deliver. The fundamentals weren’t there, so the team had to scramble after the first race at Daytona to come up with a new plan. That meant using the old HPD for Sebring and Silverstone, and then switching to the Ligiers from Spa. That naturally put the entire program on the backfoot. Which wasn’t what a team already rookies to the WEC needed. So the poor results weren’t exactly unexplainable, when you look at all that, but still frustrating.”

Totally understandable that Heinemeier Hansson was frustrated after a disappointing season. 2015 might have been a down year, but 2016 is going to be better for DHH!

“I can’t wait for the 2016 season to start with Porsche. I’ve been a huge Porsche fan for many years. My first sportscar was a Porsche and my current daily driver is a 911. On top of that, my first professional driving coach was Patrick Long, who I’ll now have the chance to drive with all season. It’s going to be great!”

It is definitely going to be interesting to see DHH and Patrick Long team up in GTE-Am this season. DHH appears to be excited about the new season.

“Additionally, it seems like the Porsche package is finally in a really good place. The car has struggled in past WEC seasons with poor tire wear, but after developing a new tire together with Michelin, those problems are clearly behind us now. The car was very strong all year in 2015, which will be the exact package that we’ll be racing next year.”

Although DHH will race in GTE-Am this season, a return to LMP2 in the future is definitely a possibility.

“I’d be happy to return to the WEC and Le Mans in an LMP2 in the future. It’s really exciting with the new cars and engines from 2017. So we’ll see what happens for the season after this. I intend to be racing in the WEC and at Le Mans from many years to come. Privileged to have had the opportunity to race both GT and LMP2 with success. So hoping back and forth isn’t a concern for me. I just want to race with a great team, in a great package, and have a chance to win.”

IMSA fans, please keep an eye out for an exciting announcement soon!

DHH explained, “I’m close to announcing a deal for Sebring and Petit Le Mans. It’s going to be great. After Le Mans, 12 Hours of Sebring is my favorite event. And after Sebring, my third favorite is probably Petit Le Mans. So to combine both of those with a WEC program is the perfect schedule for me.”

It will be fantastic to see DHH racing in the United States for two races! 2016 is looking to be a big year for Heinemeier Hansson, but life as a sportscar driver is going to be pretty good according to DHH.

“I think overall sportscar racing is looking incredible strong. It’s a pleasure to see the WEC grow. But there are many unresolved areas to work on. Driver rankings remain a real annoyance, as mentioned earlier. Anyway, far more to celebrate than to complain about at the moment.”

*Thanks to David Heinemeier Hansson for this wonderful interview! I wish you a successful 2016 racing season.*

 

Ford confirms FIA WEC Drivers; Rolex 24 Lineup

Photo: http://www.gq-magazine.co.uk

By: Kobe Lambeth

Ford and Chip Ganassi Racing has confirmed that Olivier Pla, Andy Priaulx, Stefan Mucke, and Marino Franchitti will pilot the Ford GT in the FIA World Endurance Championship.

Although the driver pairings have not been announced, Chip Ganassi Racing adds four high-quality drivers in its debut season to the international championship.

Olivier Pla joins the team after spending last season as a Nissan LMP1 factory driver. However, he quickly found a new job after the Nissan program concluded. This might be his first factory GT program, but I believe that Pla is going to bring speed and experience to Chip Ganassi Racing’s new program. It is definitely going to be interesting to see how he transitions from Prototype to GT racing.

Andy Priaulx ended his run as a BMW factory driver to join the new for 2016 Ford GT program. He brings experience from the IMSA WeatherTech Sportscar Championship, European Le Mans Series, and the FIA World Touring Car Championship (three-time champ). Priaulx is a great asset to the Ford GT program. It will be interesting to see him race in GTE-Pro. BMW is definitely going to miss him.

Stefan Mucke brings his experience from Aston Martin Racing to Chip Ganassi Racing. Having run many races in the FIA World Endurance Championship, it was smart to sign him for this program. He is definitely going to bring speed to this program. I am looking forward to seeing him go head to head with his former teammate, Darren Turner.

Marino Franchitti is finally getting the factory drive that he deserved a very long time ago. He joins Chip Ganassi’s Ford GT program after previously helping the team win the 12 Hours of Sebring in the Number 01 Ford DP in 2014 with Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas.  It will be exciting to see how he races against the best GT drivers in the world. I commend Chip Ganassi for giving Marino this fantastic opportunity.

I believe that Chip Ganassi’s debut season in the FIA World Endurance Championship will be a memorable one as they have four drivers with fantastic credentials. Each driver will bring something special to the organization as Ford returns to international GT racing. I look for the team to contend for wins in their inaugural season.

Also, Chip Ganassi Racing confirmed that Sebastien Bourdais and Stefan Mucke will be their endurance drivers for the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

Bourdais, an IndyCar driver, joins the Ford GT program after spending the past few seasons with Action Express Racing. Mucke will race in the Rolex 24, in addition to his full-time drive with the team in the FIA World Endurance Championship.

Sebastien Bourdais will drive the Number 66 Ford GT with Joey Hand and Dirk Muller. Stefan Mucke joins Richard Westbrook and Ryan Briscoe in the Number 67 Ford GT.

Chip Ganassi Racing is going to be dangerous in GTLM this season. They have a strong lineup with drivers who bring speed and experience. I am so excited to see the renewed rivalry between Ford and Corvette. Two American manufacturers battling it out with the likes of Porsche, BMW, and Ferrari.

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

 

Nissan LMP1 program shuts down

Photo: http://www.paultan.org

By: Kobe Lambeth

Early this morning, sports car racing fans awoke to some sad but not shocking news. Nissan Motorsports has confirmed the end of their factory LMP1 program as they pulled out of the FIA World Endurance Championship.

The decision comes after a challenging campaign to match the pace of LMP1 rivals Audi, Toyota, and Porsche. Nissan went through many tests to help improve the pace of its car, but it was ultimately unsuccessful.

I remember watching the Super Bowl earlier this year. For sportscar racing fans, all of the hype surrounded the Nissan LMP1 car. There was lots of speculation that the car would have a front-engine design, which is significantly different than current LMP1 cars. The commercial was absolutely amazing as millions of people witnessed motorsports history. However, the majority of America probably did not know what they were looking at. The race fans definitely understood the significance of launching the factory LMP1 program on the world’s biggest stage.

It is such a shame that we will not see the true potential of the Nissan GT-R LM Nismo. My heart goes out to everyone involved in the program. Race fans worldwide got excited over this project and it ended abruptly. Honestly, I am not surprised the program ended as Nissan has been having lots of problems in testing. It was a matter of time and here we are today announcing that the Nissan LMP1 program is finished “for now.” We could see Nissan return to LMP1 in the next five to six years. Who knows? Anything is possible!

Where does the withdrawal from the FIA World Endurance Championship leave Nissan Motorsports? There are multiple options for them to consider. First, they should add more resources to their GT3 racing program as they focus on their customers in 2016. In the future, Nissan could potentially bring back their LMP1 design and convert it to a GTE car! How cool would it be to see a Nissan GTE car? Another option is a two car factory DPi program in the IMSA WeatherTech Sportscar Championship in 2017. This would give a few of the “former” Nissan factory drivers a new home in America. What do you think Nissan will do in the future race fans?

For more information on this topic go to: http://www.nissan-motorsports.com