Racing News (10294)
Racing News from around the World
The battle for the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series title will resume this weekend in Italy, at the Autodromo di Franciacorta with Round 3 and 4 of the 2019 season. The 2,5-Km Italian track will host the European NASCAR Series for the third time with an event – the American NASCAR Weekend – gathering every year more fans thanks to exciting races and exhilarating trackside attractions.
A record-setting 33 cars are entered in the NASCAR GP Italy, with 20 nationalities represented on the grid.
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In the ELITE 1 Division, the whole field is chasing Ander Vilarino and the #48 Racing Engineering Mustang. The Spaniard, who brought the team led by Alfonso de Orleans-Borbon to a spectacular NASCAR debut by picking up two wins at his home track of Valencia, has never raced at Franciacorta. On the other hand, defending champion Alon Day has won three of the four races held at the Italian track for CAAL Racing and will count on the NASCAR GP Italy to reduce the 13 points gap separating him from the leader.
Second in points after the season opener, Stienes Longin is on a streak of four consecutive second-place finishes and looks poised to finally grab the first ELITE 1 victory. Loris Hezemans will definitely want to challenge for the first win of the season, as will 2018 Franciacorta race winner Lucas Lasserre, Frederic Gabillon, Marc Goossens and all the many ELITE 1 Division contenders. Among them, 1997 Formula 1 World Champion Jacques Villeneuve rapidly found a solid pace at Valencia but is looking to rebound after being forced to retire while battling in the top-10 in Round 2.
Two rookies sit atop the ELITE 2 Division standings, separated by just one point: Giorgio Maggi and Vittorio Ghirelli. Both had an impressive debut in Spain and the Swiss driver also got his maiden win by taking advantage of a last-lap crash between Myatt Snider and Andre Castro. The two Americans were extremely competitive in Spain and will be chasing their first win again in Italy.
Pulling double duties in 2019, Martin Doubek is currently third in points and will count on his experience to capitalize at Franciacorta, as will Pierluigi Veronesi, Mirco Schultis and Jerry De Weerdt. Aiming to reverse a disappointing season opener will be 2018 Rookie Trophy winner Florian Venturi.
The ELITE Club Division will return to action for the second round of the season with 2017 Champion Andreas Kuchelbacher looking to take the lead of the championship.
All the ELITE 1 and ELITE 2 races from the NASCAR GP of Italy will be streamed live on Fanschoice.tv, the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series Youtube channel and Facebook page, on Motorsport.tv and on a vast network of social media profiles.
ELITE 1 DIVISION
Luigi Ferrara debuts on home soil - The 2018 TCR Italy runner-up Luigi Ferrara will make his Euro NASCAR debut at the wheel of the #42 Mustang fielded by 42 Racing by FS Motorsport. The Italian won the Porsche Carrera Cup Italy in 2008 and the 2005 Italian F3 Championship.
Hezemans returns to site of first podium - Junior Trophy leader Loris Hezemans will return to the track that marked a turning point in his 2018 season. After a troubled first event at Valencia and a crash on Saturday, the Dutchman earned his first podium finish at Franciacorta on Sunday, starting an impressive comeback.
Tuomaala off to a great start - With a win – the third of his career – and a third place at Valencia, Henri Tuomaala is leading the Challenger Trophy by two points over defending champion Kenko Miura. The Finnish drivers will race at Franciacorta for the first time.
ELITE 2 DIVISION
Lasse Sorensen enters NWES - 22-year-old Lasse Sorensen will debut in the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series at the wheel of the #66 Dexwet-Df1 Racing Chevrolet Camaro. The Danish driver won the French Formula 4 Championship in 2014.
12 different countries in the top-15 - No less than twelve different countries and three continents are represented in the top-15 of the ELITE 2 Division standings, testifying the ever growing popularity of Euro NASCAR among drivers from all over the world.
Schultis leads a tight Legend Trophy - Mirco Schultis and Jerry De Weerdt split the first weekend of the season in Valencia and the German leads the Legend Trophy classification by four points on the Belgian. Michael Bleekemolen closely follows after collecting two podium finishes in his NASCAR debut.
BRET HOLMES QUOTE:
GEICO Honda’s Chase Sexton closed the deal Saturday night before a raucous, sold-out Las Vegas crowd and rode a fourth-place finish to his first Monster Energy AMA Supercross, an FIM World Championship, Eastern Regional 250SX Class Championship.
Sexton, who picked up his first professional victory one week ago in East Rutherford, N.J., came into the final points race of the season with a nine-point cushion, looking to jockey last week’s winning momentum into a championship.
Despite the obvious pressures that go hand-in-hand with racing for such a prestigious title at a young age, the 19-year-old Wiseco-sponsored rider kept his composure, performed like a seasoned veteran and brought home the hardware.
“It feels super good,” said a beaming Sexton in the post-race press conference. “It hasn’t really sunk in yet but being only 19-years-old and winning my first Supercross championship is unbelievable. That was the longest 15 minutes-plus-one (lap) I’ve ever done. The track was gnarly but to do this for myself and for the team feels awesome. It couldn’t have happened any better.”
Sexton, who finished his 2019 Supercross campaign with 193 points, logged one win, four top-two and seven top- three finishes in nine races. The Illinois native won four heat races, earned seven podiums and never finished outside the top five. Still, with less than 10 points separating Sexton from his closest title competitor, the rider of the No. 23 Honda CRF250R knew the 2019 championship was anything but a foregone conclusion.
“I was just focusing on my race,” added Sexton who won the 250SX East Class heat race earlier in the day. “I was trying to go forward as best I could and still stay out of the carnage. I didn’t want to do anything too crazy or make a dumb mistake. It became really hard to decide if what I was doing was a good move or a bad move to go for it. I’m pretty proud of how I handled it. I didn’t know where Justin (championship contender Justin Cooper) was. I just knew he wasn’t in front of me and that’s all I cared about.”
While only one GEICO Honda rider left Las Vegas with the title, two others notched podium finishes in the season finale. R.J. Hampshire, who snagged the holeshot in both his heat race and the main event, finished second to eventual race winner and Western Regional 250SX Class Champion Dylan Ferrandis. Sexton’s fellow GEICO Honda teammate Cameron McAdoo came home third. Over 10 rounds, Hampshire rode one podium finish and five top fours into a fourth-place finish in the season-ending 250SX West Class points.
“Was a really cool day for my whole team,” explained Hampshire. “I rode well in practice and felt like my bike was working good. Got the holeshot in the heat and also the main. I struggled bad in the first half of the main and really had to take a couple steps back to regroup and figure out what I needed to change. For once, I actually felt like a veteran and made a pretty smart call. I even let Chase by because I was getting so sketchy and I didn’t want to end up going down and taking him out with me. I followed him for a couple laps to hopefully learn something in the whoops. It started coming together then I saw my pit board said ‘4 laps, all out.’ I went for it and it paid off. I was able to get to second. Really happy to see the team have so much success on the night!”
Across the paddock, in the premier 450SX Class pits, Team Honda HRC’s Ken Roczen and Cole Seely finished fourth and sixth, respectively. While neither Roczen nor Seely broke through for a win in 2019, both riders were upbeat following the 17th and final Supercross race of the season.
“I’m pretty happy with how Las Vegas went,” commented Roczen. “I struggled in the heat (race), but we went back to an earlier setting and things were a lot better in the main. I still didn’t get the best start, but made some passes pretty quick, working my way into fourth. I actually felt good throughout the whole race and didn’t lose steam, which is what I’ve been fighting a lot this season. We’re still trying to fully figure out what was or is going on, but it seems to be a little better than before. I’m so happy to make it through a whole supercross season and am looking forward to heading into outdoors.”
With only two weeks separating the end of the Monster Energy Supercross season from the beginning of the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship, there won’t be much downtime as teams prepare for the rigors of the 12-race outdoor schedule.
The first moto from the Bell Helmets Hangtown Motocross Classic from Prairie City SVRA in Sacramento, Calif., will be televised live on MAVTV Sat., May 18 beginning at 4 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time, 1 p.m., Pacific. Television coverage for the second moto will shift to NBCSN at 6 p.m. EDT, 3 p.m., Pacific.
Together with team-mate Sam Bird, who has also tasted victory this season and lies ninth in the standings, Frijns and his Envision Virgin Racing team now turn their attention to the glitz and glamour of Monaco for round nine of the series on Saturday, 11 May.
“The last Formula E event was the toughest race of my career so to come away with the win was an amazing feeling,” said Frijns. “Now Sam, myself and the whole team is gearing up for Monaco next weekend where we’re aiming to carry that momentum through, especially with the improvements we’ve made in qualifying which is going to be paramount on such a narrow circuit like Monaco.”
He added: “Although we’re leading the championship it doesn’t change our focus or approach, and there’s still a long way to go with many points up for grabs. For sure, the Formula E title race is still wide open with any of the top 10 drivers in contention.”
Frijns and Bird will be two of the 22 drivers taking to the streets of Monaco next weekend for the Monaco E-Prix, the third time Formula E has raced there. The drivers will once again use a shortened, modified version of the iconic street track (1.765km), using the same famous start/finish line before turning right and immediately towards the harbour, before re-joining with the more familiar track configuration, including the well-known Tabac and Swimming Pool sections.
Sylvain Filippi, Envision Virgin Racing’s Managing Director, said: “Paris was an amazing result for the team and proof of the enormous effort, hard work and preparation that every one of them puts into every single Formula E race. Of course, that same mentality will go into Monaco and we know we have the car, the drivers, the team – and now the momentum – to deliver good results.”
UK fans can follow the team’s progress through the BBC’s live events platform – via the BBC Sport website, BBC iPlayer and BBC red button – as well as BT Sport, together with the team’s social channels and website.
For more information on Envision Virgin Racing, including access to the team’s media site, visit www.envisionvirginracing.com
The Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli drivers delivered a race to remember on Saturday as the series celebrated 50 years of racing at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca
The 70-minute feature race that included the TA, SuperGT and GT classes ran at a relentless pace as the race went from flag to flag without caution.
It was Ernie Francis Jr. who stole the show with a dominating 28.854-second win over the Burtin Racing duo of Lawrence Loshak and Tomy Drissi. After 66 Trans Am races, 48 podiums and 38 race wins, newly turned 21-year-old Francis finally got to sip the victory champagne in a glorious moment on the top step of the podium.
“It was a great weekend for us as a team here at WeatherTech Raceway,” said Francis. “To sweep the weekend by winning qualifying and leading every lap of the race, it really builds morale for the team. We had a so many small gremlins that kept us from the podium this season, and to come all this way and finish where we did gives us hope to contend for the championship again.”
Starting from the dirty side of the track on pole, Francis’ wheels spun and allowed points leader Loshak to get the jump on the young Floridian driver going into Turn 1. Francis quickly recovered to reclaim his first-place position before crossing the stripe, commanding the race from green to checkered for his first win of the season and breaking Loshak’s two-race winning streak.
“The start of the race was incredible,” said Loshak. “We had a great start and we took first. I thought it would be like Sebring and then I turned, and the car didn’t. I fell back, losing position but as gas fell off I started to gain speed and the steering came back. We definitely had bullseyes on our back this weekend. I am surprised at the pace the all the guys brought this weekend. It’s hard to be on top and it’s even harder to stay there. We just didn’t have a lot for Ernie this weekend, but while we didn’t win the race we won the weekend, still on top of the championship.”
Losing momentum, Loshak dropped to fourth as Chris Dyson and Drissi passed him. Meanwhile, Dyson, who built a 10-second gap between himself and third-place Drissi, started experiencing mechanical issues after he set his fastest lap of the race. The mechanical gremlins caused Dyson to pit, forcing him to give up his second place position. The CD Racing squad worked to get Dyson back on track, but the setback cost Dyson a possible podium as he was six laps down.
“We had a tough day today,” said Dyson. “It’s a shame when mechanical things take you out of contention but that’s the difference between racing and other sports, you win as team and you lose as a team. The car was absolutely flying today. We had the speed to challenge Ernie but didn’t get the chance because a belt came off the water pump drive. We are going to be working our tails off leading up to Lime Rock. We’ve proven to have the speed to contend up front, as we’ve done all season, so we’re going to shake this race off and come back strong next round.”
With Dyson out, Drissi and Loshak diced for second and third. Racing door-to-door entering the Kink at the top of the notorious Corkscrew turn, Loshak overtook Drissi for second. Loshak then wheeled his gold No. 3 Penzoil/Elavon/GoShare Chevrolet Camaro into a healthy lead over his teammate, and ultimately finished where he started the race in second.
Drissi’s blue Godzilla: King of Monsters Chevrolet Camaro crossed the line in third, his second podium of the 2019 season.
“I love this track. It’s an absolute blast to drive,” said Drissi. “I had some good battles with Lawrence but just didn’t have enough in the end to contend up front.”
In the first of two integrated events with the National Championship, the Trans Am West Coast Championship also competed on the 11-turn, 2.28-mile WeatherTech Raceway circuit. TA class points-leader Simon Gregg clicked off another victory after also winning last weekend’s TA West Coast race at Auto Club Speedway, chalking his win tally to two. Michael Fine took second with California-native Michelle Nagai taking third.
“I’m so proud of the team,” said Gregg. “I felt like I had a good race and we had dramatic finish, finishing the race on a flat tire. The Derhaag Motorsports group have worked so hard to give me a good car for this trip to the west coast.”
Dirk Leuenberger in the Lux Performance Doge Viper drove a near perfect race to take the checkered in the SGT West Coast class.
“It was great to be part of Trans Am history here at WeatherTech Raceway,” commented Leuenberger. “After fifty years of Trans Am racing here, I can say I won at Laguna, and on my first visit to the track at that!”
After three years of grinding, Mitch Marvosh in the Wolf Entertainment Chevrolet Corvette, claimed his first Trans Am career win in the West Coast GT class. Roger Eagleton took second in the FiveStarPropMgmt/EnergyRealEst Ford Mustang with Beau Border in the APEX Race Parts CorteX Racing Ford Mustang finishing third.
“It’s about time I won something in Trans Am!” said Marvosh. “I feel great to pick one up for the team. We’ve been at it for a few years and finally got a win. We took first on the start and never looked back.”
Winning everything he possibly could, Francis took home the first $500 Emco Gears Top Gear Award for winning the round and for leading the race by such a large margin, Francis was also awarded with the Cool Shirt Cool Move of the race. Kerry Hitt won the Masters award in the TA class following a seventh-place finish in the No. 19 Advanced Composite Products Inc. Cadillac CTSV.
The TA2 powered by AEM will close out the Trans Am SpeedFest weekend on Sunday with qualifying starting at 8:55 a.m. PT with the 100-mile or 70-minute feature (which ever comes first) starting at 1:10 p.m. PT. Fans can follow live timing and scoring on the GoTransAm.com website or on the Race Monitor App.
As the end of the 2018/2019 Super Season is approaching, the WEC competitors gathered at the Belgium Spa-Francorchamps race track for the one before the last race of the season. Racing in Belgium was this week-end a matter of weather conditions, with bright sunshine, rain, hail- and snowstorms... For the first time in WEC, drivers had to deal with snow on the track... Matthieu Vaxivière and François Perrodo were joined by Frenchman Norman Nato, as Loïc Duval was on duty for the launch of the DTM Championship in Hockenheim, just across the Eiffel Massif.
Total 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps
All along the race weekend, competitors had to deal with exceptionally changing weather conditions. The drivers of #28 TDS Racing Oreca07 started with a 35 lap FP1 on a dry track, followed by 22 laps in the rain for FP2. On Friday morning, the 24 laps of FP3 took place on a dry track, while qualifying was completed on both dry and wet...
And this was just a glimpse of what they were going to experience during the race... adding hail and snow coming up just a few laps after race start. Naturally, these extreme weather conditions involved a lot of off-tracks, spins, Full Course Yellows and Safety Cars. In the end, track direction interrupted the race six times (SC and FCY), for a total of 110 minutes, and stopping the race 11 minutes before the planned race end.
Matthieu Vaxivière started the race from LMP2 P7 position and managed to gain 4 places to be P3 as the Safety Car came out after 10 laps. 25 minutes later, after a strong hail and snow storm, the race was re-launched on a totally WET track. Victim of a slow puncture, Matthieu was forced to come in and lost five places on the LMP2 classification. Coming back on track 25th in the general classification (8th LMP2), he tried to make up for the loss, but a second 22 minutes Safety Car period (ByKolles LMP1) hindered him to better his position until the race started again on a drying track. After two FCY (#88 in the gravel bed and SMP Racing tire loss) and a 2h50 stint, Matthieu passed on the wheel to François. François was the luckiest of the three drivers regarding weather condition, as he had a full 35-lap race stint, without snow and only a short rain period. Norman Nato took over after 98 laps, he could not complete his stint as race direction decided to red flag the race 11 minutes before the programmed end.
FP1 DRY - 35 Laps - P7 - 2'04''909
FP2 WET - 22 Laps - P2 - 2'29''295
FP3 DRY - 24 Laps - P5 - 2'03''073
Qualification WET - P7 - 2'04''967 (Matthieu & François)
Race - P5