With the F1 and Drifting break it has been a while since I’ve had some motorsport news here so it is good to have some today! We are starting off with the GoPro Indy Grand Prix Of Sonoma at the Sonoma Road Course in what was a rough weekend for many drivers at the top of the points battle. Ryan Hunter-Reay, Scott Dixon, and James Hinchcliffe all had pretty bad practice sessions which left them with a lack of confidence going into qualifying and the race on Sunday. On the other hand Team Penske seemed to find their groove as Will Power and Ryan Briscoe both had strong practice and qualifying efforts. Helio Castroneves had a few hiccups but kept himself at the front of the field for the race start.
NOTE: IndyCar now puts entire races on YouTube for your viewing pleasure. If you want to watch the whole thing unfold for yourself then just watch below. If you want the cliff notes just scroll past the video and read on.
However once the race went underway Helio got into the back of Scott Dixon, spinning him out which effectively jacked up Scott’s day and Helio’s as he was given a drive through penalty for avoidable contact. Later on James Hinchcliffe retired after being punted by a lapped car which upset the oil pressure and ended his day early. Up front, Will Power was running away from the field for the most part and everything was going his way until a late caution while he was in the pits caused a mix up that ended up putting him behind his teammate Ryan Briscoe in the restart. Behind that Ryan Hunter-Reay shook off any anti-confidence demons he had to work his way up to third but a dive-bomb boner by Tagliani spun Ryan out and put him at the back of the field with less than 10 laps remaining.
With Ryan Hunter-Reay put way in the back Will Power decided it would probably be best to avoid pressuring Ryan Briscoe too much and possibly ruining his points run. As such Ryan Briscoe went on to win the race with Will Power coming in second, and Dario Franchitti taking third. Will Power remains in the championship lead and Ryan Hunter-Reay is now 35 points behind Power and only 5 points ahead of Helio Castroneves going into the next race at Baltimore. After Baltimore is the final race of the season when Indy Car returns to California Speedway for the MAVTv 500.
Can Will Power keep his lead and get his first championship? Or will Ryan Hunter-Reay or Helio Castroneves come from behind? Only two more races to go!
Soon after Audi made history this weekend by achieving the first 24 Hours Of LeMans victory with a hybrid race car, Mazda has announced that they will take their knew “Skyactiv-D” race engine to next year’s LeMans race with Dempsey Racing’s LMP2 class program. The Skyactiv-D race engine is the result of a partnership between Mazdaspeed Motorsports and SpeedSource racing. When all was said and done SpeedSource started with a stock Skyactive-D 2.2 liter engine block and turned it into a dual-staged turbo’d beast. Although I am not sure of the performance numbers I am sure this engine is more than capable of hanging with the big dogs in the class. I personally can’t wait to see Mazda run in the prototype class at LeMans again!
MAZDA ANNOUNCES SKYACTIV-D CLEAN DIESEL ENGINE FOR 2013 24 HOURS OF LE MANS
- DEMPSEY RACING PLANNING TO BE FIRST CUSTOMER FOR NEW ENGINE –
June 16, 2012 (LE MANS, FRANCE) Mazda Motorsports today announced that it will sell racing versions of its new SKYACTIV-D CLEAN DIESEL engines to teams competing in the Le Mans Prototype 2 (LMP2) class of racing’s greatest endurance challenge – the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The Le Mans engine program will make its debut at the 2013 running of the race. Mazda was the first – and to this day, remains the only – Asian manufacturer to score an overall win at the race, in 1991.
“This reopens our love affair with Le Mans,” said Jay Amestoy, Vice President of Mazda Motorsports, Mazda North American Operations (MNAO). “In 1991 we made history, winning with rotary technology. Now we’re looking to return to the winner’s circle with what we believe will be the most advanced and cleanest production-based powerplant the sport has ever seen. We’ll do it in current Mazda style, with engines being available for sale to European and U.S. customers competing in the LMP2 class for both the World Endurance Championship (WEC) and the American Le Mans Series (ALMS).”
The engines are being developed jointly by Mazda Motor Corporation, Mazda North American Operations and SpeedSource Race Engineering. Dyno testing has already begun and on-track testing begins in late 2012.
The engines will be stock-block Mazda SKYACTIV-D 2.2-liter diesel four-cylinder, dual-stage turbocharged powerplants. According to John Doonan, MNAO’s Director of Mazda Motorsports, “will deliver outstanding performance and fuel economy coupled with the kind of quality, durability and reliability needed to produce great street cars and win endurance races.”
Mr. Masahiro Moro, Executive Officer in charge of global sales and marketing of Mazda Motor Corporation, made the following comment: “Mazda has fostered the culture of ‘never stop challenging.’ And it was this spirit that drove us through 18 consecutive years of racing at Le Mans, until we finally triumphed in 1991. In fact, it is this same spirit that laid the foundation for the portfolio of SKYACTIV Technologies. This was realized thanks to a number of technological breakthroughs. I am pleased that we will be supporting our private customers who are taking up the Le Mans challenge by supplying race engines as a customer-program based on our SKYACTIV-D CLEAN DIESEL.”
DEMPSEY RACING PLANNING TO BE FIRST SKYACTIV-D CUSTOMER
Planning and preparations continue for Dempsey Racing to become the first LMP2 customer for the Mazda SKYACTIV-D racing powerplant. Dempsey Racing is co-owned by racer/actor Patrick Dempsey.
Dempsey Racing has been racing Mazda RX-8s in the GRAND-AM GT class since 2007 with their highlight being a podium finish at the 2011 Rolex 24 at Daytona. The team has steadily improved their on-track performance since their arrival in the series, and was a key contributor to Mazda winning the 2010 GRAND-AM GT Manufacturers Championship. With support from several partners such as VISITFLORIDA.com, Dempsey Racing expanded their operation this year to include a team running in the American Le Mans Series, and is competing in both the Prototype Challenge (LMPC) and Prototype 2 (LMP2) classes as they prepare for their Le Mans effort. In fact both team owner Dempsey and co-driver Joe Foster are currently testing their LMP2 car in Virginia as the rest of the sports car world focuses on the 80th running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans this weekend.
Patrick Dempsey and his business partner/co-driver Joe Foster have both competed at the 24 Hours of Le Mans as drivers in the GT category, and are eager to return in 2013, this time in the LMP2 class and with Mazda SKYACTIV-D clean diesel-power.
Patrick Dempsey comments “Our long-term partnership with Mazda has been fantastic, and we look forward to mutual success as we prepare for 2013. We are focused on that preparation which is why we are currently testing our LMP2 car here in the US in preparation for the next ALMS event. Our team and partners are excited to be associated with SKYACTIV-D technology and the cutting-edge green technology it represents.”
About Mazda & MAZDASPEED
Mazda is the number-one brand for road-racers across North America. Thousands of Mazda powered grassroots racers compete in various classes with the SCCA and NASA highlighted by Spec Miata, the world’s largest spec class with over 2,500 cars built. In 2006 Mazda established the MAZDASPEED Motorsports Development Ladder to assist racers in moving up through the ranks. In 2010 this was expanded to include the Mazda Road to Indy. Key to Mazda’s success is strategic partnerships with the Skip Barber Racing School and Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
MAZDASPEED Motorsports is managed by Mazda North American Operations (MNAO). MNAO is headquartered in Irvine, Calif., and oversees the sales, marketing, parts and customer service support of Mazda vehicles in the United States and Mexico through nearly 700 dealers. Operations in Mexico are managed by Mazda Motor de Mexico in Mexico City.
Just as the 50th Rolex 24 Hours Of Daytona race was getting underway GRAND-AM made the announcement that B-Spec racing would be included as part of their 2012 season. I suspected that B-spec would become a part of GRAND-AM soon but I did not think it would come this soon! For now B-Spec drivers will be allowed to run at 6 events this year with the first being at Homestead Miami-Speedway at the end of April (27th-29th), then New Jersey Motorsports Park in May (11th-13th), followed by Mid-Ohio (June 8-9), Watkins Glen International (July 29th-June 1st), Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca (Sept. 8th-9th), and finally Lime Rock Park (Sept 28th-29th). For an amatur series’ first year that location list is pretty damn impressive!
Each B-Spec event will be in a sprint race format (30-45 minute timed races) and the events will not be “connected” as in each race is a stand alone event so there is no need to travel the country to race each one in hopes for a championship (unless you really want to). Instead GRAND-AM just wants local racers at each track to come out and do their best to win the day. I have to admit with the schedule they put together combined with the lack of pressure by not having to run a full year for a championship B-Spec is looking pretty damn attractive right now. I would love to put a car together in time for the Mazda Raceway event!
GRAND-AM To Add B-Spec Races Entry-Level Class Features Exciting Sub-Compact Street Stock Cars
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Jan. 28, 2011)
Currently, the six sprint races – planned for between 30 and 45 minutes in length – will run in conjunction with GRAND-AM weekends at Homestead-Miami Speedway (April 27-29), New Jersey Motorsports Park (May 11-13), Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course (June 8-9), Watkins Glen International (June 29-July 1), Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca (Sept. 7-9) and Lime Rock Park (Sept. 28-29). Each of those weekends will also feature North America’s most popular forms of sports car competition – the GRAND-AM Rolex Series and the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge.
Regional racers who meet entry requirements are welcome at each event, with a concentration on event victories instead of a national championship. No currently licensed professional drivers will be allowed to participate.
A total of five manufacturers have committed to the new competition, with the following models involved: Mazda 2, Honda Fit, Ford Fiesta, Mini Cooper, and Kia Rio. Additional future manufacturer entries are expected.
One of the fastest-growing segments of the automobile business, B-Spec is among the most affordable classes for entry-level racers, and is expected to enjoy great support from club racers.
Cars will be 4-cylinder models, with a target cost range of $20,000-$30,000.
B-Spec features showroom stock racing cars utilizing stock engines and chassis, fitted with a competition roll cage, racing seat and other safety equipment; and manufacturer-approved suspension components, tires and wheels. Weight and other variables will be used to balance performance among competing manufacturers.
Each manufacturer will develop an approved performance kit which is subject to GRAND-AM approval. These will be the only alterations permitted to the respective cars. All practice sessions will also serve as qualifying to set race grids.
“This new form of GRAND-AM racing will attract new racers and in the process, new fans,” said GRAND-AM Managing Director of Racing Operations Mark Raffauf. “The cars are cool and the competition will be door-to-door, which should be a lot of fun for everyone – a nice fit with what GRAND-AM already has happening at every event.”
– GRAND-AM Road Racing announced today an exciting complement to its two existing sports car series, in the form of a new “B-Spec” level featuring sub-compact cars in six races this season.
At the root of all car lovers is a race car driver waiting to get out. At some point all of us have had daydreams of crossing the finish line at the Indy 500 or standing on top of the podium at the Monaco Grand Prix. Many of us have let our daydreams turn into a full on obsession with motorsports and have latched on to one form of racing or many as serious fanboys/girls. However, as much fun as it is to watch and follow racing there is nothing quite like doing it yourself. Yet the path to becoming a race car driver used to be quite hidden and has remained to be very, very expensive. Thanks to great programs like the Mazdaspeed Motorsports ladder and the Skip Barber Racing Series the route from armature to professional is a bit easier to find. Yet following that route has become more expensive than ever before. It is that fact that has many would be racers turning sponsorship acquisition into a second job (the first job is to fund any racing that they already do!). Anyone who has ever tried to seek out sponsorship dollars for a cause or sports knows that they have to deal with a marketing manager, advertising agency, or sometimes both. To even have a shot at getting sponsorship money to go racing one has to learn how to put together a sponsorship proposal, know lingo like “impressions”, study returns on investment, become an expert in social network marketing, have “media training”, and so forth. These days the path to racing winds through the dark woods of marketing so much that someone will become an MBA in marketing before becoming a race car driver. In the whirlwind of power point presentations, photoshop renderings, and excel spreadsheets it can be easy to forget why you wanted to become a race car driver in the first place. The heart of racing has become buried in the budgets of marketing departments of non-endemic corporations and is guarded by brand managers who are looking for a “marketable face, name, or story” over talent or passion. Where does “Joe Racer” who just go when he just wants to race for the joy of racing besides the local go-kart track or Xbox Live? The answer could be a new race class conceived by a collaboration between Mazda and Honda called “B-Spec”
How can B-Spec be a new entry way into racing? Well I was invited along with a small group of journalists to Willow Springs Raceway by Mazda and Honda so that they could explain it to us personally. Here is how they put it:
So there you have it. The passionate minds from Mazda and Honda want you to be able to get a “B-level” car such as a Mazda2 or Fit and with the purchase of a kit, some elbow grease, safety equipment, and a fabricator to put in a cage you can participate in a race in several sanctioned race series or (likely with sponsorship support) try to run a full season in one particular series of choice. Although sponsorship might be key go compete for a full season in a B-Spec class, there will be rules and regulations to keep a manufacturer from stepping in and becoming overly dominant. OEM participation will be limited to simply offering B-Spec kits to customers. So far there is an impressive list of OEM’s that will be a part of B-Spec but it is promised that none of those OEMs will dump a ton of money into any one team to get an edge over the competition. There are also rules to keep power as equal as possible among the eligible cars from each OEM. For example certain cars will have to run intake restrictors to keep their horsepower closer to the rest of the pack. Of course certain cars may still have advantages or disadvantages due to wheel base, suspension type, etc. However, no one car will have a disproportionate advantage over the others. The great thing about B-Spec is that SCCA is on board and making an effort to include B-Spec classes not only in their club racing series but in some of their bigger pro series such as World Challenge and even Rally racing. There is also a possibility of B-Spec being a part of Grand-Am endurance racing as well. So, theoretically with one car you could go to a number of different race disciplines without having to make many changes (if any) to your B-Spec car. The bottom line is not only does B-Spec make real racing accessible again to people who want to race for the love of racing but it also still provides a doorway into the professional ranks for those who still wish to seek that out as well. B-Spec has the potential to give racing’s soul back to the racers and with OEMs such as Mazda, Honda, Toyota, Kia, Nissan, Ford, GM, and most recently MINI race fans will get to see real manufacturer competition in America again.
By the way if all of this is getting you exciting about going racing but you have no experience have no worries. I drove B-Spec versions of both the Mazda2 and Honda Fit and they are both incredibly easy to drive in race-trim and with an impromptu coaching session from GrandAM driver Charles Espenlaub I was able to pull a decent amount of speed from both chassis. I would recommend a three-day school at Skip Barber to get race theory and technique down followed by a few SCCA races at the club level and you will have the confidence and skill it takes to try your hand in one of the premiere series.
As B-Spec unfolds in 2012 we plan to keep the site updates with any news and developments that will arise. If you are anxious to get your feet wet now I suggest looking for a Mazda2 or Honda Fit and contacting either Mazdaspeed Motorsports or Honda Performance Development as they will likely be first out of the gate to have B-Spec kits available. I might look into it myself! Stay tuned! In the meantime you can check out the full SCCA B-Spec rule book by clicking on the link below.
If your one of the few gear heads on earth who does not own Forza Motorsport 4 yet then you should definitely add it to your gift list for the holidays this year. Over the years the Forza Motorsport series has really come into its own and has gone from a pretender to the Gran Turismo throne to the king of the realm. There is also so much more for players to explore in the latest chapter including Top Gear challenges and the beautiful Autovista mode, which when coupled with Microsoft Kinect lets the player take a virual walk around of a long list of beautiful supercars and other cars that are notable to the car lover culture. This game is a MUST HAVE if you love cars even just a little bit. If you do not have an Xbox 360 then go ahead and put one of those on the list too or buy one because it is worth getting the console just for this game! If you want to know exactly why we love it so much then check out our review.
We have all been stuck in hopelessly boring situations: waiting in line, stuck on a long plane trip, listening to people. All those those aforementioned things suck! However there is a new and awesome way to pass time, especially if your a Formula 1 fan. Codemasters has released F1 2011 for the Nintendo 3DS handheld system! So not only can you race around the world on the go but you can do it in 3D with no dorky glasses! This is not a super condensed version of the console game either. Players still get all the teams, cars, and tracks from the 2011 F1 season, multiplayer via LAN or wi-fi with up to four players, season co-op mode, and there is even an exclusive 3DS feature in which players can put their fastest lap-times up against passers-by via the 3DS’ “streetpass” feature.
You can find the game at Best Buy or Gamestop or any other major retailer for about 40 bucks which makes this a great and easy to find gift for the racing fan in your life, just make sure they have a Nintendo 3DS. If not you can pick one up for about 170 bucks. If you are the racing fan and you are reading this then trust us when we tell you this game is a must for your wish list this year. Stay tuned for more suggestions!
Just as the tryptophan coma wore off the final Formula One race of the season at circuit Interlagos in Brazil got underway. Things started off with a history making run by Sebastien Vettel in qualifying. The young German captured pole once again, surpassing the tie he has with Nigel Mansel for most poles in a single season. With that bit of business out of the way it was time for all the guys on the grid to have at it one last time for 2011. As usual Sebastien Vettel took off for an early lead but later on he had issues with his car and had to reduce his pace significantly which made way for his team mate Mark Webber to take the lead. Sebastien managed to hold on to the second place spot while Jenson Button secured a 2nd place in the points by finishing third in the race. Lewis Hamilton appeared to have a shot for one last win but his car suffered an uncharacteristic failure early in the race.
So there we have it folks! Sebastien Vettel is your 2011 champion while breaking a few records in the process, Red Bull Racing took the constructor’s title, and McLaren along with Ferrari are just glad its all over for the year. Stay tuned for the 2012 silly season!
Formula One landed in India for the first time over the weekend for the inaugural Grand Prix of India at the freshly built Buddh International Circuit built by the Jaypee Group in New Delhi. There were many rumors and chatter in the weeks leading up to the event that the race may not even happen but things went just as scheduled and for a first event things (mostly) went off without a hitch. While the facilities were great, the drivers were a bit thrown off by the surprisingly technical course. Also, since the asphalt was still fresh there was plenty of slipping and sliding. Still the cream of the crop figured it all out when it counted; and by “cream of the crop” we mean Red Bull, McLaren, and Ferrari. It was mostly Red Bull who really solved the equation though as Sebastien Vettel managed to pull off a “grand slam” which is race speak for leading every lap from the pole, setting fastest lap of the race, and winning the race. Jenson Button put up a good fight with the young two-time champion but couldn’t close the gap but was still satisfied with a second place finish while Fernando Alonso managed to get around Mark Webber and bring home the third place podium finish for Ferrari.
This finishing order officially slots McLaren in second place for the constructors title and Ferrari in third. Now, all the real awards have been decided and there are two more races (Abu Dhabi and Brazil) for the drivers to go rip-sh!t-riot and take what they can before the season’s end. Vettel is on a quest for most poles captured in one season. His pole over this weekend which brings him to a total of 13 ties him with legends such as Alain Prost and the great Ayrton Senna. Sebastien only needs one more pole position to put him in a relm of his own. With his dominance thus far, it seems like it is only a matter of time before he gets what he wants.
We will have to wait about two weeks to see if it will happen in Abu Dhabi though, so in the meantime we will just work on our conspiracy theory that Sebastien Vettel is the illegitimate love child of Michael Schumacher.
On the “wrap up” tour of the 2011 season the F1 circus landed in Korea for the second annual Korean Grand Prix. Red Bull Racing came into the weekend looking to clench the constructors championship to go along with Sebastien Vettel’s drivers championship. Although for a while it looked like Red Bull’s plans would be put on hold as Lewis Hamilton cleared the cobwebs that have been clogging him up all season and put on a stellar performance by capturing pole position during Saturday qualifying. His pole position was the first by a non-Red Bull driver in almost a year and he held off Sebastien Vettel’s hopes of tie-ing the record for most poles by a driver in a single F1 season.
One would think Lewis would be elated at his accomplishment in light of his recent troubles but during the post-qualifying press conference he was strangely stoic. It seemed like he put all emotion aside and was in full race-mode all weekend. Unfortunately it wasn’t enough to keep him in front of the pack. When the race started Sunday Sebastien Vettel was able to make a pass on Lewis for the lead in the first lap and from there we know how the story goes.
Although despite fighting understeer and immense pressure from Mark Webber Lewis was able to hang on to second place while Webber finished third. Sebastien’s win and Mark’s podium secured the constructors championship for Red Bull.
Now we have three more races with a full rid of drivers who have nothing to lose. It will be interesting to see how end of the season will play out.
It seems like the best way for teams to win in the big leagues of racing is to literally grow your championship driver from childhood. This worked for McLaren when they supported Lewis Hamilton and new F1 champion Sebastien Vettel was the product of a development program as well. Group Lotus has decided they need to get into the development game as well so they’ve announced that they will be backing a kart team in the CIK-FIA which we can only guess is the “F1″ of karting.
A nice product of this move is that there will actually be Lotus karts like the one you see above available for sale. Although we are sure a Lotus kart will probably cost thousands of dollars and take forever to get since they will be built in Italy. However, the prospect of owning a Lotus go-kart is still pretty damn awesome, even if it doesn’t shoot red turtle shells or get magical speed boosts from mushrooms.
With an official entry into the CIK-FIA World Karting Championship 2012, Group Lotus is determined to discover new talent.
With the move into karting Group Lotus becomes the first car manufacturer to have a presence at the entry level of motorsport and provides a very special opportunity for early talent spotting. Some of today’s most famous and successful motorsport personalities cut their teeth in karting – the newly crowned FIA F1 World Champion Sebastian Vettel is the perfect example of the benefits of early driver development as are his peers, fellow former World Champions Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton.
But Lotus isn’t just interested in spotting the driving talent of the future, the potential to work with young people showing an aptitude for design and engineering is recognised as a very special opportunity for Lotus.
Competing under the ‘Lotus Racing Karts’ banner and forming part of the Lotus Motorsport division, Lotus Racing Karts will field a factory backed team, operated by Jefra Racing out of its headquarters near Treviso, Italy. With a formidable racing pedigree spanning over 40 years, Jefra Racing has competed in many classes of motorsport. Lotus hopes that this invaluable experience teamed with leadership from Team Manager Franc Jerancic will form the basis of a truly competitive team.
And Franc Jerancic is the man to impress – talent spotted and recruited by him will have all the latest homologated material at their disposal, including two new chassis models ‘Colin C30’ and ‘Jimmy C32’ giving the Lotus Racing Karts team the edge as they take on the CIK-FIA international karting events for KF and KZ categories and the World Karting Championship for KF1 category.
The production of karts and components is licensed by Group Lotus to Wildkart, specialists in aeronautics precision engineering since 1996 and manufacturer of karts since 2002. Today, Wildcart is regarded as an authority in kart chassis and components, providing services and solutions to many karting suppliers and brands. The fit with Group Lotus is enhanced by the mutual commitment to innovation, technology and development.
“Our entry into karting is exciting on many levels” comments Miodrag Kotur, Director of Operations for Lotus Motorsport. “Not only are we nurturing new talent and widening our motorsport programme, but we also have an opportunity to join forces with two world-class specialists. It is exciting to see Lotus Motorsport grow in such an authentic, fresh and exhilarating way”
Lotus Racing Karts will unveil their 2012 karts at the annual AUTOSPORT International event on the 14th January 2012 at NEC – Birmingham, UK.