Wednesday, July 13, 2011
Race Weekend 7/9-10
>American Le Mans Series, Lime Rock Park Connecticut
ALMS, North America's wing of the International Le Mans Cup took the stage at Lime Rock, a generally short course at slightly over 1.5 miles, with 7 corners (only one of which is left-handed). In their 2 hour 45 minute race the two competitors in the prototype class logged an astounding number of laps. The Mazda powered Lola chassis of Dyson racing drove to the win by keeping itself out of trouble, something the Aston-Martin Lola of Cytosport. In GTs the early competition was fierce, until a heavy incident took out both Corvettes, a BMW, and a Ferrari. Although damage was minimal the short course means a repairs stop drops you a number of laps, even under caution, ruining your weekend. The second BMW from Rahal Lettermen racing drove to the win, logging yet another trophy for the German brand this season. Flying Lizard-Porsche made chase, but a late spin prevented them from seriously challenging the BMW.
>Formula 1, Silverstone
The Formula returned to the site of the first official Grand Prix from 1950 this weekend at Silverstone, the track built from a former RAF bomber base. The weekend was hit repeatedly by rain, with the track being soaked an hour before the race, but no more was falling at the start. The field began the race on the intermediate-wet-tires, with Vettel jumping his teamate at the start. The drivers showed considerable skill in the wet with no big incidents being caused by it. As the track dried, the leaders pitted and went to soft-compound slicks, running in the 'valley' caused by the racing line being dry, and the shoulders still wet. McLaren's Button was utilizing his smooth driving style in a stellar run until in his second pit stop, a crew member failed to secure the right front wheel nut, forcing him to retire early. Ferrari ended up taking the win, with the two Red Bulls securing the other podium spots. Webber gave Vettel a scare, nearly passing the championship leader on the old pit straight in the closing stages of the race, before being told by his team to 'maintain a gap' from his teammate, now allowable after the re-institution of team-orders in the formula. Webber hates being considered the 'second-driver' at Red Bull, and this will undoubtedly lead to more bad blood in the team. Bigger news was the rule changes this weekend. A number of the teams had been utilizing their exhaust gasses to add extra air pressure to the down-force creating rear diffusers (an under-body wing between the back wheels). The change came about after the FIA discovered the teams had retuned their
engines to continue running at full throttle, even when the drivers lifted off the gas, to continue blowing that gas over the diffuser. The race director demanded that no more than 10% throttle may be run without the throttle being depressed. However these rules changed twice throughout the race weekend, and are expected to be ruled on again before the next round in Germany. So far the team that seems most affected is Renault, who's chassis relied on the system for stability. They also say their engines (also used in the dominate Red Bulls) may be at risk for reliability, being designed to vent gasses by that throttle dumping. I will give a better explanation of this situation once a final decision has been made.
>Indycar, Streets of Toronto
The Indycar Series ran the traditional CART venue of Toronto today, a twisting canyon of concrete and chain-link through the streets of the city. The field ran relatively well in the middle of the race, after a few early caution periods. Paul Tracy gained a number of positions early, and Graham Rahal eventually led the race for a period of time. But then with about a half hour of racing to go, it seemed like the drivers forgot how to drive. Barely 3 laps would get completed before contact lead to another caution. Contender Will Power was spun twice, Graham Rahal trying to leave room for his Ganassi team mates was spun out of 3rd place by a car behind him, Indy pole-sitter Tagliani even ended up on rolled on his side. The travesty is the lack of penalties given to the drivers in following cars, hitting the drivers in front of them. This is not
rush hour traffic at 20mph, this is a real race. By allowing this behavior it causes a danger to the driver and fans (some of whom enjoyed the multi collision carnage). Dario Franchitti may have won the race, but thew only real winners this week were Dallara, who must be raking in the cash selling spares to the teams to mend their battered cars. Unless this situation is addressed seriously by the league, expect some payback (for better or worse) next race on the wide, high-speed airport circuit of Edmonton.
>Grand Am, Laguna Seca
Grand Am / Rolex Series rounded out the weekend, taking their machines around the famed Laguna Seca course in Monterey California. In Prototypes Suntrust started from poll, the duo of Ricky Taylor and Max Angelelli trying to use their speed to gap the field early. However a jammed wheel-gun during their first pit stop allowed the Ganassi veteran Scott Pruett through into the lead. Much of the action was pit-related, with Pruett sliding through his pit
box on his car's second stop, costing the time for the mechanics to roll him back, and giving the Gainsco car driven by Alex Gurney into the lead. Drama would unfold on lap 95 during a caution-restart. Pruett would drop back three positions, but the caution waved again as a backmarker spun and became stranded into one of the deep sand-pits around the track. With the extra time, Grand-Am officials reviewed the restart video and determined Angelelli
used too much of the pit-lane exit to make the pass on Pruett, and reversed their positions on the restart 4 laps later. Pruett and Angelelli would both pass the 2nd place car of Ryan Dalziel, taking the podium positions behind Gurney, finally ending this season's win drought for the red team. In GT action, and early pit call set up the #70 Mazda RX8 of Speedsource into first place. However they were called in for a late splash of fuel, allowing the Leh Keen in the Brumos Porsche 911 into the lead. The 70 would rejoin in 3rd, behind their sister car #69, rounding out the class podium. A good result for Mazda, who uses Laguna as their North American home.
Looking forward to the championship battles in theses series as the seasons are mostly nearing their halfway points. Next weekend will see the return of GT1 and GT3 to the Paul Ricard test track in France, but more on that next post.
Posted by XPSMcLaren at 11:16 AM