Sports Car Convergence: Great for Racing if It’s Affordable

In this winter of seismic changes in the racing world, another positive tremor occurred this morning. ACO and IMSA agreed to a “convergence,” agreeing on a common car for the 2022.  It’s about time this happened. Allowing cars from each series to compete in each other’s races can’t help but grow the sport. Here is the link for the story from IMSA with the details:

https://www.imsa.com/news/012020/aco-and-imsa-forge-future-endurance-racing

I hope this means we will see more diversity in body style. Having four chassis manufacturers can’t hurt. The 2022 Rolex 24 could see an increased field. Perhaps LeMans will allow more entries as well. We could see some amazing international competition.

My concern is costs. How long will team be able to afford the LMDh or Hypercar? They have a year to plan budget wise, but will there be enough ROI to make it worthwhile in the long term? Racing is expensive now. How much cost increase will the convergence bring? Costs are something to watch as 2022 nears.

Despite my concerns, the year after next should be very exciting. I’ve always wondered why the cars were not built to work in both WEC and IMSA. It never made sense. I wonder if an arrangement of this type is coming for GTD and GT3 as well.

Rolex Day 1 Notes

Changes abound at Daytona International Speedway. One of the nicest is the signs above the garages with the car number and drivers’ names. It’s very helpful for fans seeking autographs and the photos of the signs are easier than scrolling through the Spotter’s Guide.

Wifi is improved around the track, especially in the campgrounds. It’s nice to have on your phone, though I wish I could get a decent signal on the laptop.

Signage has improved tremendously, helping fans find locations easier.

Pedestrian paths are more organized with barriers. This is a great improvement in safety from the first year I came to Daytona, when it seemed people could walk anywhere they wished. The barriers have made getting to the Fan Zone from the International Horseshoe much easier, and actually less congested.

Daytona is still missing the needed additional video boards. I may have mentioned this before.

Food options are better and have more variety this year, including more vegetarian options. Prices are a bit high.

Ricky Taylor had a very hard hit in qualifying yesterday. The number 7 Acura spun in the bus stop and hit the tire barrier head on. Taylor was okay. The cra suffered serious front end damage and missed all but a few minutes of last night’s practice session.

Pole winners by class:

LMP1- Mazda 77 Oliver Jarvis

LMP2- 52 Oreca Ben Keating

GTLM-  911 Porsche   Nick Tandy

GTD – 9 Porsche  Zacharie Robichon

Back tomorrow morning with a pre race report.

Remember to follow my new home on Twitter, @Pitwindowtoo.

Ferrucci Confirmed at Coyne

Santino Ferrucci today was officially announced as the driver for the Dayle Coyne Racing with Vasser Sullivan entry in the NTT Indycar Series. Most thought it was a foregone conclusion but had expected an earlier confirmation.

I thought Seal Master was one of Sebastien Bourdais’s sponsors, but I am glad they are continuing with Coyne.

Ferrucci was the Rookie of the Year in the 103rd running of the Indianapolis 500 last May, finishing seventh in the race. He led the series rookie standings for part of the year.

Will we see another good year from him or will there be a sophomore slump? The loss of engineer Craig Hampson to Arrow McLaren SPa and the departure of veteran driver Bourdais may affect his performance in 2020.

There are now two teams with a pair of very young drivers. The ages of Ferrucci and Alex Palou at Coyne and Pato O’Ward and Oliver Askew at Arrow McLaren SP don’t add up to 90.

More details on this story later.

Rolex 24 Begins Today

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The 58th Rolex 24 gets underway today with three practice sessions and qualifying. The Thursday night practice is one of my favorite sessions of the entire year of racing. There is nothing on the line,just cars driving through the darkness.

Tomorrow has the final practice round before Saturday’s race. Most of Friday features the  four hour Michelin Pilot race.

Saturday the 24 hour race begins an hour earlier than it has the past few years. The start Saturday and finish Sunday are on NBC.

I will have the television schedule up later. I’m leaving for the track and will provide updates periodically, including my famous well read mid race report. Thanks to both of you who read that one.

Foyt Looking to Reset with Kimball

Photo from Charlie Kimball’s Twitter page

“Let’s hit the reset button,” Larry Foyt said, We want our effort to start showing results.”

Foyt explained one of the reasons the team signed Charlie Kimball for the full season ride in their car number 4 for 2020. He is impressed with the feedback Kimball provides. “I enjoyed the challenge of bringing my Indycar experience to Carlin,” Kimball said. He hopes to do the same thing at A. J. Foyt Racing.

Kimbal is looking forward to running a full season after a brief part time stint with Carlin in 2019.  “I would not have survived a,a,partial schedule again. It was really tough on me watching races from the sideline,” he said.

“Running a full schedule allows me to stay in rhythm,” Kimball added. He said he felt other drivers were ahead of him when he drove since they were driving every race.

Kimball thanked his sponsor Novo Nordisk, his sponsor for the last twelve years. The company which has been with Kimball since his Indy Lights days will be the primary sponsor for six races during the upcoming season.

Foyt said last year the team went the wrong direction on dampers. “Our setups showed well off the track, but they didn’t work when the track changed. Our setups weren’t working with the dampers.” He hopes Kimball’s mechanical feedback can help point the team in the correct direction.

Team goals for 2020 are second round qualifying on road and street courses and fighting for the top 10 in the championship. Kimball sees no reason the team can’t qualify in the top 12 at Indianapolis or perhaps be in the Fast 9.

Foyt said the number 14 car is a “work in progress.” An announcement may come in a couple of weeks. Asked about Tony Kanaan, Foyt answered, I’m sure he will be part of the team.”

Thoughts

Whatever some may think of Kimball’s driving ability, I have to tip my hat to any driver who runs a partial season after being a full time driver then bounces back with a full time ride the following season. That doesn’t happen very often.I’m not su

Kimball Has a decent record in the Indianapolis 500 with four top 10 finishes in nine races. He was third in 2015 and fifth in 2016. Foyt’s cars have run well at IMS. This could be an interesting combination in May.

I think Foyt’s team goals will be difficult to achieve. The top 10 is a tough club to break into. I could see some good results and some road/street qualifying success, but I’m not sure we’ll see the consistency he’s looking for this year. His goals are admirable and I hope the team gets a sniff of them.

Rumors are that the 14 car will be shared by Sebastien Bourdais, Dalton Kellett, and Tony Kanaan. Kanaan is slated for the ovals, I’m hearing. Kimball will need to provide strong feedback to the drivers, especially the rookie Kellett.

The Foyt cars may be hard to spot for a couple races without the familiar ABC Supply Co. logos. I’m glad they will return for the Indianapolis 500. Iwill misss them the rest of the season.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rolex 24 Preview: Small Strong Field Ready to Star IMSA Season

A smaller than normal entry list at The Roar before the 24 has gotten smaller as the Rolex 24 approaches. Two LMP2 entries have withdrawn, bringing the field down to 38 cars. Still, the field is a strong group of cars and drivers. Six current Indycar drivers will participate, mainly in the DPi class.  Sebastien Bourdais also is in the DPi class. Bourdais will be in the Number 5 car all season.

The Indycar drivers and their cars-

Bourdais -5

Simon Pagenaud – 6 (teaming with Juan Pablo Montoya)

Alexander Rossi-7 (teaming with (Helio Castroneves)

Scott Dixon- 10

Ryan Hunter-Reay- 55

Ben Hanley- 81 (LMP2)

Colton Herta- 25 (GTLM)  Defending class winner

Changes

The Ford GTLM cars are gone. Usually the cars were in contention for a win. GTLM will probably be a fight between the Corvettes, the Lexus Vasser Sullivan Team, and the Ferrari.

Wayne Taylor Racing doesn’t have a Taylor driving anymore. Jordan is now driving for the number 3 Corvette. Ricky went to the Team Penske Acura two years ago. The team won the Rolex last year and will be competitive, especially with Scott Dixon as one of the extra endurance drivers.

The race start time has been moved up to 1:40 pm Eastern from its traditional 2:40 pm green flag. I don’t see the extra daylight hour on Saturday having much effect on the race. It’s great for the fans, though, to have an extra hour of warmth at the start.

What to Watch For

One advantage of the smaller fields and the smaller classes is this race should be easier to follow.

In DPi, I see the Mazdas winning the pole. In the race, they will be strong, but don’t overlook the Team Penske Acuras. Rossi and Montoya were very fast two weeks ago, and they may have a better race pace than the Mazdas.

I’m interested is watching how Bourdais and his team does in their debut outing. While the number 5 car looks the same as it did in 2019, the car is now a JDC-Miller car instead of Action Express.

In GTD the Lamborghinis should be strong again despite their disqualifications at the Roar. Watch for Katherine Legge’s all female team, the number 19 Lamborghini.

Meyer Shank Racing’s car 86 will also have a strong run.

I will provide updates on site beginning Thursday.

You can find the Spotter Guide here:

2020 Official IMSA Spotter Guide

The television schedule is a mashup involving NBC, NBCSN, TrackPass, and NBC Gold. The app can be purchased for $19.99. It covers the entire IMSA season.  The start and finish are on NBC Saturday and Siunday beginning at 1:30 pm Eastern.

 

 

 

Hinchcliffe Gets Funding; Looking for Ride

James Hinchcliffe has the funding to run the Indianapolis 500 and possibly afew more races. Thanks to Genesys, a technology firm providing cloud services, he now has the money to take to a team. But which team? I assume he would want one of the Honda teams.  Andretti is full as they already have seven cars for Indianapolis. The other Honda teams, Ganassi, Coyne, and Rahal, are possibilities. I would think either Coyne or Rahal would be more likely than Ganassi.

The news comes just two months after Hinchcliffe was told by Arrow McLaren SP that he would not be driving for them. The team signed Pato O’Ward and rookie Oliver Askew and  for the 2020 season. Hinchcliffe still has a contract with the team and will do personal appearances on their behalf. My understanding is he can still drive for another team.

I have to give Hinchcliffe credit for working hard to secure the money needed for the 500 in just two months. Some drivers work on this aspect of racing all year and come up short. Hinchcliffe qualified 32nd and finished 11th in 2019. He failed to qualify in 2018. The sponsors will announce further details at a later date.

Hinchcliffe is one of the most popular drivers in the NTT Indycar Series. It’s great knowing he will be at IMS during May.

Indycar at the Chili Bowl

Indycar has its best representation at the Chili Bowl in several years. Santino Ferrucci, James Davison, and Conor Daly are entered in the week long midget event in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Daly drives for the first time tonight.

Ferrucci did well in his first ever midget event. He started 11th and finished fifth, just one spot short of transferring to that evening’s feature round. Davison was 10th in his debut last night.

The Chili Bowl finals are on Saturday night from 8:30-11:30 Eastern Time on MavTV.