LEAD 2 2005 ALMS Elkhart MarshallPruettArchives 006The least remarkable fact about the 2005 American Le Mans Series race at Road America is it was won by an Audi R8.

The true brilliance of the event came from the dogged battle between the lightweight 4-cylinder turbo Lola EX257-MGs that nipped at the heels of the all-conquering twin-turbo V8 R8s. And then there was the stunning performance by Corvette Racing to displace the entire LMP2 field while nearly earning a top-3 overall finish.

To borrow a line from Stefon, Road America 2005 had everything. It was wonderful snapshot of that ALMS season with the unforgettable Maserati MC12, the high-dollar ACEMO-run Saleen S7R, the year-old privateer Corvette C5-R in the hands of Pacific Coast Motorsports' Ryan Dalziel and Alex Figge, the B-K Motorsports rotary-powered Courage C65 LMP2, the twin factory Panoz Esperante GT2s with the stellar driver lineups of Bill Auberlen/Robin Liddell and Marino Franchitti/Bryan Sellers, the powerhouse Peterson/White Lightning Racing, Alex Job Racing, and Flying Lizard Motorsports teams, and the main protagonists in LMP1 and GT1 (see photo gallery below).

alms 16Through Florida's Champion Racing team, Audi Sport won seven of 10 races in 2005, including Road America, but the narrow 3.2-second margin of victory by Emanuele Pirro and Frank Biela in the No. 2 R8 over Chris Dyson and Andy Wallace in the No. 20 Lola-MG made for great drama.

Set in Wisconsin's rolling Kettle Moraine valley, Road America's daring 4.0-mile road course should have favored the Audi's big motor and big-budget aerodynamic developments. The lightweight Lolas were quick and nimble, and seemingly better suited for shorter, slower circuits like a Lime Rock or Mid-Ohio, yet in the hands of the Dyson Racing Team, 2005 played out as a season-long game of cat and mouse (LEFT, LAT photo).

Built to the ACO's LMP900 rules (the "900" was for 900 kilos), the Audi was more powerful, and paid for that extra oomph with added weight. The Lola, which conformed to the lighter LMP675 class, wasn't a big bruiser like the R8, but was a stout contender that made good power and, unlike the Audi, could trim to impressively low levels of downforce and drag.

The scrappy little privateer Dyson Lolas took the fight to Audi before the German manufacturer brought its diesel R10s in 2006, and with Porsche's factory LM2 program on the horizon, along with Aston Martin preparing its DBR9s to challenge the Corvettes, ALMS 2005 was the last year where diehard entrants and drivers ruled the series.

Click on the thumbnails for larger images. Next page: Chris Dyson and Oliver Gavin recall Road America 2005.

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lead3dyson 11"The 2005 season was a great year with the Champion Audi team, and our MG-Lolas that year really came into their own," said Chris Dyson (LEFT, LAT photo). "That year was two-on-two warfare the whole way between the Audis and our Lolas, and Road America was a race that typified the year where it went back and forth, and we could have won just as they could. It was a race where our sister car, the No. 16, with James Weaver driving, made an uncharacteristic error early on at the Carousel and that put them out of contention, so we had to go at the Audis on our own."

"It was one of those races that didn't come down to fuel saving, or a phantom yellow to close the racing up at the end," Dyson continued. "Audi had JJ Lehto and Marco Werner in one car, and [Pirro and Biela] in the other, and Andy and I in one MG-Lola and James and Butch Leitzinger in the other, and I think they would all say Road America was a race where we all had to push every lap of the race, no matter where you were in the field."

By 2005, the split LMP1 design options of LMP900 or LMP675 was nearing the end. The smaller P1s posed a fun threat to their bigger counterparts, but the underdog cars were on the downhill side of interest and car counts. It made a race like Road America even more special to see privateer P1s harass the mighty R8s.

"The LMP675 was designed as an equivalency formula in the early 2000s to give smaller teams, smaller manufacturers, a chance to take on the bigger and heavier LMP900 factory cars, and Lola took up the challenge at the time with a resurgent MG-Rover Group where they read the rulebook and saw they could build a car that could go to Le Mans and take on Audi," Dyson said. "We did a lot of development on the car for America, did a lot of aerodynamic tweaks that added some downforce, and overall, it had great efficiency at a track like Road America because it made very little drag.

"So, we didn't give up much on straightline speed to the Audis with our AER engines, and we were better under braking and in acceleration because of our lightness. Once the heavier R8s got up and moving they really went quickly, and had more downforce, but it wasn't like we were missing six or seven miles an hour in top speed. At Elkhart Lake, we would trim out to try and keep up, and to get by traffic on the straights, so that played a part in keeping things close in that context. When the [Audi] R10 diesels showed up the following year, it shot all that to hell, but as far as 2005 went, it was a proper equivalency formula that kept both types of LMP1 cars relatively close."

After two hours and 45 minutes of racing, the No. 20 Lola lost out to the No. 2 Audi by a small margin, and the No. 1 R8 was hot on their heels in third, just 0.538 seconds arrears.

Dyson recently re-acquired the No. 20 Lola, and based on the success Oliver Gavin had in the No. 4 Corvette C6.R with teammate Olivier Beretta, the Briton would surely welcome its addition to his stable of cars. The new-for-2005 C6.R was a marked improvement over its predecessor, the C5-R, and with the ALMS continuing to embrace the top GT1 racing category, the badass V8 'Vettes were capable of playing with the second-tier LMP2 cars of the era.

gavin 15"That car around that track was a huge amount of fun to drive," said Gavin (RIGHT, LAT photo). "It was the first year of the C6.R GT1 car, and made some pretty big steps forward from the C5-R. It had about 600 horsepower, and wasn't that far off from some of the big prototypes. At Road America, the delta was a little bit smaller, and we hit the setup pretty sweetly. It was a good race for us."

Starting with the previous round at Portland, Gavin and Beretta started a winning streak that would continue through Wisconsin and extend into 2006.

"There were many victories for Olivier and I in that car, and we began – right around that time – almost a full year of winning," Gavin continued. "We went on to win eight races in a row and took the 2005 championship for Corvette rather handily."

Placing fourth at Road America wasn't the best overall finish achieved by the Corvette Racing team – it went one better the year before by placing third at Mid-Ohio with the C5-R, but was six laps down at the checkered flag. Thanks to a monstrous 7.0-liter engine and more advanced aerodynamics, the GT1 C6.R could fly at Road America, and with the sister No. 3 Corvette in tow, both cars crossed the finish line just one lap behind the LMP1 Audi-Lola-Audi train, and ahead of the entire LMP2 field.

"The P2 in that period was still evolving," Gavin said. "Where LMP1 had embraced all-carbon chassis, the aerodynamics and chassis in P2 were still somewhat basic. They were light on power as well. I'm not saying we completely schooled the LMP2 field, but they weren't the heavyweights they are now – the premier class in IMSA. Now, they've refined the cars, have more downforce, more power. And we've gone from 600 horsepower to 500 horsepower in the top GT class – the opposite direction."

Gavin has been a constant through five or six generations of Corvette Racing models, and has a clear affinity for the big-banger GT1 cars of yesteryear.

"All of the technology and advancements we have today in our C7.R is amazing, and each car has been different as the rules and classes have changed over time," he said. "As I said, that C6.R, at Road was a special car to drive. Great memories of that car and that track..."

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 RD15024Veteran Verizon IndyCar Series driver Ryan Briscoe hopes to dovetail his new full-time sports car ride with a return to the Indianapolis 500. The 34-year-old Australian was recently confirmed as a member of Chip Ganassi Racing's Ford GT program in IMSA's WeatherTech SportsCar Championship for 2016, and he'll also represent the Blue Oval when it tackles the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June.

If the open-wheel ace has the chance to drive at the 100th running of the iconic 500-mile event in May, he says he'd welcome the opportunity to take part in that piece of history and then make his second start at the legendary endurance race in France.

Ryan Briscoe Announcement"For 2016 I'm racing with Ford full-time, but the schedule does leave open the entire month of May, which is good," Briscoe told RACER. "I'd really love to put something together for the Indy 500 next year; it's something I really want to do, and if I had my choice, I'd do both May races – the Indy GP and the 500. If I had other opportunities at other races, I'd like to look at it because we don't have many date conflicts, but we'll also be doing a lot of testing with the Fords, so I'll need to be sure anything that might happen in IndyCar doesn't take away from sports cars."

Briscoe is back with the Ganassi team, albeit in a different series after driving for Chip in IndyCar on three separate occasions. His last was in 2014, and once the season concluded, he moved to a part-time role with the Corvette Racing sports car team. Briscoe returned to Le Mans with the team, but a practice crash by teammate Jan Magnussen did enough damage to require the No. 63 Corvette C7.R's withdrawal prior to the race.

briscoe indyBriscoe went into Le Mans after subbing for James Hinchcliffe in the Indy 500 after the Canadian was injured in a practice crash, yet missed out on doing the double due to Magnussen's aforementioned crash, and provided he can find another seat for the month of May--which shouldn't be hard for the 2012 Indy 500 polesitter--he'll have another shot at winning both keystone events.

"Doing the Indy 500, with the Indy GP rolling into that, and then Le Mans would be another dream opportunity if we can make it happen," he said. "Representing Ford is already amazing, and if we can do more in IndyCar, that would be icing on the cake."

With two fifth-place finishes at Indy, and three starts at the 500 for Ganassi, the thought of Chip moving Briscoe from the Ford GT into a fourth IndyCar for May wouldn't be inconceivable, but isn't a sure thing.

"I haven't really talked about it in detail with Chip, but I think that would be absolutely preferable, for sure," he said.

Provided it happens with Ganassi or another team, Briscoe would make his 11th start at Indy, and would likely be joined by IndyCar veteran and defending IMSA GT Daytona champion Townsend Bell as drivers to do the Indy/Le Mans double in 2016.

Jack Harvey

British Indy Lights ace Jack Harvey is working flat-out with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports on a deal to elevate him to the IndyCar Series.

Harvey, the 2012 British Formula 3 champion, finished runner-up in the 2014 and '15 Lights campaigns with SPM, and it is understood that the team wants the 22-year-old alongside James Hinchcliffe next season.

"The only goal we're working towards is IndyCar," Harveys said. "Taking the risk to go to America, the end goal was always IndyCar. I know we didn't win the championship, but it's crazy - I had a 60 percent podium record."

Hinchcliffe missed the majority of 2015 through injury but will return next year, while SPM fielded James Jakes for the full season in its second car, and a third car in the Indy 500 for Conor Daly and at Sonoma for Mikhail Aleshin.

Harvey had his maiden IndyCar run-out in the Sonoma rookie test just before the 2015 season finale.

"I was quickest of those who'd never driven an IndyCar," he said, "and it suited my style - I could manipulate it the way I want to. I came away from that test thinking I'd ticked a few boxes, and the level of interest SPM have me suggests they want me back; I feel I could push James Hinchcliffe and even beat him."

Harvey 'graduates' this winter from the Racing Steps Foundation, which has backed his career since he moved from karts into Formula BMW in 2009.

"It's 90 percent likely that I'd never have moved into cars without RSF, and any success I have in the future will be down to [the Foundation's] Derek Walters and Graham Sharp - I can't say how much I appreciate what they've done for me," said Harvey.

"I'm thankful that Derek is still putting a lot of work into helping me make the transition into IndyCar, and to make that step would be a massive feather in everyone's cap."

Harvey is hoping to have a deal in place soon.

"The sooner the better," he said. "If we could be in before Christmas it would be better for me and the team, so we're trying to work towards that. But we want to make the best deal, not just rush one - our foot's in the door and it's time to push the whole body through."

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 R6T2490Sauber is in the running to become the second team to be powered by Honda in Formula 1 alongside McLaren, but not until 2017 at the earliest.

Speculation arose over the course of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix weekend that Sauber could do a deal with Honda, and it is understood that talks have taken place between the two parties. A deal for 2016 is not possible because Sauber has a contract in place with Ferrari, while McLaren Technology Group CEO Ron Dennis explained last weekend "it was not physically possible" to increase the supply of parts in time for Honda to work with a second team until 2017.

When asked about the possibility of a deal with Sauber for 2017, a McLaren source confirmed that talks had taken place and admitted it could be possibility. It is understood a Sauber-Honda tie-up would be purely a customer deal, with the Swiss team paying for its engines.

When asked by about the possibility of a Honda deal over the Abu Dhabi GP weekend, Sauber team principal Monisha Kaltenborn denied talks had taken place.

"I have not spoken to Honda and as far as I know they have not spoken to me," she said. "This is a typical thing – something is taken out of context and twisted into something, and people try to make it a sensational story, which it really is not."

On the subject of Honda supplying a second team, Dennis – who took responsibility for blocking a possible tie-up with Red Bull for the Japanese manufacturer – said supplying a second team too soon would slow Honda's ability to catch up to its rivals.

"The more engines you have to make, the more your supply chain gets stressed," he said. "We're in catch-up mode – the more people you have to carry with you the slower your reaction time. To slow down our own ability to become competitive didn't make any sense."


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Image285Phil Krueger never won a race or a championship, but he did win miles of respect at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in the 1980s with his moxie.

After a big crash trying to make the show in 1981 in a nine-year-old car that left him with broken bones, Krueger suffered more injuries in 1984 at Michigan and it looked like he'd never realize his dream of qualifying for the Indianapolis 500.

But, serving as his own chief mechanic, the determined Californian put an older car in the 1986 starting lineup and then came back in 1988 to qualify 15th fastest and finish eighth in a two-year-old March that was supposed to be a show car.

Krueger, who retired following another nasty accident in 1989, embodied the spirit of competition and was one of the great stories of perseverance at Indianapolis.


19SG6630 EDITWhat will you remember the 2015 IndyCar season for? Juan Pablo Montoya's teflon coating wearing off right at the time he needed it most? The introduction of the aero kits, several years after they were first mooted? Rocky Moran Jr.'s inspiring hour of track time at Long Beach?

To try to make sense of it all, RACER's Marshall Pruett, Robin Miller and Mark Glendenning asked each other some searching questions about all of 2015's regulars, which for the purpose of this review, includes anyone who started a minimum of half the races. Look for new installments every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

2015 starts: 16

2015 best finish: 1st (Barber, Toronto)
2015 championship position: seventh; 431pts

The biggest single threat to Newgarden's results were found on pitlane. Minus the routine position losses in the pits, how many additional wins - and places in the standings - could the kid have taken in 2015?

ROBIN MILLER: It's never pleasant to criticize pit crews because they're all busting their ass to do the best job possible in a dangerous environment. However, even someone as decent and pleasant as JoNew had to admit it was getting frustrating to come in leading and lose the top spot in the pits – which he did at Milwaukee and Iowa. He was long gone in the first 100 laps at Milwaukee when he pitted and lost 10 spots. At Iowa, he was clearly the class of the field but a hiccup on his final pit stop cost him a victory by half a second. Newgarden should have won three and probably four times in 2015 and he deserves the best possible people over the wall.

What was more impressive about Josef's breakthrough season: Two wins on road/street courses, or becoming the No. 1 driver at any track CFH visited? 

MARSHALL PRUETT: That one's easy: Josef Newgarden, all-purpose driver, was a massive revelation the year.

The partnership of Newgarden and his race engineer Jeremy Milless, the resources of the combined CFH Racing team, and the switch to Chevrolet power saw the No. 67 rise to prominence at almost every track - at the ovals, in particular.

lat abbott indyQ 0515 7221Few would have predicted Josef would displace teammate Ed Carpenter as CFH's top dog, yet Newgarden finished ahead of Ed at all six ovals. Some of Carpenter's poor showings weren't down to performance; an early tangle and crash at Indy blighted what should have been a strong showing, and hitting Newgarden at Fontana after a communications error with his spotter wasn't very Ed-like. It was the days where both CFH cars were on pace, however, where Newgarden stepped up to make a difference.

Carpenter impressed in his climb from 22nd to 10th at Milwaukee, and improved from 11th to sixth at Iowa. Newgarden, for the sake of comparison, earned the first pole of his career at Milwaukee, led 109 laps, was often the fastest car in the 250-lap race, and had Carpenter handled the entire time before the aforementioned pit stop issues relegated him to fifth. Iowa was another example where Newgarden started ahead of Ed (P7) and finished ahead (P2) of the ovalmeister.

Does it mean Ed's the second-best oval driver at CFH going forward? Not at all. But I do think it will be harder for Carpenter to reassert his dominance as IndyCar continues to trim in-season test days from the calendar. Having Newgarden in the car every weekend and building momentum from round to round with Milless is a decided advantage over Ed, who must get up to speed with race engineer Matt Barnes in an instant.

Take a ridiculous talent, who finally got his hands on all the tools needed to succeed, and had an awesome oval teammate and educator like Carpenter to fill in any oval gaps that existed prior to 2015, and maybe Josef's left-turn performances shouldn't have been hard to predict.

lat FPW 0612MM 1543Why was Josef able to outqualify Carpenter on ovals so often?

MARK GLENDENNING: I think Ed's probably asking himself the same thing. Newgarden had a stellar season by any measure, but for me, the qualifying score within CFH on ovals was the most remarkable bit of all. There were six ovals on the 2015 schedule, and Newgarden started ahead of his boss at five of them. (Carpenter had him covered at Fontana). Josef's average starting position at an oval this year was 7.8; Carpenter's was 14.1.

The answer to the question probably has more to do with the #20 side of the garage. Using Newgarden's performance as a guage of the team's overall potential, and factoring in what history has taught us about Ed's prowess at turning left, the disparity has at least as much to do with whatever malaise was affecting Carpenter's car as it does with Newgarden's achievements, noteworthy as they are. After putting the car fourth on the grid at Fontana, Carpenter gave his clearest hint that something was fundamentally wrong when he spoke about the value of a rare week off in the schedule in the lead-up to that weekend.

"We had been struggling on the ovals and the week off really gave us a chance to get immersed in what our problems were and come up with some good ideas to come here and get back on track," he said at the time. "I just have to thank all the guys on the team, mechanics, engineers, everybody, for putting in the hard work to get the cars driving nice again."

The problem was, his qualifying results actually got worse after that: 22nd at Milwaukee, 11th at Iowa, 21st at Pocono.

So were Ed, his engineer and his car all struggling to speak the same language? Was there something fundamentally weird about the chassis he switched to after trashing his original one in the practice crash at Indy? Carpenter's input was clearly benefiting Newgarden, but why, then, did whatever was working on the #67 not translate across to the #20? I don't know. But while Newgarden was rocking it everywhere he went this year, Carpenter was firing blanks. And his problems contributed as much as Newgarden's strong form to the gap that opened up between them.

lat masche 150828 1302

Missed one of the earlier reviews? You can go back and read them here:

Pirelli F1 tyres

Pirelli motorsport boss Paul Hembery is concerned one test session is unlikely to be enough to bring a tire performance "cliff" back to Formula 1.

While the main aim of Tuesday's 12-hour test session at the Yas Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi is to run the rule over the new-for-2016 ultra-soft compound, Pirelli is also looking at again increasing the number of pit stops.

The level has often fallen below the brief of a minimum of two per driver over the past two years, primarily due to Pirelli taking a back seat to allow the teams to focus on the turbocharged hybrid power unit following its introduction at the start of 2014.

ANALYSIS: Does 2012 hold the key to F1's tire future?

p4The ultra-soft tire will play a part in changing things for 2016, but Pirelli and Hembery would ideally like to go further to spice up the show, with the feeling being that tires that dramatically drop off in performance is the way to go. Pirelli, however, has only the test at Yas Marina to find a solution, otherwise it may have to be put on the backburner until 2017.

"We would have liked more pit stops this season, but that is not something we can change without quite extensive testing," said Hembery. "While the ultra-soft next year will give us more options for certain races, it's not going to dramatically change the scene. That's something we need to look at for '17.

"We've one shot for next season, and we don't know if it will work the way we want it to, but we are trying to bring back a 'cliff' into it. While it may create more pit stops, what we don't know is if it will create any differences in strategy, which is the ideal solution. So we're looking at it, and we've a couple of concepts we'll be testing, but it's very hard to get that right with only one test session."

The primary concern for Pirelli is ensuring the ultra-soft tire works, with four variants overall to be tested as it tries to find the best solution.

"The ultra-soft is the real priority," added Hembery. "We've four different proposals for the ultra-soft, but it will be completely blind for the teams so they won't know what we are looking at.

"The circuit is quite ideal because it offers a smooth surface, and traction is important, so we'll be testing against references of what we used in the race [soft and super-soft]. Ideally, we want something that will give us a qualifying tire in some races.

"It will be something that if chosen by the teams they could take an aggressive start to a race strategy, so let's see what the results are like. We believe we'll have something after the test, although it might be too early to say. What I can say is there will be definitely be an ultra-soft tire in 2016."


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 N7T6360Christian Horner is adamant Red Bull's Renault engine agreement for 2016 is bulletproof even if the French firm's Lotus takeover talks collapse and it pulls out of Formula 1.

Horner revealed on Friday, ahead of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, that after months of uncertainty the team's future was now secure as a power unit deal was in place for next year, with confirmation expected by the end of this week. Having failed to land a power unit from Mercedes, Ferrari or Honda, Red Bull has been forced to return to Renault.

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In tandem, Renault is in the final throes of its takeover of Lotus, although has hit a stumbling block in its negotiations with F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone over the revenues it feels it is entitled to, given its longevity in F1.

Ecclestone held talks on two occasions with Renault Sport F1 president Jerome Stoll over the course of the weekend with regard to constructors' bonus and historic payments. It is understood a final offer is on the table from Ecclestone that Stoll is to discuss with Renault CEO Carlos Ghosn, which if rejected will end the Lotus deal.

Regardless of what transpires between Ecclestone, Renault and Lotus, Red Bull will still go forward into next season with its power unit plan in place according to Horner.

Asked whether the deal was dependent on Renault's future in F1, Horner said: "We have a signed contract for an engine, the details of which I hope to be able to announce within a week. There's obviously been an awful lot of activity over the last few weeks. I am not at liberty to say what that activity is, but I'm sure it will all come out in the wash.

"But, the situation is clear in that we have an agreement for next year. I would like to be able to tell you what that is, but unfortunately I can't."

Among the conditions understood to be attached to Red Bull's continuation with Renault are that title sponsor Infiniti, one of the brands under the Renault/Nissan alliance, will be dropped, representing a loss of around $70 million per year. Although the power unit will still be supplied by Renault, there is a possibility it will be rebadged as "Nissan F1" to put further distance between team and manufacturer.

Asked whether the engine would carry Japanese branding, Horner replied: "I'm not going to confirm or deny anything. It will be confirmed within a week or so."


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