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LAT levitt WAT16 02167

LAT levitt WAT16 02167Michael Shank Racing led its second consecutive hour-long practice session at Watkins Glen and was joined by two more P2 cars to top the WeatherTech Championship's final outing on Friday.

Olivier Pla lowered the bar in the No. 60 Ligier JS P2-Honda set by teammate Ozz Negri by moving the 1:36.705 recording in the morning to a 1:36.155 in the afternoon. The No. 55 Mazda Prototype (-0.759) and Tequila Patron ESM's Ligier JS P2-Honda (-0.789) trailed by a significant margin. The fastest lap produced by a Daytona Prototype went to the No. 5 Action Express Racing Corvette DP in fourth (-1.255).

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Starworks Motorsport's Renger Van Der Zande led the PC class in his No. 8 entry with a 1:38.582 as CORE Autosport (-0.037) and BAR1 Motorsports (-0.945) completed the top three.

GT Le Mans maintained its clear separation between turbocharged cars and naturally-aspirated entries. Ford's twin-turbo V6 GTs went 1-2 in the class as Dirk Mueller set a 1:43.309 in the No. 66 to lead the No. 67 GT (-0.068) and John Edwards in the No. 100 BMW Team RLL M6 (-0.195). Quickest non-turbo went to the No. 3 Corvette C7.R for the second session of the day (-0.818).

After the sister Stevenson Motorsports' No. 6 Audi R8 LMS GT3 led the morning session, the No. 9 Audi driven by Lawson Aschenbach took its turn to pace GT Daytona with a lap of 1:46.259. Turner Motorsport's No. 96 BMW M6 GT3 (-0.081) and the No. 16 Change Racing Lamborghini Huracán GT3 driven by Spencer Pumpelly (-0.210) weren't far from the front of GTD.

A big crash at the Bus Stop chicane just past the halfway mark by Lawrence DeGeorge in the Dream Racing Lamborghini Huracán GT3 brought out a red flag. Significant damage to the car and barriers was incurred when the V10-powered Italian machine snapped hard right under braking. DeGeorge climbed from the car under his own power – made easier by the carbon fiber door being ripped off in the incident – and was cleared by IMSA's medical staff after a visit to the infield care center.

It's unclear whether the car will be able to continue participating in the event.

Up Next: Saturday morning practice and afternoon qualifying for Sunday's Sahlen's Six Hours of The Glen.

kyleKyle Busch escaped injury Friday morning when a blown tire sent his No. 18 Toyota head-on into the outside wall with a few minutes remaining in the final practice for Saturday's Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway.

Busch was the second car in a four-car pack headed into Turn 2 when his car swayed left and then violently snapped to the right, smashing the wall head-on. Busch radioed that the right rear had gone down. He climbed from the car and walked to the medical vehicle.

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The defending Sprint Cup Series champion, who broke his right leg and foot at this track in the Xfinity Series season opener in 2015, directed his ire straight at Goodyear.

"It wasn't any fun that's for sure," Busch told NBCSN after being released from the infield care center. "Your first instinct is to correct and the car automatically corrects and then finally when it catches or when it hit the apron and caught, you know, just turned back the other way and head-on into the fence. So, that was certainly a big hit so you gotta thank NASCAR for their safety advancements and the cars, and the drivers' equipment and things like that and of course the SAFER barrier as well too; that could have been a heck lot worse than what that was.

It doesn't give you any confidence whatsoever in Goodyear's ability to make a tire that's worthwhile to go out there and race on. I guess we'll all just suffer through it and hope for the best.

Goodyear said there was a gash in the tire, indicating he drove over something that cut the tire. 

Friday's session was added after bad weather shortened practice time on Thursday. He'll go to a backup car for qualifying, which is set to begin at 4:10 p.m. ET.

rosberg3Nico Rosberg edged out Mercedes team-mate and Formula 1 title rival Lewis Hamilton to lead a storm-hit, second Austrian Grand Prix practice session.

The championship leader finished six tenths off his Friday morning benchmark, with Hamilton 0.019 seconds behind, although on a dry track at the end of the session Rosberg set faster times in sectors one and two on the ultra-soft tires before aborting the lap.

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Hamilton had one scare late on when he was on a flying lap, only to brake hard as he came upon a heavily slowing Esteban Gutierrez in his Haas.

Just eight minutes into the session, and with Rosberg leading the way with a lap of 1m07.967s that remained unbeaten, a heavy rainstorm swept in from the eastern side of the circuit.

Over the first few minutes Turns 8 and 9 became drenched, while the rest of the track from Turns 1 to 7 remained dry, the conditions naturally catching out many in the final sector as they attempted to return to the pits.

The driving rain was accompanied by strong winds for around 10 minutes as it eventually made its way across the remainder of the circuit. Once it finally passed after almost half an hour, it left teams and drivers playing a waiting game for the track to start to dry.

Daniel Ricciardo was the first to test the conditions on intermediate tires just past the halfway point of the session, and over the next 10 minutes was followed by almost the entire field.

With just under 20 minutes remaining and with the majority of the track then dry, Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel was the first out on slicks, turning to the ultra-softs, while team-mate Kimi Raikkonen followed him out on super-softs.

Vettel, who will receive a five-place grid penalty for a gearbox change, eventually finished fourth quickest behind Force India's Nico Hulkenberg, but ending the session by sliding off the track and into the gravel at Turn 2.

Raikkonen had earlier gone off track at Turn 5 after just five minutes, firing across the gravel and into a spin from which he just avoided hitting a barrier, before taking an infield escape road to return to the circuit. The Finn finished eighth overall, just under nine tenths of a second adrift of Rosberg, with Red Bull duo Ricciardo and Max Verstappen sandwiching the Toro Rosso of Carlos Sainz between the Ferraris.

Williams's Valtteri Bottas and McLaren duo Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso occupied the next three places, with the latter far from impressed with his running on intermediates when the track was wet.

Told by his team "You can stay out if you want, but if you're not learning anything you can box", Alonso replied: "I have not been learning anything for the last half an hour."

PRACTICE 2 TIMES:

PosDriverCarTimeGapLaps
1 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m07.967ss 1m07.967s 25
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m07.986ss 0.019s 19
3 Nico Hulkenberg Force India/Mercedes 1m08.580ss 0.613s 28
4 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1m08.589ss 0.622s 25
5 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull/Renault 1m08.649ss 0.682s 30
6 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso/Ferrari 1m08.713ss 0.746s 32
7 Max Verstappen Red Bull/Renault 1m08.761ss 0.794s 20
8 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1m08.820ss 0.853s 23
9 Valtteri Bottas Williams/Mercedes 1m08.941ss 0.974s 24
10 Jenson Button McLaren/Honda 1m08.994ss 1.027s 30
11 Fernando Alonso McLaren/Honda 1m09.075ss 1.108s 26
12 Felipe Massa Williams/Mercedes 1m09.184ss 1.217s 17
13 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso/Ferrari 1m09.207ss 1.240s 26
14 Sergio Perez Force India/Mercedes 1m09.226ss 1.259s 32
15 Kevin Magnussen Renault 1m09.525ss 1.558s 19
16 Jolyon Palmer Renault 1m10.020ss 2.053s 23
17 Pascal Wehrlein Manor/Mercedes 1m10.034ss 2.067s 20
18 Esteban Gutierrez Haas/Ferrari 1m10.138ss 2.171s 16
19 Marcus Ericsson Sauber/Ferrari 1m10.140ss 2.173s 19
20 Romain Grosjean Haas/Ferrari 1m10.400ss 2.433s 31
21 Felipe Nasr Sauber/Ferrari 1m10.444ss 2.477s 22
22 Rio Haryanto Manor/Mercedes 1m11.328ss 3.361s 25

 

Originally on Autosport.com

LAT levitt WAT16 2The WeatherTech SportsCar Championship race weekend at New York's Watkins Glen International gets underway on Friday. 

Be sure to follow @RACERmag and @MarshallPruett for regular updates on Twitter, and RACER.com for photos, videos, session reports and feature stories.

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WEATHERTECH CHAMPIONSHIP EVENT SCHEDULE

Friday, July 1 (all times Eastern)
11:25 a.m. - 12:25 p.m., Free Practice 1
3:20 - 4:20 p.m., Free Practice 2

Saturday, July 2
10:15 - 11:15 a.m., Free Practice 3
3:40 - 5:10 p.m., Qualifying

Sunday, July 3
8:00 - 8:20 a.m., Warm-up
10:10 a.m. - 4:10 p.m., Race – Sahlen's Six Hours of the Glen for the IMSA WeatherTech Sports Car Championship

TV TUNE-IN INFO

Watkins Glen Social Tile Final copy

POINTS OF INTEREST

WELCOME HOME AGAIN

The second and final long break of the season is behind us as an unforgettable 24 Hours of Le Mans fades from daily discussions and IMSA’s triumphant teams – along with those who left France without podium visits – descend on Watkins Glen.

Ford Chip Ganassi Racing and Risi Competizione locked out the GTE-Pro top three at Le Mans and are expected to resume their slugfest during the six-hour race on Sunday. Michael Shank Racing survived its first Le Mans visit and recorded a quality result in LMP2; WeatherTech Racing was treated with minimal respect by the event’s sanctioning body, but should find more respect – and a better chance at earning a quality finish – in its full-time home.

Scuderia Corsa won GTE-Am with most of its 2015 drivers, and will resume its GT Daytona campaign with Jeff Segal, who bridges 2015, the Le Mans win and Watkins Glen as teammate to Le Mans returnee Christina Nielsen and Alessandro Balzan.

After the deletion of the second Change Racing Lamborghini from the entry list, 41 cars are expected to fill the grid for the third round of the Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup, including the team whose name is shared with the four-round championship-within-a-championship. Altogether, Watkins Glen should be a celebration of all that’s good about long-haul sports car racing.

PAVED GLORY

Track records in all four WeatherTech SportsCar Championship classes will be shattered if dry weather holds during qualifying. The recent repaving at Watkins glen has drawn rave reviews and cartoonish cornering speeds as sports cars, Indy cars, and stock cars have dipped many seconds below the best laps turned in 2015.

THREE-PEAT

French alcohol advertising laws turn the Ed Brown- and Scott Sharp-owned Tequila Patron ESM team into Extreme Speed Motorsports for the 24 Hour, and with the team back on American soil, and using the same Ligier JS P2 chassis that propelled the team to big wins at Daytona and Sebring, the program is looking for its third consecutive TPNAEC win this year.

With the grippy new track surface and the ability to use more lines to avoid delays behind slower cars, Watkins Glen could be a P2 party, and ESM would love nothing more than to celebrate with its product in Victory Lane.

NOT SO FAST

maz1ESM will have Shank’s team to contend with and, as the field saw at the last natural terrain road course in Monterey, the pair of Mazda Prototypes to deal with over six hours. Can the Mazdas, dressed in their splendid throwback and throwforward liveries, make it to the finish line without interruption? If so, the rest of the Prototype class could be fighting over the last position on the podium. Shank, the master strategist, and Mazda, with its super fast cars, will keep ESM and the strong field of Corvette DPs honest. Those Corvettes have claimed the last three overall wins at Watkins Glen, and they should never be discounted among the fragile P2s.

When it comes to the overall win, Sunday will likely prove to be a contest of speed and survival, and in the other three classes, GT Le Mans and GT Daytona should produce its usual insanity. Count on GTLM and GTD to vie for the best race from start to finish; IMSA’s GT classes are the envy of every endurance series, and PC, despite having the lowest car count in the event, has generated some high-quality racing at most rounds. That’s the story of IMSA 2016: Pick a class – any class – to follow and you won’t be disappointed.

MORE CLASS

orlando unitedThe Florida-based IMSA organization has its first chance to honor and support the 49 people who were murdered at an Orlando night club on June 12 between the Detroit and Watkins Glen rounds.

IMSA launched a new initiative on Thursday because the killings “occurred just 50 miles from IMSA’s headquarters in Daytona Beach. As a show of support for the victims and those affected by the tragedy, IMSA has commissioned #OrlandoUnited decals that are available to all teams participating at Watkins Glen to carry on their race cars.”

IMSA CEO Ed Bennett said, “As Central Floridians, this horrible tragedy hit very close to home. This weekend, we felt it would be appropriate to pay tribute to the victims and show our support to the survivors in our own way by making these decals available to our race teams. Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with everybody affected.”

You can join IMSA in donating to the www.oneorlando.org fund to help the victims of the massacre.

power celebrates RA IMS PhotoThe maniacal look that defined Will Power's time with Team Penske through the 2014 season is back. With an old-school stomping on Sunday by Power in Road America, two wins on the trot, and a sharp launch up the championships standings from seventh to third, IndyCar's speed demon has put a rocky start to bed at the most opportune time.

The 2014 series champ has his sights set on knocking down the rest of the field with seven races left to run, and it has become a legitimate ambition to pursue. Breaking a yearlong winless streak at Detroit was awesome for Power on a personal level, but it was little more than a feel-good story in the greater context of a 16-race championship.

But with a follow-up win at Road America and a bunch of tracks coming up that are a perfect fit for Power to continue his midseason resurgence, there's every reason to believe the Australian is capable of adding more victories on the trail to Sonoma's season finale.

If Power wants to add a second title to a prolific list of open-wheel accomplishments, it will have to come at the expense of teammates Helio Castroneves and points leader Simon Pagenaud, and some other serious talent.

Power RA IMS"I've just been holding on and doing what I could to start the season, and now it's starting to become competitive," Power told RACER. "You look at that second back to fifth or sixth [in points] is really tight. All these guys that are in those positions keep having good days or horrible days; no one's having a run like Simon had earlier in the season.

"Now's the time to be the guy to have that type of run. At the end of the day, you have to keep finishing ahead of the guy that has the most points. That's it. It's the only way you're going to win it. We need to knuckle down and do our thing."

Power's confidence took quite a few hits in the opening stages of the 2016 championship as physical maladies sapped his stamina, and with a crash in practice at St. Petersburg, he claimed zero points to open his championship point bank account. The restoration of his physical fitness has, as Detroit and Road America proved, been interwoven with a sharp rise in competitiveness.

But as Power reveals, getting to that point of scoring back-to-back wins only came after digging out of a rather deep hole – one that included questions of whether retirement could be a necessity.

"The thing that was missing, the thing that was frustrating me the most, is I couldn't use my ability and I couldn't do anything about it," he said of the food allergies and inner ear infection that prevented fitness training. "I just didn't have the energy; I couldn't do it. There's nothing worse ... is this it? Am I going to stop racing if I can't get my health in order? I finally got on top of it and feel somewhat normal.

"When I was feeling bad, I would always say, if I'm feeling good, I know I can win races, I know I can get poles, and I know I can win races. I've just got to feel all right; I've got to have energy. I know what I can do; I've [won] 27 times. It's never any doubt what I can do in my mind."

Iowa, Toronto, Mid-Ohio, Pocono, Texas, Watkins Glen ... Sonoma; Power has a schedule in front of him that could propel his No. 12 Chevy into the middle of the title fight, and he knows it.

"It will be interesting to see what can happen," he said before sending a gentle message to those that stand in his way. "Leads can dwindle pretty quickly."

Updated F1 halo design, Ferrari Austrian GP 2016

Ferrari's updated Formula 1 cockpit protection device will undergo further evaluation at Silverstone next week following a successful test conducted in Austria.

Ferrari conducted static tests of the system dubbed 'halo 2' at the Red Bull Ring on Thursday afternoon, primarily focused on driver extrication.

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Autosport understands no difficulties were encountered, with timing in terms of a driver being able to remove himself from the cockpit of the car of obvious importance should he be involved in an incident.

Ferrari was assisted in the exercise by a handful of Austrian GP marshals.

The device has been remodelled since its debut in pre-season testing at Barcelona when Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen both conducted an installation lap on successive days.

Ferrari has modified the halo since then, with it now made of titanium, making it lighter but just as robust, and also altering the design of the structure.

Ferrari will again run an install lap with the halo attached at the start of the first practice session for the race in Austria, with Vettel at the wheel.

However, as part of an ongoing process in terms of development, further testing is planned for the British Grand Prix weekend.

That will follow the latest Technical Regulation Meeting next week, with the halo prominent on the agenda.

Further improvements are still required and another update – effectively 'halo 3' – is planned prior to its introduction on all cars for 2017, with the FIA expected to give the green light at some point before the summer break.

Originally on Autosport.com

F4The United States will join the rest of the world this weekend when the Formula 4 United States Championship powered by Honda makes its debut at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio.

A junior open-wheel racing series that helps young drivers make the step up from karting, the F4 U.S. Championship becomes the world's 12th F4 series supported by the Federation Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA). Organized and sanctioned by SCCA Pro Racing, the U.S. series joins championships throughout Europe, Asia, Central America, the Middle East and Oceana.

The F4 U.S. Championship will debut this weekend at Mid-Ohio with practice taking place Friday, a qualifying run and opening race on Saturday and finishing with two additional races Sunday. Seven teams are expected to field 14 drivers for the inaugural weekend.

"We are proud to debut the F4 series in the United States and create the stepping stone for young drivers to achieve their full potential as they move up the motorsports ladder," said Derrick Walker, president and CEO of SCCA Pro Racing. "The F4 U.S. Championship is the only established FIA championship series in the United States and will offer young drivers exciting opportunities moving forward."

SCCA Pro Racing, along with its partners and the FIA, created the F4 U.S. Championship after recognizing the need for an affordable step between karting and Formula 3.

Offering drivers as young as 15 the chance to take their first steps from karting into the world of open-wheel racing, competitors are also offered the unique opportunity to earn points towards an FIA Super License. Once competitor reaches 40 Super License points and becomes at least 18 years old, they can qualify and apply to race for Formula 1.

"Previously junior open-wheel competitors had to travel abroad to seize an opportunity like this," Walker said. "Now, with the development of the F4 U.S. Championship, young talent can grow their brands domestically and choose their paths to pinnacle levels of motorsports."

Starting in 2017, F4 will offer a truly global competition as the champions from each of the 12 worldwide F4 series will compete in a global race. The F4 U.S. Championship is the only domestic junior open-wheel series to offer this opportunity to young drivers.

In addition to serving as a stepping stone from karting to open-wheel racing, SCCA Pro Racing and the FIA have made the F4 U.S. Championship affordable as well. With prices capped at $45,000 for the chassis, including paddle shifters, data acquisition and camera, and Honda engines with a one-year lease at $6,600, teams can affordably get cars on the track.

For more information on the SCCA Pro Racing F4 U.S. Championship, visit F4USChampionship.com.

About the SCCA Pro Racing F4 U.S. Championship:
FIA F4 is designed as entry-level open-wheel racing for participants, around a contemporary, modern, cost conscious formula. SCCA Pro Racing and its chosen partners that embrace these ideals and support this vision with appropriate technology and products. The selected F4 powerplant is a production based on the engine currently powering the Honda Civic Type R recently launched in Europe, tuned to meet FIA-mandated output of approximately 160hp. The engine and the ECU are sealed to provide parity and compliance.

About SCCA Pro Racing:
SCCA Pro Racing Ltd. is a wholly owned subsidiary of Sports Car Club of America, Inc. -- a 65,000-member organization dedicated to motorsports. SCCA Pro Racing provides full-service organization, operation and sanctioning for numerous professional racing series such as the Pirelli World Challenge and Trans Am.

Bernie Ecclestone

Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone is looking at introducing a new prize money structure more focused on performance and would no longer feature bonus payments.

Currently, prize money is split between performance, bonus and heritage payments.

Ferrari, Red Bull, McLaren and Mercedes receive bonus payments in return for signing the current bilateral agreement, which runs to 2020.

There is also an additional longstanding payment for Ferrari, plus other fixed prize fund payouts such as a heritage bonus for Williams and negotiated payments for Red Bull and Mercedes.

Speaking to reporters in Austria, Ecclestone said: "It's going to be sorted out in a way where the chunk of money they get on top, they won't get ... well, they'll get it if they win.

"We can't pay the people if they are not winning and what I don't want is to pay people what would effectively be start money."

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff, who had just had a meeting with Ecclestone before the two held an informal briefing, added: "You incentivize to invest and if you invest and if you win you have access to a larger [prize fund]."

Ecclestone believes the new system will be fairer for the smaller teams, who have long complained that the distribution of prize money is unfair.

"At the moment they have no chance with this money that we give them," he said. "But we are going to make sure they are in a position where they do [have a chance] if they perform.

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"We sort of look after, if that's the right word, four or five teams [under the current bilateral contracts] because they have had a long-term commitment with us and they signed four or five years ago to stay until 2020.

"So they needed something for doing it."

Wolff suggested the deal Mercedes struck in which it earned its bonus payment for winning two constructors' championships could be a model for what is implemented.

"Maybe the model Mercedes got in 2012 is a base for how it can be in the future," he said. "We got an additional prize fund because we performed. We got a hurdle built in: If you win those championships, you can increase your income."

Ecclestone said he hoped to "get something sorted out this year" with the expectation that the new rules would come into force in 2021.

Should a new structure be introduced before 2020, it would require all the teams to agree.

It appears talks are still only at a very early stage as when asked if he wants to get rid of historic bonus and prize money bonus, Ecclestone said: "Yes. No bonus. Everyone is in the same boat."

But later in the interview, he said: "Let's have a look at it, Ferrari has been with us since F1 started so they should get something for that."

Originally on Autosport.com

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