Taylor2.jpg Dole

Taylor2.jpg DoleRicky Taylor transformed into Ricky Ridiculous Saturday afternoon at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. The soft-spoken Floridian, armed with his No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R, absolutely throttled the Prototype opposition on the way to claiming pole with a lap (1m16.853s) that was staggeringly faster (+0.829s) than the rival No. 5 Cadillac driven by Action Express Racing's Christian Fittipaldi.

Almost a second clear of an identical car, Taylor also put the top WEC P2 driven by Visit Florida Racing's Marc Goossens well behind (+0.877s) in the No. 90 Ligier JS P217-Gibson.

"I think this Cadillac is really strong this weekend," Taylor said, overstating the obvious. "That's what I love about my guys; they keep looking for speed and keep finding it. Maybe a little bit in the Corkscrew. The guys have prepared so well for this in terms of giving us what we need in the car. We've come to know what I like in qualifying."

Taylor's pole, a new record for the modern IMSA series, is only 5.559s off of the all-time prototype pole set by PJ Jones in 1992 with All American Racers' all-conquering Eagle Mk III GTP.

With the Prototype points lead heading into the final two rounds, Taylor expects he and his brother Jordan will drive intelligently during the 2h40m race on Sunday.

"Tomorrow is going to be really important for points," he said. "We need to be clean and get through safely."

RisiGT Le Mans certainly didn't disappoint as the pole changed hands multiple times during the brief session.

BMW, Ford, and Ferrari traded punches, and in the end, Risi Competizione's Toni Vilander took his first WeatherTech SportsCar Championship pole in the No. 62 Ferrari 488 (1m21.914s). It's Vilander's first WeatherTech pole and fourth IMSA pole.  

"I love going out on this race track," the Finn said after delivering Risi its 32nd sports car pole and first since VIR in 2014. "This car was prepared for Le Mans, and now this car is here showing the pace. I always enjoy this track a lot. It suits my driving style. We've had the pace [in the past] but always lacked the final result. This has nothing to do for tomorrow."

Ford Chip Ganassi Racing's Dirk Mueller (+0.242s) took second in the No. 66 Ford GT and BMW Team RLL's John Edwards claimed third in his No. 24 BMW M6 (+0.263s).

galstad MRLS 0917 232916Young Madison Snow added to his accolades in GTD with his third career pole and second of the season in the No. 48 Paul Miller Racing Lamborghini Huracan GT3. His fast lap (1m24.469s) also delivered the fourth consecutive GTD pole for the Italian marque.

"Qualifying was great," said Snow. "We ended up on pole position. We topped the final practice, which gave us more pressure into qualifying. It made me even more nervous, knowing we had a car that was quick. We didn't know where anyone else was. We did some hard work between the sessions, and ended up being able to come out and do a really good lap when the tire was at its prime condition. The car was good, the tires were great, and everything just lined up great to give me that pole position."

Daniel Morad was second in his No. 28 Alegra Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R (+0.252s) and Patrick Lindsey complete the top three for Porsche in his No. 73 Park Place Motorsports 911 GT3 R (+0.485s).

UP NEXT: Warmup, 9:10 a.m. PT.

Image266IndyCar racer Pippa Mann and sports car ace Shea Holbrook have teamed up as partners in IMSA's Lamborghini Super Trofeo series, and with support from the Driven2SaveLives organ donation campaign, the two are raising awareness while racing.

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Image265IMSA team owner Michael Shank gives RACER the lowdown on what his 2018 season might look like and whether he'll return to field an entry at the Indy 500.

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DoonanThe 2017 SCCA National Championship Runoffs, set for Sept. 25-Oct. 1, will be different from any other in the event's 53-year history – this year, the Runoffs will take place at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and nearly 1,000 drivers will compete for 28 national championships.

Mazda Motorsports director John Doonan shares his SCCA racing memories and discusses Mazda's commitment to grassroots racing.

All Runoffs races are open to the public. To purchase tickets, click here. For more information on the 2017 SCCA National Championship Runoffs, click here. And stay tuned to RACER.com for updates throughout the event.

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filsVisit Florida Racing team owner Troy Flis tells RACER about the challenges of having his shop ravaged by Hurricane Irma and the paddock support that helped get his WeatherTech SportsCar Championship effort across the country to California for the next IMSA race.

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start 3The ACO/FIA rule makers have made a series of decisions regarding the "Joker" upgrades for the LMP2 chassis manufacturers heading into next season. The changes will affect the LMP2 cars racing in the FIA WEC, ELMS and IMSA.

"It was clearly in the regulations, and it was a technical discussion," FIA WEC CEO Gerard Neveu told RACER. "I understand that the FIA and ACO received requests from some of the manufacturers regarding performance from this year. So, the technical committee have worked hard for the last three months with the data to investigate that point, and their conclusion was clearly that for one of the three manufacturers, they have a large joker to ameliorate the performance of the car. That's the Riley – it was very far from the others.

"And for the two others, there are some possibilities to adjust the performance from next year in different levels, be it Le Mans or the normal race packages. The gap was not the same, and the idea is not to balance, but give all the cars a similar level of performance in LMP2, as the interest is to have the same level in each car."

RACER understands that for 2018, the plan is currently to allow the Riley/Multimatic Mk 30 (pictured below) to have amendments made to the chassis and to both the regular and Le Mans aero kits. This effectively permits the Multimatic outfit to progress with a fully-redesigned car.

43 1 2Onroak and Dallara, meanwhile, will be permitted to amend their aero kits only. Ligier can update its regular and Le Mans aero on its JS P217, while Dallara will only be allowed to amend the Le Mans-only aero kit on the P217.

Because of the nature of these updates – the purpose being to close the performance gap to ORECA – no 'Joker' has been approved for the ORECA 07 (pictured below).

26 06 editedHowever, Neveu explained to RACER that no final decisions have been taken regarding the exact details of the 'Joker' updates to the LMP2 chassis manufacturers.

"There have been communications with the teams, but they have not made final decisions about that (which chassis can change modify which aero kit)," he said. "They have to discuss it now in detail, regarding what they can do or not."

Later this year, the upgrades will be tested in the Windshear wind tunnel in North Carolina. There, the rule makers will verify them ahead of the 2018 season.

"I don't know the exact schedule (for the wind tunnel test) but I think it's by the end of November – this is still in discussion." Neveu said. "They only just met with the teams yesterday and the day before. They are starting to discuss their conclusions with the data, and now they will make a decision very soon."

The key to the upgrades is that the chassis in question should not able to exceed the ORECA's capabilities. Instead, the objective is to ensure that the four chassis are on a similar level going forward.

"The idea with this is not to go up and up and up and spend more money," Neveu said when asked what would happen if any of the upgrades exceeded the performance of the ORECA considerably. "The only point everyone agrees with is that the ORECA is the best performing car, so the other cars should have the chance to perform at that the level.

"They are working to make sure that (allowing the upgrades to exceed the performance level of the ORECA) will not happen. It's not possible to say that it will be exactly the same level – you will see a difference – but the idea is to make sure that with the data and analysis that they are on a similar level, so they can fight for wins.

P2 Start"If this happened (an upgrade proving superior in performance terms to the ORECA) it wouldn't work: the technical guys will only authorize an upgrade that's limited enough, ensuring that they haven't taken another step more than the ORECA."

There are no clear details as it stands on what process may be followed if a car that's presented to the wind tunnel test exceeds the ORECA's capabilities. There is however, a clear intention for there to be no further changes made to the chassis beyond these amendments in the remaining period of their homologation, if they prove successful.

Racer WWW part 4 1
This week we've been previewing the SCCA National Championship Runoffs, which takes place Sept. 25-Oct. 1, 2017, at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. We've covered all of the production-based and tube-frame classes, plus Spec Racers and Formula Enterprises, so today we look at all of the remaining Formula classes plus the Prototypes. Who will win come race day? With no home track advantage this year, it's impossible to tell, but here's who we think will run up front.

Formula Atlantic, Formula 1000, Formula Continental, Formula Mazda

Sedat Yelkin, who won Formula Atlantic three years ago, is a bit of an unwilling participant this year. "I wasn't planning on racing this year but got talked into driving again," he admits. "I went to the June Sprints but my car failed. My good friend Kris Kaiser lent me his Swift 016.a and I had to start 18th and last. I was fortunate to finish fifth, then won the main event on Sunday. My own car – a Toyota-powered Swift 014.a – is slower than the 016.a, so I am working with K-Hill Motorsports, which is preparing a 016.a for me."

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Yelkin has won four other times this season and will be battling perennial threat Keith Grant in the Polestar Swift 016.a. Grant has two wins and is unlucky to not have at least one Runoffs crown. He has a number of seconds and thirds, including last year, and should push Yelkin closely. Young Spencer Brockman has three wins, but has been driving an older Swift. However, he has shown good speed and can surprise. Dudley Fleck and Matt Miller are dark horses to be watched.

In Formula 1000, Alex Mayer was our pick to win last year, but it came a cropper at the start of the second lap when he dropped a wheel, spun, and clouted the barrier. Mayer wants to make up for that ignominy with a win this year, and we would not at all be surprised to see him do it. He has three Hoosier Super Tour wins so far and is the man to beat. He knows how to win, he knows what he did at Mid-Ohio last year, and he knows that he must make up for it. His JDR is ready and so is he.

There are some obstacles in his way, however. Foremost is Jeremy Hill, who has been fast and winning for a number of years in his Photon. He has not been to the Runoffs the past two years, but is back and ready this season. Joel Haas has a Piper under his control and has scored a brace of wins in the car. Kevin Roggenbuck wants to prove that last year's win was not a fluke, while Michael Beauchamp, Glenn Cooper, and Gary Hickman are set to challenge. The dark horse is Nicho Vardis, a steady winner who was third last year after two spins. He has raced only four times this year but has won all four and states that, "last year still hurts. I have to make up for that."

John LaRue intends to defend the Formula Continental title he won last year, but will undoubtedly have a hard time. The competition this year is stronger than last and should make for a tight race. Rob Allaer is a past champion who ran well in 2016, and Robert Arrington is compiling a list of wins. LaRue sees Tim Minor as perhaps his strongest threat. "He has two pro championships to his credit and has put in some time at Indianapolis in the SVRA pro race in June. Rob Allaer crawled into his car cold at Mid-Ohio last year and almost won, while Rob Arrington is a force to be reckoned with. "I ran at the SVRA event so the course is not new to me, although the configuration will be a bit different."

The dark horse is Brian Tomasi. He has won twice before, but has not raced since 2011. He may be a bit rusty, but he is a winner. Mitch Egner, Devin Leseuer, Tom Hope, Reece Everard, Charles Moran, and Douglas Rocco are all doing well this season and could conceivably figure at Indy.

For the Formula Mazda race, Jarrett Voorhies, who had a bad day last year with a very early spin and exit, is back and determined to rectify the mistake. "Last year I have to say that my mind was not there – I was not mentally prepared for the race," he admits. "This year I am more mature and feel much better and more confident. There are many good drivers in the race, but my biggest competition is myself. I must stay focused on myself. Having said that, anybody can come out of nowhere and win, but of those I think that Mike Anderson is one to fear."

And how is he preparing? "This is my first time at Indy, but I am getting plenty of sim time. At first I was slow, but I am getting faster."

Anderson has three wins so far, while Stuart Rettie has four. Both are poised to take the top step on the podium. Last year's winner, Matthew Machiko, has not entered as of this writing, but if he does, everyone should be aware. Brad Yake is the dark horse who may well upset the apple cart.


Racer WWW part 4 2Formula 500, Formula Vee, Formula F

Our pick to win this year's Formula 500 National Championship is the 2015 National Champion Calvin Stewart. After starting on the pole last year and battling for the lead during most of race, Stewart was left stranded after a spin. "I'm looking forward to the biggest Runoffs ever," Stewart says. "Indy has always been on my bucket list, and I'm excited for this opportunity."

Stewart had planned to attend the SVRA race in June, but due to a mechanical issue at Mid-Ohio, he had to skip. It hasn't deterred his confidence, however. "I'm feeling pretty good, but it's not going to be easy," he says. "The competition is better than ever. It's a record field, and there are several teams that could win this year. Steven Thompson has a good setup and will be fast, Wiley Clint McMahan is always fast and could win, James Weida has experience at Indy and will be a contender, and Michael Meuller knows how to win and has a fast car."

We think that Russell Strate Jr., and Scott Rudolph have podium chances as well.

Formula Vee will be another edge-of-your-seat race. But five-time National Champion – and our pick to win this year – Michael Varacins is planning to take a different mental approach than before. "This is going to be an interesting event with so many cars and so many people," Varacins says. "It's going to take some time getting comfortable with that big of an event as it's not like any Runoffs we've had before."

He's up for the challenge, though. "We are bringing the same car we've been running over the years," he says. "We've done a few development tweaks to maintain the advantage we've had over the years, including running at the SVRA [Indy] event this summer."

Data from that event could prove vital. "I've been looking at data trying to figure out whether or not it's important to be fast in the infield or on the front straight," Varacins says.

Varacins feels like familiar front-runners Roger Siebenaler and Rick Shields could work together and be a big threat, as could Andrew Whitson. We don't think he should count out Charles Hearn, either.

In Formula F, with their pro series experience and success at Indy earlier this year, Zachary Holden, Jonathan Kotyk, and Yuven Sundaramoorthy are all ones to watch in this class. But you can't count out last year's champion Neil Verhagen, should he choose to use his provisional.

Rounding out other podium contenders will be Rick Payne and David Livingston Jr. Formula F will be paired with Formula 500 during qualifying, so luck will definitely play a role in vying for the important top starting spot in both of those classes.

Racer WWW part 4 3Prototype 1, Prototype 2

Jim Devenport is the defending Prototype 1 National Champion, and he's on a run. He was third three years ago, second two years ago, and won last year. He has taken a route separate from the rest, running a French Norma M20FC powered by a 2.0L Honda K20 engine. This has been a top ticket against the motorcycle-powered cars.

Despite a CRB adjustment that has Devenport worried, he's still pulling out all the stops. "I've never run Indy before, so I will use iRacing to get familiar with it," he says. "The track does not have any elevation change so we should be able to get up to speed quickly. It is wide open as to who will win, but I think that Timothy Day and Jason Miller will be tough competition, although the Miller car has to prove its reliability."

A somewhat unknown factor is Jacek Mucha. But, with six second-place finishes in this class at the Runoffs, why is he unknown? It is simply because he has been absent from the Runoffs for the past few years. However, he has entered this year and will be tough. Mucha runs what essentially is a Formula Atlantic Swift 016.a with fenders, and its Mazda engine is powerful. While Devenport has nine wins this season, Mucha is right behind with eight. If Devenport is to be beaten, Mucha is the most likely to do it.

Our third pick is a fingers-crossed situation. Jason Miller has raced his Wynnfurst West seemingly forever and it has two characteristics. First, with its six-cylinder Kohler engine it is very powerful and fast. However, that is countered by its fragility. If it doesn't win, it breaks, and it has broken far too many times. If it holds together, this could – at long last – be the year.

Timothy Day has been winning in a Stohr and is the dark horse to get on the podium. There are hordes of Elans racing, especially in the Midwest, and any of them could be a factor, too.

In Prototype 2, Jeff Shafer won last year after a debate over whether to race his Stohr or Radical. He is going through the same drill this year. "I will do a back-to-back test of both cars so I can understand the strengths of both. I assume the Stohr will be preferred, but the Radical is quick and I am comfortable with it. I am still trying to get 100 percent in sync with the Stohr because I have only driven it twice and need more seat time. The field seems deep this year and I have only raced once, so I hope that I haven't fallen too far behind in development.

"I see that Sherman Chao and Tim Day are doing a lot of work with their cars and they will be quick," he continues. "Michael Crow, Greg Gyann, and Jake Thielmann can all win, too.

His strategy? Simple, he says. "The track is new to me, but it should be an even playing field. My plan is very scientific – go out and go as fast as I can!"

Sherman Chao was the runner up last year and looks to be in the picture again this year. He and his Stohr are fast and he can mix it up at the front. Students of numerology will note that Chao was third two years ago and second last year, so maybe this is the year. Jake Thielmann got a late start to the season but has won all four of his races since then. He was on pace for at least a second last year at Mid-Ohio before a spin near the finish ended that. He is eager to make up for that faux pas.

Tim Day is running and winning in both P1 and P2, and is the dark horse for P2. He can surprise. Bryan Yates is running well and also merits consideration.

This article originally appeared in the October 2017 issue of SportsCar magazine, SCCA's official member magazine, which mails monthly to all members of the Sports Car Club of America. For more information about how to join the SCCA, head to www.scca.com.

levitt IMSA Rolex 12185

Reigning IMSA GT Daytona champion Christina Nielsen will be parting ways with her title-winning Scuderia Corsa team at the end of the season. The Dane, a revelation in the Pro-Am No. 63 Ferrari 488 GTE she shares with Alessandro Balzan, is leaving on good terms with the Los Angeles-based outfit.

"Scuderia Corsa is a winning group of people, [but] unfortunately, I'm not going to be back next year," she told RACER. It's believed the budget required to continue with the Ferrari-affiliated program has become untenable for the 25-year-old.

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A move to another works-related GTD program, or offers to compete in GT Le Mans or Prototype are among the rising star's interests.

"I love racing in America and want to stay here if I can, but I can't control the doors that might open or close for me," she continued. "There are people I'm going to miss very much. My dad always said you might cry a little, you might be sad, but it's only because it's that good. They've given me a lot of tools, a lot of knowledge to wherever I go in the future."

On the cusp of a second GTD title, Nielsen would like her body of work in IMSA to be deemed worthy of landing a job elsewhere in the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship paddock.

"Hopefully someone will give me a shot and see I've been in contention for a championship the last three years in a row," she said. "Finished second, first, and now [we're] leading going into the final two rounds."

Multiple sources have told RACER the WeatherTech Racing duo of Cooper MacNeil and Gunnar Jeannette are headed to drive the No. 63 Ferrari next season. The MacNeils have a longstanding relationship with Mattioli's program, having competed with the team in North America and at Le Mans.

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