Dole Weather Thu PLM202

Dole Weather Thu PLM202The 19th annual Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta is underway. FOX Sports 1 coverage airs from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. ET. FOX Sports 2 resumes coverage from 2:30 to 6 p.m. ET.

You can also stream the race live in its entirety from 11:00 a.m. to 9:10 p.m. on FOX Sports Go and the FOX Sports GO mobile app (FS1 authentication required). You cn also watch in-car views at IMSA.TV.

A three-hour highlights show of the race will air Monday, Oct. 3 on FOX Sports 1 from 7 p.m.-10 p.m. and the IMSA mobile app will have live timing and scoring, and IMSA Radio’s play-by-play. Stay tuned to for the latest updates. Enjoy the race!


Lewis Hamilton scored a comfortable pole position for the Malaysian Grand Prix, as championship leader Nico Rosberg salvaged a front row start from a troubled end to qualifying.

Hamilton clocked a 1m32.850s best on his first run in Q3, which proved easily good enough for pole, despite Hamilton having to abort his second run in Q3.

His Mercedes teammate Rosberg eventually qualified second fastest, over four tenths adrift of his title rival. The points leader was only fifth fastest after the first runs, having run wide at Turn 6, but he rallied later to beat Max Verstappen's Red Bull to a front row spot by 0.156 seconds, despite another moment at the final corner.

Daniel Ricciardo was only 0.017s slower in the second Red Bull, while Ferrari locked out the third row of the grid, with Sebastian Vettel beating Kimi Raikkonen to fifth by less than half a tenth of a second.

The Force Indias of Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg completed a quartet of row lockouts at the front of the grid by qualifying seventh and eighth, just ahead of Jenson Button's McLaren and Felipe Massa's Williams.

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Button made it through to Q3 with a fine late effort that, along with improvements from the Force India pair, meant the Williams of Valtteri Bottas missed the cut by just 0.039s, as Bottas failed to improve on his second Q2 run.

Romain Grosjean beat Haas teammate Esteban Gutierrez to the 12th fastest time by less than a tenth, while Kevin Magnussen did an excellent job to qualify his Renault 14th fastest, having missed most of Friday practice after his car caught fire in the pits in FP1.

A late improvement from Daniil Kvyat meant he beat Toro Rosso teammate Carlos Sainz Jr. to 15th on the grid by just 0.005s. This was the first time Kvyat has out-qualified Sainz since June's European GP in Azerbaijan.

Jolyon Palmer's Renault and Fernando Alonso's McLaren-Honda joined the Saubers and Manors in exiting the fray after Q1.

Given Magnussen's performance Palmer had a realistic shot at making Q2, but his final lap of the session was scrappy and he ended up dropping behind the Saubers of Marcus Ericsson and Felipe Nasr into 19th place.

Esteban Ocon out-qualified Manor teammate Pascal Wehrlein for the first time, beating him to the 20th fastest time by 0.136s.

Alonso completed a cursory run on medium tires in his McLaren, knowing he will start at the back of the grid regardless owing to a 45-place grid penalty for various illegal engine component swaps.


1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m32.850ss 1m32.850s
2 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m33.264ss 0.414s
3 Max Verstappen Red Bull/Renault 1m33.420ss 0.570s
4 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull/Renault 1m33.467ss 0.617s
5 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1m33.584ss 0.734s
6 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1m33.632ss 0.782s
7 Sergio Perez Force India/Mercedes 1m34.319ss 1.469s
8 Nico Hulkenberg Force India/Mercedes 1m34.489ss 1.639s
9 Jenson Button McLaren/Honda 1m34.518ss 1.668s
10 Felipe Massa Williams/Mercedes 1m34.671ss 1.821s
11 Valtteri Bottas Williams/Mercedes 1m34.577ss 1.727s
12 Romain Grosjean Haas/Ferrari 1m35.001ss 2.151s
13 Esteban Gutierrez Haas/Ferrari 1m35.097ss 2.247s
14 Kevin Magnussen Renault 1m35.277ss 2.427s
15 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso/Ferrari 1m35.369ss 2.519s
16 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso/Ferrari 1m35.374ss 2.524s
17 Marcus Ericsson Sauber/Ferrari 1m35.816ss 2.966s
18 Felipe Nasr Sauber/Ferrari 1m35.949ss 3.099s
19 Jolyon Palmer Renault 1m35.999ss 3.149s
20 Esteban Ocon Manor/Mercedes 1m36.451ss 3.601s
21 Pascal Wehrlein Manor/Mercedes 1m36.587ss 3.737s
22 Fernando Alonso McLaren/Honda 1m37.155ss 4.305s


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lat lefebure cota 0916 06361 1lat lefebure COTA 0916 02903If Christina Nielsen (pictured, left) can complete her amazing season with Scuderia Corsa and earn IMSA's GT Daytona Drivers' title, the 24-year-old Dane will join a short list of women who've won professional sportscar championships in North America.

Along with co-driver Alessandro Balzan, Nielsen is close to winning the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship GTD title at Petit Le Mans; she only needs to complete the minimum drive time of three hours to secure the crown in her Ferrari 488. And provided it happens, Nielsen will follow Amy Ruman, the 2015 SCCA Pro Racing Trans-Am champion, and Margie Smith-Haas, who became the first woman to win a professional sports car championship in 1994.

thumbnail margie3Although they're separated by age and generations, Nielsen and Smith-Haas (pictured, right) are cut from the same cloth. Fiercely competitive, Smith-Haas, who won the SCCA Pro Racing American Cities Racing League title two years after Nielsen was born, is often overlooked due to the timing of her achievement.

The formative years of the internet ensured her championship was relegated to nothing other than print magazines, and for those who weren't there to see it happen, or recall reading about her exploits, Smith-Hass could be a bit of a mystery.

In concert with multiple outing in IMSA's Camel GT series driving Porsches and even a one-off with Dan Gurney's All American Racers in a factory Toyota Celica, Smith-Haas also contested a number of races in the FIA World Endurance Championship from 1983-'84  – during the heyday for Group C  – in a Porsche 930, a Gebhardt prototype, and then became the first American woman to compete at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1984.

A second Le Mans visit came in 1985 when she shared a BMW-powered URD prototype with Danish team owner/driver Jens Winther and David Mercer, and then returned to IMSA where she races a turbocharged Porsche 924 in the GTU category through 1987. With the formation of the ACRL (below), Smith-Haas and her husband Paul transitioned their efforts to the burgeoning pro series where she became an increasingly powerful presence on the road to earning the championship in 1994.

thumbnail marspeFast forward to Nielsen, and their career arcs are nearly identical. Nielsen's progression through the sports car ranks, albeit over a shorter timeframe, has not been rushed. The chance to drive bigger and faster cars has always been an option, but she's placed a priority on learning and proving herself at each stage rather than skip steps to arrive at the top.

Speaking with RACER on Friday, Smith-Haas expressed great pride in seeing championship-caliber drivers like Ruman and Nielsen add new chapters to the legacy of women in sports car racing.

"Every time I see them getting it done, I'm not only proud for them, but proud of the way they do it," she said. "And they aren't doing it because they are women; they are there because they're racers. That was the only way I ever thought of myself when I got in the car."

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Smith-Haas recounted a story from the race weekend where she clinched the 1994 ACRL championship that speaks to the mindset all winning drivers share, regardless of gender.

"When I started in the ACRL, there were some incredible teams and drivers, and I was pretty competitive, but I was starting from the bottom," she said. "I kept working at it, improving, getting better and better, and by '94, I led the championship almost the whole way. I'd finished second in the championship once before, now it was close to happening, and for those last three races, I knew I needed to be on the top of my game.

"So when I walked out to the grid  – the ACRL was part of the Vancouver IndyCar weekend so it was a big stage  – I don't know how to describe it; it was like I had that stare Michael Phelps had at the Olympics. I looked at every single one of my top competitors and said, 'I'm going to beat you, I'm going to beat you, I'm going to beat you...' We left as the champions."

Like Smith-Haas, all-rounder Simona de Silvestro, and many other successful female drivers, Nielsen is rarely the first to bring up her gender in conversation. And like the others, she has become conditioned to answering repeated questions about her position in a sport blanketed by men.

"I answer the questions I'm asked, I always highlight that I'm a driver who is part of a team who has been leading the championship since May and hasn't lost the lead, and then I reply that I am happy to be a female putting our mark on the championship to show we are here to compete at an equal level," she said. "It would be a major honor to win the championship, [but] I don't wake up every morning thinking, 'I'm a female.'"

Smith-Haas, who has been busy caring for ill family members throughout the week on the west coast, had a special message for Nielsen and says she'll be rooting from afar.

"Tell Christina: Good luck, go for it, I hope she earns that championship, I pray for her safety, and I want to see her achieve all of her goals in racing."

Be sure to watch Nielsen and all of the other championship contenders race into the dark on Saturday at IMSA's season finale at the times and locations below.

LAT levitt I500 34362On on the heels of the official news that Bryan Herta will again be part of Andretti Autosport, RACER can report that Indy 500 winner Alexander Rossi has signed a multi-year deal to continue in IndyCar with the team that brought him into the Verizon IndyCar Series.

The 25-year-old Californian was a last-minute addition to the 2016 IndyCar series after his Formula 1 ride with Manor didn't materialize and he captured rookie-of-the-year honors in IndyCar on the strength of his shocking upset at Indianapolis. Starting 11th in only his second oval-track race, Rossi ran steady, conserved fuel perfectly in the closing stages, led the final four laps and beat teammate Carlos Munoz to the checkered flag by four seconds.

He also ran strong at Iowa (sixth), Texas and Pocono, where he was in the lead pack before an accident in pit lane.

Herta closed his IndyCar operation to partner with Michael Andretti and several members of his team were integrated into Rossi's effort on the four-car Andretti Autosport armada.

Rossi's Indy triumph and Graham Rahal's victory at Texas were Honda's only two wins in 2016.

lefebure COTA 0916 12273The coolest technology in action at Road Atlanta during Saturday's 10-hour season finale will ride along inside – and on – Ricky and Jordan Taylor. The brothers will swallow pellet-size capsules that contain multiple sensors, and will also apply transdermal patches to their forearms before they strap into the No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing Corvette DP as part of an intriguing human data acquisition experiment conducted throughout the Petit Le Mans race.

IMG 1308 capsuleThe exercise, which comes courtesy of an Ohio professor, and a former NFL strength and conditioning coach, will use the thermal intensity inside the Corvette to monitor the brothers' primary internal functions and analyze the contents of the sweat that comes from IMSA's first driver-based data generators.

"This is the examination and quantification of the driver's physiological response to the environment in the cockpit," Dr. Ed Potkanowicz, the associate professor of exercise physiology at Ohio Northern University, told RACER. "They're subjected to G-loading, repeated muscular contraction, thermal stress, and all they have to cope with it is maybe a liter of fluid in the car for the duration of their stint.

"It's an area of focus and research I call Driver Science. Like Runner Science or Boxer Science, why shouldn't there be Driver Science? With that data, we can develop training interventions to make the driver more competitive."

With the data recording (and transmitting) capsule in the Taylors' digestive system during the race, real-time information on the brothers' core temperatures and heart rate will be transmitted to a receiver in the cockpit. Dr. Potkanowicz cites the increased accuracy of the capsule as a primary advantage over other acquisition methods, and with the information in hand, the team and the doctor can align the data with the lap times produced by the Taylors and look for any intersections of heat-related performance changes.

"The company that developed the capsule technology, HQ Inc., has seen them used by NASA for astronauts, the military for fighter pilots, and it's been used in traditional sports like football and baseball, and also opened it up to the racing community, which is where I picked it up.

"[WTR engineer] Brian Pillar and I have been talking for about a year because he is very interested in incorporating driver performance data into how he engineers the car and into his strategy decisions. Teams have been using traditional heart-rate monitors worn by the drivers for years, and that data is shown in real-time on the telemetry screens in the pit box so the engineers can monitor throughout the race. They also see the temperature inside the cockpit in real-time.

IMG 9141

"The capsule method is much more accurate. It transmits the driver's heart rate and core body temperature to a small data recorder inside the car, about the size of a small radio. The data will allow the doctors and engineers to analyze the relationship between elevated core temperature and heart rate, and their effect on lap times and driver performance, in particular, during each driving stint.

"It will also make it possible to pinpoint exactly when performance begins dropping off and then will allow the team to make the decisions based on data as to when a driver needs to continue or to get out of the car. And it will allow development of customized training programs to help drivers be able to arrive much later at that point where their performance begins dropping off."

The doctor's last note is of particular interest. Jordan Taylor makes regular use of a highly advanced racing simulator (above) provided by Simcraft that accurately replicates the experience of driving the WTR Corvette DP. With the core temperature data taken from the capsule, Dr. Potkanowicz can make use of a computer-controlled thermal suit – akin to a driver's cool suit – that pumps heated fluid to elevate Taylor's core temperatures to match the DP's fiery cockpit.

Drivers routinely conduct cardio training in high heat to prepare for spending hours in a hot race car. By training on the simulator for long periods with the suit recreating the fluctuations in core temperature, Taylor – or any driver that makes use of a simulator – would have a more exacting training regimen experience to follow.

Having previously tested the capsule and internal data logging system before Petit Le Mans, Jordan Taylor believes it will help drivers to explore new ways to improve their craft.

IMG 1428a

"It was weird the first time we did it because it was an unknown," he said (pictured, left, with Ricky). "We did it at a test at Watkins Glen and it was just a little odd, the science of it. But all of us drivers are interested in knowing what we go through in the car. Everyone obviously says it's difficult, but it would be nice to have something behind that. Just at our test, we only used it for a couple of hours, but it was already surprising what we found out. In race conditions this weekend, it'll be more extreme. It'll be hotter and we'll be collecting data longer.

"Over the course of a 10-hour race, it'll be really interesting to compare core temperature with our body surface temperature with how much we sweat and heart rate, and compare that with lap times and race pace and how we feel in the car. It's the first time I've been involved in a science project like this and I'm curious to see the results for myself.

"Probably the most surprising thing we learned at the test was how high our core temperature got while we were driving. In two hours, my core temperature was enough to be admitted to the ER with a fever. The doctor said I would have immediately been sent to the hospital. It's hard to believe because when I really feel sick, I feel like I'm going to die, but when I'm in the racecar and reach that core temperature, I feel perfectly fine. I'm not sure how it correlates, but it was amazing how surprised the doctor was at how high our temperature rose."

Dr. Potkanowicz is also looking for new technologies that will eventually replace the swallowing of a capsule.

"You can't make a recommendation or suggest an intervention if you don't know what you're trying to adjust, so the first step is to quantify it, and that's where we are right now, to quantify what the driver is experiencing," he said. "Once we get that message across, the goal is to develop technology that will allow us to monitor the driver continuously but not as invasively as the pill. Incorporating the data-gathering technology into a platform like the radio ear buds would not be invasive or disruptive, and it's among the options being investigated."

IMG 1317 Sweat receptorComplementing the capsule, the Taylors will also work with ex-Washington Redskins trainer Scott Ackerman, the founder and CEO of CoreSyte, to feed data into a patch they'll wear during the race that uses six fluid receptors and a microprocessor to analyze the chemical makeup of their sweat.

By understanding the amount of specific chemicals and minerals expelled through their sweat while driving, Ackerman will be able to use the information and prepare drink bottles with more or less of whatever nutrients are needed to maintain a healthy and properly hydrated form during the next stint.

From Ackerman's process to Dr. Potkanowicz's Driver Science project, it's clear the days of solely relying on vehicle-based data acquisition system to improve performance are limited. And it won't take long for teams to ask their drivers to plug into the ever-increasing pool of data while searching for new areas to optimize performance.

"There are hundreds of different parts of a car that we know everything about," he said. "But, there's one very important part of the car that we don't know anything about, and that is the driver. When he or she gets into that car, we trust they are fully trained and prepared physically, but we have no way of knowing or measuring that or knowing when that performance is going to drop off. These data capturing and analysis methods bring the driver into the process."

The final part of the experiment, which happens to be somewhat humorous, means the Taylor brothers will have one more pass to make long after Petit Le Mans has ended...

"It will be ingested by the drivers at 7 p.m. Friday and will remain in their system until they pass it 36 to 48 hours later," the doctor said with a smile.

2016IMSAPLM MarshallPruett 929 031

2016IMSAPLM MarshallPruett 929 1832The Michael Shank Racing with Olivier Pla Show continued in qualifying for Saturday's 10-hour IMSA season finale at Road Atlanta. The Frenchman placed the MSR Ligier JS P2-Honda on pole (1m13.061s) with another emphatic performance that left Tristan Nunez in the No. 55 Mazda Prototype (-0.459s) and Prototype championship leader Dane Cameron (-0.842s) with no answer for his supreme pace.

"We knew we had a car that would be competitive here in clean air," Pla said. "We kept improving the car in every session, tomorrow is the race, and we will push hard to the finish. [Finishing] P2, P3, I don't care [about]; we want to win."

Robert Alon's remarkable fourth pole of the season came on his father's birthday, and with his No. 52 PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports team angling for the PC championship, it came at the right time.

"Just knowing this is the last race and everyone's pushing for the win, it's nice to be out front," Alon said. His pole lap (1m16.411s) edged championship leader Alex Popow in the No. 8 Starworks Motorsport entry (-0.059s) and BAR1 Motorsports' Johnny Mowlem, who will retire after Saturday night, was a disappointed third (-0.084s).

2016IMSAPLM MarshallPruett 929 975

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The GT Le Mans wars continued as Ford's Richard Westbrook took pole in the no. 67 GT (1m18.131s) to edge the Blue Oval's in-state rivals at Corvette Racing. Antonio Garcia came close in the No. 3 Corvette C7.R (-0.152s) and Toni Vilander followed in third with the No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari F488 GTE (-0.163s).

"It's a show of intention of how we're going to attack the race," said Westy, who earned his third pole of the year and faces a significant deficit to the No. 4 Corvette team in the standings. "We're just going to try and keep it at the front. All we can do is keep the pressure on them and hope for the best."

The No. 4 C7.R driven by Tommy Milner was seventh in GTLM.

Jeroen Bleekemolen and Ben Keating will need a miracle to win the GT Daytona championship in their No. 33 Dodge Viper, and while they can't guarantee divine intervention, Bleekemolen made sure they will at least start from pole position (1m21.305s).

"Great run; the whole week the car has been pretty good," the Dutchman said. "It's the last race for the Viper here and we want to give it a good farewell with pole."

Teenage ace Matt McMurry was an impressive second in the No. 73 Park Place Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R (-0.460s) and Mario Farnbacher completed the GTD top three in the No. 23 Alex Job Racing/Team Seattle Porsche 911 GT3 R (-0.593s). The championship-leading Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 488 driven by Christina Nielsen was fourth.

UP NEXT: Warm-up, 8:40 a.m. ET

Click here for full qualifying results.

TroisQuart LigierJSP217 HD 1320x695Bobby Oergel and Ray Mathiasen will return to IMSA next season with a brand-new Ligier JS P217 chassis (pictured) as the Californian PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports team steps up to the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship's Prototype class.

The PC front-runners expect to take delivery of their chassis in December, and with the help of Onroak, its testing program will begin in November with a factory car outfitted with the same World Endurance Championship-spec bodywork and Gibson V8 engine it will use in 2017.

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"This is everything we were looking for in a chassis partner," Oergel told RACER. "They are going to make sure we get out and start testing soon, just over a month from now, and then we'll get our car and we should be in good shape for the season."

PR1/Mathiasen has become Onroak's first privateer IMSA Prototype customer. Tequila Patron ESM has commissioned the company to create a Nissan-powered Daytona Prototype international version of the JS P217 for use in IMSA, and with the spec JS P217 in the hands of the PC aces, the French constructor will have multiple versions of its product on display.

"It's very important for us to have a private team to show their trust in our new car and we will make sure we give that trust back in how we service them," said Onroak North America president Pierre Nicolet. "Having a WEC-spec P2 running full season in IMSA is also important to us. Having Bobby and Ray choose the Ligier JS P217 is an honor and has us very excited. They are straight shooters, which is nice to work with."

PR1 can look forward to an expanded support package from Onroak and, according to Nicolet, it will be the same for all their IMSA customers and more details will be revealed during the off season.

"Any customer can expect the same level of involvement from Onroak," he said. "We will have testing with PR1, supporting in November before they get their car in December, and we want to bring the same level of customer support to America that we have in Europe.

"We want to make it the standard for teams; we unfortunately lack history with teams in most of the U.S., so it's time we do the same investment in the U.S. that we do in Europe. With the new category for P2s here, it is the right time."

lat lepage 160916 son 1870Andretti Autosport will extend its partnership with Bryan Herta Autosport through the 2017 IndyCar season, the team has confirmed.

"We're happy to have Bryan back with the team for 2017," said Andretti Autosport owner Michael Andretti. "His team fits well into our family and we are excited to see continued growth and success with the partnership. Bryan is a long-time friend and a true assert to our organization. We are eager to see what next season has in store."

The relationship between the teams began in February this year, with Andretti-BHA running Alexander Rossi alongside the three regular Andretti entries piloted by Ryan Hunter-Reay, Marco Andretti and Carlos Munoz. That partnership enjoyed early success when Herta coached Rossi to victory in the 100th Indianapolis 500, and Herta said that he is looking forward to more good things next year.

"I am super-thrilled to continue our partnership with Andretti Autosport," said Herta. "We have a lot of exciting plans for the team throughout the off-season that I know can only make us more competitive for 2017. Last year came together quite late, but this year we've committed early and that can only help better prepare us for next season. I am 100 percent committed to helping the entire team in every way possible in order to see Andretti Autosport in Winner's Circle many times next year."

The team is yet to confirm the occupant of the No. 98 for next season, although it is understood to be in advanced discussions with Rossi about an extension of his deal.

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