Duval Dominates at Sebring

March 23, 2011 by  
Filed under Features

Sebring International Raceway, in Florida, opened in 1950, and is considered as one of the top raceways in the United States. It is also home to the Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring, which many view as a preparation event for the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Even though many would believe the bumpy surface of the track to be a negative feature, it actually assists in testing the cars’ capabilities. Fans camp out on the greens along the course days before, in anticipation of this magnificent auto racing event of endurance.

Porsche have managed to win this event seven times, with Audi close on their heels with six victories. When it comes to drivers, Tom Kristensen has been in the wining position in five 12 Hours of Sebring events, but it seems that Peugeot is now making their name in the race, with a Peugeot vehicle winning the race for the second consecutive year.

Lioc Duval was racing in the Peugeot 908 HDi FAp for Team ORECA Matmut, and won the race decisively with a 31.8 second lead on second place finisher Simon Pagenaud, for the Highcroft Racing team. Hughes de Chaunac, owner of Team ORECA expressed his joy over the victory by saying: “It’s a historic result for us. It’s a race that we built step by step. We finished just in front of the manufacturers. We avoided any mistakes. It was a perfect job from the team and these three drivers. It was not easy because I asked them to be quick and patient. We won because we did not make any mistakes.” Duval was teamed up with Olivier Panis and Nicolas Lappierre.

The last three hours of the 2011 12 Hour of Sebring were the most crucial in the entire race. The No.8 Peugeot was brought in by Stephane Sarrazin for a full service, including replacing the broken louvers on the left wheel. Pedro Lamy then took over, but did not make an impact. Drivers in the second and third position kept battling it out, Pagenaud and Montagny, while Duval took on a last fill of fuel and remained unchallenged. He later commented: “When it was time to start my last stint, I was really stressing. To be honest, I hadn’t imagined that I would be in that position! With ten laps to go, things got better: I wasn’t taking any risks and I knew it was going to happen. I still don’t believe what’s happened! I think we did something big and it will sink in during the coming days.”

Peugeot 908 Unveiled

February 9, 2011 by  
Filed under Features

Staying ahead of the competition is what it is all about when it comes to racing. Developing new technologies and designing cars that will hopefully secure victory is what every racing team strives to do. After winning the 2010 Le Mans Cup, the Peugeot team is even more determined that their new Peugeot 908 will be the car to beat in the upcoming season. The French team also managed to secure the 2009 season and even more determined to maintain their winning streak, so last Thursday the public were given the first glimpse of the Peugeot 908.

The design and construction of the Peugeot 908 was done under the project name of 90X. All changes and development of the new car comply with the regulations of the Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO). Great excitement is building around seeing the new vehicle perform on the track. One of the changes made to the new vehicle was seeing the V12 being replaced by a 3.7 V8 power plant, as the new regulations are enforcing smaller displacement engines. It has been fitted at a ninety degree angle and now produces 542 bhp.

In regard to the aerodynamics of the car, engineers have managed to redesign the car in such a way that the down force has been slightly reduced, to enable the car to maintain the same speed as its predecessor. The shark fin has also been adjusted and designers have strived to make the car more aerodynamic. The Peugeot 908 will also feature the same size tires front and rear.

The Sport’s Technical Director of Peugeot, Bruno Famin, commented that testing the car has aided them in solving a few issues they had with the car, saying: “We did indeed have problems but we succeeded in resolving them one by one as we got more and more kilometers on the clock. One of the very positive points we found was that the car’s handling lived up to our expectations out of the box. With regard to its other strengths and weaknesses, we will need to wait until the first races to see how we compare with our rivals.”

The drivers for the coming Le Mans have been announced to be Simon Pagenaud, Sebastien Bourdais and Pedro Lamy for car number nine; Marc Gene, Anthony Davidson and Alex Wurz for car number seven; and Frank Montagny, Stephane Sarrazin and Nicolas Minassian in car number eight. With the new car and drivers announced for the 2011 season, Peugeot seems ready to take on the Le Mans.

NASCAR Returns to Road America

January 12, 2010 by  
Filed under Features

Following the cancellation of the Milwaukee Mile race on the NASCAR Nationwide Series calendar, it was decided to keep the event in Wisconsin and to hold it at the Road America track. Set to take place on 19 June 2010, it has been nine years since the last NASCAR event took place on the road course and it is set to be a thrilling occasion.

Located near to Elkhart Lake, Road America is currently host to the AMA Superbike series, American Le Mans, SCCA Speed World Challenge Series and other events. The track is 4.048 miles (6.515 km) long and boasts 14 turns. It is known for its numerous changes in elevation, as well as a renowned turn on the backside called “the kink”. The Road America track also features a long front stretch that allows drivers to reach speeds near to 200 mph.

Visitors to the Road America track can make use of grandstands and hillside seating, though the seating is open and spectators may move about through the area. There are 13 concession stands, as well as place for RVs and camping. Spectators are sure to enjoy the 640 acre facility and park-like atmosphere.

NASCAR fans, drivers and organizers are eager about the move and are looking forward to the 200-mil, 50-lap race. The first NASCAR-sanctioned race took place at Road America when the track was just a year old on 12 August 1956, and was won by Tim Flock. The track has a reputation for excitement and this is sure to draw the crowds. Strategy is vital when racing at Road America, testing driver skill to the max. With the addition of Road America to the calendar, NASCAR Nationwide teams now have two permanent road courses as well as a temporary circuit to contend with; the others being Watkins Glen International and Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. NASCAR teams racing at Road America will be allowed an added full day of practice on 17 June, before the official on-track activity begins on 18 June.

Be sure to get your ticket well in advance so as not to miss this exhilarating event!

Rolex makes Magic with Rolex Moments in Time Display

August 5, 2009 by  
Filed under News

Every year at the Rolex Monterey Historic Automobile Races, attendees look forward to indulging in Rolex’s award-winning Rolex Moments in Time display, which honors six different historic racing cars and their most significant achievements. This year, for the 36th edition of the famous Rolex Monterey Historics, which run from Friday, August 14 through Sunday, August 16 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, the museum-quality exhibit will be more dramatic than ever, theatrically staging amazing cars from the 1960s and 1970s within the context of the history they made.

Perhaps most extraordinary will be the inclusion of the Gulf Ford GT 40 and the 908LH Porsche that famously exchanged leads in the 1969 24 Hours of Le Mans until the GT-40 prevailed, with only four seconds to spare, marking the closest margin of victory ever at Le Mans. Porsche had made an all out effort to win that year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans with its 917. However, both 917s retired with clutch problems, and it was the Championship leading Porsche 908 driven by Hans Herrman and Gerard Larrousse that battled with the Ford GT-40 driven by Jackie Ickx and Jackie Oliver for the win.

1970 looked to be “The Year of the Titans” as horsepower and extreme speed became the necessary ingredients to win races. Porsche and its incredible 917 were to be challenged by Ferrari and its new 512S, both cars putting out over 550 horsepower. While the two cars were very close in performance, the 917 dominated the Championship. The 512 was always a threat but never able to rise to the level of the Porsche in the hands of the John Wyer Gulf Team.

Harkening back to that time, the Gulf 917K that will be displayed in the Rolex Moments in Time display is the car driven by Pedro Rodriguez in the 1970 1000 km race at Spa, Belgium, where it led until it retired. The Gulf’s stablemate, driven by Brian Redman and Jo Siffert, won at the amazing average of 149 mph. The Ferrari 512S that also will be in the display is the car driven by Jacky Ickx at the opening round at Daytona and Nino Vaccarella at Monza and Targa Florio where it finished 2nd and 3rd, respectively.

“The cars were as purposeful as their designers and drivers were determined and courageous,” said Steve Earle of General Racing, Ltd., which owns and organizes the Rolex Monterey Historic Automobile Races. “The Rolex Moments in Time exhibit brings to life past eras of racing in a way that lets you feel the presence of these cars and their achievements.”

Rounding out the display will be the 1972 McLaren M20 (on loan from the National Auto Museum, Reno, NV), Team McLaren’s last challenger in the Can-Am Series that the team dominated for seven years, and the 1976 Porsche 936/81, winner at Le Mans in 1977, second place in 1978 and 12th in 1981. This car was the first of the three Porsche 936 cars built and the only one to compete in five Le Mans races. It was driven variously by Jurgen Barth, Reinhold Joest, Hurley Haywood and Vern Schuppan, all of whom will be at the Rolex Monterey Historics.

Autograph sessions with some of history’s greatest names in automobile racing will be held at the Rolex Moments in Time display on Friday morning, Saturday morning and afternoon, and Sunday morning. Instructions for picking up first-come, first-serve tickets to participate will be announced daily.

Porsche is the Featured Marque for the 2009 Rolex Monterey Historic Automobile Races. Of the 450 vintage cars that will be racing at the event, 145 are Porsches.

Rolex Monterey Historic Automobile Races

July 17, 2009 by  
Filed under News

It’s official. Four hundred fifty entries have been accepted for the 36th Rolex Monterey
Historic Automobile Races, one of vintage motorsport’s most revered racing traditions,
set for August 14-16 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Of those, 145 are Porsche cars, helping
to celebrate Porsche as this year’s featured marque and lending live-action perspective on
the company’s storied racing heritage, which includes remarkable cars made famous by
legendary drivers.

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the iconic Porsche 917, and fittingly, four 917Ks
will take to the track. Three of those are re-uniting from the Gulf Wyer Team, and their
former Executive Director John Horsman will be watching them race along with Brian Redman
and Vic Elford, both of whom claimed victories at 24 Hours of Daytona and 12 Hours of
Sebring and are former Porsche factory drivers who raced the 917 at Le Mans. (Elford also
was behind the wheel of the 917 for the high speed scenes in the Steve McQueen film “Le Mans.”)

“The Porsche 917K was the greatest race car of all time” said Elford, noting that the “K”
denoted aerodynamic modifications made for the 1970 24 Hours of Le Mans, helping to give
Porsche its first overall victory in that race, followed by another win in 1971. It incorporated
Porsche’s revolutionary flat 12-cylinder engine. The long-tailed version could go 0-62 mph
in 2.7 seconds and reach top speeds of over 240 mph.

“The first time I drove the 917 was in 1969 (at Le Mans), and that car was a monster,” he
continued. “At the end of a straight you couldn’t just go from the brake pedal to the
throttle because the back end would want to come around, so you had to kind of finesse it…it
was uncharted territory back then and the car was very unstable.” Elford explained that he
was three hours from the finish and holding a 50-mile lead when his 917 broke down, taking
him and his co-drivers out of the running. John Horsman, who was an engineer as well as the
Gulf Wyer Team Executive Director, suggested the “short tail” modification for the car and
the 917K was born.

Elford added that in contrast to the 917 of 1969, the 1970 car (the 917K) was easy to drive
in the new short form. “At the end of the Mulsanne straight (at Le Mans) in 1969 the 917’s
top speed was around 200 mph, but in 1970, the top speed there was 220,” he said.

Races to Watch; Notable Drivers

With practice on Friday and warm-ups Saturday and Sunday mornings, racing will begin after
noon on each weekend day for 15 race groups that span nearly every era of motorsports history.

Saturday’s Group 7A (1964 – 1971 FIA Mfg. Championship Cars) is just one example of the
extremely rare and valuable cars competing: it features not only 917K Porsches but also two
Ferrari 512s and two Ford GT-40s, reminiscent of those competing in the late 1960s and
conjuring up images of the 1969 Le Mans race where, at the finish, a Ford GT-40 won by a mere
two seconds over a Porsche 908, making history as the closest margin of victory at Le Mans and
perhaps the most exciting race finish ever.

“For enthusiasts, the 2009 Rolex Monterey Historic Automobile Races will be very special,”
said Steve Earle of General Racing, Ltd., which owns and organizes the event. “You’ll be going
back in time, not just standing around admiring these cars. They are racing, and the sights
and sounds are the real thing.”

Notable drivers include England’s Sir Stirling Moss, often called “the greatest driver never
to win the World Championship,” driving a 1960 Lola MK I in Group 5A; South Africa’s Desire Wilson
(one of only five women to have entered an F1 World Championship Grand Prix), driving a 1952
Glockler Porsche in Group 3A; the USA’s John Morton (lauded for accomplishments in Can Am, Trans Am,
Indy Car, and endurance car racing), driving a 1985 Nissan GTP in Group 8A; and Kevin Buckler driving
his 2003 Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona overall winning Porsche GT3RS in Group 7B. Brian Redman
(multiple winner of Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona and 12 Hours of Sebring) will drive the unique 1969
Porsche 917 PA (Porsche’s first Can-Am effort) in Group 6B and a 1971 Porsche 908/3 (a twin to the
car with which he won the 1970 Targa Florio) in Group 7A.

Schedule of Racing

Saturday August 15, 2009

Group 1A) 1904 – 1940 Sporting Cars
Group 2A) 1925 – 1949 Racing and Sporting Cars
Group 3A) 1948 – 1955 Sports Racing & GT Cars under 1500cc
Group 4A) 1955 – 1961 GT Cars under 2200cc
Group 5A) 1955 – 1961 Sports Racing Cars under 2000cc
Group 6A) 1955 – 1961 Sports Racing Cars over 2000cc
Group 7A) 1964 – 1971 FIA Mfg. Championship Cars
Group 8A) 1981 – 1991 FIA Mfg. Championship & IMSA GTP Cars

Sunday August 16, 2009

Group 1B) 1947 – 1955 Sports Racing & GT Cars over 1500cc
Group 2B) 1971 – 1976 FIA Mfg. Championship Cars
Group 3B) 1961 – 1966 GT Cars under 2500cc
Group 4B) 1959 – 1966 Sports Racing Cars
Group 5B) 1963 – 1967 GT Cars over 2500cc
Group 6B) 1966 – 1974 Can-Am Cars
Group 7B) 1973 – 1980 IMSA GT, GTX, AAGT Cars

Tickets, parking directions and information on Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca are available by
visiting www.MazdaRaceway.com or calling (800) 327-SECA. For more information on the Rolex
Monterey Historic Automobile Races, visit www.montereyhistoric.com or contact General Racing, Ltd.,
info@generalracing.com , +1 (805) 686-9292.

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