September 9, 2009
Publisher's Note: Has Toyota already decided to pull out of Formula 1? Good friend Patrick Shelton reports that an "inordinate" number of Toyota F1 employees have joined his Motorpsort Professionals Group on Linked-in the last few days. The last time Patrick noticed a surge in this type of activity was just before Honda bailed out of F1 last winter. The other key indicator? The Toyota F1 types are all using their private, non-corporate email addresses. Do you think these guys have been given some type of warning that the end is near and that's why they're looking for jobs? It sure looks that way to us. - PMD
Ferrari, Porsche. Well, that didn't take long. The Direct Injection package on the new Corvette C6.R GT2 cars is being removed for the Petit Le Mans later this month and the season-ending ALMS finale at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in October at the request of the ACO, the sanctioning body for the 24 Hours of Le Mans. It seems that Ferrari and Porsche were upset about the Corvettes running the system this year, according to our European sources - even though it will be legal in 2010 (albeit on a new, smaller displacement engine package that Corvette Racing is developing to comply with the new specifications that come into effect next season for the "Global GT" classification) - and the two sports car manufacturers applied pressure to have it removed. Something tells us that Ferrari and Porsche should be careful what they wished for, because the last thing Corvette Racing needed was more motivaton to kick their asses this year and in 2010.
Scott Dixon will return to the de Ferran Motorsports XM Acura ARX-02a for the Petit Le Mans powered by MAZDA6. Dixon, who captured the pole at Sebring for the de Ferran organization, will team with car owner Gil de Ferran and Simon Pagenaud in the annual 1,000-mile/10-hour endurance classic at Road Atlanta on September 26. The race also marks the return of Audi and Peugeot with their diesel-powered prototypes in what is shaping up to be a titanic battle. “I'm really pleased that Chip has given me another opportunity to join Gil and his team,” Dixon said. “I’ve always enjoyed the chances I’ve gotten in the past to join him and Simon in the American Le Mans Series and, specifically, at Petit Le Mans. I know that de Ferran Motorsports always assembles a strong team and I’m looking forward to doing my part to hopefully put us in a position to be in contention at the end." The green flag is scheduled for 11:15 a.m. ET with SPEED airing live television coverage starting at 11 a.m. ET. American Le Mans Radio presented by Porsche and Living Timing & Scoring will be available on Racehub at americanlemans.com. Live coverage also can be heard on Sirius 126 and XM 242. Tickets are available at americanlemans.com and roadatlanta.com.
The Mikko Hirvonen (FIN)/Jarmo Lehtinen Ford Focus RS WRC at speed on Day 2 of the 2009 Rally Australia. The Finnish drivers were declared the winners of the rally after Sebastien Loeb suffered a one minute penalty for running an illegal anti-roll bar link on his Citroen C4.
ORECA team boss Hugues de Chaunac told SPEEDTV.com’s John Dagys that the Petit Le Mans is one of the world’s premiere endurance events and worthy of the global praise and adulation it annually receives. “There’s two main reasons,” according de Chaunac, who will have Nicolas Lapierre and Olivier Panis and a third driver yet to be named in his AIM-powered ORECA LMP1 for the 12th running of the 1,000-mile/10-hour endurance race on September 26. “One, we feel we’re going to learn much more in this type of race, being longer than 1,000 kilometers on a difficult track and with stronger competition from Peugeot, Audi and Acura. All of this helps us learn much more than just doing a normal European event. It better prepares us for Le Mans next year," de Chaunac said. “The second reason is the event itself,” he continued. “We feel it’s important to participate in the top races worldwide, such as Sebring, Le Mans and now Petit Le Mans. This is where you have major TV and media coverage, many spectators, etc. They’re all big events. We’re doing ‘good’ events in Europe, but the Petit Le Mans is the third biggest sports car race in the world. We want to be part of that.”
BMW Motorsport drivers Jörg Müller and Andy Priaulx will join BMW of North America Motorsport drivers Bill Auberlen, Joey Hand, Tommy Milner and Dirk Müller to campaign two BMW M3 coupes in the 1,000-mile/10-hour Petit Le Mans on September 26 at Road Atlanta. Müller, 40, has been racing in BMW Motorsport livery since 1995, competing at the Petit Le Mans three times from 1999 to 2001. He will co-drive the No. 92 M3 with Tommy Milner and Dirk Müller (no relation). Priaulx, 36, from Guernsey, began karting on his native Channel Islands in 1984 and has been a BMW Motorsport driver since 2003. He is a three-time WTCC champion. This will be Priaulx's first race in North America, and he will join Bill Auberlen and Joey Hand in the No. 90 M3.
The Road America Grand Prix Presented by StopTech, Round Eight of the SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge Championships, will air on SPEED Friday, Sept. 11, at 2 p.m. (EDT).
See another live episode of "Autoline After Hours" hosted by Autoline Detroit's John McElroy, with Peter De Lorenzo and friends this Thursday evening, September 10, at 7:00PM EDT at www.autolinedetroit.tv. Subscribe via iTunes:
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See another live episode of "Autoline After Hours" hosted by Autoline Detroit's John McElroy, with Peter De Lorenzo and friends this Thursday evening, September 10, at 7:00PM EDT at www.autolinedetroit.tv.
Subscribe via iTunes: