The 2014 Blancpain Endurance Series got underway this weekend at the Autodromo Nazionale di Monza, Italy, with McLaren GT present for the third consecutive year. Customer teams ART Grand Prix and Boutsen-Ginion Racing both fielded a two car line-up with the 12C GT3, and showed early pace during the weekend when McLaren GT factory driver Alvaro Parente claimed pole position for ART Grand Prix. Despite the hard-fought race with a grid of 38 cars, the 12C GT3 completed a lights-to-flag victory, and the French-based team secured a double podium with McLaren GT factory driver Kevin Estre in the team’s sister car securing third.
Parente, sharing driving responsibilities with Gregoire Demoustier and Alexandre Premat, dominated the weekend in the #98 ART Grand Prix 12C GT3, claiming pole position by four tenths of a second, before taking overall victory in the three-hour endurance race and fastest lap of the race. After narrowly missing out on a top-10 grid position in qualifying, fellow factory driver Estre, alongside Kevin Korjus and Andy Soucek in the #99 ART Grand Prix 12C GT3, secured the final podium position as the chequered flag fell.
Despite showing competitive pace throughout the weekend, both Boutsen-Ginion Racing entries were forced to retire from the Blancpain season opener. The #15 car, driven by McLaren Automotive development driver Phil Quaife, Alex Demirdjan and Shahan Sarkissian was involved in a racing incident causing damage which could not be repaired, while a mechanical failure for Karim Ojjeh, Oliver Grotz and Frederic Vervisch in the #16 car brought their race to a premature end.
Alvaro Parente (#98 ART Grand Prix): ‘After a good start, I had the advantage that I could run in clean air, so I could quickly create a gap. After my stint my teammates did a perfect job in managing our lead, which resulted in a great win. We did a lot of work over the winter, especially on ‘calming down’ the rear of the car. That might have cost us some tenths during the qualifying lap, but during a race stint we were able to gain several seconds.’
Andrew Kirkaldy, McLaren GT Managing Director added: ‘It is great to see our customer teams fighting at the front of the grid in such a competitive championship as the Blancpain Endurance Series. The cars performed well throughout the weekend, and Alvaro and Kevin showed strong pace to help secure a double podium. The pressure is on to build on this strong start, and the next race will be tough as the grid is so strong, but we will work with the teams to ensure that the 12C GT3 is challenging for more wins and podium finishes throughout the season.’
Round 2 of the Blancpain Endurance Series takes place at Silverstone, UK over the weekend 23-25 May 2014.
INDIANAPOLIS, Wednesday, April 16, 2014 – A longtime tradition leading into the Month of May and “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” was renewed Wednesday when the 33 directors of the 500 Festival received their Indianapolis 500 Chevrolet Camaros on the main straightaway at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The “Festival cars” have reminded Indianapolis-area residents of the upcoming Indianapolis 500 since the 1960s, and this year’s unique cars will capture the attention of many as they are driven around Central Indiana. “Seeing the Indianapolis 500 Festival cars around the city and state is one of the surest signs every year that the Indianapolis 500 is just around the corner,” said J. Douglas Boles, Indianapolis Motor Speedway president. “This year’s Chevrolet Camaro SS bears a striking resemblance to the beautiful Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 that will lead the 33 drivers to the green flag on May 25 and once again pays tribute to the longstanding relationship between the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the 500 Festival and Chevrolet.”
Each of the 500 Festival cars is a 2014 Chevrolet Camaro SS convertible, equipped with a 400 hp 6.2L V-8 engine with a 6-speed automatic transmission with tap shift.
All of the Camaro SS Festival cars are black with black tops and black interior, and are specially equipped with Chevy-accessory black aluminum wheels to emulate the Camaro Z/28 coupe that will serve as the official pace car for the Indianapolis 500 this year. These special Camaros will be seen throughout the month of May adorned with the Indianapolis 500 event logo on the doors and the iconic IMS winged logo on the quarter panels.
“Chevrolet and Indianapolis Motor Speedway have been long-time partners, and each year our partnership allows civic leaders to be ambassadors of Chevrolet and of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway,” said Jeff Chew, Manager of Business Strategy and Operations for Chevy Racing. “The speedway truly embraces the community, and the amount of support in Indianapolis and the surrounding communities is very special and is second to none.”
The new front-end appearance on the ’14 Camaro SS has a sleeker appearance and incorporates new headlights that create a more serious-looking face. Also, SS models are distinguished by an all-new vent-style hood inspired by the Camaro ZL1.
Two 6.2L V-8 engines are offered in the Camaro SS, including the L99 on automatic-equipped vehicles and the LS3 on manual-equipped models. All convertible models feature a standard rear-vision camera system.
The 98th running of the Indianapolis 500 will take place on Sunday, May 25.
Chevrolet’s hardcore Z06 Corvette is breaking with tradition starting in the 2015 model year.
Historically sold as a coupe with a manual transmission and meant as a performance focused model geared toward enthusiasts, the 2015 Corvette Z06 will also be sold as a convertible. From the beginning, Chevrolet engineered the C7 chassis to be easily adaptable for both coupe and convertible applications. In fact, the brand claims this car is still 20 percent stiffer in convertible form than the coupe model it follows.
The top can be raised at up to 30 mph thanks in part to a tonneau cover that stays flat when it raises rather than tilting up. Chevrolet says it should still be able to sprint from 0 to 60 mph in 3.5 seconds, meaning it boasts the same time as its hardtop sibling. In fact, everything that Chevrolet offers Z06 hardtop customers is also there in the open air variant.
The same 6.2-liter supercharged V8 sends “at least” 625 hp and 635 lb-ft of torque to the rear wheels via either a seven-speed manual transmission with rev-matched downshifts or an eight-speed automatic transmission. If you’re keeping score, that means starting in 2015, customers will be able to buy a convertible, automatic Z06. Heresy? Hardly, because with the increased stiffness and Chevrolet’s dual-clutch beating claims about the new eight-speed (fast shifts), the convertible should be one heck of a sports car.
Of course, it will still give up track day credibility by virtue of losing the roof structure because many courses won’t let cabriolets out to lap without some sort of roll bar. Paradoxically, the car is still available with the crazy Z07 performance package that includes massive aerodynamic downforce add-ons shown in the pictures here. Chevrolet says it decided to leave the options sheet open to its customers, even if some of the packages could be interpreted as contradictory. Why? Why not.
All of the same cooling ducts are at work with the convertible, although the vents that suck air in to chill the differential and transmission had to be transplanted to allow for the folding canopy compartment.
A release date hasn’t been announced yet for either the coupe or convertible Z06, but both will arrive next year. Chevrolet is still testing the cars at its Milford Proving Grounds, which is why the engine output numbers are still unofficial. A company spokesman said the convertible will follow in typical product cadence roughly a couple of months after the coupe and will probably be ready in time for next spring. Luke Vandezande
The Diesel Driver also names brand Diesel Manufacturer of the Year
NEW YORK – Diesel enthusiasts around the world have determined the 2014 Chevrolet Cruze Diesel is the top diesel car of the year and Chevrolet is the top diesel manufacturer of 2014.
“The Chevrolet Cruze Diesel, with a market-leading 46 mpg highway (5.11 L/ 100 km) is clearly setting the pace for diesel-powered cars in the United States,” said Jonathan Spira, editorial director of The Diesel Driver. “The message from our readers is clear. Diesels are back and Chevrolet is in the forefront.”
The Cruze finished with 59.3 percent of the 11,030 votes cast. Competitors included the Audi A6, A7, A8, Q5 and Q7; BMW 328, 535 and X5; Jeep Grand Cherokee; Mercedes-Benz E250, GLK250, ML350 and GL350; Porsche Cayenne; and Volkswagen Beetle and Beetle Convertible, Golf, Jetta, Jetta Sportwagen, Passat and Touareg.
“The Cruze Diesel is really showing the world what diesel can do,” said Cristi Landy, Chevrolet senior marketing manager. “It combines fuel efficiency and performance into a fun-to-drive vehicle that really offers compact car drivers an option that speaks to their lifestyle and personality.”
Chevrolet received 45 percent of the 11,161 votes cast for top diesel manufacturer. The ballot included Audi, BMW, Jeep, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche and Volkswagen.
For the 2014 model year, Chevrolet built on Cruze’s value with an all-new, 2.0L clean turbo-diesel-powered model that achieves an EPA-estimated 46 mpg highway – better than any non-hybrid or gasoline passenger car in America. The Cruze Diesel can travel 717 miles on a single tank – or about 10 hours of highway driving.
Chevrolet recently revealed the 2015 Cruze, which will debut at the New York International Auto Show with revised exterior styling, enhanced interior convenience and greater connectivity – including new Text Message Alerts, Apple Siri integration and OnStar 4G LTE with available Wi-Fi hotspot. All of this, including a diesel powertrain option, will be available as the vehicle retains the leading fuel economy drivers except.
The Cruze Diesel features a globally designed powertrain. Engineers at GM’s diesel center of excellence in Torino, Italy worked daily with their counterparts in Pontiac, Mich., to develop a world-class engine that delivers outstanding fuel efficiency and torque while providing a smooth, quiet ride. In addition, GM engineers in Russelsheim, Germany, are supporting the program by developing the accessory drive, acoustic cover and other specialized components.
The engine is built in Kaiserslautern, Germany and the vehicle is assembled in Lordstown, Ohio.
Earlier this year the Cruze 2.0L diesel engine was recognized by Wards Auto as one of the 2014 Ward’s 10 Best Engines.
Today at the 2014 New York International Auto Show, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars debuts Ghost Series II to North America. Ghost Series II delivers the latest industry-leading technology from Rolls-Royce clad in a subtle re-design. It exudes the timeless yet cool, modern luxury that the car’s customers, the Captains of Industry, entrepreneurs and successful business men and women who are the wealth and job creators in our economies, demand. The launch of Ghost Series II consolidates Ghost’s position as the most popular car in the $250,000+ class, and as a cornerstone of Rolls-Royce’s continuing success.
On unveiling Ghost Series II to a packed hall in New York’s Jacob Javits Center, President of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars North America, Eric C. Shepherd, said, “The Rolls-Royce Ghost Series II is the ultimate entrepreneur’s business tool. Following the worldwide success of its predecessor, I am confident that this re-designed and updated Rolls-Royce will continue to attract increasing numbers of new customers to the marque, in particular business leaders seeking an oasis of calm in a chaotic business world.”
In the last few years, Rolls-Royce has had great success in appealing to a larger North American consumer segment, specifically female and younger customers, through the introduction of new models such as the first Ghost model in 2009 and Wraith in 2013.
The focus is to build an exquisite product that is unrivalled in craftsmanship, attention to detail, timeless appeal and features bespoke elements of the highest quality that American consumers demand – the Bespoke business was the strongest it has ever been in the US in 2013.
The United States remains one of the most significant individual markets for Rolls-Royce, with a handful of markets experiencing remarkable growth. In February 2013, the company announced Rolls-Royce Motor Cars of Dallas, TX as its North American Dealer of the Year for 2013 for its sales, service and customer satisfaction.
Ghost Series II – design evolved
Protecting the popularity of Ghost’s iconic design while delivering the latest Rolls-Royce technology to its exacting customers, the subtle re-design of Ghost Series II begins from the front.
Re-sculpted LED headlights encircled by daytime running lights lend Ghost Series II a more dynamic visual signature and blend perfectly with revised surface treatments to the front of the car. A tapered ‘wake channel’ on the bonnet, emanating from the Spirit of Ecstasy, evokes the sight of a jet’s vapor trail or wake of a fast luxury yacht and hints at the car’s dynamism. Subtle re-sculpting of Ghost’s bumpers creates a stronger stance and a sense of extra width and height, whilst the contemporary aesthetic is further enhanced with the addition of chrome inserts to the front air intakes, which now feed more air cooling to the front brakes. In addition, the famous waft line has been re-designed on Ghost Series II to lean further forwards emphasizing the car’s effortless dynamism.
“As a design statement, Rolls-Royce Ghost Series II continues to transcend time,” comments Giles Taylor, Director of Design for Rolls-Royce Motor Cars. “This is ensured by the deft treatment of features such as the new headlights, the new wake channel on the bonnet and surfacing that lend the car a more dynamic, purposeful stance and hint at the cutting edge technology inside. I am very pleased with the overall sense of design harmony.”
Inside, Ghost Series II delivers on its outward appearance. The ultimate contemporary combination of luxury, technology and connectivity available to the successful entrepreneur on the move today, Ghost Series II’s onboard technology ensures it is an oasis of calm in a busy, connected world where he or she can do business in peace.
Its suite of technologies ensures that both business and leisure time in the car are a super-luxurious, effortless experience. Satellite Aided Transmission (SAT), which debuted in Wraith last year, enhances the car’s dynamism – ensuring the car automatically adapts to its surroundings, augmenting the drive experience. Updates to navigation systems and the car/user interface ensures accessing Ghost’s features remains an effortless experience, whilst optional Bespoke Audio – the most exhaustively engineered and finest audio system in automotive history – brings new levels of acoustic satisfaction to passengers.
In short, Ghost remains the ultimate choice for successful entrepreneurs around the world and the calmest place from which to run their successful enterprises on the move.
NEW YORK – At the New York International Auto Show today, Chevrolet announced it will add the Trax, a new small SUV, to its portfolio. The 2015 Trax will offer versatility, connectivity and turbocharged performance in an efficient package.
Sporty and modern, Trax blends small-car agility with the utility of an SUV, including up to 48.4 cubic feet (1,371 liters) of cargo space. It’s Chevrolet’s seventh small-vehicle launch in less than four years. During that time, the brand’s share of the small-, compact- and mini-car segments has more than tripled – up 221 percent.
“Trax offers customers another option in the Chevrolet family and will be a strong competitor in the emerging small-SUV market, which is expected to grow more than 80 percent by 2016,” said Alan Batey, General Motors senior vice president, Global Chevrolet. “Trax also leverages our global resources and builds on Chevrolet’s strong SUV heritage.”
When it arrives in dealer showrooms early next year, Trax will accommodate customers’ increasingly connected lifestyles with available OnStar 4G LTE and built-in Wi-Fi hotspot, as well as MyLink technology featuring the segment’s only seven-inch color touch screen. Trax also will be the first in its class to offer Siri Eyes Free.
Trax technologies also enhance passenger safety, with more standard air bags than its competitors, a standard rearview camera and available rear park assist.
Additional vehicle highlights include:
Ecotec 1.4L turbocharged engine that delivers the efficiency of a small-displacement engine with the power of a larger engine on demand
Available all-wheel drive
Electric power steering
Available next-generation OnStar and MyLink
Ten standard air bags, including side-curtain and knee air bags – and the segment’s only rear seat-mounted thorax air bags
Clever and convenient storage areas, including upper and lower glove boxes – with a USB port and auxiliary jack in the upper glove box for plug-in media
60/40-split fold-flat rear seat and fold-down front passenger seatback for storing and transporting items up to eight feet long
Standard remote keyless entry and available remote start.
Trax will be offered in LS, LT and LTZ trims. Pricing will be announced closer to the start of production.
A Chevy inside and out
With its signature dual-port grille, prominent bowtie emblem and swept headlamps, the Trax is immediately identifiable as a contemporary Chevrolet. Its grille design – with chrome accents – emulates other Chevrolets and provides a more cohesive appearance across the brand’s lineup of crossovers and small cars.
Available cues such as front fog lamps and simulated front and rear skid plates lend a sportier presence, while vertical tail lamps flank the tailgate, accenting taught body lines and pronounced wheel arches that give the Trax a confident stance.
The 10 exterior are: Brilliant Blue Metallic, Orange Rock Metallic, Satin Steel Metallic, White Pearl Tricoat, Black Granite Metallic, Summit White, Silver Ice Metallic, Ruby Red Metallic, Deep Espresso Metallic and Blaze Red.
Inside, Trax’s distinctive styling carries over to a dual-cockpit instrument panel. In the center, it houses a seven-inch, high-resolution, full-color display for the standard MyLink voice-activated infotainment system. It also features displays for available SiriusXM satellite radio and standard rearview camera, as well as the available GPS-enabled app navigation system that customers can download.
The instrument cluster is inspired by the bold design in the Sonic, featuring a large, performance-style analog tachometer combined with a prominent digital display for the speedometer and other readouts. A small-diameter, thick-rimmed steering wheel enhances the sporty ambience. The wheel is leather-wrapped on LTZ and some LT models.
LS models feature standard cloth seating, with deluxe cloth standard on LT, along with an available cloth/leatherette seating trim. LTZ models feature standard full leatherette trim. Interior colors are Jet Black, Jet Black/Light Titanium and Jet Black/Brownstone.
For versatility, the 60/40 flat-folding rear seat features a fold-down armrest with cup holders, storage in all four doors, four bins in the dash, pockets in the seatbacks and bins under the rear load floor and a hidden storage drawer under the front passenger seat. It also offers 18.7 cubic feet (530 liters) of storage behind the split-folding rear seat and 48.4 cubic feet (1,371 liters) with the rear seat folded. The front passenger seat also folds flat to extend the cargo length and accommodate items up to eight feet long.
Connectivity and infotainment details
Available Siri Eyes Free for iPhone iOS 6 and iOS 7 users enhances connectivity and convenience. Each enables voice-controlled connectivity so customers can keep phones stored and their hands on the wheel.
Additional standard and available features include:
Seven-inch-diagonal color touch screen and additional USB ports
Available Chevrolet connected by OnStar 4G LTE with built-in Wi-Fi hotspot
Available next-generation OnStar and MyLink
Available BringGo navigation app
Available SiriusXM Satellite Radio (with three months of trial service), SiriusXM Travel Link and SiriusXM Tune Select (requires XM subscription)
Supports playback of MP3 files stored on USB flash memory drives.
With Chevrolet’s connected by OnStar 4G LTE connection, Trax provides an available Wi-Fi hotspot that allows passengers to connect multiple personal devices such as smartphones, laptops and tablets, to high-speed wireless Internet.
Trax is powered by a power-dense Ecotec 1.4L turbocharged four-cylinder engine backed by an efficiency-enhancing six-speed automatic transmission. The engine is expected to be rated at an SAE-certified 138 horsepower (102 kW) and 148 lb-ft of torque (200 Nm) between 1,850 and 4,900 rpm.
The wide rpm range for the maximum torque – a specific trait of turbocharged engines – helps it deliver a more confident driving experience, with a strong feeling of power across the rpm band. The turbocharger’s on-demand performance also contributes to efficiency because it enables greater power when needed with the lower fuel consumption of a small-displacement engine when it’s not.
The turbocharger is integrated within the exhaust manifold, for reduced weight and greater packaging flexibility. A solid cast crankshaft and forged connecting rods deliver additional durability to support the engine’s pressurized power and torque.
A Hydra-Matic 6T40 six-speed automatic transmission with TAPShift control is matched with the 1.4L turbo engine. It has a unique design, with the planetary gearsets positioned on the same axis as the engine crankshaft centerline, making the entire powertrain unit shorter fore-to-aft. This design enables a shorter overall vehicle length, increased interior space, enhanced safety crush zones and lower weight.
A “steep” first gear and a “tall” overdrive top gear to achieve a wide ratio spread of 6.14:1. This allows Trax to achieve robust acceleration, as well as fuel efficiency and lower engine noise at highway cruising speeds.
Refined ride and handling
Trax is built on a robust global platform and engineered with precise suspension tuning to deliver one of the segment’s quietest and most refined driving experiences. Available all-wheel drive seamlessly shifts power to the rear wheels when required for better traction and handling.
A 100.6-inch (2,555 mm) wheelbase and wide stance – 60.6-inch (1,539 mm) front and rear tracks – contribute to a confident driving experience, while a strong structure enables greater suspension precision and a quiet ride.
A MacPherson strut front suspension is used with coil springs, a large stabilizer bar and side-load-compensated front strut modules.
The rear suspension incorporates a compound crank (torsion beam) design, with a double-wall, tubular V-shape beam profile with gas-charged twin-tube shocks. It combines all the advantages of a conventional torsion beam axle, including minimal space requirements, with low weight and consistent camber control. Noise-damping urethane spring isolators improve ride isolation and dampen noise.
Trax also features a column-mounted, variable-effort electric power steering system that saves fuel compared to a conventional engine-driven power steering pump.
Sixteen-inch wheels are standard on LS and LT (aluminum wheels on LT). LTZ has standard 18-inch aluminum wheels.
Built to protect
Trax incorporates technologies that help avoid crashes and protect occupants in case one occurs. Crash-avoidance technologies include:
Standard rearview camera
Standard StabiliTrak electronic stability control, incorporating traction control and rollover mitigation features
ABS and electronic brake force distribution
Cornering brake control and brake assist
The body structure forms a protective cage around the passenger compartment, with 66 percent of the structure composed of high-strength steels, including ultra-high-strength steel. That structural protection is complemented with 10 standard air bags:
Driver and front passenger frontal air bags
Driver and front passenger knee air bags
Front and rear thorax air bags for all outboard positions – including the segment’s only rear-seat-mounted thorax air bags
Side curtain air bags for front and rear outboard passengers.
Trax’s safety and security features also include exclusive OnStar technology with Advanced Crash Response System, emergency assistance and more.
Chevrolet Trax was launched in late 2012 in Mexico and Canada as a 2013 model; about 90,000 have been sold in more than 60 global markets. The 2015 Trax is currently on sale in China, and will arrive in U.S. dealer showrooms early next year, adding the small SUV to Chevy’s two largest markets. Trax is named after a 2007 concept vehicle.
Founded in 1911 in Detroit, Chevrolet is now one of the world’s largest car brands, doing business in more than 140 countries and selling more than 4.9 million cars and trucks a year. Chevrolet provides customers with fuel-efficient vehicles that feature spirited performance, expressive design, and high quality. More information on Chevrolet models can be found at www.chevrolet.com.
Iconic Brand Reunites with Marvel to Debut new Street™ 750, Cast Mini-Movie and Digital Comic via National Contest
Harley-Davidson and Marvel Entertainment, LLC, have teamed up once again to defend freedom and tame explosive city streets in – and beyond – the popular film franchise, Marvel’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Since the early days of Captain America, he has been associated with Harley-Davidson, and the latest chapter of the film saga is no different as the Super Hero now revs up a brand new Harley-Davidson Street 750.To unite fans of both brands, Harley-Davidson is seeking candidates to join Captain America as “Agent 1” and star in a brand-new digital franchise, which will introduce a new chapter of action, including a group of characters created by Marvel’s Custom Division exclusively for Harley, and feature the new Harley-Davidson Street 750. The mini-movie and digital comic will debut in Marvel and Harley-Davidson online and social channels this summer.
“Our collaboration with Marvel puts fans directly into the center of the action like never before,” said Dino Bernacchi, Harley-Davidson U.S. Director of Marketing. “Starring as the hero in this new chapter with Marvel is not only the new Street 750 – but a real-life fan as well. The Street’s features are right in line with the authenticity, toughness, action and individualism for which Captain America is known and revered by fans around the world, and sourcing our new hero directly from that pool is equally as real and authentic.
Digital Casting Call
To enter the Harley-Davidson Captain America: The Winter Soldier online contest, special agent hopefuls are invited to complete an online skills assessment and select a custom bike of their choice at www.h-d.com/marvel. After completing the assessment, each candidate receives a badge and special promotional offer. Legal residents of the United States who are at least 18 years of age can enter now through April 30.
One grand prize winner will not only land the role as the eponymous “Agent 1,” they also will rule the streets with a brand new custom Harley-Davidson Street 750 motorcycle and a rider training course, including a stunt riding lesson with Marvel’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier stunt rider Riley Harper.
The Street 750 and Street 500 from Harley-Davidson, the latest additions to Harley-Davidson’s Dark Custom line-up, feature the all-new liquid-cooled Revolution X™ engine, housed in a narrow and lean chassis built for agility. New suspension and a broad handlebar sweep provide the confidence and maneuverability you need when managing tight turns and fast moves in defense – or pursuit of – freedom. It also has the premium, minimalist Dark Custom style that serves as a blank canvas for riders to customize.
Now that is the different between three guys 1950 at Indianapolis 500 in the pits and 19+ guys in Formula 1 servicing you. Now in Formula 1 the pit stop are under .02 seconds. An the teams are working on how to make the pits even faster.
You will not believe the different a few years has made. Don’t blink you will miss the stop.
Risi Competizione Ferrari 458 Italia GT no. 62: Giancarlo Fisichella (ITA) Dane Cameron (USA)
Ferrari factory driver Giancarlo Fisichella took the start of the race – which was a somewhat processional affair with no full course yellows to close up the field, the complete reverse to the previous round – and tucked in behind the factory Corvettes, BMWs and Porsches. After just 15 laps the Italian reported that he was losing a lot of grip but he maintained a consistent pace until what was due to have been the one and only pit stop of the race at the 42 minute mark.
The Ferrari stopped on the same lap as all its main competitors and the Risi Competizione crew once again showed they were the class of the field – refueling, doing a driver change and four Michelin tires in less time than any other car in pit lane.
American Dane Cameron (originally from Glen Allen in California but now residing in Georgia) took the wheel from Fisichella but make a small error three laps into his stint and went off track into the run off area. There was no damage to the car – definitely cause for Risi to celebrate this weekend – but the left front tire was carrying a flat spot for the remainder of the race which deteriorated to the extent that Cameron came into the pits for a second stop with just 10 minutes remaining.
Giancarlo Fisichella:“It was a difficult race; we couldn’t get what we expected from the car at the start of the weekend and we weren’t quick enough. It was a bit the balance of the car, a bit the set up – generally the grip was not enough and the car was very inconsistent on the curbs. But I finished my first race of the season and it was encouraging to get to the end of the race, even if we did have to have a second pit stop. We brought the car home so for the next race I’m sure wewill be better – at the moment it looks like we need more power or less weight!”
Dane Cameron: “We weren’t able to ever quite get the exact balance that both Fisi and I were looking so I think we were slightly down on pace. We were hoping we’d be able to make some up with track position and we had a pretty good stop and strategy. I’ll own a small mistake that I made when I went down the escape road a few laps into my stint so I struggled with a flat spot after that. I enjoyed my first race in the Ferrari and had green flag racing for an hour so it was a solid first stint with the team which I very much enjoyed. We had the consistency but missed on the outright pace for the weekend.”
Risi Competizione’s next race will be at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca on Sunday 4th May.
CHARLOTTE —- Robert Hight and the Auto Club Ford Mustang Funny Car team fought an uphill battle today at zMAX Dragway at the 5th annual Four-Wide NHRA Nationals. Winning for the second time in the tough four-wide format today and for the fourth time at zMAX Dragway Hight leaves North Carolina still in the points lead and with two wins this season. This was the twelfth race in a row that John Force Racing has had a Funny Car in the final round going back to the U.S. Nationals last season.
In the final quad Hight faced 16-time Funny Car champion John Force, two-time 2014 winner Alexis DeJoria and a strong Tim Wilkerson entry. Hight had a tremendous reaction time and drove away from the field to secure his 31st career Funny Car win with a blistering time of 4.074 at 311.34 mph.
“The whole field is tough. You look at it top to bottom. Anybody can win one of these races. There are a lot of great cars out there. Kalitta (Racing) is running great. Schumacher (Racing) will be there. Wilkerson is running well. It is all tough,” said Hight, who has a two race win streak at zMAX Dragway now. “If you let up just a little bit you don’t take everybody seriously you are going to be on the trailer. We took the points lead over in Las Vegas. We don’t want to give it up. I didn’t want to have to wait between here and Houston thinking about getting the points lead back. I want to go to Houston knowing we still have the points lead.”
Hight is the fourth driver to win more than one Four-Wide race and the first to do so in Funny Car. Previous two-time winners were Mike Edwards (2010, 2013), Greg Anderson (2011, 2012) and Spencer Massey (2012, 2013). JFR has won 60 per cent of all the Four-Wides contested on the tour plus the exhibition that preceded the actual event, which Mike Neff won as a driver. This is the 70th time JFR Fords have left a tour event 1-2 in points.
Hight’s two final round losses this season have come at the hands of DeJoria and heading into the final round he was 0-4 versus the Patron XO Café sponsored driver.
“You think three Ford Funny Cars in the final is pretty good odds but the way she has been running and winning races it was no gimme,” said Hight. “I don’t know who was runner-up her or John but that was a big one. I almost wish she would have been runner-up because I would have gained 40 points on John.”
Hight credited crew chief Mike Neff all weekend with giving him confidence and a great race car. On Sunday the team had to race in the lane that three other teams passed on in the second round and the final quad. It did not dampen the confidence of Neff.
“This format is a dangerous format for Mike Neff. He understands what he needs to run in order to win. We joked all day after the first round that we didn’t have lane choice and we got table scraps. We went out there and we still won from the lane that nobody wanted. Never once did I feel like we were at a disadvantage because we were in the ‘bad’ lane,” said Hight. “Losing twice to Alexis in finals earlier this year I think that motivated him a little bit to push it. The way he races I guarantee my car was not on the edge in the final. It was tuned up enough to go up there and hopefully get the win.”
Hight’s day started with one of the toughest match-ups of the day. In his first quad every driver had at least one NHRA Mello Yello championship. When he won in 2012 his final quad had two world champs and the best driver without a championship.
“I was racing world champs in that final (in 2012) Cruz Pedregon, John and Ron Capps. It never gets easy. First round today I had (Matt) Hagan, (Jack) Beckman and Tony Pedregon. All those guys are world champs. This has been a great weekend. We love coming to zMAX Dragway. We are trying to sell sponsorships and what better place than this to bring potential sponsors. Yesterday this place was packed. I was a great weekend all in all and to have John and I finish 1-2 made it that much more special. This was my fourth final in a row,” added Hight.
Despite having the best reaction time of all the other final quad competitors, John Force and his Castrol GTX Mustang came up just little short of winning his second NHRA Four-Wide Nationals as it was his son-in-law and fellow teammate, Robert Hight who got to the finish line first. With his second place finish today at zMax Dragway, John Force makes a significant move in the NHRA Mello Yello Funny Car points standing.
“If it was just about the points, I’d feel real good as we moved up one and two but it’s about winning. I don’t like to lose to anybody but if I’m going to, I’d rather lose to a teammate who works just as hard as me and that’s Robert Hight,” said John Force.
John Force’s Castrol GTX High Mustang looked like a different car today. Any issues it may have had as it struggled during the Friday and Saturday qualifying session were obliviously addresses and fixed by Jimmy Prock and the crew.
In the opening quad, John was matched up against daughter and fellow teammate Courtney Force, Tommy Johnson Jr. and Jeff Arend. John Force blasted off with a strong 4.046 second elapsed time, quickest of the race for Funny car and took the win to advance to the next session.
In the semi-final quad, the 16-time champ was lined up with Robert Hight, Tommy Johnson Jr. and Matt Hagan. When the Christmas trees lit up, John Force had the best reaction time of the bunch and led the pack with a 4.12 second elapsed time. Right on his bumper was fellow teammate and son-in-law Robert Hight with a 4.13 second time.
With lane choice being very critical, crew chief Jimmy Prock made sure the John’s Funny Car was lined-up in the best on that could take on the 8,000 horsepower from the Castrol GTX High Mileage Mustang.
When it came to the final quad, it was John Force, Robert Hight, Tim Wilkerson and Alexis DeJoria going for the win. When the Christmas Trees blinked, all four drivers took off in a thunderous fury as 40,000 horsepower erupted within the stands.
While John Force got the hole-shot over DeJoria with a stellar .040 light, it wasn’t enough to hold off Robert Hight’s hard charging Auto Club Mustang that blasted a 4.07 second elapsed time in final.
“Good weekend and I want to acknowledge the other drivers in the lanes next to Robert and me during the final race. You got to congrats that to Alexis DeJoria as her old car is starting to fly and Tim Wilkerson, to race the way he does on a budget is really something,” said John Force.
This was John Force’s fifth start at the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals and his second final round appearance.
“These were all great competitors and we gave the fans a really good show today,” said John Force.
For the third year in a row the Four-Wide NHRA Nationals were not kind to the Traxxas backed team. Courtney Force dropped a close race to her dad John Force and Tommy Johnson Jr.
“We didn’t get the win out here this weekend. We had some tough competition in the first round going up against my dad, Arend and Tommy Johnson Jr. But on a positive note, we’ve had a more consistent race car and coming out to four-wide I think it definitely shows that we’ve improved this year more than any year in the past,” said Force.
“We’re looking forward to Houston next week, but knowing that we qualified in the No. 6 position is big for us. That’s our best qualified spot at four-wide. We had a tough first round, but that’s going to keep up pushing forward. As a driver, I have to keep pushing myself too and we’ll see what we can do in Houston,” said Force.
Brittany Forces chances of winning her first NHRA Top Fuel trophy evaporated in the second round of eliminations as her Castrol EDGE Top Fuel Dragster smoked the tires at the hit of the throttle. Despite having her best back-to-back qualifying performances, she still came up short on race day. Regardless, the 2013 NHRA Rookie of the Year remains upbeat and positive.
“I’m still very proud of my Castrol EDGE team. To come out here to Charlotte and qualify number five at the four-wide is a big deal. That’s what we tried to do all of last year and we’ve improved. I’m also up against some tough guys, it’s not an easy group of racers so again, to go out and qualify number five at this race with these conditions and against some great teams is a big deal,” said Brittany Force.
In the opening round, Brittany finished second in her quad to 2012 NHRA Top Fuel Champion Antron Brown while outrunning Clay Millican and Leah Pritchett as their race cars experience traction and mechanical issues. Brittany ran a strong with a 3.81 at 323.19 mph and was right there next to Antron Brown’s 3.801 at 323.04.
“I felt good feeling going into the first quad, my energy was up and my guys were pumped. I had a feeling we’d get past round one. When I got to the other end of the track, I had no clue who won. I can get complicated with three other race cars up there but they said it was Antron and me moving on and I was pumped about that. Unfortunately we went out in the semis but we did get past this stump we’ve been in the last two races of going out in the first round,” said Brittany Force.
As a driver, Brittany’s confidence in herself and in the team’s ability to tune her race car to the track conditions continues to grow. She also solidifying her place in the points chase as she’s putting rounds on the guys behind her.
“The more runs we get, the better I feel in the car. I’m feeling more comfortable in the Castrol EDGE Dragster and it will help us go rounds in two weeks at the NHRA Spring Nationals in Houston,” said Brittany Force.