Cadillac dominates 24 Hours of Daytona

2017 Cadillac LMP car at Daytona 24 hour race

Cadillac trumps 24 Hours of Daytona

The enduro had everything including controversy…and rain. Lots of rain.

Donald Trump would love this result -  America is great again, and the Stars and Stripes was flying high as two Cadillac prototypes fought for victory in the Daytona 24 Hours in Florida.

In the end just over half a second separated the winning Wayne Taylor Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R shared by brothers Ricky and Jordan Taylor, Max Angelelli and ex-NASCAR champ Jeff Gordon from the Action Express Racing Caddy.

2017-Cadillac -LMP-car -Daytona -24-hour -drivingDrivers and teams had to battle wet conditions for about half of the 24 hours, with the safety car sent out 21 times.

Ultimately it came down to a 20-minute dash to the flag after the final caution.

Action Express driver Filipe Albuquerque led with seven minutes to run, until Ricky Taylor aggressively fired underneath him, the leading car then turned down on the Wayne Taylor Racing driver and was pushed into a spin.

2017-Cadillac -LMP-car -Daytona -24-hour -racingAlbuquerque gave chase, reducing a four second margin to 0.6s at the finish.

"I don't think I lost the race; I don't race like this," said Albuquerque afterwards.

The Spirit of Daytona Riley-Gibson MK30 LMP2 was as fast as the leaders in the wet of the race, but was no match for the Caddys on a dry track.

2017-Cadillac -LMP-car -Daytona -24-hour -driving -at -nightMarc Goossens, Renger van der Zande and Rene Rast went a lap down in the Riley before the race was complete.

Ford won the GTLM class with Dirk Muller, Joey Hand and Sebastien Bordais piloting a Chip Ganassi Ford GT.

The Alegra Motorsports Porsche team took a surprise GTD class victory with Michael Christensen, Daniel Morad, Jesse Lazare, and father-son duo Carlos and Michael de Quesada.

Mawson jumps to lead in MFR Challenge

Aussie takes victory and two podiums in New Delhi

Joey -Mawson -racing -around -trackAustralia’s reigning German Formula 4 champion Joey Mawson has maintained his place at the top of the standings in the 2017 MRF Challenge following another impressive performance in the Asian series based on F4 machinery.

A win, two more podiums and a fourth was his haul over two days.

A faulty clutch hampered his start in the first of four heats held across two days at India’s Buddha circuit, but Mawson recovered take a good fourth in the race won by Mick Schumacher.

Then Mawson banked a fine victory in heat two, winning convincingly from fifth on the grid in an action-packed race. Estonian driver Ralf Aron finished second ahead of Schumacher, who fought back from eighth on the grid.

Mawson started race three well, passing England’s Harrison Newey at the first corner for second. But he couldn’t catch Schumacher who won from pole.

Joey -Mawson -on -stage -receiving -trophyThe grid was set by each driver’s fastest lap in the previous races meaning they lined up with Aron off pole, followed by Newey, Schumacher and Mawson. The big four.

Again the Aussie got away nicely to overtake Schumacher into the first corner.  The German came back strongly – too strongly – and took Mawson off the track. Mawson rejoined in eighth.

Schumacher’s aggression (wonder where he gets that from?) resulted in another scrimmage involving Brazil’s Felipe Drugovich, triggering the safety car.

The race ended under safety car with Newey leading, from Aron and Mawson.

Mawson’s successful weekend lifted his tally of podiums in the series to 10 from 12 races.

He now leads the championship from Newey by 27 points, with Mick Schumacher a further 13 back.

The final round of the MRF Challenge will be held on February 17-19 at Chennai in southern India.

Madsen brothers sweep Aussie sprintcar title

Historical one-two for Kerry and Ian…

Kerry -Masden -US-Race -car -driverKerry and Ian Madsen raced into history at Sydney’s Valvoline Raceway on Saturday night by becoming the first brothers to finish one-two in the 55-year annals of the Australian Sprintcar Championship.

There was respect but no signs of sibling love as the two went at it, with 900 horses under their right boots, over 40 bumpy and dusty laps.

Kerry -Masden -US-Race -car -leads -IanDefending champ Kerry took the front running early from his younger brother, and pole man James McFadden in a contest interrupted by several stoppages.

One of the favourites, Jamie Veal, was sensationally forced out of the race with driveline failure as the 24-car field assembled for the rolling start.

The Iowa-based older brother Kerry, 45, is one of the top-dogs in the US Outlaws Series and it shows in his decisive slicing and dicing through the packs.

Sprintcar -race -crashIan Madsen, 32, who also splits his time between Australia and the US (where he has won an Outlaws main event), pushed into the lead fleetingly mid race as the leaders threated their way around lapped cars.

McFadden also had a brief spell up front before Kerry Madsen forged his way back in charge.

A caution with seven laps remaining bunched up the field, but the defending (and now three-times national champion) had too much for Ian.

Sprintcar -presentation -to -crowdA fading Tatnell couldn’t hold out the late charge from Robbie Farr, who claimed a podium place with a handful of laps to run.

In fifth was impressive young fourth-generation racer Jordyn Brazier, who left nothing out on the clay track as he battled with way more experienced rivals.

F1: Bernie flung and the changes are coming…

New owner Liberty Media wants more excitement and fan accessibility…

Stand by for the tsunami…

The elbowing of Bernie Ecclestone from his position at the helm of Formula One in the wake of the US$8bn (A$10.5bn) takeover of the sport by US giant Liberty Media has already seen the prospect of significant change.

It had been expected that Ecclestone would stay on for three years after the takeover, but Liberty’s move to urgently bring Formula One kicking and screaming towards modernity spelt the end for the reactionary 86-year-old Brit, who had in charge for nearly 40 years.

Liberty has appointed Chase Carey, a former top executive at 21st Century Fox, as chairman and CEO of F1.

This has left Ecclestone as chairman emeritus and acting as an adviser to the board. This is a gig without power and authority. It’s unlikely he’ll hang around to be a decorative antique. But he has already denied he might start another series to rival F1.

Liberty has also brought ex-Mercedes team boss and Ferrari technical director Ross Brawn back to the F1 coalface, placing him in the influential role of heading up the sporting and technical side of the sport.

Talking to BBC Sport, Brawn indicated his target is to develop a purer, simpler sport in which more teams and drivers can win.

Brawn, who has overseen several world championships for the teams with which he has worked, is not a fan of some rule changes of recent years.

He told the BBC wants to narrow the gap between the top and bottom of the F1 grid.

Brawn, who has the task of making the on-track show more appealing after widespread denunciation of that the racing has become predictable and has lost some of its raw excitement, slammed some of Ecclestone’s recent changes as “short-term, knee-jerk reactions” adding this is “exactly what we mustn't do”.

He highlighted aims to stabilise the small teams and put them on a better financial footing, and also reduce the scope of the technology because “there is too big a gap between the bigger and smaller teams”.

Though it’s early days yet, Brawn indicated the controversial drag reduction system (the overtaking aid available at the press of a button) may have to go.

"We need to make sure there is no artificial solutions," Brawn declared. "The drag reduction system; everyone knows it's artificial. We need to find purer solutions.”

Brawn says he has a few idea of what he wants to see in F1 but will share them with teams first.

But he also suggested that part of F1’s appeal to many followers is the challenging high-technology.

"You must balance the technology with the sporting side."

Brawn says he is willing to consider changing the turbo hybrid engines introduced in 2014, criticised for their high costs and flat sound.

American Sean Bratches, a former executive at ESPN who was last week confirmed to run the sport’s commercial arm including sponsorship and media rights, has also been talking to the media.

Quick to unveil several areas he will tackle to improve the sport, he was strong on rhetoric yet short on detail.

Bratches told CNN he intends focussing on better understanding the brand. This may take some learning given the reality that F1 baffles so many Americans.

After polishing and elevating the brand, Liberty will push F1 into new market places.

Bratches went on to speak of “huge” opportunities in the digital space to “re-imagine the digital products that F1 has today, and to engage fans in very new ways and also to use sponsors to activate it”.

He also suggested F1 would become more democratic for those who have skin in the game - teams, sponsors, promoters and rights holders.

Concluding, Bratches says the new regime is keen to create an improved race experience that engages fans, spectators and viewers.

Bratches praised the sport’s past, but insisted it had under-delivered commercially under Ecclestone’s autocratic control.

"Unquestionably it is a Super Bowl every other week and I think that is going to be an emphasis of ours," he declared.

Catching up…

What’s gone on while we took our holidays.

Much has happened in the weeks since this weekly motor sporting wrap signed off for the 2016 Christmas break…

The opening round of the new-look World Rally Championship – the Rallye Monte Carlo - lived up to the pre-event hype, with shock and awe at every stage before Sebastien Ogier completed a dream debut for Malcolm Wilson’s M-Sport Ford team.

Left without a drive after VW’s surprise withdrawal from the WRC, Ogier’s fifth Monte success – and fourth in a row - showed that the French ace will be a contender again in 2017 despite the enforced change of teams. He has now won with Citroen, VW and Ford…

It was M-Sport’s first win for five years, a result made sweeter by Ott Tanak overcoming ailing engine electrics to secure an impressive third place.

Splitting the two Ford Fiestas was another VW discard Jari-Matti Latvala, who took second in a Toyota Yaris on the Japanese manufacturer’s return to the WRC after a 17-year absence.

Ogier took the lead late on Saturday’s penultimate leg when event-long leader Thierry Neuville broke his Hyundai i20 Coupe’s suspension after an impact. Until his troubles, Neuville had dominated in the changing conditions.

Dani Sordo’s i20 took fourth, from Craig Breen a Citroën DS 3 in a leader board of some variety.

The event was marred by the death of a spectator, fatally injured when the i20 of New Zealander Hayden Paddon hit black ice and slid off the road on the opening stage.

More snow and ice are in store for competitors at the second round next month. Rally Sweden is based in Torsby on February 9-12.

Tragically, local motor racing lost the 1979 Australian Formula Ford champion Russell Norden to cancer, aged 67. And soon after the sport was slammed again with news that renowned engine builder Steve Knott had been killed in a freak bulldozer incident on his property outside Sydney.

The financial struggles of the Manor F1 team also slid to a sad if somewhat inevitable conclusion, the British outfit closing after failing to find a buyer to keep it alive.

So 20 cars on the F1 grid this season.

The Dakar Rally early in the New Year was another triumph for veteran Stefane Peterhansel whose experience in the rough was just enough to hold off his Peugeot team-mate Sebastien Loeb.  Incredibly, it was the Frenchman’s 13 victory, including six in the bike division.

Aussie Toby Price broke a femur in a crash early in the marathon and was unable to defend his bike crown, which went to Brit Sam Sunderland for KTM.

Australian riders Todd Smith and Matt Hart struggled with injuries but both finished the gruelling event. 

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