Saturday, October 19, 2013

Oversubscribed Part 2 - The Drivers (Updated)

 Besides the good problem of lots of interest from teams here and overseas in the united series (nevermind its not that united...), it seems there is some concern over job availability next season.

 Pro classes need not worry (Prototype/GTLM), this is only a problem for the Pro-Am classes (LMPC/GT-D).

 The Silver Driver ranking has Gold value to teams serious about winning races and championships. Some people don't like driver rankings; to them it seems contrived. I will agree they are contrived but we should let teams determine how serious they are about their business model.

 Just consider what happen between Guy Cosmo, Level 5 and Extreme Speed.

 Using rankings give them (teams) the option of being serious or semi-serious (do you want more economic security or more speed?)

 Teams that don't depend on drivers bringing money to the team to purchase new cars are free to commit to a company, say Audi, get access to factory drivers and only have to pay a salary to driver that's Silver ranked. The rules say you can have two Silver drivers in the car and this is how Callaway Competition from Germany dominated the 2010 FIA GT3 Championship with Daniel Keilwitz and Christian Hohenadel both Silver drivers...

 The grey area with the rankings is experience. You could be a silver driver if you never won a major championship or race victory or over age 50. 

 What's considered a major championship or race victory?

  •  Win or Championship in CART, IRL or Indycar
  •  Win or Championship in NASCAR
  •  Driven, Win or Championship in F1
  •  Win or Championship in GP2
  •  Win or Championship in DTM
  •  Win or Podium at Le Mans

Success in any of those series will automatically get you a Gold, Platinum if you have won a F1 race.

 Any success anywhere else will get you a Silver ranking; Interesting huh?

 Here's an example:

 Elton Julian like many drivers don't lack talent but lack funding and that ended his career in British F3, but not before that he won a race and finished in the Top 5 of the championship. He was just starting his own racing team (Dragon Speed) and fielded a car in the IMSA Porsche GT3 Cup when he was asked to drive with Gunnar Jeannette in his father's team LMPC car.

 He was brutally fast and almost won the LMPC Championship, his first season full time back in a racing car.

 He was ranked as a Silver driver. Gunnar himself has loads of experience in the ALMS and at Le Mans, he is also a Silver driver.

 This is how you can "Game" the system. Its intention is to pair usually painfully slow gentlemen drivers with money with young inexperienced (but fast) or older experienced drivers (coach).

 The problem with this ranking system is there are plenty of experienced drivers around the world who are very quick but ran out of money or have been injured in a crash. They are Silver ranked drivers because they haven't won any major races or championships.

 When the rankings are released it will be very interesting to see who is ranked where.

 Here's the FIA WEC Driver Rank List 

 Drivers that I think will be in high demand:

 Billy Johnson (released from Roush Racing)
 Lawson Aschenbach (2013 World Challenge GTS Champion)
 Archie Hamilton (Seen in Petit Le Mans Paddock)

 I'm sure there many more, but based on the list I left the link too, here's some others

 Rui Aguas (Extensive Ferrari experience)
 Lance Davis Arnold (Mercedes Customer Sports Driver)
 Matt Bell (Ferrari supported driver)
 Tim Bergmeister (Porsche experience + US track knowledge)
 Sebastiaan Bleekemolen (Porsche experience)

 These guys and others in Europe will get the call up for GT-D mainly. Considering how many teams (19-21) will run and despite being a Pro Am class, sliver drivers will be golden to teams serious about winning.

 Update #1

 Here is an interview Elkins gave to John Dagys of Sportscars 365 on the subject of driving rankings for the Pro-Am classes (GT-D and LMPC).

 Update #2

 Greaves Motorsports has confirmed at least one entry into TUCSS but not just the North American Endurance Championship that was rumored previously but the entire season of races! The team said it looking for partners but they are just saying that because there have been no contracts signed between the team and likely partner Chris Dyson.

 The partnership is likely only for a season, possibly two as Dyson owned AER is looking to bring an unknown badged production based (block, heads, cam location) online for P2 in the near future.

 In driver related news (not that Chris Dyson isn't a driver)

 Drivers Jonathan Hirschi, Nikki Pastorelli and a few others are deeply interested in the new series.

 Update #3

 An official announcement is said to happen later this week, but it looks like Paul Miller Racing will join Flying Lizard as full time Audi Customer Sports North America teams in GT-D.

 As I look at it, there are reasons why both teams have went with Audi. 

 For one, Flying Lizard (Seth Neiman) likely feels jilted over Porsche' selection of CORE Autosport to represent them as an official factory program in GTLM. But I also believe Porsche Motorsports thinks the stakes are too high for an owner-driver involved with a factory effort. This is unlikely to happen as CORE's owner Bennett will continue in LMPC (will be at the Sebring Test next week).

 The second the lack of resources, IE drivers. With as many as seven (possibly eight-nine at the long distance events) Porsche teams in GT-D, three in GTLM and two more in WEC next season; plus the LMP1 program, it looks obvious to me that Porsche's resources are stretched pretty thin.

 Its very likely Audi teams including GMG will have access to Audi drivers. Christopher Haase will be testing with Flying Lizard and bringing them up to speed with cars they have never run. It looks like Benoit Treluyer will be shaking down PMR's Audi R8 LMS @ Sebring.

 All these teams will be at the Sebring test.



  1. Out of curiosity...What distinguishes a platinum from gold or silver from bronze driver?

    1. Success in racing basically. If you have reached F1 and made a start even if you finish last its likely you're ranked a Platinum driver. You might be ranked Gold if you win/championship World Series by Renault, GP3, European F3 or Indycar. Silver is reserved for usually young drivers (under 30) with limited experience maybe karting. But he may also have driven lots of miles in tire testing but run many live races (Guy Cosmo). If you've come out of one-make championships in Europe, you would be a Silver driver. Same thing if you have won in World Challenge or Conti Tire GS because those series have an Amature element too them which weakens the value of your victories and championships. Bronze is for mainly Gentlemen drivers and maybe those that have just come out of driver's schools like Skip Barber.


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