Monday, April 7, 2014

A Few Things - Tudor LBGP Mini Preview, BES shaping up to be the best season yet, World Challenge better than Tudor? (Updated!)

Tudor rolls into Long Beach with 21 entries -

There are a few storylines going into the first sprint race of the new Tudor United Sports Car Championship.

 With Malucelli suspended for one race for the unsafe return to the track following his collision with the T1 tire wall at Sebring; Gimmi Bruni has been drafted into Risi to replace him. But that's not surprising. 

 The other driver is TBA. 

 If you remember from last season, the pairing of Bruni and Fisichella in the WEC was broken up due to two questionable performances by Fischella which put their defense of the 2012 championship in jeopardy.

 Ultimately AF Corse was able to defend their title and repeat as champions, but they paired Bruni with his old FIA GT GT2 class championship winning teammate in Toni Vilander who was teamed with current F1 driver Kamui Kobayashi in the other AF Corse WEC entry who couldn't find a suitable F1 seat last season.

 Its very possible Bruni doesn't want to be teamed with Fischi after almost losing the championship and with little track knowledge, maybe its better to bring in two hot shoes since Risi has had two straight DNF's at the two longest races with the most points on offer.

 If they can get a victory here, they could be back in the Team's Championship if the Driver's titles are completely out of reach at this point.

 I would look for Toni Vilander to again pair with Bruni for this race since both have track knowledge and have qualified well here before.

 My picks for this race sometime should be released sometime on Friday as I will be making my annual trek down to the City of Long Beach, the LBC.

 Tamiya is no longer offering completely free entry on Friday. Starting last year you now have to buy up to $10 worth of product or merchandise on their website. You haven't seen it yet on here but I am a huge Tamiya fan and have previously owned several Tamiya R/C cars/trucks. This won't be the first time I will be mentioning them here, so stay tuned.

 Those of you in California looking for reasonable discount on tickets to the Tudor race or the entire weekend, go Goldstar. Since 2011, I have been purchasing my tickets for the race from them. There prices are very good, you don't pay full pop. *Saturday's Tudor Race, Toyota Celeb Race, Formula Drift and Indycar Qualifying is now sold out on Goldstar, $48 on LBGP website. You can still purchase a ticket for all three days for same general admission price for Sunday Only ($55) and $20 less than if you purchased it off the LBGP website.

 DP's have won the first two races and IMSA sees no point in major BoP changes. Ganassi was helped out by one of those phantom caution periods that seem to follow NASCAR around. So in reality, maybe there doesn't need to be any adjustments since the bulk of the schedule will be high downforce tracks. The only team with previous data this weekend is Extreme Speed, since they ran their HPD chassis here last year. The DP's are completely different from how they were the last time they were here, I think that was 2005-2006. That doesn't mean simulators aren't working hard back at GM and Riley Technologies however. That said I expect the Sharp/Dalziel car to be fast right off the truck.

 The entry list dropped from a possible 25 cars down to 21 since Muscle Milk won't be making the grid. In their PR they said it was because they were behind in development, but many think its because they want some further BoP adjustments.

 This just in - Dane Cameron will be in the car with Fischella, here's the presser

 So does that mean....

World Challenge is the better GT/Road Racing series in America after only one event?

Well according to Elton Julian, who said as much after everyone is congratulating themselves for a successful weekend, despite Race #1 being rained out the day before.  Elton has driven cars in the ALMS and been an owner/team manager as well, he would be one to take his statement at face value.

 IMHO, one of the biggest mistakes IMSA made was appeasing its legacy supporter Porsche who had a new version of the its 911 Grand Am GT car already on the drawing board. Porsche is little stretched for resources and hasn't built enough 991 based 911 Cup cars for customers let alone design a new FIA GT3 spec car. Everybody is running the older 997 based car in GT3 spec. There is no ETA on a new GT3 car and they barely build new tubs for CORE Autosport in time Daytona. Falken got their car too late to run at Daytona.

 Its because of this seemingly small decision has benefited Pirelli World Challenge. I will be very interested in the lap times turned by the FIA GT3 cars compared to the GTLM in the Tudor series. GT3 cars because of their traction control (which is on GTLM cars) and ABS (which is not on GTLM cars) they have an advantage on slippery surfaces. A street course by nature is low grip, so I expect these cars to be just as fast if not faster around the Street of Long Beach.

 If they provide a better overall show than GTLM? There will be more questions than answers over in the Tudor camp.

Blancpain Endurance and Sprint Series best seasons yet?

 I will reserve my thoughts on the Sprint series when more news comes out about potential grids.

 The grid for the season opener at Monza for the Endurance series however is shaping up to be a barn burner.

 HTP one of AMG's partner teams has thus far signed Harold Primat fresh off being replaced by Lee Holdsworth at Erebus-Mercedes (who won race 2 this weekend at Winton). The other drivers have been signed by HTP but I would look for defending champion Maximilian Buhk to be back in the car along with Maximilian Gotz (his ADAC GT teammate).

 Thus far there are no strong Ferrari teams as Kessel is focusing on ELMS and trying to get an automatic bid into the big race for 2015. Kessel will still contend in the Pro Am class, but they'll have a hard time beating defending Pro Am champs Nissan GT Academy - RJN, as they return with some of last year's drivers, Pro Am drivers champ Alex Buncombe and resent winners of the competition Nick McMillan (US winner) and Miguel Faisca (European winner). I am an ardent supporter of GT Academy and of course Gran Turismo is one of my all time favorite racing games. 

 These guys are very quick but lack experience so they should be classified as Sliver drivers but of course the true Captains of Industry in the UK who race in the British GT Championship (also run by SRO) didn't want to race these guys, especially after they won a race at the end of the 2012 season.

 There has been some driver movement and driver pairings broken up that I hope to cover with somebody connected to the series, stay tuned.

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