Saturday, April 12, 2014

Predictions - LBGP, PWC@LGBP, Tudor@LBGP, Blancpain@Monza, WTCC@Marrakech

 Disappointed I won't be attending the Toyota Long Beach GP weekend. Its just I had a financial setback at the start of the year, plus I dropped my expensive smartphone which the screen will take $160 to repair. So in the meantime I picked up an $70 Android phone that runs Jellybean (4.1) and is dual core but memory limitations put it on par with my Samsung Infuse 4G that's doing desktop/alarm clock duty.

 Anyway so with that here my predictions for the weekend, enjoy.

Verizon IndyCar Series -

 Hmmm, qualifying hasn't happen yet but going off practice times and previous history of strong performances, I think I'll go with Simon Pagenaud. He topped the timesheets yesterday afternoon and has many miles here in the ALMS and Indycar.

 For the second race in a row Takuma Sato is in the Top 3 in practice times. Some might be surprised, but I'm not. Given Sato's lower formula results this really shouldn't be shocking. F1 is much more about being in the right place at the right time, so his F1 career shouldn't be indicative of future performance. I expect him to win (defending race winner) in this series and win often, challenging for a series titles if he can clean up his penchant for over-aggressive driving.

 In fact I expect to see a Honda rebound here since Chevy sweep the podium in St. Pete.

Pirelli World Challenge -

 A near FIA spec GT3 car won this race last year (James Sofronas) so I expect a GT3 car to win this race which at some point we'll see if GM starts complaining.

 Mike Skeen was 3rd in practice in a car that's brand new to him and his team as they have abandoned the Nissan GTR. They had just taken delivery last weekend, but given the excellence of Audi Customer Sports (who have a busy weekend) this shouldn't be that shocking. The have fresh data from the Baku race a few months ago that ended the FIA GT series for 2013 and of course GMG's data from last year's victory.

 But he won't be my pick, we'll see if given the same equipment as everybody else he finally starts challenging for victories more often. I don't question his talent, we'll see if the team itself is up to it.

 My pick for the GT part of the GT/GT-A class will be Anthony Lazzaro. Its been a long time since Anthony has went to victory lane without sharing a car. In fact I think his last victory is at the 2005 Lime Rock Grand Prix in ALMS if I am not mistaken, if I am wrong correct me or I'll do a quick search later and fix it. But I don't think he's won a race alone since his Toyota Atlantic days. I think he won here in an Atlantic car, again if I am wrong let me know but I think I am right.

 He was strong at St. Pete so I expect him to challenge for the victory, especially if Tomas Enge is in Europe at the Blancpain Endurance Series season opener at Monza, which I thought as next weekend, nope the race is Sunday.

  I don't care much for the GTS classes so no comment on them, but I wish everybody a safe race.

Tudor United Sports Car Series -

 Unfortunately, I think the DP's will have their way which will further fuel speculation amongst the fanbase. I think another round of BoP is on the way. The P2's are still not back up to 2013 specs with the fear that the DP's would suffer. Well I would say their fears were not justified. It's hard to say without Muscle Milk/Nissan Pickett Racing being here, but that car is new them and they don't have enough miles on it yet. They opted not to come here this weekend because they didn't want to potentially tear up a brand new car. That might be the given reason, but I think the real reason is they believe BoP is unfairly tilted towards the heavily modified DP's who have thus far lead the most laps and taken two straight victories.

 So my pick is Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas, enough said, let's move on.

 In GTLM (the only other class this weekend),  its hard to say and while my favorite team Risi is a bit handicapped without it fastest driver who's on probation and one race suspension from his boneheaded return to the track after wrecking his car at Sebring (Turn 1). They have drafted in Dane Cameron who's continued to impress since being given the chance to drive a DP and put it on pole at Road America last year. He turned the GTC class fastest lap during Sebring in the Tuner BMW Z4 GT3. In the limited practice they have had he's been on pace but not the ultimate pace.

 I think if they can avoid any problems, they may finish on the podium but I think any chance of winning is very slim. I just have no faith in Fisichella. I don't think he's even turned a race lap this year. Remember, Malucelli was in the car when Memo Gidley slammed into him. Gimmi Bruni started the race and was actually on the entry list at Long Beach until Risi announced Cameron was given the job.

 Fisichella qualified the car and will start 7th, just behind the factory Porsches (Core) and the factory SRT Vipers who seem to be struggling this weekend.

 I guess I should go ahead and pick who I think is going to win....

 I am going to go with Redondo Beach native Bill Auberlen and Former WTCC Champion Andy Priaulx. He and Maxime Martin who has been drafted into a DTM seat this season for BMW pretty much replacing Priaulx who struggled; surprised last season by winning here. No reason not to pick them again and I think Priaulx has a bit of extra of incentive that the other drivers in the paddock don't quite have.

 I am going to stop this post here, as the Tudor race is five hours at the time of this post and I don't have quite enough info on the other series to release my picks.

 Comeback in a few hours and I should have updated this post. 


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