Although the most exciting race of the weekend was the American Le Mans Series finale at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca on Saturday, the most exciting news is that Felipe Massa did a test in a two-year-old F1 car Monday and said afterward that he feels fit as a fiddle.
Massa was in a Ferrari F2007 fitted with GP2 tires at the Fiorano circuit and although he only went out for a few laps he said later that he’d felt fine.
"When I was inside the car, it was as if nothing had happened. I’m still the same bastard as before," he told the ANSA News web site.
Massa, as everybody knows, suffered a skull fracture and an eye injury when hit by debris from Rubens Barrichello’s car at the Hungarian Grand Prix in July. Almost from the moment he regained consciousness, he’s been talking about returning to racing.
In fact, following this particular test, he said he was ready to do the last two Grands Prix of the season – next week at Brazil and at Abu Dhabi in a few weeks.
But there was probably a twinkle in that once-injured eye when he said it because his doctors have ruled out any active race involvement this year, as has Ferrari.
In the interview with the Italian news agency, incidentally, Massa let it be known he’s looking forward to being teammates with Fernando Alonso next season but doesn’t expect they’ll be buddy-buddy.
"Alonso is a good professional," he was quoted as saying, "but I don’t expect he’s coming to be my best friend, which is fine. It is the professional relationship that matters."
Now, anybody who doesn’t think sports car road racers are "real" racers should have seen the last lap of the GP2 scrap in that ALMS final between Porsche driver Joerg Bergmeister and Corvette pilot Jan Magnussen.
They came out of the last turn side-by-side, power down and tradin’ paint with Bergmeister on the outside, pushing Magnussen off-line as far as he could. As Magnussen appeared to make the pass, they collided and Jan spun across the track in front of Joerg and went head-on into the outside wall. He wasn’t hurt but that’s how serious those guys are.
Neither driver blamed the other but Corvette team manager Doug Fehan suggested there would be a post-mortem to ensure that sort of thing doesn’t happen again. Too bad. It was very good stuff.
Of course, Fehan’s outlook might have been coloured somewhat because of the serious property damage inflicted on both Corvette team cars. Early in the race, driver Oliver Gavin tried a boneheaded move going into the first turn that resulted in him crashing his Corvette into three other GT2 cars. So rather than focusing on the Magnussen crash, which was just the result of hard, racing, Fehan might consider asking Gavin what he was thinking.
Meantime, Gil de Ferran ended his driving career in style by winning the race, holding off Adrien Fernandez in a close-as-eyelashes finish. David Brabham (with partner Scott Sharp) finished third and clinched the series P1 championship.
De Ferran is hoping to enter a team in the Indy Racing League next season. Fernandez confirmed later that his team will close down at the end of the month because of lack of sponosrship.
In Grand Am Rolex Sports Car Series racing, Mark Wilkins of Toronto and American Burt Frisselle, driving the AIM Autosport of Woodbridge’s No. 61 Ford-Riley Daytona Prototype, finished eighth in the season-ending Grand Prix of Miami at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Florida which was won by the team of Hurley Haywood and Joao Barbosa.
Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty won the championship. The AIM team finished fifth in team standings, only 13 points behind the might Penske Racing outfit, while drivers Wilkins and Frisselle also were fifth in driver points.
The big story of this race, of course, was Haywood. Semi-retired at 61, and on a business trip to Wisconsin, he flew to Florida and got into a competitive racing car for only the sixth time in the last two years when he got a call to replace regular driver J.C. France.
France – yes, a member of that family (he’s Bill France Jr.’s grandson) – was suspended indefinitely after he was charged on Thursday with possession of narcotics and driving under the influence after being pulled over for speeding.
I’d say Hurley did a pretty good job partnering Barbosa, wouldn’t you?
For comments on the NASCAR Sprint Cup race on Sunday that was won by Jimmie Johnson, please see the post below. And two down, you can read what I had to say Saturday night after the IRL race (won by Dario Franchitti, as well as the IndyCar title).