1. Will Power wins IndyCar race – and why isn’t he in F1?
2. Toronto-based team, Ferrari, win big in Grand Am
3. Canadians fail to score points in first DTM race; other racing
Precede: Tom Cotter, one of the world’s most sophisticated PR people, was on Speed TV’s Wind Tunnel program last night and illustrated why he’s so good at what he does.
Guest host Bob Varsha reminded viewers that Bernie Ecclestone had mused at last weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix that the New Jersey Grand Prix, tentatively scheduled for 2013, might not happen until 2014.
So Varsha put it to Cotter - who was out of the PR business and writing books before being enticed back by New Jersey race interests: what, exactly, is going on? Cotter, old pro that he is, talked and talked but didn’t answer the question – although, to be fair, he hinted later in the interview at what might be the difficulty when he said they can’t start selling tickets to any F1 race till that year’s schedule is formally issued.
So, although the circuit in New Jersey (across the Hudson River from New York) will likely be ready to go well in advance of spring/summer 2013, a reading of the tea leaves suggests Bernie was hinting that the race might not make it onto the F1 calendar until 2014.
Or maybe not.
1. Power proves (again) he’s in a class by himself
Will Power won the IZOD IndyCar Series race in Brazil Sunday for his third victory of the four-race 2012 season. He’s won two of the four poles so far this season and it was his third consecutive victory in Brazil.
Second-place went to Ryan Hunter-Reay while third went to Takuma Sato, who made it to the podium all the way from the back of the grid where he’d been sent because of an "unauthorized" engine change (see comment below).
James Hinchcliffe of Oakville came home sixth after starting fourth. Hinch had a good race, considering he lost three positions in the early laps because his car wasn’t handling. In fact, he led the race at one point.
He’s third in the standings with 123 points after four races. Power leads with 180, followed by Helio Castroneves (fourth Sunday) with 135. Full story and results here.
– Power is almost unbeatable every time he climbs into an Indy car. Nobody has been faster on pure speed this season and when it comes to race craft, he is a master. He’s a clean racer, too.
I know that F1 is all about the money and that Power is not a ride-buyer. But if talent counts for anything these days, and if given a chance, I have no doubt he would capture attention in F1.
– Speaking of F1, an interested spectator in Sao Paulo was Ferrari driver Felipe Massa, who spent much of the time over the weekend hanging around with ex-F1 star Rubens Barrichello. In fact, Massa accompanied Rubens to a post-session engineering de-briefing. Might Massa be the next F1 driver to sign on with an IndyCar team?
– The rigidity of the people running the IndyCar series continued apace as four more drivers – Sato, Katherine Legge, Sebastien Bourdais and Oriole Servia – were penalized 10 grid positions for "unauthorized" engine changes (you can’t change an engine in IndyCar until it runs x-number of miles, even though this is an engine transition year and teams are swapping power plants left and right because they keep either blowing up or preparing to blow up).
And Justin Wilson’s car – he’d qualified it sixth – was sent to the back at the start because it flunked post-qualifying inspection. Its sin? In IndyCar, you have to have a tiny little TV camera on your car or else a dummy camera and Wilson didn’t. Off with his head!
– Okay, now get this: IndyCar has penalized every driver in the field for an engine change at one time or another this season. They penalized more than half the field at Long Beach, making for all kinds of fun: some drivers were penalized 10 places (Hinchcliffe) and others were only penalized four. J.R. Hildebrand, for instance, only had to go from 16th back to 20th because there were so many penalized drivers behind him that there wasn’t room for him to go back any further. (I mean, how stupid.)
But for the Indy 500, they’ve cancelled that rule. You can make any number of unauthorized engine changes during the month of May but you won’t be penalized. You will only serve the penalties at the race, or races, following Indianapolis.
"We do not intend to apply any penalties that will disrupt the Indy 500 starting field from their qualifying positions," IndyCar vice president of technology Will Phillips said. "We’re not saying there will not be any penalties; the penalties just won’t be served at Indianapolis. They’ll carry that penalty forward to the next event. Likewise, if someone racks up two penalties, they will go forward to the next two events."
Maybe even three, four or five events. If Dragon Racing changes engines four or five times in May (it’s possible; they’re running Lotus’s), Sebastien Bourdais and or Katherine Legge could be penalized 10 grid positions at the Honda Indy Toronto in July!
(Which makes Toronto race fans second-class citizens, when you think about it. They won't penalize drivers at Indy because it's a really important race but they will penalize them at Fort Worth of Milwaukee or Toronto because those aren't really important races.
(If you know what you are doing, you penalize drivers across the board, like they do with jockeys in horse racing. If a jockey is set down 10 days for rough riding, and the Kentucky Derby is five days later, he or she can't ride in the Derby. Think Ron Turcotte and Secretariat's last race in Toronto. Turcotte couldn't ride Big Red at Woodbine because he was under suspension for something that happened at Aqueduct.
(Which is the way it should be. The engine change rule in IndyCar is ludicrous but it is what it is and if you change an engine at Indy, you should be penalized at Indy.)
I’m actually beginning to think the whole IndyCar rules thing is farce.
Here’s another example. John Barnes, who runs Panther Racing and has been one of the most loyal car owners in recent years (one of those guys who – like the late Carl Hogan – spends a lot of his own money to keep his team going) was fined $25,000 and put on probation till the end of the year for Tweeting this: "Today is the day to resolve TURBOGATE! I hope @indcar gets their act together. It has been embarrassing."
Nothing like speaking the truth – but for that, it’s off with his head!
– Turbogate, by the way, came about because Honda, which has been getting its ass kicked by Chevy since the first race of the year, complained to IndyCar that it needed more power, and IndyCar said, sure, go ahead and make changes to your turbocharger. Chevrolet (correctly, I say) then complained that IndyCar was changing the rules after the game had started. The Barnes Tweet referred to the day of the appeal – which Chevy lost, by the way.
So I have to ask: Does Chevy really need the IndyCar series? Really need it? We’re going to find out at the end of the contract, aren’t we?
– There was a great crowd in Sao Paulo, as there was in Long Beach two weeks ago. The IndyCar series seems to be on the upswing. Will that carry through to Toronto? Let’s cross our fingers and hope so.
AIM Autosport Ferrari wins GT Class at Miami race
It was raining so hard Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway that all the animals were running around in pairs. That explains why the Grand Am Rolex Sports Car Race received the checkered flag with an hour still remaining in the two-hour, 45-minute event.
Ricky Taylor and Max Angelelli driving a Corvette Daytona Prototype won, with Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas second in a BMW-Riley and Darren Law and David Donohue third in a Corvette.
Big news for Canadian race fans, however, was the first victory for the AIM Autosport of Woodbridge Ferrari 458 Italia Grand Am in only its third race. Jeff Seagl and Emil Assentato did the driving.
Here is a report from Adam Saal:
Combined with a second-place finish one race ago at Barber Motorsports Park and an eighth-place showing in January’s season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona, the No. 69 Ferrari team and its drivers have taken an early-season lead in the Grand Am Rolex Sports Car Series GT Team and Driver Championship standings.
"It was a great day for us," Segal said. "We’ve put a lot of hard work into this program, getting this new Ferrari up to speed, and there’s just been a lot of work behind the scenes by Ferrari and Michelotto, and a lot of hard work by AIM Autosport Team FXDD to adapt to this car. I’m really happy for all of them.
"I’m excited about the direction this program is heading. Obviously, we have a lot of races left to go, but I think everybody is comfortable with the car, we’re comfortable with each other, so we’re hoping that this is the start of a good run this season."
The only other Canadian in the Rolex race, Toronto’s Paul Dalla Lana, finished 10th in GT in a BMW M3.
The day before, in the Continental Tire Series race, David Empringham and John Farano of Toronto finished second in a Porsche Carrera. Dalla Lana was fourth in a BMW M3 Coupe. Ashley McCalmont of Ancaster, who’s being coached these days by Kenny Wilden, was 13th in a Camaro GS.R.
Toronto’s Compass360 Racing team had four cars entered in the ST class and recorded fifth, tenth, 13th and 27th-place finishes. Multimatic Motorsports of Markham had cars finish ninth and 24th in ST and 15th in GS.
3. Spengler, Wickens blanked in Germany; other races
The German Touring Car Series season got going in Hockenheim, Germany, Sunday and the two Canadians in the 22-driver field, failed to score points.
In fact, Spengler, of St. Hypolite, Que., who was fastest in morning warmup in his BMW, was crashed out after only a few laps.
Wickens, of Guelph and Toronto and seen as a potential F1 driver, finished 14th in his Mercedes but was pretty much eliminated early in the contest when he was assessed a drive-through penalty for speeding in pit lane.
The race was won Mercedes driver Gary Paffett.
In Moto GP competition at the Jerez circuit in Spain, Casey Stoner won the race with Jorge Lorenzo second and Dani Pedrosa third.
Ryan Dungey won the Supercross in Salt Lake City.
NASCAR links below.