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Issue 1 • 2010

Formula 1 l Aussie V8s l NZ Festival l Dubai 24hrs American Le Mans l Daytona 24hrs l Le Mans Series


We believe if you can dream it, you can do it.

www.believe.co.nz


editor’s notes

W

elcome to the launch issue of P1. Have you ever walked into a news agency looking for that one magazine to get your total motor racing “fix”, a magazine that brings you Formula 1, Nascar, Indy Car, Aussie V8s, NZ V8s, GP2, Le Mans and much more in each issue. Well the search is over because P1 is here. We have put together a team of exceptional writers and photographers from around the globe who excel in their craft. From the unique talents of our Formula 1 guru David Tremayne to the 40+ years of experience of Deputy Editor John Brooks to a relative newcomer in motor racing journalism – John Dagys. The one common goal of all our team is to bring you, the reader, the best and most diverse coverage of circuit motor racing worldwide. Our launch issue showcases some great series out there. DT sits down and has a chat with Ross Brawn and Michael Schumacher prior to the start of the 2010 F1 season, as well as giving us an overview of what 2010 F1 holds for us. JB takes us through the European side of the Le Mans series while JD explains what’s up with the American Le Mans series. Lex Akehurst and Darren Rycroft spent the weekend covering the Dunlop 24hrs of Dubai and the images are exceptional so check them out. The Ambassador for Toyota Racing Series, and well known motor racing commentator Bob McMurray explains what it is that makes the Toyota Racing Series so integral to the future of New Zealand’s future open wheeler champions – drivers such as Mitch Evans, Ritchie Stanaway, Earl Bamber, and Brendan Hartley. Now no motor racing magazine would be complete without coverage of the Australian V8 Supercars would it, which is why Craig Lord has a good look at who has gone where, who has new cars and new drivers, and what the 2010 season holds for the teams. He also examines what the kiwi race fans really want to see on the racetrack, and importantly what they don’t want to see. Will it make any difference to the powers to be, probably not, but it was interesting to see the fans feedback. To round out our coverage Craig also spent weekends at Hampton Downs and Pukekohe for the NZ Festival of Racing where we got to see some simply amazing cars from bygone eras. Standing at the end of the front straight at Pukekohe watching 40 F5000 cars thundering towards me was a sight to behold. So that’s what we have for you in the launch issue of the mag. Please drop me an email with any feedback you have on the magazine and make sure you stop into the P1 forum and check out all the motor racing world discussions we have going on. Its at www.p1forums.net Thanks again and sit back and enjoy the magazine.

Ned Dawson

Publisher

Email: ned@p1mag.net

the team Publisher & Editor Ned Dawson Project Manager Cathy Horton Deputy Editor John Brooks Assistant Editor Craig Lord Sub Editors Matt Trulio, Leigh Neil F1 Editor David Tremayne Safety Bernie Gillon Middle East Lex Akehurst Middle East Photographer Darren Rycroft United States John Dagys South Africa Paul Bedford Toyota Racing Series Bob McMurray Proofreading Barbara McIntosh Graphic Design Dot Design Printers GEON Group Digital Edition Texterity Web Design Fuel Design

David Tremayne is a freelance motorsport writer whose clients include The Independent and The Independent on Sunday. The former Editor and Executive Editor of Motoring News and MOTOR SPORT, he is a veteran of more than 370 grands prix, several speed record attempts, and the author of 40 books on motorsport, including the acclaimed DONALD CAMPBELL – The Man Behind the Mask. He is the only three-time winner of the Guild of Motoring Writers’ Renault Award and four-time winner of its Timo Makinen Award. His writing, on both current and historic issues, is notable for its soul and passion, together with deep understanding and an encyclopaedic knowledge of the sport.

Darren Rycroft – UAE Darren was born in Northern England and has been involved in motorsports for many years both as a team member and as a photographer. He loves all types of photography but action/motorsports is where he get his kicks.

Craig ‘Sooty’ Lord Sooty is a TV Presenter for the NZ V8 Ute series in NZ as well as ontrack commentator for the Aussie V8s for the Hamilton round. Combined with his radio duties at Newstalk ZB and Radio Sport he is very much a “petrolhead”.

EDITORIAL Oceania Group Intl PO Box 37 978, Parnell, Auckland, New Zealand PHONE +64 21 757 747 • FAX +64 9 528 3172 EMAIL info@p1mag.net

www.p1mag.net


Reg ulars 6

from the pitlane

11 F1 update 13 safety first 15 european connection

contents 16 Formula One: 2010 Season Preview

An insider’s view of the coming season.

26 V8 SupercarS: The Aussie Battle Continues

Things have been heated since the inception of the V8 Supercars class in Australia. Don’t look for that to change in 2010.

34 Michael Schumacher: Super Charged

Can Michael Schumacher take his eighth Formula One glory at age 41? Don’t bet against him, as long as he has his Brawn – meaning Ross Brawn – on his side.

42 Inside New Zealand’s Toyota Racing Series

The Toyota Racing Series is one of New Zealand’s premiere motor racing series. Here’s a look at how it got started – and the great places it’s going.

50 One for the AgeS – The New Zealand Festival of Motorsport

From Bruce McLaren to Alan Woolf, some of the greatest names in motor racing history – as well as their vehicles – were celebrated at the New Zealand Festival of Motorsport.

58 Weathering The Storm: ALMS Makes Moves to Survive

Like all race series, the American Le Mans Series is facing tough economic times. But to their credit, the series decision-makers are doing something about it.

68 Triumph and Attrition at the Dunlop 24 Hours of Dubai

Just five years old, the Dunlop 24 Hours of Dubai has become a drivers’ favorite. The 2010 event proved why.

78 a classic in fine form

Despite a world economy that’s less than rosy, the European Le Mans Series is looking strong for 2010.

86 Motorsport Bounty: Too Much of a Good Thing?

We are blessed with an abundance of auto racing forms in New Zealand. But at times that blessing is a curse.

92 race of champions: inside the rolex 24

What’s more coveted than a win at the grueling Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway? Not much, actually.


F rom T he P itlane Development programme for five budding pilots

“P

orsche Motorsport Talent” – five young drivers from four countries can be truly proud of this title heading into the 2010 season. From twelve candidates at a talent search held in Vallelunga (Italy), Porsche Motorsport selected the five most promising youngsters. Niall Breen (23, Ireland), Jono Lester (20, New Zealand), Tim Sandtler (22, Germany), Harald Schlegelmilch (22, Latvia) and Ferdinand Stuck (18, Germany) share up to 180,000 Euro as a cash injection into their racing budgets for the international Porsche Mobil1 Supercup or the Carrera Cup Deutschland. With this, Porsche writes yet another chapter in its longstanding and hugely successful junior development programme in motorsport. Twelve pilots from six countries spent two days testing three 450 hp Porsche 911 GT3 Cup race cars. Each driver had the same number of new tyres at their disposal. Assisted by Porsche engineers, the pilots worked on setting up the vehicles. Porsche racing aces Jeroen Bleekemolen and Jan Seyffarth were on hand to give participants valuable tips and advice, assisted by computer-aided data analyses. In 2008 and 2009, Bleekemolen won the Porsche Mobil1 Supercup, with former Porsche Junior Jan Seyffarth securing third in last year’s Porsche Carrera Cup Deutschland. The budding young racers were also judged on criteria like personality as well as team and communication skills. The five selected hopefuls hail from a wide range of motorsport categories. Niall Breen is the two-time champion of the Formula BMW Great Britain. In 2008 he contested the Formula 3 Euro Series. At the age of 17, Jono Lester won a round of the Porsche GT3 Cup New Zealand to finish last season fourth overall. Tim Sandtler began his career at the age of ten in a kart and, most recently, contested several race in various Formula 3 championships. Harald Schlegelmilch claimed the German Formula 3 Trophy title in 2006 and went on to take Austria’s Formula 3 Championship that same year. In 2009, the youngster competed in the German Formula 3 Cup, the international Formula Masters and the American Formula Atlantic. Ferdinand Stuck, the youngest son of racing legend Hans-Joachim Stuck, made his racing debut in 2003 at the wheel of a kart before going on to contest the ADAC Formula Masters in 2008 and 2009. “We’re very pleased with this talent search,” summarised Jens Walther, Head of Porsche’s brand trophy series. “All participants were extremely disciplined. We had neither an accident nor a technical

6

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Half p vert.indd 1

12/11/08 2:27:28 PM


stir@xtra.co.nz

New Zealand 0274 192 580 • International +64 274 192 580


From T he P itlane

defect with the three brand-new vehicles. We carefully weighed up each candidate against each other. The five drivers we selected can rightfully call themselves a “Porsche Motorsport Talent”. All in all, we were very impressed by the standard of participants and hope to see as many of them as possible contesting the Porsche one-make series.” Niall Breen (23, Ireland): “Although I’ve been driving Formula cars only and haven’t sat in a race car for ages, it didn’t take me long at all to get used to the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup. I was easily able to adapt my driving style from Formula 3 to the GT vehicle and I improved from session to session.” Jono Lester (20, New Zealand): “I’m really pleased that Porsche chose me as one of the five talents. I would like to use my budget to contest the Supercup. The new Cup vehicle suits my driving style very well. The most difficult aspect will be to familiarize myself with the circuits. I hardly know any tracks outside New Zealand. My greatest dream is to one day become a Porsche works driver.”

Tim Sandtler (22, Germany): “I’m very proud Porsche has selected me as a talent after this very intensive and fair screening. I would very much like to race in the Carrera Cup. The most appealing aspect for me is the close competition and the fact that everyone has identical equipment.” Harald Schlegelmilch (22, Latvia): “This is first time ever that I’ve sat in a car with a roof. I’m surprised how quickly I adapted to the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup. The car is much faster and more precise than I had expected – a truly super racer. I felt really good after just five laps and could then go to the limit. What a great opportunity. And it’s fantastic that a manufacturer does something for young drivers in such difficult economic times.” Ferdinand Stuck (18, Germany): “I was surprised by the amount of time we were given on the track during this selection process. The data evaluation with Cup professionals Jeroen Bleekemolen and Jan Seyffarth was priceless. I learnt an incredible amount from the two. I’m looking forward to my season in the Carrera Cup. Porsche’s organisation of this championship is very professional, so I have a great deal to offer my sponsors.”

AMBROSE CHARGES TO TOP 15 FINISH IN VEGAS

M

arcos Ambrose charged this way to an impressive top 15 finish during the Shelby American at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in Nevada today. After starting from 31st position the Australian made some good early progress to break into the top 20 by lap 37 of the 267lap journey around the 1.5-mile Tri-oval. As the race continued Ambrose showed competitive pace aboard the #47 Kingsford/Scott Products entry to edge his way inside the top 15 by mid race distance. Despite experiencing a ‘loose’ set up during the late stages of the race, Ambrose maintained his position inside the top 15 before crossing the finish line 14th. “Well we finished and that’s more than what we’ve done the last two. Our season starts right now,” said Ambrose. “It was a decent day – a top-15. We’ll take our licks and go to the next one. “We’ve got ourselves in

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the back in the forty (in the points standings), that helps us get out of a hole here. We are worried about getting inside the top 35 in points but If we get a couple more good races like that we’ll be fine.” Jimmie Johnson took out the Shelby American ahead of Kevin Harvick and Jeff Gordon, who led for the majority of the race. As a result of today’s result Ambrose moved to 33rd in the points standings that are currently led by Kevin Harvick. The next race on the schedule for Ambrose is the Kobalt Tools 500 at the Atlanta Motor Speedway.


Tickets from 10 p1 magazine


By David Tremayne

Inside F1

T

hree years ago, as we headed to the first Grand Prix of the season in Melbourne, we all thought that Fernando Alonso was not just the best driver in the world, but also the least flawed. We also thought that he was a jolly good bloke. By the end of the year we knew that he was fallible, and that a rookie called Lewis Hamilton had duffed him up so comprehensively for much of the year that he had become completely rattled and had shown himself to be insecure and, at times, ruthless and cunning. On a personal level, the guy we all liked so much showed himself to be, at best, ill-advised by those around him or, at worst, devious and untrustworthy. Ron Dennis, whom I believe, is adamant that in Hungary, at the height of the spat in which Hamilton refused to get out of the Spaniard’s way in qualifying, Alonso approached him and threatened to go to the FIA with more details about the dreaded Spygate scandal, if certain measures were not taken against Hamilton. Alonso, it transpired, knew more than Dennis about the things that fellow countryman and McLaren test driver Pedro de la Rosa knew about Ferrari, which the Scuderia’s former head of performance, Nigel Stepney, had passed on to disgraced McLaren chief designer Mike Coughlan earlier that year. Once again, the philosophy of running two number one drivers had turned around and bitten McLaren’s management in the ass. Back in the day, New Zealander aces Bruce McLaren and Denny Hulme had a totally harmonious relationship (and you

would have expected nothing else). Denis subsequently acted heroically in the terrible aftermath of Bruce’s death to keep the team together, and had an equally harmonious relationship with incoming Emerson Fittipaldi in his own final season in 1974. A decade later, Alain Prost and Niki Lauda fought like cats on track, but were generally cordial in their personal relationship. Then Ayrton Senna joined the team in 1988, and the acrimony between the Brazilian and the Frenchman redefined sporting vendettas. Mercedes racer Luigi Fagioli once chased Rudolf Caracciola with a hammer; Ayrton used his car on Alain. That was my first fulltime year in F1, and I remember Ronzo telling us on so many occasions that all was sweetness and light between them. And you know what? Some suckers even believed the spin. Things got a little tense that year, and we watched aghast the 180 mph swerve Ayrton pulled on Alain going past the pits in Estoril, which prompted the incensed Frenchman to remark: “If Ayrton wants the World Championship badly enough to die for it, he’s welcome to it…” The following year the acrimony was out in the open after their crash at the Suzuka chicane, and in 1990 it exploded at the start when Ayrton deliberately rammed Alain’s Ferrari. I remember in 2005, when Juan Pablo Montoya joined Kimi Raikkonen, Martin Whitmarsh enthusiastically expressing the view that nobody had managed the volatile Colombian properly up until that point. I thought about that at Indianapolis in 2006, when he augered into the back of team-mate Raikkonen at the start; we never saw him in F1 again… So much for management. So will the marriage of Button and Hamilton end in tears? Actually, I don’t think it will, and the reason for this is that I have never seen Jenson lose his cool in the entire 11 years that I’ve known him. He is a very easygoing fellow, who keeps his true feelings to himself. I’m sure there were times when he was pissed off in 2009, but we never saw it publicly. With Lewis you know when he’s mad; he first showed that in Monaco in 2007 when, after Alonso had bleated to the McLaren management, he was ‘helped’ on his way to victory when Lewis was brought in from the lead for his pitstop three laps sooner than he expected. We also know that Lewis was no saint in the Alonso season, or in Australia last year, but it takes two to tango and somehow I don’t see Jenson playing that game. When McLaren signed him, Whitmarsh declared: “It has always been our policy to employ the two very best possible drivers – and, in Jenson and Lewis, we feel we not only have the fastest pairing on the 2010 grid, but also the two most complete, professional and dedicated drivers. I’m confident that we’ll be able successfully to balance and harness their complementary skill-sets.” Interestingly, at the launch of the MP4-25 it was Lewis who stressed that he’d suggested Jenson to Whitmarsh in the first place, while Button himself was adamant that the car won’t get developed properly unless the two of them get on. We’ll find out the truth soon, I guess. P1

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• New Zealand’s only Certified Manufacturer of FIA and SFI 2 & 3 Layer Race Suits • Proudly New Zealand Owned and Operated • All Flamecrusher Race suits are Manufactured in New Zealand • Internationally recognized as Specialists in “One Off’ Custom Race Suit Design

6A Hynds Road • Greerton • Tauranga • New Zealand Freephone: 0800 925 000 • Phone: 64 7 571 0630 • Fax: 64 7 571 0634

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Safety First

By Bernie Gillon

R

ace Suits are the first and last line of defense you have against getting burned. Flames are not the main cause of burns to race car drivers – heat or thermal transfer cause the majority of serious burns. Most race drivers think that as long as they buy overalls that are marketed and sold as a “Race Suit” they are protected against injury in the unfortunate event of a fire. “Bollocks” It takes you about 8 seconds to exit your car when you are belted in and the car is stationary. Some drivers can get out a second or two more quickly, but most take a second or two longer – so let’s just settle for 8 seconds. If your car is damaged, upside down, tangled up with another car, or has to be brought to a stand-still before you can get out, it will take you at least 12 seconds to get out if you are lucky. You could be trapped in the car for much longer. The two Motorsport Governing Bodies that set the rules for race suits are the FIA based in France, which oversees Tar Seal and Rally events for most of the world except the USA, – and SFI based in the USA which oversees all types of Motorsport events in the USA as well as some forms of Motorsport in South American countries. FIA has a minimum requirement of approx 11 seconds that a suit must protect the wearer from 2nd degree burns before it passes the Homologation requirements. To achieve this, a good quality double layer suit is required. SFI on the other hand have several different levels of Race Suit compliance. This is because of the vast range of race events they sanction in the USA, from very low budget boat racing where fire is never really an issue, up to NHRA Top Fuel Dragsters where they need to be protected from a 1800 degree Fahrenheit inferno for 45 seconds plus, to allow time to slow down from 300mph and get out of the car. When you are choosing a race suit you need to consider two critical issues. How thick is the suit and how fire resistant is the material it is made of? The four most common materials used to make Race Suits are: • Nomex • CarbonX • Wool • Treated Cotton (Proban, Cordura or similar). The first three are naturally fire resistant and self-extinguish. They do not require any treatment what-so-ever and are very good thermal insulators. Treated cotton however relies entirely on a chemical treatment to become self-extinguishing or fire-resistant. Unfortunately washing the overalls with normal washing powders removes the fire inhibitors very quickly, leaving you with an expensive pair of workshop overalls that offer no worthwhile protection against fire. Depending on the strength of the washing powders you use, this can happen within 3-4 washes. Most of the less expensive suits sold in New Zealand and the majority of “single layer suits” are made of treated cotton. They will have an SFI label showing either A/1 or A/3 at the end of their Certification Label or say that they comply with an ISO standard that has little relevance to personal safety. These suits do not provide sufficient protection for a driver to get out of their car in the case of a fire without receiving some degree of burns. Below are the various SFI standards showing the amount of time

in seconds that it would take for the wearer to get 2nd degree burns. Don’t forget a 2nd degree burn is not a red mark. It is when your skin blisters and falls off, leaving a scar when it heals.

SFI Standard

Time to 2nd Degree Burn

SFI 3.2A/1 SFI 3.2A/3 SFI 3.2A/5 SFI 3.2A/10 SFI 3.2A/15 SFI 3.2A/20

3 seconds 7 seconds 10 seconds 19 seconds 30 seconds 40 seconds

The minimum SFI standard you require to give yourself any chance of not getting burnt when exiting your car is SFI 3.2A/5. This is a double layer suit. You can increase your protection by wearing approved Fire Retardant Underwear. As a rule of thumb a set of underwear will give you another 5 seconds of protection over and above what your suit is designed to do. When you have chosen your race suit there are several things you must be aware of that you cannot do to it, as any of them will compromise the efficiency of your race suit as well as void your Certification. Homologation. 1. Never ever have your multi-layer suit embroidered. Embroidery must only penetrate the outermost layer of your race suit and therefore can only be done at the time of manufacture. Embroidery that penetrates all of the layers of your suit dramatically reduces the time that the suit will protect you against 2nd degree burns in the area of the embroidery. 2. Never sew on a patch or label with cotton thread unless you are extremely careful, and only affix the label to the outermost layer. In a fire the cotton will ignite and burn your skin if it can be seen on the inside of your race suit. 3. If your race suit gets damaged, have it repaired only by the original manufacturer with the same fabric that it was made of – and using Nomex thread. 4. If your race suit becomes contaminated or stained with oils etc, these will act as an accelerant in a fire. Remember that the fundamental purpose of a race suit is for it to “stop burning as soon as it is removed from the flame source”. If you have an oil stain on your suit, the stained area will continue to burn after the original flame source has been removed. A few years ago I was in a race competing against multipleAustralian Sports Sedan Champion, Kerry Baily, when his drive shaft broke and severed his fuel lines. He was immediately engulfed in flames for probably 20 seconds until he was able to bring his car to a halt and get out. Raw fuel was pumped onto the left leg of his race suit as well as his left glove. These two areas were the only parts of his body that received burns that caused scarring. This unfortunate event reinforces 2 simple facts. • A quality race suit will provide you with good protection in an extreme situation • No matter how good your race suit is, solvent contamination will significantly increase your chances of getting burnt. Motor racing is dangerous, but by using only quality, certified, clean apparel you will minimize your risk of injury. Wishing you all a Safe and Successful future. P1

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By John Brooks

European Connection

I

t is perhaps one of the most famous endings in all of Hollywood’s history, capping one of the greatest films ever made. With fog swirling around Casablanca’s airport, Rick Blaine and Captain Renault consider their options and decide to head south for Brazzaville and the Free French...........”Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.” So here I sit with the fog clearing and a new season about to start here on the other side of the world. 2010 will be a year of transition prior to new regulations being introduced in 2011 for World Rally Championship and World Touring Cars. The Le Mans 24 Hours and its development series in Europe, North America and Asia will also have a fresh set of rules for 2011. Even DTM is in serious development mode with its eye on a partnership with the Japanese Super GT outfit, plus less credible stories of a link with Grand Am. The departure of Toyota, Honda and BMW (to date) from the Grand Prix arena has created opportunities in the minds of the other top-line International motorsport formulas. For a fraction of the budgets consumed in the financial madness that was the Naughties – F1 program can be run generating the marketing buzz at a more cost-effective rate. The intention for 2011 is that both WRC and WTCC are looking to run the new small capacity 4-cylinder turbo engines that will take this level of racing back on a fuel-efficient course. While the whole supposition of the Man Made Global Warming movement is increasingly being regarded as a scam, there is still no doubt that efficient use of energy should be a priority for us all. Motorsport with its record of engineering excellence and innovation must be at the vanguard of this movement. The other bright light on the horizon for both of these World Championships is that the Japanese manufacturers are all conducting studies with an eye to joining in, certainly the WTCC expect at least one or two out in the near future. So the immediate problem in 2010 for the WTCC management, aka Marcello Lotti, would be how to turn the scaling back of factory efforts into a positive. In the end the news

has been on the goodish side. SEAT transferred four of their diesels to the private SUNRED outfit and gave their star drivers the platform to chase titles again. BMW reduced their effort to just two 320i models for BMW Team RBM but Schnitzer have found gainful employment in LMS and VLN. Chevrolet continue to run three Cruze LTs – but on the debit side of the ledger is the disappearance of Lada, despite their three year planned program. To bolster the grids, a 24% increase in the prize money for those chasing the Yokohama Independents’ Trophy has proved a great incentive for teams to sign up. The show will go on and Eurosport seem content in this end of the era season. We have a new GT1 World Championship starting in April, at Abu Dhabi. Cynics said that Stephane Ratel would not get the cars or the tracks to sign up. Well, as usual the charismatic Frenchman has pulled it off. Less encouragingly the GT2 Championship looks rather anaemic, but he remains confident about the eventual outcome – and who would bet against his track record of snatching victory from the jaws of defeat? GT3 roars on, forming the basis for local championships such as ADAC Masters and VLN – but also the FIA European Championship. As reviewed elsewhere, the Le Mans Series and Le Mans are in rude health in both quality and quantity, and as with the WTCC there are rumours of new interest from Japanese manufacturers. Like the WTCC, the racing in 2010 will be bolstered by the positive feeling that will be evident as 2011 projects are confirmed. Indeed, considering where we were in financial terms some 18 months ago, we should breathe a sigh of relief. Things could have been much, much worse. On a personal level there is much to anticipate in the coming months, not least in the launch of P1 Magazine. Like my illustrious predecessors in the film, I believe that you, the lucky readers and we, the lucky contributors are at the start of a beautiful friendship................... Here’s looking at you, Kid! P1

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An insider’s view of the coming season. DAVID TREMAYNE Photos Courtesy Red Bull Racing, McLaren, Mercedes Motorsport, Ferrari, Renault & Force India

story by

photos by

Red Bull boss Dietrich Mateschitz expects nothing less than a world title, either for Sebastian Vettel (pictured) or Mark Webber, in 2010.


C OV E R FE AT URE

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C OV ER FE ATURE

Driver Intelligence The hottest news for the 2010 Formula One season? The return of Michael Schumacher, four World Champions on the grid, at least three leading teams in which team-mates will be fighting mano a mano for the title honours; and the prospect of drivers having to display genuine finesse in nursing their tires now that refuelling has been banned. At 41 years old, Schumacher looks as fit as he ever did in a heyday that earned him 92 Grand Prix victories and seven world titles, and the metamorphosis of Brawn GP into Mercedes GP signals the pukka return of the Silver Arrows in F1 since the team was withdrawn, victorious, at the end of 1955. Then there’s Fernando Alonso at Ferrari, where Felipe Massa returns as healthy and determined as ever after his horrible accident at Hungaroring last July. And Jenson Button in at McLaren alongside Lewis Hamilton, where he will be determined to prove that the 2008 champion is not going to eat him for dinner. Sebastien Vettel and Mark Webber are ready to go head-tohead at Red Bull, where Dietrich Mateschitz will expect nothing less than the World Championship from one of them. The return of Lotus spearheads the appearance of new teams from Virgin, Campos and USF1. And perhaps even Serbia’s Stefan GP may find a way to get the 2010 Toyotas on to the grid. Is it any wonder that 2010 is being billed as a fantastic season for the FIA Formula 1 World Championship?

Big Rules and Regs The most significant rule change is the ban on refuelling, which has obliged teams to develop longer cars with up to 160 kg of fuel tank capacity instead of the previous maximum of 80. That will place a premium on preserving their Bridgestone tires between the mandatory stop(s) in which drivers must switch tire compounds. It will also change strategy, and promote greater

Schumacher is convinced an aero update before Bahrain can make the Mercedes MGP W01 a winner.

efforts to overtake, as drivers will be less inclined to wait for pit stops to make up places. Calculation of testing form has been a nightmare, since fuel loads can vary so much (from 10 to 160 kg). Just so you know, every 10 kg of fuel equates to 0.3s on lap time. The other major change places much more emphasis on victory, as the new points system goes down to 10th place, thus: 25-18-15-12-10-8-6-4-2-1. Each driver now gets only 11 sets of tires per weekend – six sets of primes and five options. Three sets apply solely to Fridays, and must be handed back even if they aren’t used. And drivers from the Q3 session must race on the tires on which they set their grid time. The penalty for engine changes has effectively been doubled; it’s now 10 grid positions at the race at which the failure occurs, and for the next. Ouch! The other significant change once again allows teams to run their third drivers on a Friday, provided they use the engine and tires allocated to the nominated race driver of the relevant car.

Team By Team • McLAREN: 1 Jenson Button, 2 Lewis Hamilton, McLaren MP4-25 Mercedes If race wins were awarded purely on the basis of looks, McLaren’s MP4-25 would already have a bunch of them this year. A cross between an F1 car and a Bonneville lakester the new car is as impressive as last year’s MP4-24 was dull. It looks right, and a huge amount of research and development has gone into it. It remains to be seen how long peace reigns as 2009 World Champion Jenson Button joins 2008 World Champion Lewis Hamilton. Predictably, all parties say they are getting along, and both drivers stress that will be the key to developing amicable conditions so they can win races. But… let’s just say we���ll see how things develop when the chips are down and two winners vie for the same trophy. One (Button) has everything to prove against the other, who could stand to lose his reputation as the best driver out there.


Jenson Button – Everything to prove?

Lewis Hamilton – Everything to lose? Rosberg is facing his greatest challenge.

Jenson Button in at McLaren alongside Lewis Hamilton, where he will be determined to prove that the 2008 champion is not going to eat him for dinner.

Is Michael Schumacher fit enough at 41?


Rosberg has already fitted in well in his new environment.

Schumacher gets deep into tyre talk.

Can a 41 year-old, super-fit, superdetermined former champion who hasn’t raced in F1 for three seasons come back and take on all the young lions?

Webber expects Red Bull RB6 to be a winner. Vettel is determined to stay Germany’s top dog.

Red Bull arguably starts as season favourite.

20 p1 magazine The New Ferrari F10 is elegant – and quick.


Massa – Fit and raring to go.

Will Alonso bring Ferrari the magic that’s been missing since Schuey retired?

• MERCEDES: 3 Michael Schumacher, 4 Nico Rosberg, Mercedes MGP W01 How much harder will Michael Schumacher find it this time around to establish himself as F1’s top dog? That’s precisely why 2010 is going to be such a tremendous season. Can a 41 yearold, super-fit, super-determined former champion who hasn’t raced in F1 for three seasons come back and take on all the young lions? Or will Nico Rosberg blow him off? Few doubt that Michael will at least win races, but it remains to be seen if he can challenge for an eighth championship. But how about this scenario? If Nico fails to match Michael’s pace, and Michael thus scores the majority of Mercedes’ points, might he not do what Jackie Stewart did in 1973 against the warring Lotuses of Emerson Fittipaldi and Ronnie Peterson – and snaffle the title from beneath the noses of McLaren, Red Bull and Ferrari as their drivers take points off each other? Mercedes have had weight distribution issues and await an aerodynamic update for Bahrain, but Schumacher believes it will be strong. It wasn’t exactly weak as Brawn in 2009, was it? • RED BULL: 5 Sebastian Vettel, 6 Mark Webber, Red Bull RB6 Renault By the end of 2009, the Red Bull RB9 was the car to beat,

and there was no question that had it reached its peak sooner it could have won the World Championship. That was how much progress the team made. This year brings with it Adrian Newey’s evolutionary RB6 – and the pressure of expectation. Now we expect the cars not just to win, but to lead the fight for the titles. There is one wealthy Austrian entrepreneur who is going to be very disappointed if his team does not go one better than it did in 2009. Sebastian Vettel is relishing the chance to prevent Michael Schumacher from regaining his status as Germany’s leading driver, while Mark Webber begins the season in much better shape than he did in 2009, when his legs were still hurting after his Targa Tasmania shunt. Their prospects look very rosy. No question, this will be one of the pacesetting teams. • FERRARI: 7 Felipe Massa, 8 Fernando Alonso, Ferrari F10 Ferrari had a torrid time in 2009, after its focus on challenging for the 2008 titles cost it valuable development time for the F60. Only one victory – thanks to KERS – was not enough, but such was the architecture of the F60 that the team could only come up with a compromised double diffuser. Now that shortcoming has been resolved, along with general lack of downforce, and the F10 has been impressive thus far in testing.

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But Ferrari’s V-8 is perceived to have relatively high fuel consumption, which could oblige it to run more fuel load than its rivals. If this proves to be the case Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso could find themselves able to qualify well, but less competitive than they should be in races. The inter-team battle between the feisty Spaniard, who is desperate to get back into a championship-contending car, and the fully recovered Brazilian, will be one of the season’s highlights. • WILLIAMS: 9 Rubens Barrichello, 10 Nico Hulkenberg, Williams FW32 Cosworth Will 2010 be the year in which Williams scores its first win sinWill 2010 be the year in which Williams scores its first win since 2004? In Singapore last year Nico Rosberg ran strongly enough to suggest that just a little more luck might tip the balance, and the new FW32 is, according to technical director Sam Michael, an aggressive design that started with a clear computer screen. The switch from Cosworth to Toyota never did the team any real good, apart from bringing $US20 million of the troubled Japanese company’s money (which was offset by Kazuki Nakajima’s allergy to scoring points). But the switch back to Cosworth might just prove hugely beneficial. A lot of work has gone into reconfiguring the CA2010 version of the engine around an 18,000-rpm limit, and it was always pretty good on fuel economy, which will be a crucial factor this year. The team’s form in testing has been hard to calculate, but Williams is known habitually to run with plenty of fuel in such circumstances, which should stand it in good stead. Rubens Barrichello left nobody in doubt about his hunger last season and still has the fire to win, while Nico Hulkenberg has the perfect opportunity to learn from the most experienced man in F1. • RENAULT: 11 Robert Kubica, 12 Vitaly Petrov, Renault R30 If ever there was a team in the middle of a major rehabilitation program, it’s Renault. Most of the slime from the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix cheating scandal has rightly stuck to disgraced Flavio Briatore and partner in crime Pat Symonds, but Renault has had to pull itself up by the bootstraps in the aftermath. The technical team remains unchanged under the

New colours and new management signal a crucial 22 magazine new p1 start for Renault.

inestimable Bob Bell, and so far the R30 hasn’t looked too bad in testing as many of the R29’s shortcomings have been addressed. But it will be a while before things gel fully as the team has two new drivers to work with. Robert Kubica has talent the equal of Fernando Alonso’s and Lewis Hamilton’s, which means he can win races and challenge for championships - if the machinery is right. Team-mate Vitaly Petrov is less easy to quantify; he has won GP2 races and shown well in that series, but so did his predecessor Romain Grosjean. The team is now 75 percent owned by entrepreneur Gerard Lopez, who has entrusted experienced team manager Eric Boullier with masterminding the overall program. The first signs are that the Frenchman is approaching his job the way a racer would, focusing entirely on performance and leaving the theatrics to other outfits. They’ll be less flamboyant at Renault this year, but you know what they say about the quiet ones… • FORCE INDIA: 14 Adrian Sutil, 15 Vitantonio Liuzzi, Force India VJM03 Mercedes Force India was the surprise of 2009, especially in the second half of the season when the Mark Smith/James Key VJM02 really came on strong on the fast circuits where its relative lack of downforce was not such a disadvantage and its low drag made it very fast in a straightline. But for Ferrari’s KERS, Giancarlo Fisichella would have won at Spa, which just goes to show how hot the car was there. The VJM03 has addressed the downforce problem, and after his first experience with the car in the first test at Jerez, Tonio Liuzzi described it as “the best F1 car I have driven.” They might not be fighting for the championship, but Liuzzi and team-mate Adrian Sutil will be another mano a mano act well- worth watching. The German is quick but erratic, the Italian quick, smooth and smart. It remains to be seen whether running third driver Paul di Resta on Fridays will take away anything from the race drivers’ progress, but it’s a great way to play the young Scot in for the seat he is expected to take from Sutil in 2011. • TORO ROSSO: 16 Sebastien Buemi, 17 Jaime Alguersuari, Toro Rosso STR5 Ferrari If you focus only on testing times. Toro Rosso is likely to run at the front this year. Both Sebastien Buemi and Jaime


Petrov is Russia’s first F1 racer.

New R30 addresses R29’s shortcomings.

Kubica confers with race engineer Alan Permaine.

Robert Kubica has talent the equal of Fernando Alonso’s and Lewis Hamilton’s, which means he can win races and challenge for championships.

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Liuzzi – Time to show just what he can do.

Sutil is Fast but erratic.

Alguersuari were very fast in the first Jerez test, in the new STR5. This is the handiwork of the team itself for the first time, as the rules now preclude teams sharing a design with others as Toro Rosso did since 2006 with elder sibling Red Bull. Of course, you’d have to be remarkably naïve to believe that there hasn’t been some benefit from having Adrian Newey working for your big brother, and the STR5 bears a strong resemblance to last year’s car and the multiple race-winning Red Bull RB5. Whether it too can win this year is a moot point. Franz Tost’s team does not have the same budget as Red Bull itself, and there were plenty of times last year when that was clearly a serious disadvantage. There is no reason to suppose this year will be that different on that score. Buemi showed a lot of flair last year and comfortably saw off Sebastien Bourdais who, though he never clicked in F1, was clearly no slouch as all his IndyCar wins demonstrated. Alguersuari came into Bourdais’ place with less F1 experience than any graduate in history – a few straight-line tests and nothing else – but showed that he is not out of his depth.

Force India’s VJM03 aims to redress the 2009 car’s lag of aero grunt, and has so far shown similar speed to McLaren’s MP4-25.

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It’ll be interesting to see how these two youngsters develop, and just how competitive their rides will prove. • LOTUS: 18 Jarno Trulli, 19 Heikki Kovalainen Lotus T127 Cosworth There is something infectious about AirAsia boss Tony Fernandes’ enthusiasm for the Lotus marque, and race fans across the globe have welcomed back the green and yellow colours made famous in the Sixties by legends such as Innes Ireland, Jim Clark and Graham Hill. Undoubtedly the most serious and cohesive of the new teams, Lotus Racing’s T127 is the work of Mike Gascoyne whose pedigree includes spells with McLaren, Sauber, Tyrrell, Jordan, Renault and Toyota. His new car is a no-nonsense, smartly conceived design intended to give the new team the ideal equipment with which to learn its trade, and in Jarno Trulli and Heikki Kovalainen it has two Grand Prix winners who will squeeze out all of its potential. Fernandes has of late been discovering just how big a mouthful he has to chew and even he does not have endless


cash to spend on his latest venture, but the team has ambitious plans to score World Championship points and is determined to get among the tail-enders of the 10 established teams. On paper, at the very least, they have the best chance of doing that of the four new contenders. • CAMPOS META: 20 TBA, 21 Bruno Senna, Campos Cosworth The Spanish Campos team was one of the first to announce a driver – Ayrton Senna’s popular nephew Bruno – but has since been troubled to such an extent by financial problems that constructor Dallara called time on it when Campos missed a key payment. There were rumours that the rights to the car had passed to Serbian team-in-waiting Stefan GP, though all parties deny that. As 11 teams were in Jerez for the second test, it was revealed that majority shareholder owner Jose Ramon Carabante was to take full control of the team from founder Adrian Campos. GP2 winner Karun Chandhok was linked with the seat alongside former team-mate Senna, as ex-Force India team principal Colin Kolles came aboard and ex-Red Bull technical director Geoff Willis was employed on a short-term basis. • USF1: 22 TBA, 23 Jose Maria Lopez, USF1 Cosworth America’s latest F1 team is unlikely to make it to Bahrain. The inside word midway through February was that the unique gearbox was still being put together and that money was very tight. The ambitious start-up encapsulates the problems facing all of the new teams. They signed up at a time when a $US40 million budget cap seemed likely within two years, only to find that their rivals will be spending considerably more than that for some time to come, and that finding even $US40 million in the current economic climate is a nightmare. Thanks to Windsor’s long-standing friendship with former F1 ace Carlos Reutemann, now a leading politician in his Argentinian homeland, USF1 signed Argentina’s one-time GP2 racer Jose Maria Lopez, but the identity of his team-mate remained unknown. Amid rumours that the project was either dead or would combine with Campos, Windsor said, choosing his words with care, “We need a bit of time but we are still hopeful of racing in the 2010 World Championship.” We’ll see. • VIRGIN: 24 Timo Glock, 25 Lucas di Grassi, Virgin VR-01 Cosworth

Virgin’s whole F1 thing has been an oddity, right from the start of Richard Branson’s tense involvement with Brawn last year when it soon became clear that he had paid a little – but got a lot in terms of exposure. He’s paying even less this time around, if you believe the stories, but now the cars are painted in his colours and called Virgins. Hmm. Will he succeed, the way he has in the airline business? Team manager John Booth has a Yorkshireman’s detestation of bullshit, and while he has no F1 experience he knows how to run a race team. Nick Wirth has been in F1 before, with the ill-fated Simtek team and then Renault. Designing the VR-01 wholly by computational fluid dynamics and without any recourse to a wind tunnel was a bold move, especially for a newcomer. But that is something to applaud. Losing the front wing in the car’s first test at Jerez – a problem that also beset the Simtek at Imola when Roland Ratzenberger was killed in April 1994 – is not. Timo Glock is a great little race driver whose feistiness will stand the team in good stead. Lucas di Grassi has done well enough in GP2 to deserve this chance to show his F1 mettle. But internally this is not a settled or happy team, and we’ll be watching closely how things develop. • BMW SAUBER: 26 Pedro de la Rosa, 27 Kamui Kobayashi, Sauber C29 Ferrari Many people thought it was all over for Peter Sauber when BMW announced that it was pulling the plug on its F1 operation. But Peter is a tough cookie and was damned if he was going to lose the team he built up – and whose future he believed he had safeguarded with the sale to BMW at the end of 2005. There was the ridiculous period when Qadbak was supposedly buying the team from BMW, but when that was exposed as the sham that it was, the German marque did what it should have done from the start and accepted Peter’s offer. It’s going to be a tough struggle, but the Swiss independent was one of the last privateers standing when all the manufacturers had found a musical chair, and if anyone knows how to survive in the Piranha Club, it’s the equipe from Hinwil. Pedro de la Rosa brings a wealth of experience from his six-year spell as McLaren’s test driver, while Kamui Kobayashi showed fantastic potential in his three outings at the end of last year. P1

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story by

Craig Lord

photos Photos

Courtesy Triple Eight Racing, Brad Jones Racing, Stone Brothers Racing, Kelly Racing, Paul Morris Motorsport & Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport


Things have been heated since the inception of the V8 Supercars class in Australia. Don’t look for that to change in 2010.

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Jason Bright sports a new livery this year in the Trading Post Holden.

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o not know of the rivalry between Ford and Holden is to not know that there is a moon in the sky and that water in the ocean is full of salt – it’s a given. But now there is trouble at the mill, because while there have been historical changes in team codes within the V8 Supercars ranks over the years, none have been more heartfelt than Team Vodafone’s move between the seasons of 2009 and 2010. In 1995 when the 2.0-liter pocket rockets became ineligible for the Australian Touring Car Championships, the Ford and Holden scenario of V8 superiority took a turn – for what many say – the better. It somehow propelled the fascination of motorsport further into our souls and created a tribal and brutal warfare both on and off the tarmac. The war during the last 15 years has intensified to the point where fans will love or hate someone simply because of what they sit in – and that’s not just

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the drivers; add into that situation workmates, family, or anyone who leaves a particular showroom from the wrong side of the suburbs. And this leads us back to Team Vodafone. Created in 2003 when the successful UK-based Triple Eight Race Engineering team took over the Brisbane-based Briggs Motor Sport, the Ford-based squad struggled with mechanical problems – leaving drivers Paul Radisich and Max Wilson with lowly results. This of course was of no concern to the followers of the red lion who were concentrating their subliminal thoughts into the actions of the Stone Brothers Racing (SBR) team who had taken their second series win with Marcos Ambrose at the wheel of the BA Falcon. For Team Vodafone changes needed to be made, so in 2005 they signed Craig Lowndes to replace Radisich, and Steve Ellery to take over from Wilson. They also took on another clever move – race

engines from Stone Brothers. The team transformation was immediate with Lowndes coming a close second in the season standings, only to be pipped at the post by Russell Ingall – that of course being another win for SBR. The 2006 and 2007 seasons saw the results finally going the way of the lion, with the Toll HSV Dealer Team claiming victories via Rick Kelly and then Garth Tander – the 2006 win for Kelly coming off some serious controversy when many claimed the HSV team purposely hindered Craig Lowndes’ chances of a series win. However history is not often remembered for protests and debate, but simply who won in the end. But while the war of cubes was raging up front, in 2002 a relatively unknown driver was clawing his way quietly through the Australian single seater ranks to suddenly appear in the V8 supercar field for Garry Rogers Motorsport. His name was Jamie Whincup – but early on he wasn’t living


The BOC Commodore is a slick looking car for the 2010 season.

Gaunt got his first full time drive by using facebook to contact Dumbrell.

In 1995 when the 2.0ltr pocket rockets became ineligible for the Australian Touring Car Championships, the Ford and Holden scenario of V8 superiority took a turn – for what many say – the better. Alex Davison completes the SBR package.

Slade and may become the young issue 1 29 Shane van Gisbergen follows Tim hero.


The Enforcer has ammunition supplied by the Triple Eight Team.

Tony D’Alberto now drives for himself as new owner of the defunct Sprint Gas Racing Team.

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Daniel Gaunt drives for Lucas Dumbrell – the youngest ever team owner.

up to his name of winning any cups at all. In 2005 after what could be described as a chaotic season, he was without a drive and was given a lifeline by the now defunct Tasman Motorsport crew. His teammate was Jason Richards and together they had success which included trophies from Sandown and Bathurst. The time of the Whincup had seemingly come! But, for the fans of the new hero in the V8 Supercar scene, once more things were about to go slightly pear-shaped. The Holden fans had lost Craig Lowndes to the “Blue Oval” in 2001 – and by 2006 many were still feeling the pain. It was to hurt even more when Whincup also moved ranks and stepped up to the plate to join Lowndes in Triple Eight and not only claim a victory at Clipsal, but at the hallowed grounds of Bathurst! Victories in such races on a debut year with a team were unheard of. While Garth Tander grabbed victory in the 2007 season, Triple Eight was about to send the scribes of the V8 history logs

into overdrive when Whincup became only the second driver in the code’s history to claim back-to-back titles for 2008 and 2009 – the former being Marcos Ambrose in 2003 and 2004. Back that up with the three Bathurst wins in a row, and it had put the Ford fans oCloud 9. Many fans however ignore the overall season results and simply work off who won Bathurst. If that were to be the full and final case of all that is racing, then Ford in a way deserved the three victories in 2006, 2007 and 2008, since Holden had taken it for the previous seven years. Yet to keep the war raging on, Garth Tander and Will Davison did claim the spoils of that single day’s racing in 2009 with their VE Commodore. Now initially this article was not intended to be a tribute to the likes of Jamie Whincup or Craig Lowndes. It was in fact to start its life as a V8 Supercars 101 – a look at who was what and who could possibly beat whom. But when the first two races of the season were over, it

suddenly changed the angle of interest. The reason for that is very simple – Jamie Whincup along with Craig Lowndes and their Triple Eight Team Vodafone have now officially taken all that is holy from the V8 ranks. They have chewed it up, and spat it out like a bubble. No longer can any fan claim their brand is better; no longer can any fan stand tall at events with their colour co-ordinated jacket, shirt and backpack – and most horribly, no longer can the BBQ debates rage on! In fact, this could even remove the ageold sacrificial burnings. With Team Vodafone claiming the bragging rights from the new Yas Marinas Circuit in Abu Dhabi, the question has moved from “Who can beat those Fords?” into “Who can beat that team?” AVESCO have taken on the 2010 campaign with the slogan of “The Greatest Show on Wheels!” Well, it now has a lot to live up to, and the teams who line up on pit row with Triple Eight are the ones who will have to do the hard work.

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Thompson & Coulthard will find the going tough this year.

Todd Kelly has plenty to think about this season. Could Bargwanna distract new owners the Kelly brothers.

With Team Vodafone claiming the bragging rights from the new Yas Marinas Circuit in Abu Dhabi, the question has moved from “Who can beat those Ford’s” into “Who can beat that team”.

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Rick Kelly must multitask as an owner and driver.


Could Whincup and Lowndes become the Untouchables.

There are basically 17 other teams with 27 other drivers who want a share of the spoils, and trying to pick who it will be is always an entertaining task. It used to be a case of vehicle brand first – team second. But now, as said before, that theory has been swept down the drain. So where does one look if they want to pick another possible favorite? First, you can’t go past the Stone Brothers Racing Team. Their history is clear to see and with the youthful exuberance of Shane van Gisbergen at the helm of car #9, you could quickly find yourself backing the bolter. With the unquestionable success of the Triple Eight team both in Australia and worldwide it would be reasonably safe to also place a quiet bet on either Russell Ingall or Greg Murphy. Both cars run the Triple Eight Chassis but take on the Paul Morris Engine – unlike the Vodafone crew who run the KRE power plant. So, aside from the team and motor, it’s looking to be an equally hot setup for those two drivers – and while Dean Fiore runs the same setup, I would give him a couple more years as he will have enough work to do by concentrating not only on

his driving, but also on the team that he now owns with his family, having taken over the racing entitlements from the Team Kiwi fiasco. Toll Holden Racing team are always a firm favorite. Garth Tander knows how to win races and the outstanding history of the HRT team should mean that they are clever enough to not have dropped the ball. Expect them to be at their normal best as the season continues. Either of the Kelly brothers could jump into the mix as they continue with their Holdens in the Jack Daniel’s racing camp. But they are also team owners and the distraction of having Jason Bargwanna and Tony Ricciardello running in their cars from another garage could be enough to stop them from taking any major spoils. While the Ford fans are restricted this year in their pick due to only ten being on the list, they could easily put Steven Richards and Mark Winterbottom onto the leaderboard. The FPR team owned by Prodrive is a clinical outfit and will without argument be happy to muscle up against the likes of Triple Eight. But so too should the Jim Beam camp of Dick

Johnson Racing with Steven Johnson and James Courtney in control. From there it is difficult to split the remaining pack, each of the other drivers and teams have their own benefits and are quite capable – but are they good enough to lift their game and get in among the front runners? Only time will tell, but early on it would be hard to see it happening. These are not the NZ V8 Touring car championships – there is no reverse grid racing amongst this clan. If you want to be up the front of these grids then you need to earn it. This year the season is split into two sections with a nine-week gap in the middle of winter, and that gap may very well be the most important break ever, as some teams try to work out how to catch those who have launched away. But for now, thanks to the early switchover success of Triple Eight Racing and Team Vodafone, a long-known fact has now been proven – It’s all about the team, not just the driver or car; and they’ve also made sure that a showing of allegiance to a particular brand has become a little murky. If the branding war is to continue, then the outgunned Ford teams will simply need to bring bigger artillery. P1

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in te rv iew

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images Courtesy

story by David Tremayne Mercedes Motorsport

Can Michael Schumacher take his eighth Formula One glory at age 41? Don’t bet against him, as long as he has his Brawn – meaning Ross Brawn – on his side.


The return of Michael Schumacher has coincided perfectly with the creation of Mercedes’ own Formula 1 team.

T

hree o’clock, Sunday March 14 2010. Michael Schumacher’s Mercedes lines up fifth at Bahrain’s Sakhir Circuit, behind the McLarens of Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button, and the Ferraris of Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa. The multiple World Champion faces 308 gruelling kilometers of racing, in 31 degrees C ambient temperature. The whole racing world wants to know – Can he still do it? Last July they were asking the same question and Schumacher disappointed them, when his much-vaunted comeback as the injured Massa’s temporary replacement at Ferrari faltered because of neck muscle injuries sustained in a racing motorcycle accident. This time Schumacher, 41, is adamant he will deliver. There is no doubt about his commitment. He is as fit and focused as ever, and Mercedes GP team principal Ross Brawn believes he is as good as he was when he won 92 grands prix and seven crowns, even though the German is now the oldest man in F1. “Michael is the best judge of what he can do,” Brawn said.

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“I trust him explicitly and he told me he can do it. He has always been his own best critic – the man himself knows what he is capable of. I am very comfortable and confident and put my trust in him, and it won’t be misplaced. I saw from his disappointment over the summer how much passion he still has for the sport.” Schumacher himself is quick to acknowledge the role his attempted 2009 return played in his current situation. “The failed comeback attempt gave me reason to reconsider my situation,” he said. “I was surprised how fast and how strongly I committed myself again. I realized that my old motivation was back, full of fresh energy and great force.” While the speed has always been there, his endurance inevitably remained questionable. But the man himself said he is now absolutely fit. “I realized in summer how fast I achieved my former performance values,” he explained. “And ever since, I have kept on exercising. My neck is absolutely free of complaints. I can now do the same neck workout as I did when I was still racing. This wasn’t possible in summer because only five months had passed since my accident.”


inter v i e w

A test in the prototype 2010 GP2 car and the two official tests at Jerez that had been completed as these words were written, bore him out completely. Schuey is back! As is his long-time associate Ross Brawn, now dressed in silver as the team principal at Mercedes Grand Prix. Like Schumacher’s journey to this new challenge, Brawn’s has been equally outstanding. Just over 12 months ago, he and his colleagues at Honda were redundant. Now, after winning the Drivers’ and Constructors’ World Championships after one of the most extraordinary seasons in F1 history, and at his eponymous team’s first attempt, he and his fellow directors are nursing giant bank balances. In the pit lane and to millions of television viewers around the globe, Brawn is seen as an oasis of calm. There he sits on the pit wall, a phlegmatic, owlish, slightly rotund character with greying hair and the mien of somebody in complete control. The master tactician, the great strategist whose razor-sharp mind is still capable of functioning at the speed of an F1 car, even in moments of great crisis.

The look is no illusion. Brawn is all of those things. But when his team finally won through in Brazil last October the external facade finally cracked. Studious, scholarly Ross Brawn broke down and wept in the moment of triumph. It was a key insight into a man whose phlegmatic mien frequently disguises his passion. “Given the circumstances of how we managed to keep going over the winter, we didn’t expect to win,” he admitted. And who else would have expected it either, as Brawn Mercedes rose like a Phoenix at the 11th hour out of what had been the ashes of the Honda team he had joined in 2008? “What came thereafter has been called a fairy story, and in some respects it was,” he said. “We had a very difficult year in 2008 and we had to maintain our resolve in not using energy to try and improve the car, which I thought there was very limited potential to do. For me personally, it was the worst year I’ve had in 15 years of F1. “Then, at the end of November, when the new car was looking good and we could see the benefits of our work, came the shock news that Honda couldn’t continue,” he added.

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Schumacher and Brawn (left) have a telepathic relationship, and Michael is already getting on really well with his new race engineer, Anthony Shovlin (right).

That came at the Renaissance Hotel at Heathrow. Brawn and his CEO Nick Fry thought they were going to a meeting with Honda about budgets, not to an execution. “Instead, we were very apologetically informed that the Board had decided they couldn’t continue in Formula One. Nick and I spent the rest of the day working out how we could turn out the lights and shut the doors in the fairest possible way to all our people – over 800 in the UK alone,” said Brawn. “We had no notion that we might continue, but that was a subject we broached once we’d recovered from the initial shock. Could we keep it going? It didn’t look very sensible, but at the same time we hadn’t really understood the huge costs of closing a company.” He concedes that there were some days during the winter of 2008 when he went home not seeing the way forward, but that gradually the fog would clear until they saw that it was at least possible to keep going. “Back then I must have spent just one day a week working with the engineering group, because the rest of the time was spent working to save the company,” said Brawn. “Having gone through that torrid, but very educational experience, Brazil was just such a fantastic contrast.” In many ways his success with Brawn, giving his own name to a team in which he was a joint shareholder, was the crowning glory of his career. And he admits that it evoked very strong emotions. “‘Surreal’ is the best description,” he said in Brazil when all the tension was draining away in the aftermath of triumph. “It’s an incredible contrast to where we were 12 months ago,” he noted. 38 p1 magazine

In that wonderful moment he admits that he felt not only for all the people in his team who had played their roles in the success, but those they had had to “let go” with redundancies, once he and Fry had decided to carry on when Honda pulled the plug. “They say in life that you’ve got to recognize when the best days are happening in order to appreciate them,” said Brawn, “I thought that had happened at Ferrari. But last year I came to realize that there are still some good days to be had and the experience has been incredible!” Brawn believes that “his” team will remain a front-runner, especially after he and his four fellow directors – Fry, Nigel Kerr, Caroline McGrory and John Marsden – sold 75.1 per cent to Daimler AG and Aabar in November, for £184.2m. Reportedly, the five directors paid Honda £1 for its team, each thus effectively taking 20 percent shareholdings for a mere 20p. As writer Joe Saward observed, “If you twiddle about with a calculator and assume that the five had equal shares the payout on the sale would be around $US36m apiece, and each would still retain a share in the company worth around $US12m, which means a total theoretical take of $US48m, which is something like a million dollars a week from the moment Honda pulled out to the moment the shares were sold.” Small wonder Brawn is a happy man right now. “The objective I set with Honda was to be a top-three team every year. That will be our objective as Mercedes Grand Prix,” he said. “You can’t win every year, but I believe that with the resources, people and drivers we have, we can be a top three


Ross Brawn, the wise owl of Formula 1.

They say in life that you’ve got to recognise when the best days are happening in order to appreciate them, and I thought that had happened at Ferrari. But last year I came to realise that there are still some good days still to be had and the experience has been incredible!

team every season – particularly with the resource restrictions that will bring teams to a level that we’ll have been operating at for a year or two, by the time they have to make their changes. By 2011 everyone is going to be the size that Brawn GP was. The nature of F1 is moving towards the privateers in the future. “We’re quite comfortable for 2010,” he continued with his trademark quiet smile. “With the new car, all you can do is plan for it to be better than the last one. There are no dramatic changes in regulations, so there’s nothing we’re going to get caught out on. It will be a better car for many reasons. We made a lot of compromises on the car last year because of the late fitting of the engine, and we didn’t have to make those compromises for this season. But against that, a lot of the other teams will have a year’s worth of understanding of the regulations and I’m sure they’re going to go forward too.” It was logic that dictated the name Brawn GP, rather than any egotistical feelings from its chief, and Brawn is adamant that it doesn’t bother him that his team has become Mercedes Grand Prix after just one season. “Well, at some stage as a team owner you have to pass it on,” he said. “I’m almost 55 and I’m not planning to do a Bernie. It was tempting to try to repeat this year’s success, as Brawn GP, but it would have been an awful risk. We were already working with Mercedes’ engine group and all the stars aligned. It was an opportunity to give the team a very strong future. “As I said to the staff, it’s sad to see the team only in existence for a year, but what a year! We’ve had a wonderful time, and in many ways it was a difficult decision, but now we’ve joined the most prestigious brand in the automotive world.”

As for Button, he puts on a brave face, having been convinced that all the speculation about his driver decamping to McLaren was just media speculation. Of course he wanted his star to stay, and believed that he would. It was probably the one thing he got wrong in 2009. “That would have been the logical thing,” he said, “but of course logic doesn’t always prevail.” Some believe that with Michael Schumacher on board, however, that the team is even better off. It is a condition of the deal with Daimler and Aabar that Brawn stays on as team principal, and it was the buyers who insisted on that. “It was part of the attraction for Mercedes that the management team remains,” Brawn said with his usual modesty. “Obviously we will become subject to their budget discussions, but the racing decisions will continue to be made by us. As with everything in life, if we do a good job that will stay the same, and if we do a bad job things will change.” So Brawn, the quiet genius of F1, is on top of the world, thoroughly recharged after a sabbatical in 2007, supercharged by the incredible success of 2009 and the financial windfall that came his way as the men from Stuttgart and Abu Dhabi came knocking on the door. Doubtless they will all be delighted to know that he sees no point in even thinking of stopping yet. ”Our success in 2009 ... it’s all history now, isn’t it?” said Brawn. “And in the light of everything that’s happened in these last 12 months, I just think, “What a lucky man I am.” If you enjoy it, why would you stop? I stopped at Ferrari after 10 years because the ambitions were levelling off. When you wake up in the morning, do you spring out of bed and want to get to work?

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Before long, photos of Michael Schumacher in a Silver Arrow will seem every bit as familiar as Michael Schumacher in a Ferrari…

At the moment I do. I came to this team with fresh energy. I don’t know when that energy will stop, but I intend to stop when it’s ebbing a bit rather than disappearing completely. I’ll know the signs of when it’s time to stop, and I’m not getting them.” And he adds a postscript that should give any rival cause for concern, “I’ll carry on until I start to see the downside of the slope.” He hasn’t been able to hide his enthusiasm for his renewed relationship with Schumacher either, having helped to guide the German to his seven world titles. “Working with Michael again is a very special treat and something I didn’t think would happen again,” said Brawn. “It’s so exciting and so motivational for me and the team to be involved. Nico is a very exciting prospect who will make a wonderful partner for Michael. He’ll enjoy working with Michael and seeing how a seven-time champion operates. “But also the final thing is being the part of a rebirth of a racing brand so iconic as Mercedes. It’s been 55 years since Mercedes had its own racing team,” he continued. “I have been very privileged in my career to be involved in exciting things but this is specially exciting to be involved in.” Schumacher reflected Brawn’s sentiments precisely, as he so often has. “I don’t want to deny at all that the idea of a German F1 team extremely tempts me,” he admitted. “I guess every German driver would feel this way. And of course it plays a major role 40 p1 magazine

that I again can work together with Ross at Mercedes. Above all, however, my old hunger for racing is back. In Abu Dhabi, when Ross asked me if I could imagine returning to F1, I felt that I wasn’t ready for it. But only two weeks later, when he called me once again, I realized that my old passion was returning. Suddenly I was on fire again. For me, the imagination to be back in a F1 car and to compete for the world championships is exciting and extremely inspiring.” But can they win, let alone vie for the championships that Jenson Button and Brawn won last year? The first signs were that the MGP W01 required modifications to its weight distribution and some aerodynamic updates which will be ready for Bahrain, but the car seemed quick and reliable straight out of the box. “I am fully convinced that we have a car that is able to fight for the championship,” Schumacher said after the first Jerez test. “Where we are exactly is hard to say. This is especially true for me as I don’t have the data from last year’s car, and unfortunately I cannot look into the future. But I do not expect anything else but for it to be fine. At the moment it is very constructive and I don’t expect that to change. But to drive a car like that again, it was just that great old feeling I know so well. Nothing comes close. I love that sensation, I always did. It was just that my batteries were empty at the end of 2006 that I retired,” he added. “Now, my batteries are fully charged again!” P1


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New Zealand Grand Prix winner Earl Bamber in his VnC Cocktails sponsored, Triple X run, Toyota Racing Series FT40.

Aucklanders Mitch Evans and Richie Stanaway closely followed by Brazils Lucas Foresti.


The Toyota Racing Series is one of New Zealand’s premiere motor racing series. Here’s a look at how it got started – and the great places it’s going. story by

Bob McMurray

photos by

ned dawson

The competition is always close. Visiting International driver Sten Pentus from Estonia leads New Zealands Richie Stanaway, Earl Bamber and Stefan Webling at the new Hampton Downs Motorsport Park south of Auckland.


Sten Pentus, a name soon to become very familiar to followers of F3 in Europe.

T

he Toyota Racing Series has established itself as the fastest racing series in New Zealand with up-to-the-minute technology, high-grade composite materials, the latest Michelin tires and engineers, technicians and mechanics from Formula 1 and Indy Car. During its five-year history, the series has attracted some of the best young drivers from not only New Zealand but around the world. In fact, the series is now on a well-established path to a future in the sport for both drivers and personnel. But how and why did it start, especially in the relatively motor sport backwaters of New Zealand? Toyota New Zealand had been a successful engine supplier to the Formula Atlantic series in the early 1990s. Toyota New Zealand continued its motor sport involvement with the New Zealand Touring Car Championship in the late 1990s. But we have to go to the Toyota Altezza race cars of the early 2000s to find traces

of the DNA for the Toyota Racing Series. These cars dominated the New Zealand Touring Car Championship in 2002 with Barrie Thomlinson driving, but at the end of that season the Championship was discontinued. Toyota New Zealand wanted to continue its involvement in motor sports but the activity lay dormant through 2003 and 2004 while they considered all the options. It was pretty clear that touring cars were not going to be the way to go, as the local V8 championship was gaining momentum and Toyota had no suitable car to adapt for that form of racing. With the demise of Formula Atlantic/ Pacific it was identified that there was a need for a premier singleseat class where our young talented drivers could hone their skills before embarking on a career overseas. So single-seat cars came to the fore. Formula Pacific was soon to become history and Formula Ford could not provide a “wings-and-slicks” experience

or stepping- stone to the future. So the focus for Toyota New Zealand management changed a little to creating series that was modern, safe and challenging, as well as one that would attract young and upcoming drivers to showcase their talent – as a springboard to launch their career overseas. The Toyota Motor Company in Japan already had cars that raced under the “Formula Toyota” banner, so the initial thought was to use this chassis in a New Zealand series. A Formula Toyota car was imported and taken to a couple of tracks around the country to gauge the reaction from possible entrants. Though mostly positive, feedback received was that the Japanese Formula Toyota was thought to be too close to Formula Ford, with a dated chassis and an engine that was too lowpowered for the target market. This presented a problem to TNZ as there was no suitable chassis / engine combination that would fit their idea of a New Zealand specific formula that


After competing in the Toyota Racing Series in New Zealand, Lucas Foresti from Brazil returned to the UK to sign a contract for the 2010 British Formula 3 season.

would tick all the boxes. A net was cast around the world in search of the right combination of technology, wings and slicks, and chassis that were modern, safe and – in New Zealand terms – affordable. It became very apparent that a specific combination of all of these parameters would have to be worked out from the ground up. So, Toyota New Zealand decided to go it alone and search for a chassis – and that was to be found in Italy at the Tatuus SRL Racing Car factory based in Concorezzo just north of the famed Monza circuit. Tatuus makes chassis for other racing series around the world, and they managed to come up with a carbon fibre monocoque chassis specifically designed to fit the Toyota New Zealand demands and it was designated the TT104NZ.

What started as a concept and idea to further the aspirations of young drivers and grow single seater racing in New Zealand had turned into reality with racing cars of a world standard. It was important to have a specially designed chassis as Toyota were going to fit an engine that had not previously been used for single-seater racing and was in fact a road-going engine. As the entire project was being developed outside of Toyota Japan, there was no real possibility of getting one of the race-proven engines from the factory, so the search was on once again for a suitable power plant. That was found in the 2ZZ-GE engine that was powering the Toyota Celica. It was a powerful 1,796cc engine that was strong, reliable, proven and relatively

inexpensive. The trouble was, it was fitted to road-going cars and was not race-ready. A case was made to Bob Field, then CEO of TNZ, for funding to go ahead with the project outside the umbrella of TMC. Bob agreed. A joint engineering project was initiated between chassis- makers Tatuus and New Zealand-based Lyn Rogers Automotive to develop the engine and the installation to the chassis. The key challenges were the development of the dry-sump system and changes to be made to the standard air intake system.

Alistair Wootten (car 69) being challenged by Stefan Webling (41), Richie Stanaway (47) and Jamie McNee (8).


With the installation challenges overcome, the engine specification was fixed and Lyn Rogers Automotive could go ahead with building the first batch of engines. The engines fitted to a TRS car are output-tested on a dynamometer – then sealed and certified to ensure equality of power. Initially the output from the engine was some 210 bhp, but over the seasons it has crept up a little until the output for the 2010 season sits at around 220 bhp. The engine computers are also sealed to ensure a level playing field for all competitors. The engines would remain the property of TNZ and be leased to the competitors, and the engine computers would also be rotated to ensure fairness. Tires were next and Michelin, the maker of some of the finest racing tires in the world, had a suitable tire that was currently being used in Formula 3 racing in the UK and around the world. They happily joined in the campaign and they supply tires to the series to this day. The modern sequential gearbox was sourced from Sadev in France, the shock absorbers from specialist racing manufacturer Ohlins and all the other myriad parts that go to make up a stateof-the-art racing car were sourced from the very best manufacturers world- wide, as well as specialists in New Zealand. The package was almost complete but without a name. As Toyota Japan did not sanction the series in New Zealand and because of the clashing names with the Japanese domestic series, “Formula Toyota” was 46

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out of the question. So the simple and effective moniker of “The Toyota Racing Series” was adopted. The fastest racing series in New Zealand was born. What had started as a concept and idea to further the aspirations of young drivers – to expose them to the most modern technologies and to promote and grow single seater racing in New Zealand, had turned into reality with “wings and slicks” racing cars of a world standard, and a series second to none in the world in terms of competition, safety, modernity and affordability and backed by one of the world’s largest motor manufacturers. Success for a driver would be determined by skill rather than budget. The TT104ZZ was ready for the track. An intensive testing program was launched both in New Zealand and in Italy to develop the chassis, engine and systems so that by the time they were ready to race in anger, the cars were as sorted out and free from “bugs” as was possible. Category manager and accomplished race driver Barrie Thomlinson and experienced International driver Matt Halliday completed lap after lap after lap on New Zealand tracks, while New Zealand Championship racers Andy Knight and Brendon Hartley were dispatched to Italy to work in conjunction with the Tatuus engineers and designers to make the car as user-friendly as possible, while at the same time being a challenging race car for the drivers and engineers.

It was a frantic period of testing and proving the car and the launch deadline was approaching, but nobody involved was going to let that car be released until it was right! At the launch of the series in late 2004, Toyota New Zealand announced that they had taken the unprecedented step of making a ten-year commitment to the series. No other manufacturer has taken such a long-term view. This long-term commitment did not only apply to the cars, but also to the way that the teams and their guests were to be looked after. Toyota developed a hospitality area that was, and still is the envy of all in motor sports and would not be out of place at any European event. A huge marquee and five star service caters for hundreds of guests each weekend. The teams were to be provided with their own dedicated paddock area and individual pit facilities in a garage-style layout complete with power. They would be provided with technical backup from a team of experienced race engineers, composite and electronics experts as well as having a spares semi-trailer at each and every event. Series specific technical inspectors would also be provided to ensure fairness and adherence to the rules. Some 20 people associated with Toyota would be present at each event to take care of everything from a cheese sandwich to a technical protest, or a press release to a team photograph. The method of management of the


New Plymouth’s Stefan Webling has trouble negotiating Hampton Downs’ turn 5 “corkscrew”.

series would also be new to New Zealand Motorsport. Toyota New Zealand would be in ultimate control through the Executive and the TNZ Motorsport Manager based at the National Customer Center at Palmerston North, Steve Boyce – but the series would be managed day-to-day by a new organization called Toyota Racing Management. That company would be run by Barrie and Louise Thomlinson, the category managers. They would have a staff of permanent people based at Mount Richmond in Auckland where the racing activities are centered. They also bring in various contractors who were acknowledged experts in their respective fields such as electronics, rule-making, fuel-handling and the like.

There would also be an extensive involvement by people such as Chris Amon to advise and guide the series, as well as lend their prestigious profile, and in Chris’ case his own name, to a valuable championship prize and trophy. All in all it was the biggest motor sports shake-up that New Zealand had ever seen. The series joined the MotorSport New Zealand Tier 1 Championship mid-season in January 2005 to universal acclaim, and with some seventeen cars lining up to take the start. The newest, fastest, most up-to-date and glamorous series in New Zealand Motorsport was finally born. The first-ever race was won by Brendon Hartley who, at just fifteen

years of age, was clearly destined for a great future in his chosen profession, as has been proved by his climb to the very precipice of Formula 1. Other New Zealand drivers who have graduated from the series to date include Wade Cunningham who went on to win the US Firestone Indy Lights Championship, Matt Halliday to US

Toyota has long been known as a leader in the production and development of hybrid vehicles and the use of E85 in the TRS was seen

Upcoming young driver Daniel Jilesen had some very strong performances during the season.

as another extension of Toyota New Zealand’s carbon zero program.


Hampton Downs round winner Mitch Evans celebrates with second placed Lucas Forest and third placed Earl Bamber.

A busy pit lane at the New Zealand Motor Cup event.

Champcar, European GT3 and A1GP, Daniel Gaunt to Australian V8 Supercars, Chris Van Der Drift to European racing, Shane van Gisbergen to Australian V8 Supercars and Earl Bamber to European racing and A1GP, and so many more. The series has also given momentum to International drivers who have gone on to great things in all corners of the world. The TRS has not stood still – with continued development and improvement in the years since it first appeared. The chassis is now designated the FT40 and refinements to the engine, exhaust system, electronics and the car management systems have all been systematically introduced over the years. But one development stands out above all others. In 2007, MotorSport New Zealand, at the prompting and instigation of Toyota New Zealand, allowed a rule change in the permissible regulations to allow the series to introduce E85 fuel. A mix of 15 percent regular unleaded fuel and 85 percent ethanol. The TRS was the first series in the world to introduce this form of fuel for racing cars and it came about after extensive testing – first in the laboratory then in the engine on the dyno, and finally in the car on the track. It was not simply a case of adjusting and tuning the engines but a new fuel-delivery system had to be 48

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developed to take care of the different properties of biofuel. The fuel itself was also innovative. Many biofuels are made from specifically grown crops like grain and root crops, thereby taking up valuable space that could be used for crops for human consumption. But the biofuel used in the TRS was developed in New Zealand by the dairy industry, and is a by-product of the waste produced by that industry. Toyota has long been known as a leader in the production and development of hybrid vehicles and the use of E85 in the TRS was seen as another extension of Toyota New Zealand’s carbon zero program. There was some concern initially that the slightly higher consumption rate of E85 may well compromise the longer races such as the New Zealand Grand Prix, but those fears proved groundless. At the 2008 Grand Prix event held at Manfield, the first-ever FIA recognized Grand Prix to run on biofuel. The fuel in fact produced figures which indicated greater efficiency, a cooler burn, more power and a better torque figure – all positives for a racing car. Then in 2008 another innovation came along with the development of the TRS two-seater racing car, the “Biposto.” This car was developed to give invited guests a taste of just what a TRS race car can do. It was conceived, designed and built

at the Auckland base using an actual TRS car and is a longer version of that car – to enable a passenger to sit behind the driver. Apart from the increased length the Biposto is identical to a normal race car. The lap times achieved with a passenger in the Biposto are just three or four seconds away from those of the actual TRS race cars. Since the initial 2005 half-season the series has gone from strength to strength and continues to attract overseas competitors. In each and every season, the teams have got to better understand the cars and the lap times have gradually fallen from track to track, so that now a TRS car holds the outright lap record at every circuit on which they have raced. Recently at the new Hampton Downs track the TRS became the first-ever International event to be held there, and the outright lap record was set within two laps of the first race. TRS drivers have competed for every major trophy in New Zealand, and the New Zealand Grand Prix contested by TRS cars, is also the first officially FIA-recognized Grand Prix of each year, there being only two such events in the world outside Formula 1. The Toyota Racing Series also backs up the teams and drivers with a prize fund unmatched in NZ Motorsport. For 2010 there is a new incentive for the drivers in the form of a test drive for


International driver Sten Pentus from Estonia was mighty pleased to have won the coveted and historic “New Zealand Motor Cup”. Previous winners include the likes of Moss, Clark, Brabham, McLaren, Surtees, G. Hill, Stewart. Pentus will be competing in the European WSR FR 3.5 litre series during 2010

A bright future ahead? Richie Stanaway (L), driving in Europe in 2010 talks with A1GP Team NZL driver Earl Bamber.

the TRS champion in the post-season “World Series by Renault” test scheduled for October, in the mold of the “Driver to Europe” prize of days gone by. The TRS has also come to an agreement with Renault in which the TRS is now exempt from the test ban that previously affected drivers from the “Eurocup” series wishing to come and race in New Zealand. The 2010 TRS champion will go to the test and will also receive $NZ10,000

Multi award winning veteran driver Ken Smith where he feels most at home. In the cockpit.

as well as the Chris Amon Trophy. Second place in the championship earns $NZ6,000 and third $NZ4,000. The stand- alone International series winner – this season it was Mitchell Evans – receives the trophy and $NZ5,000, and Earl Bamber, the one race New Zealand Grand Prix winner receives a massive $NZ10,000. The teams also benefit, as does the “Rookie of the Year”– and a special Series Participation Fund also adds to the pot,

making a total prize fund for the 2010 TRS Championship well in excess of $NZ100,000. During the past six seasons the Toyota Racing Series has produced some of the finest open-wheel single-seater racing ever seen in this country and has also helped develop some of our best driving talent. And who knows? The TRS may produce New Zealand’s first Formula 1 Grand Prix driver in 30 years! P1


story by

Craig Lord

photos by

ned dawson


One for the Ages The New Zealand Festival of Motorsport From Bruce McLaren to Alan Woolf, some of the greatest names in motor racing history – as well as their vehicles – were celebrated at the New Zealand Festival of Motorsport. More than a trip down memory lane, the event reminded everyone who attended that greatness “back in the old days” is still greatness today.

I

n 1937, New Zealand was blessed with the birth of a person would become a motorsport legend, and at the same time create a motorsport legacy. His name was Bruce McLaren, and his tragically short but successful life and zest for speed was celebrated over two weekends in January 2010. There are many ways of paying tribute to someone, but when that someone is a man like Bruce McLaren there is no other option but to do it via a collection of outstanding machines of speed. And with that kind of hardware collection in front of you, it’s difficult not to get emotional. As years go by, personal motorsport facts and figures from the 1950s through to the 1970s easily can be forgotten. But they quickly come back to mind when more than 300 cars are gathered at a racetrack to commemorate the fantastic deeds of those who created them. Bruce McLaren’s skill behind the wheel of a race car was obvious. He became the youngest-ever Formula 1 winner in 1959 at the United States GP in a works Cooper. After his subsequent wins in Argentina and Monaco, he turned more towards the engineering side of motorsport. So in 1963 he started Bruce McLaren Motor Racing. He continued to race with the Cooper team until 1965 before starting the McLaren GP team. Just three years later his team claimed its first win when he took the McLaren to the chequered flag at the 1968 Spa Circuit in Belgium. From

there he had a strong partnership with fellow New Zealander Denny Hulme and together they had some strong showings through the final years of the swinging 1960s. But producing some of the most wonderful racing machines of the time are what we most remember about Bruce McLaren. So on January 22 when screeds of historics turned up at the new Hampton Downs Circuit, they included 14 of Bruce’s marvels. And they presented a trip through history. Inside the main open-plan garage was a feast of paint so thick and shiny that it seemed as though it was about to drip off its bodywork. It was presented with a mix of gleaming chrome exhaust pipes and

carburetor stacks that pointed toward the gods of speed. There were tires so big and slick that you could understand why the rear wings looked as if they were taken off a small aircraft, and the whole package was there for all to revel in – with no boundaries placed from any of the owners. The festival of Motor Racing was a show both on and off the track. There were more things rare at the event than just the vehicles themselves – one being the opportunity to simply wander around the garages and pits, as well as pit row where drivers and their teams were more than happy to shoot the breeze before taking to the tarmac. Another rare item at the show was youth – at this event, you could safely describe

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Playtime for the juniors.

F5000 is motorsport heaven.

anyone in his or her thirties as “youthful.” Tim Rush is what some would call an exception to the rule. His fetish for speed began when as a three-year-old, he took a kart around the lower North Islandbased Manfield racetrack. From there, his passion for “doing it differently” took shape. Going through different club- type cars Tim’s eclectic nature was on show when he would chase down Porsches in his Toyota twin-cam-powered Morris Minor. But his move to the Lotus7-styled Chevron machine would certainly have been the spark that created the flame on show at Hampton Downs in 2010. In the 1970s, Tim’s father Terry, was 52

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involved with the importing of F5000s to the shores of New Zealand for racing at Manfield. Actually owning one was among his dreams, and that dream became a reality when in September 2008 an opportunity arose and he was able to put an M22 McLaren into his stable. It didn’t end there though, as a McRae GM9 was imported early in 2009 from a museum in Mexico. That placed a wonderful pairing of New Zealand history and responsibility into Tim’s hands. Tim’s passion for these vehicles stems from his deeply held belief that open-wheelers are “real” race cars and the rest are just taxis. Bold yes! But his

passion for open-wheel race cars runs so hot that it’s hard to blame. Yet his passion isn’t blind to the performance differences between the two machines. “The McRae Can-Am is a full groundeffects car and sticks to the road like the proverbial to the blanket,” he says. “It’s hard work on the steering wheel but when you turn it, the car goes there. It’s unreal to drive and is what wet dreams are made of.” His gusto for the McLaren is no less fiery. “The McLaren is real fast and hangs on – the 302 injected chev is a beast,” he says.


Ferrari’s phallic symbol or the prancing horse never retires.

The McLaren Legacy. NZ’s influence continued with the McRae Canam.

The F5000 Storm.


The beautiful BEGG 018-01.

Open Wheel slather.

The F5000 clan in full glory.

The LOLA T430 is pure muscle.


McLaren’s NZ Competition the McRae GM01.

It’s safe to say with Tim’s influence the F5000 and Can-Am style of race car will live on for many years. The F5000 was all about pure grunt, developed as a run-on from the Can-Am series of the mid-sixties. More than 70 manufacturers had a crack at building the open-wheeler during the formula’s 15-year official lifespan, and while the Lola was the mainstay during that time the McLaren could certainly hold its head high. The noise of such machines makes the hair on the back of your neck stand on end, and goose bumps appear all over the body! They are the four-wheeled version of Arnold Schwarzenegger – big, loud, brash and always willing to take on any amount of rivals. Yet the F5000 is also like a fine wine, an expensive port and Michelle Pfeiffer – it keeps getting better with age! While the F5000 fleet could be considered the headline act of the Festival of Motorsport with less than 40 cars circulating, it was certainly not the sole entertainer. Its older brother the Can-Am had 11 cars on track, and there were over 100 variants of open-wheel formulas, which included the small yet stunning Formula Juniors. There were more than 20,000 visitors to the Hampton Circuit during the events three-day stay and regardless of the size or shape of the vehicle, the

The noise of the F5000 makes the hair on the back of your neck stand on end, and goose bumps appear all over the body! They are the four-wheeled version of Arnold Schwarzenegger – big, loud, brash and always willing to take on any amount of rivals. crowds were given a huge helping of motorsport fever. The excitement was certainly boosted by the mass gathering of overseas competitors who were willing to container their machines to join in the celebrations. The bulk of them came from across the Tasman, but a hefty numbers shipped in from the UK. The trip by Hans Jorgen Krag of Denmark was one of the standouts. Hans made an early trip to New Zealand landing himself in Christchurch where he purchased a motorbike and spent ten days touring. He then travelled north and met up with his beloved 1961 Mk3 Lola, but from there things didn’t quite go to plan. The machine had spent its life in Sweden and was basically unused. He’d saved it from cobwebs and took it to his homeland where he made the most of what was certainly a rare and undeveloped machine. Only 11 of the Mk3 Lola’s were made, and according to Hans that was simply because Lotus made better cars and Lola quit instead of developing. Having thrown it around some

European racetracks for the last three years, he sent the junior to New Zealand for the festival, only to immediately have the gearbox destroy two internal shafts. As logic would dictate, parts for such a machine are not available off the shelf – neither in New Zealand nor Europe – and a decision had to be made on what to do. Hans was then introduced to the New Zealand way of “fix now, talk later” for handling things. A full 12 hours of work by Hans and his new-found Kiwi friends meant that the Lola Mk3 was back on track. Not only did it allow Hans to learn what was inside the case, it meant he could return to the joyous task of entertaining the crowds. His Lola was just one of the 42 Juniors on show, and with the heritage of Lotus, Lola, Cooper and Brabham they were ensuring that their big bore brothers were not going to outshine them. When the Formula Juniors were first created, one of the original machines to compete was the Volpini. As the name suggests, it is an Italian creation with a base of Fiat equipment – that being the axles, gearbox and motor. The Juniors,

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The battle of Nations: Aussie Elfin ME5, USA March 717, Kiwi McLaren M12. Kiwi weather welcomed the Aussies.

Pity the weather came right.

regardless of make, were built with a 1,100cc maximum engine capacity. They initially started with the power plant up front, before some clever people threw it in the back from 1960, allowing the Anglia power plant to come to the fore. But one particular driver prefers the old school, and there can’t be many who would argue with the 80-year-old veteran’s current choice of race car. Alan Woolf brought his red 1958 Volpini to the Festival – not to win but to get it back on the track where it belongs. Woolf is one of New Zealand’s motorsport legends who has a stack of experience under his belt, including three stints at the infamous Pikes Peak where he won the Rookie of the Year award in the early 1980s behind the wheel of close friend Rod Millen’s rally car. The 56

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festival according to Alan would possibly his swansong. With any luck, that just means he will be handing the keys over to the family for others to enjoy while he watches from the sideline. With Formula Junior being the only stepping-stone to Formula 1 during the 1950s, there were many famous names that shed rubber from the little tires. 1967, F1 champion Denny Hulme was among those along with the likes of Jack Brabham and John Surtees, but for Alan Woolf, his buzz comes from the knowledge that this particular car at one time was driven by Lorenzo Bandini before his move to the Ferrari F1 Team. The other high for Alan was in the way that the New Zealand Festival of Motorsport had managed to assemble such a large array of historic machinery –

something that he said in all his years of motorsport had never previously been done. For two weekends petrol-heads were in motorsport ecstasy and the racing itself was of little relevance, neither at Hampton Downs or Pukekohe. What was relevant was that a fantastic life was celebrated in the most splendid fashion – though it might make Bruce McLaren turn over in his grave knowing that the actual racing came second! The actual winners from the six full days of tarmac bashing will probably never be remembered. What will stick in memories is the historic nature of the event itself. It was an epic gathering, and one can only hope that the enthusiasm to continue creating such motorsport events will never fade! P1


Stunning 1967 Brabham.

Equally Stunning 1971 Brabham.

The McRae’s were out in force.


LMP2 teams like Dyson Racing transition into a combined LMP category for 2010, in efforts to bring back the close battles for the overall win as seen two years ago. 58 p1 Magazine


ALMS Makes Moves to Survive Like all race series, the American Le Mans Series is facing tough economic times. But to their credit, the series decision-makers are doing something about it. story & photos by

John Dagys


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hen the 2010 American Le Mans Series season opens with the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring in mid-March, the prominent sports car series will have a distinct new look in more ways than one. With dwindling grid and manufacturer cutbacks and withdrawals, the ALMS has been one of the many forms of motor sports directly affected by the global economic meltdown of the past 18 months. But with new budget-minded categories and efforts to restore the once highly entertaining battles for overall wins, the organization has taken bold measures to weather the storm. A complete class overhaul, the largest in the Series’ 12-year history, has been initiated, welcoming cost-effective “spec” machinery to the grid full-time, while maintaining stability in the premier prototype and GT ranks. LMP1 and LMP2 will now run as a combined LMP category for the majority of the season, while LMP Challenge has been added as a new one-make class for the French-built ORECA-Courage FLM09 prototypes. The undersubscribed GT1 class, where the factory Corvettes ran virtually unopposed for the last three years, is discontinued – while the highly successful GT2 category remains unchanged, other than its new GT nametag. The fourth category, GT Challenge, for Porsche 911 GT3 Cup cars, moves to a fullseason championship following a five-race evaluation in 2009. These wholesale changes, which were announced in August 2009, came following months of international travel, and meetings with current and potential series teams and manufacturers. From a series standpoint, it was the right time to make the move. “These decisions were made to specifically address what we knew was coming,” says Scott Atherton, ALMS president and CEO. “We knew we were going to have a continuing, challenging economy that was going to make all forms of motor sport challenged. I don’t think there’s any form of motor sport on a global scale that hasn’t experienced significant change. We certainly have had our share, but I think everyone else has as well.” Indeed. Formula One has been considered the hardest hit in the motor sports world, with Honda, Toyota and BMW, plus tire supplier Bridgestone, all pulling the plugs on their respective programs. But the ALMS hasn’t been immune from the turbulent economy either. Audi withdrew from full-season competition at the end of 2008, and entered its factory diesel-powered prototypes in only

Audi pulled the plug on its full-season ALMS program in late 2008, only competing at the Twelve Hours of Sebring and Petit Le Mans last year.

GT Challenge cars made their debut at the Utah Grand Prix last May.


Exotic machinery such as Drayson Racing’s Lola B09/60 Judd compete in the premier LMP category.

These wholesale changes, which were announced in August 2009, came following months of international travel, and meetings with current and potential series teams and manufacturers. Porsche’s 911 GT3 Cup car is the exclusive model for the GT Challenge division.

With over a dozen cars representing no less than six manufacturers, the GT class is without doubt the most competitive category in the series. The ALMS boasts a worldwide potential television audience of over 700 million households.


two ALMS races last year. The German manufacturer effectively set off a domino effect in the premier prototype category. Acura halted development of its new ARX-02a LMP1 car following lack of competition and has since withdrawn its full-factory support for 2010. That’s why it came as no surprise to combine the two prototype divisions. More importantly, the move has the full blessing of the Automobile Club de l’Ouest, the organizers of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The ALMS runs under Automobile Club de l’Ouest rules and regulations. At least on paper, bringing both the heavier and more powerful LMP1 cars and lighter and more nimble LMP2 machines together in a single category could be a daunting task, but IMSA, the series’ sanctioning body, has it down to a science. Three points of adjustment – a car’s weight, air restrictor size and fuel capacity, can be adjusted to help bridge the performance gap. The concept of performance balancing is nothing new, as IMSA has used this method over the years to help adjust the ACO’s regulations for a full-season championship on North American circuits. In many ways, the series hopes the upcoming season will bring back the intense battles seen in 2008, when subtle weight adjustments were made to help give LMP2 cars a fighting chance for overall wins. “At that time, knowing that we had a single factory LMP1 effort and two super programs in LMP2, we made the conscious decision then to make some very subtle changes in the technical regulations of those categories in an effort to bring them literally together,” Atherton says of the 2008 season. “Such as that on any given weekend at any particular venue, given the right circumstances, any one of those examples could be in contention for the overall win. From that period of time, I don’t think we’ve ever had more competitive, more entertaining racing at the front of the grid in the prototypes.” Five different driving squads from four teams and three manufacturers claimed overall victories in 2008, in what was

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The iconic factory Corvette C6.Rs return for a full-season in the newly named GT category.

As many as 10 GT Challenge cars could be on the grid throughout the 2010 season.


Gunnar Jeannette is among the drivers competing for the inaugural LMP Challenge championship. ALMS President and CEO Scott Atherton.

Primetime Race Group’s Joel Feinberg.

Privateers like AutoCon Motorsports will face increased competition with the combined LMP category.

Six LMP Challenge cars have been purchased thus far, in what’s shaping up to be a very competitive category. The balancing of technical regulations between LMP1 and LMP2 prototypes can be a tricky endeavor with distinct aerodynamic, weight and power differences between the two divisions.

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some of the most exciting down-to-the-wire battles in all of road racing at the time. But the following year brought further performance cutbacks in LMP2, mandated by the ACO, and the departure of top teams like Andretti Green Racing and Penske Racing, which both had racked up overall wins in 2008. Coupled with Audi’s departure in LMP1 and a thin LMP2 field comprising a single Acura and two yet-unproven Lola-Mazdas, the 2009 season would likely have never lived up to the excitement of years past. However, it still produced entertaining racing, especially toward the latter half of the season, when IMSA began readjusting the minimum weight of the LMP2 machines. In fact, the Lowe’s Fernandez Racing Acura ARX-01b only narrowly missed out on the overall win in the season-finale at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. The LMP1 title went to the Acura ARX-02a fielded by Patron Highcroft Racing. But the Danbury, Conn.-based team switches to an LMP2-spec ARX-01c for 2010, with the hope that a lighter and more nimble prototype would have a competitive advantage in the combined prototype category. “I think with the complete new rules and cars planned for 2011 from the ACO, it is a very sound idea to combine the current prototype entries into one class this year,” says Duncan Dayton, Patron Highcroft Racing team owner. “I don’t envy the guys who will have to figure out the balancing of all the cars and we’ll be very interested to see if and when additional performance balancing will take place as the year progresses, if needed.” As Dayton alluded, 2010 could very well be considered a transitional year, with new prototype regulations calling for smaller engines and revised aerodynamics due out in 2011. To further complicate matters for this year, LMP1 and LMP2 will run separately and in full ACO specification at the Twelve Hours of Sebring and Petit Le Mans to conform to the French organizers’ regulations for the two world-renowned endurance races.

Orbit Racing’s Guy Cosmo and John Baker scored the GTC win at the season-finale at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca last year.

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Intersport Racing team owner/driver Clint Field expands his operations to also include a new LMP Challenge car.

The concept of performance balancing is nothing new, as IMSA has used this method over the years to help adjust the ACO’s regulations for a full-season championship on North American circuits. Thirty-two cars took the green flag at the 2009 season-ending race at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

With over 30 full-season entries for 2010, the ALMS has reason for optimism despite the tough economic times.

Husband-and-wife pairing Martin and Melanie Snow won the inaugural GT Challenge championship last year.

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But for teams like Patron Highcroft, it creates an engineering challenge by starting the season in one specification, then adjusting to IMSA’s combined prototype regulations by round two at Long Beach. While the balance of performance adjustments are unlikely to put a hole in anybody’s pocket, it could put LMP2 teams at an early season disadvantage with lack of testing miles with the performance adjustments. “There are so many things that we will probably have to change,” Dayton says. “Everything from weight, engine air restrictor, aerodynamics – all of it matters a great deal. It is not just a case of getting a bigger restrictor and instantly getting more horsepower. It is a lot of work for both the engine and the chassis guys. You need to look at tuning the engine for the larger restrictor and the effect on the fuel mileage, cooling, etc. – there are lots of different aspects to consider.” Patron Highcroft will be in good company though, as twotime 2009 class winner Dyson Racing with at least one Lola B09/86 Mazda and Porsche RS Spyder privateer squad Team Cytosport will campaign LMP2-based cars throughout the season, with the hopes of claiming overall wins. They’ll battle established LMP1 privateers such as Drayson Racing, AutoCon Motorsports and Intersport Racing, which return with Judd and AER-powered Lola prototypes, respectively. While it won’t be known how the LMP1 and LMP2 cars will stack up against each other until the second round, many eyes will be on the series’ two new full-season categories. Le Mans Prototype Challenge (LMPC) offers a cost-effective solution to go prototype racing, with the spec ORECA-Courage FLM09

In February, the ALMS announced that Tequila Patrón has become the series’ presenting sponsor, part of a three-year commitment with the premium alcoholic beverage brand.

car featuring many of the same bells and whistles of a pure-bred prototype. Built on the same monocoque structure as ORECA’s LMP1 prototype and the championship-winning Acura ARX-01, the FLM09 comes equipped with carbon fiber brakes and a paddleshift gearbox. A 6.2 liter, 430 hp Corvette LS3 engine provides enough power to be faster than GT machines, yet slower than their LMP1/P2 counterparts. At a price of slightly less than $US400,000 for a rolling chassis, and an estimated season budget of $US1-1.5 million, it’s no surprise why a number of teams have expressed serious interest in the new formula. Intersport Racing was the first squad to announce its commitment to the new category. As the longest-running privateer in the series with wins in both LMP1 and LMP2, expansion into LMPC came as a logical progression for the Ohio-based team. “The new challenge classes show us the series is listening,” says Clint Field, Intersport Racing team owner. “We see the LMPC car has the perfect addition to our LMP1 program and an extension of our IMSA Lites program. Our program can now provide a true path of growth for drivers who want to succeed in sports car and endurance racing. With the addition of the LMPC car we now provide fully supported programs in three steps – IMSA Lites, LMPC and our flagship prototype, LMP1.” Since the series adoption of LMPC, the ACO has also incorporated the ORECA-Courage FLM09 into its European-


based Le Mans Series championship for 2010. It’s a move that could eventually enable these cars to compete in the famed 24 Hours of Le Mans in the not-too-distant future. Regardless, the ALMS has a three-year minimum commitment to both LMPC and the second new full-time category for 2010, GT Challenge (GTC). Following a successful five-race trial run with Porsche 911 GT3 Cup cars from the Patron GT3 Challenge last season, GTC has expanded to allow different versions of the German-built racer, including models from Grand-Am and World Challenge. The all-new 2010 version Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car, boasting an additional 30 hp over its predecessor, is the new benchmark in the class, with all other versions to be performance balanced. Last year, the ALMS hit an all-time low of 17 entries at its St. Petersburg, Fla. event. Atherton admits the addition of the GTC category was primarily to boost car counts. What developed from that, however, was something much more, with new teams sampling the series for the first time, and establishing themselves as legitimate squads racing in a professional arena. “The idea originally was to simply put cars on the grid,” Atherton says of GTC. “The bigger picture that has evolved is how you look at the way the series is structured – this is providing a broader base of opportunity for teams, drivers, sponsors, etc. to participate in the American Le Mans Series and be put in a position not to stare up at the ladder, but to stand on the ladder. Ideally, there would be one or more of those examples to gain the experience to take that to the next rung.”

The ladder system has already been proven to be successful. Patron Spirits CEO Ed Brown, who made his ALMS debut last year at the wheel of a GTC machine, has moved to the GT ranks for 2010 in a brand-new team owned by defending LMP1 cochampion, Scott Sharp. Sharp’s Extreme Speed Motorsports squad is one of only a handful of new teams to the series, fielding a pair of Ferrari F430 GTs in a class that remains relatively unchanged from 2009. With more than a dozen entries from the likes of BMW Rahal Letterman Racing, Corvette Racing, Risi Competizione and reigning class champions Flying Lizard Motorsports, the newly renamed GT category will likely again be home to the closest on-track battles. It all adds up for what could be an encouraging year for the ALMS, despite the troubling economic conditions. While Atherton admits some of the changes may not suit every fan, he feels it offers the most stable platform for the future. “I know for certain that the absolute, hardcore purists who want to see nothing other than rigid adherence to the ACO plan and technical rules and regulations, are no doubt disappointed or even upset by what we’ve done,” Atherton says. “I think to our event organizers and to all but a very small minority of our hardcore fan base, what we’ve done will be seen as a positive development to the series. I think the product we’re going to put forward in 2010 will be very strong and highly entertaining. When you look at what the alternative could have been, I’m more comfortable with the decisions we’ve made than ever before.” P1


Just five years old, the Dunlop 24 Hours of Dubai has become a drivers’ favorite. The 2010 event proved why. story by Lex

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Akehurst

photos by Darren

Rycroft


After a routine stop for a driver change the Duel Racing Clio Cup makes it’s way down pit lane during the early hours.

Minutes to go before the start of the Dunlop 24hr Dubai. The grid is cleared and the drivers prepare for what will be a long night ahead.

Sunset over the Dubai Autodrome as the drivers prepare for a long night.

As the sun wakes up, Team Duel Racing head out of turn 16 and a well earned second in class in their Clio Cup.


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hen it comes to driver talent – and the diversity within that talent pool – it’s tough to top the Dunlop 24 Hours of Dubai, held January 15-16 this year at the Dubai Autodrome. Where else in the world would you have the opportunity to watch acclaimed NASCAR drivers such as Michael Waltrip and Marcus Ambrose square up against Drifting champions like Tanaguichi and Orido from Japan? Where else can you see that a nimble Clio can do battle against the exclusive marques such as Aston Martin and Ferrari? This endurance race has become a favorite, especially among drivers, teams and organizers. One of its main attractions is its favorable climate given the time of year,which for the European teams who would be facing snowstorms and freezing temperatures on their home soil, is a particularly compelling draw. In its fifth year this season, the Dunlop 24 Hours of Dubai has come a long way since its first run. The 2010 event featured a field of 80 cars with more than 26 nationalities representing 21 countries. Even in these tough economic times, that substantial field demonstrates the strength of the championship and how it has grown to be an all-inclusive race that welcomes various racing car makes, and gives rookie endurance drivers a fasttrack opportunity to test their mettle – as well as their metal. The practice qualifying sessions are split into daytime and evening practice. This year, a few new local teams from Dubai entered the race for the first time. No strangers to Dubai night traffic, they ended up doing quite well. This year the rain stayed away, and the unusually cool temperatures made the 24 hours enjoyable for the supporters and drivers alike. The rumble coming down the main straight at 2 p.m. when the race began sent vibrations across the Emirate of Dubai. Cars ranging from 600 hp “specials” to 125 saloon cars, shook the foundations of the newly built nearby apartments. It was a three-car battle from the outset with the Porsche and BMW teams taking a solid grasp on the race from the outset. The Porsche 997 GT3 RSR from French IMSA Performance Matmut 1 Team, swept the leader board from the outset in practice, qualifying and during the race. Drivers Raymond Narac, Patrick Pilet and Marco Holzer, reveled in their Dubai debut. The inefficient fuel consumption of the car, meant more fuel stops every 50 minutes compared to almost two hours for Cup cars and four hours for the diesels. But this

The IMSA Performance Matmut 1 car makes his way into the night as the sun over Dubai sets behind him.

Al Faisal Racing 1 Team in their immaculate BMW Z4 M Coupe would find themselves on the podium after 24hrs of racing with a great third place overall.

Driver changes a plenty during the course of the event, here a driver checks in with his crew chief before heading out on track.

Traffic is always a problem during any endurace race as the slower cars are caught by the faster lapping cars.


AUH Motorsport Aston Martin Vantage GT4 heads through the bowl section.

Team First 1 was locally backed and will be looking to join the current, local touring car series next season.

Early hours of the morning under the floodlit section of the circuit

The Ferrari F430 GT3 of First Motorsport

Bumper to bumper and door to door racing... Right through to the finish.


Team 930 Rush drivers in good spirits during the early hours of the morning, all the way over from Japan for their first outing in the Dubai 24hr race.

Practice and Qualifying out of the way, now it’s time for the serious stuff.

The pits & fuel area was never still with 80 cars starting the race there was always some action somewhere going on to keep everyone busy.

Four abreast around turn 16...4 into 1 does go....Just !

All 24-hour endurance races are extreme in that they push men and machines to their limits. That makes teamwork, consistency and stamina crucial throughout any 24-hour event.

72 p1 magazine The Dubai skyline lights up the night oblivious to the race action going on on track.

All French crew of Matmut 2 slips down the inside of the Nicholas Mee Racing Aston at turn 16.


Early evening fuel stop for the Matmut 2 Team Porsche 997 GT3 RSR.

The Dunlop guy’s were drafted in from all over Europe to cover the event, they were kept very busy during the course of the weekend...

Drivers and crew grab whatever rest they can during the early morning.

It’s not all about the racing.

LEFT: The wreckage of the Zengo Seat Super Copa after it hit the barriers and then spun in front of the AF Corse Ferrari which hit it flat out on the back straight. Seat driver Tamas Horvath was rushed to the medical centre with a broken collarbone whilst Ferrari driver Waltrip, escaped unharmed.

above: AF Corse Ferrari was running well until the early hours when it hit one of the Zengo Team Seat’s as it spun on the track, the damage was severe enough to retire it from the race. LEFT: The Petronas team were well fed during the evening with a couple of suckling pics for starters professionally cooked by the UK’s bar-b-q champion.

AUH Motorsports Aston Martin Vantage GT4 heads out of turn 16 during the early morning.

GT3 Cup S Porsche of Team De Lorenzi Racing hitting top gear on the start finish straight.

Team ARC Bratislava Porsche GT3 only managed only half a lap of qualifying before giving the driver a scare as the hood flew up after the safety clips had been left out....I think there may have been raised voices as he returned to the pits to rectify the problem!

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Glowing in the dark... The Petronas Syntium BMW Z4 Coupe finally finishing 3 laps down in second place with a very clean race.

disadvantage was neutralized by their super-efficient, threedriver strategy which never saw them drop below third place during the entire race, taking over-all victory after 608 laps. Driver changes took no more than 48 seconds. The first of many “Code 60” flags (a maximum speed flag for all competitors of 60-kph on track used instead of the pace car) came out just one hour into the race, when the Red Camel Racing Saker sports car (Krant, Sauriol, Breukers, Thijsen, Verkoelen) spun off. During the next hour, the Gravity Racing Mosler, SP2 class (Loris de Sordi, Vincent, Radermecker, Gerard Lopez, Eric Lux) originally had qualified second, but was relegated to the back of the grid after not all of the teams’ drivers had been able to complete the mandatory number of laps in the dark in night practice due to an engine blow-up. However, less than one hour into the race, with Radermecker at the wheel, the car already showed in the top ten, having passed 60 cars. It finished third in its class. A variety of technical hitches, racing incidents and on-track spins beset a number of top teams with varying consequences. Only 10 hours into the race, the AF Corsa Ferrari F430 GT with Waltrip at the wheel was involved in an unavoidable head-on collision with the Hungarian Zengo team in their Seat Leon Supercopa. Both cars had to retire. Hungarian driver Tamas Horvath was rushed to the medical center with a broken collarbone. Waltrip escaped unharmed. All 24-hour endurance races are extreme in that they push men and machines to their limits. That makes teamwork, consistency and stamina crucial throughout any 24-hour event. One local team that had all this in good measure was LAP57 Racing in their Honda Civic Type R with drivers Omran Al Owais, Khan, Al Mehairi, Mohd Al Owais, who were proud to fly the UAE flag in their understated home-built racing car. Although not the most impressive car on the lineup, it surprised many as it limped home in the end to give the team the finish they so rightly deserved. Having started from the pit lane because of a qualifying error, and suffering several gearbox failures throughout the race, the team struggled through even posting a fastest lap time for their class in A2. Team DXB Racing, also from Dubai, campaigned their wellprepped Aston Martin GT4, (Gaillard, Simmonds, Griffin, Quaife, Barff). They had hoped to repeat their outstanding performance

The all Australian entry of Strategic Transports Seat Super Copa heads down the start finish straight during the early morning hours.

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An early morning crash had the k&K Team mechanics earning their keep right to the very end of the race. They did repair the car and get it back out to finish...

The stunning looking Brokernet Of Bovi Motorsport heads around the bowl on it’s way to 13th overall.


Team Need For Speed out once again with their 997 Supercup Porsche. The on board footage they took during the race will be used in the new Playstation game of the same name with the Dubai Autodrome featuring in the game.

The oldest but possibly the best looking car out there. The Team 930 Rush 964 Carrera attracted lots of attention before, during and after the race. Nicholas Mee Racing 2 Aston heads the Donkervoort D8 GT out of turn 16.

Team DXB Racing led class SP3 most of the race but a broken drive shaft with only 2 hours to go cost them the win and eventually finished 4th in class. Motorsports can be cruel at times.

The awesome looking Ascari of the Rhino Leipert Motorsport Team heads out of pit lane.

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of a class win last year, but thanks to driveshaft problems they could only manage fourth in the SP3 class. They finished behind another local Abu Dhabi team, AUH Motorsports 2 (Al Masaood, Kapadia, Prophet, Charles) in their unmistakable color scheme, which came first in SP3 class and 16th overall. Also impressive in its debut in the 24 Hours of Dubai was the locally based Duel Racing Team which drove its Renault Clio to second place in the Class A2 with drivers the Moutran brothers Sami, Ramzi and Nabil behind the wheel along with Bahraini Shaikh Salman bin Rashid Al Khalifa. The Saudi Arabia’s Al Faisal team are regular faces all over the Middle East region, and they tend to clean up in most race series. Their performance at the 24 Hours of Dubai was no different as they peeled their way through the grid. Having campaigned during the past two years and come in second

Warm up lap as seen from my helicopter vantage point.

The Petrona’s pit area was one of calm, controlled professionalism throughout the race.

place overall last year, the Al Faisals were confident of a repeat performance. Running two BMW cars this year, the Z4 (Al Faisal, Huertgen, Hartung, Al Faisal) and the Team 2 car BMW M3 GT4 (Al Faisal, Viebahn, Spooner, Al Mouri) came home in 17th place and second in the SP3 class. Having maintained the third place throughout the race, this year the close family team was denied the second position by another BMW Z4 of the Petronus Syntium team 1 (Taniguchi, Yanagida, Hairuman, Stuck, Yoshida). The battle for second place came down to the wire until only a few hours from the finish when Khaled Al Faisal had to retire because of a rib injury. With the end in sight and the IMSA Porsche team comfortably in the lead with a two-lap cushion the French team had enjoyed an unbeatable flag to flag victory in their 24 Hours of Dubai debut. P1


The unfortunate Ferrari AF Corse heads out of its last fuel stop before the accident which eventually caused it’s retirement.

Land Motorsports 997 GT3 Cup car would not make it to the finish due to terminal mechanical problems early in the race.

Al Faisal Racing 2 car would finish 2nd in SP3 class.

IMSA Performance Matmut team take the top step after a faultless drive from all three drivers. Team Petronas Syntium 1 finishing three laps down in second place and Al Faisal Racing 1 two laps further adrift in 3rd place.


Even in these financially difficult times the Le Mans Series has managed to attract full grids that provide top quality racing. Here we look at the prospects for the 2010 season.

Despite a world economy that’s less than rosy, the European Le Mans Series is looking strong for 2010. story by

John Brooks

John Brooks, David Lord, David Downes, Peter May & David Stephens

photos by


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Back to the future: A Gulf liveried Lola Aston Martin leads the way to the Turn One at Barcelona.

“T

he sky is falling, the sky is falling!” – or so the Cassandras in motorsport would have us believe. Without question, 2009 was a year of pain for all, as a result of the fallout from the financial crisis that engulfed the civilized world. Motorsport, which is hardly anyone’s core activity suffered more than most. Those who had come to rely on car manufacturers’ apparently limitless funds were in for a rude awakening. The excesses of manufacturer-funded budgets would slow dramatically – and come to halt in some cases. Formula One has lost Honda, BMW, Toyota and Bridgestone, with others like Renault staging a phased withdrawal. NASCAR has had the Detroit Three’s budgets decimated with more to come. The World Touring Car Championship lost their titleholders SEAT and a raft of factory BMWs. The American Le Mans Series, arguably the best racing on the planet during 2008, fell further than most with Audi, Porsche and Acura departing from the front of the field. During the Atlantic, the Le Mans Series had both Audi and Peugeot leave, but perversely numbers were up

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and most would say that the racing was better – even if it lacked that bite that only true factory competition can bring. The situation for 2010 is generally worse still within the sport with one major exception – the LMS can boast an impressive full season entry of 44 cars. Add in the Le Mans Formula cars plus the one-off entries and the grid looks North of 50 each round. How is this possible for a series where there is constant low level grumbling about the TV package and the marketing? Well, being directly linked to Les Vingt Quatre Heures du Mans surely helps. What also surely helps it is diversity of classes and opportunities – LMS presents something for everyone. Another key to success could be that the endurance format appeals to those with the wherewithal to go racing in a way that other competition does not. So what happened back in 2009? – and what have we got to look forward to in 2010? The 2009 Le Mans Series featured five races of 1,000 kms, with each race having four classes of car, strictly in line with the rules governing the Le Mans 24 Hours.


The elegant Lola B08/80 of Italian team Racing Box, a class winner in 2009.

A real Art Car, inspired by Piet Mondrian, the ORECA 01-AIM.

Attention to detail.

Inspired by scenes like this at the Le Mans 24 Hours, the 2010 LMS races at Portimao and Budapest will race in the dark.

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All the colours, all the sizes, a gaggle of prototypes.

Time flying for Antonio Garcia at a Team Modena pit stop.

So despite the disappearance of the high spending factory squads the 2009 Le Mans Series must be hailed as great success. Where are we headed for 2010? The Hankook Team Farnbacher Ferrari F430. Strakka’s Danny Watts chucks the Zytek round Nurburgring.

A shining example from the Speedy Sebah Lola.

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Czech Mate! Crazy Dutch Ace, Tom Coronel, celebrates with his Spyker team mate, Jarek Janis.


Future Perfect, the Drayson Racing Lola.

The races were at Barcelona, Spa, Portimao, Nurburgring and Silverstone, so a mix of classic and brand new venues all of some standing and status. At the sharp end or LMP1, as the acronym goes, there was a three-way battle for victory between the Gulf-sponsored Lola Aston Martins, which looked absolutely fabulous in their iconic war paint. Against them were two French outfits, Pescarolo Sport and ORECA both running their own home-built designs, both with the DNA of defunct constructor Courage lurking in the shadows. When the dust had settled, the Lola Aston took two wins – Barcelona and Nurburgring, Pescarolo and ORECA one each – Portimao and Silverstone. The fifth race win was the property of the factory diesels from Peugeot who were in a different league when they joined the Series at Spa, in a shakedown race in their attempt to win the Le Mans 24 Hours. The consistency of the Lola Aston Martin crew of Tomás Enge, Stefan Mucke and Jan Charouz gave them and Aston Martin Racing both titles, which was no more than they were due. Their weak race, Spa, was mitigated by the presence of the Peugeots. A clean sweep of the podium places at Nurburgring was a good example of the professionalism exhibited by the vastly experienced ProDrive team. The LMP2 honors went to the Portuguese Quifel ASM outfit. The combination of the blistering speed of Olivier Pla and the improved performance of team owner, Miguel Amaral mixed with a top line crew was too strong for the various Lolas of Italians Racing Box and the Anglo-French Speedy Racing Team Sebah. Amaral and Pla scored two wins in their Ginetta Zytek 09S/2 and became the benchmark for the class. There’s not much to write about in LM GT1, as there were only two cars that completed the full season. For the record, the title went to Yann Clairay and Patrice Goueslard in the Luc Alphand Adventures Corvette. A complete contrast was the LM GT2 category with a fight between the JMW Ferrari F430 GT of Robert Bell and Gianmaria Bruni and the Porsche 997 GT3 RSR driven by Marc Lieb and Richard Lietz, that competed to the last lap of the final round. The Porsche duo arrived at Silverstone in September with an almost impregnable eight-point advantage over the Ferrari. But within the first hour of the race the Porsche developed a misfire that dropped them steadily down the order till the title looked lost. The team was convinced that the engine could let go at any time. But in the final couple of hours others in the class hit problems enabling the Porsche to climb back up the leader board till they were seventh, which was enough to steal the title by one solitary point. So despite the disappearance of the high-spending factory

Still the peoples’ Champion, Our Nige signs autographs for the boisterous Silverstone crowd.

squads, the 2009 Le Mans Series must be hailed as a great success. Where are we headed for 2010? Once again, there will be five rounds – but Barcelona and Nurburgring have been dropped in favor of Paul Ricard and Budapest. The French circuit will open the proceedings with an 8-hour race in April. Then it is North to the Ardennes and Spa in May for the traditional high-speed rehearsal for Le Mans. After the classic French enduro we get a month to recover, then it is down to the Southern tip of Europe for the 1,000 kms of Portimao. In August the LMS will pay its first visit to Hungaroring with another race that will finish in the dark. The season will be concluded as normal in mid-September at Silverstone. One development was the announcement by the ACO of an Intercontinental Cup, aimed at the factory LMP1 teams. The 2010 schedule includes the Silverstone race, then the ALMS finale, Petit Le Mans, held at Road Atlanta. One more race in Asia is planned, and it is most likely to be in Shanghai – at least that’s what Peugeot let slip at their pre-season press conference. So that’s where we will race – but who will be on the grid? Starting at the top with the LMP1 class, the big news is that Audi Sport Team Joest is back with two entries – well, up to a point. They will run at Ricard, Spa (three cars) and Silverstone. This program is partly as a result of major revisions to the R15, and after last year they do not want to face Peugeot with an undercooked effort at Le Mans. The driver line-up for Le Mans, if not LMS, has been announced. The usual suspects, Allan McNish, Tom Kristensen and Dindo Capello will be in one car. There will be three new recruits Marcel Fassler, Andre Lotterer and Benoit Treluyer, meaning that Lucas Luhr, Marco Werner and Alexander Prémat are dropped from the squad. The third car will have Porsche-contracted drivers Timo Bernhard and Romain Dumas joining Mike Rockenfeller. One thing is for sure – Audi will be back to its old self in 2010. Peugeot will also bring their diesels along to Spa and to Silverstone. They, too, have a couple of changes to their driver squad. It was anticipated that Sebastian Loeb and/or Kimi Raikkonnen might join in the fun on loan from Citroenbut. Instead, Anthony Davidson has been recruited to join Marc Gené and Alexander Wurz in one car. There will be an all- French lineup in No. 2 comprising Nicolas Minassian, Franck Montagny and Stéphane Sarrazin which is the bookies’ favorite. The third car sees last year’s reserve driver Simon Pagenaud promoted at the expense of Christian Klein. He will join Sébastien Bourdais and Pedro Lamy. Peugeot has also revised its car and has tested it extensively, and will use the upcoming

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Sebring 12 Hours as a shakedown. So if you can get to either the Spa or Silverstone races – do! It will be endurance racing of the highest quality, the stuff of legends. The other good news to have come from Peugeot’s press conference is that work has commenced on building a new car for 2011. So much for the factory diesel efforts. Last year’s Champions, Aston Martin Racing will not be back, but will be at Paul Ricard with perhaps more to follow post Le Mans. However, there will be a Lola Aston Martin present all season as Signature Racing acquired one of last year’s factory cars. ORECA has been chosen by Peugeot to run the privateer 908 and will also race its own home-built prototype the ORECA 01 AIM, this season on Dunlop tyres. It is not clear what the Pescarolo Sport team will do this year, but it is not a good sign that long-time leader, Jean-Christophe Boullion has jumped ship to the renamed Rebellion Racing outfit. He will join Andrea Belicchi and Guy Smith (Ricard & Le Mans only) to form a very strong combination. The ORECA team will also have a second car with another top line-up featuring Neel Jani and Nicolas Prost, who will be supported by Marco Andretti. More famous names at Beechdean Mansell, where the 1992 Formula One Champion will race with his sons, Leo and Greg, in a Ginetta Zytek 09S. Rounding out the LMP1 field will be two Audi R10s for Kolles and another Lola coupé for Noel del Bello. There may be occasional visits from the likes of Drayson Motorsport. And how could we have an LMS season without Gianni Lavaggi trying to get his prototype to work? There have been changes to the LMP2, most notably the requirement for each car to have a fully participating “gentleman” driver on board. This is in line with the ACO’s desire to keep the junior prototype class away from fully professional drivers and teams – no repeat of the Porsche Spyder episode. Champions and favorites to win again will be the Quifel ASM-run Ginetta Zytek 09S for Miguel Amaral and Olivier Pla. The opposition will be stronger this year, particularly those teams that suffered engine problems in 2009 and have made a switch. RML have taken on Honda (Acura) power for their Lola that has worked so well in the American Le Mans Series, while Oak Racing have taken their Mazda badges and money to Judd for their pair of Pescarolos. Judd will also propel the Lolas of Racing Box, KSM, RLR Motorsport and Ibanez Racing. The Ginetta Zytek of Karim Ojjeh will now be run by Team

Right out of the box, the Lola Aston Matin looked fast.....................

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Bruichladdich – their Radical Judd now in the hands of Race Performance. The final contender for the LMP2 titles will be the Strakka Racing HPD ARX 01, better known as the Acura that ran in the ALMS, and with Jonny Kane joining regulars Nick Leventis and Danny Watts, they will be at or near the top of the time sheets for sure. So much for the prototypes. The LMGT2 field will rival the LMP1 class for the intensity of the fight to take top spot. There has been an appreciable increase in the quality of the already high standard of the class. The rules on “gentlemen” drivers in the FIA GT2 Championship and sprint format of the new championship have driven such top Ferrari outfits, such as AF Corse and CRS Racing to bring their F430s to join Modena Group Racing, Hankook Team Farnbacher and JMB Racing as representatives of the iconic Italian brand. Traditional opponent Porsche will have two factorysupported 997 GT3 RSR cars on the grid for IMSA Performance Matmut, and Team Felbermayr Proton will be as tough to beat as ever. New to the GT2 scene in Europe will be BMW Team Schnitzer, veterans of Touring Car and Endurance campaigns and multiple champions. They are bound to be near the front with at least one M3 for Dirk Werner and Jörg Muller for the season. Factor in a revised Aston Martin V8 Vantage for JMW Motorsport with factory support and Dunlop development tyres, plus the Spyker C8 and it is clear that LM GT2 is very healthy. The same cannot be said about the LM GT1 group. Despite a new FIA GT1 World Championship attracting the requisite 24 full season entries, the LMS has only managed two season entries and those both rather long-in-the-tooth Saleens. The prospect of a few others joining in at either Paul Ricard or Spa in preparation for Le Mans does nothing to increase the appeal of the class, so Monsieur (Note to ACO,) – Please get rid of this class sooner than later! Another change for 2010 will be the addition of the Formula Le Mans class, which will bring another six or so identical Corvette-powered, ORECA-built, open-top prototypes into each race. How this extra set of presumable slow-ish cars and novice drivers will work in practice with the various class battles and different performance levels remains to be seen. So there it is! Five races, 50-plus competitors, factories, stars and cars. The 2010 Le Mans Series is here – and I can’t wait! P1


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issue 1

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Andy Booth and the Big Ben Racing V8 head through the turns at Teretonga on the BNT V8s southern swing.


Too Much of a Good Thing? We are blessed with an abundance of auto racing forms in New Zealand. But at times that blessing is a curse. story by

Craig Lord

photos by

ned dawson


I

t’s true, New Zealand is rich when it comes to motorsport. In some cases the money flows like water – but this is not the rich I am speaking about. We are rich in that we have an abundance of motorsport in our country. And yet this seems to be a problem: We have too many, and the numbers are still growing. From a quick count on just the tarmac circuit alone, we have more than 20 classes—and those are just the predominant mainstream classes that don’t include the different groups within those particular classes - or the specialist types of vehicles, such as historics. So what’s the issue with being so rich? Politics. Because of the richness we have on our doorstep, the politics in our beloved sport have reached the point where fans are losing interest. And from that comment I hear yet another question come from the stands… How could I be so bold as to say such a thing? Well, it comes from my time at race events where I have had the privilege of speaking directly with fans. That’s something those in charge should try. One thing clearly stands out from the many discussions I’ve had in the trenches. There are classes on our circuits in which fans have zero interest. That shows in the amount of empty seats at the events. Plus, there are apparently more new classes being created, and while that has its own merits it also creates some pitfalls, such as the declining participant numbers in the “headliner” classes.

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If we quickly look at what would be considered the two main racing structures in New Zealand, for example, we have the NZ Race Championships (otherwise known as Tier 1) and The IRC Series (a new series created from the depths of Tier 2). Both of these tiers have classes that interest the fans. Yet as tough as it sounds, both events also have classes that produce a lack of interest from those who are there to be entertained. Tier 1 includes:

• V8 Touring Cars • Toyota Racing Series • Porsche GT3 • Suzuki Swift • Mini Challenge • Production Racing • Formula Ford

And the Tier 2 IRC series has the following on show: • GTRNZ • SS2000 • Formula First • Super 6 & HQ • Pro7 • Mini • Sports Suzuki • Porsche • Pre65


The BNT V8s are always a crowd pleaser whether at Pukekohe or Teretonga.

Close racing is standard in the Formula Fords.

Caine Lobb and Mark Cromie’s V8 Ute.

Paul Kelly gets airborne in his GT3 Cup Porsche. Alastair Wootten is one of the few privately funded teams in the Toyota Racing Series.

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Jonny Reid & Matt Halliday racing in the Porsche GT3 series.

Some sections of motorsport are clearly business orientated, while others are simply an enjoyable pastime. Could the two have become a little mixed up? The TRS series is essential to the development of our future talent.

The awesome GT series cars are always a crowd pleaser.

The Suzuki Swifts provide younger drivers with “tin top� experience.

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Corvettes, Jaguars and highly modified Holdens are just some of the GT cars you see at a Tier 2 event.

The HQ series always has a full field of entries.

There also are other events happening. One example is the classic series, which has a huge field of BMWs. But they are chiefly there for the entertainment of the drivers, so for now I’ll pull them out of the discussion. All racers want a chance to get out on the track to show their wares, and all racers have their own opinions of what is a good class and what isn’t. So how do we successfully improve crowd numbers and interest in what is apparently one of New Zealand’s most loved pastimes? The IRC Series has apparently found the answer – put classes on the track that the fans want. This of course raises the big issue of what classes are wanted and what to do with those that apparently aren’t. These are questions for which I have no definitive answer. But these questions are where the political nightmare is likely to unfold. At the recently held Festival of Motorsport where the F5000s were in full voice, a group of fans presented a comment to me that was quite interesting – “Why aren’t these beasts racing with the V8 Tourers? We’re not interested in the Suzukis or Minis.” It certainly raised my eyebrows, and left them to continue, “Imagine if the V8 Tourers, V8 Utes, F5000s, GTRNZ, Muscle Cars and Pre65s were all on the same weekend – the tracks would have to shut the gates!” Indeed they could be right, but what do they know? They’re just ticket-buying fans. As they continued with their rant of growing proportions it raised a question, “Why does a particular class exist in the first place?” There is, however, an exclusion to the question, because the open- wheelers are in a section of their own. If we look at the Formula First series, it benefits our up-and-coming race stars. That particular stepping stone from Karting has produced many great names over the years. To keep our best young drivers going up the grades, it would then make sense to have the likes of the Formula Ford and Toyota Series.

But it certainly became clear that the fans who recently cornered me had a passion, and that the organizers of events in our fine nation are seemingly unaware of what the grass-root fan with oil for blood really wants on a weekend of motorsport. I had to shrug my shoulders and simply say that I didn’t have any idea as to why certain classes existed and why particular ones were not racing at the same time – but there can be no doubt that it started me thinking! “Is it a case of empire-building or simply business?” Some sections of motorsport are clearly business orientated, while others are simply an enjoyable pastime. Could the two have become a little mixed up? Crowd numbers for the annual trek of Australian V8 Supercars to our shores are always at a maximum, but let’s be real here. The crowds attend to see the superstars of the Aussie V8 scene and overall seem to have little interest in any of the support classes. While this may change when the Kiwi and Aussie Utes do battle at the Hamilton 400, overall there are issues. This was certainly evident when the supercars were at Pukekohe and the NZ Tourers were last on the schedule – you could see the crowd numbers dropping dramatically – one could only imagine what would happen if the support classes were scheduled last. If it seems I am picking on the Tier 1 group it is simply because that was the conversation brought forward to me by people at the track, yet it was a conversation with merit and should now be openly debated. And it certainly pushes forward some big, ugly questions. If there was to be culling and movement of classes within events, who should stay? Who should go? And who has the say? Do you have an opinion on what classes should be together? Have your say on our website poll www.p1forums.net P1

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With three wins in the past five years, Chip Ganassi Racing has been one of the strongest teams at the Rolex 24.


Top drivers from all forms of motor sport converge at Daytona International Speedway every January for the famed Rolex 24.

What’s more coveted than a win at the grueling Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway? Not much, actually. story & photos by

John Dagys

This year’s winning Action Express Racing Riley-Porsche didn’t have the star power of some of the more well-known teams.

The No. 99 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Riley-Chevrolet suffered early setbacks with a practice crash by Jimmie Johnson.


Every year, the star drivers gather in Daytona’s victory lane for a special pre-race photo opportunity.

A

sk any driver which races he or she would want to win and the answers are usually the same. If you’re a NASCAR driver, it’s the Daytona 500. If you’re an open-wheel ace, it’s either the Indianapolis 500 or the Monaco Grand Prix. And if you’re an endurance racer, it’s the 24 Hours of Le Mans. But there’s one race that drivers from all walks of motor-sports would like to one day add to their CV. That’s because the “best of the best” assemble each year at Daytona International Speedway for the famed Rolex 24. This twice-around-the-clock, road-racing classic has gained the reputation of being one of the toughest endurance races in the world and also the perennial start of the international racing season. The Rolex 24 not only kicks off the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series season, but also attracts some of world’s finest racers. With close to 200 drivers representing 20 countries, the level and diversity of driver talent is unsurpassed. That is why it’s no surprise the entry list often reads as a “who’s who” of the motor-sports world. Where else could

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IndyCar champions Scott Dixon and Dario Franchitti compete head-to-head with four-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson and road racing legend Hurley Haywood, not to mention accomplished sports car stars such as Scott Pruett, Max Angelelli and second-generation racers David Donohue and Alex Gurney? “The Rolex 24 is an event that’s been around for ages,” Johnson says. “There’s a lot of prestige that goes with it. You can lump it in with the 24 hours at Le Mans, Daytona 500, the Monaco Grand Prix and Indy 500. I think it’s in the top five of all racing worldwide.” What started life as the Daytona Continental in 1962 quickly transformed into a full 24-hour marathon, similar to the French classic in Le Mans. The 3.56-mile, 12-turn layout, utilizing a combination of the Speedway’s infield road course and the historic Daytona high banks, has remained relatively unchanged throughout the race’s 48-year history. While the cars have evolved and sanctioning bodies have changed over the

years, the Rolex 24 is still considered one of the premier sports car races. And in recent years, the star power has made it even more prestigious. “I think on a fun basis, this race is right at the top because it’s not just about one driver - you can spread the load across your co-drivers,” says Dixon, a two-time IndyCar champion and the 2008 Indianapolis 500 winner. “It’s almost a social event, too. You get to see a lot of drivers you haven’t seen for a while, and catch up and see how their off-season has been. But more importantly it’s a lot of time in the car – and to be frank, the amount of time you’re in a car in most races these days is very little. I love driving, so being in the car is the best part.” Dixon’s Target Chip Ganassi Racing teammate and defending series champion Franchitti agree with the “fun” aspect of the race, but he also uses the Rolex 24 to help get him into the competitive mindset again after the usually long off-season. “It’s also a nice warm-up for the team because a lot of our IndyCar guys


Open-wheel turned NASCAR star AJ Allmendinger co-drives the No. 6 Michael Shank Racing Riley-Ford.

Two classes of cars – Daytona Prototypes and Grand Touring (pictured) – compete on the track at the same time.

come down here and help out on the Target team,” Franchitti says. “But it’s so different from an IndyCar race. It’s a warm-up, but also about having fun and trying to win the Rolex watch!” Indeed, it’s not the trophy but the Rolex watch that each winning driver receives, that keeps accomplished IndyCar stars like Dixon and Franchitti coming back year after year. While both have won it before, NASCAR superstar Johnson has been snake-bitten in his five attempts thus far. Johnson has been one of the many NASCAR stars to try his hand in sports car racing, even if it’s just for one or two races each year. His latest start came at the wheel of the No. 99 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Riley-Chevrolet in this year’s race. The car, a purpose-built machine of tube-framed design, competes in the premier Daytona Prototype category, one of two classes of competition in the Rolex Series. Producing more than 500 hp, the mid-engined prototype is a stark contrast to an 800 hp, front-engined stock-car. Yet Johnson enjoys the challenge.

“It’s such a great event and so much fun,” Johnson says. “It’s such a challenge for me to learn the car, the braking zones, turning points and everything that goes with it. To have a competitive run, racing with the top guys in sports car racing from around the world says a lot for me, and also means a lot for me to leave my comfort zone and do something different.” Other drivers, such as openwheel-star turned NASCAR-star A.J. Allmendinger agree. The 2003 Atlantic Series champion and former Champ Car Rookie of the Year says the biggest adjustment from jumping between 1,000 kg Daytona Prototype and a 1,500 kg stock-car is the two cars’ distinctly different braking abilities. “There are not a lot of similarities,” Allmendinger says of a Cup car to a Daytona Prototype. “The Cup car is kind of its own beast when it comes to running on a road course. They’re big and heavy, and they have a lot of roll in the chassis. Braking-wise, because the cars are so heavy and have so much horsepower, the brake zones are a lot longer. And with the H-pattern [gearbox] on a Cup car, it’s

quite different from a Daytona Prototype. A prototype sequential gearbox is a lot more nimble and quick. “In their own ways, both cars are really tough to run. It’s tough to be spot-on every lap in a Cup car - because it’s really easy to lock up brakes and downshift the car and get the rear to chatter and lock up. In a Daytona Prototype, because they’re so quick your reaction time has to be just as fast – because the speeds, especially around the oval going into the bus-stop [chicane] are so quick.” Allmendinger, who made the transition to Sprint Cup in 2007 with Red Bull Racing, has been considered one of the quickest drivers at the wheel of a Daytona Prototype. Having driven for Michael Shank Racing for the past five years, Allmendinger has also maintained a certain level of continuity, even if he’s competing in just one of the dozen Rolex Series events held each year. For Jamie McMurray, this year’s Rolex 24 marked the Ganassi driver’s first sports car start since 2005. The veteran stock-car driver, who has scored

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There’s one race that drivers from all walks of motor-sports would like to one day add to their CV. That’s because the “best of the best” assemble each year at Daytona International Speedway for the famed Rolex 24. two top-five finishes in Cup road races, didn’t have any difficulty in getting back up to speed at the wheel of a Daytona Prototype, but noted the challenges in adapting to some of the finer details of GRAND-AM racing. “There are a lot of things you take for granted when you watch these races,” says McMurray, the 2010 Daytona 500 winner. “We don’t have a pit road speed [limiter] button [in a Cup car], and small things like that take quite an adjustment to get used to. Getting on and off pit road is such an adjustment, too. For a NASCAR driver here, when you do a green flag pit stop, as soon as a car comes off Turn 4, you start slowing down because you can’t get stopped. With this car, you literally drive 100 feet until pit road, even though you’re going the same speed, and the car stops [a lot faster]. “Obviously the driver changes and loosening of the seat belts for the next guy to get in is another change for us,” he continues. “It’s so much different from what you’re accustomed to. Driving the car is not that big a deal, but it’s everything else that comes with it.” Another aspect that stock-car and IndyCar drivers must adapt to is night driving, but recent technological improvements have made it a non-issue. The installation of lights around the 2.5mile oval now provides plenty of visibility during the wee hours, a stark contrast to places like Le Mans or even Sebring. The added visibility at night plus the improved reliability of cars from the Daytona Prototype era, have caused a 96

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sharp increase in the race’s overall pace. For years, teams and drivers approached the endurance race as simply that – a marathon. In what used to be a survival to the finish line for some, has now turned into one of the most competitive races in the world. Last year’s down-to-the-wire duel between the Brumos Racing RileyPorsche of David Donohue and Juan Pablo Montoya’s Ganassi Racing RileyLexus served as the perfect reminder of how close GRAND-AM racing can really be. After 24 hours of racing, the winning margin was a mere 0.167 seconds. “You’d be amazed by how fast the pace is,” Montoya says. “Every time we’re in the car, they keep telling us we need more [speed], we need more, we need more. To a certain point, the faster you can run, the better. The least amount of cars you have at the end of the race to fight for the win, the better you have the chance of winning.” But on-the-limit driving can have its downsides. NASCAR champion Johnson crashed his Riley-Chevrolet in practice, which put the GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing crew in a race around the clock in rebuilding the car in time for the start. Even sports-car veterans can get caught out sometimes, and it may not even be your fault, as Montoya explains. “Something that [team owner Chip Ganassi] always tells us, if you crash, it’s your fault,” Montoya says. “If someone crashes you, it’s your fault. If somebody pushes you in the grass, it’s your fault. So if you think about it that way. You

always have to expect people to do stupid things. If you always expect the worse, you’ll be OK.” While Montoya has earned a reputation for being one of the more aggressive drivers of the sport, the Columbian does have two 24-hour wins to his credit. Ganassi teammate Dixon took top honors in 2006 and has been a part of the race for the last seven years, which has made him one of Rolex 24 veteran “ringers.” “You have to constantly remember that you have to keep the pace going, as the pace of the race has changed so much over the years,” Dixon says. “Now it’s almost a 24-hour sprint. It’s changed so much, with technology and the reliability is even better. Before, you would have to conserve the car to the end of the race. But now the cars are built so well that you can really push them.” The pace of this year’s Rolex 24 was no different as the winning Daytona Prototype team completed 4,326 kms, crushing the previous modern-era distance record by more than 115 kms in a race that started in wet conditions. And to many people’s surprise, the winning Action Express Racing RileyPorsche wasn’t wheeled by the star power of IndyCar or NASCAR champions, but instead by four proven sports-car regulars. The multinational lineup of Portugal’s Joao Barbosa, America’s Terry Borcheller, Germany’s Mike Rockenfeller and Scotland’s Ryan Dalziel outlasted and outshone the competition, proving once again that experience, and not just skill, can win races. But that won’t deter the champions from coming back to Daytona next year, – not only to kick-start their 2011 season, but also with the intention of walking away a Rolex 24 winner. P1


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P1 Issue 1