CSRG 2016 David Love Memorial Vintage Races

CSRG events are always great fun, because they lack some of the intense scrutiny and crowd action that you see in Monterey later in the year. CSRG cars are raced hard (but fairly), and I enjoy listening to the owners talk about the long journey many of these cars have made from factory birth to vintage racer. The David Love Memorial Vintage Races at Race Sonoma honor the late vintage racer who was a passionate Ferrari enthusiast.

Below: 1966 Alfa Romeo GTA (Auto Delta); SCCA Formula A/B lineup; 1967 Alfa raced by Nanni Galli; Morgan Plus 4; 1958 Devin SS; Ferrari Lusso; 1967 Porsche 911 TR; 1981 March 821 F1 car; 1962 Lola Mk.5; and, 1962 Lotus 22 FJ.

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Porsche at Le Mans – Then and Now

Porsche911RSRGT Porsche’s return to prototype racing at Le Mans did not go as planned: after showing strong pace, Mark Webber retired his 919 hybrid late on Sunday, and the second Porsche wasn’t classified. Both cars experienced teething problems throughout the race, and Audi capitalized to earn its 12th victory at the Circuit de la Sarthe. Toyota finished second in the P1 category; a sister Audi finished third.

Over the years, Porsche and Le Mans have been synonymous, so Porsche’s return to prototype competition was seen as a return to the good old days. In many ways, Porsche never left.  The 911 GT3 RSR has been a popular GT choice for the last 15 years, certainly since Porsche abandoned its LMP2 program (the Spyder, below).

While many view Ferrari as the epitome of a racing team that sells road cars, Porsche’s DNA is no different.  From the 718 RSK to the 908, 910, 911, 935, 936, 956 and the 962 – and now the 919 – Porsche has left an indelible imprint on Le Mans. Although Audi has dominated at Le Mans for the last 15 years, Porsche’s tradition goes back farther, and it’s won with a wider variety of machinery.

Take a look at a few of my favorites, mostly photographed at the Sonoma Historics this year (except where noted).

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The Porsche 718 RSK was capable of two configurations: as a single seater (with bodywork removed), and as a sports car.  The 1958 version (photographed at the 2011 Sonoma Historics) won its class at Le Mans. DSC_0277 The 910 was derived from the 906, and raced at Le Mans in 1966 and 1967, before the 917. DSC_0560 The 917 was recently featured in our post “Sonoma Standout“.  In 1970, the Shell-liveried 917 gave Porsche its first outright win. The red 917 below was brought by Porsche to the Monterey Historics in 2009. Porsche917gSON14 2009-10-002 The 908/3 (bel0w) was an open-top prototype, a lightweight spyder that raced at Le Mans in 1972. 908-3 The 911 populated the grid from 1966 forward, and proved to be a customer-friendly racing workhouse right up to today (photographed at the 2013 Classic Sports Racing Group season opener). DSC_0585 Porsche 935 was a 911 under the skin, heavily modified by the tuners at Kremer. It took outright honors in 1979. Porsche935K Porsche935 From 1979 to 1986, Porsche utterly dominated at Le Mans with the 935, 936, 956 and 962, winning the race every year from 1979 to 1986 with the exception of 1980 (lo-res original from the 2009 Historics). photo The 2005 LMP2 Spyder was an outright winner and faster than an LMP1 on some days.  Only time will tell whether the new 919 hybrid will return Porsche to its place among Le Mans winners. ??????????????????????????????? The new Porsche 919 (photo via Porsche), a hybrid (but not its first!).  Porsche briefly tested a 911 hybrid in 2011.101

Postcard from Monterey: TUDOR Championship at Mazda Raceway (Pt. 1 – GT)

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The Monterey debut of the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship lived up to the tradition of close GT racing and Corvette dominance at Mazda Raceway. For Corvette, the GTLM win was its second of the season and its third victory in as many years at Laguna Seca.

Corvette’s driver pairing of Antonio Garcia and Jan Magnussen won at Monterey for the second consecutive year, just weeks after delivering Corvette its first TUDOR win in Long Beach. In GTD – which raced separately due to pit lane space constraints – Dane Cameron and Markus Palttala of Turner Motorsport took top honors in their BMW Z4GTE.

The race-long battle in GTLM between BMW and Porsche was a textbook example of hard racing, but it ended with a penalty against Nick Tandy and Porsche.  IMSA has seen three races end with penalties, all of which have caused controversy.  This remains an area of concern for the series, although both Tandy and Edwards are smart drivers who should be allowed to race each other. But with caution-free racing, pristine weather, and a sprint-to-the finish race format, both GT classes delivered the goods at Mazda Raceway.

And for Magnussen and Garcia, who seem to have claimed ownership of the Monterey Peninsula, the California sun shone a little more brightly.

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Magnussen (above) started in the lead Corvette, but Garcia set a lap record in qualifying.

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Krohn Racing returned from the World Endurance Championship to race as the lone privateer in GTLM.  The F458 looks fantastic in Krohn’s traditional green livery.

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Bill Auberlen and Andy Priaulx scored a podium for BMW, after tussling in the late laps with a factory Porsche driven by Nick Tandy. A post-race penalty against Porsche demoted Tandy’s car to ninth and elevated Giancarlo Fisichella’s Risi Competitzione Ferrari to third place.  The question that wasn’t answered is how much of BMW’s pace comes down to pure performance, and how much is down to performance breaks from IMSA.

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Dodge re-branded its SRT division just as the Viper arrived in Monterey, so this car may look slightly different at the next race.  The TUDOR-spec version features an 8.0 litre V-10 under the hood, putting out somewhere near 490 hp. Mated to a set of paddle shifters, the Viper can reach speeds of up to 185 mph. With its booming exhaust and aggressive styling, the Viper has always been a crowd favorite.

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The 458 Italia is a stunner.  The GTD version, shown below, was prepared by Scuderia Corsa.  The 64 car (below) finished 10th at Mazda Raceway, with its sister car finishing in seventh.

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The Porsche factory effort was cursed at Mazda Raceway; the lead 911 of Nick Tandy was penalized for contact with the BMW of John Edwards, and the 912 survived a few incidents to finish ninth (eighth after Tandy’s penalty).

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Porsche misfortune turned into a bonus for Risi Ferrari, which finished third after the penalty.

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Andy Lally’s Magnus Racing Porsche looked slightly worse for wear after a podium in Race One.

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Crowds continue to pack the grid walk.

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Monterey GP – TUDOR United Sports Car Championship debuts at Mazda Raceway

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The TUDOR United SportsCar Championship made its formal debut this weekend at Mazda Raceway, the first race in Monterey since the ALMS and Grand-Am fields were formally joined.  ESM Racing made it another first, becoming the series’ first LMP2 race winner, and reassuring (at least momentarily) those who questioned IMSA’s ability to balance Daytona Prototypes and ACO-based LMP2s.

More pictures to follow, but the photo above is the end result of an incident between the Porsche 911 of Nick Tandy and the BMW Z4GTE of RLL Racing’s Bill Auberlen.  Auberlen and Tandy made contact coming out of turn 11 and again on the last lap, leading IMSA to assess a penalty on Tandy’s car and demoting it to ninth place in GTLM.  Was the contact worth a penalty, or was it a case of hard racing in the waning laps of a race?