Welcome to ‘In the Rear View,’ a new column by the Slipstream Network team, glancing back at the past week in Motorsport news. We’ll take a look at the biggest stories in your favorite racing series.
The long rumored return to Gateway Motorsports Park just outside St. Louis looks set to end its status as rumor. In a piece on RACER.com, Mark Miles confirmed the Verizon IndyCar Series is nearing completion of its 2017 calendar which will likely include a return to the 1.25-mile oblong oval. Miles also indicated he hopes to release the 2018 calendar with the 2017 release or shortly thereafter. Returns to Portland International Raceway, Surfer’s Paradise, and a new street circuit in Omaha, NE also circulate as possible additions to the Verizon IndyCar Series future schedule.
Enerson, Daly Impress
The Dale Coyne Racing duo of RC Enerson and Conor Daly made an impact at Mid-Ohio. Enerson’s debut banked solid performances and glimpses of brilliance alongside IndyCar legends like Scott Dixon. Enerson’s results inadequately convey his performance with inopportune yellows and problems in the pits relegated him to 21st after seeing the top 10. Similarly, Conor Daly held the lead for a time in the closing laps of the Honda Indy 200 thanks to fuel strategy. The young American needed a yellow to make it to the end which, unfortunately, never came. Daly ended the day sixth after stopping for a splash ‘n’ go.
Lost Helmets Found
A group of Verizon IndyCar Series drivers brought home unexpected souvenirs from the Honda Indy 200. Ed Carpenter, Helio Castroneves, Ryan Hunter-Reay, and Sarah Fisher were all reunited with helmets thought lost since stolen from a series transporter in 2008. Castroneves took the opportunity to present the helmet to a colleague from his rookie year, whom he had promised a lid to. On the other hand, Fisher’s helmet held significant sentimental value as it were signed by numerous fans prior to its theft. Fisher indicated she will display it in her trophy case at her indoor karting track in Speedway, IN.
Uncharacteristic Mistakes of IndyCar’s Most Tenured
Helio Castroneves and Sebastien Bourdais both accepted blame for separate incidents suffered in Sunday’s Honda Indy 200. Both drivers made atypical mistakes that effectively ended their own races and those they collided with. Castroneves drove up the inside of Scott Dixon entering the keyhole on lap 16, hitting the curbing and striking Dixon. The collision caused Dixon’s car to essentially hop and snap his left front suspension and caused light damage to Castroneves. The damage was enough to send Castroneves floating backwards through the field with handling issues. Similarly, Bourdais tried to overtake Takuma Sato in the closing laps but misjudged the braking distance. Bourdais pushed Sato into the gravel trap but Sato continued. Bourdais, meanwhile, beached himself; ending his own race.
NSX GT3 Sees Testing Daylight
Acura’s new GT3 race car, the NSX GT3, has finally broken cover as the first public test laps were turned this past weekend at Mid-Ohio alongside Pirelli World Challenge practice. Peter Kox, after leaving Belgian Audi Club Team WRT, was the first to spend time in the car in front of a crowd while RealTime Acura boss, Peter Cunningham, relinquished his Acura TLX seat to Spencer Pumpelly. The new machinery has already gained an excited welcome from fans, drivers, and team owners alike. Though no plans have been publicly revealed, it’s expected that full season efforts will be run by RealTime Acura Racing and Michael Shank Racing in Pirelli World Challenge and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, respectively, after the car undergoes FIA homologation testing in September.
Large Changes to PWC Classes and 2017 Schedule
The SRO may have jumped the gun at the annual SRO press conference when Stephane Ratel shared a slide showing the provisional schedule for next year’s Pirelli World Challenge Championships. Shortly after the reveal, WC Vision, released their official provisional schedule with a variety of announcements poised in the coming weeks. More emphasis on the pro-am pairings in Sprint X will be featured in the 11-weekend calendar. The top tier GT class will meet all 11 times next year, with the Sprint X class, along with the touring car classes hitting the track on standalone weekends. The championship will join the Verizon IndyCar Series for a season opener at St. Petersburg as the Circuit of the Americas weekend is moved to Labor Day weekend. Virginia International Raceway makes a surprise return for a standalone event before the series finale at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
Formula V8 3.5 to Support FIA WEC in 2017
FIA World Endurance Championship CEO, Gerard Neveu, and RPM Racing President, Jaime Alguersuari have just announced a new partnership for 2017 as the ladder series responsible for up to 25 Formula 1 drivers, Formula V8 3.5 will join the FIA WEC in Mexico, Japan, Bahrain, Silverstone, Spa, and Nurburgring. The announcement hopes to help develop young drivers to advance to the ranks of LMP1, LMP2, and GTE among other series. Drivers who finish first, second, and third in the Formula V8 Championship will have the chance to take part in the WEC Rookie Test in Bahrain, a historic opportunity that spans multiple racing disciplines.
2017 Blancpain GT Schedule Released
Aside from pre-releasing the ‘17 World Challenge schedule, the annual SRO press conference before the 24 Hours of Spa announced the 2017 calendar for the Blancpain GT Series. The 10-weekend calendar has some changes from 2016, but will seem largely similar in an attempt to keep conformity. Zandvoort returns as a Sprint race while the Nurburgring Endurance event is forgone for a finale at Barcelona. Paul Ricard will host another 1000km in June, just before the Total 24 Hours of Spa in July. An August event is yet to be cemented, but Red Bull Ring and Hungaroring are the two leading options for the slot. The calendar features some fresh changes while remaining steady for GT teams to prepare for five rounds of Sprint and Endurance racing.
Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR Upgrade Announced
The 2016 Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport is finally going to be able to be upgraded to just that – GT4 spec! Manthey-Racing announced at Spa-Francorchamps an upgrade kit to update the Porsche Cayman Clubsports GT4 to full SRO compliant GT4 specifications. The kit includes a variety of upgrades such as carbon fiber body pieces, polycarbonate windscreen, lightweight battery, and more advanced suspension tuning. With the changing tides of GT racing in North America, the upgraded car will be fully eligible for the Pirelli World Challenge GTS class, IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge GS class, as well as GT4 class series worldwide.
Featured Image: Chris Jones, Porsche, Honda