INTERVIEW

ANGELO STICCHI DAMIANI: MONZA IS IMPORTANT TO F1!

With engines off for the summer break, www.Minardi.it has had the pleasure of meeting President of ACI Angelo Sticchi Damiani to comment along with him this first months of Aci Team Italia, and, of course, the future of the Italian GP at Monza.

This year you launched the Aci Team Italia Rally and Speed. On the front of speed we have Ghiotto and Marciello engaged respectively in GP3 and GP2 with Trident team. Can we make a first assessment?
The gained results clearly suggest that we are on the high road and we can say we achieved two important victory from now on. The first is against skepticism which has affected this project from the start. Always the same people. In particular some on line magazines passed from an initial irony to a general no-comment. Even so, I don’t expect any support from them. The majority of media and “authorized personnel” have soon understood that it was about the first steps of a serious project that will gain great results in the very near future. We achieved the second victory on the field making sure that the two guys at Trident could have a financial and communication support. So they could face as best as they can the season and gain good, sometimes excellent, results.

Talking of young, Marciello and Fuoco took part in the F1 tests driving a Ferrari. Luca Ghiotto instead, leading GP3 general standings, was called by Red Bull to test their F1 simulator. A good result for the Federal School. How do you judge the program?
For the Federal School and Aci (the Italian federation sport automotive, as we must remember) the achieved results are just the starting point which deeply empowers us for the future and engages us to keep on giving our best efforts to lead one or more Italian drivers to F1 as soon as possible.

Italian motor sport is having a good time. Other Italian drivers engaged in most important International Championship are also getting substantial results both on single-seated front and GT.
This is the outcome of Aci’s strategy conducted through formative stages and FDA.What does we miss to reach F1 and what will be the next steps to assist this guys in the best way?
I don’t want to sound too optimistic , but from my point of view, we don’t miss anything and we are ready to get the goal that we have set ourselves. What are the next steps? Keep hard working with minor categories to find new talents and to enhance supports, including economical ones, towards the most deserving drivers.

You have been the first to embrace the project of F4 that was deeply wanted by FIA.This year we reached the second chapter of Italian F4 Championship powered by Abarth. What do you think about these Championship and project?
Yes, we first understood the importance of this project, and we first started. So we pointed out to others the way, even for technical choices. The Championship is having a good moment and its fame crosses national borders, as is shown by the participation of several foreign drivers. Again, we need to go on because it is through this formula that we’ll gain our future champions.

In 2016 we’ll celebrate the centenary of Targa Florio, but the contract between F1 and Monza will expire. What can you say about Italian GP?
I can say that our main goal is the confirmation of Italian GP at Monza. We are working in every directions attempting to make every protagonist understand not just the value of the GP itself due to its history and technical past, but also the great future benefits that all this can hand over F1. Unfortunately the recent cancellation of historical races taught us to look ahead to make everybody understand how having a GP in Monza could benefit us also from an economical point of view. F1 is having a bad moment on the front of audience and show.

What is your recipe to raise again the show and re-attract the audience?
Unfortunately we are accustomed to sectorial analysis that cause us to loose the overall view and also the right way to face the problems. It is the whole race world, save some sporadic exceptions, that is facing this crossing point to new way of making and enjoying this show. There aren’t any easy recipes. Sure, we need not to make errors like cancel Monza GP where love and passion towards F1 are assured to approach new region economically more favorable.

Downfall started with the introduction of these Power-Unit, also because “the little noise”. F1 is the right stage for this technology or it would be better to use the FIA WEC? Turbo and Hybrid will be the future for standards cars?
I don’t believe that the downfall started with the introduction of Power-Unit and surely F1 is the right theater for every new technology. Hybrid, in my point of view, is an essential step even in the present of standards cars. In the last months, security return on spotlight, a living argument even on our roads.

As ACI, what kind of campaign are you conducting? And what can we do to teach young to enjoy in moderation?
The battle for road security is a strong point for Automobile Club Italia’s action. Initiatives like Sara Safe Factor, for example, lead ten thousands girls and boys just licensed, to talk about road safety with drivers and auto sport men. But we can also think to Kart in Piazza where we start to talk about road safety to children letting them play with little karts on safe routes. Our activity is determined also in politics. There are our ideas and projects behind new initiatives. Unluckily we have still to realize that with 3000 deaths per year and hundred thousands injured we are facing a real war. Everybody should probably become aware of that.

 

WORLD RX

JEANNEY WINS WORLD RX OF CANADA FOR TEAM PEUGEOT-HANSEN

Frenchman Davy Jeanney has won the World RX of Canada, round seven of the FIA World Rallycross Championship presented by Monster Energy, after a lights-to-flag victory at the wheel of a Team Peugeot-Hansen prepared 208 WRX Supercar. Marklund Motorsport team-mates Topi Heikkinen and Tanner Foust finished second and third respectively in a pair of Volkswagen Polo RX Supercars.

In a twist of fate, Championship leader Petter Solberg failed to qualify for the final for the first time since rallycross became an FIA World Championship at the start of 2014. The SDRX driver continues to lead the Drivers’ Championship by 46 points after collecting 14 points in the Intermediate Classification stage.  Meanwhile Jeanney’s win for Team Peugeot-Hansen sees the Swedish-based squad move just two points shy of Ford Olsbergs MSE who lead the Teams’ Championship.

“After my victory in Buxtehude [Germany], I told myself that I had to do it again – I just didn’t expect it to happen so quickly,” grinned Jeanney, who is also awarded the coveted Monster Energy Super Charge Award for his rapid start off the line. “Even though I won, it was a really difficult weekend for me: I couldn’t find a good rhythm during the heats and I wasn’t happy with my starts of the line.  For the semi-final, I improved my times each lap and my confidence grew.  I feel sorry for Timmy, he was top qualifier after the heats and he did a brilliant job. Hopefully he can come back fighting stronger and take a win in Norway.”

Runner-up Heikkinen spoke of similar difficulties during the heats. “It’s been a tough weekend, this track is really technical and doesn’t allow for any mistakes,” admitted the Finn. “We had a few mechanical problems on the first day and nothing seemed to be going right for us. Today everything felt much better and by the fourth heat we were fourth quickest. I stayed out of trouble in the semi-final and managed to get on the second row for the final, which gave me a good start.  It feels really good to be on the podium again.”

American Top Gear presenter Tanner Foust made it a double podium for Marklund Motorsport.  Foust – who won the Finnish RX round last year – struggled to get to grips with the Polo on day one but dramatically improved his pace ahead of today’s final.  “The full-time drivers are so quick and there’s a heck of a lot of talented drivers in World RX. It took me a bit of time but by the final everything was feeling good.  I’m just delighted to be on the podium and it’s even better to be here sitting alongside Topi who is my team-mate this weekend.”

Arguably the most impressive drive of the weekend, however, was that of Tommy Rustad who made his debut with the ALL-INKL.COM Muennich Motorsport Team.  Swapping his regular Polo for an Audi S3, Rustad won his semi-final and saw the Muennich Motorsport team qualify for its first ever final.

“I felt like I’d won the lottery after winning my semi race,” beamed Rustad, who is currently second in Euro RX which resumes in Norway later this month. “The first time I drove the Audi was yesterday and to reach the final is a bonus.  The team have done a brilliant job – they are very professional and it’s been a joy working with them.”

Rounding off the top five was Ford Olsbergs MSE driver Andreas Bakkerud who is the only driver to have reached every final in World RX this year.  The Norwegian’s consistency sees the driver move ahead of Johan Kristoffersson to sit second in the overall standings.  Bakkerud’s team-mate Reinis Nitiss was knocked out of the semi-finals after colliding with Timmy Hansen and breaking his car’s suspension.

EKS driver Mattias Ekstrom was on course for a top three finish but spun his Audi S1 EKS RX quattro during the final.  Britain’s leading rallycross driver Liam Doran, who partners Solberg in the SDRX team, failed to make the semi-finals following various mechanical gremlins.

Home favourites LP Dumoulin and Patrick Carpentier had a weekend of mixed fortunes in their JRM Racing prepared MINI RX Supercars.  Dumoulin, the reigning Canadian NASCAR Champion, was hindered with a misfiring engine on day one and was placed 16th at the Intermediate Classification.  Carpentier suffered a similar fate when the driver was forced to retire from the first heat after colliding with a concrete wall. JRM Team Principal James Rumsey concluded: “The guys didn’t let yesterday’s events get them down an they fought like the professional drivers like they are. It’s always galling to just miss out on the semi-finals but that’s motorsport.”

In the standalone RX Lites Intercontinental Cup, it was Oliver Eriksson who took the overall victory.  Frenchman Cyril Raymond finished runner-up despite breaking his car’s suspension in the final race.  Canadian NASCAR driver Andrew Ranger claimed the third podium spot.

Martin Anayi, World RX Managing Director for IMG, concluded: “In today’s semi-finals we saw eight different nationalities and five different manufacturers which just goes to show how truly international World RX has become.  This weekend has produced some incredibly exciting wheel-to-wheel racing and I’d like to personally thank the Canadian organisers who have worked extremely hard to make some key improvements to the track.  Some of the drivers exceeded 200k/ph on the straight and this track is not only fast but extremely technical too.  This combination made for some of the most thrilling racing we have seen all year. Congratulations to Davy Jeanney who came out top for the second time this year.  He successfully kept his Peugeot 208 RX Supercar out of trouble and both his and Timmy’s excellent results from the heats have closed the gap at the top of the Teams’ Championship.”

PEBBLE BEACH

RESPECTING AUTOMOTIVE EXCELLENCE AND ELEGANCE

Each August, the Monterey peninsula, one of California’s most venerated locations, becomes the international focal point for motoring excellence and elegance. Monterey Classic Car Week (13 –16 August) comprises an exceptional gathering of the world’s most beautiful vintage cars. The outstanding events are the prestigious Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance (16 August) and the Pebble Beach Tour d’Elegance presented by Rolex (13 August). Both of these major tributes are supported by Rolex and, along with the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion, are the high point of the Monterey meeting.

Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance: in the service of heritage
A great many moments of glory and triumph have passed into history at Pebble Beach golf course, including the U.S. Open victories of two champions connected to Rolex: Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods. The atmosphere is different, of course, but the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance – the crown of Monterey Classic Car Week and a mark of Rolex’s commitment to motor sports – also recognizes the triumph of excellence, in this case in preserving heritage and beauty.

The final Sunday will see some 200 of the world’s most desirable cars gathered on the 18th fairway. The Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance is one of the most sumptuous motor shows ever staged. Created in 1950 to demonstrate the virtues of the latest cars, this meeting has become a jewel in the crown of historic vehicle restoration and conservation. The vehicles are judged based on technical value, style and elegance, with the aim of encouraging the preservation of our mechanical heritage. This yearly meeting of people passionate about automotive design, style and innovation pays homage to the great eras of motoring history.

Most of the cars on show at the 65th Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance will have left the factory before 1972. Among the essential, unmissable and iconic models are Mustang Shelby GT350s, celebrating their 50th birthday; Lincoln Continental, now 75 years old; Ferrari Grand Touring and Competition cars; DuPont; Pope; designs by Carrozzeria Touring; post-war Cunninghams and Mercury Custom. Pre-war British sports models will also occupy a place of honour this year.

Pebble Beach Tour d’Elegance presented by Rolex: history on the move
The idea of a parade on the highway linked to the Concours d’Elegance was launched in 1998. It resulted in the first Pebble Beach Tour d’Elegance, a vibrant tribute to vintage cars in motion. The Tour, which traditionally takes place on the Thursday before the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, is open to all participants in the Concours.

This year, the cars will gather at Pebble Beach in the early morning of 13 August, before setting off to parade along roads bordered with pines and cypress trees or overlooking the magnificent cliffs of the bay opposite Carmel-by-the-Sea. At Carmel, a gourmet lunch will be served to the participants while the cars will be on display on Ocean Avenue. Then the cars will set off back to Pebble Beach and the end of the Tour will be celebrated with champagne. It should not be forgotten that there is a competitive edge and that if two cars are tied in judging during the Concours, the car which successfully completed the Tour will gain the advantage.

CROFT

NOSTALGIA FESTIVAL RACES INTO VIEW WITH FULL BILL OF ON-TRACK ACTION

  • Mustang vs. Mini battle one of the highlights at retro-themed extravaganza
  • Four decades of motor sport gold to return to the track in North Yorkshire
  • Vulcan Bomber, military magic and vintage sights and sounds add to appeal

The sixth annual Croft Nostalgia Festival will roar into life this weekend (8/9 August), with a jam-packed schedule of spectacular high-octane thrills ‘n’ spills set to keep spectators entertained amid myriad off-track attractions.

Fans will be captivated by no fewer than 19 races over the course of the HSCC-organised weekend, bringing together some of the most iconic racing cars from four glorious decades spanning the 1950s to 1980s.

Arguably top of the bill will be the Historic Touring Car Championship, which will see battle rejoined between the fleet-footed Mini Coopers, monster-engined Mustangs and legendary Lotus Cortinas. Wheel-to-wheel action between these classic 1950s and ‘60s tin-tops is guaranteed.

Formula 3 – a vital stepping-stone on the training ladder all the way up to Formula 1 – is present in force, with races for both Historic Formula 3 and 500cc Formula 3 machinery, whilst in their 50th anniversary year, Classic Clubmans will be another leading draw.

Historic Road Sports will pitch a flame-spitting Chevrolet Camaro against a trio of nimble Lotus Elans, as ‘70s Road Sports sets up a tantalising showdown between Italian style and charisma – in the shape of the beautiful Lancia Monte Carlo and a brace of Alfa Romeo GTVs – and British engineering excellence, represented by the Jaguar E-type, XJS and TVR Tuscan.

The biggest grids are to be found in Historic Formula Junior and Historic Formula Ford, with the full complement of classes completed by Historic Formula Ford 2000 and new additions Historic Sports 2000 and the Midget and Sprite Challenge – affectionately referred to as ‘Spridgets’.

Local drivers will be peppered throughout the paddock, including Bishop Auckland’s John Pringle in his Lotus Seven S4, Jonathon Hughes from Carlton-in-Cleveland in a Merlyn Mk14A and Brabham BT6, Harrogate’s James Buckton in his Elden Mk8 and Roy Stephenson from Osmotherley, having swapped his Mustang for a Mini for an altogether different type of challenge!

There is also David Walton from Ponteland with his Royale RP26/27, West Auckland’s David Summerson in an Austin Healey 3000, Kevin Clifford from Yarm behind the wheel of a Shrike P16 and Neville Laskey from Newton Aycliffe in his ‘pocket rocket’ MG Midget.

That’s far from all at this family-friendly festival, however, with classic car and military vehicle parades, wartime encampments, period music, vintage fashion and aerial flypasts – including a very special appearance by the thunderous Vulcan Bomber in its final year of flying.

Tickets are available on the gate for £13 (Saturday), £18 (Sunday) or £23 (Weekend), with accompanied children aged 15 and under admitted free-of-charge. For further information, call 01325 721815 or see:
http://www.croftcircuit.co.uk/racing/nostalgia

INDY CAR

Hometown Hero Rahal Wins Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio

LEXINGTON, Ohio (Aug. 2, 2015) – Graham Rahal’s surge in the second half of the Verizon IndyCar Series season continued with an emphatic victory in the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio. Rahal, who started 13th in the 90-lap race in the No. 15 Steak ‘n Shake Honda for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, corralled his second victory of the season and third of his Indy car career.

The New Albany, Ohio, native closed to within nine points of Verizon IndyCar Series championship front-runner Juan Pablo Montoya with two races left in the season. There are a total of 10 drivers still mathematically eligible for the championship and the chance to hoist the Astor Cup at season’s end.

Since earning his first victory of the season June 27 at Auto Club Speedway – his first win since March 2008 – Rahal has placed third, fourth and first to challenge for his first series title.

Rahal’s father, Bob, a co-owner of Graham’s team, won the Indy car races at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in 1985 and ’86.

“This track has been special for the Rahal family going back to the days of Jim Trueman,” said Graham Rahal, who wore an Ohio State University football-themed helmet. “Jim was the man who founded this place, got this place going. He was also the one who got my dad started in racing.

“I grew up at this place, running around when my dad was racing. It’s come full circle.”

Rahal is the eighth different winner in nine road/street course races this season. He picked up the lead for good on Lap 67 when the lead pack of cars, including race leader Montoya, pitted under caution for their final fuel/tire service.

That caution resulted from a single-car spin by rookie Sage Karam, whose No. 8 car stalled on track. INDYCAR stewards announced the spin would be subject to a post-race review.

Rahal then fended off Justin Wilson, Simon Pagenaud and Scott Dixon on a Lap 84 restart on the 2.258-mile, 13-turn road course following a full-course caution and went on to win by 3.4 seconds.

Wilson, who started 14th in the No. 25 Andretti Autosport Honda, placed a season-high second. Pagenaud also was a big mover in the race, advancing 12 positions relative to his starting spot in the No. 22 PPG Automotive Refinish Team Penske Chevrolet to finish third – matching his best finish of the season from Belle Isle-1. Dixon, a five-time winner at Mid-Ohio, started from the pole and finished fourth in the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet. He is 25 points behind Rahal in the title chase.

Montoya, who started 10th in the No. 2 Hawk Performance Team Penske Chevrolet and led 21 laps in the middle of the race, finished 12th.

“Everyone on the Hawk Performance Chevy did an amazing job,” said Montoya, who has topped the standings since winning the season opener on the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla. “We did everything we were supposed to do today and the race was playing out perfectly for us. Unfortunately, we got a caution with about 25 laps to go that we didn’t need. It worked out for some and didn’t work out for others. But we had a great car and we still have the points lead. Ready for Pocono where we won last year.”

The next race on the schedule is the ABC Supply 500 at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway on Aug. 23. The season wraps up a week later with the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway, which offers double points.

GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 15 Steak ‘n Shake Honda): “Honestly, if I’d won a lot of races in my career but I never won this one, I think I’d be pretty disappointed. For the Rahals, when it goes back to Jim Trueman and everyone else, this track has been pretty special to us for so, so many years. Jim was the man who founded this place, got this place going. He was also the one who got my dad started in racing. It’s come full circle. I used to go to the Steak ‘ Shake about 5 to 8 miles from here and play around, eat a lot of cheese fries and stuff. It’s funny how this whole thing has come together. I’ve got the Buckeye helmet; this is all amazing. The tires were awesome; reds, blacks, it didn’t matter for me. Used reds were good for me, particularly at the end, I was just able to just absolutely gap anyone I needed to at the end. I didn’t have any push-to-passes left on that last restart so I was pretty nervous (Justin) Wilson would get me.”

F3 EURO CHAMPIONSHIP

FELIX ROSENQVIST WINS – LANCE STROLL TAKES FIRST PODIUM

Season race: 23 of 33
Strecke: Red Bull Ring
Winner: Felix Rosenqvist (Prema Powerteam)
Pole position: Felix Rosenqvist (Prema Powerteam)
Weather: sunny and warm

In the first race of the weekend, Felix Rosenqvist (Prema Powerteam) was still beaten by his team-mate Jake Dennis (Prema Powerteam), but he came out on top in the second race at the 4.326 kilometres long Red Bull Ring. Antonio Giovinazzi (Jagonya Ayam with Carlin) took the chequered flag in second place and thus extended his points’ lead in the FIA Formula 3 European Championship drivers’ standings. In third place as the best rookie, 16-year-old Canadian Lance Stroll (Prema Powerteam), a protégé of the Ferrari Driver Academy, celebrated his maiden podium finish in the FIA Formula 3 European Championship.

Felix Rosenqvist took the lead from pole position and went on to pull a gap of almost two seconds from his nearest rival Antonio Giovinazzi on the first three laps. Later on, the Italian managed to reduce the gap, but never put Rosenqvist’s lead in jeopardy. A safety car intervention, the result of a spin by Ryan Tveter (Jagonya Ayam with Carlin), didn’t affect the Swedish stalwart either. He went on to bring first place home safely as Giovinazzi came second.

In third place, Lance Stroll already found out early in the race that he wasn’t able to keep up with Rosenqvist and Giovinazzi. However, he was quick enough to keep Charles Leclerc (Van Amersfoort Racing) at bay to claim his maiden Formula 3 podium finish. Initially, Sérgio Sette Câmara (Motopark) was fourth, but wasn’t able to hold on to this position for long. A drive-through penalty for a jump start made the Brazilian drop out of the top ten. Alexander Albon (Signature), on the other hand, was in the top ten from the very beginning. The Thai was under pressure from his rivals George Russell (Carlin), Markus Pommer (Motopark), Jake Dennis and Mikkel Jensen (kfzteile24 Mücke Motorsport) throughout the race. On the final laps, Pommer still found a way past Russell to finish sixth behind Albon. Russell, Dennis, Jensen and Gustavo Menezes (Jagonya Ayam with Carlin) completed the top ten.

Felix Rosenqvist (Prema Powerteam): “I reckon that I have learned from the first race and I made a better start. On the opening laps, my car was very good and I was able to pull clear from the rest of the field. Towards the halfway point, Antonio came closer and I had to give everything to keep a margin of one second. I think that I couldn’t have gone much faster, it was almost like in qualifying. The race was good fun.”

Antonio Giovinazzi (Jagonya Ayam with Carlin): “My start wasn’t very good and Lance managed to overtake me right away. In the course of the opening lap, however, I managed to get second place back and I also reduced the gap to Felix, who was in the lead. I am happy with second place, because it brings me a lot of points again.”

Lance Stroll (Prema Powerteam): “I had a good getaway and I moved up one place right away. Admittedly, I lost it again soon after that and I was third, but I was able to hold on to this third place. Unfortunately, I didn’t manage to follow Felix and Antonio, but I am also very happy with third place. After a good start of the season, I had a low point between the races at Monza and Norisring, but now, I am on the right way again.”

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