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LAGUNA SECA

ROLEX MONTEREY MOTORSPORTS REUNION

The Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion is about rarely seen race cars that are authentic and historic, showcased not on a lawn but at speed at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, the world-famous 2.238-mile circuit nestled in the hills of Salinas, California. For two days, 550 cars have been screaming through their practice runs in preparation for tomorrow, the first official day of weekend racing that also will see a surge of fans pass through the gates for the very purpose of seeing – and hearing – their favorite racing machines from bygone eras spring back to life, as if time had never passed.

“When I first began racing at this event in 1977 (three years after it first started), it was just a group of car enthusiasts, and the spectators were friends and family,” said Mike Cleary, who started with a Bugatti, which then led him to own the 1932 Studebaker Indy Car that his son will race this weekend. “It was a two-day event back then, and the evolution to what we have today – enthusiasts from all over, coming here to watch all these magnificent cars – is fantastic. The success of this and other vintage racing events has contributed to the rescue and restoration of crashed or abandoned cars, and it’s wonderful to see.”

Cleary does all his own work on his cars, having provided restoration services for others as well, even to the extent of winning prizes at Pebble Beach. He even built the car he will race tomorrow, what he calls the “Cleary Special,” in 1955. “We built the chassis and installed a Crosley engine, Fiat suspension and then acquired the bodywork from Devon. My son learned how to drive it, and later my son-in-law learned to drive it, so it is really kind of a family car.”

He says one of his fondest memories of his friend, the late World Champion Phil Hill, was made at this event. “I was coming down the Corkscrew in my Lancia years ago, and he passed me in his Bentley on the outside. I’ve never figured out how he did that.”

Jan Voboril is another owner/driver who has a long history with the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion. He began racing here in 1979 and has returned this year with his 1925 Bugatti Type 35, which was originally raced in the 1920s by the famous Czechoslovakian racer Madame Eliška Junek.

“I grew up in Czechoslovakia, and I knew Madame Junek, who was a wonderful lady and an amazing driver,” said Voboril. “In 1926, she was leading the Targa Florio in this car and was ahead of the great Tazio Nuvolari and all other great racers of that time. She had water pump problems, so she finished fourth or fifth.”

Over the years, Voboril has raced a 1916 Lancia and a Ford Model T Indy Car. This weekend, he races a Bugatti that his wife acquired, while next year he plans to race his Alta Grand Prix car. “I have made so many friends in the 36 years I’ve raced here and have so many wonderful memories.”

But as much as this event is for long-timers, it also attracts new players every year, and to that point Ron Maydon, founder of the FIA Master’s Historic Formula 1 Championship, has brought 34 Formula 1 cars here. They will race in the final session tomorrow, with Maydon among them as a driver.

“I’ve been to this event as a spectator a few times, but this is my first time ‘racing in anger,’ as they say,” said Maydon. “The circuit here at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca is more difficult to learn than I anticipated. In fact all of the drivers from Europe who are here for the first time have said the same. They love the track but find it to be much more complicated than they expected.  It’s not so hard to learn where the track goes, but it is very difficult to learn the correct line; it’s very technical.”

FORMULA 1

PASTOR MALDONADO’S BELGIAN GRAND PRIX PREVIEW

Pastor Maldonado reckons the Spa-Francorchamps circuit should give the opportunity for himself and Lotus F1 Team to shine.

Spa is a legendary motor racing location. What makes it so special for you the driver?

Where do you start with Spa? It is an amazing circuit and for sure one of the best on the planet. The sensations a driver experiences at corners like the Eau Rouge / Radillon combination, Pouhon and Blanchimont are not like you feel anywhere else in the world. It is unique in every way and to think you are competing on parts of the track that were used back in the first Grand Prix season in 1950 makes it very special indeed.

Is the challenge any different from other race tracks?

Every track has its own challenges. For Spa, it’s a long lap and this can present some set-up challenges. You want low drag for the straights but decent downforce for the corners. This is the same at any track, but with the longer lap at Spa the different requirements are highlighted. Sometimes the best set-up for the fastest lap is not necessarily the best in a race. It’s easier to overtake on the straights, so a car fast here, but maybe relatively slower in the corners could be the preferred race set-up. This year we have a car we know to be very quick in a straight line, so this could help us. Then, of course, you never know if you’re going to get rain at Spa, and when it comes, it can come very quickly. There’s always something to keep you on your toes at Spa.

What are your favourite memories of Spa?

Spa is the type of track where you get great memories whenever or whatever you are racing. But of course the ones that really stick in the mind are the victories and I am lucky that I have won here a few times. I first raced at Spa in 2004 in Formula Renault. In 2006 I won in World Series by Renault at Spa, taking pole, fastest lap and the victory. Then in 2008 I won in the GP2 Series for the first time. Then I took another win in my championship year in 2010 which was a sweet moment. In Formula 1 I qualified sixth in 2012. So all in all I have great memories of the track and feel that I have a special relationship with it going back many years.

What can we say about the Hungarian Grand Prix?

It was a difficult race and certainly not the best result I’ve had. There was so much going on and it was a tough race for many drivers. Like with any race, we had a debrief afterwards and that was productive. I always look ahead so my focus is Spa and the next races ahead.

How did you spend your summer break?

Of course I spent as much time as possible with my family. It’s good to not have any pressure, events or factory visits for a couple of weeks so you can clear your head and prepare for the next nine races. I’ve been training and enjoying the good weather whilst preparing mentally and physically for the rest of the season. Whilst it’s great to have a bit of a break, I can’t wait to jump back into the car.

Whats possible in the second half of the season?

I think we have some tracks coming up which suit our car so that’s a good positive. Certainly, Spa and Monza should be strong for us so good results there will be a great way to reboot our season before we head to all the flyaway races when anything is possible.

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