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DS Virgin Racing and the all-electric Formula E series embarks on its Latin American tour shortly with the inaugural Santiago E-Prix, taking place on the streets of the Chilean capital on February 3.

The race, the first of three in the region along with Mexico and Uruguay’s Punta del Este, takes place near the city’s El Parque Forestal district on a purpose-built 2.47km, 12-turn circuit, that will see drivers reach speeds of more than 210kph. It also marks the series’ third continent visited in four races after Hong Kong and Marrakesh.

DS Virgin Racing drivers Sam Bird and Alex Lynn – the championship’s only all-British pairing – will be hoping for further success too following the team’s strongest ever start to a season. With a win and a podium to his name already, Bird has emerged as a title contender being just four points off the top spot in the drivers’ standings. Meanwhile, consistent points finishes from team-mate Lynn mean the team are in second place in the constructors’ championship and remain the only team to have both its drivers finish in the points in every race so far.

As well as a new track to contend with, for the first time in Formula E’s history there will also be no minimum pit stop time, adding a new challenge to the racing strategy.

Bird, who is the only driver to have recorded victories in every Formula E season to date, said: “It’s always exciting visiting a new city and racing on a new track. As such, there’s been a lot of preparation to do, especially with the changes to the pit stops. Not everything went the way we wanted at the last race, but we still came away with third place and we’re looking forward to another strong result in Santiago.”

Lynn said: “We had a frustrating race in Marrakesh, so we’re keen to put that behind us and come out fighting again in Chile. I’m hoping we can get up to speed with the new track layout quickly and be in the mix from the off.”

DS Virgin Racing Team Principal Alex Tai commented: “We’re delighted to be racing in another new location and one as spectacular as Santiago. DS Virgin Racing has had a fantastic start to the season – our strongest yet – and we have the car, team and drivers to continue that in Chile. For sure, the changes to pit stops will be a challenge, so the team have left nothing to chance by practising hard and will also be wearing additional safety equipment.”

DS Performance Director Xavier Mestelan Pinon added: "It’s really positive to arrive in Santiago after the strongest ever start of both championships since we’ve been in Formula E. Like every new race in the series, work on the simulator will be more crucial than ever for the drivers to learn the track and also for the engineers to find the most efficient way to use the energy of our DSV-03.”

Round four of the 2017/2018 ABB FIA Formula E Championship takes place in Santiago on February 3. For more information on the DS Virgin Racing Formula E Team, visit: http://map.ds-virginracing.com/  

Formula E Santiago E-Prix - Time table
Round 4: Saturday, February 3 (local time // GMT-3hrs)
08:00-08:45      Free Practice 1
10:30-11:00      Free Practice 2
12:00-12:36      Qualifying
12:45-13:00      Superpole
16:00                Race (37 laps)

TV Coverage:
Live on Eurosport from 18:45 GMT
Live on 5Spike from 18:30 GMT

Officials from the Automobile Racing Club of America (ARCA) and MAVTV Motorsports Network announced today that MAVTV will televise 12 ARCA Racing Series, presented by Menards, race events in 2018.

Eleven of the 12 races will be  Live on MAVTV in 2018, the second year of a three-year broadcast agreement with ARCA. The 2018 broadcast package includes the first ever superspeedway event scheduled for live coverage on the MAVTV Motorsports Network from Michigan International Speedway, Friday afternoon, June 8.
 
"ARCA is a well-respected and highly professional stock car racing series," said MAVTV President, Bob Patison. "It is definitely a good fit for MAVTV.  Adding more live coverage of the series in 2018 builds on the momentum started last year by ARCA and MAVTV."
 
Coverage begins Saturday night, April 7, with the first live broadcast from Fairgrounds Speedway in Nashville, Tenn. Live coverage is also scheduled for April 22 and September 15 from Salem (IN) Speedway; May 20 from Toledo (OH) Speedway; June 15 from Madison (WI) Int'l Speedway; July 14 from Elko (MN) Speedway; July 21 from Berlin (MI) Raceway; Aug. 19 from the Illinois State Fairgrounds; Sept. 3 from the DuQuoin State Fairgrounds and Sept. 7 from Lucas Oil Raceway in Brownsburg, Ind. The only event not scheduled for live broadcast will be the July 7 event from Iowa Speedway, which will air on a delayed basis.
 
The 12-race MAVTV broadcast schedule rounds out ARCA's 2018 telecast package, with the remaining 8 races scheduled for LIVE coverage on Fox Sports. Nineteen of the 20 ARCA Racing Series events in 2018 will be Live.
 
The ARCA Racing Series first aired on MAVTV in the early 2000s, with delayed coverage from Salem.
 
"The relationship formed last year between ARCA and MAVTV has been nothing but positive," said Mark Gundrum, Vice President of Business Development and Corporate Partnerships for ARCA. "From our teams, to our fans, to our sponsors, everyone at ARCA is excited about our partnership with MAVTV, and this announcement only adds to that excitement."
 
MAVTV PR

Richard Petty and his Petty’s Garage team will join Military AutoSource (MAS), at a special event at Ramstein Air Base in Germany this Saturday, January 27 to introduce the team’s newest projects: the 2018 Petty’s Garage Warrior F-150 and Mustang.  These specially designed vehicles were developed in recognition of our men and women in uniform serving overseas and can be purchased exclusively through Military AutoSource.  These are the second and third Warrior collaborations between Military AutoSource and Petty’s Garage.  The first, a custom built supercharged 2017 Ford Mustang, was unveiled in May 2017 at the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, North Carolina.

The 2018 Petty’s Garage Warrior F-150 and Mustang pair America’s best-selling pickup for 40 years and its most iconic muscle car, with signature Petty performance and styling. They both receive final assembly by hand at Petty’s Garage in Level Cross, North Carolina, the birthplace and home of Richard Petty, making these truly unique must own vehicles for those passionate about performance.  And as with the 2017 Petty’s Garage Warrior Mustang, a donation will be made to Paralyzed Veterans of America with the sale of each vehicle, continuing the Petty family’s and Military AutoSource’s  commitment to this important organization.

“We are extremely proud of these newest additions to the Military AutoSource Warrior program,” says Steve Frisch, Senior Vice President with Military AutoSource.  “The Petty’s Garage team have been incredible partners in working with us to craft vehicles that offer something special and unique to our military members.  Vehicles that reflect the passion and standard of excellence of our armed forces.”

The shared mission to serve and support our troops has created a great partnership between Military AutoSource and Petty’s Garage. 

“Our first year partnering with Military AutoSource was a big success for all of us,” said Petty, owner of Petty’s Garage.  “We sold every Mustang we made and created a lot of excitement in the military community.  We’re stepping it up this year, offering the 2018 Ford Mustang and the new F-150 truck.  It’s important that we have superior vehicles for them to purchase and we’re proud to continue this program thanks to Military Autosource.”

Military AutoSource/Petty's Garage PR

The competition in the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series keeps getting tougher as another titled and combative team joins the field for the 2018 season: former Aston Martin GT3 team Solaris Motorsport will join the European NASCAR Series with its #12 Chevrolet. 

“We have been looking at the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series since a few years. We followed it as it grew to be one of the most important touring car series in Europe and we are very happy to join it in 2018,” said co-owner/driver Francesco Sini, who had the chance to test a NWES car on December 4 at the Autodromo di Franciacorta, in the context of the second Italian Recruitment Day and was impressed by its handling. “The car is awesome and we love the fact that there’s a lot of people at every event, plus the series has a fantastic cost-effective formula. Everywhere else in racing money has become the only thing that matters, but in NASCAR we can still find that passion for the sport that drives all of us at Solaris Motorsport.”

“We are very happy to welcome such a professional team and passionate racing family in NWES,” explained NWES President / CEO Jerome Galpin. “100% of drivers who tested our Euro NASCAR cars during the Recruitments Days were really surprised by how good and fun they are to drive and they enjoyed the experience a lot ! Francesco was among them and he showed very good skills and true passion for pure racing. We wish him and his family all the best for their NASCAR debut.”

Solaris Motorsport is run by the Sini family with Roberto Sini as Team Owner, Laura Sini as Team Manager and has Francesco Sini as its star driver in the ELITE 1 Division. The Italian team features a strong bond with American muscle cars since building a Chevrolet Camaro for the SuperStar Series, where they won the title in 2014 before switching to GT racing. Solaris fielded a Camaro and a Corvette in GT3 championships across Europe, moving then to Aston Martin in the Italian GT Championship and the International GT Open.

The 2018 NWES season represents a return to something very familiar for the entire Sini family and the tight-knit group of mechanics working on the cars in Pescara: American V8 power.

“To go back to an American engine is fantastic for us, we grew up with a V8 and it’s what made us a strong. It is heart and passion for us, but also a logic choice,” said Sini. “I think that without any electronic aid, the NWES car really puts the driver and the team in the spotlight. Being back to a more muscular driving style is attractive for me and I hope that after a few years driving cars with ABS, traction control and so on, I’m still capable of doing my best and running up front.”

Solaris Motorsport made its racing in 2007 by winning the Italian Prototype Series and the Radical World Cup with Sini in the cockpit, who also took the team to the first step of podium in the Radical European Masters in 2008. 

Francesco Sini expects a solid first season in NASCAR for the team and himself in 2018.

“I would love to say that I want to win from the beginning, but I have to be realistic and I know the competition is exceptionally strong, there are lots of  strong teams and for sure we will need experience, but I’m confident we can do pretty well,” concluded the Italian driver. “There are at least three events I particularly look forward to. Franciacorta because it will be our home race, Hockenheim because I love the track and I won there the EuroV8 title and then the Oval World Challenge, because I never ran on an oval and I’m really curious to know what I can do.” 

The team is currently working on completing its lineup with an ELITE 2 driver in preparation for the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series season opener taking place in Valencia, Spain at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo on April 14-15.

NASCAR Euro Series PR

Weekend Schedule for the Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway.

 

 

Saturday, January 27 2 p.m., Rolex 24 at Daytona, FOX

5 p.m., Rolex 24 at Daytona, FS2

10 p.m., Rolex 24 at Daytona, FOX Sports GO

11 p.m., Rolex 24 at Daytona, FS1

 

Sunday, January 28 1 a.m., Rolex 24 at Daytona, FOX Sports GO

8 a.m., Rolex 24 at Daytona, FS2

10:30 a.m., Rolex 24 at Daytona, FS1

For the second time in his career, that typical early-season excitement turned into something even more special for Matt Hagan in 2017. The Funny Car standout won the first two events of the year for the second time in his career, and the two-time world champion is looking for another hot start to open the 2018 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series campaign.
 
It begins with its annual iconic opener, the 58th annual Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals presented by ProtectTheHarvest.com, Feb. 8-11 at historic Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, and Hagan who has two wins at the season-opening event, knows what a third win in his 10,000-horsepower Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger R/T at the race would mean when it comes to setting the tone for the new season.
 
“We won the first two races last year and that just puts you on such a high,” said Hagan, who has 26 career wins. “It’s a clean slate to start the year and you kick it off with all the opportunity in the world. You start fresh and everyone even, but getting that win, it’s a huge confidence-builder. We had a lot of changes last year and that win told us we’re going to be alright.”
 
Leah Pritchett (Top Fuel), Hagan (Funny Car) and Jason Line (Pro Stock) were last year’s winners of a race that will be televised on Fox Sports 1 (FS1), including live finals coverage beginning at 5 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 11. It is the first of 24 events during the 2018 NHRA season and after a number of personnel changes heading into 2017, things have been relatively quiet for Hagan on that front as the new year opens.
 
Veteran crew chief Dickie Venables is back, as is the bulk of Hagan’s standout team that finished fifth in the loaded Funny Car standings a year ago, and Hagan believes that is a good thing. Hagan, who won four times in 2017, is confident his team can have another quick start, with the hope of that consistency continuing throughout the year. 
 
“I’m happy with our team and our guys, I’ve got nothing but confidence with Dickie,” Hagan said. “I wouldn’t trade that guy for anybody. I believe in him when it comes to making great decisions and I’m excited to get going. Our goal is to be a little bit more consistent throughout the year. That’s going to be key. We’re going to roll into this year and keep whipping the horse we’ve been riding.”
 
Hagan has four final round appearances at the Winternationals and the usual ideal conditions often make for incredible performances. That’s the goal this year, though Hagan will once again be challenged by the top names in the class. That starts with defending Funny Car world champion Robert Hight and also includes the likes of Don Schumacher Racing teammates Ron Capps, the 2016 world champ, Tommy Johnson Jr. and Jack Beckman, 16-time Pomona winner John Force, Courtney Force, J.R. Todd, Tim Wilkerson, Cruz Pedregon and class newcomer Shawn Langdon. For Hagan, though, starting the season in Pomona is more than enough to get him excited.
 
“Pomona is a historical place and it’s where champions are crowned,” said Hagan, who has five career Pomona wins. “It’s just an awesome atmosphere racing there. There’s been so many great drivers and legends who have raced there, and there’s a lot of history with it. To get the ball rolling in Pomona, and you see the snow on the mountains when you’re there, it’s just cool.”
 
In Top Fuel, Brittany Force returns to the track where she clinched her first world title last fall, and is after her first Winternationals win against stars like defending event champ Pritchett, Antron Brown, Tony Schumacher, Doug Kalitta and Steve Torrence, who had eight wins in 2017.
 
Line won the Winternationals for a fifth time overall in Pro Stock, and the three-time world champion will look for another stellar start in the loaded class against standouts like reigning world champ Bo Butner Greg Anderson and Tanner Gray, who was NHRA’s top rookie in 2017. 
   
The event also will feature thrilling competition in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series, where future stars of the sport hone their skills and the Mickey Thompson Tires NHRA Top Fuel Harley Drag Racing Series.
 
As always, fans will have the opportunity to interact with their favorite drivers as they’re granted an exclusive pit pass to the most powerful and sensory-filled motorsports attraction on the planet. This unique opportunity in motorsports gives fans direct access to the teams, allowing them to see firsthand the highly-skilled mechanics service their hot rods between rounds, and get autographs from their favorite NHRA drivers.
 
Fans also will want to visit NHRA’s popular Nitro Alley and Manufacturers Midway, where sponsors and race vendors create a carnival atmosphere, with interactive displays, simulated competitions, merchandise, food and fun for the entire family.
 
Mello Yello Drag Racing Series qualifying will feature two rounds at 12:00 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 9, and the final two rounds of qualifying on Saturday, Feb. 10, at 12:15 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 11 a.m. on Sunday, Feb. 11.
 
To purchase general-admission or reserved seats, call 800-884-NHRA (6472). Tickets also are available online at www.NHRA.com/tickets. Kids 12 and under are free in general admission areas with a paid adult. All students can save 50 percent on general admission at the gate with a student ID. To honor the Salute to First Responders, military and first responders can save 20 percent on general admission tickets at the gate. For more info about the NHRA visit www.NHRA.com.  
One of the most fearless and naturally gifted up and coming drivers in desert off-road racing today has joined the SPEED Energy stable of athletes, and will be joining the 4-Time Baja 500 and 3-Time Baja 1000 winner Robby Gordon as an exciting new figurehead, and spokesperson for the worldwide drinks brand during the upcoming 2018 Best in the Desert and SCORE International race seasons. Coming off his first premiere class victory at the SNORE Rage at the River, Cole Potts is an electric addition to the SPEED Energy crew.
 
“To extend the SPEED Energy presence in the desert with a young talented driver like Cole Potts is something I have been wanting to do for quite awhile. Cole has made great strides in the last few years with his driving abilities, and has really caught my attention as someone to carry my lifestyle brand well knowing the true meaning of SPEED,” stated SPEED Energy President Robby Gordon.
 
At just nineteen years old, the Scottsdale, Arizona native has been participating in different forms of motorsports including motocross, and off-road racing since the age of 8. However, it wasn’t until the age of 16 Cole’s true passion for off-road racing elevated to the level it is now quickly catapulting to the premiere category in the desert ranks the last three years.
 
Spending extensive amounts of time riding motocross in his free time, along with Pre-Running with his father veteran racer Craig Potts throughout the desert. Potts has developed the knowledge, and throttle control to continue to be a true threat in the desert each event.
 
Under the guidance and leadership of the 7-time SCORE International Champion, Robby Gordon, and combining the resources of SPEED Energy Racing and Potts Racing look for both drivers to make serious noise in the desert in 2018 at major events such as the Parker 425, Mint 400, Baja 500, and Baja 1000.
 
The SPEED Energy entry for Potts Racing will dawn the familiar bright green paint scheme with SPEED Energy on the hood and doors in similar fashion to team leader Robby Gordon. Associate sponsors on the Potts entry will include Toyo Tires, HallmarkTrust.com, Security State Bank, and CPI.
With everyone on pit road watching the scoring monitors from the edge of their seats, Wayne Taylor Racing’s Renger van der Zande stole the Rolex 24 At Daytona Motul Pole Award from Acura Team Penske and Helio Castroneves on the final lap of the 15-minute qualifying session Thursday at Daytona International Speedway.
 
Van der Zande’s lap of 1:36.083 (133.378 mph) edged Castroneves by 0.007 seconds as time expired. Van der Zande joins defending Prototype champion Jordan Taylor in the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R. this season and will be joined in the Rolex 24 by IndyCar star Ryan Hunter-Reay.
 
Ironically, Castroneves’ teammate this season is Jordan Taylor’s former co-driver and older brother Ricky Taylor.
 
“Stepping up to Prototype class and getting promoted to the championship team, these guys expect a lot from you,” van der Zande said. “I think that’s why these guys are champions. I can’t thank this whole team and crew enough. Being here feels incredible. I didn’t expect to grab this pole. They waited until I was in turn 5 before they told me I was on the pole and I was over the moon. I thought it was a good lap. I thought I overshot on turn 5, so I floored it and managed to get the car going, maybe that’s what did it, but I made it.”
 
Castroneves moves to the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Challenge full-time in 2018 following a sure fire Hall of Fame career in open-wheel competition. He’ll start from the second position in the team’s debut of the No. 7 Acura DPi.
 
“I did everything I could,” he said. “Unfortunately, just got beat by .007 seconds.  Nothing you can do about that. It’s ok though. We looked strong. The guys are going to have to fix a couple of things on the car because I was pushing it really hard.  
 
“But we are starting on the front row, which is a pretty big deal.  It’s a good start for our team.  We have a lot of things to learn still, but really happy for Acura Team Penske and all of the guys. We’ve worked hard to get to this point and we have a few more practices to fine tune it for Saturday.”
 
Two-time Formula One world champion Fernando Alonso, who is making his IMSA debut this weekend, qualified 13th in the No. 23 United Autosports Ligier LM P2. Despite the qualifying position, Alonso knows he and co-drivers Lando Norris and Phil Hanson have plenty of time to make it up.
 
“Normally I have 60 laps or 70 laps to recover what I may have done in qualifying, and on Saturday we have 24 hours,” he said. “The qualifying was not the key point of this weekend hopefully.”
 
The top 13 cars in the Prototype class were separated by less than one second.
 As Corvette Racing celebrates the start of its 20th season at this weekend’s Rolex 24 At Daytona, Danish racer Jan Magnussen fittingly earned his 20th career IMSA pole position in a hard-fought IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship qualifying session Thursday afternoon.
 
Driving the No. 3 Chevrolet Corvette C7.R, Magnussen posted a best lap of 1 minute, 42.779 seconds (124.688 mph), beating defending Rolex 24 At Daytona GTLM winner Joey Hand to the pole by a scant, 0.019 seconds. It was the fourth WeatherTech Championship pole for Magnussen, who also earned four poles in the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series and 12 in the American Le Mans Series.
 
Magnussen and co-driver Antonio Garcia are the defending WeatherTech Championship GTLM class champions. They will look for their second GTLM win in the Rolex 24 alongside their endurance racing teammate, Mike Rockenfeller.
 
The race, which begins at 2:40 p.m. ET, will be televised live on FOX network beginning at 2 p.m. ET Saturday, with 25 hours of continuous streaming also available in the U.S. on the FOX Sports Go app. IMSA Radio also will have complete coverage on IMSA.com, as well as on SiriusXM Radio (Sirius Channel 138/XM 202/Internet App Channel 972).
 
“I have to say, I’m a little bit surprised by the results,” Magnussen said. “Nobody on the team thought we could go for pole, but the lap came together fantastically. On top of that, I had a great big tow from my teammate and he didn’t mess with me.
 
“It’s a lot faster, a better time, than we’ve done before. It’s a good feeling for the team to have the pole position. It means a lot today, but tomorrow it doesn’t mean anything. It does pump the team up going into the race.”
 
Hand qualified second in the No. 66 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT with a best time of 1:42.798 (124.665 mph). He was the fastest qualifier for pit and garage selections at the Roar Before the Rolex 24 At Daytona three weeks ago and is looking for a second consecutive Rolex 24 win along with his teammates, Dirk Mueller and Sebastien Bourdais.
 
Laurens Vanthoor made it three different manufacturers in the GTLM top three with a best lap of 1:42.927 (124.509 mph) in the No. 912 Porsche 911 RSR for the Porsche GT Team. Vanthoor and teammates Earl Bamber and Gianmaria “Gimmi” Bruni are looking for their first Rolex 24 victory this weekend.
 
Patrick Pilet made it two Porsches inside the top five in GTLM with a best lap of 1:43.062 (124.346 mph) in the No. 911 Porsche 911 RSR, good for fourth on the class grid. Ryan Briscoe rounded out the top five at 1:43.091 (124.311 mph) in the No. 67 Ford GT.
 
The top seven cars in the GTLM field were covered by slightly more than eight-tenths of a second in qualifying.
 
Serra Scores GTD Motul Pole Award for Ferrari
The Rolex 24 At Daytona always brings a variety of race cars from all over the world in addition to the full complement of full-time IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship competitors. In GT Daytona (GTD) class qualifying for the Rolex 24, it was one of those international teams that came away with the pole position for this weekend’s race.
 
Daniel Serra posted a best lap of 1 minute, 46.049 seconds (120.844 mph) in the No. 51 Spirit of Race Ferrari 488 GT3 to earn the top starting spot in the GTD class. It was Serra’s second career WeatherTech Championship pole, the first coming in the GT Le Mans (GTLM) class at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in 2016. He and co-drivers Paul Dalla Lana, Pedro Lamy and Mathias Lauda go in search of their first Rolex 24 At Daytona victory in 2018.
 
“The car was really, really good,” Serra said. “This morning I did just a few laps and the balance was just not there. Our engineer did a few changes and the car came back really good. I’m really happy. I had a little bit of a tow on that last lap, so yeah, I’m really happy.”
 
GTD will feature an all-Ferrari front row, as Miguel Molina placed the No. 82 Risi Competizione Ferrari 488 GT3 second on the grid with a best lap of 1:46.502 (120.330 mph). The longtime GTLM team has expanded to the GTD class at the Rolex 24 to field the entry for Molina and co-drivers Ricardo Perez de Lara, Martin Fuentes, Santiago Creel and Matt Griffin.
 
Mirko Bortolotti qualified the No. 11 GRT Grasser Racing Team Lamborghini third in the GTD session, but the car will be moved to the rear of the class grid after the normally aspirated race car failed a required stall test in post-qualifying technical inspection.
 
As a result of the penalty, Jack Hawksworth was moved to third on the GTD grid with a best lap of 1:46.714 (120.091 mph) in the No. 15 3GT Racing Lexus RC F GT3. Hawksworth’s teammates this weekend include David Heinemeier Hansson, Dominik Farnbacher and Rolex 24 legend Scott Pruett, who will retire as a driver following this weekend’s race.
 
Pruett is going for his 11th Rolex 24 class win, which would extend his own record. He is tied with Hurley Haywood for most overall Rolex 24 victories with five, and he’s the all-time win leader in IMSA competition with 60 career victories.
 
 
 

Automatic Racing ended the 2017 season on a high note, winning the four-hour IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge race at Laguna Seca before closing the season with second at Road Atlanta. Now, the team hopes to carry that momentum into next weekend’s 2018 season opener at Daytona International Speedway.

 

Automatic Racing will field two Aston Martin GT4s during the four-hour race at their home track. Team veterans Al Carter and Steven Phillips, who earned the top finishes last year, will team up with Aurora Straus in the No. 99 Stoner Car Care Aston Martin GT4. Straus competed in the ST class last season, and Daytona marks the 19-year-old’s GS class debut. Straus is also an avid musician, and she is slated to sing the National Anthem prior to the start of the race.

 

Rob Ecklin, another longtime Automatic Racing driver, is co-driving the No. 09 Invisible Glass Aston Martin GT4 with Brandon Kidd and Ramin Abdolvahabi. Kidd has an extensive history racing on dirt and asphalt, including the ARCA Racing Series, SCCA Mazda Pro Cup and dirt/asphalt late models. In 2016 he was crowned the 2016 Lucas Oil Empire Super Sprints Rookie of the Year. Abdolvahabi has competed in both the GS and ST classes of the Continental Tire Series, including an 11th-place finish with Automatic Racing at last year’s Daytona round.

 

Steven Phillips:

We had a successful test at the Roar Before the 24, and I hope we’re able to pick up where we left off. The team has really come together to produce two wonderful Aston Martins for us, so we’re looking forward to giving Stoner Car Care another good showing. I’m excited to have Aurora onboard with us, and I think we have a great driver lineup. We’ll have to execute our plan and minimize mistakes: that’s the key. 

 

Al Carter:

After our strong finish last year, where we had a win and a second, we’re looking forward to the start of 2018. I’ve been chomping at the bit waiting to get back in the car since October. This year there are a lot of new manufacturers and teams in the series, but we unloaded at the Roar the same way we left Atlanta—with a strong car, so I’m pretty confident that we’re ready to go. How cool is it that I get to be paired with the oldest guy and the youngest girl in the field? And I have the utmost respect for both. I watched Aurora last year, so I’m well aware of her talents and experience. I’m confident that she’s going to jump in and be up to speed in her first GS race. 

 

Aurora Straus:

I’m really looking forward to making this jump up in my career. I think I’m ready to deal with the additional horsepower of the Aston Martin, and I know the car is going to be competitive. Automatic Racing has really been a success story, so being able to be a part of that for the opening round at Daytona is a dream come true.

 

Rob Ecklin:

We’ll be getting to know each other as people and as drivers. We’ll look over data and go through some laps to identify strong points and weak points. 2017 was exciting to watch for Steven and Al, and the cars are competitive and ready to go for 2018. We’ll put our best foot forward and see what we can do. I’m anxious to get back on track.

 

Brandon Kidd:

This is my first time in the series, so I just have to take advantage of my teammates. They’re all so experienced, and I leaned a lot from Al and Steven during the Roar to get my lap times down. I think the driver changes will be the tough part! The car and the drivers have to make the whole race, and it’s going to be a long day, but we hope to keep the car in one piece. I’d like us to be there for a solid finish at the end.

 

Ramin Abdolvahabi:

The Aston Martin is fantastic. Automatic Racing has done this car for so many years and it’s really competitive. We have a lot of new cars in the field, but Automatic Racing has a great track record with the Aston Martin. In a four-hour race, you’ve got to consider all of the valuables. You can’t treat it as a sprint race. You have to be conscious and pace yourself.

  

The four-hour BMW Endurance Challenge at Daytona gets the green flag on Friday, January 26, at 1:00pm ET. Fans can follow the action online at IMSA.com, via the IMSA app, or watch live from the track as Automatic Racing kicks off the 2018 season.

 

 

 

Unveiled today during the 2018 SCCA® National Convention in Las Vegas, Nevada, the Sports Car Club of America® announced creation of a new Time Trial Nationals event that joins the ranks of the National Championship Runoffs®, Solo Nationals, RallyCross National Championship and Unites States Road Rally Challenge.

 
Scheduled to take place Sept. 28-30 at NCM Motorsports Park in Bowling Green, Kentucky, the Time Trial (TT) Nationals will open with a full day of track lapping sessions for testing and practice, or can be used for participants to earn their TT novice license permit.
 
Heyward Wagner, SCCA's Director of Marketing and Experiential Programs, said, "If you've never participated in a TT event before, people can come out Friday and earn a TT novice permit. That will let them compete the rest of the weekend and, if everything goes well, receive an SCCA TT license by the end of the weekend."
 
The second day of TT Nationals will open with 20-minute seeding sessions used to determine run groups and orders, followed by a traditional time attack in the afternoon where drivers get one warm-up lap, then have a single lap to post their best time.
 
For the final day of TT Nationals, NCM Motorsports Park will be divided into sections for point-to-point runs. Each competitor will have multiple chances to put down their best time on the shortened segments of track.
 
Wagner said a committee consisting of SCCA members and national staff is currently constructing a rules set for TT Nationals, as well as addressing car classes for the event. Fourteen classes are being considered and include slots for vintage cars and electric vehicles.
 
"This year we aim to establish SCCA as the leader in amateur Time Trials competition in the United States," Wagner said. "Additionally, we will look to generate an event format for the TT Nationals that can be adopted in whole or parts by regions for their TT events. We want to help regions see how TT can be a useful tool for drawing automotive enthusiasts to the Club to have fun with cars."
 
Mike Cobb, SCCA President & CEO, said partnering with the SCCA for the TT Nationals will be Mobil 1, Koni, Hawk and the NCM Motorsports Park.
 
"With the help of partners and an experienced group of SCCA members, I'm sure the TT Nationals will grow to be another gem in our Club's championship crown," Cobb said. "To some degree, TT Nationals combines the Runoffs with Solo Nationals. There will be competition, there will be comradery, and there will be plenty extracurricular social activities."
 
Announcement of the TT Nationals comes on the heels of the recent rebranding of a group of activities existing between autocross and road racing, activities that occur on closed courses but do not involve door-to-door competition. This group of activities, which were once all bundled under the Time Trials banner, now each have a separate identity within the SCCA. Moving forward, all on-track, competitive, timed events will be branded as Time Trials (TT). Non-competitive events will be branded as Track Events (TE), and Hillclimbs remain unchanged. This rebranding, however, does not impact how divisions or regions run programs.