There are several rallies going on this year, and we’re not just talking about the Presidential ones.
There’s also an auto race called the 2016 goldRush Rally – essentially the United States’ response to the Gumball 3000.
One of the entrants has decked their car – a 691-horsewpoer Lamborghini Aventador – out in a Donald Trump wrap, in support of the polarizing Presidential hopeful. The car has been dubbed the Trumpventador.
The car was wrapped by SuperiorAutoDesign, and features Trump’s face, slogans, and the Stars and Stripes. The eighth running of the goldRush Rally begins on Friday in Boston and ends in LA on the 21st.
Nico Rosberg led from the pole and won the 2015 running of the Spanish GP at the Circuit de Catalunya on May 10, 2015 in Montmelo on the outskirts of Barcelona.
Four rounds into the 2016 season and two things have remained the same:
– Exciting mid-pack racing
– Nico Rosberg dominating up front
However, as the field heads to Spain for the first European round of the 2016 season, will we see any new names up front at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya?
Although we won’t know for sure until the lights go out at 8 a.m. on Sunday (follow along with GP Racecast for all of this weekend’s F1 action), here’s a look at who’s hot and who’s not heading into Spain:
Nico Rosberg – HOT
Nico Rosberg has won the last seven World Championship races, something that has only been achieved by Alberto Ascari, Michael Schumacher and Sebastian Vettel before him. Having won from pole here in 2015, Rosberg is coming to a track where he knows he can, again, get the job done.
Sebastian Vettel – NOT
Sebastian Vettel, as expected, has shown throughout the season that he has the pace and the speed to challenge Mercedes. However, several misfortunate events have prevented him, so far, from getting the job done. Unfortunately for Vettel, despite having won the World Championship on four occasions, the German only has one race victory at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, which took place all the way back in 2011.
Red Bull Racing – NOT
Could Daniil Kvyat’s switch from Red Bull to Toro Rosso actually be a blessing in disguise? Red Bull finished seventh and 10th here last year, and 11th and 15th in the last round at Russia – albeit due to a bad strategy call. While Toro Rosso hasn’t done much better, it remains to be seen how well Max Verstappen can do in the Red Bull, and also which of the two teams develops better throughout the 2016 season.
Nico Hulkenberg – NOT
It looked like Nico may have had been on course for a possible resurgence at the start of the year when he beat out his Mexican teammate Sergio Perez in the opening two rounds of the 2016 season. However, Perez has turned the tables in the last two races (while Hulkenberg was caught up in a wreck in the opening turn of the Russian GP, he did start seven positions behind Perez). Hulkenberg does not have a great history with this Spanish circuit, having never finished better than 10th here.
Romain Grosjean – HOT
Grosjean and Haas returned back into the points in Russia after a one-race hiatus. Although it could be argued that he got lucky due to the opening-lap carnage at the Sochi Autodrom, this is definitely a round that Grosjean should have circled on his calendar. He has finished in the points here in three out of his four starts at this circuit.
Fernando Alonso – HOT
Just two races back after his crash in Australia, Alonso crossed the line in a solid sixth-place finish in his McLaren-Honda in Russia. The Spaniard got his most recent F1 win to date at this, his home circuit, back in 2013, and also took the checkered here in 2006. With his teammate Jenson Button also having scored points for McLaren in Russia, things might finally be on the upswing for the Woking-based team.
(From left) Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo are now teammates at the Red Bull Racing team.
Red Bull boss Christian Horner says that the decision to swap Dany Kvyat for Max Verstappen was based on performance – and he claims that the team could potentially the best lineup on the grid.
Horner stressed that a lot of thought had gone into the decision.
“I think you always want to put your best foot forward and have the most competitive driver lineup that you can have,” said Horner. “And I think a Ricciardo/Verstappen lineup for me is potentially one of, if not the strongest pairing, of future years. Of course that depends how things develop and pan out and with regulation changes coming for next year, and hopefully with the power units converging, that provides some great opportunities for this team over the next couple of seasons.”
Horner denied that it was too early for Verstappen: “Certain people said this when he came in at 16 and I think he has proved to be one of the most exciting things about F1 currently in the paddock, and I think he has demonstrated that he has got a great amount of natural talent, great natural ability, he can overtake, he can race.
“He has got an awful lot to learn, but he has a very mature head on young shoulders, and certainly everything I have seen of his development so far has impressed me enormously. And that curve will continue.”
Horner understood that there was some sympathy for Kvyat.
“I think if you look at it, and of course many people will judge it to be harsh or unjust probably, the move that we’ve elected to take. But I think Red Bull is in a unique position. We’ve got four cockpits in F1 between Red Bull and Toro Rosso, at the moment they are four relatively competitive cockpits.
“We have an awful lot of information about the drivers having come through the junior program, we see how they develop on the simulator, we analyze their performance in the car, we generate a huge amount of data, knowledge and information together with other testing that we do with the drivers.
“We came to the conclusion that Daniil has been struggling a little bit for form compared to his teammate, but there has been a consistent pattern there, and the discussion arose about Max. And within the contractual situation that we have with these drivers, and the four cockpits we have, we have the unique opportunity to shuffle the order. So rather than waiting until later in the year we elected to get on and do that in time for the European season, and thus effectively switch the two drivers – Verstappen in to the Red Bull, and Daniil in to the Toro Rosso.”
Horner denied that the Russian GP played a significant role: “I think the accident in Russia for many people is seen as a catalyst: but there is an awful lot more that is considered than just one Sunday afternoon. As I say, we are privy to an awful lot of information with these guys and it wasn’t a decision that was taken lightly and given a huge amount of consideration and other factors as well – regarding the longer term options and future of the Red Bull Racing team regarding its driver lineup.
“We could have waited until after the test at Silverstone, we could wait until later in the year but we elected, if we are going to do it, let’s do it for the start of the European season. Both the drivers were in the factory on Friday of last week testing in the simulator for their respective teams. While it might seem unnatural for another team, the fact Red Bull has these four cockpits it allows us essentially to have that flexibility and deem what we see putting our best foot forwards.
He made it clear that keeping Verstappen within the Red Bull camp was one of the key drivers of the decision: “Of course. Max Verstappen is one of the hottest properties in F1 at this point of time, so it is only natural that other teams will be showing interest in a driver that is demonstrating his kind of ability and talent. I think this move also kills off the driver market, regarding Red Bull drivers, certainly for the foreseeable future.”
Max Verstappen, meanwhile, says that there is no risk involved in being fast-tracked into a top seat with Red Bull Racing.
The Dutchman insisted on Thursday that he is ready for the opportunity he has been handed.
“I’m very happy with the chance they have given me,” he said. “I’m racing for a top team now, so that was always the plan what I wanted to do. And yeah, with the risk, to be honest I think it was a bigger risk to be so young in Formula One but I’ve handled it pretty well.
“From now on it’s just getting used to a new car, which is not easy in the season, but already with the things I’ve done in the factory, already they’ve given me a lot of confidence. Of course, a lot of procedures to learn again, but it will come race-by-race, and I’m definitely going to enjoy it.”
He made it clear that he will be with the team for the long term, with the promotion having kept him out of the hands of other potential suitors.
“Well, I’ve always been very happy with Red Bull and now of course they’ve given me the chance to be in their top team. There is also no reason to change, is there? I’m very happy with them, I think they are very happy with me and we just try to continue like that.
“I think so far that Red Bull has guided me in a very good way and I’ve felt very comfortable and I think that if you are very comfortable you can perform and if you are very happy you perform even better so a happy person and a comfortable person is always performing better and at the moment I’m like that and I hope to keep it that way.
“I think at the end, it’s not up to raw speed, it’s more the experience around it, but that’s just by doing every Grand Prix, step by step and that’s getting better all the time.”
Regarding new teammate Daniel Ricciardo he said: “For sure he’s a great guy. He’s very fast on track and has a lot of experience in the team. I will try to learn a lot from him.”
Scuderia Toro Rosso’s Russian driver Daniil Kvyat sits during a press conference at the Circuit de Catalunya on May 12, 2016 in Montmelo on the outskirts of Barcelona ahead of the Spanish Formula One Grand Prix.
Daniil Kvyat insisted on Thursday that he had no warning about Red Bull´s decision to swap him with Max Verstappen.
The Russian returns to Toro Rosso this weekend despite finishing on the podium just two races ago.
“I think obviously the decision in a way was a bit of a shock also for myself,” he said. “It is what it is at the moment, and I think I’ve always been giving my answers on the track, and I think nothing will change. I will try to give as loud an answer as possible on the track.
“There are 17 races remaining, I’ve come back to Toro Rosso, the team for which I raced in 2014, a team I really like a lot, the team that I’ve felt over the last few days is giving me a very warm welcome, which I’m very grateful for already.
“Now I can feel the atmosphere is very positive in the team. The goals are clear – for the team and for myself – and I’ll be pushing absolute limits on the track and I will be giving my answers there.
“If we look at what happened three weeks ago, or whatever, I was standing on the podium and then suddenly there were a few decisions made around – but the bosses make them, and I have nothing else but to accept them and do my best job possible now in the team I am with – and it is Toro Rosso. It should be OK – but I think I have done everything correctly until now. And nothing will change from my side.”
Kvyat impressed many observers with his positive attitude.
“I see Toro Rosso people, who are very motivated and very hungry. And I’m now extremely hungry, and to be honest I don’t see it as blocking. You have to take the most positive moments now because actually there are a lot more positive moments now than anyone can imagine I think. I take it as a golden opportunity with Toro Rosso.
“And, like I said, I really like the team, I really enjoyed working with them, most of the people are still the same and I believe we can do a really good job. And then once the good job is done, there are more good opportunities to come. I think you always have an opportunity. I think you always have something to fight for.”
Meanwhile, he revealed that he was relaxing at home watching Game of Thrones when Red Bull motor sport boss Helmut Marko called and gave him the news.
“I was in Moscow, I was lying on the sofa, I was watching a TV series and then the phone call comes. It was, ´hello, well, we have some news for you,´ and I think there was a 20 minute talk. I wanted and I think I deserved an explanation. I got to know many interesting details, I must say, which I think I will keep to myself for now.
“Dr. Marko called, he made the phone call. We finished the talk and I went back to finish my TV series, that’s all.”
Dave Connolly, one of the two drivers displaced when Bob Vandergriff Racing closed up shop last month, has returned to his old stomping grounds of Pro Stock.
Connolly, a 26-time winner as a Pro Stock driver, will abandon his nitro firesuit for a return gig as a factory hot rod tuner with Shane Gray. Connolly will be enlisted to help the team find a workable tune-up for a car which has them two rounds outside of the top 10 in points.
Connolly hasn’t worked with an electronic fuel injected Pro Stocker before, but he is not a total novice in working with EFI-equipped race machinery.
"I actually started fooling around with a lot of EFI stuff through the helping process and development of the COPOs through GM, so I had a little bit of EFI background probably to this point enough to get me in trouble," Connolly said with a laugh. "It’s way past one person that’s for sure. [The Grays] have guys that are knowledgeable in the area and I going to try and bring what I do know to the table and kind of look through some of the stuff they’ve done because I have kept up with them even though I’ve been in the Top Fuel pits."
Connolly believes the Gray team has a good combination already, and his role will be to ensure it performs even better.
"I’ve definitely kept up with Shane (Gray)," said Connolly. "He’s become a very, very good friend of mine and their family is like a family of mine. They’ve gone out there and made good runs, especially on race day. I really just want to try and bring those points to the surface and make sure that they’re focusing on some of the things they’ve done right."
"Dave is practically part of our family," added Shane Gray. "It’ll be huge for us to have him look over the car and work with (co-crew chiefs) Jim Yates and Craig Hankinson to make us a little more competitive."
Gray hasn’t had a car indicative of the team’s potential thus far this season. He has won only one round of 2016 competition, compared to four last season at this point. Gray stands two rounds outside of the top ten amongst point earners.
"We’ve been qualifying mid-pack, so that’s the first thing we’d like to improve," Gray explained. "If we could consistently put this Valvoline/Nova Services Camaro in the top three or four during qualifying, then we’d have much better draws on race day, which should translate to more success.
"Having a more consistent and slightly quicker race car also would help me behind the wheel. I feel like I could be driving better, and when you are able to eliminate all the other distractions, at least in my experience, I tend to drive better."
Pro Stock qualifying sessions are scheduled for 4 and 6:30 p.m., Friday, and 1:30 and 4 p.m., Saturday. Eliminations start at noon, Sunday. FS1 will air Friday qualifying from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m., Saturday qualifying from 10 to 11 p.m., and Sunday’s elimination action from 4:40 to 7:30 p.m.
Bobby Bennett is the Publisher/Editor of CompetitionPlus.com, a leading independent online drag racing magazine, since 1999. For the latest in dragster news worldwide, visit www.competitionplus.com or follow on Twitter @competitionplus
French racing driver Romain Grosjean currently sits seventh in the 2016 Formula One driver standings.
Romain Grosjean remains keen to take part in a NASCAR road course event for his F1 team owner Gene Haas, if it can be slotted into his schedule.
The Stewart-Haas camp has made it clear that it would like to create an opportunity for the Frenchman to have a run.
“So far I haven’t spoken with my wife!” he joked on Thursday. “Definitely I want to do it. It’s something we discussed since Day One, and it would be a great experience. When is that going to happen? I don’t know. With 21 races, it’s quite a tight schedule already in F1. Of course you don’t want to start on an oval, I wouldn’t feel very comfortable. We’ll find one that’s possible to do.”
Grosjean’s two opportunities in 2016 are at Sonoma on June 26, and Watkins Glen on Aug. 7. However, the latter would eat into his summer break and thus family time: “That’s the problem! In Sonoma it’s better, I think.”
Grosjean is not new to a closed cockpit, having raced a GT1 car in 2010, but he admits NASCAR would be a big change.
“It’s heavier and more powerful, the brakes don’t look to be the best brakes in the world, there’s a lot of contact as well. A few things to learn. But why not? It’s fun.”
Per NASCAR rules, however, Stewart-Haas Racing would not be able to run a fifth car for him.
The streets of Greenwich can be mean.
A 20-foot-deep sinkhole swallowed a car in the middle of the night on May 12th in the South London district.
No one was injured when the blue Vauxhall Zafira crossover fell into the hole, but things could’ve been worse. The car was caught and left precariously balanced on an old pipe crossing the chasm part way down.
It turns out its owner was nonplussed by the incident.
Police don’t yet know what caused the earth to open up, but were able to retrieve the car without causing additional damage by using a crane.
Nico Rosberg celebrates after taking his seventh consecutive Formula One win at the Sochi Autodrom in Sochi, Russia.
Nico Rosberg insists that he is continuing to improve as a driver after scoring four wins from four starts thus far in 2016.
The German says that the experience he’s gained while competing at the highest level over the past few seasons has helped him to raise his game.
“It’s an ongoing process,” said Rosberg. “I’m still on my upwards slope for sure. The last two years have been very valuable experiences, battling for race wins all the time, battling for the championship. I think I’ve made further progress this year. The first four races were in particular circumstances also, and for me they’ve gone very, very well and cleanly of course, and for my rivals they haven’t.
“Experience is very, very valuable in this sport, that’s the key thing, for doing one fast lap or doing a race well or doing a whole season well, and things like that.”
Rosberg says that he´s not yet looking at the big picture of the championship battle: “It’s not difficult to keep the feet on the ground, just look at reality. Lewis is still the same Lewis as the last two years, still just as quick, and still just as difficult to beat. That’s it. Still a long, long way to go.
“It wouldn’t be good for me to think seven months down the road. The best way for me to try and win Barcelona is to think about Barcelona, and that’s my aim, to win Barcelona, for sure. And I´ve been focusing on that. It’s come quiet naturally, because that’s the way I like to approach it. It’s the best approach for me so that’s what I’m doing.”
He says he’s not focused on closing in on Sebastian Vettel’s record for consecutive victories.
“I’m aware of that yes, but I really don’t think about that. My focus is not on something like that at all. My focus is I really enjoy winning races, I have the opportunity to do win here, and that’s what my focus is on. But it’s a great little anecdote for me that I’ve now equaled whatever the other two drivers are, it’s cool to hear, but as a race driver that’s not where your focus is for sure, I don’t think for anybody.”
Porsche has released the first photos of its new GTE/GTLM contender for 2017, which will debut at the Rolex 24 at Daytona next year.
The successor to the 911 RSR has already completed a successful rollout on the Weissach test track, where the majority of the Porsche works drivers were able to get a first impression of the new 2017 GTE race car.
“It is definitely unusual to put several drivers behind the wheel at a rollout,” says Marco Ujhasi, Overall Project Manager GT Works Motorsport.
“But since all of our works drivers are involved in the development of the new car, the ones who could fit it into their schedules came to Weissach and turned a couple of laps.”
The new 911 is understood to feature revised engine and gearbox placements for improved weight distribution.
No details were given on the engine side, though it’s believed to be powered by a derivative of the current four-liter flat-six normally aspirated engine.
The pictures released by Porsche show no details of the rear-end of the new car.
“The race debut of a completely new vehicle at a 24-hour race is a big challenge. But we are right on schedule,” said Dr. Frank-Steffen Walliser, Head of Porsche Motorsport.
Walliser already confirmed to Sportscar365 it’s Porsche’s intention to also have two factory Manthey-run cars back in the WEC in 2017, alongside an expected two-car program in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
An extensive testing program will take place on selected racetracks around the world.
Plenty of photographers and videographers were on hand at the Nurburgring Nordscheife earlier this week as the 2017 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 prototype took to the “Green Hell.”
While many were singing the praises of the car’s looks and sound, things weren’t all too well for the Camaro. Either a driver error or braking failure seems to be to blame, as the car locked up its tires and hit the wall Wednesday morning. While the car sustained damage to its right-front fender, the driver and passenger were able to pull it off course and get out OK.
Video by Motorionline