The place for current RWRS universe and "canon" historical series
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I request Scott Dixon to defend his Indy 500 crown of course (Option 1)
Klon wrote:What did poor André do to you for him to be insulted like that?
American Racing News wrote:
Duval Puts Toyota Onto Pole For Texas
Loic Duval knew he was only going to get one shot to win the pole for Saturday's Foyt/Rutherford Twelve Hours in Texas race.
He didn't miss the chance.
Duval's 1:27.131 put the #9 Gazoo Toyota atop the leaderboard midway through the session, and both Pipo Derani (#5 Penske) and Heikki Kovalainen (#21 Kronstadt) fell a quarter-second short in their last attempts.
The 60-minute session - which will be used for the rest of the season - replaced the 15-minute shootout to set the grid for a 60-minute qualifying sprint that caused so much carnage in the ill-fated winter test at Michigan International Speedway. With each team allowed 15 laps, the Toyota strategy had Duval going out for an outlap, one hot lap and a cool-down lap. He had the option for a second hot lap if traffic ruined his first shot, but he didn't need it.
Things didn't go nearly as well in the adjoining pit stall, as the #10 Toyota only got qualifying specialist Dane Cameron out for one hot lap, with Tony Kanaan and Kamui Kobayashi splitting the other five. That left them in sixth place, behind the #8 Andretti BMW and the second Penske.
In GTD, the day belonged to the same Keto engines that put Kovalainen in third in the prototype class. Nighthawk Racing's promising young Scot, Missy Stewart, set the early pace with a 1:34.262 in the #19, only to see veteran teammate A.J. Allmendinger post a 1:33.540 in the #20. Stewart's driving partner and spouse, Lisa Keto, moved the #19 back atop the pylon with a 1:33.400 before Stewart finished the session with a 1:33.264. Laurens Vanthoor was the only other GTD driver to break 1:34, taking third with a 1:33.992 in the #95 MarchSixteen Porsche. Earl Bamber (1:34.086) was fourth in the #97 Porsche, 1/100th of a second ahead of Casey Mears in the #3 Corvette.
In eGT, Nico Rosberg got a surprising 1:35.999 out of the Tesla, putting him ahead of Antonio Felix da Costa in the TECHEETAH Maserati, James Calado in the #48 Menlo Park Ferrari and Mario Farnbacher in the #36 Peregrine Audi.
The qualifying session came after a largely uneventful 90 minutes of practice on Friday morning. Kyle Kirkwood set the fastest lap of the session, putting up a 1:28.177 in the #1 Penske in the last seconds. That was more than a half-second faster than his teammate Derani's best time in the #5 and 0.777 ahead of Scott Dixon in the #21 Kronstadt. The Gazoo Toyotas finished 5th and 10th, but spent most of their laps running on the hard tire compound.
In GTD, the surprise of the morning was Jamie Chadwick running near the top of the table in her first session in the #4 Corvette. Chadwick, who replaced Kyle Larson after Daytona, was only beaten by endurance veteran Rene Rast in the #12 Audi and Stewart in the fast-but-fragile Nighthawk. Corvette's other new driver, Josef Newgarden, only took the wheel long enough to do a few medium-speed laps at the end of the session.
The eGT session was dominated by the #23 Turner BMW, but several teams appeared to be working on race setup rather than preparing for qualifying.
IMSA Insight wrote:
Stewart wins pole, blows top
IMSA press conferences are never particularly lively, and post-qualifying sessions are among the worst of the lot. Drivers thank their teams, their sponsors, their car owners, their sponsors, the people back at the factory and their sponsors.
That's not how things went on Friday evening. Nico Rosberg got most of the attention after taking the eGT for Tesla, but everything went off the rails when GTD pole-sitter Missy Stewart was asked about the benefits her career has gotten from being the granddaughter of a Formula 1 champion.
As Rosberg buried his head in his hands, someone said "oh no."
"My grandfather's name was Robert and he died down a coal mine before my dad was even born," she said in the quiet tone familiar to anyone who has asked her a similar question. "Stewart is one of the most common bleeding names in Scotland. Our kings and queens were Stewarts. So is Sir Jackie and so am I, and both proud of it, but any blood we share is as ancient as Queen Mary."
The hapless reporter started to speak - probably to apologize - but didn't have a chance.
"Nay, you asked the question and now I'm answering," she said. "Last year, when I won the (Indy Lights) race in Detroit, I was so happy, even when they played the English anthem. I got to jump into the Scott Fountain with my wife in her hometown and the city where we live.
"And then the first question at the press conference was about Sir Jackie and the second was about getting sponsorship by marrying the heiress to Keto Engineering. Lisa's dad, granddad and great-granddad were all racers, and the Ketos who run the company are distant cousins in Finland she's barely ever met. We earned our sponsorships by spending 18 months testing hybrid and electric engines, all while racing Indy Lights.
"The Menlo Park guys got the same deal we did, and no one asks them about sleeping their way to the top. You ask me about my imaginary relationship with Sir Jackie, but you didn't ask Nico about being the actual son of an actual F1 champ. It's always me who gets the questions about all the help I must have gotten. I'm sick of it. Next question."
After a long pause, a voice piped up from the back of the room.
"Hello, I am from Wonderful Women Racing World," it said. "Is it true your racing career is all because of your uncle Tony?"
There was a slight gasp from the audience before Stewart, recognizing the voice of teammate Emma Kimilainen, fell into a fit of uncontrollable giggles.
If all IMSA press conferences were this chaotic, we would have a lot more subscribers.
IMSA Insight wrote: 2021 Foyt/Rutherford Twelve Hours of Texas LIVE
GRID: The Toyotas are the class of the field, but the #10 team came off their win in Daytona with a terrible qualifying session and start sixth. Can the #9 take advantage and build an early lead while their teammates work through traffic? Can Kronstadt, Nighthawk and TECHEETAH get their fast-but-fragile engines through 12 hours after only one limped home after 24 hours in Daytona? Can the race get through the first lap without carnage?
HOUR ONE: The first lap wasn’t calm, especially in the back of the pack – Earl Bamber jumped from 4th in GTD to 2nd in the first turn, while Lelani Munter dropped from first to 6th in eGT in the first two laps – but no cars sustained damage. At the end of 60 minutes, all 28 cars are running smoothly. In GTP, the #9 Toyota has led all 39 laps with Loic Duval four seconds ahead of Felipe Nasr in the #21 Kronstadt and another six ahead of Kamui Kobayashi in the second Toyota.
In GTD, A.J. Allmendinger got ahead of teammate Emma Kimilainen off the line and led until the first set of pit stops, when a quick stop by the #4 Corvette team put Jamie Chadwick into the lead. She’s two seconds ahead of Gio Friello in the #20 Nighthawk and another two back to Casey Mears in the #3 Corvette. The MarchSixteen Porsches dropped to sixth and ninth on the first set of stops – a potential sign of trouble for the usually dominant team?
Mario Farnbacher went from 4th to 1st on the first lap of eGT and the #23 Turner BMW hasn’t been caught since. Brandon Hartley is only three seconds back in the WeatherTech Porsche with Jean-Eric Vergne another four behind.
HOUR TWO: We’ve had our first retirement, and it was a big one. After finishing second in Daytona, a suspension failure sent Jeff Westphal into the wall on lap 26 in the #36 Peregrine Audi. There were also pit-road speeding penalties, with Ryan Briscoe getting one in the #5 Penske and Alessandro Pier Guidi getting busted in the Daytona-winning #47 Menlo Park Ferrari. With a short pit road, though, the drive-through penalties aren’t as crippling as at Daytona.
Teams are pitting about every 40 minutes for fuel, and outstanding work by the #9 Toyota team has helped Alexander Rossi build a 23-second lead over Dane Cameron in the #10. In GTD, Rene Rast is leading in the #12 Audi, with Richard Leitz, Allmendinger and Kimilainen all within 10 seconds. Josef Newgarden is 18 seconds back, but setting fastest laps in the #3 Corvette. Robby Foley leads eGT for BMW, but Jeffri Ibrahim (Mercedes), Tomas Gabrysiak (#48 Menlo Park) and Jake Dennis (TECHEETAH) are all within 10 seconds. The first of three sets of Endurance Cup points is only two hours away, so teams will be carefully planning their pit strategies.
HOUR THREE: Teams are definitely stretching their pit windows, although Juan Pablo Montoya ruined the #5 Penske strategy by coming out of the pits on cold tires, spinning into the gravel and ending up back in the pits. They are now three laps down on the leaders, the dominant #9 Toyota. They are up 33 seconds on their teammates, with the Kronstadt the only other car within a minute of the lead.
In GTD, Rast now has an 11-second lead over Allmendinger after Lietz crashed under pressure from Newgarden and Kimilainen. Not much has changed in eGT, although Rubens Barichello in the Mercedes has turned up the heat on BMW’s Aidan Read after a cycle of pit stops and driver changes.
HOUR FOUR: The first set of Endurance Points are upon us, but no teams were able to make it the four-hour mark with one fewer pit stop, so the standings are much the same as an hour ago. However, one team may have pulled an ace out of their sleeve. Russell Ward was caught speeding on pit road, and given three laps to complete a drive-through penalty. By waiting until the third lap, he made it to the four-hour checkpoint with the Mercedes still in first place in eGT. They will be lucky to be fourth in another lap, so they will gain three or four Enduro Cup points.
265 MINUTES: The first multi-car accident of the race, as Heikki Kovilainen in the Kronstadt tries to pass much-slower Kazuo Nakajima in the WeatherTech Porsche at the end of the back straight and they make contact and crash hard into the tire barrier. No injuries, but both cars are out.
HOUR FIVE: A green-flag pit cycle has just started, but the Toyotas are still dominating GTP and the #12 Audi is ahead in GTD after Matt Keto was given a drive-through penalty for violating track limits on a pass. The Mercedes dropped to third in eGT after Ward’s drive-through penalty but have already regained the lead.
HOUR SIX: Almost every team is now on the harder compound tires, which should allow them to double-stint tires as night falls and the track cools. Alexander Rossi has lapped Dane Cameron and now has a 1:47 lead in GTP. Helio Castroneves, in the #1 Penske, is the only other car within two laps of Rossi. Rast is up by 26 seconds in GTD, but Rubens Barichello has fought back from a poor pit stop to get the Mercedes back with 5 seconds of the front-running TECHEETAH Ferrari.
HOUR SEVEN: Not much has changed in the standings, although Frederic Vervisch struggled badly in his last stint in the #12 Audi, handing over to Ferdinand Habsburg with the lead down to seven seconds. Robin Frijns has retired the #2 Audi with hydraulic failures. With the second set of Enduro Cup points coming in an hour, teams are planning to steal a few more.
HOUR EIGHT: Like Daytona, the race is starting to slip into boredom. The only GTP battle within 20 seconds is Carlos Jimenez in the #7 Andretti BMW chasing Kevin Magnussen in the #33 Ganassi Cadillac for seventh. Rene Rast still leads Gio Friello by 14 seconds in GTD, having recovered some of the time lost by Vervisch, and Jake Dennis now has the TECHEETAH Maserati 32 seconds ahead of the Winward Mercedes. The Endurance Cup points didn’t cause any major effort, and the last set will be given out at the finish.
HOUR NINE: A lead change in GTD, as Vervisch gives up so much of the margin that the #20 Nighthawk Corvette ends the next pit cycle with Allmendinger six seconds ahead of Habsburg.
HOUR TEN: This could be the decisive moment in GTD. Rene Rast got the #12 back in front of Friello in the #20, but they’ve just pitted to put Vervisch back in the car. Friello is going to push as hard as he can on a light fuel load to try to extend the lead to more than the distance of a pit stop. It worked an hour ago, but we’ll see what happens here. The big advantage for the #20 Nighthawk team is, after this set of pit stops, they will have Matt Keto running against Vervisch. They need to open up some space.
There could be some interesting races for the GTP and eGT podiums, but it is hard to see anyone catching the Toyotas or the TECHEETAH Maserati without a disaster.
HOUR ELEVEN: The #20 Nighthawk Corvette strategy worked, as Audi short pitted to get Vervisch out of the car, but had a 78-second pit stop while it only took Keto 63 seconds to hand over to Allmendinger. He now has a 17-second lead with an hour to go.
Ryan Briscoe just got past Marcus Ericsson for fifth overall, so the Penskes are running 3-4 behind the Toyotas. Josef Newgarden appears locked into third in GTD, while the eGT pit cycles are so out of sync that it might come down to a fuel-mileage finish.
HOUR TWELVE: No late thrills as the remaining 24 cars are happy to see out the final hour in position. After the last set of pit stops, with every car on its last set of soft tires, the only battles within 20 seconds were for fourth, fifth, and sixth in GTD. Nikki Thiim (#007 Vantage) was never threatened by Wouter Lamberigts in the #22 Audi, and Lisa Keto never made a serious closing bid on Lamberigts with the #19 Nighthawk. The final margins of victory were 2:44 for the #9 Toyota, with the #10 a further two laps ahead of the #1 Penske, 32 seconds for the #20 Nighthawk, and 51 seconds for the #6 TECHEETAH Maserati.
American Racing News wrote:
Toyota Makes Mockery of American Endurance Racing
It was always going to be a risk to allow Toyota Gazoo to enter the GTP category this season, given the years of experience they have with running hybrid prototypes in Europe. IMSA said the budget caps meant they wouldn't be able to upgrade their cars to adapt to American conditions, so other teams could beat them with research and development.
Those same IMSA officials crowed after the Toyotas didn't look overpowering in preseason testing and finished 9th and 10th in the sprint for the Daytona pole. They haven't been heard from in Austin. A driving error meant Toyota only finished first and sixth in the Rolex 24 Hours, but they brought their A-game to Texas and humiliated the field.
Sebastian Buemi, Loic Duval, and Alexander Rossi won the pole, jumped out to an early lead, and finished the Twelve Hours In Texas three laps ahead of the nearest American team and five ahead of any car with an American engine. Their teammates in the #10, in cruise control after they established themselves in second place, still finished two laps ahead of the third-place Penske.
The #10 team has 432 points, 101 more than their teammates. The #5 Acura Penske is at 312 and the #1 has 310, so they are still in a competitive race for second place. But does anyone expect that to remain the case? The #8 Andretti has 225 points, followed by the two Ganassi Cadillacs with 168 and 164.
It's clear the Toyotas don't belong in the same category as the rest of these cars, and now the question becomes if anyone will make a significant effort to close the gap for 2022.
What Happened To Porsche?
At Daytona, it was Keto Engineering that left with its tail between its legs. One of only two engine manufacturers running in all three classes - Audi is the other - their four cars ended the 24 Hours with three DNFs and a sixth-place finish. They promised a better performance in Texas and they delivered with wins in GTD and eGT and their only GTP car knocked out by driver error while in third place.
This time, it was Porsche who couldn't get its act together. Yes, their eGT car was taken out in the same accident as the Keto GTP machine, but the MarchSixteen Porsche GTD team had a horrific day. After finishing 1-2 at Daytona, they came home seventh and 10th at COTA. In the process, they dropped from first to third in the GTD engine standings - Audi and Keto are tied at 385 to their 360 - and dropped the same two positions in the Enduro Cup standings. They are seventh in eGT Enduro Cup, and Sebring is the next race on the schedule.
Who Are These Guys?
Two years ago, Menlo Park Motorsports didn't exist. However, a pair of MIT engineers with ideas about electric race cars saw an advertisement looking for racing teams that could provide test drivers for hybrid and electric endurance cars. They called some friends who knew some people who knew some drivers looking for jobs, got some names and sent in an application. According to the stories going around the garage these days, they had no idea one of the drivers they had submitted was a 17-year-old English girl.
They picked their team name after hearing Elon Musk was involved - Menlo Park was, of course, Thomas Edison's laboratory - and hired a team based on the recommendations of the drivers they still hadn't met. They also built a wickedly fast electric engine and a simulator that they've now sold to at least two F1 teams.
The other testing team, Nighthawk Racing, first raced at the Indy 500 in 1967, returned in the 1990s, and has a family relationship with Keto Engineering, a Finnish company that's been building racing engines for decades. They've done quite well in the last two years, winning an Indy Lights race on their home track (Belle Isle), taking a second place at Milwaukee, and winning the GTD race this weekend in Texas.
And they've been completely eclipsed by Menlo Park. In 2020, their four drivers won five races and finished second six times. At the Freedom 100 - the biggest Indy Lights race of the season - they finished 1-2. The 17-year-old, Abbi Pulling, won at Milwaukee and finished sixth in the point standings, while two of her teammates - Justin Case and Jonas Soderstrom - finished second and third behind David Malukas. They also won the team championship, beating out development stalwarts like HMD, Andretti, Juncos, and Carlin.
This year, with three of the same four drivers - Pulling stayed in Indy Lights and was replaced by Rahel Frey - they have four podium finishes in three eGT races and are running 1-2 in the team standings.
Their performance is widely believed to be the catalyst for the complaint filed by several prospective Tesla Trophy teams protesting Tesla's exclusive engine rights for the e-Prototype series in 2022 and 2023. At least two F1 constructors have told IMSA they would enter the Tesla Trophy no later than 2023 if they can buy Menlo Park engines, but would not compete with free Tesla engines.
"If IMSA insists on Tesla power for the electric prototypes next season, they won't have a series," said an official at a current IMSA team. "With the new rules, you're building one car to run Daytona and Le Mans. No one is going to do that with a shitbox Tesla engine."
American Racing News wrote: Montoya Puts Penske On Pole at Sebring
Juan Pablo Montoya's 1:49.106 on the final lap of qualifying gave his #5 Penske the pole by 0.028 seconds over the #10 Gazoo Toyota. Scott Dixon finished third in the #21 Kronstadt Keto ahead of the #9 Toyota and the #8 Andretti BMW.
In GTD, Nighthawk Racing locked out the first row, with Matt Keto in the #20 beating sister Lisa in the #19 by 0.33 seconds. Jamie Chadwick was third in the #4 Corvette ahead of John Davis (#95 MarchSixteen) and Sean Geleal (#22 Audi).
Mark Webber turned back the clock to win the eGT pole in the #99 Porsche by 0.051 seconds over the #36 Audi with the #54 Mercedes another 0.007 behind.
The qualifying session followed the tightest practice of the season. There were five different teams in the first five spots in both GTP and eGT, and Nico Rosberg beat two GTD teams on a track that seems to suit the electric cars.
Ryan Briscoe took top spot in the #5 Penske, but Dane Cameron (#10 Gazoo) and Scott Dixon (#21 Kronstadt) were within a tenth of a second. Nine of the ten cars were within one second, and it appeared the #33 Ganassi Cadillac was running with heavy fuel tanks for most of the session.
In GTD, seven of the 10 cars held the top spot at one point during the 90-minute session, but A.J. Allmendinger's 1:57.329 put him seven-tenths of a second ahead of the #007 Vantage with the #96 MarchSixteen and the #4 Corvette another half-second behind.
As usual, the Tesla only looked competitive with Rosberg at the wheel, but the #48 Menlo Park Ferrari was the only car to finish within 1.5 seconds of him.
IMSA Insight wrote:
Live Blog: Twelve Hours of Sebring
GRID: Another sunny day – the IMSA season hasn’t seen a drop of rain thus far. The biggest surprise is the #21 Kronstadt Keto going with crash-prone Heikki Kovalainen over defending Indy 500 champ Scott Dixon for the first stint. Alex Palou, fresh off his season-opening IndyCar win in St. Petersburg, is at the wheel of the #33 Ganassi Cadillac.
START: A rare clean first lap, although Juan Pablo Montoya bogged down off the line and was passed by Dane Cameron and Kovalainen. Back in the field, Kazuo Nakajima got past Ross Gunn – a rare eGT pass of a GTD car.
HOUR ONE: The Toyota Gazoos are already checking out, as Loic Duval in the #9 is the only car within 30 seconds of Kamui Kobayashi in the #10. Marco Andretti has moved up to third as the Penske cars have struggled early. In GTD, Audi used a quick pit stop to get Rene Rast ahead of the two Nighthawks, but A.J. Allmendinger and Lisa Keto easily tracked him down to move back in front. The Tesla seems to have a new motor, because Lelani Munter and Marchy Lee have built a 13-second lead without needing Nico Rosberg.
HOUR TWO: Still no retirements, but there’s not much competition. The two-hour mark comes during green-flag pit stops, but the Toyotas, Nighthawks and Tesla have looked untouchable early, although Alexander Rossi got past Kobayashi after a poor pit stop by the #10 team. The interesting strategy is seeing which teams are using hard tires early to avoid a repeat of Texas, where most teams only had one soft set left for the last three hours.
HOUR THREE: There’s finally an exciting battle on the track, as Jordan Taylor, Ferdinand Habsburg, Emma Kimilainen and Sean Gelael are within four seconds of each other for second place in GTD, albeit a minute behind Gio Friello in the #20 Nighthawk. The Toyotas lead Marco Andretti by 78 seconds in GTP and the Tesla is masking a good fight among the point-scoring eGT teams, with the Mercedes leading the Audi, BMW and TECHEETAH by less than 10 seconds.
HOUR FOUR: With every car still running, some teams will bank rare Endurance Cup points. A few teams tried to stretch their tires to grab an extra point or two, but the only one who managed was the #5 Penske, which picked up three points for third place.
HOUR FIVE: The #10’s second horrible pitstop has let Duval build a 40-second lead in the #9, with Scott Dixon and Phillip Eng battling for third a lap down. Matt Keto has a 90-second lead on Jamie Chadwick, who is trying to hold off Lisa Keto. The Audis have dropped back by about 20 seconds. In eGT, Mercedes has stretched out its pit cycle well enough to take a 40-second lead over the BMW and TECHEETAH.
HOUR SIX: Where has all this reliability come from? Six hours into the race, we’ve stayed green the whole way and no team has even needed an extended pit stop. With all three classes being dominated by one car, we could use a safety car or even some rain.
HOUR SEVEN: It took 195 laps, but Felipe Nasr took the #21 Kronstadt Keto behind the wall with a hydraulic failure. The car is as fast as anything other than the Toyotas, but it hasn’t come close to finishing a race. The most exciting on-track moment of the race came when Jamie Chadwick went wheel-to-wheel with the Keto siblings for three laps. When Lisa dropped down to block Chadwick and hold on to second, her brother passed both of them to increase the #20 car’s lead to a full lap.
HOUR EIGHT: A pit blunder by the #9 Toyota team has let the #10 back within 13 seconds as the second set of Endurance Cup points are awarded. Gio Friello in the #20 Nighthawk led Missy Stewart unlap herself in the #19 to make sure they picked up the maximum points for first and second. Rubens Barichello is still comfortably ahead in eGT.
HOUR NINE: A second retirement as night falls, with Mirko Bortolotti putting the #2 Audi into the barriers to cause the first yellow flag of the race. No safety car is needed, though. Henry Paul picks up a pit-lane speeding penalty to make a dismal day for the Aston Martin team even worse.
HOUR TEN: More problems as it gets darker. Ron Mignolet bins the #22 Audi out of fifth in GTD, and Jordan Taylor (#4 Corvette) and Jake Dennis (#6 TECHEETAH) both make mistakes that lead to lengthy pit stops. With every team on soft tires for the last two hours, only errors or mechanical failures are going to change the outcomes.
HOUR ELEVEN: Alessandro Pier Guidi adds to Menlo Park’s misery by sliding into a barrier and ending their night early. Helio Castroneves also took some damage in the incident, but has kept going with only an hour left. Most of the teams are just looking to get to the finish at this point.
FINISH: With 30 minutes left and a comfortable second place wrapped up, Dane Cameron misjudges a pass to put Kelvin van der Linde another lap down and puts himself into the wall. Van der Linde manages to escape the gravel and pull out a shocking second-place finish for the #8 Andretti BMW. The MarchSixteen Porsches recover to third and fifth in GTD, far behind the dominant Nighthawk Ketos. The #54 Mercedes wins GTP by almost a minute, but ends up 52 seconds behind the Tesla, adding more intrigue to the dispute over the 2022 Tesla Trophy power units.
GTP: Pipo Derani (#5 Penske)
GTD: A.J. Allmendinger (#20 Nighthawk)
eGT: Nico Rosberg (#71 Tesla)
eGT (official): Rubens Barrichello (#54 Mercedes)
American Racing News wrote:
Give the Title to Toyota .. But Which One?
Going into the season, the GTP championship was expected to come down to the two Toyota Gazoos, and while it still might, the #10 is struggling to stay in the race. After Dane Cameron's late mistake dropped them from second to eighth at Sebring, the #9 now has a commanding 581-472 lead in the standings. The #10 is a tight battle for the last two podium spots with the Acura Penskes, with the #1 at 460 points and the #5 at 432. The #8 Andretti BMW is still in contention at 405 points, thanks to its win in the Daytona pole race and its second at Sebring.
In GTD, the #20 Nighthawk Keto leads the #12 WRT Audi 532-475 with the #96 MarchSixteen Porsche at 462. The #19 Nighthawk made up some ground with a second in Sebring, but is still a distant fourth at 346.
In eGT, the Winward Mercedes has moved out to a comfortable 88-point lead over the #23 Audi, but the battle for second place is intense. The Audi has 424 points with the #48 Menlo Park Ferrari (418), the #6 TECHEETAH Maserati (416), and the #47 Menlo Park Ferrari (408) all within 16 points.
Where Are the American Engines?
While IMSA prides itself on drawing cars and talent from around the world, things might have gone too far in terms of engine development. Through the first three races of the season - 48 hours of driving - there is only one American engine manufacturer in a podium spot over the three racing classes. Menlo Park is currently second in eGT, trailing Mercedes 532-528, with BMW in third at 456. In GTP, Toyota Gazoo has a 758-525 lead over Mugen Honda with BMW third at 475, and Keto leads Porsche 635-540 in GTD with Audi at 535.
That's five German engines, two Japanese engines, a Finnish engine, and an independent American engine in Menlo Park. Things are slightly better in the chassis department, with Chevrolet leading in GTD and American-made Dallaras running second in GTP. There's not an American car running in eGT, though.
Three Down to Two
After three endurance races to start the seasons, teams will be saying goodbye to their third drivers for most of the summer. Ten of the next 11 races are three-hour sprint races, so the only time the third drivers will be back is for the Six Hours At The Glen. There will be a reunion of sorts in June, with IMSA racing at Belle Isle on the same weekend as IndyCar (Josef Newgarden, Scott Dixon, JImmie Johnson, Alex Palou, Alexander Rossi, Kyle Kirkwood) and Indy Lights (Jamie Chadwick, Emma Kimilainen).
The break from endurance racing also means a freeze in the Enduro Cup, where 10 of the 15 sets of points have already been awarded. In GTP, the #10 Gazoo leads the #9 40-38 with the #5 Penske holding a 26-24 edge over its #1 teammates for third.
GTD is closer with the #20 Nighthawk holding a 33-28 lead over the #12 Audi and the #96 MarchSixteen Porsche on 27. In eGT, the TECHEETAH Maserati leads the Winward Mercedes 35-31 with the Turner BMW at 24.
Shakeup at Nighthawk Racing?
So far this season, the #20 Nighthawk has been faster than its sister #19, but there's a good chance that will change as the weather warms up. While Emma Kimilainen has impressed as the third driver in the #19, setting the fastest lap at Texas, her co-drivers Lisa Keto and Missy Stewart have been consistently faster in all three races. That's not the case for the #20, where A.J. Allmendinger has set the fastest lap at both Daytona and Sebring and been the best driver in a stacked GTD field.
Keto and Stewart were faster than Matt Keto and Gio Friello during the preseason and outperformed the male half of the team last year in Indy Lights. Stewart won on Belle Isle and Lisa Keto had four podium finishes on her way to a fourth-place finish in the standings. Meanwhile, Matt Keto (10th) and Friello (11th) rarely threatened the top 5. Lisa finished ahead of her brother 10 times in 12 races, and her wife was tied for third in the standings with three races left before a series of mechanical failures.
The #19 team has better chemistry as a trio - Kimilainen famously set up Keto and Stewart on their first date while Allmendinger sees the #20 as just another gig - but don't be surprised if Lisa Keto and Stewart are the faster pair going forward.