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Archive for June, 2013

MSA AcademyChampionship-winning racing driver Seb Morris is to appear on the Sky Sports F1 Channel tomorrow evening, Thursday, 27th June, as part of a special feature filmed at Daytona Sandown Park earlier this week with the MSA Academy.

Welsh 17-year-old Seb, who currently competes in the BRDC Formula 4 Championship, joined fellow MSA (Motor Sports Association) supported competitors and drivers from the GP2 Series and GP3 Series for a piece filmed with Sky Sports F1 pundit, and former Grand Prix winner, Johnny Herbert.

Set to be broadcast in the ‘F1 Show’ programme at 20.00 tomorrow night on Sky Sports F1, the feature will shine the spotlight on Marford-based Seb and his peers as they take part in a kart race at the Surrey track organised by the MSA Academy.

“It was really good to join-up with some top drivers from GP2 and GP3 and all be on track racing at the same time – it gives you a good benchmark”, said Seb, “The highlight for me was an amazing battle with Mr Johnny Herbert himself, we were dicing together for several laps and we had a nice handshake as we went over the finish line which was great.

“I had a good half-hour chat with him, he gave some pointers about how to approach racing and the sort of things he’d done to prepare during his career. It really was a fantastic day and I’d like to take this opportunity to say a big thank you to the MSA Academy and, of course, Johnny Herbert.”

Seb, who won the Ginetta Junior Winter Series title in 2010, the main Ginetta Junior Championship in 2011 and the Protyre Formula Renault Winter Series crown in 2012, is now busy preparing for the fourth event of the BRDC Formula 4 Championship season which will take place at his ‘home’ track, Oulton Park International Circuit in Cheshire, next Saturday, 6th July.

Photo by MSA Academy.

Ahmad Al Harthy - NBO Racing TeamPaul Ricard HTTT in the south of France will host round three of the Blancpain Endurance Series this coming weekend, 29th/30th June, where ARC Bratislava-NBO Racing Team driver Ahmad Al Harthy is aiming to continue his recent winning momentum.

Having won the GTR Class during the previous Blancpain event at Silverstone in the UK, partnering Slovakia’s Miro Konôpka, Ahmad also claimed a maiden outright victory in the Avon Tyres British GT Championship just over a week ago so the 31-year-old’s confidence is currently sky high.

“I really am looking forward to my first visit to Paul Ricard, especially off the back of such a great result at Silverstone last time out in Blancpain and also my win in British GT”, said the Omani, “It’s another new challenge, a new adventure for the NBO Racing Team, but I’m confident we can push for another good finish at the weekend – I really want to try and keep the winning momentum!”

Beginning his debut Blancpain campaign with eighth in class at Monza in Italy back in April, having been on course for a potential victory until gearbox problems arose, Ahmad and endurance racing veteran Konôpka starred at Silverstone during round two with an outstanding performance.

Taking a double stint in the testing three-hour encounter, meaning roughly two hours behind the wheel of the National Bank of Oman, Nawras, Oman Ministry of Tourism and Oman Ministry of Sports Affairs-liveried Porsche 997 GT3R, Ahmad was in tremendous form.

Round three at Paul Ricard, which is situated close to Le Castellet near Marseille, is expected to once again feature a huge grid of around 60 cars from across Europe with Ferrari, McLaren, BMW, Aston Martin, Mercedes, Lamborghini and, of course, Porsche all represented.

In terms of the championship table ahead of the weekend’s action, the ARC Bratislava-NBO Racing Team is second in the GTR Class standings on 31 points. In the GTR driver championship, Ahmad and Konopka are also in second place on 29 points – just eight shy of the class lead.

“It’s been a fantastic season so far, I’m getting much stronger and more adjusted to the demands of endurance racing each time we’re on track and I’m really delighted with the start we’ve had”, added Ahmad, “It’s going to be a very tough race at Paul Ricard, incredibly challenging as Blancpain always is, but we’re confident of a strong weekend and aiming to try and challenge for the GTR win again.”

Following free practice at Paul Ricard on Saturday, 29th June, pre-qualifying will take place at 15.40 (local time). The all-important final qualifying session will be held at 10.25 (local time) on Sunday, 30th June, with the three hour race scheduled to commence at 15.00 (local time). Live streaming of round three will be available online at www.blancpain-endurance-series.com/pages/live

Photo by Jakob Ebrey Photography.

Daniel LloydPorsche Carrera Cup GB Scholar Daniel Lloyd managed to keep hold of his position in the top four of the championship standings at Croft Circuit over the weekend, 22nd/23rd June, despite two incredibly tough, and unbelievably unfortunate, races at the North Yorkshire venue.

With realistic hopes of continuing his recent podium-finishing form, especially after qualifying third fastest for rounds nine and 10 of the season, the Team Parker Racing driver was caught-up in contact in both encounters – limiting him to a best finish of sixth place in Saturday’s first outing.

Making a good start to the first 15-lap race, the Huddersfield 21-year-old looked to try and pass series leader Michael Meadows for second place through the first turn, Clervaux, but contact pitched him into a spin which dropped him to last place.

Mounting a strong recovery, Daniel carved his way back through the order impressively and charged through into the top six before the finish to salvage some hard-earned points and limit the damage to his championship position.

Determined to make amends in the live, televised second race on Sunday, the West Yorkshireman again got away well from the line to maintain third place and followed Meadows and race leader Dean Stoneman closely through Clervaux.

At the exit of the corner though, Stoneman braked sharply which caused a concertina-effect for the cars behind and resulted in Meadows hitting the back of the leader’s car, in turn causing Daniel to tag the back of Meadows.

Rory Butcher and James Birch didn’t have time to react either, Butcher ramming the back of Daniel’s Porsche as Birch ploughed into the Scotsman. With the incident eliminating no less than five cars, officials viewed the footage post-race and decided to exclude Stoneman for his part in the incident.

Although Daniel didn’t score any points, retiring shortly after the contact with damage to his radiator and engine, Stoneman’s exclusion does mean the impact to the Porsche Scholar’s title bid wasn’t as bad as it might have been and he goes into the summer break only 12 points shy of third place.

“I got off to a good start off the line, into the first corner it all looked good”, said Daniel reflecting on round 10, “It was pretty obvious there’d be no overtaking into the second tight corner so I just got ready to brake as normal but, before we knew it, Dean [Stoneman] had stamped on the brakes as if he was coming to halt.

“Michael [Meadows] hit Dean, did his radiator, I then hit Michael, which did my rad, and then Butcher and Birch didn’t have chance to stop either. We think it may have wrecked the engine as well so it’s pretty bad to be honest.”

Following a lengthy six-week summer sojourn, the second half of the Porsche Carrera Cup GB Championship season will get underway on 3rd/4th August at Snetterton 300 Circuit in East Anglia.

Visit www.daniellloydracing.com for all the latest news and follow him on Twitter @Daniellloyd23

2013 Porsche Carrera Cup GB Championship Standings (after Rd10):
1st Michael Meadows, 163pts; 4th Daniel Lloyd, 117pts

Photo by Malcolm Griffiths.

Craft Racing AMRFriday 28th June 2013 sees the start of the 3rd and 4th round weekend race of the GT Asia Series at Okayama International Circuit in Japan.

Coming to the race with a first place podium finish after rounds 1 & 2 at Motegi, the Craft Racing AMR team is once again getting ready for the exciting battle against a strong field of teams in GT Asia. Racing against teams running Porsches, Mercedes, Audis, Lamborghinis and McLarens in what is set to be another intense race following the excitement of the previous event.

“We came in third at 24 Hours of Le Mans last weekend so I will do my best to be on the podium in both races. I’ve raced in Okayama a couple years ago in the Aston Martin GT1; I’m looking forward to racing there again” said Stefan Mucke (DR) who drove a thrilling race securing first place with only a few laps remaining in round 2 of GT Asia.

The circuit at Okayama was originally a private circuit for wealthy racers and has since then hosted numerous international races. The circuit features hair pins, tight turns, long turns with constant grade variation and two straights, which means we will see some great overtaking action.

“I got my Super GT license last year at Okayama so it’s not the first time for me there; I love the circuit and the Aston will do great but I think the weather will play a major factor in the results of the coming weekend as it is the rainy season there. I really enjoy teaming up with Stefan, I’m confident that we will once again be highly competitive and looking forward to another exciting battle” said Frank Yu (HK).

Craft Racing AMR’s Aston Martin Vantage V12 GT3 will be in its distinctive livery of green, red, and black stripes with our partners Motul, Dixcel, Tunewear, and Gravity Partnership.

“It’s always nice arriving at a circuit knowing we can win and we demonstrated at Motegi that the Aston Martin Vantage GT3 is a race winner. As a result the whole team has that winning feeling for Okayama and we are looking forward to the event immensely” said team principal Mark Goddard.

Gabby ChavesGabby Chaves once again showcased his talents behind the wheel on Saturday (June 22), taking second place in Round Six of the Firestone Indy Lights series at the Iowa Speedway. With his fourth podium finish of the season, the standout Schmidt Peterson Motorsports rookie is firmly entrenched in the battle for championship honors, currently sitting third in the points fight as the season reaches the halfway mark.

A little over a week after last going head-to-head against his fellow highly-skilled Indy Lights title chasers, Chaves was back in the cockpit of the No. 7 Coldeportes/Marca Colombia/RedServi/Tecpro entry at another short oval. On tap for race six of the 12-race championship was the banked 7/8-mile Iowa Speedway, with all the racing activity happening on Saturday. Chaves, as planned, spent the opening two practice sessions fine-tuning his racing steed for both single-car qualifying and the 100-mile race under the lights at the end of the day.

While the ‘Take 5 To Stay Alive – Don’t Text & Drive’ spokesperson and Safety Ambassador of the FIA Institute for Motor Sport Safety and Sustainability did not get the two-lap run he desired in qualifying, both he and his Schmidt Peterson Motorsports crew were confident of a strong run come race time.

When the Indy Lights racers got the green flag at approximately 8 pm local time, Chaves did not waste any time making his presence felt, taking over fourth place. Aware that the characteristics of both his car and track would change as the 115-lap race progressed, he then set about preparing for a second half charge. Taking over third place prior to the quarter-race mark, Chaves made the most of slower traffic in the closing stages to not only advance up to second, but begin pressuring his teammate for the win. He got within striking distance of the race leader multiple times in the final 20 laps, but was never quite able to execute a pass for position. Chaves in the end crossed the line in second, just 0.266 seconds back of the race winner, earning his second runner-up finish on an oval this season, and fourth trip to the post-race podium celebrations.

“I felt that we had the strongest car at the end of the race,” commented Chaves. “It’s a bit hard running in dirty air. I had a good run on Sage and he defended. It’s just hard keeping the car down on the racing line when you’re so close to the car in front, as well as trying to keep another car behind you. You’re working twice as hard.

“Another good points finish, another podium. I’m disappointed we didn’t get the win because we definitely had the car. We’ll just put our heads down and keep working forward.”

Gabby Chaves continues his quest for Firestone Indy Lights supremacy on July 7, when a fourth consecutive oval race is contested at Pocono International Raceway in Pennsylvania. The Schmidt Peterson Motorsports star enters Round Seven sitting third in the championship chase.

Felix RosenqvistFelix Rosenqvist will take part in the 2013 RTL GP Masters of Formula 3 at Zandvoort, as he makes his third consecutive start in the prestigious standalone event. Rosenqvist became the first Swede ever to win the Dutch classic with a triumphant performance on his debut in 2011, and is once again set to represent his regular outfit Mücke Motorsport. The 21-year-old will head into the blue-riband race sitting in second place overall in the FIA Formula 3 European Championship standings, having installed himself in the F3 history books with an emphatic clean-sweep of victories at the latest round of the season in Austria.

“It feels great to be back on the RTL GP Masters of Formula 3 grid again this year,” says Felix Rosenqvist. “My 2011 win remains one of my fondest memories, and – considering our recent form in the FIA Formula 3 European Championship – we have reason to be optimistic about our chances. Still, I am absolutely convinced that this will mark a real challenge for us. We will be racing on different tyres to those we use during the rest of the season, and that has a very significant impact on the car. Having said that, however, we did gather plenty of data last year, and that will hopefully allow us to field a strong package and fight for the win.”

The RTL GP Masters of Formula 3 is an esteemed highlight on the international junior single-seater calendar, and widely regarded as one of the two most important F3 events on the globe next to the end-of-season Macau Grand Prix in China. Apart from Rosenqvist, the list of previous winners includes the likes of Formula 1 stars Lewis Hamilton, Paul di Resta, Nico Hulkenberg, Jules Bianchi and Valtteri Bottas.

“We are excited to return to the RTL GP Masters of Formula 3 together with Felix next month,” says Peter Mücke (Mücke Motorsport team principal). “He heads into the race as the only previous winner on the grid on the back of our 2011 victory, and he is certainly one of the favourites again this time around. Felix’s European Championship results speak for themselves – what he did in Austria last time out was absolutely spectacular – and we will do everything we can to keep it all up at Zandvoort.”

The RTL GP Masters of Formula 3 takes place on July 5-7.

Photo by Mattias Persson.

Seb Morris - Snetterton PodiumErstwhile BRDC Formula 4 Championship leader Seb Morris made a welcome return to the podium at Snetterton 300 Circuit in Norfolk over the weekend, 15th/16th June, with his fourth rostrum visit of the 2013 season during round seven of the campaign.

On a weekend of high drama, and with several drivers punished for a range of indiscretions, the Marford 17-year-old added two further top four results in rounds eight and nine on Sunday to climb back into the championship top three – just 18 points shy of the lead.

“We’re definitely moving in the right direction with the car”, said Seb, “We’re still playing catch-up a bit with our lack of seat time compared to the others, we just need some more testing and we’ll be properly on it. The overall balance of the car has been good this weekend, our tyre pressures were a bit too low in Sunday’s races but other than that it’s been quite good and we scored decent points.”

Qualifying on Saturday morning was affected by rain and as the track got quicker towards the end of the session, the times at the front were incredibly tight – Seb ending the session sixth fastest but only 0.4 seconds shy of pole position.

Making a great start to round seven, the Hillspeed driver surged into the top three and ran close behind Matt Bell before the latter went off the circuit on the third tour – promoting Seb into second place. Although slipping to third position on lap five, the Ginetta Ambassador remained there to the chequered flag on lap 10 to make a deserved return to the podium.

Lining-up sixth on the ‘reverse grid’ for round eight on Sunday morning, Seb challenged for fifth at the start on the outside at Riches before the action was halted by red flags on lap two following a multi-car tangle.

Resulting in a completely fresh start over a shortened distance of eight laps, Seb ran in fourth place throughout and had to work hard to fend off challenges from Jake Hughes and Charlie Robertson, which he did to the finish to secure another strong haul of points.

Beginning round nine in fifth place, the Abbey Gate College student immediately grabbed fourth into Riches after a great launch from the third row of the grid but was elbowed back to fifth shortly after. Shuffled down to sixth, as he battled initially with a lack of grip, Seb got into his stride from mid-distance and piled on the pressure to championship rival Jake Dalton.

Although remaining in sixth to the chequered flag on lap 10, Seb was later elevated two positions in the final classification when the race winner and second placed competitor were excluded due to technical infringements.

“We definitely scored some good points this weekend, which is what we need to keep doing”, said Seb, “We need to keep moving forward and we aim to be fighting for pole position at Oulton Park in a few weeks’ time. It’s the home round for me, so I’m really looking forward to it and hoping to try and take our first win of the season.”

Next on the calendar for Seb will be the visit to Oulton Park in Cheshire for a one-day BRDC Formula 4 Championship race meeting on Saturday, 6th July.

Provisional 2013 BRDC Formula 4 Championship Standings (after Rd9):
3rd Seb Morris, 146pts

Photo by Jakob Ebrey Photography.

Nathan BlokNathan Blok, the 19-year old, two-time Formula Tour Series Champion switched gears to compete in the Canadian Touring Car Championship. The two races were in support of the Canadian Grand Prix on the weekend of June 7 – 9, 2013 on the tough Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.

Blok has plenty of experience on this racetrack but in the much lighter Formula 1600 open-wheel cars. This was to be his first time driving a BMW 330i sedan from 8legs Racing of Ottawa ON after a single day of practice.

The first two days of the Grand Prix weekend saw plenty of rain with few breaks. In the Friday morning practice session, the throttle stuck on the first lap – Blok was able to patch the throttle problem and got back on track 1/2 way through the session. Then 2nd gear failed with a few laps left to go in the session allowing Blok a total of only 4-laps.

Qualifying took place in the afternoon on Friday, still in rain and misty conditions. The throttle was repaired but there was not enough time to change the transmission, so Blok qualified without 2nd gear, a tough drive on a track with long straights and tight corners like Montreal. Despite the mechanical issues, Blok qualified qualified 5th out of 28 drivers (14 in his Super Touring class).

Saturday’s CTCC feature race saw the rain return at the drop of the green flag. Blok fell back one position in the first turn but retook the spot in the tight hairpin at the opposite end of the course.

At the mid-point of the race, Blok had contact with two competitors and spun off the track and the BMW stalled. Blok managed to get re-started and re-joined the race in 13th place. Charging hard, Blok gained two positions in the remaining laps to finish 11th overall and 8th in his class.

“When I saw the rain come down I knew my rear wheel drive Aurora Tools BMW was at a serious disadvantage to the front wheel and 4 wheel drive cars. I would have to be defensive to have any chance of a decent finish. But all things considered I felt I did respectable since I was the highest placing rear wheel drive car in the field.”

The second CTCC race of the weekend took place on Sunday morning under clearing skies and on a drying track. Qualifying was based on the best race times from Saturday placing Blok 7th on the grid.

The green flag was waved and Blok immediately gained three positions during the first lap. The race was spent battling for position with gains and losses with two competitors dropping out and Blok crossed the finish line in 2nd place, nearly 11 seconds ahead of his closest competition and earned his first podium in the CTCC series.

“I was so happy to see the sun come out for the first time this weekend. I had an excellent start, and by the end of the first lap I had moved up 3 positions. A number of DNF’s worked in my favour and I was able to get a podium finish on my debut to the series. I am working towards
finding funding to race at the Trois-Rivières Grand Prix in August and looking forward to improve on my 2nd place finish.”

“I would like to thank all my sponsors and partners, for without them this race weekend would not have been a success.”

For information on Nathan Bok and sponsorship visit www.nathanblok.com or contact Steve Blok at (613) 582-3867

Photo by S Blok.

Seb Morris - Formula 4Hillspeed’s Seb Morris is resolutely committed to getting his BRDC Formula 4 Championship title challenge firmly back on track at Snetterton 300 Circuit this weekend, 15th/16th June, when rounds seven, eight and nine take place at the East Anglian venue.

Following one of the most trying race meetings of his motor racing career three weeks ago at Brands Hatch, which included a hefty accident in round five from which he thankfully emerged unharmed, the erstwhile F4 points leader slipped to sixth in the championship standings.

Having begun the inaugural season of BRDC Formula 4 in late-April with three outstanding podium finishes at Silverstone Grand Prix Circuit, 17-year-old Seb confirmed his undoubted title credentials from the off by taking the early season initiative.

But while the incident-filled Brands Hatch weekend was very costly in terms of his championship position, the Marford racer knows three consistently strong points results – preferably podiums – will help undo some of the damage as he strives to climb back up the table.

“Brands Hatch was a really tough weekend, one to forget really”, said the Ginetta Ambassador, “We didn’t have any testing beforehand, unlike most of the others, so we had a fight on our hands right from the word go.

“It was a bit of a nightmare to be honest but that’s in the past, I’m looking ahead to Snetterton now and aiming to get back on the podium and move back up the championship. We’ve still got work to do in getting the most from the Yokohama tyres, especially in qualifying, but as long as we can start on the first couple of rows we know we’ve got the race pace to be a factor.”

Despite a difficult qualifying run at Brands Hatch Indy Circuit last time out, Seb was able to climb through from 13th position to ninth in the first race but it was the contact from a rival in the second encounter which had the biggest impact.

With a true race against time to repair the Welshman’s F4-013 in time for the final race of the event, the Hillspeed team worked miracles. While the car was a real handful, due to the limitations of what could be achieved in the short gap between races, Seb battled against the odds and managed to take away some championship points – which could prove absolutely crucial at the end of the year.

“My main aim at the weekend is to close back in on the guys ahead of me in the championship, but I’ll be pushing hard for three podiums and I really do want to get my first win in F4”, he added, “That’s more important than ever now, we need to score as many points as we can. I’ve won at Snetterton in both Ginetta Juniors and Formula Renault so I’d like to add F4 to that list as well!”

Qualifying for rounds seven, eight and nine at Snetterton 300 Circuit will get underway at 10.15 on Saturday, 15th June, with the first race of the weekend following at 14.45. On Sunday, 16th June, the second encounter will begin at 10.00 with round nine wrapping-up the action at 14.15.

Provisional 2013 BRDC Formula 4 Championship Standings (after Rd6):
6th Seb Morris, 90pts

Photo by Jakob Ebrey Photography.

Driver2ResearchVerrasport is proud to announce its partnership with the Cancer Research Society in the ‘Driven to Research’ campaign. The Cancer Research Society (CRS) was founded in 1945 with the goal of funding research on all types of cancer, thereby contributing to the advancement of science aimed at preventing, detecting and treating this disease.

This project was inspired by a good friend of Ryan Verra’s shortly after finding out her mother was diagnosed with cancer and only had months to live. “I watched my friend act so brave knowing she was giving her family strength during those hard times.” Ryan recounted the moment; “It’s difficult to understand what people are going through; this is something we all fear and too often have to face.” He knew he wanted to show support so he turned to what he knew best, racing. “Being inspired by my friends’ strength I had the idea of putting a ribbon with her Mother’s name on the wing of my (race) car, while I raced, to show support and maybe bring a smile to their faces during such hard times.”

Ryan was then determined to help find a cure for this horrible disease and knew other families dealing with cancer needed the support. He set out on a mission to fund research into cancers cure which led him to the Cancer Research Society. Together the CRS and Ryan Verra came up with the ‘Driven to Research’ concept. “We were thrilled when Ryan Verra asked if we could team up with him. A car racing event is a new and exciting fund-raising experience and we are happy that Ryan will use his great talents to help our organization fund cancer research in Canada” Said the CRS Executive Director, Mr. Andy Chabot. “I’m very excited to get this project rolling.” Ryan said of the partnership; “it’s a huge deal to me knowing I’m out there racing to support cancer research. One in seven of us will die of cancer and to me that is far more dangerous than racing formula cars. We have a great group of fans and supporters that look up to us and it’s an opportunity to not only raise awareness, but to support the research that will cure this disease one day.”

‘Driven to Research’ will incorporate Ryan Verra’s #25 Alliance Autosport race car in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda National Class Presented by SCCA Enterprises division during the Mazda Road to Indy. We are calling on the general public to purchase a decal on Verra’s race car which will include the name of a loved one that has battled, or is currently battling, cancer. There will also be an exclusive contest to win a ride in the two-seater Indycar, driven by legendary racer Mario Andretti.

If you would like to donate to the ‘Driven to Research’ campaign, or for more information, please check out the donation page at: http://www.crs-src.ca/DrivenToResearch