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Daytona

Alonso grabs the Daytona headlines

Wayne Taylor Racing wins the 2019 Rolex 24 at Daytona

The elements were at work at Daytona this weekend, as the importance of patience and perseverance meshed with the need for speed during a rainy, 57th running of the Rolex 24 At Daytona, at Daytona International Speedway. It seems history was at work, as well.

Former Formula 1 world champion Fernando Alonso and his Wayne Taylor Racing teammates emerged from the wet to win the event, which was halted under red-flag conditions due to increasingly heavy rain at 2:25 p.m., 10 minutes short of the scheduled time limit. Alonso becomes the third former Formula 1 champion to also win the Rolex 24. The others on that most illustrious short list: 1964 Rolex 24 champion Phil Hill and 1972 champion Mario Andretti.

DaytonaAlonso, racing in the Rolex 24 for the second-straight year, co-drove the No. 10 Cadillac DPi with Jordan Taylor, Renger van der Zande and Kamui Kobayashi. Finishing second was the No. 31 Cadillac DPi of Whelen Engineering Racing, co-driven by Felipe Nasr, Eric Curran and Pipo Derani.

After a cold and windy Saturday, the rains came to the Rolex 24 in the early hours of Sunday morning – and hung around for the balance of the 24-hour sports car endurance classic that opened the season for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. Weather worsened to the point of necessitating a red flag at 7:21 a.m., just short of the 17-hour mark. After a one-hour, 45-minute stoppage, racing resumed. Amidst alternating green- and yellow-flag conditions, the second red flag was brought out by heavy rain at 12:39 p.m. It was the first time the race had been red-flagged twice due to wet conditions. Seven minutes earlier, Alonso had gotten by Nasr in Turn 1 and it proved to be the race-winning move. “Very, very proud of the job we achieved today,” said Alonso, who also co-drove to victory in last year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans. “The race itself was very, very difficult. Conditions were changing all the time. But we had perfect execution. We led in night, day, dry and wet.”

DaytonaGrand Marshal and five-time Rolex 24 champion Scott Pruett gave the command to start engines on Saturday afternoon, with 47 cars across four WeatherTech Championship classes negotiating the 3.56-mile road course. The field was led to the green flag by Oliver Jarvis in the pole-sitting No. 77 Mazda DPi. The highly-anticipated runs by the two Mazda Team Joest entries, however, failed to pan out. The pole-sitting Mazda left the race at the seven-hour mark after catching fire, having completed 220 laps. It ended 46th. A short while later, the team’s No. 55 car, which started fourth, developed a fuel leak problem and would finish 42nd.

A significant sidebar to his Rolex 24 morphed into an emotional farewell for three-time and defending Rolex 24 champion Christian Fittipaldi, who has announced he will retire from competition after this weekend. With his team’s No. 5 Cadillac DPi out of contention in the closing hours after battling several mechanical problems on Saturday, Fittipaldi came into the speedway media centre for a final press conference. He was almost immediately overcome with emotion, unable to choke back the tears – much less answer the first question he received, until media members broke into applause, as encouragement. A cardinal rule of journalism impartiality had been broken, or at least bent. In this instance, no one cared. “Racing has played a major role in my life but life is not only about racing … it was a great ride,” said Fittipaldi, a former IndyCar Series standout and the nephew of former Formula 1 and Indianapolis 500 champion Emerson Fittipaldi. “I had three goals when I arrived here this year. One was to finish, the second was to finish on the podium and the third goal was the cherry on top of the cake, to get two wins in a row and fourth [overall]. But it didn’t happen. Yeah, I’m sad, happy, relieved … but most of all I’m at peace with myself and I think that’s what’s most important.”

The inspiring Rolex 24 entry of Alex Zanardi ended with a 32nd-place finish in the No. 24 BMW M8 GTE. Zanardi is the former IndyCar driver who lost both legs after an accident in 2001. In years since, he has become one of the world’s top hand-cyclists while occasionally returning to the race track in specially equipped cars.

DaytonaIn addition to the headlining DPi class, three other classes competed in the Rolex 24. Those winners:
• In the LMP2 class, Roberto Gonzalez, Pastor Maldonado, Sebastian Saavedra and Ryan Cullen in the No. 18 ORECA LMP2.
• In the GT Le Mans class, Augusto Farfus, Connor De Phillippi, Philipp Eng and Colton Herta co-driving the No. 25 BMW M8 GTE.
• In GT Daytona, Rolf Ineichen, Mirko Bartolotti, Christian Engelhart and Rik Breukers co-driving the No. 11 Lamborghini Huracan GT3, which also won the GTD class last year.

Travel Destinations guests really enjoyed this weekend’s Rolex 24 at Daytona. Despite the wet end to the race, our guests enjoyed getting privileged behind the scenes access with the Radio Le Mans, IMSA radio commentary team as well as hospitality in the Champions Club. Our hotel overlooking Daytona Beach was the perfect location to relax away from the track.

If you would like to join Travel Destinations at next year’s Rolex 24 at Daytona you can register your interest now by emailing us via info@traveldestinations.co.uk

Photography by Dailysportscar

 

Le Mans 2020

Le Mans Classic returns for 2018

Le Mans Classic returns for 2018

Le Mans Classic 2018Le Mans Classic
6th – 8th July 2018

After a year’s break the Le Mans Classic returns in 2018 for another weekend of motor racing nostalgia. As the Le Mans 24 Hours is the pinnacle for modern endurance racing, then the Le Mans Classic is the ultimate in historic motorsport. The Le Mans Classic brings together only cars that once raced during the Le Mans 24 Hours, back to their spiritual home for another performance in front of a huge crowd at Le Mans. And this isn’t a parade. This is proper racing on the full Le Mans circuit. Professional and amateur drivers going head to head, in machinery designed and prepared specifically for Le Mans.

Le Mans ClassicThere is a full 24 hours of racing. Even the traditional Le Mans start is recreated. However it would be impossible to race 1920s cars against those from the 1970s or 1980s, so the cars ares split into different grids depending on the era in which they originally raced. Traditionally the Le Mans Classic has comprised of six grids covering the years from 1923 through to 1979. For the Le Mans Classic 2018 there will also be an additional “guest grid” featuring the Group C cars that dominated at Le Mans during the 1980s. Each grid will appear on the circuit multiple times throughout the 24 hours, enabling spectators to see racing through dusk, evening and night, through dawn and back to day again.

This is why no other historic motorsport event can compete with the Le Mans Classic. Where else can you see a Jaguar D-Type glisten in the sunrise as it sweeps under the famous Dunlop Bridge? More than 120,000 spectators already agree, and expect that number to rise in 2018.

There is more to the Le Mans Classic than just the on-circuit action. This event has become a mecca for car clubs from around Europe. The infield is turned in to a classic and sports car car park for more than 8 thousand vehicles of all ages and manufacturers. This magnificent display is worth the entry fee alone. In addition there are anniversary displays, a classic car auction, memorabilia stores as well as food outlets and even a cinema, all with a vintage theme.

Le Mans Classic official ticket agentTravel Destinations is an official ticket agent for the Le Mans Classic. This puts us in the privileged position of being able to offer our customers the best options for travel, tickets and accommodation for the Le Mans Classic 2018. Travel Destinations has a number of exclusive options including private trackside camping, glamping and a pop-up hotel all on the famous Le Mans track, so you can’t stay any closer to all the action.
Travel Destinations has two different trackside campsites for the Le Mans Classic 2018. Both offer 24 hours security, fully serviced showers and toilets as well as a hospitality marquee serving food and drinks throughout the weekend. The difference is in locations and the view. Our Hunaudieres campsite is located on the inside of the Tertre Rouge corner, overlooked by the football stadium (the MM Arena). The campsite is surrounded by a wall, but there is a public viewing bank overlooking Tertre Rouge corner just outside the campsite entrance. Our Porsche Curves campsite is our traditional camping location for the Le Mans 24 Hours. This campsite has a unique and exclusive private viewing bank that overlooks the famous Porsche Curves. Both locations are hugely popular and have sold out in recent years, so booking early is recommended.

Le Mans Classic
Travel Destinations Event Tents at the Le Mans Classic

The Travel Destinations Event Tents are another very popular option. Located near to our Porsche Curves campsite, the Event Tents are our pre-erected glamping option for those not wishing to pitch their own tent. Each tent is 5 metres in diameter and coming fully carpeted, with mattresses and all bed linen, giving the perfect environment for camping at Le Mans. The Event Tents are erected in their own private campsite, with 24 hours security, fully serviced showers and toilets and a hospitality marquee. There is plenty of room for car parking too, enabling people to travel in their sports cars and park in a secure area in-sight of their tent. This option was another sell out for the last Le Mans Classic in 2016.

Le Mans Classic
Travel Destinations Flexotel Village at the Le Mans Classic

For those that don’t wish to camp, the Travel Destinations Flexotel Village is the perfect solution. We build this exclusive pop-up hotel in the centre of the circuit, to enable guests to have their own private bedroom within walking distance of the track. Each room can sleep two people in proper beds supplied with all bed linen. The Flexotel Village is located within its own private paddock (not on grass) with plenty of room for car parking. Guests can choose between a standard room or one with their own shower & toilet room. There are also separate shower and toilet blocks for guests and a hospitality marquee on-site. All guests at the Flexotel Village will also receive a full picnic basket for the Saturday of the Le Mans Classic.

Travel Destinations have a number of off-circuit options too, including hotel rooms, B&B properties and private camping areas all within a short drive of the Le Mans circuit.

Le Mans ClassicAll Travel Destinations offers include general entrance tickets as well as access to the Le Mans Classic paddock. Grandstand seats, circuit laps & other optional extras can also be added on request.

You can book your place at the Le Mans Classic NOW! Prices for all our travel & ticket options are available on this website and bookings can be secured with a small deposit. Please call our knowledgeable reservations team now on 0844 873 0203 to discuss the best options for you and to reserve your place the Le Mans Classic 2018.

Sebring

Sebring 12 Hours; Preview

This weekend sees the 65th running of the 12 Hours of Sebring. This is one of our favourite races on the motorsport calendar and this year looks set for another exciting race. If you like small tight circuits, old fashioned concrete tracks, lots of action and of course the Florida sunshine then you just have to go to Sebring. Here our man in the stands takes a look at what we can expect from the race this weekend.

Cadillac held back?
After dominating proceedings at Daytona, the three Cadillacs racing at Sebring have been pegged back by the IMSA Balance of Performance process. The three DPi V.Rs have had weight added and had the air flow to the engines reduced in an attempt to allow the other prototypes to compete over a single lap. Whether it will work at Sebring or not remains to be seen, as the Cadillacs proved to be the most reliable, as well as the quickest in almost all conditions at the Rolex 24 at Daytona. The prototype field which Action Express and Wayne Taylor Racing is up against, as a whole, is still impressive following Daytona. Entries from Mazda, Cadillac, Ligier, Oreca, Riley and Nissan grace the class, making for the most diverse prototype grid on the planet. Only DragonSpeed has fallen off the list since January. With the gloves off at Sebring, it’ll be very interesting to see who actually emerges on top!

Sebring
Alex Lynn out to impress
While the Cadillacs entered are the same as at Daytona, the driver lineups have seen some tweaking. The most notable change heading into the race is Wayne Taylor Racing’s addition of British driver Alex Lynn. Lynn takes the place of newly-retired Max Angelelli in the team’s third seat for the endurance rounds of the WeatherTech Championship this year, and is set to impress on the North American endurance stage. Since moving over from single-seater racing last year, Lynn has raced with Manor in the World Endurance Championship as well as United Autosports in a one-off LMP3 race. He’s fast, consistent and used to high-pressure situations. If you watch a lot of sportscar racing, then you’ll be seeing a lot more of Alex too. With appearances in the VLN championship and Nürburgring 24 Hours with BMW, Petit Le Mans with Cadillac and the full World Endurnace Championship with G-Drive Racing. He is going to be busy.

Sebring Title Defence Beckons For ESM
After winning both the Rolex 24 Hours and Sebring 12 Hours last year, Extreme Speed Motorsports is back for another crack this year to try and repeat at least one of its high-profile victories from a year ago. At the Rolex 24, the Ligier-based Nissan DPi impressed over the full race, with only minor issues setting it back and preventing it from truly challenging for a podium spot in the final hours.
In its return to Sebring since its big win, it continues to field a stellar lineup, with Scott Sharp, Ryan Dalziel and Pipo Derani in the No.2 car and Ed Brown, Johannes van Overbeek, Bruno Senna and Brendon Hartley in the other. We still don’t know for sure who the favourites for the overall title are this year, but we’ll have more of an idea after this weekend. If ESM take on the punishing airfield-based circuit this weekend and come away with a good result, then it’s game on for the remainder of the season.

Sebring
Ford Brings Three
Ford Performance is set to field a trio of GTs in the GTLM class this year, after taking a quartet of them to the Rolex 24 Hours. Out to win the big races, Ford knows that it has the chance to win the Le Mans 24 Hours, Rolex 24 Hours and Sebring 12 Hours in less than nine months if it can seal the deal this weekend. Driving the third car is the World Endurance Championship crew of Billy Johnson, Stefan Mucke and Olivier Pla in the No.68, which should provide a formidable third bullet in the Ford gun. It would be mightily impressive but not necessarily surprising to see them win its second Floridian race this year; as even a year later the GT still looks just as much like a prototype (if you squint your eyes) as it did at its debut. The GTLM field will be close though, with Porsche, Corvette and the Risi Ferrari all looking capable of taking the win at Daytona. There is not much between them as they head to Sebring.

Sebring
GTD looks wide open
After Alegra Motorsports took a surprise victory at Daytona, with its Porsche 911 GT3 R that had a quiet run to the front, anything can happen going forward. Alegra will race at Sebring – after its impressive run prompted it to extend its commitments for 2017 – but it’s so close that we will likely see a second winner in as many races. Will the Acura NSX GT3 show its true potential? Can the Mercedes AMG GT3 runners mimic their European counterparts? Is counting out the Audi teams going to be a mistake? At this point we just don’t know, which should make the GT3-based class a fascinating watch.

Sebring

It certainly looks like Travel Destinations guests trackside at Sebring this year are going to be royally entertained on the track. With the addition of the Club 12 bar and grill in the centre of the track alongside live music and entertainment throughout the weekend, there is plenty going on around the circuit too. It is going to be fun!

Written by Stephen Kilbey
Photography by Dailysportscar.com

If you would like to be at the 12 Hours of Sebring next year, then you can register with us now to be the first in line to choose your travel, accommodation and tickets. Register your interest by calling Travel Destinations on 0844 873 0203 or email info@traveldestinations.co.uk