886x498px_vw-20140405-3841Sebastien Ogier claimed his fourth Rally De Portugal in five years on April sixth to extend his points lead in the FIA World Rally Championship.

Sébastien Ogier’s triumph on the Algarve is the eighth WRC victory in a row for the team from Hannover. The winners’ trophies went the way of Volkswagen in Australia, France, Spain and Great Britain at the end of 2013, and the team has this year added victories in Monte Carlo, Sweden, Mexico and now Portugal. The Polo R WRC’s eighth WRC success in a row means Volkswagen pulls level with its rivals at Citroën, whose longest winning run of eight rallies dates back to 2011.

Volkswagen driver Sébastien Ogier found himself third overall after the opening leg of the Rally Portugal. In the face of stern competition, the Frenchman had to settle for fifth place on Friday’s final special stage (Almodôvar 2) citing poor tire choice for the first two legs of the rally contributing to his third place overall on Friday night. “Being first out onto the route was obviously not exactly an advantage today. Let’s see what happens tomorrow,” said Ogier in the finish area.

“Pedal to the metal” was the Volkswagen driver’s motto Saturday and on the longest Special Stage at the Rally Portugal (Santana da Serra 1), Ogier drove the 32-kilometre section in 23:10.2 minutes which became the fastest time of the day. This saw the Frenchman take 8.7 seconds off the previous leader Mikko Hirvonen (Ford) and he took the lead in the overall standings. Following that stage, he enjoyed a 2.4 second advantage over Hirvonen. “It was a good Special Stage for us. Long may it continue,” Ogier said happily at the finish. A dominant run through Saturday’s second loop awarded Ogier a 9.8 second advantage and after the last stage of the day he had a commanding 38 second lead coming into Sunday’s final stages of the rally.

The Volkswagen pair didn’t miss a trick on the final rally day and brought home a solid victory. The cherry on the top was Ogier seizing a fantastic stage win on the closing Power Stage (Loulé 2) and three extra points for the drivers’ standings. On Sunday he went easy on his tyres on the first two Special Stages, even accepting a slight loss of time to rival Mikko Hirvonen (Ford). With a superior stage win on the closing Power Stage, Ogier proved that this tactic was worth its weight in gold.

With the Power Stage victory he secured the maximum number of points, 28, and stretched his lead in the table to 29 points ahead of team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala (Polo R WRC #2). “It was extremely important, now I can take a slightly more relaxed approach to the next rallies.”

“Four wins in five years. It is no exaggeration: the Rally Portugal is one of my very favourites! said Ogier. “The whole week has been fantastic for Julien and me. First the fantastic show in front of more than 100,000 fans at the ‘Fafe Rally Sprint’, and now the icing on the cake with our title defence at the Rally Portugal on the Algarve. The encouragement and support of the fans is rather special here. We only took as many risks as needed on soft tyres on the final day. Despite this, our goal was obviously to pick up the three points on the Power Stage, although Jari-Matti did not make it easy for me. The lead in the World Championship is now a bit larger, but the opposition is not sleeping – Mikko Hirvonen and Mads Østberg showed that. I heard that Markku Alén is the uncrowned king with five wins in Portugal. We can achieve that too next year. That is our goal.”

 

sun09Girl power reigned supreme when Alexis DeJoria (Funny Car) and Erica Enders-Stevens (Pro Stock) raced to victories last Sunday at the SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Tony Schumacher (Top Fuel) also was a winner at the fourth event on the 2014 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule. It was the second time that two female drivers have earned victories at the same NHRA event. In 2012, Courtney Force and Enders-Stevens made history as the first pair of females to win the same race at Pacific Raceways in Seattle.

“This was definitely a grudge match [with Hight] coming off our win in Phoenix,” DeJoria said. “I was just in shock when we won there. It was gratifying and intense. Today my team gave me a good car and got me down the track first. I really appreciate them so much and all they give up to help this team go racing.”Coming into her third full-time season in Funny Car, DeJoria had only appeared in one career final. The 2014 season has changed the fortunes for her Patron XO Cafe Toyota Camry team when she outpaced Robert Hight with a 4.026-second pass at 309.98 mph. It’s the second win of her career following her breakthrough victory in Phoenix earlier this season, coincidentally also over Hight.

DeJoria defeated Matt Hagan, Tony Pedregon, and Cruz Pedregon to reach her first final in Las Vegas, the home headquarters of her primary sponsor.

“It was a good day at the office, especially with the Patron Spirits company located right here in Las Vegas,” DeJoria said.

Hight, appearing in his third final to start the season, piloted his Auto Club Ford Mustang to the final with victories over Jeff Arend, Paul Lee, and Ron Capps. Hight’s second-round win over Lee was especially surprising. Many had expected Hight and 16-time Funny Car world champ John Force to face off, but Force was ousted by Lee.

DeJoria departs Las Vegas third in points and holds the most wins so far during the season. Despite losing in the final, Hight takes over the points lead.

sat10After struggling to find sponsorship and only being able to race a partial schedule last season, Enders-Stevens is thankful for the opportunity that team owner Richard Freeman presented her for 2014. Enders-Stevens had a successful weekend in Las Vegas, sweeping the K&N Horsepower Challenge and taking today’s Pro Stock title. After defeating Dave Connolly to win $50,000 on Saturday, Enders-Stevens took out Larry Morgan, Steve Kent, Chris McGaha, and Jason Line to secure her seventh career victory at the controls of her Elite Motorsports Chevy Camaro.

“I have a different mindset,” Enders-Stevens of her new attitude this year. “It goes back to the people [I’m around] — for the first time since I raced with my family as a kid, and then in the Sportsman ranks, I’m having fun again. As a driver, it adds a lot of pressure when you have the fastest car, but I like that.”

With that win, she became the third-winningest female driver in a Pro class behind only Angelle Sampey and Shirley Muldowney. She leaves Las Vegas as the Pro Stock points leader, becoming the first female in history to lead the points standings in the factory hot rod category.

“It certainly is very important to us; it keeps us going on this 24-race schedule,” said Enders-Stevens, who earned $100,000 during the weekend, which also includes a $25,000 Sweep Bonus from NHRA. “This is storybook. We’ve gone a few years without sponsorship; there were definitely more lows than highs. It would have been easy to quit. This is definitely a highlight. Next to winning a championship, this is probably the coolest thing in the world.”

Line was going for his second victory of the 2014 season and second in Las Vegas. The driver of the Summit Racing Equipment Chevy Camaro defeated Deric Kramer, Dave Connolly, and teammate Jimmy Alund en route to the final.
“The final round was fantastic; I could hear him the whole way,” said Schumacher, who was racing in his 126th career Top Fuel final. “It was important for us to get this win. There’s a lot of pressure early in the season to get a win and get into the [Traxxas NHRA] Shootout for a chance to race for $100,000. I love the pressure. We’re a high-pressure, adversity kind of team.”In Top Fuel, Schumacher snapped a 15-race win drought by beating points leader Doug Kalitta with a performance of 3.797 at 326.16 in his U.S. Army dragster. It was Schumacher’s 73rd career victory and his eighth in Las Vegas.

Schumacher advanced to the final with early round wins over Troy Buff, Spencer Massey, and Antron Brown.

“I’m not angry that we hadn’t won in a long time,” Schumacher said. “I was disappointed, but I understand that you have to make leaps and bounds. Kalitta is running great, Antron is running good, the Alan Johnson [Al-Anabi] cars are going to be bad to the bone pretty soon. We have to keep forcing the issue.”

Kalitta has had the best start to the season in Top Fuel and continued that by reaching his third final of the year. With the win in Gainesville and the two runner-up finishes in Pomona and Las Vegas, Kalitta increased his points lead over Brown to 73 points.

2014 NHRA MELLO YELLO DRAG RACING SERIES STANDINGS
Updated 3/30/2014 (Following the fourth of 24 events; Season victories in parentheses)
TOP FUEL
Place Driver Points
1. Doug Kalitta, Ypsilanti, Mich., Mac Tools dragster (1) 412
2. Antron Brown, Indianapolis, Matco Tools dragster (1) 339
3. Steve Torrence, Kilgore, Texas, Capco Contactors dragster 314
4. Tony Schumacher, Chicago, U.S. Army dragster (1) 262
5. Spencer Massey, Fort Worth, Texas, Battery Extender dragster 236
6. Khalid alBalooshi, Los Angeles, Al-Anabi Racing dragster (1) 229
7. Shawn Langdon, Indianapolis, Al-Anabi Racing dragster 223
8. Brittany Force, Yorba Linda, Calif., Castrol Edge dragster 191
9. Richie Crampton, Indianapolis, GEICO/Lucas Oil dragster 157
10. Bob Vandergriff Jr., Alpharetta, Ga., C&J Energy Services dragster 150
FUNNY CAR
1. Robert Hight, Yorba Linda, Calif., Auto Club Ford Mustang (1) 367
2. John Force, Yorba Linda, Calif., Castrol GTX High Mileage Ford Mustang (1) 358
3. Alexis DeJoria, Austin, Texas, Patron XO Cafe Toyota Camry (2) 299
4. Ron Capps, Carlsbad, Calif., NAPA Auto Parts Dodge Charger 241
5. Del Worsham, Chino Hills, Calif., DHL Toyota Camry 224
6. Courtney Force, Yorba Linda, Calif., Traxxas Ford Mustang 207
7. Tommy Johnson Jr., Indianapolis, Make-A-Wish Dodge Charger 205
8. Matt Hagan, Christiansburg, Va., Mopar/Rocky Boots Dodge Charger 204
9. Jack Beckman, Norco, Calif., Valvoline Max Life/MTS Dodge Charger 202
10. Bob Tasca III, Hope, R.I., Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Mustang 194
PRO STOCK
1. Erica Enders-Stevens, New Orleans, Elite Motorsports Chevy Camaro (1) 344
2. Jason Line, Mooresville, N.C., Summit Racing Equipment Chevy Camaro (1) 329
3. Allen Johnson, Greeneville, Tenn., Team Mopar Dodge Dart (2) 317
4. V. Gaines, Lakewood, Colo., Kendall Oil Dodge Avenger 276
5t. Dave Connolly, Mooresville, N.C., Charter Chevy Camaro 267
5t. Vincent Nobile, Dix Hills, N.Y., Mountain View Tire Chevy Camaro 267
7. Shane Gray, Mooresville, N.C., KYMCO Chevy Camaro 237
8. Jeg Coughlin Jr., Delaware, Ohio, JEGS.com/Mopar Dodge Dart 214
9. Chris McGaha, Odessa, Texas, Harlow Sammons of Odessa Chevy Camaro 191
10. Jimmy Alund, Norrkoping, Sweden, Summit Racing Equipment Chevy Camaro 169
PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE (following the first of 16 events)
1. Steve Johnson, Birmingham, Ala., Steve Johnson Racing Suzuki (1) 114
2. Scotty Pollacheck, Medford, Ore., Quality Tire Buell 93
3. Hector Arana Jr., Milltown, Ind., Lucas Oil Buell 81
4. John Hall, Hamden, Conn., Matt Smith Racing Buell 75
5. Michael Ray, New Braunfels, Texas, Gottspeed/Star Racing Buell 63
6. Andrew Hines, Brownsburg, Ind., Screamin’ Eagle/Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson 62
7. Matt Smith, King, N.C., Matt Smith Racing Buell 60
8. Eddie Krawiec, Brownsburg, Ind., Screamin’ Eagle/Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson 56
9t. Hector Arana Sr., Milltown, Ind., Lucas Oil Buell 32
9t. Adam Arana, Milltown, Ind., ProtecttheHarvest.com/MAVTV Buell 32
9t. Shawn Gann, Stoneville, N.C., Pirana Z Racing Buell 32
9t. Katie Sullivan, Corning, Calif., Tough Girl Designs Suzuki 32

- See more at: http://www.nhra.com/story/2014/3/30/2014-las-vegas1-sunday/#sthash.kwwxrdx9.dpuf

 

CH14603_1656x1104MINI and the Monster Energy X-raid team have got their sights set on defending their FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies title. After two World Cup overall victories in a row, MINI, which won the legendary Dakar Rally with the MINI ALL4 Racing for the third time in a row back in January, is title favourite once again for the 2014 season.

A promising marker for the title defence was put down in the first world cup event of the current season at the Baja Russia in the middle of February. It was here that four MINI ALL4 Racing cars, based on the MINI John Cooper Works Countryman, once again demonstrated their performance and reliability. Vladimir Vasilyev (RU) took second place and the Pole Martin Kaczmarski was fourth. The result is even more impressive given the fact that the Baja Russia was the first Marathon Rally that the MINI ALL4 Racing cars have competed in over snow and ice.

Following a successful title defence at the Dakar Rally by Joan “Nani” Roma (ES), the X-raid team and the MINI brand are confident going into the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies 2014 season. In the last years, MINI has grown into a real force in the international Marathon Rally sport. A long-standing partnership with the X-raid team is filled with numerous successes, including three overall Dakar Rally crowns in a row.

This year’s World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies consists of ten events in total, including rallies in Egypt, Hungary, Poland, Morocco and Portugal. The fact that there are now three additional rally events on the calendar makes the championship even more challenging. However, MINI and the X-raid team are confident of mastering this challenge and defending their title.

On the 13-16 March 2014, the Baja Italy will be this season’s second world cup event. MINI and the X-raid team will take to the start in the northeast of Italy with two MINI ALL4 Racing cars, which will be driven by Vladimir Vasilyev and Martin Kaczmarski. A total distance of 608.78 kilometres will be covered in Italy, 378.51 km of which will be stage kilometres.

 

 

 

Race calendar for the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies:

 

14.02 – 16.02 Baja Russia

13.03 – 16.03 Baja Italy

03.04 – 04.04 Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge

20.04 – 25.04 Cross-Country Rally Qatar

18.05 – 25.05 Pharaons Rally Egypt

18.07 – 20.07 Baja Aragon

14.08 – 17.08 Hungarian Baja

28.08 – 30.08 Baja Poland

03.10 – 09.10 Rally Morocco

30.10 – 02.11 Baja Portugal

 

WEC Prologue 2014Audi has developed a new concept for the R18 e-tron quattro’s ergonomics for the 2014 season. The configuration of the elements in the cockpit is even more logical now, their functions have been rethought, and the seating position has been improved. This makes it easier for the Audi drivers in the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) to operate the controls of the hybrid sports car.

The range of tasks is growing: The Audi drivers not only have to pay the same attention to safety, speed and precision on track as before, but now have to get an exact handle on efficiency as well. The maximum consumption per lap specified by the regulations requires utmost discipline to avoid penalties. To make optimal concentration easier, the drivers’ work in the cockpit should involve as little effort as possible.

“Long before the 2014 season, we took an in-depth look at how we could support our drivers even better,” says Dr. Martin Mühlmeier, Head of Technology at Audi Sport. “The result is a cockpit in which we practically changed everything – from the pedals through to the functions on the steering wheel and on the dashboard. Additionally, the seating position has been changed according to the regulations.”

The innovations start in the foot well. The drivers no longer operate the clutch using a foot pedal but by means of paddles behind the steering wheel. “This is a principle I’m already familiar with from other race car categories which makes it easier to operate the clutch,” says Audi factory driver Lucas di Grassi describing the advantages.

The configuration of the controls between the dashboard and the steering wheel has changed as well. “Our objective was for the driver to be able to reach all the functions he frequently uses as easily as possible without having to take his hands off the wheel,” explains Chris Reinke, Head of LMP at Audi Sport. One of the new features is a multi-functional rotary switch for selecting tasks that used to be performed by using various controls. Two push-buttons make it possible for the driver to easily change individual functions to adjust the car’s balance, for instance through traction control or brake force distribution. As balance changes when the fuel load decreases, the driver can quickly readjust the set-up of his race car this way.

Another ergonomic consequence results from the regulations for 2014. They prescribe a change in cockpit dimensions and a different seating position which significantly benefits the driver. While he used to lie relatively flat in the monocoque before, his upper body is now in a more upright position. “This enlarges the forward angle of vision,” says a pleased Lucas di Grassi. “And vision through the side windows has notably improved as well. This clearly helps us in the on-track battles with our rivals.”

So the new Audi R18 e-tron quattro is not only a particularly efficient race car but ergonomically superior to its predecessors as well. “The new ergonomics help our drivers concentrate on the optimal lap even better than before,” says Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich. “In total, this enhances their performance capacity and adds to active safety.”

 

Motorsports / DTM Testfahrten HungaroringThe new Audi RS 5 DTM made a strong impression during the first official pre-season DTM tests. Five of the eight possible fastest lap times at the Hungaroring, Hungary went to the Audi drivers who spooled off a total of 7,154 test kilometers (1,633 laps).

“It was a positive and productive test for us,” explained Dieter Gass, Head of DTM at Audi Sport. “We covered many kilometers over the four days and were able to complete the majority of our test program. All the drivers seem satisfied, which speaks for the new RS 5 DTM and our intensive preparation over the winter. I think we are step further ahead at this moment than we were at the same time last year. Nevertheless, we have plenty of work to do before the season opener on May 4 at Hockenheim – and only then will we really know exactly where we stand compared to the competition.”

The first three race cars for the 2014 season and a test car of the new RS 5 DTM, called ‘RC3’ internally at Audi Sport, were available for the three Audi Sport teams Abt Sportsline, Phoenix and Rosberg. Mike Rockenfeller and Timo Scheider drove the test car. The eight drivers completed different test programs, which included tire test, race simulations and pit stops as well as the testing of different development configurations.

The fastest lap time among all the Audi drivers was recorded on Tuesday afternoon by newcomer Nico Müller in the orange colored Hoffmann Group Audi RS 5 DTM from Audi Sport Team Rosberg (1m 37.505s). The 22-year old ‘star of tomorrow’ was also the busiest Audi driver after completing 277 test laps.

The third race of the 2014 DTM season is on the agenda at the Hungaroring on June 1. During the test days, the Audi drivers already noticed the enormous enthusiasm the Hungarians have for motorsport: the drivers were welcomed by autograph hunters as they arrived at the airport in Budapest. Several hundreds of fans followed the test days at the Hungaroring.

Another official test between April 14-17 is on the agenda at the Hockenheimring before the season opener on May 4. The grandstands will also be opened for spectators attending the test days. Tickets for the DTM 2014 are available online atwww.audi-motorsport.com/dtm or by calling the following telephone number +49 (0)841 8947777.

 

1966346_10153871099170048_235406747_o-700x466The Detroit Autorama is one of North America’s most prestigious car shows. British Columbia’s J.F. Launier from JF Customs in Osoyoos won the shows’s most prestigious award on March 9th.  Launier’s 1964 Riviera, named Rivision blends parts from two distinctly different generations of Riviera along with a massive amount of fabrication. He won the Builders Award and then beat the other Great 8 finalists to take home the 2014 Ridler Award.

During the 1950’s, the producers of Autorama decided they needed promotional help to take the event to the next level, and turned to Don Ridler. With the help of Don’s creativity and professionalism, car enthusiasts flocked to the Coliseum at the Michigan State Fairgrounds to see some of the wildest hot rods that cruised the streets of the Motor City, and were entertained by acts such as Little Anthony and the Imperials and the Big Bopper.

Don Ridler passed away in 1963 at the age of 54. It was immediately decided that an award be created to honor his memory. Don’s forté had always been his creativity. Therefore, it was decided that the award would honor individuals who are equally creative in building cars. The award, geared to honor new creations, is only eligible to cars shown for the first time.

Originally the award was given to the Best Vehicle shown for the first time. Over the last forty-nine years the award has evolved to better conform to new ideas, changing designs and concepts. Today it emphasizes creativity, engineering and workmanship. Anyone building a vehicle for Ridler competition should post these words on their garage wall. The vehicle that best represents these three areas will win the Ridler Award.

Starting with a stock 1964 Riviera, Launier removed 18 inches of sheetmetal from the rear quarter panels, including 10 inches behind the door and another 8 inches behind the rear wheel well. The front wheel wells were moved three inches to the front to recover a bit of wheelbase, and also to allow for placement of the car’s 6.2-liter, 850-horsepower Chevrolet V-8 as low and as far aft as possible, for improved weight distribution and a lower center of gravity. If the rear window and boattail rear deck look out of place on a 1964 Riviera, they should; these parts were harvested from a 1971 Riviera, and the roof required extensive modification to fit (including the loss of six inches in width and 14 inches in length).

10005944_10153871105055048_8172460_o-700x466The Chevrolet V-8 is force-fed intake air by a pair of twin turbochargers which reside in the trunk area. The fuel tank filler neck is custom mounted along the leading edge of the trunk with the cap visible through the closed trunk lidInside the car, the custom intake tube (the bronze pipe in the above photo) runs the length of the roofline and is shaped to fit within the car’s roll cage which is hidden beneath a fabricated headliner. Though Launier plans to campaign the car in track and autocross events, there are still a few concessions to comfort over weight savings; upholstery, for example, is wrapped in leather and not in fabric, and the few visible parts of the roll cage are also clad in padded leather.

Launier estimates that he’s got over 20,000 hours of labor invested, along with $300,000 in parts and material. While that may seem like a monumental investment, the car is now a rolling billboard for JF Kustoms, and will likely ensure a steady stream of customers, looking to build a Ridler Award-winning street rod of their own, for years to come.