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Weekly Racing Roundup (6.15.20)

DTM testing and Trans Am esports reports plus calendar updates and other news…

Photo: Audi

DTM Moves Closer to Season Start with Official Test

The DTM became one of the first European race series to officially hit the track since the COVID-19 pandemic started, in the form of a four-day test at the Nürburgring last week.

All 16 of the 2020 season’s cars from Audi and BMW took part in the closed-doors event on Jun. 8-11 with social distancing and other strict hygiene measures in place.

Team WRT driver Ferdinand Habsburg set the fastest lap on day three, with the former R-Motorsport Aston Martin man posting a time of 1:18.911s in his customer Audi.

Audi RS5 Turbo drivers filled out the top four places at the end of the test with Nico Müller winding up second ahead of reigning champion Rene Rast and Jamie Green.

The fastest BMW M4 DTM was that of Sheldon van der Linde, who registered a time of 1:19.070s.

Mike Rockenfeller led the lap count with the German Audi driver’s haul of 569 tours around the Nürburgring sprint circuit equating to 2,064 km (1282 miles).

Rockenfeller’s number was followed up by series rookie and ex-Formula 1 driver Robert Kubica, who turned in 541 laps behind the wheel of his customer ART-run BMW.

Audi drivers completed 1,964 laps (7,127 km/4429 miles) while the BMW contingent amassed 1,737 laps (6,304 km/3917 miles).

The DTM is set to hold its first round of the season at Spa-Francorchamps on Aug. 1-2.

Image: Trans-Am

Trans Am Brings Back Bridgehampton for Esports

Tyler Kicera kept his Trans Am by Pirelli Esports Championship lead by winning the second of last weekend’s two online races held on a recreated Bridgehampton Race Circuit.

The track on New York State’s Long Island closed its doors in the late 1990s but reopened virtually for the penultimate round of the eight-stop Trans Am sim contest.

Kicera initially lost the points lead in race one by finishing second to his title rival Josh Hurley, who expertly converted his pole position into a dominant victory.

Hurley led from start to finish, while Kicera worked his way into the next-best position at the end of lap 11 when he caught a straight-line run on Carl Rydquist who had dropped two wheels in the sand at the final corner.

In race two, the championship tables turned back as Kicera claimed his fourth win of the season whilst Hurley settled for third place.

Kicera started from ninth in the reverse-grid contest, ahead of Hurley, and both of them were in the top five by lap four.

The pair got past Devlin DeFrancesco after a close-quarters battle before Kicera found a way by race leader Dylan Archer at the hairpin on the final lap.

Hurley’s run to the flag behind Archer meant Kicera came away from the weekend with more points, and will have a four-point advantage when the Trans Am by Pirelli Esports Championship next meets or its season finale at Lime Rock Park on June 20.

Image: NLS

Esports News & Notes

***IMSA driver Bruno Spengler won last weekend’s three-hour Nürburgring Langstrecken Serie Digital race with his co-drivers Nils Koch and Karl Kaschube. The trio became the season’s first repeat winners, beating solo driver Aleksi Elomaa who prevailed in a three-way photo finish for second with Marvin Dienst and Marcel Marchewiz.

***GT Sport Organisation, which runs the International GT Open, is hosting a pro driver sim racing competition on Friday with three sprint races on three different circuits.

***The ‘Superstars Open’ will take place on virtual renditions of Silverstone, Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya and Monza over the course of a 90-minute broadcast. Formula 1 star Carlos Sainz Jr, GT3 ace Andy Soucek and Formula 2 race winner Jack Aitken are among the drivers confirmed to take part. A live stream will be available.

***The virtual 24 Hours of Le Mans generated interest in the real-world edition of the French enduro from the current Formula 1 drivers who took part, including Ferrari star Charles Leclerc. Leclerc tweeted after the event: “Now I just want to do the real Le Mans” following his stint with the No. 52 Ferrari team.

***The ACO-organized race was won by Rebellion Williams Esport. Read the report here.

Photo: GT Open

Calendar Updates

***International GT Open has changed the date of its Hungaroring round for the second time in the space of a week, with the season-opener now scheduled for Aug. 6-9 rather than July. Per the series, the latest change will put the event “at a period where intra-EU and international travel is expected to be easier, under the evolving lifting of restrictions.”

***The 2020 Monterey Motorsports Reunion scheduled to take place in mid-August has been canceled as a COVID-19 precaution. WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca will instead hold a private “Driver Appreciation Weekend” on Aug. 8-9, adhering to the relevant safety protocols.

***Super Taikyu has issued an updated calendar that will see the Japanese series end its season at Suzuka in January 2021. The Fuji 24 Hours has been confirmed for Sep. 4-6 while meetings at Autopolis and Motegi have also been moved. View this full schedule and more in Sportscar365’s definitive calendar guide.

Photo: Dirk Bogaerts/SRO

Other News & Notes

***Rinaldi Racing has withdrawn its No. 888 Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo from GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS. The car was due to be driven by David Perel, Rinat Salikhov and Patrick Kujala in the Silver Cup class of the Endurance series, and by Perel and Salikhov in Sprint. It’s understood that Salikhov picked up an injury that has ruled him out for the season.

***2018 Le Mans podium finisher Mathias Beche has launched his own race team – Mathias Beche Performance – that will debut in the single-make Ligier JS Cup this year. Romain Carton is the first of two drivers to be confirmed for the new project.

***Speedworks Motorsport has taken delivery of its new Toyota GR Supra GT4. The first batch of the latest GT4 car on the market had been sat in Toyota Gazoo Racing Europe’s Cologne facility awaiting delivery during the coronavirus pandemic, but the first British customer received its car last week.

***Cool Racing has revealed a new livery and partnership with Total for the final three FIA World Endurance Championship races of the 2019-20 season. The LMP2 squad debuted the updated design in the virtual 24 Hours of Le Mans.

***Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus is producing a set of stamped plates that will be used as ballast in the constructor’s 007C FIA World Endurance Championship Le Mans Hypercars before being distributed to fans and sponsors as souvenirs.

***Michelin and hydrogen mobility solutions provider Symbio have become partners of the ACO’s Mission H24 hydrogen-powered Le Mans car project.

***Celebrated Porsche engine designer Hans Mezger died last week at the age of 90. Mezger was the architect of the 911’s six-cylinder boxer engine, the 12-cylinder unit found in the Le Mans-winning 917 sports car and the Porsche TAG Formula 1 engine.

***Michael Steiner, Member of the Executive Board as Porsche Research and Development, paid tribute: “We thank Hans Mezger for his extraordinary engineering achievements, which he has done for motorsport in general and for Porsche in particular. His innovations for our series sports cars will remain unforgotten forever.”

***Former Ford WEC driver Andy Priaulx has announced that he won’t be racing full-time in 2020. The triple World Touring Car champion confirmed on Monday morning that he will be focusing on his expanded role with Multimatic rather than competing in WTCR for a second year with Cyan Performance Lynk & Co.

***Kondo Racing has confirmed that it won’t be contesting this year’s Nürburgring 24 in September. The experienced Japanese outfit was due to return to the event at which it debuted last year with Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 for Joao Paulo de Oliveira, Kazuki Hiramine, Mitsunori Takaboshi and Tsugio Matsuda.

***NLS teams will return to the track today after a long absence due to the coronavirus restrictions in Germany. The ‘trial and hiring’ test day will take place using a new pit lane configuration, which is designed to keep the teams safely apart.

***Last week the NLS confirmed that it has been given the green light from the local Arhweiler district council to hold its season-opening endurance race on June 27.

Daniel Lloyd is a UK-based reporter for Sportscar365, covering the FIA World Endurance Championship, GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, among other series.

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