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Miscellaneous

Imola 6 Hours and ILMC Becoming FIA Championship

When I heard that the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup was to become an official FIA sanctioned championship next year I was really pleased. Endurance racing deserves to be on par with the likes of F1 and WRC in my opinion, and from next season it will be. It’s a fantastic decision.

The official name of the new series will be the FIA World Endurance Championship, which sounds great to me. In terms of the races and the way it works though, not much will change from the current ILMC which is probably the best thing, though I wouldn’t say no to a few more races being added to the schedule.

Still, before that begins, there’s a small matter of this year’s ILMC to be decided. The first race since the headline 24 hour race happened this past weekend, the 6 hours of Imola. I didn’t manage to catch the whole thing, but from what I did see, Peugeot’s 908 seemed to have the raw pace at this race that they lacked at Le Mans. Anthony Davidson was driving extremely well and despite a late scare with a puncture while Seb Bourdais was in the car, the 7 Peugeot held on to win from the 8. The Audi’s struggled to keep up in traffic and finished third and fourth a lap down.

Despite the fact that a Peugeot 908 has won each of the 3 other races but Le Mans itself this year (1 for Team Oreca and 2 for the factory team), I’m sure they would trade them for that elusive 24 hour win, which hopefully they’ll get again in 2012. In the meantime, winning every other race in the ILMC will help ease the pain until next June I’m sure. This starts with the 1000km of Silverstone in August, which Peugeot also won last year.

Categories
Miscellaneous

Sebastien Bourdais closing on IndyCar seat

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Bourdais grew up and still lives at Le Mans. Image via Wikipedia

Bourdais has been busy since being relieved of his seat at Toro Rosso in mid 2009. He joined superleague formula and has also been a regular figure at Le Mans driving one of the factory Peugeot 908 machines. He has now opted to go after a drive in IndyCar, the series which merged with Champ car, which he won 4 times. He left at the end of the season before the merge took place in order to go to F1.

Due to the fact that he is signed on to drive for Peugeot at all of the races in the 2011 International Le Mans Cup, which of course includes the Le Mans 24 hours itself, he cannot partake in a full season in IndyCar.

Conveniently, his Peugeot commitments dovetail nicely with the IndyCar road circuit weekends. Since he is not especially known for his oval racing skills, this seems like a good solution for him. I’m sure he’d love to prove that he can win regularly on ovals but I’m sure he’ll be happy to skip them in order to have a very busy racing schedule for the year.

We see a lot of drivers from other disciplines switching around these days, and it’s really interesting to see. We’ve seen Sebastien Loeb drive at Le Mans and do very well, Kimi Raikkonen and Robert Kubica rally, albeit at different levels and in Kubica’s case, as a hobby and many more drivers besides.

I hope he can make a big impact this year in IndyCar with a fairly small team. I also hope that the new Peugeot 908 which was just launched on Thursday will prove to not suffer with the same reliability issues that ruined the company’s Le Mans hopes in 2010. I think if the car works well then Bourdais and his team-mates will have a strong chance at the win, although the other two Peugeot Total cars which include the likes of recognisable names Anthony Davidson and Alex Wurz are going to be tough to beat. Audi are always strong, and their new closed cockpit car, the R18 looks like it could be very strong. It’s going to be great but I’ll have more thoughts on Le Mans this year as we get closer to the race.

However, I don’t want to deviate too far from the subject of this post. In any case, I think that Sebastien Bourdais is a talented driver who either wasn’t given a real chance in F1, or just somehow couldn’t translate his magic from his Champ Car dominating days into an F1 car. I’m glad to see him putting himself in a position to impress on the world stage and it goes to prove that despite F1 declaring itself the pinnacle of motorsport, the high level motor racing disciplines that are almost equal to and below it are numerous.