The Motor Sport Month - International News

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Early bath for Palmer’s F2

The Formula 2 series, which has been run by Jonathan Palmer’s MotorSport Vision enterprise since 2009, will not continue into the final year of its contract with the FIA.

The series was launched as a low-cost championship, which would sit below Formula 1. MSV ran the cars as one large team and despite various power upgrades it became a stepping stone to GP2 rather than F1.

“It has progressively become clear that the single operating team concept involves compromises that have reduced its appeal to drivers,” said Palmer, a former champion in the old European F2 series. “We and the FIA are in agreement that any future F2 should operate on a more conventional, multi-team basis.”

Huff’s last chance incentive

New World Touring Car Champion Rob Huff redoubled his efforts to win the title when he learnt of Chevrolet’s withdrawal from the series at the end of 2012.

The 33-year-old Briton has revealed that he changed his mentality after it emerged that 2012 would be the last season for the RML-run Chevrolet squad. He told himself that winning the title after his near-miss in 2011 was the best way of ensuring that he landed a drive for the new season.

“I changed my mentality and put myself under extra pressure after the decision in the summer,” he told Motor Sport. “I told myself that if I didn’t win the championship, I wouldn’t have a drive in 2013. As it turns out, I was kidding myself because I still don’t have a drive, but I think that added pressure inspired me.”

Huff, who becomes the second British winner of the WTCC after three-time champion Andy Priaulx, sealed his achievement at the Macau finale in November, despite crashing his Chevrolet Cruze out of the lead of the opening race on the street circuit in southeast Asia. Second place behind RML team-mate Alain Menu in the second race gave him the crown by a 12-point margin.

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Rob Huff Q&A

Do you think you drove better in 2012 than in previous years?

“If anything I think I drove barter in 2011. I believe I was the fastest driver and had the same number of poles and victories as Yvan, and ended up losing the championship by three points.”

What were your thoughts after you had crashed out of the opening race at the Macau WTCC finale?

“I said some things to myself that can’t be printed. I was upset and angry with myself, but I knew that I’d gone into the weekend with a healthy 37-point lead and had put the car on pole by more than half a second. I knew I could dig deep and bang some fast laps in, but I also knew that it was important to monitor where I was and assess what I needed to do to clinch the title.”

Is there any sadness that you won’t be defending your title?

“My dream was to stay with RML and Chevrolet in the WTCC for ever but I know that touring car programmes come to an end. I’d love to defend my title in 2013, but if I can’t, I want to come back and try to regain the crown in 2014. There are new rules coming, which perhaps means that some of the manufacturers who might be building cars for the coming season are going to hold off a year. That’s just something that life has thrown at me, and I will have to deal with it.

What further ambitions do you have in other areas of motor sport?

“I’d love to get into some kind of sports car, and the Le Mans 24 Hours, but I’d also love to try the DTM and V8 Supercars in Australia. I wouldn’t have a problem going back to the British Touring Car Championship. I only did one year (with SEAT in 2004), and I consider it unfinished business.”

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Touring car performance boost for 2014

The World Touring Car Championship is likely to become more spectacular from 2014.

New regulations are set to be introduced for the Super 2000 category that will increase performance. December’s FIA World >Council rubber-stamped a plan that will result in a lighter, more powerful breed of touring car with greater aerodynamic freedom.

The greater freedoms will mean the FIA will be able to abandon the technical waivers that are given to some cars and its Balance of Performance system, which is designed to maintain a level playing field in S2000.

The FIA stated its intent to keep costs under control and to maintain the balance between frontand rearwheel-drive machinery.

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BMW plans ALMS Z4

BMW is developing a GTE version of its BMW Z4 GT3 to replace its E92-shape M3 in the American Le Mans Series in 2013.

The German manufacturer finally confirmed the switch, which had been something of an open secret since the beginning of the season. The new V8-powered Z4 will be run in the ALMS, like its predecessor, by Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing.

BMW Motorsport boss Jens Marquardt said: “This change in model shows that we are focussing fully on the BMW Z4 as an allencompassing GT car.”

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Full Toyota squad for WEC

Toyota is planning for a two-car assault in this year’s FIA World Endurance Championship.

The budget for two 2013-spec Toyota T5030 Hybrids to race in the full eight-race WEC is understood not to have been signed off, but Toyota Motorsport GmbH is working towards running a pair of cars. To that effect, it has re-signed all six of its drivers from this year’s programme.

A fall-back option should the funds not be available for two cars for the full season would be for TMG to run two cars at the Le Mans 24 Hours and the two rounds beforehand at Silverstone and Spa. Toyota fielded two T5030s on the hybrid car’s debut at Le Mans in June. It subsequently fielded one entry in the remaining five races of the WEC.

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New GT class option

Plans to create one class to combine the GTE and GT3 classes have radically altered.

The manufacturers on the GT Convergence Group set up by the FIA and the Automobile Club de l’Ouest have come up with a counterproposal that retains two classes but brings GTE and GT3 closer together.

This would mean that manufacturers could develop one basic design which could be turned into a GT3 or a GTE contender with a parts kit. Stephane Ratel, who opposed the FIA/ACO initiative, described the new plans as “the obvious move”.

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Works Porsches to make Le Mans return

Porsche will have its most overt factory presence at the Le Mans 24 Hours this June since the year of the last of its 16 overall ictories in the big race in 1998.

The German manufacturer has announced it will field a factory squad at Le Mans and in the full FIA World Endurance Championship in conjunction with Team Manthey. They will develop the latest 991-shape 911 RSR GTE class contender in competition before it goes on sale to customers for the 2014 season.

Porsche Motorsport boss Hartmut Kristen said: “The new 911 RSR is currently being developed by our engineers and tested by our works drivers. What better time could there be to introduce the new car than in the 50th anniversary of the Porsche 911?”

Manthey performed a similar role in developing other Porsche 911 racers. It was one of two teams to field the new 911 GT3-R at Le Mans in 1999 and ran the first GT2 version of the 997-shape at the 2006 Spa 24 Hours.

Porsche has confirmed it will field an in-house factory team when its all-new LMP1 hybrid comes on stream in 2014.

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