Lemans 2017 Notes, stories, pictures, by Marshall Pruet and others Mark Webber
LE MANS: Webber named 2017 grand marshal
Thursday, 02 February 2017
Newly retired Porsche LMP1 driver and 2015 FIA World Endurance Championship P1 title winner Mark Webber has been named grand marshal of June's 24 Hours of Le Mans.
The Australian, who made five starts at the endurance racing classic from 1998-2016, earned a best finish of second in 2015 and left as the most popular driver in the WEC.
"I'm honored to be asked to be the grand marshal," said the 40-year-old. "I've never done anything like that before. I'll be favoring my beloved Porsche but Toyota will be very hungry to get the outright win, LMP2 is looking good and record entries in GT. It's going to be a cracking event." The practice of naming a recently retired sports car racing star as the Le Mans grand marshal has become the norm, although from Webber's perspective, his nomination sits in the shadow of those who won the event on multiple occasions.
"What does it mean to follow in the footsteps of Alex Wurz, Tom Kristensen, Allan McNish, and Henri Pescarolo?" he asked. "I think as a grand marshal, those four gentlemen have a tremendous record at Le Mans; obviously they'd been racing there for a long time.
"I didn't really have the time at Le Mans or the record they had the luxury of having, but what it does signify is the event gives us the opportunity to talk to people in a bit more of relaxed atmosphere and explain to people how important this event is."
The 85th running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans takes place June 17-18.
Scuderia Corsa announces two-car Le Mans lineup
Tuesday, 07 February 2017
Marshall Pruett (words and image)
Defending 24 Hours of Le Mans class winners Townsend Bell and Bill Sweedler will reunite with Scuderia Corsa in pursuit of a second consecutive GTE-Am victory, and will do so with WeatherTech Racing and Cooper MacNeil added to the No. 62 Ferrari 488 GTE.
The combination of Scuderia Corsa, Bell, Sweedler and Jeff Segal, who currently drives for Acura in IMSA's WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, produced an all-American win in 2016 for the California-based team.
The team's two-car efforts will see Scuderia Corsa's defending WeatherTech Championship GT Daytona title winners Alessandro Balzan and Christina Nielsen share the No. 65 Ferrari 488 GTE with Bret Curtis.
"The opportunity to bring two Ferraris in defense of our Le Mans victory is a great honor," said team owner Giacomo Mattioli. "To debut in 2015 with a podium, and win last year was an absolute dream-come-true. To return now with the Ferrari 488 GTE is a brand new challenge that we are all excited for.
"It's of course great to see Bill and Townsend back with us for another year, and now with Cooper MacNeil joining us, we should be very strong. It goes without saying we had an incredible 2016 together with Christina and Alessandro, and Bret Curtis is a long-time member of the community that we're very excited to work with. We're definitely confident for another Ferrari victory!"
For Sweedler, who teamed with Bell to win the 2015 GTD championship, the chance to race at Le Mans with the same team and a nearly identical driver roster was too good to pass up.
"I'm so excited to return to the 24 hours of Le Mans and defend our race win along with Scuderia Corsa and Ferrari," Sweedler said. "Le Mans is such a unique and special place that has the most passionate residents. The city literally shuts down for a week to welcome racers, teams, and fans from around the world into their city. I'm truly honored to be able to participate again after two successful years. My hope is that Townsend, and our newest teammate, Cooper MacNeil, can take our collective experience and deliver another strong finish for Scuderia Corsa and Ferrari in 2017!"
With an IMSA championship already bearing her name, Nielsen is chasing after the next big accolade in endurance racing.
"It will be great to return to Le Mans with Scuderia Corsa," she said. "This event is unlike any other, and one that any driver wants to win. Luckily this is the best organization I could be with, and our last year together has been incredible. The professionalism, quality of work, and talent on all levels is unmatched, and now that I've already experienced the event, I want to go to win."
02-07-2017 05:04 PM
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