Feature Articles

Spotlight on Simraceway F3 Racer Alex Coigny

Last weekend Alex Coigny, a frequent racer in our Simraceway F3 series and 5th place finisher in the F3 Winter Series Championship, headed back to his home country of Switzerland to begin his European racing schedule for 2016 in the VdeV European GT Sportscar Championship.

 

Alex in the Cockpit, obviously trying to remember the wise words of Tom Dyer

Alex in the Cockpit, obviously trying to remember the wise words of Tom Dyer

The VdeV is an endurance series that frequents the top racing tracks throughout Europe. The team will also be contesting several rounds of the International Endurance series for races of 12-24 hours in length. Alex will be driving for GPC Motorsport with fellow Swiss driver I’Alexander in a purpose built GT prototype car called a Vortex with a Corvette power plant that nearly matches the pace of the current top line GT3 cars in its debut race weekend! The first race was at Barcelona, which would be familiar to most race fans as the home of F1’s pre-season test days just a few weeks ago.

 

Alex ran the first and last stints which included some slippery wet weather conditions. He was able to take the car to the checkered flag but unfortunately, due to some technical issues causing some extensive time spent on pit lane, a good result was not forthcoming. The team is determined to get these issues sorted before the next race at Le Mans Bugatti course in April as the potential of the car was already apparent. Also, watch out for another familiar face in the car later on in the year as Simraceway’s very own Tom Dyer will be teaming up with Alex and the GPC team in the 24 hour race at Paul Ricard in July. We certainly wish Alex the very best of luck and look forward to seeing him back in the F3 cockpit  here at Sonoma at the 1st race of the F3 Summer Series in May.

 

Exclusive interview with Pietro Fittipaldi

Pietro Fittipaldi is one of the brightest talents in formula car racing, and is about to embark on the 3.5 V8 series (formerly Renault 3.5). He is the grandson of the great Emerson Fittipaldi, and nephew of Christian & Max Papis.

 

The following is a short interview after we spent the day with him at the Simraceway Performance Driving Center in preparation of his return to Europe. He helped us with some benchmark times for the current crop of young drivers who will be coming through the driver development program this year.

 

He is a very smart and mature driver for his age, and also very very fast, he ended up breaking the F3 lap record at Sonoma Raceway by over a second! Make sure you follow his season, he is sure to make an impression in his rookie year. Enjoy.

Photographer: Jay Watson

 

Simraceway Performance Driving Center Hosts Autoweek Magazine

 

IMG_3457In its second year now, the Simraceway Performance Driving Center was proud to host the Autoweek Fantasy Camp where 20 individuals got to live the pampered life of an automotive journalist. 10 cars were invited to the party: the Lexus IS-F, BMW M3, Dodge Charger Hellcat, Cadillac ATS, Chevrolet SS, Audi S4, Mercedes Benz C400, Chrysler 300C & Acura TLX. Ganassi Racing’s dynamic duo Scott Pruett & Joey Hand were also there to offer some fun racing stories as well as some wild rides in the Lexus RC-F.

 

IMG_6050Starting with a street drive through the winding hills and valleys of Sonoma/Napa, the “editors for a day” rotated through the cars to get a good feel for each car. They ended up at Simraceway Performance Driving Center at Sonoma Raceway to start the serious business of really putting these cars to the test. Here our instructors went along for the ride, helping with track and driving tips as they drove the cars on our performance Autocross as well as the raceway itself, all the while writing their thoughts on how each one stacked up against each other. Some serious rubber was burned, especially in the Dodge Charger Hellcat as horsepower doesn’t suck, where no one could resist holding that throttle all the way to the floor (and the noise wasn’t half bad either)! This was a unique opportunity that everyone seemed to have a ball being a part of. Even our instructors seemed to find some new cars they’d like to add to their garage. After a fantastic day of endless car talk and fuel burning fun, they headed over to Aston Martin headquarters at our friends TRG’s raceshop & winery. We are already looking forward to next year’s program, so stay tuned to Autoweek to see if you can be one of the lucky ones in 2016!

—Paul Charsley

 

Pictures from the day:

How to Get Around COTA…Fast!

Simraceway Performance Driving Center instructor Matt Bell is one of a select group: a driver who has taken on Circuit of The Americas twice. In fact, in March of this year the Californian got up-close-and-personal with the Austin circuit twice in one day—once in a Chevrolet Camaro SS GS.R, and once in an Audi R8 LMS.

 

So who better than the expert GT racer, who has placed second in the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge Series Driver’s Championship (GS Class) two years in a row, to guide us through a lap of COTA in our R8 LMS ultra–as Simraceway players battle to record the quickest times with that same car/track combo and qualify for the 50th Sunday Race-Off?

 

Read on to benefit from his video and guide, which is also available to download as a PDF.

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Simraceway Pro Driver Dario Franchitti Retires from Racing

Four-time IndyCar champion and triple winner of the Indianapolis 500, Dario Franchitti announced yesterday that he would be retiring from professional motorsport due to medical concerns resulting from his crash in Houston. As someone we’ve worked with closely over the last few years, that news provokes a range of emotions.

 

 

As racing fans, we share in the sadness that will be felt across the entire sport–we took immense pleasure from his continued successes and even had the privilege of sharing in some of his biggest victories.

 

[embed width=”620″ height=”349″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=55_MWwxM3EU[/embed]

 

However, having also been lucky enough to get to know the man behind the legend, we’re thankful that Dario is taking a route that will keep him out of harm’s way in the future.

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Circuit of The Americas Comes Full Circle

Simraceway and Circuit of The Americas have always enjoyed a close relationship–we even managed to launch our version of the course three weeks before its real gates swung open–so, on the eve of its second US GP, we’re naturally delighted that the first purpose-built Grand Prix facility in the U.S. has been such a hit in its first year.

 

Read on to find out more about COTA’s successful first twelve months–in both the virtual and real worlds!

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Real vs. Virtual Ep. 4: Audi R8 LMS ultra

With the new Audi R8 LMS ultra already proving a popular addition to the Simraceway showroom, we’re taking a closer look at just how much effort and expertise goes into the creation of our cars in the latest episode of our Real vs. Virtual series, recently launched on our YouTube channel. Read on to find out more.

 

 

“I’ve already learned a couple of things before we even take the real car out on the track. I know exactly what gear I should be in, what kind of entry speed I should have, where my break markers should be”, reflected a visibly-impressed James Sofronas.

 

Capture

The GMG Racing owner, co-founder, and driver was talking to our Head of Physics, Nico Rondet, at the Simraceway Performance Driving Center as the pair, aided by the hard-working Simraceway physics team, tuned our virtual R8 LMS ultra to behave exactly like the car Sofronas’ team had driven into battle in 2012.

 

Check out the video below to see how they got on.

 

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Palatov Motorsport’s Fire-Breathing D4PPS Wins at Pikes Peak

According to Wikipedia, “Pikes Peak International Hill Climb…is an annual automobile and motorcycle hill climb to the summit of Pikes Peak in Colorado” on a track that “measures 12.42 miles (19.99 km) over 156 turns, climbing 4,720 ft (1,440 m) from the start at Mile 7 on Pikes Peak Highway, to the finish at 14,110 ft (4,300 m), on grades averaging 7%.”

 

While completely accurate, what that selection of stats fails to convey is just how spine-chillingly fearsome this popular event is. Filled with hardcore, take-no-prisoners corners that are often taken at insane speeds, its drivers are seemingly unperturbed by its blood-curdling collection of blind exits and run-off areas that would be more accurately described as “fall-off areas”.

 

When Ernest Hemingway observed there were “but three true sports – bullfighting, mountain climbing, and motor-racing”, it’s doubtful he was aware there was actually an event fusing two of those endeavors into one challenging contest. And it’s the enormity of this challenge that brings so many contestants to the mountains of Colorado each year. This year, our good friends at Palatov Motorsport decided to take up the challenge–and this is our account of how they got on.

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Team Cal Simraceway Gear Up for Their Biggest Challenge Yet


Simraceway has partnered with the Formula SAE team at UC Berkley to assist its budding engineers and drivers as they develop and race their B12 car in the 2012-2013 season. In a previous post we covered the early stages of their preparation, including the all-important driver selection, and we now join Team Principal Shin Scott and his FSAE team as they continue to ready the car and drivers for the grand final in Nebraska.

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Simraceway–Helping Shape the Future of Motorsport

After an encouraging 2011-12 season, Simraceway has once again teamed up with the Formula SAE team at UC Berkeley to help them with their 2012-13 entry in the prestigious contest designed to unearth the engineers of the future. We’ll be playing an active role in helping the team develop their new car as well as supplying the tools and knowledge to enable them to find and train their drivers.

To experience first-hand the product of last year’s partnership, you can purchase the FSAE B11 (nicknamed “Vader”) here for mere pocket change. To find out how this season’s preparations are going, carry on reading as we highlight the team’s journey right up to the final in Nebraska.

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Simraceway Event Winners Take to the Track

A bright and sunny California day saw the Evo X Mid-Ohio Event winners, Peter Duivelaar (pro_drifter100) and Steven Diem (acerockolla), join us at the Simraceway Performance Driving Center. They were greeted by Jeff Westphal, one of its instructors, and Nico Rondet, its Chief Instructor, who would be coaching them over the next two days as they got to grips with the Evo X and the Infineon Raceway circuit. After a quick intro, it was time to see if they are as quick in the real world as they are in the virtual one!

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Simraceway and Palatov Motorsport Shakedown the D4

A bright and sunny morning sees Dennis Palatov and his Palatov Motorsport team join us at Infineon Raceway, home of the Simraceway Performance Driving Center, for a shakedown session of his exciting new D4 track/race car. With motoring journalists Leo Parente and Brian Makse also in attendance, we’re keen to see how the Simraceway D4 compares to the real-life track weapon, so we can give you the most realistic racing experience possible.

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An Unconventional ‘Road to Indy’

“I’m never going to give up. Racing is my life.”

These are words that I have heard from many kids (even from ‘kids’ in their twenties) at the local kart track, but I recently had the chance to speak to a young man who really means them–and continues to prove it every day by chasing his dream, despite the difficult hand he was dealt at a young age.

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Simon Says—A Lap Around Mid-Ohio with the Track Record Holder

“I have the all-time track record at Mid-Ohio—I think it was a 1:03:7.” It was at this point of my conversation with IndyCar, sportscar, Aussie V8 and rally driver extraordinaire, Simon Pagenaud, that I fell off my chair.

The 27-year-old Indianapolis-based Frenchman loves to go fast and in the last 12 months he has taken every available opportunity to prove it. Pagenaud has driven for the factory Peugeot squad in the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup, he’s been ‘super sub’ in the IndyCar Series, he’s been a factory Honda driver in the Continental Tire Series for touring cars and he’s even found time to rally a Citroen C2!

That blistering lap time at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course was set in a 2007 Champ Car (above) described simply by Pagenaud as “fantastic” with a “combination of power and grip that made that track layout really fun.”

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