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Race Weekend Preview -- June 16-17, 2018

This weekend we are watching five races:
June 16-17 – The 24-Hours of Le Mans at Le Mans, France
June 16 – The NASCAR Camping World M&M’s 200 at the Iowa Speedway, Newton, IA
June 17 – The NASCAR Xfinity Iowa 250 at Iowa Speedway, , Newton, IA
June 16 – The NASCAR Pinty’s Rankin Construction 200 at Jukasa Motor Speedway, Hagersville, ON

24-Hours of Le Mans

Toyota has entered the last three Le Mans 24-hour races as the favourite but they failed to win any of them. This year, their two cars are the only hybrids in the premiere LMP1 class – making them the odds-on favourite to finally win this classic race.

With the withdrawal of the other Hybrid LMP1 cars – notably Porsche who won in 2015, 2016 and 2017 – the hybrid field was reduced to a single make. In hopes of maintaining interest in the LMP1 class, the WEC created new rules for LMP1 non-hybrid cars which could compete in the WEC races (including the Le Mans 24-Hour) with traditional internal combustion 5.5-litre engines.

Eight LMP1 (non-hybrid) cars have been entered top challenge the two hybrid Toyotas – with four different makes of ICE engines named. Given that this Toyota does not plan to continue with the hybrids after this year, it is their last chance to win Le Mans with this configuration – so a lot is at stake here.

It would be easy to predict that Toyotas will win this time and that Fernando Alonso will be atop the winners’ podium but don’t count out the non-hybrid entries. For starters, the WEC/ACO have been tinkering with the equivalency rules in an effort to even the competition between the two types of power units – and the ICE technology is long established – and these cars may be inherently more reliable. While the Toyota hybrids did win the opening round of the WEC at Spa, the Rebellion cars were very competitive – albeit coming in two laps down at the checker. That result and the results of testing at Le Mans have produced some revisions to the equivalency formulas. In testing at Le Mans, the Rebellion cars were close to the time of the fastest of the Toyota.

The LMP2 class has 20 entries. The fastest in pre-race testing was the No. 31 Dragonspeed Oreca-Gibson of Pastor Maldonado and others. These cars are similar to the DPi entries in the IMSA WeatherTech series.
The LMGTE-Pro class will se a continuing battle for supremacy among the Ferrari 488s, The Corvette CR-7s, four Ford GTs, Porsche 911 RSRs and Aston Martin Vantages. This promises to be the most closely-fought class with its 17 entries. Remember the performance of the various makes is ‘equalized’ by BoP rules.

In the LMGTE-Am class the No. 98 Aston Martin with Toronto-based driver Paul Dalla Lama has a record of winning performances – and it is a car to watch again this year.

In Canada , you can watch the Le Mans 24-Hour race on the Discovery Velocity cable channel or via the Motor Trend On Demand (subscription) streaming service. Motor Trend on demand does offer a two-week free trial period, so this might be a good time to check it out for free.

NASCAR at Iowa Speedway

This is an off weekend for the NASCAR Cup (MENCS) series but the two other NASCAR national series are running at the 7/8-mile Iowa Speedway.

Last year John Hunter Nemechek won the Camping World truck race here while the New England driver Ryan Preece won the Xfinity race in the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Toyota. This year, despite it being an open weekend for the Cup drivers, none of them are entered in either race.

Last week, Johhny Sauter won his fourth truck race of the year and he will be shooting for a fifth win. Nemechek has moved up to the Xfinity Series this year but he has entered here looking to repeat last year’s success. The Canadian driver Stewart Friesen was a close second last weekend – and this short track oval is his kind of race track.

Cup-driver Austin Dillon, who won last week’s Xfinity race will not be here this time – nor will last year’s winner Preece who is only doing selected race again this year. Cole Custer and Daniel Hemric are second and third in the points standings behind Sauter. Perhaps this will be the week for one of them to break through and win.

The NCWTS race on Saturday will be broadcast in Canada on Fox Sports Racing and the Xfinity race on Sunday will be on TSN5.

Pinty’s Series at Jukasa

The second round of the NASCAR Pinty’s Series will be run this Saturday evening at the recently revamped Jukasa Motor Speedway (formerly Cayuga Speedway) near Hagersville, ON. The 5/8-mile oval is totally different from the CTMP road course the first race of the season ran on.

Kevin Lacroix dominated the race at CTMP until Andrew Ranger knocked him off course on the last lap leaving the win to L.P. Dumoulin. Ranger and the multivalent Alex Tagliani could be favourites to win on the short track.

This race will not be broadcast live. A tape version of the race will be broadcast on TSN2 on June 23rd.

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