Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Marco Polo Motorsports Nicolai Elghanayan Post PWC Lime Rock Grand Prix Interview

Nicolai Elghanayan driving the Marco Polo Motorsports, Reiter Engineering, Muellerized, Performance & Racing Tech Talk No. 71 KTM X-Bow captures a nearly perfect weekend of performance with Pole starting position for both Round 5 & Round 6 races in the Pirelli World Challenge Lime Rock Grand Prix topped by 1 hour and 56 minutes of dominating driving performance. Elghanayan raises the trophy he earned in Round 5 for winning the race in front of 30 other GTS SprintX GT4 class cars. Image Credit: PWC (2018)

Marco Polo Motorsports Nicolai Elghanayan Post PWC Lime Rock Grand Prix Interview

Welcome Nicolai Elghanayan ...

You are a first year race car driver for a first year team competing in the Pirelli World Challenge in the GTS SprintX Class driving an Austrian manufactured KTM X-Bow GT4 and have been able to drive at two event venues in the 2018 season. We are conducting this interview after a fairly successful two-race event weekend at Lime Rock Park at the Lime Rock Grand Prix - but more about this later.

The first venue was the two-race weekend of the Grand Prix of Texas at the Circuit Of The Americas (COTA). A quick review of the event shows that a field of 38 cars participated and that in the first practice your car was P30 and the second practice had you placing at P21 and Qualifications at P25 of 37 cars. Tell us about your impressions on being at and preparing to race at COTA before any races were run after driving in the Lotus Cup USA Series where you were Champion for 2016 and 2017.

The racing at COTA was probably a bit tougher than all of the build up and preparation given that at Race 1 the Marco Polo Motorsports KTM X-Bow finished at P28 of 37 cars.

Race 2 had the Marco Polo Motorsports No. 71 KTM X-Bow Grid at P30 and finish at P25.

You needed to complete your studies at USC in Architecture, and graduate - then it is off for preparations for the Grand Prix of Lime Rock.

Marco Polo Motorsports two KTM X-Bow Pirelli World Challenge GTS SprintX GT4 cars preparing for Rounds 5 & 6 to be run at Lime Rock Park. The cars sit around the garages at Willow Springs International Raceway. Image Credit: Thomas Stahler via Facebook (2018)

The shake down preparations were held at three tracks. Two in California and one in Oregon [at Portland International Raceway]. The two sessions in California were held at Willow Springs International Raceway and Buttonwillow in California's Central Valley. In both of these sessions you were joined by former Formula One and KTM staff driver, Tomas Enge as a driving coach.

What core precepts did you learn from Tomas and what is your best memory of those three days of Grand Prix of Lime Rock preparation?

You arrive at Lime Rock Park [in Connecticut] - what are your first impressions achieved from the track inspection walk?

In Practice 1 you place P6 of 33 cars, Practice 2 a P4, and in Qualifications a Pole position at P1. Through the two practice sessions, did you feel you had the car and set up given the improvement from the two sessions to race for the Pole position? Walk us through this.

Race 1 was a fairly close race, without telling us the result, review with us the basics of transition of starting from the Pole and having to defend this position at a place like Lime Rock Park.

Yes! You won your first Pirelli World Challenge race and did it by a margin of only 3.3 seconds. How was that?

Race 2 / Round 6 started off really tight for the first stint of the race. Before you had to come in for the mandatory pitstop, a pair of Audi R8s were dogging you at .1 to .5 for the laps leading up to the stops. Tell us what you learned by being in such tight quarters since they were basically in your tailpipe?

Through 56 minutes of a 1 hour race, you were able to pilot the No. 71 KTM X-Bow to as much as a 16 second lead then something went wrong. Tell us your thinking over the last 4 minutes as you struggled to finish the race.

Still, you finished at P9 in a field of 31 cars. It would have been nice to capture both races in a two race weekend but heck, there are 2/3rds of a field that would still loved to have your race at the end, and more than this many drivers would have loved to have the full weekend.

Next up - Road America - basic thoughts on another first time track.

Nicolai Elghanayan, thank you and safe travels.

... notes from The EDJE

TAGS: Marco Polo Motorsports, Pirelli World Challenge, GTS SprintX, GT4, KTM X-Bow, No. 71, Nicolai Elghanayan, @engeracing, #marcopolomotorsports, #reiterengineering, #muellerized, #limerockpark, Willow Springs International Raceway, Buttonwillow, Portland International Raceway, @The_EDJE

Monday, May 21, 2018

#TeamIndyCar Secures Historic Place In The INDY500 11th Row Society Side-By-Side

Opening title shot of the helicopter that was ferrying Amazing Race host Phil Keoghan to the introduction and starting point of the 30th season of The Amazing Race. One might say that the Month of May and the INDY500 in itself after 101 editions looking to add one more Sunday, May 27th 12:00 PM ET, is The Amazing Race. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2018)

#TeamIndyCar Secures Historic Place In The INDY500 11th Row Society Side-By-Side

CAN'T ... make this stuff up - #TeamIndyCar - Alexander Rossi | Conor Daly - of the 30th season of The Amazing Race are side-by-side again this year at the INDY500 after starting the 2018 season side-by-side at viewing parties in several locations throughout the nation earlier in the year.

So how did Alex and Conor end up on the 30th season of The Amazing Race? Host Phil Keoghan put it this way:

"The idea was: what would happen if you brought together the most competitive teams in Amazing Race history? Where you had an eclectic mix of hyper-competitive people who are used to winning in their chosen field. What would happen if you brought them all together in a race? So you’ve got such a mix of bonified champions, like Indy 500 winners. Then you’ve got world champion eaters. You’ve got the best of the best, the hot dogs and the hot shots. Team Big Brother [consisting of season 19 contestants Cody Nickson and Jessica Graf] was kind of the paprika thrown in for good measure. They’re a bit of a polarizing choice; they’re a couple whose fans absolutely adore them and some are absolutely not warmed to them. We’ve put together a really interesting mix. I say it at the starting line, it’s the most competitive group of teams we’ve had at the start of an Amazing Race."
[ht: AMG/Parade]

Alexander Rossi & Conor Daly appear as #TeamIndyCar during the opening scenes of Season 30 Episode 1 on a monitor during a viewing party on the Sunset Strip. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2018)

This last weekend saw a most unusual occurrence happen during qualifications for the 102nd running of the Indianapolis 500.

Alexander Rossi has had a very strong season so far, in that he has placed P3, P3, P1, P11, and a P5 in five races and sits just 2 points away from leading in the season championship points at P2 going into the INDY500. During qualifications on Day 1 (and all through practice leading up to Day 1) Alex had great pace and just missed out at re-qualifying for the pole on Day 2, where only the top nine positions are eligible to compete, by 4/10th's of one-second after 10 miles at P10.

RaceControl graphic from IndyCar.com - Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2018)

Conor Daly, on the other hand, was not able to secure a full season ride but was able to put together a sponsorship deal with United States Air Force for a Dale Coyne Racing and Thom Burns Racing No. 17 Honda Dallara for the biggest race of almost any season. This late deal, without having the kind of testing and experience with the new Universal Aero Kit Dallara that was introduced this year, had Conor clinging on to make the show at the end of Day 1 of qualifications at P33 of the limit of thirty-three positions allowed to race in the INDY500 no matter how many cars show up.

The unusual occurrence was that on Day 2 final qualifications, Conor Daly was unable to improve upon his starting position of P33 with another four-lap run, but Alex, who was expected to repeat his strong run at the top of the P10-P33 grouping in the Field of 33, was sent out with a right front tire set at an under-inflated level causing his NAPA Auto Parts No. 27 Andretti Autosport Honda Dallara to decrease in speed in each lap of his four-lap run placing his car at the back of the field at ... P32.

RaceControl graphic from IndyCar.com - Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2018)

Joined at the hip yet again, race car drivers and friends Alex and Conor of #TeamIndyCar share the final row at P31 with British auto racing driver, and a former member of McLaren's Young Driver Programme Jack Harvey piloting the Meyer Shank Racing With Schmidt Peterson Motorsports No. 60 Honda Dallara as members of the "11th Row Society" which is an integral part of the culture surrounding this amazing 102 year (being run Sunday, May 27th 12:00 PM ET) race.

To honor this society and its new members, the 46th Annual charity event known as the "Last Row Party" will be held on Thursday, May 24.

Race car fans can meet Indy 500 drivers at the Last Row Party on Thursday, May 24 from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. This annual event — in its 46th year — honors and roasts the three drivers who make up the last or 11th row of the Indianapolis 500 race.

This year's honorees are Jack Harvey, Alexander Rossi and Conor Daly.

In partnership with the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the Last Row Party is in the 160-foot-high Pagoda, which sits at the start and finish line of the Indianapolis 500.

One of the 500’s best events, fans can eat, drink and laugh as drivers are roasted at the Pagoda. (4790 West 16th Street -- enter through Gate 2 off 16th street). Last Row Party T-shirts will be sold for $20 each.

Past years' last row drivers have included Ryan Briscoe, Tony Kanaan, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Ana Beatriz, Sebastian Saavedra and Takuma Sato. All were Last Row Party honorees and instant crowd favorites.

Tickets are $60 per person. Attire is casual.

Tickets include entertainment and food. There will be two cash bars. Tickets can be ordered through this website at Eventbrite.com. Questions: Call 317-701-1130 (ask for Jenny) or 317-439-2252 (ask for Linda).  A portion of each ticket is tax-deductible since the event benefits the Indianapolis Press Club Foundation, which provides journalism scholarships, awards and fellowships for Indiana college and university students.

For more information, please visit our website at: www.indypressfoundation.org/last-row-party

Facebook: Last Row Party

Twitter: @LastRowParty

$45 of each ticket is tax-deductible since the event benefits the Indianapolis Press Club Foundation.

... notes from The EDJE

TAGS: #TeamIndyCar, Historic, INDY500, 11th Row Society, @The_EDJE, @TheEDJE, @LastRowParty, Last Row Party