Saturday, January 4, 2014

The Start of 2014: Daytona to Dakar to Anaheim

The 2014 motorsports season starts with sports car testing, rallying and supercross.

The Tudor United SportsCar Championship began it's Roar Before the 24 test yesterday from Daytona International Speedway. The fastest on the day was the #5 Action Express Racing Corvette Daytona Prototype shared by João Barbosa, Christian Fittipaldi and Sébastien Bourdais with a time 1:38.630. Second fastest on the day and fastest in the second session was the #90 Spirit of Daytona Corvette DP driven by Richard Westbrook, Michael Valiante and 2010 24 Hours of Daytona winner and defending DTM champion Mike Rockenfeller.

The Gainsco/Bob Stallings #99 Corvette DP of Alex Gurney, Jon Fogerty, Memo Gidley and Darren Law was third fastest ahead of the #10 Wayne Taylor Racing Corvette DP driven by the Taylor's (Wayne, Jordan and Ricky) and Max Angelelli. The first of the LMP2 cars was the #1 Extreme Speed Motorsports of Scott Sharp, Ryan Dalziel and David Brabham. Defending race winners Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas was sixth fastest with their new teammates for 2014, Jamie McMurray and Sage Karam.

The #9 Action Express Racing Corvette DP of Brian and Burt Frisselle, John Martin, Stefan Johannsson and Fabien Giroix were next on the time sheet ahead of the #02 Gannasi Ford-Riley of Scott Dixon, Tony Kanaan, Kyle Larson and Marino Franchitti. The #42 OAK Racing Morgan-Nissan of Olivier Pla and Romain Rusinov were ninth with the #31 Corvette DP of Marsh Racing and drivers Eric Curran, Boris Said and Max Papis rounded out the top ten Friday.

The #54 CORE Autosport driven by Jon Bennett, Colin Braun and Mark Wilkins led the PC class with a time of 1:42.468 ahead of the #87 BAR1 Motorsports driven by Sean Rayhall, Doug Bielefield and Chapman Ducote. The #38 Performance Tech Motorsports entry of Charlie Shears, Jon Brownson, Raphael Matos and Ryan Booth were third.

In GTLM, the #911 Porsche North America set the fastest time in the second session with a time of 1:45.564 set by Nick Tandy. The factory Corvettes set the next two times with the #4 of Oliver Gavin, Tommy Milner and Robin Liddell leading the #3 of Antonio García, Jan Magnussen and Ryan Briscoe. Dominick Farnbacher, Marc Goossens and Ryan Hunter-Reay put the #91 SRT Viper fourth just ahead of the factory Aston Martin of Stefan Mücke, Darren Turner, Pedro Lamy, Richie Stanaway and Paul Dalla Lana. The #93 SRT Viper of Kuno Wittmer, Jonathan Bomarito and Rob Bell sandwiches the Aston Martin in sixth.

The Rahal Letterman Langian BMWs were seventh and eighth with the #55 (Bill Auberlen, Andy Priaulx, Joey Hand, Maxime Martin) leading the #56 (Dirk Müller, John Edwards, Graham Rahal, Dirk Werner). The Krohn Racing Ferrari 458 Italia rounded out the class. That car was driven by team owner Tracy Krohn and Nic Jönsson.

Flying Lizard and their #45 Audi R8 LMS led GTD in both sessions with the fastest time coming in the afternoon (1:47.981). Spencer Pumpelly, Tim Pappas, Nelson Canache, Jr. and Markus Winkelhoek are the drivers entered for that Audi. The #71 Park Place Porsche driven by Jim Norman Craig Stanton and Norbert Siedler were second with the Level 5 Motorsports Ferrari of Scott Tucker, Townsend Bell, Bill Sweedler and Jeff Segal third.

Testing resumes today at 9 a.m. ET.

The Dakar Rally begins tomorrow in Rosario, Argentina. Stéphane Peterhansel looks to defend his title against the likes of Nasser Al-Attiyah, Giniel de Villiers, Carlos Sainz, Nani Roma and Robby Gordon. Along side Robby Gordon, other Americans in the Car class are Kellon Walch as Gordon's co-driver; the #318 of BJ Baldwin and Quinn Cody, #346 of Peter Hajas and Kevin Selchow, Luis Ramirez Payen, Jr. is a part of the #348 Jimco and Spencer Trenery is the driver of the #429 Can-Am.

In bikes, Cyril Despres returns looking for his sixth title but this time he looks to win on a Yamaha after his first five victories came riding a KTM. Last year's podium riders Ruben Faria and Francisco López return as well as three-time Dakar winner Marc Coma, all looking to extend KTM's winning streak in the Dakar Rally to thirteen consecutive. Three Americans are entered in the bike class. Mike Johnson will ride the #92 Honda, Peter Hardy on the #167 KTM and Kevin Muggleton on the #186 Honda.

Marcos Patronelli looks to win his third Quad class and continue Yamaha's unbeaten streak in the class having won every year since being introduced in 2009. Eduard Nikolaev defends his Truck class title as he looks to give Kamaz their eleventh victory. Gérard de Rooy will be Nikolaev's main rival in his Iveco.

Finally, the 2014 AMA Supercross season begins tonight in Anaheim. Ryan Villopoto is looking to join Jeremy McGrath as the only riders to claim fourth consecutive titles. Villopoto will have a difficult task holding off former champions Ryan Dungey, Chad Reed and James Stewart as well as young riders Justin Barcia, Trey Canard, Eli Tomac and Ken Roczen. Last year's runner-up in the championship Davi Millsaps will miss the opening round with a knee injury.

Tonight's AMA Supercross season opener can be seen live at 10:00 p.m. ET on Fox Sports 1.