Today’s Exhaust Notes covers a variety of topics, including the demise of no-reserve auctions, Sebring practice times and team information, plus a possible F1 return to Indy.
Reserve Auction Changes – Auction house Russo and Steele is shifting its auction format to an all reserve sale. The change is seen by many auction veterans as a sign of things to come, as no-reserve auctions are finally sent to pasture. There are simply too many issues at hand with no reserve auctions, and sellers are demanding reserves going forward. Russo and Steele is simply reacting to this reality.
From Russo and Steele:
Russo and Steele Collector Automobile Auctions has officially announced it is changing its auction format to an ALL RESERVE sale. By employing this type of change it will enable Russo and Steele to best serve and maintain the high level of service and integrity that enthusiasts have come to expect from the company.
The ALL RESERVE platform is not universal within the collector automobile auction world. In fact, many auctions still push for a No Reserve entry. However, Russo and Steele believes that this decision will ultimately enhance the quality of cars event and ensure the lasting relationships within the hobby and client base. In today’s market the ability to have a measure of control over the final sales price will result in the highest caliber and quality of consignment inventory.
Drew Alcazar, co-owner and CEO of Russo and Steele, had this to say about the company’s decision: “A No Reserve sale frequently ends up with negative results because no auction house can guarantee having the “right” two bidders on any block all the time… To risk compromising the integrity of our sale with sellers being forced into “buy-back” scenarios with usurious fees or compel them to “protect” their car with phantom bids, is simply too much of a liability. The All Reserve format allows Russo and Steele to continue to foster its relationships with our clients and achieve the objective of offering outstanding collector automobiles at market relevant reserves. I believe the quality and integrity of our sale will benefit and ultimately continue to provide the world class experience our clients have come to expect from Russo and Steele.”
[Source: Russo and Steele]
Sebring Practice Times – Audi Sport North America fired the first shot at Sebring International Raceway this week with the unofficial fastest time in Monday morning’s first test session for the 56th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring presented by Fresh from Florida. Allan McNish’s time of 1:44.093 was just 0.244 seconds better than diesel rival Peugeot.
Audi has won Sebring’s 12-hour classic every year since 2000 including the last two seasons with its diesel-powered Audi R10 TDI. The task grew tougher in February when Peugeot announced its entry into the race with its factory 908, the car that finished second to Audi at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2007.
Audi’s second R10 was third at 1:44.459 as the first three LMP1s were within 0.366 seconds of each other.
Penske Racing’s No. 7 Porsche RS Spyder was quickest in LMP2 with Timo Bernhard posting a time of 1:45.147. The defending class Series co-champion with Romain Dumas was just ahead of two Acura entries: last year’s P2 race winner Andretti Green Racing and Patrón Highcroft Racing.
The top five P2 cars each ran within a second of each other.
Corvette Racing sat 1-2 in GT1 with Oliver Gavin pacing the works squad with a 1:56.501 in the No. 4 Corvette C6.R. His time was 1.645 seconds better than the sister car of Jan Magnussen, Johnny O’Connell and Ron Fellows.
All six Corvette drivers boast at least one Sebring victory with O’Connell leading the way with six. That puts him in a tie for most in race history with Phil Hill. O’Connell also can set a record for most consecutive starts with his 18th this weekend.
Bell Motorsports’ Aston Martin DBR9 was third in class with Terry Borcheller turning in a time of 1:59.882. This will be the first race for the Aston Martin in the hands of the Bell operation, which has a long history of chasing the Corvettes.
The top three in GT2 Monday morning looked very much like the final championship standings from 2007. Risi Competizione’s Jaime Melo in the No. 62 Ferrari F430 GT was quickest at 2:01.423 that was more than a second better than last year’s qualifying record. The Risi squad won its second straight class championship in 2007 and won last year’s Sebring race by just 0.202 seconds.
The team it beat was second fastest in class Monday morning. The No. 45 Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsche of Jörg Bergmeister, Wolf Henzler and Marc Lieb was 0.213 seconds back of the Risi car. Tafel Racing’s new No. 71 Ferrari F430 GT was third in class at 2:01.882.
Porsche Confident – Porsche drivers are looking forward to the American Le Mans season and to this weekend’s 12 Hours of Sebring. Driving the Porsche RS Spyder, the title defenders consider their chances to be good. “We are very well prepared,” says Timo Bernhard, “and we will do everything in our power to build on Porsche’s great success with the RS Spyder at this classic.”
Dumas adds, “We will have to do everything we can to stay in front again this season. But I’m feeling very optimistic. With our Porsche-supported Penske Racing team we have a very good and experienced squad behind us. Particularly when it comes to race strategies and pit stops I dare say there is no better team in the American Le Mans Series.”
Stay or Go – AutoWeek is reporting that Audi will decide this week whether or not to race in the 2008 American Le Mans Series after it completes the season-opening 12 Hours of Sebring on March 15. Audi announced its drivers for this weekend’s endurance race but is still reserving comment on its plans for the rest of the season. It is still lobbying for a change to rules it believes favor the lightweight LMP2 cars over its LMP1 turbo-diesel.
“We are in a dialogue with the ALMS and expect a decision to be made while we are at Sebring, because there are only two weeks before St. Petersburg (round two of the ALMS),” an Audi spokesperson said.
F1 May Return to Indy – According to F1-Live.com, the US Grand Prix could be back on the 2009 Formula 1 calendar. Talks between the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Bernie Ecclestone to resurrect the US Grand Prix may now have begun.
Tony George, the famous Indy 500 venue’s chief, told an audience at the IU business conference in Indiana this week that he is pursuing options to patch up the relationship with the F1 Chief Executive in time for the Speedway’s centennial celebrations in 2009.
Speed TV also revealed that Just Marketing, a local company, has been hired by the IMS to help find a Formula One title sponsor. Just Marketing President Zak Brown said George and Ecclestone have a “strong interest” in reuniting as soon as possible. “If the right sponsors can be put into place, I think this can happen in 2009,” he added, insisting that the interest from lucrative potential race sponsors is already “fairly high.”