from Parker Thompson Racing
August 05, 2019
ROAD AMERICA – ELKHART LAKE, WI
This weekend at the famed Wisconsin road course, Road America, thirty-seven Porsche racers from across the continent gathered for two races with implications in both the Canadian and USA divisions of the IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge. The event marked the second of two continental events on the 2019 GT3 Cup calendar, after groups from both countries gathered at the Montreal F1 Grand Prix in June. Driving the #3 entry of Porsche Centre Victoria and SCB Racing, Parker Thompson arrived at Road America ranked 2nd overall in the Canadian championship. In races marred by multiple collisions and lengthy durations under caution, the Alberta native earned two top ten finishes, gaining positions during race action after a difficult qualifying result.
With nearly twice the number of entrants usually seen at Canadian series events, dense traffic on course had an impact throughout the weekend. Qualifying saw many drivers, including Thompson, struggle to find space on the fourteen-turn road course. In an abbreviated session, cut short by an incident on track, Thompson managed only the 12th best qualifying time.
Chaos continued during races on Saturday and Sunday. Drivers involved in close battles throughout the field generated multiple collisions and a string of yellow-flagged laps. Records show that more than three-quarters of race laps during the weekend were driven under caution with the guidance of the Porsche Panamera safety car. For the most part Thompson managed to avoid the chaos. In Race 1, an impact between drivers Dussault and Gomez nearly collected Thompson. He would avoid a collision by jumping the curb and driving his car across the grass to avoid the pair as they spun. It was a close call that would allow multiple drivers to drive past the black and gold #3 car. In only three green flag laps to follow, Thompson would gain three positions. Climbing from 12th, he would finish 9th overall, and sixth among Canadian competitors.
Race 2 showed a slightly better result – Thompson would finish seventh overall. With only one non-Canadian competitor ahead of him however, he was not able to improve on his championship points earnings from Race 1. The result allowed rival Jeff Kingsley to pass Thompson and take second spot in the overall Canadian series championship standings. The two will enter the series finale next month at Circuit Mont Tremblant, separated by only two points.
“Anytime there are this many race cars on the track things are bound to get interesting. We knew going into the weekend that setting a good time in qualifying was absolutely critical. Porsche Centre Victoria and SCB Racing gave me a fantastic race car. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to put a complete lap together to earn the starting grid that we were looking for. With a limited amount of green flag racing this weekend, I’m happy with how we were able to take advantage of the limited opportunities we saw to move up.”
IMSA GT3 CUP CHALLENGE CANADA – Rounds 9 & 10
August 09 – 11, 2019 – CTCC Round 7 & 8 – GP3R, Trois Rivieres, QC
August 23 – 25, 2019 – CTCC Round 9 & 10 – CTMP, Bowmanville, ON
August 24 – 25, 2019 – IP2000 Round 12 – Gateway Motorsports Park, IL
About Parker Thompson
Red Deer, Alberta native Parker Thompson is regarded as one of Canada’s premiere racing drivers. He started racing karts at age 8 and his natural talent and competitive drive quickly elevated him to international level competitions. By age 13 he was ranked 3rd in the world in Rotax Max karts. Now 21 years old, Parker continues his successful career racing on the Road to Indy, and in multiple sports car series.
Elon Musk’s next drama: a trial over his tweets about Tesla
By Michael Liedtke in San Francisco
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — While still grappling with the fallout from a company he did take private, beleaguered billionaire Elon Musk is now facing a trial over a company he didn’t.
Long before Musk purchased Twitter for $44 billion in October, he had set his sights on Tesla, the electric automaker where he continues to serve as CEO and from which he derives most of his wealth and fame.
But the buyout never materialized and now Musk will have to explain his actions under oath in a federal court in San Francisco. The trial, which begins on Tuesday with jury selection, was triggered by a class-action lawsuit on behalf of investors who owned Tesla stock for a 10-day period in August 2018.
Musk’s tweets back then fueled a rally in Tesla’s stock price that abruptly ended a week later, after it became apparent that he didn’t have the funding for a buyout after all. That resulted in him scrapping his plan to take the automaker private, culminating in a $40 million settlement with U.S. securities regulators that also required him to step down as the company’s chairman.
Musk has since contended he entered that settlement under duress and maintained he believed he had locked up financial backing for a Tesla buyout during meetings with representatives from Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund.
The trial’s outcome may hinge on the jury’s interpretation of Musk’s motive for tweets that U.S. District Judge Edward Chen has already decided were a falsehood.
Chen dealt Musk another setback on Friday, when he rejected Musk’s bid to transfer the trial to a federal court in Texas, where Tesla moves its headquarters in 2021. Musk had argued that negative coverage of his Twitter purchase had poisoned the jury pool in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Musk’s leadership of Twitter — where he has gutted the staff and alienated users and advertisers — has proven unpopular among Tesla’s current stockholders, who are worried he has been devoting less time steering the automaker at a time of intensifying competition. Those concerns contributed to a 65% percent decline in Tesla’s stock last year that wiped out more than $700 billion in shareholder wealth — far more than the $14 billion swing in fortune that occurred between the company’s high and low stock prices during the Aug. 7-17, 2018 period covered in the class-action lawsuit.
The lawsuit is based on the premise that Tesla’s shares wouldn’t have traded at such a wide range if Musk hadn’t dangled the prospect of buying the company for $420 per share. Tesla’s stock has split twice since then, making that $420 price worth $28 on adjusted basis now. The shares closed last week at $122.40, down from its November 2021 split-adjusted peak of $414.50.
After Musk dropped the idea of a Tesla buyout, the company overcame a production problem, resulting in a rapid upturn in car sales that caused its stock to soar and minted Musk as the world’s richest person until he bought Twitter. Musk dropped from the top spot on the wealth list after the stock market’s backlash to his handling of Twitter.
The trial is likely to provide insights into Musk’s management style, given the witness list includes some of Tesla’s current and former top executives and board members, including luminaries such as Larry Ellison, Oracle co-founder, as well as James Murdoch, the son of media mogul Rupert Murdoch. The drama also may shed light on Musk’s relationship with his brother, Kimbal, who is also on the list of potential witnesses who may be called during a trial scheduled to continue through Feb. 1.
Supply chain woes caused US auto sales to fall 8% last year
By Tom Krisher in Detroit
DETROIT (AP) — Shortages of computer chips and other parts continued to hobble the U.S. auto industry last year, contributing to vehicle sales dropping 8% from 2021 to their lowest level in more than a decade.
But there’s good news for consumers in the gloomy numbers: Vehicle supplies on dealer lots are growing, albeit slowly, and automakers expect at least a small easing in prices this year as inventories grow.
Automakers reported Wednesday that they sold 13.9 million cars, trucks, SUVs and vans last year as the parts shortage limited factory output amid high demand for new vehicles. It was the lowest sales number since 2011 when the economy was recovering from the Great Recession.
But sales were up slightly in the fourth quarter and inventories grew as parts supplies improved enough to increase production a little. Analysts are now expecting sales to grow by roughly 1 million to around 14.8 million this year as demand remains strong. But they’ll still be far short of the normal 17 million per year before the pandemic.
With many models still in short supply, though, the average new vehicle price rose 2.5% in December to a record of just over $46,000, according to J.D Power.
There are signs, however, that prices may be starting to ebb a little as inventories expand.
Toyota, for instance, finished the year with just under 24,000 vehicles on Toyota and Lexus brand dealer lots nationwide. That’s up from about 19,000 at the end of 2021, but still far short of the 300,000 during normal years before the pandemic.
The improvement, although small, is allowing consumers to haggle a little on some slower-selling vehicles such as sedans, and even some luxury vehicles. But they’re still getting top dollar for gas-electric hybrids and other more popular vehicles that are sold before they arrive on lots, said David Christ, general manager of the Toyota Division.
For most of last year, people who wanted new vehicles had to pay sticker price or above and take whatever models and colors dealers could get. But dealers have told Christ that changed a bit in the past two or three months for models that aren’t as popular. Plus, he said more people are interested in lower-cost vehicles because inflation and higher interest rates are taking a bite out of their budgets.
“They’re coming in and saying, ‘Hey, can I get a deal here?'” Christ said. “I do think that on some vehicles, not just in our brand, and across the industry, there has become a little more of a buyer’s market where the customer can negotiate.”
Whether that holds up all year remains to be seen. If demand stays strong and people are willing to pay sticker price, then dealers will get that, Christ said. But if demand wanes or supplies increase dramatically, discounts could rise and prices could drop a bit.
Jessica Caldwell, executive director of insights at Edmunds.com, said Toyota’s experience is likely to repeat itself through the industry with small price decreases on some models.
“There isn’t as much disposable income to be put into a vehicle,” she said. “We’ve seen prices high before, but we’ve never really seen higher prices with the (higher) interest rates.”
But electric vehicles and other hot sellers will remain expensive because people want to buy them now, she added.
Caldwell doesn’t see vehicle supplies or prices returning to pre-pandemic levels this year, and she’s not sure if we’ll ever get back to 2019 levels.
The computer chip shortage dates to the spring of 2020, when automakers were forced to shut down factories due to rapidly increasing COVID-19 cases. Chip makers shifted production to consumer electronics to feed a computer and gaming sales boom when people were stuck at home. When the auto plants restarted earlier than expected, chip makers weren’t making as many semiconductors for automobiles, which must be made to withstand vibration and huge temperature extremes.
Auto chip production has improved, but still isn’t back to pre-pandemic levels, so auto plants still aren’t back to their full output.
As a result, the 13.9 million vehicles that automakers sold last year was about 1.2 million below 2021 numbers, according to Motorintelligence.com.
General Motors, with full-year sales up 2.5%, retook its traditional spot as the nation’s top selling automaker. Toyota, which won the crown in 2021, saw its sales fall 9.6% last year. Ford reports sales on Thursday.
Sales at Stellantis, formerly Fiat Chrysler, dropped 13%, while Honda sales plummeted 32.9%. Hyundai posted just under a 1% increase to outsell Nissan, whose sales tumbled 25.4%. Kia sales fell 1.1% for the year, while Subaru was down 4.7%.
Electric vehicle sales hit more than 807,000 last year, up almost 65% from 2021.
Pickups and SUVs were 77.3% of sales while cars dropped to 22.7%.
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