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College Football Week Two Roundup

The college football season is now truly underway, with some brilliant matchup’s this past weekend that remind us all why we love the game. There were not any major upsets, but the games were entertaining from start to finish as the top ranked teams asserted their dominance. Let’s take a look at ten talking points from this past weekend.

1) LSU Win Big

LSU were the big winners of week two, knocking off a top ten Texas side in their house 45-38. The game of the weekend lived up to expectations, and now LSU fans are dreaming of the college football play-off.

QB Joe Burrow had a monster 471 yards and 4 TD’s, with receiver Justin Jefferson getting three of them along with 163 total yards. LSU have often struggled at the QB position, but now they have a stud in Burrow. They have NFL talent on both sides of the ball, and can legitimately think of the top four now.

2) Texas Have Plenty to Play for 

Texas will feel disappointed they could get a statement win at home, however they still have plenty to play for this season. It’s been a difficult decade for this storied program, but they now have a team with legitimate top ten hopes.

Boyhood fan Sam Ehlinger had a monster game 401 yards and 4 TD’s along with 60 rushing yards, leading the team. Texas were in this game until the very end against the best LSU side in years. They dropped to 12th in the AP Top 25 poll, but they can easily get back into the top ten.

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LSU QB Joe Burrow is the answer their fans have been waiting years for. He has led them to a play-off spot in a flying start to their season. Photo: AP/Michael Democker.

3) Clemson Overcome Texas A&M 

Clemson passed the test with a convincing 24-10 victory over a resurgent Texas A&M team. The final score doesn’t accurately reflect that Clemson flat out played better than Texas A&M throughout.

QB Trevor Lawrence rebounded from a patchy opening game with some beautiful throws, notably his TD. He added a rushing score also, and with how talented this Clemson team is he needs only to play sensibly and execute for them to have a good chance of victory. Texas A&M looked second best, but there’s no shame in that when you play Clemson.

4) Big Upsets in Week Two

Part of the fun of college football Saturday’s is checking out whose on upset alert, and there was some big results this past weekend. Maryland was the pick of the bunch, dismantling 22nd ranked Syracuse 63-20. This was a massive win that puts the program 22nd in the AP polls, the first time they’ve been ranked since 2013.

Other notable upsets were 23rd ranked Stanford getting rolled over by USC 45-20, an especially impressive result when considered USC lost it’s starting QB J.T Daniels for the season in week one. 25th ranked Nebraska also fell on a missed FG against Colorado 34-31.

5) Michigan Survive Close Call

The Michigan revival under Jim Harbaugh hasn’t quite gone to plan so far. His return to Ann Arbor was supposed to bring the glory years back but so far it hasn’t quite worked out. Only once have they finished in the top ten and they haven’t finished better than 10-3 under him.

So far this season they have looked less than convincing. They gave up 21 points in a 40-21 win over Middle Tennessee, and this past weekend needed double overtime to beat Army 24-21. Army played an incredible game in the Big House, however no disrespect to Army, but they shouldn’t be scaring Michigan this much in their stadium.

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Michigan players celebrate a double overtime scare against Army. They will need to improve before they face tougher competition. Photo: David Guralnick/Detroit News.

6) Heisman Week Two Report

After a scintillating week one, it was a quieter weekend for some of the key players in the early Heisman Trophy race. Oklahoma QB Jalen Hurts saw limited action in a 70-14 demolishing of South Dakota, going 14-18 for 259 yards and 3 TD’s, along with 47 rushing yards.

Alabama QB Tua Tagovailoa was similarly dominant in their 62-10 win over New Mexico State, going 16-24 for 227 yards and 3 TD’s, with 33 rushing yards also. After falling behind in the opening week, Trevor Lawrence of Clemson reasserted himself in the Heisman race with his win over Texas A&M.

7) AP Top 25 Rankings

After a fairly predictable opening week, week two saw some movement in the AP Top 25 polls. The biggest move is LSU claiming the final play-off place in fourth, displacing Oklahoma and Ohio State after their statement win against Texas.

Michigan dropped from seventh to tenth after two uninspiring wins against Middle Tennessee and Army, vaulting Auburn and Florida to eighth and ninth respectively. Texas dropped from ninth to 12th, along with rivals Texas A&M who fell from 12th to 16th after losses last weekend. Washington fell from 14th to 23rd after a 20-19 upset loss against California.

8) True Freshman Impressing 

The 2019 season has already seen some true freshman QB’s assert themselves at their respective programs. Hank Bachmeier has impressed as Boise State upset Florida State on opening weekend, now they sit 22nd ranked and 2-0.

Sam Howell has done the same at North Carolina, leading them to a 2-0 start for the first time since 2014. He’s led the Tar Heels to comeback wins against South Carolina and Miami, showing up big in both games. Bo Nix has led eighth ranked Auburn to a massive in against Oregon, showing that the future is looking bright for these three programs.

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Boise State true freshman Hank Bachmeier was a highly rated recruit who has now led his team to a 2-0 start and top 25 ranking. Photo: Boise State Broncos.

9) Storied Programs Start Slow

Many of the teams in the early Top 25 rankings are not a surprise, however some other storied programs have started at the other end of the spectrum. Tennessee were the shock of week one as they lost to lowly Georgia State, but they lost again 29-26 against BYU. This is the first time they have started 0-2 since 1988 and head coach Jeremy Pruitt is definitely on the hot seat.

Miami lost a close game to Florida on opening weekend, but now compounded it with a 28-25 loss to North Carolina. They are now 0-2 for the first time since 1978, with new head coach Manny Diaz already struggling.

10) More Quarterback Injuries in Week Two

The opening two weeks have been rough for quarterbacks, with the likes of USC and Northwestern losing their starters on opening weekend. Week two unfortunately saw South Carolina QB Jake Bentley go down with a Lisfranc fracture on his left foot. This will require season ending surgery, and is a tough break for a player who was hoping to build his NFL Draft stock this season.

Kentucky QB Terry Wilson was the other big casualty, as he is now out for the season after tearing his patellar tendon in his knee in his teams win against Eastern Michigan. This is a tough break for a player who led the team to it’s first ten win season since 1978 last year.

This rounds up some of the main talking points from a busy week two of the college football season. If you have comments about this piece or the week two results feel free to comment below or find me on Twitter @JWjournalism. Finally, a massive thank you to anyone who read this article I really appreciate it!

 

 

 

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College Football Week Two Preview

The opening week of college football didn’t provide many shocks, but that should change this weekend. There are some marquee games which will impact the Top 25 polls, as teams get up to speed after the opening week. Let’s look at the ten major talking points heading into week two.

1) Texas A & M @ Clemson Matchup 

The biggest matchup of the week is Texas A & M visiting Death Valley to face number one ranked Clemson. Last seasons game in College Station was a close 28-26 Clemson win, with home field advantage giving added confidence.

Texas A & M are now in their second year under Jimbo Fisher and showed signs of improvement in week one despite facing lowly Texas State. This will be a close game where Clemson will have to be at their best to win, but they will enter the game as favourites.

2) Massive Opportunity for Trevor Lawrence

Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence took the college football world by storm last year, coming in mid-season and leading them to a national championship as a true freshman. This year the expectations are massive yet in the opening week he struggled.

He went 13-23 for 168 yards with 1 TD and 2 INT’s, yet the Clemson team still handily beat Georgia Tech 52-14. This can be put down to opening week rust, but this will not cut it against a very talented Texas A & M side. Clemson will need more than it’s rushing attack to win this game.

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Trevor Lawrence struggled last weekend, and will need a big game against Texas A & M if he harbors Heisman hopes this year. Photo: Ken Ruinard/Greenville News.

3) LSU @ Texas 

This is another massive game involving a team from the Lone star state, as LSU rolls into Texas. This top ten match-up between sixth ranked LSU and ninth ranked Texas will have play-off implications.  Both sides won comfortably in week one and have looked resurgent this season.

After years of struggle at the position, both LSU and Texas now have QB’s they feel confident with. Joe Burrow for LSU has rebounded from a difficult time at Ohio State, whereas Sam Ehlinger has lived out a dream and proved people wrong at Texas. This will be a highlight game this weekend.

4) Sam Ehlinger and Grant Delpit Marquee Matchup 

There are plenty of big name players on both teams, but the key matchup of the game will be Sam Ehlinger and Grant Delpit. Ehlinger has improved every year whilst at Texas, and could rise up draft boards with another good season. Key to that will be a impressive win in this game.

Standing in his way is the player some have called the best player in college football. LSU safety Grant Delpit is a likely top ten pick in next years NFL Draft,after proving himself a beast at LSU. Whoever wins this matchup will likely prove key to their teams victory.

5) Can Cincinnati Shock Ohio State?

A potential shock of the weekend could unfold in Columbus, Ohio, as Cincinnati will prove a stern test for Ohio State. The Bearcats are feeling confident after a 24-14 win against UCLA, and have taken a massive step forward these past two years.

Head coach Luke Fickell has taken them from 4-8 to 11-2 last year, along with an AP Top 25 berth. He was a former player and coach at Ohio State, so he knows the school well. Ohio State were not challenged in week one, and therefore new QB Justin Fields may struggle if pressured early. Ohio State should win, but an upset could happen.

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Texas QB Sam Ehlinger grew up a longhorns fan, and has helped restore them back to prominence. A win against LSU will thrust them into the play-off hunt. Photo: Sean Gardner/Getty Images.

6) What Can USC do Against Stanford? 

This game was set to be another big matchup, however both teams are dealing with quarterback injuries. K.J Costello will miss this game for Stanford with a head injury, and J.T Daniels has a torn ACL for USC.

Stanford will go into the game as favourites as they are ranked 23rd in the polls, and their QB Davis Mills matches up well with USC QB Kedon Slovis. Mills is more experienced and was a former five star recruit, whereas Slovis is a true freshman going up against a good Stanford defence.

7) Can Opening Weekend Losing Sides Rebound? 

Opening week losses can ruin a season after it’s barely begun, so this week will prove crucial to those who lost last weekend. Top of the list is Oregon, who lost agonizingly to Auburn. They face a good Nevada side, however they should rebound comfortably.

Making unwanted headlines last weekend was Tennessee, who may struggle again this week against BYU. Both sides are 0-1, however BYU’s 30-13 loss to 13th ranked Utah is respected more than Tennessee’s loss to Georgia State. This will be a close game that BYU should feel quietly confident about.

8) Upset Alert for Week Two?

Everyone in college football loves upsets, and there’s some contenders in week two. Clemson could fall to 12th ranked Texas A & M, whereas sixth ranked LSU could lose to a very good ninth ranked Texas side.

Outside of these Maryland are coming off a 79-0 win and could upset 21st ranked Syracuse at home. As I mentioned above Cincinnati could also shock Ohio State in Columbus. 25th ranked Nebraska face a tricky road test against a good Colorado side. Teams that might also struggle include West Virginia, UCLA and Tennessee.

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The moment Oregon’s hopes of victory faded in the final seconds against Auburn. Their season effectively starts this week now. Photo: Matthew Emmons/USA Today Sports.

9) Games of the Weekend

The two standout games are undoubtedly Texas A & M at Clemson 3.30PM ET Saturday, before LSU travels to Texas 7.30PM ET. All four teams are ranked in the top 12 and would love to make early play-off claims with a win.

Outside of the obvious games, some hidden gems include Syracuse travelling to Maryland noon ET, Cincinnati vising Ohio State at the same time and Nebraska at Colorado 3.30PM ET.

10) Injury Curse Strikes at Northwestern 

Opening week injuries are tough, especially in this case. Northwestern QB TJ Green is out for the season after suffering a foot injury in their loss to Stanford last weekend.

The injury occurred in the third quarter, and means he may now be forced to seek a medical redshirt to preserve his eligibility as a fifth year senior. Clemson transfer Hunter Johnson will now take over, with the former five star prospect having a bye week to give him extra time to learn this offense.

That wraps up my preview of the main talking points heading into a loaded week two of the college football season. If you have any thoughts about this weekend’s game leave them in the comment section below or find me on Twitter @JWjournalism. Finally, a massive thank you for reading this article!

 

 

College Football Week One Talking Points

This is the first in a new series, examining the main talking points from the opening week of the college football season, from the eyes of an Englishman now living in the U.S.

The opening weekend didn’t throw up many shocks, however here are my ten major talking points. Also a quick disclaimer before I begin, this is simply a shallow dive into the main stories of the week through the eyes of a fan, if you want more in-depth articles it’s probably best to read the analysts articles.

1) Big Win for Auburn and Bo Nix 

Bo Nix and the Auburn Tigers took down the Oregon Ducks 27-21 in the only surprise result between ranked teams last week. The true freshman Nix threw a go-ahead touchdown with nine seconds remaining in a legendary moment on his debut.

Nix struggled during the game, going 13-31 for 177 yards with 2 INT to match 2 TD’s, but the five star phenom has Auburn fans feeling excited about the next three years. Auburn jumped to tenth in the AP Top 25 poll, and now face Tulane in their home opener on Saturday.

2) Oregon Big Losers in Week One 

Oregon will feel distraught after an especially tough opening week loss. The team played well throughout and led right up until the final nine seconds, with a long recovery ahead if they want to compete for the College Football Playoff.

Senior QB Justin Herbert was the better QB in the game, going 28-37 for 242 yards and a TD. Receiver Johnny Johnson III built good chemistry with Herbert, to the tune of seven receptions for 98 yards. This is a tough loss, but starting this week against Nevada, their schedule helps them going down the stretch.

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Bo Nix played beyond his true freshman status to earn the comeback win against Oregon last weekend. Photo: Ron Jenkins (AP).

3) Jalen Hurts Already Anointed Heisman Favourite?

Jalen Hurts proved the pre-season hype on him as a Heisman contender was justified in week one. The Oklahoma QB had a monster six touchdown game in their 49-31 win over a good Houston team. 332 passing yards and 3 TD’s was matched with 176 yards rushing and another 3 TD’s.

The Alabama graduate transfer smashed the Oklahoma record for single game yardage with 508, Baker Mayfield previously held it with 396 yards. Some call it the Lincoln Riley effect, but Oklahoma could have three consecutive Heisman Trophy winners come December.

4) Big Debut for Justin Fields

Another high-profile summer transfer showed up big in week one, Ohio State QB Justin Fields. The sophomore standout was key as Ohio State rolled over Florida Atlantic 45-21. He lit up the first quarter with 4 TD’s, in a statement performance on his debut after transferring from Georgia.

This Ohio state team is loaded with NFL talent, and Fields has shown after week one he can take over from Dwayne Haskins. The team will face a tougher test this week against Cincinnati, but they have already shown this team will be a serious play-off contender this season.

5) Florida State Return Still on Hold 

The Florida State Seminoles hoped to put last season behind them, but old demons returned in a 36-31 loss to Boise State in Tallahassee. The team collapsed in the second half after looking dominant in the first half.

QB James Blackman looked good with 327 yards and 3 TD’s, but they let Boise State score 23 unanswered points to steal the win. This FSU team has plenty of NFL talent, but under Willie Taggart they struggle to close games out. 5-7 is not acceptable at FSU, and Taggart will feel the pressure even more after this loss.

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A Florida State players reflects the mood of the team as they let Boise State come back for the win as the pressure piles on head coach Willie Taggart. Photo: Mark Wallheiser/AP.

6) Georgia State Win Upset of Week One

Another historic program currently struggling is Tennessee, and their home loss to Georgia State 38-30 was undoubtedly the shock of the opening week.  It’s been a while since Tennessee has been a title contender, but this is a new low for the once proud program.

A fourth quarter collapse gave the underdog Georgia State team the win. This is a historic win for their team and they deserve the plaudits. This season may prove tough for Tennessee fans in the ultra competitive SEC.

7) USC QB J.T Daniels Out for Season 

Week one was brutal for USC despite a 31-23 win against Fresno State. This is because of a torn ACL for starting QB J.T Daniels, after being sacked in the second quarter.

Daniels was a five star phenom in California and was hoping to step up after a mixed freshman season. USC had PAC-12 championship hopes, which now lie in the hands of true freshman Kedon Slovis. The season just got a whole lot tougher for USC.

8) Running Backs Put on a Show

Running backs stole the show for a lot of Offences in week one. Clemson junior Travis Etienne led the way with 205 yards in their win against Georgia Tech. Fellow junior D’Andre Swift ran for 147 yards in Georgia’s win over Vanderbilt. Jonathan Taylor got 135 yards and 2 TD’s against USF.

Cam Akers of Florida State and Eno Benjamin of Arizona State are two more highly touted backs who ran for over 100 yards on opening weekend. All of these players are juniors, which means the 2020 NFL Draft running back class may be the best in years.

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Clemson Running Back scampers past his sideline in one of his three touchdown runs to open the season. He will likely be a first round NFL Draft pick next year if he declares. Photo: Richard Shiro/AP.

9) UCLA Struggle Once Again

The Chip Kelly era started with massive promise, but is now in danger of flaming out. The once heralded coach is now on the hot seat after they lost their opening game 24-14 to Cincinnati.

UCLA struggled with ugly turnovers from QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson, and struggled for identity in a tough loss to a better Cincinnati team. The 3-9 record last year is well below expectations and this season hasn’t started any better.

10) No Major Top 25 Surprises in Week One      

Week one didn’t provide much upsets for the top 25 ranked sides, other than Auburn upsetting Oregon. Ranked teams usually like to start the season with easier opponents to give them time to get up to speed before the real season starts.

The NCAA does try to provide showcase games in the opening week, but more needs to be done to ensure we get bigger games in the opening week. For now the AP top 25 has stayed largely the same other than Auburn and Oregon moving.

That wraps up my brief look at some of the major talking points from the opening weekend of college football. Do you have any thoughts on these points or your college football team? Let me know either in the comments section below or find me on Twitter @JWjournalism. Finally, a massive thank you to anyone who reads this I really appreciate it!

 

 

 

Why NCAA should pay College athletes

First of all, I want to make it clear that I do not claim to be an expert on this subject or indeed have an abundance of expert knowledge on this subject. This is simply written by a regular college sports fans who doesn’t understand how it’s fair for Universities and head coaches to collect millions of dollars from college athletics, yet the athletes themselves are forced to live a hand-to mouth existence until they complete their degree or turn professional in their respective sports.

This is a topical subject at the present moment as a judge ruled in favour of student athletes only a few days ago that they can sell the rights to their names and images, with the money being given to them once they’ve completed College. Although it’s unlikely to generate mega sums for student athletes the opportunity to be given $20 000 dollars after 4 years of College is a lot better than current athletes receive. Lead plaintiff in the case Ed O’Bannon, former UCLA basketball star, stated he joined the lawsuit against the NCAA after he saw his image used in a NCAA licenced video game that he was not paid for.

The role of “improper benefits” and the rules sanctioned by the NCAA are constantly being challenged or broken by student athletes. A Notable example is include Reggie Bush being forced to hand back his 2005 Heisman Trophy, awarded to College football’s best player that year, for receiving “improper benefits” whilst at USC between 2003-2005. For many student athletes the problem occurs when Universities “boosters” get involved, “boosters” are linked to Universities and help with their funding. The problems however is that whilst many student athletes become nationwide stars they are not allowed to receive any benefits from their status.

Whilst the NCAA stance that student athletes are students first and University should only be about furthering their education is a very noble idea in principle, it’s hard to see past how NCAA athletics have simply become farm systems for professional sports such as the NFL,NBA or MLB. It does seem absurd in 2014 that whilst the Universities receive tens of millions of dollars a year from NCAA athletics, and coaches receive millions of dollars a year that the actual players themselves cannot even have someone pay for their breakfast as this would be deemed a NCAA violation under the “Improper benefits” policy.

Whilst I am not suggesting that College players should start being paid an astronomical amount, I simply feel they should be fairly compensated for their efforts with a modest salary that will allow them to have a slightly better existence whilst at College. For many players, they commit NCAA infractions for simple things such as having a meal paid for them or being given money for clothes. This is something most regular teenage students do yet when the NCAA are involved it’s deemed students are using their status for benefit, therefore forfeiting their amateur status.

In the last few years it has become common for College athletes to declare for the NFL or NBA draft increasingly earlier than in the past. Whilst many who follow College sports are trying to work out how to keep students in College for longer so they can complete their degrees, it seems simply that these students jump at the first opportunity they get to go professional and earn enough money to take care of themselves and their family. For College football players they have to wait 3 years whilst for the NBA players can declare at any time during their College career.

The final comment is that throughout the years their have been plenty of incredible College players who have been unable to convert their considerable talent into the money they deserve for an abundance of reasons such as injury or NCAA violations, and this is exactly why College athletes should receive a modest salary in a billion dollar industry as it seems highly unfair in my opinion that players such as Marcus Dupree, Melvin Bratton and Maurice Clarett should be have their dreams of reaching the NFL taken away and yet not be compensated for their previous efforts of playing in front of 60- 80 000 fans. If the University and Coaches should receive mega bucks benefits from College athletics, shouldn’t the players receive a small portion of that too.

Photo sourced from http://www.thesportspost.com , http://www.Cleveland.com and http://www.wisescholar.com

Photo credit goes to http://www.thesportspost.com , Julie Jacobsen and http://www.ap.org and http://www.wisecholar.com

Iconic Racer Porsche 911-50 RSR (Type 991) IBook Review

After the success of the first book from co-authors Stefan Lewyckyj and Ian Doughty on the McLaren MP4-12C, their latest offering centres on the iconic Porsche 911, and it’s latest 991 model. The opening chapters are dedicated to the history and heritage of the Porsche 911, both on the road and the race track. The opening chapters are very informative for the reader with high quality photos being used for perfectly complement the interesting text, setting a standard of quality which carries over throughout the book.

Throughout the book there are peppering’s of interactive features which add another dimension to this book. The video’s and added text material such as press releases are well laid out and subsequently are very easy to use. The chapters centring on the new 991 model Porsche 911 are well presented and guide the reader through the entire development process from start to finished product, through the use of informative text and highly detailed photos.

Whilst the early chapters switch between the road car and race car the later chapters focus more on the race car, something which make the book interesting for anyone as the photos are captioned in expert detail on areas such as the outside bodywork, internal cockpit and the engine. Both the factory and customer teams and drivers racing the new Porsche 991 911 on both sides of the Atlantic from both 2013 and this season are detailed to a similar level, giving the reader a clear understanding of everyone racing the new Porsche 911.

The more anyone will read this book, it will become more evident how well researched this book is as the extraordinary detail to which this book goes to sets it apart from any competitor books on the new Porsche 911. The book also contains complete stats from the 2013 and 2014 season so far. The biggest plus with this interactive book is that anyone can download updates for it which will update results from future races this season and beyond. In conclusion, this is a very well researched and detailed book which will interest anyone who’s interested in cars or motorsport.

In particular, for fans of the Porsche 911 this is a must have book, with a £4.99 price tag making this a very affordable book for anyone interested in cars. Put simply, you won’t get a more informative book on the Porsche 911 with the £4.99 price tag simply even more of a reason to buy this incredible book.

Here’s a link to the book on ITunes and the Iconic racer series Twitter page, which will keep you updated with all the latest in this book series.
Link to the book with ITunes – https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/porsche-911-rsr-type-991-50/id882287325?mt=11
Iconic Racer Twitter page – https://twitter.com/IconicRacer

2014 Le Mans 24 Hours GTE Am Preview Part 2

The final part of my Le Mans 24 Hours preview is dedicated to the GTE Am class. Although the class will be the slowest cars on track, it does contain some seriously quick GT drivers amongst the majority amateur drivers in the class. New rules for 2014 have both ensured that at least one amateur driver has to be in each car, alongside this GTE Am teams are limited to one pro rated driver in each car. These subtle changes will mean a much close race for class honours than 2013, with a high quality field full of factory drivers and some seriously quick amateur drivers too. Like every other class, the GTE Am field will provide plenty of action over the 24 Hours. Let’s look at the second half of the entry.

Team Taisan:

#70 Ferrari F458 Italia GT2: James Rossiter/Pierre Ehret/Martin Rich
The fabled Team Taisan returns to Le Mans for the first time in a while, this time with a Ferrari instead of their usual Porsche 911. This team won on it’s debut to the 24 Hours in 2000, although this time around a class win may seem unlikely. This team is as well prepared as anyone in the highly competitive Asian GT scene,something that should be highlighted this week. The team’s driver line-up is solid with the very quick Asian based racer James Rossiter leading the line-up, ably backed up by silver rated amateur drivers Pierre Ehret and Martin Rich. Ehret is highly experienced at Le Mans and Rich should provide some solid driving. This team will have to rely on Rossiter to be bang on the pace of the leading contenders, as well as solid driving from Ehret and Rich if this entry is going to make a similar return to their debut in 2000.

SMP Racing:

#72 Ferrari F458 Italia GT2: Andrea Bertolini/Victor Shaitar/Aleksey Basov
Alongside their 2 car entry in LMP2, the relatively new SMP racing team has also enters it’s GTE spec Ferrari F458, after some impressive showings in the opening two European Le Mans series rounds. This start-up team out of Russia have shown immediate promise and results since it entered European GT racing last year. The team benefits from a collaboration between them and the AF Corse team, which ensures this team always has one of the best prepared Ferrari GT cars in Europe.

The biggest question mark surrounding this entry will be their relatively inexperienced driver line-up, which includes two Russian’s who are rookie’s to the Le Mans 24 Hours. Both Victor Shaitar and Aleksey Basov have shown pace so far in this car, especially Shaitar, and how they perform will mostly define how well this car performs during the race. The team can count on experienced racer Andrea Bertolini, who will put this car in the mix for class honours for sure, it’s up to the Russians to keep the team there.

Prospeed Competition:

#75 Porsche 911 997 GT3-RSR: Francois Perrodo/Emmanuel Collard/Markus Palttala
The vastly experienced Porsche GT outfit Prospeed competition returns to the Le Mans 24 Hours again this year, with their strongest 2 car entry for a long time. Although the team has chosen not to update it’s older 997 spec 911’s to the new 991 shape, the team has showed their older model can still prove effective in the ELMS so far this year. The team contains a wealth of Le Mans experience and it appears fairly likely the team will have a reliable run, bar any unforeseen drama’s for them.

The first of their 2 entries has arguably one of the strongest GTE Am line-up’s in the class, with seriously quick GT racer Emmanuel Collard leading the way for this entry. Markus Palttala has proved a excellent pickup to replaced the injured rookie Matthieu Vaxiviere, and amateur driver Francois Perrodo is far from the slowest Am in the class. If this team has had a trouble free run going into the final few hours, expect this entry to be fighting for class honours.

IMSA Performance Matmut:

#76 Porsche 911 997 GT3-RSR: Raymond Narac/Nicolas Armindo/David Hallyday
The #76 entry is the second from the long standing Porsche entrant IMSA Performance Matmut. This most French of teams always has a knack of pulling off a good result in the 24 Hours and this year should see more of the same. The team is highly experienced and the driver line-up reflects this. Renowned Porsche racer Nicolas Armindo will set a blistering pace in the older spec Porsche, something that will be hard for amateur drivers Raymond Narac and French pop star David Hallyday to get close too.

Alongside the two Prospeed entries this #76 entry should prove to be fighting for at least podium honours, of course dependent on a clean run for the team. Something this team will be guaranteed this week however, is the award for the best GTE livery, the classic IMSA Matmut French colours look magnificent on their Porsche.

Dempsey Racing-Proton:

#77 Porsche 911 991 RSR: Patrick Dempsey/Joe Foster/Patrick Long
Very much like 2013, the most high profile GTE Am entry again goes to the Dempsey racing-Proton entry, which will looking for a repeat of their strong 2013 run, although this time without the late heartache of a collision which ruined their chances of a class victory with only a few hours left to run. The high profile nature of this entry is entirely related to team owner and driver Patrick Dempsey, renowned Grey’s Anatomy star, who is also seriously passionate about his motor racing.

After several years racing in the American Sportscar scene, he finally made returned at the world’s most famous Sportscar race last year, after making his debut in 2009.. Alongside good friend and business partner Joe Foster, they surprised massively last year with their pace and awareness. With Porsche factory racer Patrick Long completing the line-up, this entry is a serious contender for victory if they can have a largely trouble free run again. The fact their one of the few teams to update their Porsche to 2013 spec also helps, expect them to challenge for the class victory from the start.

Prospeed Competition:

#79 Porsche 911 997 GT3-RSR: Cooper MacNeil/Bret Curtis/Jeroen Bleekemolen
The second of the Prospeed Porsche entries appears just as formidable a challenger for class honours as it’s sister #75 entry. Like I’ve mentioned before, the Belgian Prospeed team are highly experienced Porsche and Le Mans racer’s, and their older 997 spec Porsche 911 GT3-RSR’s should prove to be bullet proof for the 24 Hours,barring any contact or driver error. These should be kept to a minimum with the driving talent this entry has behind the wheel. Both Jeroen Bleekemolen and Cooper MacNeil are known as serious fast Porsche drivers in their respective racing circles, meanwhile Bret Curtis is a perfectly able amateur driver. Expect fireworks from Bleekemolen and MacNeil, as this team should be fighting for a top 3 finish in class if they can stay out of trouble during the race.

Proton Competition:

#88 Porsche 911 991 RSR: Christian Reid/Klaus Bachler/Khaled Al Qubaisi
The Proton competition team field only one of their own cars this year, after teaming up with Dempsey racing for their other entry. This team is very experienced with this race and the Porsche 911 GT3-RSR,something that will stand them in good stead throughout this week. The team’s driving talent comprises long time Proton driver Christian Reid, alongside young Porsche driver Klaus Bachler, who is quickly making a name for himself in Porsche’s, and finally amateur driver Khalid Al Qubaisi.

This is a solid line-up with Bachler seemingly the most likely to challenge the frontrunner’s during the race. It seems however, that the team may struggle to keep up the leaders pace with this line-up. This leaves them reliant on a trouble free run to compete for the podium,something that is never guaranteed in a race as unique as the Le Mans 24 Hours.

8Star Motorsport:

#90 Ferrari F458 Italia GT2: Frankie Montecalvo/Gianluca Roda/Paolo Ruberti
Whilst the 8Star motorsport team are only in their second season of GT racing, they’ve already proved their credential both in the previous American Grand-Am championship, and the World Endurance championship. The fact they’ve proved competitive in both series shows the versatility of the team. The team were unlucky last year as they suffered a problematic Le Mans 24 Hours, which prevented them from finishing higher than 10th in class, something the team should easily improve on this year.

On the driving front the team has a solid if unspectacular line-up of pace setter and ex-F3000 racer Paolo Ruberti, backed up by solid GT racer’s in amateur Gianluca Roda and American Frankie Montecalvo. Whilst it seems this team won’t be able to fight for the podium on pace alone, if they run trouble free don’t be surprised to see them challenging for a top 5 result in the final few hours.

Aston Martin Racing:

#95 Aston Martin Vantage GTE: Kristian Poulsen/David Heinemeier Hansson/Nicki Thiim
The only factory entries in the GTE Am class this year are the two entries from Aston Martin racing. Whilst some may argue it’s not right for a factory team to have entries in a predominantly amateur based class such GTE Am, the competitiveness of the class means it’s the driving talent that will prove the difference between victory and defeat, and this is an area Aston Martin has not exploited with it’s works entries. This very Danish driver line-up is as competitive as any in the class, with Nicki Thiim expected to set the pace, supported by quick racer’s in Kristian Poulsen and amateur David Heinemeier Hansson. Especially Heinemeier Hansson, who for me is the quickest amateur driver in this class, something that could prove crucial in deciding the GTE Am winner after 24 Hours.

The Aston Martin Vantage GTE appears to have been severely affected by the 2014 Balance of Performance tweaks so far in the World Endurance championship, something that other racers have put down to sandbagging from Aston before Le Mans. If the team can find a way to replicate the pace this car showed here a year ago, expect both works Aston Martin’s to be right in the thick of an intense battle for GTE Am honours throughout the 24 Hours.

#98 Aston Martin Vantage GTE: Paul Dalla Lana/Pedro Lamy/Christoffer Nygaard
The second of the factory Aston Martin entries should be equally paced with it’s sister entry in terms of pace and overall competitiveness in this hotly contested GTE Am class. A lot of the ultimate pace for Aston Martin is dependent on whether the team can replicate the 2013 pace it showed at the circuit de la Sarthe, something that is far from guaranteed based on 2014 WEC showing’s so far. Something Aston Martin can be confident with however are it’s driver line-up’s for both cars.

This #98 teams experienced racer’s in Paul Dalla Lana and Christoffer Nygaard with the supremely fast GT driver Pedro Lamy. All three should prove quick during the race, with the collective experience they share should help keep them out of trouble throughout the race. The key to their potential victory should rest on this trouble free run, something that should give them a fighting chance of making the podium once the dust has settled at 3pm on Sunday afternoon.

Garage 56 entry

Nissan Motorsport:

#0 Nissan ZEOD RC: Lucas Ordonez/Wolfgang Reip/Satoshi Motoyama
The award for the most interesting entry of the 2014 Le Mans 24 Hours most definitely goes to the innovative Nissan ZEOD RC entry.The Nissan team has set lofty ambitions for this highly unconventional hybrid car, with a target of lapping at LMP2 pace, despite have far less power than the class, and will also attempt to complete a full racing lap of Le Mans only on electric power. Whilst this new car is not expected to have a trouble free run based on the high amount of new technologies being used, yet it’s sure to cause a stir this week, and harks back to the very essence of Sportscar racing: innovation.

Completing the Nissan flavor of this entry are the three factory backed drivers for this car, with two coming from another innovative Nissan project, the GT academy. For those of you unaware of the GT academy I urge you to find out about it, as it takes wannabe Playstation racers all the way to Le Mans in the case of inaugural winner Lucas Ordonez and 2012 winner Wolfgang Reip. Completing the line-up is the highly experienced Nissan racer Satoshi Motoyama, mainstay of the company’s Japanese SuperGT team. For this team purely a finish would be seen as a success, as they push the boundaries of new technology on the racing stage. Kudos for Nissan for providing some excitement around Le Mans and for trialling innovate technology.

That’s it from me and my Le Mans 24 Hours previews. Hope you enjoyed reading them and a massive thank you to everyone who has publicized my blog, and for sending my blog’s viewer stats through the roof this weekend. Also huge thanks to Motorsport.com for their amazing photos, I urge you all to visit their website with the link here.http://www.motorsport.com

2014 Le Mans 24 Hours GTE Am Preview Part 1

After previewing the three other classes racing in the Le Mans 24 Hours this year, the time has come to look at the final class racing this year, the GTE Am class. Similarly to LMP2, the GTE Am class is based on amateur drivers with a minimum of one silver rated amateur driver and a limit of only one pro rated driver. This is aimed to ensure the amateur ethos of this class. The entry this year is huge with 19 entries in the GTE Am class, ensuring a enthralling race is guaranteed for class victory next Sunday afternoon.

RAM Racing:

#53 Ferrari F458 Italia GT2: Johnny Mowlem/Mark Patterson/Archie Hamilton
The RAM racing GTE Am entry should have a much higher chance of class victory than their GTE Pro entry, however the team’s funding issues in 2014 have hampered their preparations as the team have been unable to update their Ferrari F458 from 2012 spec, the only team in the class with a 2012 car.

The team’s driver line-up changed late also with Archie Hamilton replacing Ben Collins not long ago. The budget problems have severely hampered the team yet Mowlem is a seriously quick GT driver and if the team has a reliable run expect him to drag the car into contention, of course a lot depends also on how Hamilton and Mark Patterson performance during the race. If those two can perform at their best the team has a good chance for at least a class podium.

Krohn Racing:

#57 Ferrari F458 Italia GT2: Tracy Krohn/Nic Jonsson/Ben Collins
The Krohn racing team received very little time to prepare for the 24 Hours after their desperately late call up to the race at the end of May. Therefore the link they have with the American Risi Competizione team has been a massive help to their preparations for this race.

The team found RAM racing refugee Ben Collins to partner long time team mates Tracy Krohn and Nic Jonsson. The team has a long recent history at Le Mans and have claimed 3 class podiums in the last 7 years. Therefore this team can never be discounted however the late entry and the competitive nature of the driving talent this year in GTE Am probably means a top 5 in class would be a good result for the American team.

Team Sofrev ASP:

#58 Ferrari F458 Italia GT2: Fabien Barthez/Anthony Pons/Soheil Ayari
The Sofrev-ASP team are relatively new to international GT racing, yet the team have performed solidly so far in the opening two European Le Mans Series rounds so far. The team is run by experienced GT racer Jerome Policand, who alongside driver Soheil Ayari will provide a wealth of experience to the other two drivers.

Both French footballing legend Fabien Barthez and Anthony Pons are relatively inexperienced, and will therefore benefit massively from Ayari and Policand. Expect this team to surprise with it’s pace with Ayari behind the wheel yet both Barthez and Pons will have to show pace far beyond their experience for this entry to challenge for a top 5 in class. To finish at all would be a result for this newly formed team and relatively inexperienced line-up.

AF Corse:

#60 Ferrari F458 Italia GT2: Peter Mann/Lorenzo Case/Raffaele Giammaria
The first of AF Corse’s mammoth 4 car entry in GTE Am alone is the #60 for experienced amateur drivers Peter Mann and Lorenzo Case. Pushing this entry forward will be ex-F3000 racer Raffaele Giammaria, who will set the pace for this car. Whilst AF Corse are almost certainly the best Ferrari GT racing team on the planet, the strength of the class this year suggests this entry will struggle to compete for a significant placing once Giammaria steps out the car. A finish will be a result for this team although expect Giammaria to shine.

#61 Ferrari F458 Italia GT2: Luis Perez Companc/Marco Cioci/Mirko Venturi
This #61 AF Corse entry is the most likely of their 4 GTE Am entries to take class honours as this line-up has already proved successful in the World Endurance Championship this year. The driver line-up of experienced racers Companc and Cioci alongside Mirko Venturi should prove enough to challenge anyone in the class. If the AF Corse team can work their magic and this car has a reliable 24 Hours, expect this #61 entry to be challenging for a podium if not class victory. Definitely one to look out for during the race.

#62 Ferrari F458 Italia GT2: Yannick Mallegol/Jean-Marc Bachelier/Howard Blank
As I said before relating to the #61 entry being the favourite of the AF Corse entries to claim GTE Am victory, the opposite is true of the #62 which appears to have the least opportunity to claim class honours. Although the car and team are first rate and can match anyone in the class, the driver line-up for the #62 car is well below the level of some other entries in the class.

Yannick Mallegol, Jean-March Bachelier and Howard Blank can all count experience in their favour when it comes to Le Mans, the fact their an all amateur driver line-up severely dampens their chances of a decent result. For this car a reliable run to the finish would be a good result, with any further placing’s being purely a bonus for this all amateur entry. On the plus side this entry could challenge anyone in the class for the honours of best livery.

#81 Ferrari F458 Italia GT2: Steve Wyatt/Michele Rugolo/Sam Bird
The final of the four entries is the #81 car, which should have the best chance of a decent result for AF Corse outside of the #61 entry. This team has proved competitive so far in the WEC and will be hoping to carry over this form into the Le Mans 24 Hours. The team will produce a first rate car and reliability should be no issue for this well proven car. Therefore a lot like most entries in this class the difference will be between the driver line-up’s of each car.

This favours the #81 car as they boast a solid amateur driver in Steve Wyatt, a fast yet experienced racer in Michele Rugolo and , if he can adapt to the Circuit de la Sarthe quickly, the fastest driver in the class in AMG Mercedes test driver Sam Bird. He’s gained some Sportscar experience in the American United Sportscar Championship so should prove a revelation during the week. If this car can stay out of trouble look for this entry to be right in the fight for victory on Sunday afternoon.

JMW Motorsport:

#66 Ferrari F458 Italia GT2: Abdulaziz Al-Faisal/Seth Neiman/Spencer Pumpelly
2014 has seen a fair amount of change for this plucky privateer as they have been forced to switch to Michelin tyres from Dunlop. Also the team have changed their driver line-up for a so far competitive campaign in the ELMS. Things are not so rosy for Le Mans however as a tie-up with the Flying Lizard American GT team, means the team will field a mostly new line-up for the 24 Hours.

Partnering experienced amateur racer Abdulaziz Al-Faisal are Flying Lizard partners Seth Neiman and Spencer Pumpelly. Neiman is another experienced Am driver, but it will in the hands of Spencer Pumpelly when this car flies. He’s a seriously quick driver in the American GT scene and once his steps out, this team will struggle mightily to keep pace with the rest. A top 6 would be a good result for this team but they’ll need a clean run first.

IMSA Performance Matmut:

#67 Porsche 911 997 GT3-RSR: Erik Maris/Jean Marc-Merlin/Eric Helary
The vastly experienced customer Porsche IMSA Performance Matmut team returns once again to the Le Mans 24 Hours, this year with two older spec Porsche 911 GT3-RSR’s. The first of these is the #67 entry which may well struggle to compete with the ultimate pace in the class this year. Whilst the team is a highly competitive Porsche GT outfit the two amateur driver’s in the line-up will put a wrench in any plans they may have had on a competitive showing.

1993 Le Mans 24 Hours winner Eric Helary will star as always in this entry yet it will be expecting a lot of amateur drivers Erik Maris and Jean Marc-Merlin to even get close to his pace. Therefore a more realistic target for the team will be to have a trouble free race as anything can happen in the 24 Hours. This mostly definitely appears their best chance of attaining a respectable result in class against the wealth of opposition.

That concludes Part 1 of my predictions for the GTE Am category, one that should provide exciting racing throughout the 24 Hours, like every other class racing. A huge thank you to Motorsport.com for their amazing photos again to view them all please visit this link. Enjoy! http://www.motorsport.com/#!/filter/lemans/photos/main-gallery/?sz=2&y=2014&ft=1