‘Hinch 2.0’ emerges from Danica Patrick’s GoDaddy shadow

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Two years ago, James Hinchcliffe launched what he called “Hinchtown 2.0” – a renovated, updated and improved web profile of his fictional town, where he serves as self-appointed Mayor.

On Sunday in St. Petersburg, driver version “Hinch 2.0” was unveiled to the general public. A revised, renewed, and re-dedicated Canadian enters his third full IndyCar season, second with Andretti Autosport and second non-consecutive year with engineer Craig Hampson made a pass for the lead and held off three-time St. Pete winner Helio Castroneves for the victory.

“Craig told me I needed better restarts, to be more aggressive, and save fuel when we need to,” Hinchcliffe said. “We had to minimize the mistakes. The team is good, the car is good, the engineers are good. We proved last year the team is capable of winning. It’s down to me on any given Sunday to minimize mistakes.”

He did just that, to open his 2013 account on top. The win was particularly satisfying given his frustrating and challenging second half of 2012. After seven top-six finishes in the first eight races of 2012, Hinchcliffe had only one finish better than 12th in the final seven rounds (a fifth at Mid-Ohio).

“To come here 12 months later, especially when you think how our season ended, it was not a good end to our season,” he admitted. “Fontana was just the worst, longest day of my life. It was so demoralizing going into the longest off-season in history with such a poor record finishing the season.

“But we’ve got such a good group of guys on that car. It’s all the same crew we had last year. These guys worked so hard. Chevy did such a good job over the winter to come here and grab that first win for those guys as much as GoDaddy, it’s really cool.”

The win is the first for sponsor GoDaddy in IndyCar, a big deal given its history with prior IndyCar and current NASCAR driver Danica Patrick. Hinchcliffe said that perhaps this result can remove him from her shadows.

“Certainly following Danica was a big ask,” he said. “I guess we put a lot of effort into making sure it wasn’t the guy driving Danica’s car. We really wanted to make it our own by playing off her last year, doing like the “Hinch for Homepage,” and things like that. It was, ‘You’re the guy driving Danica’s car.’ Hopefully when we get to the races this year, it will be, ‘That’s Hinch’s car.’”

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Fernando Alonso confirmed for Toyota LMP1 test in Bahrain

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SAKHIR, Bahrain – Fernando Alonso will take his first step towards a possible entry to the 24 Hours of Le Mans when he tests an LMP1 car for Toyota on Sunday at the Bahrain International Circuit.

McLaren Formula 1 driver and two-time world champion Alonso is hoping to appear at Le Mans next year as part of his bid to become just the second man in history to complete the ‘Triple Crown of Motorsport’.

Alonso has already completed one leg by winning the Monaco Grand Prix twice, and made his debut at the Indianapolis 500 in May with McLaren-Honda-Andretti, retiring late on due to an engine failure.

Momentum is building for Alonso to make his Le Mans debut with Toyota in 2018, starting with a first sports car run-out in the FIA World Endurance Championship’s end-of-season rookie test in Bahrain on Sunday.

Alonso arrived in Bahrain on Saturday to watch the six-hour WEC race as an invited guest of the Bahraini royal family, with his participation in the test being confirmed after the race.

“We are very excited that Fernando will test our car. When he visited us in Cologne everyone who met him could sense his enthusiasm and passion for our sport; he is a true racer,” Toyota Gazoo Racing team president Hisatake Murata said.

“We very much respect his interest in different forms of motorsport and it is a pleasure to offer him this chance to drive a hybrid LMP1 car. It will be interesting to hear his feedback on the TS050 Hybrid.”

Alonso will share running in the Toyota car with 19-year-old Thomas Laurent, who received a test as a prize for his star display during his rookie WEC campaign this year, while regular Toyota racer Mike Conway will also complete laps.