Bits and pieces on the Milwaukee IndyFest

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Helio, Dario are the hard chargers: Three-time Indianapolis 500 winners Helio Castroneves and Dario Franchitti certainly earned their paychecks yesterday at Milwaukee, as each jumped 15 positions from where they started at the drop of the green. Castroneves came from 17th to a runner-up finish, while Dario Franchitti moved from 23rd to eighth at the finish.

Franchitti, a two-time winner on the Mile, overcame an engine penalty that had dropped him 10 spots on the grid from where he qualified on Friday. However, he complained of how tough it was to cut through traffic and wondered if INDYCAR officials needed to step in and possibly make some changes.

“The cars are so close, so the series might be a victim of their own success right now,” said Franchitti. “We need to start allowing something to differentiate when guys get it right and wrong.”

– Chevy dominates: At a flat one mile in length, Milwaukee isn’t necessarily a power track, instead putting the emphasis on handling and how you deal with lapped traffic. Nevertheless, Chevrolet can still crow a bit after securing its second consecutive sweep of the Top 5 positions with winner Ryan Hunter-Reay, Helio Castroneves, Will Power, E.J. Viso and James Hinchcliffe. The Bowtie Brigade also locked out the Top 5 one weekend ago at Texas Motor Speedway.

Target Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon led the Honda camp with a sixth-place showing despite having to deal with understeer issues.

– Off to Le Mans for Briscoe: The Milwaukee IndyFest started a very busy week for Ryan Briscoe, who made his third start of the season in the No. 4 Panther Racing Chevrolet. Briscoe, who finished 15th on Saturday, is a full-time American Le Mans Series driver for Level 5 Motorsports, and he’s competing with them in next weekend’s 24 Hours of Le Mans.

He took part in the official test day last weekend at Circuit de la Sarthe and then arrived in Milwaukee for his Panther duties on Thursday. Shortly after racing on Saturday, he was heading off back to France to continue preparing for his rookie run in the famous sports car race.

“The travel hasn’t been that bad,” Briscoe told IndyCar.com. “It’s not that big a time difference and the flight is about the same as going out to the West Coast…For me, this is a lot better than sitting home and watching, so I’m very appreciative of the opportunity I’ve got at Panther.”

Ferrari junior Ilott victorious in Macau F3 qualification race

Theodore Racing
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Ferrari Driver Academy member Callum Ilott will start the 64th Macau Grand Prix from pole position after beating his Formula 3 rivals to victory in Saturday’s qualification race.

Ilott, 19, started third on the grid on Saturday behind pole-sitter Joel Eriksson and McLaren junior Lando Norris, but made a good start to rise to second early on.

Ilott hounded Eriksson for position for much of the race before battling past at Mandarin on Lap 7 as his Swedish rival struggled to keep his tires alive.

With Eriksson unable to respond, Ilott ultimately crossed the line more than seven seconds clear to take his first Macau win and secure pole for Sunday’s main event.

“We started quite strong as I got up to second from third which was not too bad. Then in the middle part of the race I had a good pace and I got past Joel for P1,” Ilott said.

“After that I managed to pull away. It was a good race, even quite relaxing at the end. I’m really happy for the result. Thank you SJM Theodore Racing by Prema, they did a great job and it should be good for tomorrow too.”

Eriksson held on to second ahead of Sergio Sette Camara, who completed the podium ahead of Maximilian Günther in P4.

Ferdinand Habsburg finished fifth ahead of Pedro Piquet, while Norris was left to settle for a lowly P7 after a clutch issue off the line caused him to drop down the order.

You can see full results from the Macau F3 qualifying race here.