Road To Indy’s Pro Mazda Series visits CTMP this weekend

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One part of the INDYCAR family is racing this weekend, as the Road to Indy’s Pro Mazda Championship is in Canada to serve as an undercard for the American Le Mans Series’ Mobil 1 SportsCar Grand Prix.

Race 1 of the weekend went off today, with Team Pelfrey’s Spencer Pigot taking the victory by just .118 of a second over Andretti Autosport’s Shelby Blackstock after a tight battle in the closing moments. Series points leader Matthew Brabham finished third.

“After the restart, I was able to get a little bit of a jump but I couldn’t quite break the draft and I made a little mistake on the last lap and Shelby and I were side-by-side,” Pigot said. “In fact, I think he was a little bit ahead of me on the back straightaway and I was just able to hold the inside through Turn Eight. It was great racing.”

Both drivers had suffered through a tough doubleheader on the streets of Toronto one week before, making today even better for them.

“Shelby and I were joking around that it was such a turnaround from last weekend for both of us,” Pigot continued. “To be out fighting for the win was great and hopefully, we can do it again tomorrow.”

Pigot will start on pole for the second Pro Mazda race, which will take place Sunday afternoon following the ALMS main event.

Neuville wins Rally Australia; Ogier takes FIA WRC title

Sebastien Ogier. Photo: Getty Images
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COFFS HARBOUR, Australia (AP) Belgium’s Thierry Neuville won Rally Australia by 22.5 seconds on Sunday as torrential rain added drama to the last day of the last race of the World Rally Championship season.

Neuville entered the final day with an almost 20 second advantage after inheriting the rally lead Saturday when his Hyundai teammate, defending champion Andreas Mikkelsen crashed and was forced to retire for the day.

His lead was halved by Jari-Matti Latvala early Sunday as monsoon-like rain made conditions treacherous on muddy forest stages on the New South Wales coast. The rain stopped on the short Wedding Bells stage where Neuville was almost 5 seconds quicker than his rivals, stretching his lead to 14.7 seconds entering the last stage.

COFFS HARBOUR, AUSTRALIA – NOVEMBER 17: Thierry Neuville of Belgium and Nicolas Gilsoul of Belgium compete in their Hyundai Motorsport WRT Hyundai i20 coupe WRC during Day One of the WRC Australia on November 17, 2017 in COFFS HARBOUR, Australia. (Photo by Massimo Bettiol/Getty Images)

That stage was full of incident. The driver’s door on Neuville’s Hyundai i20 coupe swung open in the middle of the stage and Neuville had to slam it closed as he approached a corner.

Latvala’s Toyota then crashed seconds from the end of the stage, allowing Estonia’s Ott Tanak, in a Ford, to take second place overall and New Zealalnd’s Haydon Paddon, in a Hyundai, to sneak into third.

Sebastian Ogier was fourth after winning the final, power stage but the Frenchman had already clinched his fifth world title before Rally Australia began. Neuville’s win was his fourth of the season, two more than Ogier, and was enough to give him second place in world drivers’ standings for the third time in five years.

Ogier owed his drivers’ title to his consistency: he retired only once and finished no worse than fifth all season.

Neuville admitted the last day was touch and go as the rain made some stages perilous, forcing the cancellation of the second to last stage.

“That was a hell of a ride,” Neuville said. “Really, really tricky conditions.

“I kept the car on the road but it was close sometimes. I knew I could make a difference but I had to be clever. You lose grip, you lose control and the car doesn’t respond to your input.”