Pagenaud downbeat after demise of Baltimore race

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He’ll always have Baltimore.

For the time being – but perhaps, for all time – Simon Pagenaud will stand as the final winner of the Grand Prix of Baltimore. The Frenchman claimed the checkered flag by the Inner Harbor this past Labor Day weekend, standing tall after perhaps the craziest race of the 2013 IZOD IndyCar Series so far.

But unfortunately, word came yesterday that the Baltimore event would be cancelled for at least the next two years as INDYCAR and race organizers were unable to find a new date for it. Scheduling conflicts for Labor Day weekend in 2014 and 2015 proved too much to work around.

And that makes Pagenaud, in his words, “really sad,” according to a report from Childs Walker of The Baltimore Sun. While understanding of the difficulties of scheduling races, the Schmidt Hamilton Motorsports pilot is unhappy to leave behind both a top-notch street circuit and a great setting.

“It’s disappointing to me, because it’s a place where I’ve had so much success and a race that has been a real turning point in our season the last few years,” Pagenaud told The Sun.

“It’s a long street course with a lot of diversity. A little bit of everything. It’s one of the best to drive on because of how far you can push yourself. Honestly, I think everybody loved it. It’s a shame. It’s a great city that I enjoy coming to.”

Pagenaud’s explosive move from sixth to the lead on a mid-race restart was a highlight in the 2012 race at Baltimore, which ended with him on the podium after starting ninth. Then a few weeks ago in Charm City, he passed Marco Andretti for the lead with seven laps to go and went on to claim his second win of the season.

He won’t be able to make any more Maryland memories for a while. But at least he has some fond ones to look back on.

Audi bids farewell to Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich upon retirement

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Audi bid farewell to its iconic head of motorsport, Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich, at its end-of-season ‘Race Night’ event in Germany on Friday upon his retirement.

Ullrich took over the reins as Audi’s head of motorsport in 1993 and stayed in the role for 23 years, overseeing its arrival in the prototype class of sports car racing and domination of the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Ullrich stepped down from the position at the end of 2016, handing the reins over to ex-Audi DTM chief Dieter Gass, and attended his final racing event with the German marque at its first works Formula E outing in Hong Kong earlier this month.

Ullrich was honored at the Race Night event on Friday and thanked for his efforts in developing Audi into a force within global motorsport.

“In 566 factory-backed commitments during this period he celebrated 209 victories, 13 of them in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, eleven in the 12-hour race at Sebring and nine in the ‘Petit Le Mans’ at Road Atlanta,” a piece on Ullrich’s tenure for Audi’s website reads.

“31 driver titles in super touring car racing, in the DTM and in the sports prototype category are credited to him. 57 campaigners were Audi factory drivers during Wolfgang Ullrich’s era and he was responsible for 18 new developments of racing cars – an impressive tally.”