Show car and revised course (IndyCar photo)

Grand Prix of Indianapolis set for May 10, 2014 on revised course

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IndyCar’s Grand Prix of Indianapolis will occur May 10, 2014, on a revised version of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.

The course will be adjusted to 2.434 miles and feature several alterations from the version raced by Formula One and more recently, GRAND-AM. The race will also feature a standing start.

The IndyCars will run the clockwise direction with the right-handed, sharp Turn 1 to lead from before oval Turn 4 onto the road course. Turns 2, 3, 4 remain the same before an adjusted chicane that will be Turns 5 and 6, and lead onto the Hulman Blvd. straight. Turn 7 will be a tight, 90-degree left-hander following the flow through Turns 8 and 9, leading back onto the oval Turn 2, road course Turns 10 and 11, and then through the MotoGP section of course to bypass oval Turn 1 and create road course Turns 12, 13 and 14 leading back onto the front straight.

Spectator mounds will be increased and heightened to enhance viewing opportunities. Track officials hope to have a resurfacing complete by December 1 and testing held in the spring.

Tickets go on sale starting on Oct. 14, with the goal outlined by IMS President Doug Boles and Hulman & Co. CEO Mark Miles to create a family-friendly weekend. Miles outlined a weekend family package for $50. Race Day reserved seat prices will range from $40-75. Existing ticket customers to any 2014 IMS event will receive a $10 discount on reserved seats ($30-65). Race Day general admission tickets are $25 for all customers. A separate website, gpofindianapolis.com, has been created for further information.

The race will be televised live on ABC, including in the Indianapolis market (it’s blacked out locally for the Indianapolis 500).  Thursday and Friday will serve as practice and qualifying days. All rungs of the Mazda Road to Indy ladder will also race at the track that weekend.

A title sponsor for the Grand Prix of Indianapolis was not announced, but potentially will be at a later date.

Miles said he wanted to “elevate the month of May” as part of a grander plan to increase attendance and the Speedway, and therefore INDYCAR’s, bottom line over the next five years through 2018.

Boles hopes for a crowd in the 40 to 50,000 range, if not greater, and said the Speedway will “resize the stadium” to give a feel of a big event and give spectators the best viewing access.

Plans for Alonso sports car debut in Rolex 24 gathering speed

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Plans for McLaren Formula 1 driver Fernando Alonso to appear in next year’s Rolex 24 at Daytona are gathering speed as the two-time World Champion angles for a drive at Le Mans in 2018.

Alonso announced on Thursday he had signed a new, multi-year deal to remain with McLaren in F1, but has left the door open to continue his pursuit of the Triple Crown of Motorsport and become just the second driver in history to complete it.

Alonso has won the Monaco Grand Prix twice and made his Indianapolis 500 debut this year, retiring with an engine issue, and has made no secret of his ambition to race at Le Mans one day.

With no date clashes, the possibility exists for Alonso to race at Le Mans in 2018, potentially with Toyota in the LMP1 class following McLaren’s split with Honda.

However, Alonso could make his 24-hour race debut five months earlier, with reports emerging on Thursday that he could be in line to appear in the Rolex 24 at Daytona in January.

First reported by Sportscar365, Alonso could be set to race for McLaren executive director Zak Brown’s team, United Autosports, at Daytona in January, with no clashes existing with his F1 commitments.

Alonso remained coy when asked about the chances of him appearing at Daytona, but admitted additional preparation for a possible Le Mans appearance would be of interest.

“For the Indy 500 it was a nice experience, I felt very competitive but it was a big challenge that I took from zero, from no testing, not any similar race before it,” Alonso said, as quoted by Reuters.

“If I want to prepare Le Mans, maybe there are other possibilities to prepare Le Mans a little bit better than I prepared the Indy 500.”

He added more about his other race program in Thursday’s pre-race Paddock Pass episode, speaking to NBCSN. “To be the best driver in the world you have to win in different series at different times. It’s possible I can compete in different races next year,” he said.

Brown said he would be happy to field Alonso at Daytona, and confirmed their pair had already loosely discussed it.

“If Fernando wants to do Daytona and we have a seat available, we would put his name on it happily,” Brown said.

“We’ve started joking around about it, and we saw where jokes got us last time,” he added, referencing the eventual entry to the Indy 500.

United Autosports will field two Ligier JS P217 cars at Daytona in January, and has already confirmed ex-F1 racer Paul di Resta, McLaren junior Lando Norris, American endurance racer Will Owen and British youngster Philip Hanson in seats.

McLaren reserve and 2009 F1 world champion Jenson Button had been linked with a drive for United Autosports at Daytona, but Brown confirmed to Sportscar365 this was no longer an option.

“Jenson won’t be driving for us. I don’t know what he’s going to be doing,” Brown said.

“I thought he was going to be in the Penske car. Not sure what happened there.”