FIA WEC calendar shifts Brazil to last race

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The FIA World Endurance Championship will end its 2014 season at Interlagos in Sao Paulo, Brazil – same as where Formula One has ended for a number of years, except this year.

A date shift sees the Brazilian round of the eight-race series now the curtain-closer on November 30; it had originally been scheduled for the last weekend in August.

But series organizers said that with the country’s focus on the World Cup in June and July, the track now being unavailable that August weekend and the need to prep the track for the F1 race on November 9, it only made sense to move the race back.

That means that after the 24 Hours of Le Mans June 14-15, there’s a mammoth three-month gap in the schedule until the next round, September 20, at Austin’s Circuit of the Americas. The COTA round was officially confirmed following a meeting between the ACO, IMSA and COTA at Daytona this weekend.

Meanwhile, the month of November has three race weekends in China, Bahrain and Brazil. Go figure.

The official calendar:

Official Test Le Castellet FRA 28-29 March 
Silverstone    GBR 18-20 April
Spa-Francorchamps BEL 02-03May
24 Heures du Mans Test  FRA 01 June 
24 Heures du Mans    FRA 14/15 June 
Circuit of the Americas USA 18-20 September
Fuji  JPN  10-12 October 
Shanghai   CHN 31 October -2 November
Bahrain BHN 13-15 November
Sao Paulo  BRA 28-30 November

IndyCar 2017 driver review: Ed Carpenter

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MotorSportsTalk continues its annual review of the Verizon IndyCar Series drivers that raced in 2017. The 2017 season behind the wheel was better for Ed Carpenter than either of the last two years, but still wasn’t ideal results-wise in his six oval starts.

Ed Carpenter, No. 20 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet

  • 2016: 25th Place (5 Starts), Best Finish 18th, Best Start 5th, 0 Top-5, 0 Top-10, 1 Lap Led, 11.2 Avg. Start, 21.8 Avg. Finish
  • 2017: 22nd Place (6 Starts), Best Finish 7th, Best Start 2nd, 0 Top-5, 1 Top-10, 5 Laps Led, 11.3 Avg. Start, 12.3 Avg. Finish

Ed Carpenter’s 2017 season was largely one of frustration, both behind the wheel and as a team owner.

While a respectable turnaround in results occurred – Carpenter finished between seventh and 12th in five of his six oval races after a nightmare season of ending 18th or worse in each of his 2016 starts – this is still not what he sets out to strive for in the races he does. Lost opportunities loomed larger than any official result he or the Ed Carpenter Racing team achieved.

Carpenter and new teammate JR Hildebrand, in for the departed Josef Newgarden, dominated preseason testing in Phoenix but Hildebrand could only muster third in the race, Carpenter a season-best seventh. Then at Indianapolis, Carpenter (second) and Hildebrand (sixth) flew the flag for Chevrolet in qualifying and practice pace, but they fell to 11th and 16th on race day owing to a front-wing change and late-race penalty for passing before a restart.

Both drivers got collected in incidents at Texas. Hildebrand qualified and finished a season-best second in Iowa but that result came only after the ECR crew rebuilt his car from a crash in practice. Then Carpenter had a practice crash in Pocono and despite a rapid rebuild, they missed the clock to qualify by mere minutes and were unable to do so. Carpenter’s spin on a slick Gateway track at the start of the race sent him over Will Power’s nose assembly in one of the scarier looking incidents of the year, although fortunately he was OK.

In a similar refrain as we often write, it’s not that Carpenter’s lost his ability to drive and he remains one of the series’ savviest and smartest people in the paddock. There have been a lot of extenuating circumstances of late, and it almost felt as though this team had “empty nest” components. Since September, Carpenter has had to secure his team’s future with a move away from its Speedway, Ind. shop, line up Spencer Pigot for a full-time drive replacing Hildebrand in the No. 21 car, find a new road/street course driver in the No. 20 car, and manage both driving and owning himself.