Chaves wins Indy Lights Long Beach race (VIDEO)

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LONG BEACH, Calif. – Gabby Chaves took the win in Sunday’s 45-lap second round of the 2014 Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires season, at the streets of Long Beach, ahead of Zach Veach by 0.6344 of a second. The order was reversed at the season opener in St. Petersburg.

For Chaves, it’s his second win of his career and first this season, also his and Belardi Auto Racing’s first series win on a street course.

Veach’s Andretti Autosport teammate Matthew Brabham finished third for his first Indy Lights podium, albeit more than 3 seconds behind the top two drivers by the flag.

Chaves took the lead from pole sitter Veach on the start, as Brabham nearly passed them both with a three-wide passing attempt through the kink on the Shoreline Drive front straight. Brabham fell back a bit as if the three would have collided, it would have mirrored Veach’s 2013 race, when his race didn’t make it past that point on Shoreline on the opening lap.

One of Brabham’s early laps saw him make slight contact with the wall exiting Turn 8, and he white-walled his left rear Cooper tire. But it didn’t affect him and he was able to press on.

Veach, meanwhile, was more than 2 seconds back from Chaves but methodically clawed his way back, tenth by tenth, over the course of the 45-lap race. He got to within 0.9418 of a second by the Lap 23 halfway mark, and despite getting within a half a second the rest of the way, he was unable to pass the Belardi Auto Racing driver.

Behind the podium, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports entries came home in fourth and fifth, with Jack Harvey ending ahead of Luiz Razia.

Unofficial points sees Veach on 93, Chaves on 92. The series heads to Barber Motorsports Park in two weeks for the next round of the championship.

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.”