Marcus Jadotte, led NASCAR’s diversity initiative, leaving sanctioning body

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Marcus Jadotte, one of the leading forces behind NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity program over nearly the last decade, announced Wednesday that he’s leaving as the organization’s vice president of public affairs and multicultural development.

Jadotte is expected to remain as a consultant to the sanctioning body, which also will expand its relationship with Teneo Strategy, a strategic advisory firm that began working with NASCAR in 2013.

“During his nine years at NASCAR, Marcus has made a truly meaningful impact on our business,” NASCAR Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Brian France said in a media release announcing Jadotte’s departure. “Thanks in large part to Marcus’ passion and leadership, we have become a leader in diversity and inclusion among the sports industry, and we will continue to deepen our commitment in the years ahead. We are grateful for his years of dedicated service to NASCAR.”

Jadotte joined NASCAR in March 2005 and oversaw the development and growth of the Drive for Diversity and NASCAR Pit Crew Development programs. These programs stressed developing the skills of promising female, Asian, Latino and African-American drivers and crew members in the sport.

Jadotte also spearheaded NASCAR’s relationship with Rev Racing, which fields teams and offers opportunities for minorities and females in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series and the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series.

“The NASCAR ecosystem reaches nearly every facet of the American economy, so it was particularly gratifying to have worked with leading NASCAR stakeholders and to have contributed to the sport’s development over the last nine years,” Jadotte said in a statement. “I am especially grateful for the professional support and friendship I have received from Brian France and NASCAR President Mike Helton during my tenure.”

NASCAR executive vice president of racing operations Steve O’Donnell will add leadership of the Drive for Diversity program to his duties, as well as the NASCAR Diversity Internship Program and annual NASCAR Diversity Awards, which were started by Jadotte.

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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.”