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NASCAR: Brian Vickers wants more road races – but in new places


While Brian Vickers is going for his first Sprint Cup win of the season this weekend at Michigan International Speedway, he is also looking forward to turning both left and right this summer.

The first of two road course events comes up next weekend at Sonoma Raceway, and the second will take place in August at Watkins Glen International.

Vickers’ fondness for road racing was no doubt nurtured by his two 2012 appearances in the FIA World Endurance Championship at Spa and the 24 Hours of Le Mans. He drove an AF Corse Ferrari that had Michael Waltrip Racing co-owner Rob Kauffman as one of its co-drivers.

But he believes that the road racing product is even better in NASCAR than in Europe.

“There’s a lot of great road racing out there — [this year’s] Le Mans is going on this weekend and I had the opportunity to race there,” he said today at MIS.

“That is an awesome event, but unquestionably I think our cars put on a better show on a road race.”

Naturally, Vickers would be happy to see more road races in NASCAR. But what he doesn’t want are return visits to Sonoma or Watkins Glen.

Instead, he’d like to see road racing used to test out new markets.

“I would love to see our sport expand,” he said. “Everybody talks about adding more road races and I’m all for it, but just don’t add another Watkins Glen. I love Watkins Glen, but let’s go somewhere else, let’s go international, let’s go to other continents – if we’re going to add road racing let’s go to new markets.

“I think NASCAR will put on the best road race that any road race track we’ve gone to has ever seen. I love those tracks and I always kind of enjoyed them. I think the time I spent in sports cars made me like them even more.”

But while Sonoma and the Glen loom on the horizon, Vickers is choosing to focus on one track at a time as he looks to get into the Chase.

“There are certainly tracks that you look forward to and you think we have a good package for and I like to race there and the team has good cars there,” he said. “We show up every weekend focused on that weekend.

“I really try to not only live my life that way, but race that way. If I’m going down the front stretch, my focus is Turn 1 — that’s it. I think that’s just kind of where I’m at right now and I like that.”

Bird, Stanaway and Evans receive LMP1 rookie test invites

LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 28:  English driver Sam Bird of Virgin Racing during first practice on the second day of the 2015 FIA Formula E Visa London ePrix Championship at Battersea Park Track on June 28, 2015 in London, England.  (Photo by Charles Coates/Getty Images)
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Sam Bird, Richie Stanaway and Mitch Evans have been invited to the end-of-season LMP1 rookie test in Bahrain following impressive outings in the FIA World Endurance Championship this season.

As part of the series’ drive to nurture and develop young talent, a single day of testing is scheduled at the Bahrain International Circuit one day after the 2015 WEC season ends, and will be attended by Audi, Toyota and Porsche.

In a statement issued by the WEC, it was confirmed that Bird, Stanaway and Evans had received the invites for this year’s LMP1 rookie test after “having shown the best performance, determination and race skills during 2015.

“Each of the prototype manufacturers will test with at least one LMP1 car, and each of the drivers chosen will be given the opportunity to complete at least 30 laps with one manufacturer. The LMP1 manufacturers may also use the time on track to test additional drivers if they wish.”

Bird has enjoyed a successful 2015 season, winning races in both the WEC with LMP2 team G-Drive and in Formula E with Virgin Racing. The former Mercedes junior driver will test with Toyota in Bahrain.

Stanaway has also been mixing single-seater and endurance duties this year, racing in both GP2 and the WEC with Aston Martin Racing in GTE Pro. He will step up to test with Audi.

Despite only taking part in two WEC rounds this season, Evans has made enough of an impact to grab the attention of the series promoter and earn an invite to the rookie test. The New Zealander has been Mark Webber’s protege for some time, making it somewhat unsurprising that he will now test with Porsche alongside his mentor in Bahrain.

“This first rookie test is a fantastic opportunity for these three up-and-coming endurance drivers to test an LMP1 prototype, the most technologically advanced race cars in the world,” WEC CEO Gerard Neveu said.

“We looked in depth at drivers from within the world of endurance racing before making the selection, and believe that Sam Bird, Mitch Evans and Richie Stanaway fully deserved the opportunity to demonstrate their talent and potential.

“This rookie test will give drivers an added bonus to their season, and forms an important element in the progressive career path available within the endurance family.”

The rookie test takes place on November 22, one day after the end of the WEC season.

Sainz airlifted to hospital following practice crash

xxxx during final practice for the Formula One Grand Prix of Russia at Sochi Autodrom on October 10, 2015 in Sochi, Russia.
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Carlos Sainz Jr. has been airlifted to hospital after a big crash during the final free practice session for the Russian Grand Prix on Saturday morning.

Under braking at turn 13, Sainz lost the backend of his Toro Rosso car, causing him to hit the left-hand wall before slamming into the TecPro barrier at the end of the run-off area.

The session was immediately red flagged as medical crews tended to Sainz, taking 20 minutes to extricate him from the Toro Rosso car due to how it had pitched under the barrier.

FIA media delegate Matteo Bonciani told reporters: “The driver is conscious and is still in the process of being extricated. When we know something, we will let you know.”

After being extricated from the car, Sainz was taken away on a stretcher before being placed in an ambulance, giving a thumbs up to let fans know that he was okay. He is also reported to have been talking to doctors in the medical centre after the crash.

Sainz has now been airlifted to hospital for further checks, and is set to miss qualifying later today, with Toro Rosso team boss Franz Tost telling BBC Sport: “To sit him in the car immediately seems a bit risky, but we will wait and see.”

Toro Rosso has now issued the following statement:

“Following Carlos Sainz’s accident during FP3 today in Sochi, the driver is perfectly conscious and was able to talk to the extrication team. Once out of the car he was taken to the circuit Medical Centre, where he underwent an initial assessment of his condition.

“He has now been taken by air ambulance to the Sochi Hospital 4. Investigations on the reasons for the accident will take place once the car is back in the team’s garage.

“Further information will be released by the team and the FIA to the media when it is available.”

Sainz sent out a tweet from hospital confirming that he was okay following the shunt, and is now working to get back onto the grid for tomorrow’s race.