Le Mans: The Americans’ 24 hours recapped

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Quick recap of all the American drivers, teams or related-entries at this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans:

LMP1

No American drivers or teams. So, that was easy.

LMP2

  • Caterham Racing: The No. 42 Zytek Z11SN Nissan that featured Americans Chris Dyson and Matt McMurry, the 16-year-old, ended 10th in LMP2 and 23rd overall. The car had a couple spins over the week but nothing major; McMurry drove early and promisingly through the rain-drenched second and third hours, and also brought the car home to the checkered flag. He’s the youngest to start, and now youngest to finish, at Circuit de la Sarthe.
  • Larbre Competition: The No. 50 Morgan Judd was down on outright pace all week and ended with 341 laps completed, not classified by the end of the race. Still, Ricky Taylor ran the car’s best lap time of 3:43.386 and was often close to brother Jordan on the overall scoreboard; at one point, the two cars, separated by class, were only two positions apart.
  • *Note: the OAK Racing Team Asia car had David Cheng, American by birth/nationality but part of the all-Chinese driver branded lineup in the No. 33 Ligier JS P2 Nissan. That car, which Cheng co-drove with Adderly Fong and Ho-Pin Tung, ended seventh in LMP2.

GTE-Pro

  • Corvette Racing: Corvette’s No. 73 made it to the podium in second place and had class victory hopes with Jan Magnussen, Antonio Garcia and Jordan Taylor. But the sister No. 74 Oliver Gavin, Tommy Milner and Richard Westbrook placed fourth in class after losing eight laps due to a slipped alternator belt and gearbox leak.
  • ProSpeed Competition: This wasn’t supposed to be a Pro class entry but following Bret Curtis’ accident, the No. 79 Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, one of the oldest chassis in the field, ran with just two drivers in Jeroen Bleekemolen and Cooper MacNeil. The pair took the backup chassis (brought in to replace the broken car) to fifth in GTE-Pro after a flawless, trouble-free drive as “iron men” in the WeatherTech-backed entry.

GTE-Am

  • 8Star Motorsports: Despite a couple flat tires and spins along the way over the course of the week, the bright orange No. 90 Ferrari F458 Italia that featured late American call-up Frankie Montecalvo ended best American entry in class, P4 in GTE-Am.
  • Dempsey Racing-Proton: The lone all-American driver lineup of Patricks Long and Dempsey, with Joe Foster, had a three-minute stop-and-hold for spinning the tires leaving the pits overnight. They ended fifth in GTE-Am with the No. 77 Porsche 911 RSR, but threatened the top three all race.
  • JMW Motorsport: The No. 66 Ferrari F458 Italia that featured Flying Lizard American drivers Spencer Pumpelly and Seth Neiman struggled on outright pace but ran consistently to seventh in class.
  • Krohn Racing: Tracy Krohn’s team made it to Le Mans, and ended 10th in class in the classic “Krohn Green” No. 57 Ferrari F458 Italia.
  • Ram Racing: South African-born but U.S.-based Mark Patterson was part of the driving lineup in the No. 53 Ferrari F458 Italia that ended 12th in class.
  • AF Corse: Howard Blank (No. 62) was in an Ferrari F458 Italia that finished, but completed only 295 laps; Peter Ashley Mann (No. 60) was in a car that failed to finish.

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BREAKING: Wehrlein ruled out, Giovinazzi to sub at Australian GP

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After Friday’s practice sessions and after having been originally cleared to race for the Australian Grand Prix, it has been determined that Sauber F1 Team’s Pascal Wehrlein will not be able to continue in the rest of the weekend. He opted to rule himself out due to his fitness level.

“My fitness level is not as it should be for a full race distance because of my training deficit. I explained the situation to the team yesterday evening. Therefore, the Sauber F1 Team has decided not to take any risks. It is a pity, but the best decision for the team,” Wehrlein said in a release.

Wehrlein missed the opening test at Barcelona before resuming for the second test. He’d had a back injury sustained in an accident at the Race of Champions event in Miami in January.

As for that opening test, Antonio Giovinazzi, the Italian Ferrari reserve driver, will fill in for the German. This was meant to be Wehrlein’s first race with Sauber; instead, it will be Giovinazzi’s Grand Prix debut.

“We have great respect of Pascal’s openness and professionalism. This decision was definitely not an easy one for him, it underlines his qualities as a team player. The focus is now on his fitness level, and in such a situation we do not take any unnecessary risks. Pascal will be in China as planned,” team principal Monisha Kaltenborn added.

This isn’t the first injury fill-in to race in F1 in recent years; twice, Fernando Alonso has missed a race each of the last two years.

After a testing crash at Barcelona in 2015, Kevin Magnussen filled in in Alonso’s McLaren Honda, although was unable to start the race with a mechanical before the lights even went out. Meanwhile Alonso missed last year’s Bahrain Grand Prix after his accident at Melbourne, which opened the door for Stoffel Vandoorne to make his debut, and the Belgian promptly scored a point.

Giovinazzi has no prior experience at the Albert Park circuit and so will have to learn the track during FP3, which runs at 11 p.m. ET on the NBC Sports App. Qualifying takes place at 2 a.m. ET on NBCSN.

Here’s pics and notes from NBCSN pit reporter and insider Will Buxton, who is on the ground in Melbourne:

More races, more friction in the future for F1

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MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) The new owners of Formula One are planning to have more races and a greater presence in North America, and wouldn’t mind revving up the ratings with some extra friction among drivers.

Sean Bratches, the managing director of commercial operations for the Formula One Group – formerly Liberty Media – which took over the running of the sport in January, is already fielding offers from promotors wanting to buy in.

Lewis Hamilton has suggested Miami and Daniel Ricciardo picked Las Vegas as places they’d like to see new races, and Bratches told a news conference Friday that “there’s no dearth of interest in bringing Formula One to circuits, both track and street, around the world.”

Bratches said he’d had a “number of inquiries from cities, states, municipalities and countries around the world that are interested.”

There are 20 races on the 2017 calendar, starting with the Australian Grand Prix on Sunday, and concluding with Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in November. The debate over the number and location of races has been frequent over the last decade.

F1 racing returned in 2012 to the United States, where it is held at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, in October. While the bulk of the races remain in Europe and Asia, there are also GPs in Canada, Mexico and Brazil.

“Our interest is in expanding the number of circuits in that marketplace, leveraging Austin – our incumbent and the benchmark in terms of what we’re doing in the States,” said Bratches, adding there was clear demand for it in North America. “We’re excited about all markets around the world, but the United States is going to be a focus.”

Three-time world champion Lewis Hamilton and Ricciardo, an Australian who finished third on the season standings last year, are among the drivers who’d like to see more than 20 races in the F1 series. Veteran Fernando Alonso also doesn’t mind the idea of expansion, although maybe not for a few years.

Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel, who has won four world drivers’ titles, thinks 16 to 20 would be enough. All agreed that expansion was pointless unless it increases the level of competition. Hamilton and Mercedes dominated the last three seasons, and Red Bull was dominant for the four seasons before that.

There’s always been driver tension in F1, usually between teams but also involving teammates vying for championships. Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, who edged Hamilton for the title last year and then retired, had an openly strained rivalry at Mercedes since 2013.

That’s something former ESPN executive Bratches doesn’t mind.

Responding to a question about the drivers being overly-managed by public relations people, Bratches said: “There’s a number of sports where there’s big personalities that allow sports to punch above their respective pay grades.”

He said the drivers were a big part of the fan engagement.

“Candidly, I would love it if more of the drivers had big personalities, there was more controversy among the drivers – and you kind of unleash them a little bit,” he said. “I think that’s good for all of us.”

Jolyon Palmer on the back foot in Australia after F1 practice crash

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Renault’s Jolyon Palmer has admitted that he is “on the back foot” heading into the remainder of this weekend’s Australian Grand Prix after completing just 10 laps in Friday’s Formula 1 practice sessions.

F1 sophomore Palmer arrived in Australia looking to impress after enjoying a bold drive on debut at Albert Park 12 months ago, narrowly missing out on a points finish.

The Briton was the first driver to fall victim of F1’s more challenging cars in an official 2017 race weekend session, losing control through the final corner and slamming into the wall to bring his FP2 running to an early end.

This followed a problem earlier in the day that had limited his FP1 mileage, leaving Palmer with just 10 laps to his name from three hours of Friday running.

“Sadly it was a pretty short day for me in terms of time in the car. We had a minor technical issue in the first session then I had an off in FP2, which unlike FP1 required more than one part replacing,” Palmer explained.

“I’m not sure exactly what happened and we’ll be having a close look at the data. I feel for my crew as they have a decent amount of work to do.

“I’m hopeful of more track time tomorrow, but we’ll be on the back foot heading into qualifying after only 10 laps today.”

Qualifying for the Australian Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and the NBC Sports App from 2am ET on Saturday morning.

Indy 500 champ Rossi takes his shot with the Blackhawks (PHOTOS)

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There are many cool things you get to do after winning the Indianapolis 500. Visiting the grounds of one of the NHL’s most successful, Stanley Cup-winning teams is one of them.

Andretti-Herta Autosport’s Alexander Rossi visited Chicago this week to meet up with the Chicago Blackhawks, trading in his usual No. 98 NAPA Auto Parts Honda for a No. 98 jersey.

Usually it’s the ‘Hawks that are one of the top teams in the NHL and a usual Stanley Cup trophy winner – they’ve won in 2013 and 2015, recently – but it’s the Cubs that right now host a championship trophy having won the World Series for the first time in 108 years.

Anyway, here’s a few photos and videos from Rossi’s trip to Chitown, which also included his own chance to shoot a puck.

Rossi took a photo with iconic Blackhawks singer Jim Cornelison:

Here’s Rossi with Marian Hossa:

Here’s a quick photo before practicing, then video of Rossi practicing:

Rossi paid a visit to WGN Radio:

And all told, Rossi was a fan: