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Toyota Gazoo Racing confirms Lopez, third car for Spa, Le Mans

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As expected, Toyota Gazoo Racing has confirmed three of its Toyota TS050 Hybrids will be in action at next year’s FIA World Endurance Championship rounds at Spa-Francorchamps and the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

The extra entry from Toyota ensures there will be at least six LMP1 cars at those two rounds, joining the two Porsche Team and single ByKolles cars. Porsche has also been rumored to run a third car and any confirmation of that would come Thursday during the formal reveals of the FIA WEC and Le Mans entry lists.

Jose Maria Lopez has also been confirmed alongside Mike Conway and Kamui Kobayashi as a full-season driver with Stephane Sarrazin being slotted into the team’s third car. The 33-year-old Argentine competed in GP2 before moving to the World Touring Car Championship where he won the last three titles.

“It’s great to be part of TOYOTA GAZOO Racing,” Lopez said in a release. “This is a dream come true for me and I can’t wait to get to the first race. Mike and Kamui are both great team-mates; I will learn plenty from them I am sure. Driving an LMP1 car is very different compared to WTCC cars but I am enjoying this challenge. The power and grip of the TS050 HYBRID is incredible and TOYOTA’s hybrid technology is impressive. I am looking forward to my first experience of WEC and particularly Le Mans which is a very special race.”

Sebastien Buemi, Anthony Davidson and Kazuki Nakajima continue as the lead trio.

“I believe this is an exciting time for TOYOTA GAZOO Racing in endurance racing,” Toshio Sato, Team President, said. “Entering three cars for Spa and Le Mans represents a new challenge for our team. We are working hard to be prepared and we are inspired to win. I would like to welcome José María to our team; I am confident he will fit in well as he is quick, intelligent and a strong team player. Our existing drivers have already proven their abilities in endurance racing; all are race winners and we are very happy to work together again.”

MRTI: Telitz gets creative to help racing career

Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography
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To say that Belardi Auto Racing’s Aaron Telitz has endured a difficult start to the 2018 Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires season would be an understatement. The Wisconsin native only completed four corners through the first three races – Races 1 and 2 at St. Petersburg, and Race 1 at Barber Motorsports Park – with St. Pete being especially problematic.

He took the pole for Race 1, but a crash during qualifying for Race 2 prevented him from actually starting. What’s more, the damage was so severe that the Belardi team needed a brand new chassis, with Telitz’s Dallara IL-15 damaged beyond repair.

They also had to borrow a car from Carlin for Race 2, but Telitz’s race ended after he got tangled up with Victor Franzoni in Turn 2 on Lap 1.

With the damage bill well into the six figures as a result, Telitz has taken to some unique, or rather, creative ways to raise money in the aftermath to help cover the costs. “Creative,” in this case, meaning Telitz is using his art skills.

An artist in his spare time, Telitz has begun selling his own original paintings to help raise money.

 “I’ve been to a lot of art shows and I see stuff and I go, ‘Holy cow, someone’s going to pay a thousand dollars for that thing?’” Telitz quipped in a story posted on the Milwaukee Journal.

In discussing his artistic abilities, Telitz added, “I’m working at getting better. I’d like to be able to paint some animals, those types of things. I got a request from Alexander Rossi to see if I could paint his dog. Unfortunately I can’t do that yet.”

Further, in a partnership with The Styled Garage, Telitz is selling his own merchandise, and accepting donations, to help his cause.

Telitz finished fourth in Race 2 at Barber on Sunday, and sits seventh in the Indy Lights championship, 59 points behind leader Pato O’Ward.

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