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FIA, ACO confirm 2017 entry lists for WEC and Le Mans

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The FIA and Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO) have jointly confirmed the entry lists for this year’s FIA World Endurance Championship and the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

As expected, the launch conference revealed a slimmed-down WEC field for 2017, with the headline omission being Audi following its decision to end its LMP1 program at the end of last year.

Toyota confirmed late last night that it would be fielding three cars with the rounds at Spa and Le Mans, with Jose Maria Lopez replacing Stephane Sarrazin in a full-time seat. Sarrazin will race in the third car at Spa and Le Mans.

Defending manufacturers’ champion Porsche confirmed its line-up last December, with Andre Lotterer, Nick Tandy and Earl Bamber all getting LMP1 seats. Despite many hoping it would revive its third car entry from 2015, Porsche will only race with two cars at Le Mans once again.

Following Rebellion Racing’s move down to LMP2 means that ByKolles is the only non-factory team racing in the LMP1 class this year, entering one car. Ex-Formula 1 racer Robert Kubica will make his Le Mans debut with the privateer team, being listed as its driver for Le Mans.

The LMP2 grid will feature 10 cars through the WEC season, with a bumper grid of 25 slated for Le Mans. As expected, all the full-season entries will run ORECA chassis.

In GTE Pro, 13 cars were confirmed to be racing at Le Mans, including a full complement of four Ford GTs that combines both the US and European squads, as seen at Daytona last weekend. The biggest talking point here is the signing of rising endurance star Pipo Derani for the first three races, the Brazilian joining Andy Priaulx and Harry Tincknell in the No. 67 Ford GT.

In GTE Am, five cars will take part in the full WEC season, with a grid of 16 set for Le Mans.

The full list for Le Mans, and by extension the FIA WEC, is linked here.

Alexander Rossi’s Grand Prix of Alabama gamble fails to pay off

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Alexander Rossi bobbled for the first time in 2018 with an 11th-place finish in the Honda IndyCar Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park.

And to add insult to injury, Rossi also lost the points lead as a result.

Rossi got off to about as great a start to the season as possible. He finished third at St. Petersburg and sat third in the standings. He finished third again at Phoenix and climbed to second in the points.

Rossi won the Long Beach Grand Prix after starting from the pole and leading 71 laps. That put him at the top of the standings after three races.

Then, as quickly as he climbed to the top, he got knocked down a spot after finishing off the podium for the first time in 2018.

Rossi not only missed the podium, he finished outside the top 10.

“We didn’t get the result that we wanted,” Rossi said after the race. “That remains a mystery. But at the end of the day it was about survival. We couldn’t make the tires last; we couldn’t really get a great fuel number.”

The biggest negative was the one factor that was mostly out of his control. Rossi gambled that he was facing only a brief shower when rain began to fall with about 15 minutes remaining. He was wrong.

“We tried to be pretty aggressive on the dry tires and stay out and survive the rain, hoping it would dry out,” Rossi said. “And it didn’t really work.

“Sometimes you’ll have those days.”