Audi Sport

Bonanomi takes Rossiter’s Le Mans seat at ByKolles

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The ByKolles LMP1 team has confirmed that Marco Bonanomi will join its line-up for the 24 Hours of Le Mans after James Rossiter was forced to withdraw from the event due to clashing commitments.

Rossiter raced in the opening two rounds of the FIA World Endurance Championship season alongside Oliver Webb and Dominik Kraihamer, the trio finishing sixth overall at Spa last month in the ENSO CLM P1/01 car.

However, Rossiter has been forced into testing a Super GT car for Toyota over the Le Mans weekend and is unable to race, with Audi factory driver Bonanomi taking his place.

“We deeply regret that James had to call off his participation at Le Mans just to attend a test in Japan,” ByKolles director of racing operations Boris Bermes said.

“We had to find a replacement on short notice. In Marco Bonanomi, we found a very fast and experienced LMP1 driver. Marco already was racing on the highest level at Le Mans as an Audi factory driver three times.

“During our test in Spa-Francorchamps last week, we were convinced by his unsurpassed qualities and we could make further progress with our car. We will be well positioned at Le Mans in regards to technic and drivers.”

“I am very happy that I am allowed to climb into the ByKolles Racing car for the best and most important race of the year,” said Bonanomi, who last raced at Le Mans in 2015.

“In the course of my career, the participation in the 24 Hours of Le Mans was always a dream. Being on the podium at my debut in 2012 will stay in my memory forever.

“This race has so much history and holds a great fascination. You can feel the atmosphere in the cockpit and soak it up literally.

“I would like to thank the team for giving me this chance. I cannot wait to race a LMP1 car at the Sarthe again.”

Ferrari teammates Vettel and Raikkonen fastest in rainy final practice at Australian GP

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MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Ferrari drivers Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen went one-two in the final practice session ahead of qualifying at the water-logged Australian Grand Prix on Saturday.

Vettel set a best-lap time of 1 minute, 26.067 seconds, more than 2.4 seconds faster than his teammate in second.

Both Ferrari drivers switched from their intermediate tires to the super-fast, ultra-soft tires for the final few laps of the session, testing conditions on the track after a day-long downpour left it slick and filled with small puddles.

Mercedes drivers Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton did not opt to try out their soft tires, sticking to the intermediates for the entire session. They had the seventh- and eighth-fastest times, after topping the leaderboard in practice in dry conditions on Friday.

The heavy rains subsided by early afternoon, allowing the track to rapidly dry during the third practice session and making conditions safe for drivers to test their soft tires.

Still, only a few drivers completed a timed lap with the softer compounds, with Mercedes, Red Bull and most of the others staying with their intermediates.

Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson had the third-fastest time of the session on ultrasoft tires, followed by Red Bull’s Max Verstappen on intermediates.

Hamilton remains the favorite to capture his fifth straight pole position at the Australian Grand Prix in qualifying later Saturday. He had the fastest laps on ultrasoft tires in the two practice sessions on Friday, though Verstappen was right behind him.

Verstappen and Vettel both slid on the slick track early in the third practice session, but maintained control and completed their runs without incident.

Verstappen’s teammate, Daniel Ricciardo, had the sixth-fastest time of the session. The Australian’s chances of winning his fifth career Grand Prix on his home track in Melbourne took a hit late Friday when he was assessed a three-place grid penalty for Sunday’s race.

The Australian driver was penalized for driving too fast under red-flag conditions during Friday’s second practice session because of debris on the track.