Rossi joins 18 F1 drivers on Le Mans grid

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Aspiring American Formula One driver Alexander Rossi (pictured with NBC’s Will Buxton) will join 18 Formula One drivers on the starting grid for the 81st running of the Le Mans 24 Hours.

Rossi will drive a Zytek Z11SN-Nissan run by Greaves Motorsport and backed by the Caterham Formula One team in the LMP2 class. The American driver will drive for Caterham in first practice for the Canadian Grand Prix on Friday before heading to France to prepare for his Le Mans bid. Rossi also races for their team in F1 feeder series GP2.

Several drivers who recently lost their F1 seats will make their first appearances at Le Mans. Kamui Kobayashi, who was dropped by Sauber at the end of 2012, will drive a Ferrari 458 Italia GT car for their AF Corse team.

Lucas di Grassi, who raced for Virgin in 2010 and has tested F1 tyres for Pirelli, will make his Le Mans debut for Audi. The German manufacturer has won the race 11 times in the last 13 years and is bidding for overall honours in the LMP1 category again.

Toyota are likely to provide Audi’s strongest competition and five of their six drivers have F1 experience: Alexander Wurz, Kazuki Nakajima, Anthony Davidson, Sebastien Buemi and Stephane Sarrazin.

Ex-HRT driver Karun Chandhok will return to Le Mans hoping to improve on the impressive sixth place he scored on his debut last year. He drives an Oreca run by Murphy Prototypes in the LMP2 category.

Chandhok’s former team mate Bruno Senna, who lost his seat at Williams at the end of last year, will make his second appearance at Le Mans. Senna drives for Aston Martin in the GT class.

Zach Veach splits with Andretti Autosport for rest of IndyCar season

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Zach Veach will be leaving his Andretti Autosport ride with three races remaining in the season, choosing to explore options after the decision was made he wouldn’t return for 2021.

In a Wednesday release, Andretti Autosport said a replacement driver for the No. 26 Dallara-Honda would be named in the coming days. The NTT IndyCar Series will race Oct. 2-3 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and then conclude the season Oct. 25 on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida.

Veach was ranked 11th in the points standings through 11 races of his third season with Andretti. Since a fourth in the June 6 season opener at Texas Motor Speedway, he hadn’t finished higher than 14th.

“The decision was made that I will not be returning in 2021 with Andretti Autosport in the No. 26 Gainbridge car,” Veach said in the Andretti release. “This, along with knowing that limited testing exists for teams due to COVID, have led me to the decision to step out of the car for the remainder of the 2020 IndyCar season. I am doing this to allow the team to have time with other drivers as they prepare for 2021, and so that I can also explore my own 2021 options.

“This is the hardest decision I have ever made, but to me, racing is about family, and it is my belief that you take care of your family. Andretti Autosport is my family and I feel this is what is best to help us all reach the next step. I will forever be grateful to Michael and the team for all of their support over the years. I would not be where I am today if it wasn’t for a relationship that started many years ago with Road to Indy. I will also be forever grateful to Dan Towriss for his friendship and for the opportunity he and Gainbridge have given me.

“My love for this sport and the people involved is unmeasurable, and I look forward to continuing to be amongst the racing world and fans in 2021.”

Said team owner Michael Andretti: “We first welcomed Zach to the Andretti team back in his USF2000 days and have enjoyed watching him grow and evolve as a racer, and a person. His decision to allow us to use the last few races to explore our 2021 options shows the measure of his character.

“Zach has always placed team and family first, and we’re very happy to have had him as part of ours for so many years. We wish him the best in whatever 2021 may bring and will always consider him a friend.”

Andretti fields five full-time cars for Veach, Alexander Rossi, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Marco Andretti and Colton Herta.

It also has fielded James Hinchcliffe in three races this season.