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.

IndyCar disappointed by delay of video game but aiming to launch at start of 2024

IndyCar video game 2024

An IndyCar executive said there is “absolutely” disappointment that its long-awaited video game recently was delayed beyond its target date, but the series remains optimistic about the new title.

“Well, I don’t know how quick it will be, but the whole situation is important to us,” Penske Entertainment president and CEO Mark Miles said during a news conference Monday morning to announce IndyCar’s NTT title sponsorship. “Motorsport Games has spent a lot of money, a lot of effort to create an IndyCar title. What we’ve seen of that effort, which is not completely obvious, is very reassuring.

“I think it’s going to be outstanding. That’s our shared objective, that when it is released, it’s just widely accepted. A great credit both to IndyCar racing, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, something that our fans love.”

In June 2021, IndyCar announced a new partnership with Motorsport Games to create and distribute an IndyCar video game for the PC and Xbox and PlayStation consoles in 2023.

But during an earnings call last week, Motorsport Games said the IndyCar game had been delayed to 2024 to ensure high quality.

Somewhat compounding the delay is that IndyCar’s license for iRacing expired after the end of the 2022 season because of its exclusive agreement with Motorsport Games.

That’s resulted in significant changes for IndyCar on iRacing, which had provided a high-profile way for the series to stay visible during its 2020 shutdown from the pandemic. (Players still can race an unbranded car but don’t race on current IndyCar tracks, nor can they stream).

That’s helped ratchet up the attention on having a video game outlet for IndyCar.

“I wish we had an IndyCar title 10 years ago,” said Miles, who has been working with the organization since 2013. “We’ve been close, but we’ve had these I think speed bumps.”

IndyCar is hopeful the Motorsports Game edition will be ready at the start of 2024. Miles hinted that beta versions could be unveiled to reporters ahead of the time “to begin to show the progress in a narrow way to make sure we’ve got it right, to test the progress so that we’re ready when they’re ready.”

It’s been nearly 18 years since the release of the most recent IndyCar video game for console or PC.

“(We) better get it right,” Miles said. “It’s something we’re very close to and continue to think about what it is to make sure we get it over the line in due course.”