Sports cars to star at Indianapolis, Spa this weekend

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The Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps are known more for their open-wheel races than sports car ones. But it’ll be a fleet of prototype and GT cars gracing their hallowed grounds this weekend.

IMS plays host to GRAND-AM’s Rolex Series and Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge on the track’s infield road course, formerly used for Formula One and still used by MotoGP. GRAND-AM was added to the docket last year as part of the inaugural IMS “Super Weekend.” Rolex will run a three-hour race to wrap its three-race North American Endurance Championship, with the Conti series a two-hour, 30-minute affair.

Sebastien Bourdais and Alex Popow (Starworks Motorsport, Daytona Prototype) and Andy Lally and John Potter (Magnus Racing, GT) were the initial Rolex winners, but the race was marred by the second Starworks’ car, driven by Ryan Dalziel and Enzo Potolicchio, taken out by Juan Pablo Montoya in the race.

A year later, Potolicchio bolted from Starworks to start his own team, 8Star Motorsports. He’ll drive one of two Corvette DPs, and has just signed Bourdais to the second. They’re among a field of 16 DPs that also includes Tony Kanaan (Ganassi), Rubens Barrichello (Doran) and AJ Allmendinger (Shank) in one-off entries. Here’s the full Rolex and Conti entry lists.

Meanwhile at Spa, the Blancpain Endurance Series, a popular European championship that features FIA GT3-spec machinery and largely Pro-Am driver lineups, will race the Total 24 Hours of Spa. It’s less heralded than the 24 Hours of Le Mans but still regarded highly by the sports car community.

Consider you have Audi R8s, BMW Z4s, McLaren MP4-12Cs, Nissan GT-Rs, Porsche 911s, Ferrari 458s, Lamborghini LFPs, Mercedes SLS AMG 63s, and Aston Martin Vantages among those racing… and that’s just the first page of the entry list. You can see the full entry list here.

For more information, go to the official race website.

Daniel Ricciardo to decide soon about moving from Red Bull to another F1 team

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LE CASTELLET, France (AP) Daniel Ricciardo says over the next six weeks he wants to decide between staying at Red Bull or joining another Formula One team for next year.

Ricciardo said on Thursday at the French Grand Prix, “It would be nice to go on the summer break knowing what I am doing.”

F1 is working its way toward its three-week break in August with speculation mounting that Mercedes, Ferrari, and McLaren are interested in luring Ricciardo away from Red Bull for 2019.

“I will be honest, everyone is talking about Mercedes and Ferrari as potential places for me to go, and I am aware that there will be interest from other teams,” he said.

The Australian driver has won seven races in his four-plus seasons with Red Bull. He is fourth in the standings behind leader Sebastian Vettel heading into the race at the Paul Ricard Circuit near Marseille.

Ricciardo’s stock has risen in recent months after his victories in Shanghai and Monaco. His Monaco win was particularly impressive because Ricciardo had to deploy some masterful defensive driving to protect his lead after losing an estimated 25 percent of his engine power.

Ricciardo said he had not directly spoken to rivals Ferrari and Mercedes, but he hedged when asked if his manager had.

“People talk, have coffees, I will leave that one open-ended,” he said with a laugh.

Ricciardo called the decision on whether to go or stay with Red Bull the biggest choice of his career following his decision to leave his native Australia and continue his racing career in Europe over a decade ago.

“For sure the priority is to get a car to win the world title because I really believe I can,” he said. “I am slightly careful because it is easy to think the grass is greener and maybe it is, but I also have it pretty good where I am.

“People do like a change but just to make change for the sake of making a change is not enough for me. I need to find some substance behind it to jump ship.”

Red Bull announced recently it would be ending its 12-year partnership with engine-maker Renault and switching to Honda motors for next year.

Ricciardo was hesitant to endorse or criticize the change, saying he was going to “try to keep putting the pieces together if it is a good move.”

But with the question of the engine manufacturer out of the way, Ricciardo said Red Bull would likely be looking to resolve its drivers’ lineup for next year.

“I haven’t been pushed yet, but I would say that there will be some movement in the next week,” he said. “Whether that is something that gets put down on paper (or not), for sure the discussions will start to ramp up in the next few days.”