Chandhok unconcerned by future of Indian GP

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The president of the Federation of Motor Sports Clubs of India, Vicky Chandhok, is not concerned about the future of the Indian Grand Prix despite the race being axed from the 2014 calendar.

Earlier this week, Bernie Ecclestone confirmed that the race held at Buddh International Circuit had been axed for 2014, citing issues with taxation as being the reason behind its postponement. However, he also stated that the race would return in 2015 towards the beginning of the calendar, and Chandhok explained how this was the original plan.

“Other countries are also vying to host F1 races. And it is not easy to get a race. In 2000, I’d said we would try to host a race. We finally succeeded in 2011, thanks to JPSI. The number of races may go up in 2014, and that’s why we will not host the 2014 race,” Chandhok told DNA India.

“Initially, when the calendar was planned, the Indian GP was slotted in the early part of the year and clubbed with other races in the region like Malaysia, China, Bahrain and Australia. But the BIC [Buddh International Circuit] was ready, and that is why we hosted the race in October 2011.”

Therefore, the race needed to revert to the beginning of the calendar in the near future, but this could only happen with the circuit missing a year.

“Now again, they are looking at having the Indian GP early in the year. To have a race in October 2014 and then early in 2015 is not feasible financially and logistically,” Chandhok explained. “That’s why the 2014 race was cancelled and the contract signed — originally for 2011 to 2015 — will be extended to 2016. Yes, Malaysia did host races but they have ample government support as they see huge benefits in them.”

Therefore, the Indian Grand Prix’s future appears to be secure despite attendance figures falling in the past two years, prompting the promoters to slash ticket prices to as little as $32 for three days.

Helio Castroneves ‘hustling’ for IndyCar, IMSA rides; talking with four to five teams

Helio Castroneves IMSA IndyCar
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As his season gathers steam, Helio Castroneves said his prospects for finding new rides for 2021 in IMSA and IndyCar also are gaining momentum.

The three-time Indianapolis 500 winner said Monday he is optimistic about landing in either or perhaps a combination of both series when Team Penske and Acura end their DPi partnership after this season.

“A lot of people I spoke with, four to five teams, are interested,” Castroneves said. “Whether it’s doing Indy 500 only, whether it’s pushing to do full time or do the sports cars as well. It’s been a very nice conversation.

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“I have a lot of respect for all the teams that have been talking, and I feel the same feedback. We just have to wait for their (sponsor) connections, and I’m also looking for some connections on my side as well, so hopefully we’ll be able to put this together and get something very soon.”

Given two decades of success with Penske in IndyCar and IMSA, Castroneves’ resume hardly needs burnishing. But the Brazilian has combined with co-driver Ricky Taylor in the No. 7 Acura DPi to win the past two overall victories at Road America and Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.

But Castroneves, who doesn’t have a manager, said he has been working the phones hard rather than wait for the strong results to bring in the calls.

“At this point, I feel like I’m the one who needs to be talking to them because people need to know I want to continue racing and understand my desire,” Castroneves, 45, said. “There is opportunity, no question, in both (IndyCar and IMSA), which I’m really happy about it. However, because of the COVID-19, a lot of things sometimes have to be a little delayed. But I’m excited. Whatever the opportunity and whatever destiny guides me, whether IndyCar or sports cars, trust me I’ll be as happy as it could be and doing my 100 percent like I always did.

“It’s like politics, you need to be out there, good news or bad news. People have to make notice of your presence. I’m hustling. I want to continue to keep it going. Hopefully, we’ll have good news very soon.”

The news has been all good lately on track for Castroneves and Taylor, who hope to continue their run Sunday at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

The No. 6 duo has surged to sixth in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship standings, 10 points out of the lead with four races remaining. After thinking there was “no hope” to be competitive after opening the season with three consecutive poor finishes, Taylor now sees an opportunity for a happy ending.

“With the program going away, Helio has won all the big races and given so much back to the team and left such a mark, he’s really part of Penske history,” Taylor said. “For me, it’s been an opportunity of a lifetime to be a part of it. I’d like to leave my little mark as well. Helio has won everything except for a championship.

“Obviously, we’ve won races already together, but we can win a championship now. I think if both of us can do that together and both win our first championship for ‘The Captain,’ that would be an absolute dream come true, and we can tie a bow on it and be happy.”