Bahrain GP to become a night race in 2014

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The Bahrain Grand Prix is poised to become the second night race in Formula One next season after the construction of floodlights and their testing at the final round of the World Endurance Championship in the kingdom this weekend.

Bahrain’s suitability to host a grand prix has come into question over the past few years due to civil unrest in the wake of the Arab Spring. The protests proved to be so volatile that the race was cancelled in 2011, but since it has managed to go ahead without too many problems. Nevertheless, with attendance figures dwindling, the organizers have opted to make the grand prix a night race in 2014 to mark the tenth anniversary of the first event in Bahrain.

“This is by far the biggest development project we have ever undertaken at the BIC [Bahrain International Circuit] since the circuit was first built,” chief executive Salman bin Isa al-Khalifa explained. “I believe that there can be no better way for us to mark our tenth anniversary in F1 by demonstrating our long term commitment to the sport through this significant investment.”

With this move, the Bahrain Grand Prix becomes the second night race on the calendar, following in the footsteps of the Singapore Grand Prix. However, the location for the latter makes the night race such a draw, and with the circuit in Bahrain failing to impress many drivers or fans, this may be a last roll of the dice for the organizers to see if F1 can make a splash in the Gulf kingdom.

The lighting will first be used during this weekend’s World Endurance Championship finale at Sakhir which is set to end at 9pm local time. Although this could revitalise Formula One in Bahrain, the organizers have an incredibly tough act to follow from Singapore’s unmitigated success since joining the calendar in 2008.

Provisional Indy Lights champion Oliver Askew ready for IndyCar ride

Road to Indy
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Provisional Indy Lights champion Oliver Askew has done nothing but dominate the 2019 season, winning seven of the 16 races run so far and finishing on the podium in all but two of those events.

Now all the 22-year-old Floridian needs to do to formally clinch the 2019 title is simply start the final two races of the season, both of which will be held this weekend at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.

For Askew, his maiden Indy Lights season will likely be one he’ll never forget. 

“It’s been a dream come true,” Askew told NBC Sports. “Being with the championship-winning team from last year, we had a really good shot at winning it again for Andretti Autosport. It’s very rare that we show up to a track and struggle to find speed. 

“That’s a fantastic feeling, especially as a driver. That gave me a lot of confidence and hopes of holding the million dollar check at the end of the year. That was the goal going into it.”

This weekend, Askew will accomplish said goal. The championship will not only bring him a sense of pride, but also the opportunity of a lifetime. 

As an award for being crowned the Indy Lights champion, Askew will be awarded a scholarship that guarantees him entry into a minimum of three NTT IndyCar Series events next year – including the 104th running of the Indianapolis 500. 

Time will only tell which team Askew will race for in IndyCar next season, and whether or not Askew’s rookie campaign will be a full-time or part-time affair, but Askew’s performance during the last few seasons in the Road to Indy system has certainly drawn attention of IndyCar’s top team owners.

In August, Askew had the chance to drive an Indy car for the first time in his career during a test session at Portland International Raceway, driving the No. 9 PNC Bank Honda usually piloted by Scott Dixon.

“It was an opportunity with Chip Ganassi Racing that I was very fortunate to have,” Askew said. “I think with my experience in the past couple of years with Cape Motorsports and this year with Andretti Autosport, going into that test was very helpful.

“Going into the test, it was more of trying to treat it as just another day at the racetrack, when it really wasn’t. It was a fantastic opportunity for me – a great experience – and I hope I can take that into my rookie season next year in IndyCar.” 

The final two races of the 2019 Indy Lights season will take place this weekend on Saturday, September 21 at 6 p.m. ET and Sunday, September 22 at 12:05 p.m. ET. Both races will air live on NBC Sports Gold.

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