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.

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

Helio Castroneves IMSA IndyCar
IMSA
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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.

LOOKING AHEADTeam Penske drivers seeking new rides for 2021

“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.”