Report: Austin sports car weekend could be in for changes

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This past September, the American Le Mans Series and FIA World Endurance Championship shared the weekend at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas. But the WEC’s boss wants changes to be made for the 2014 running before he decides to bring his series back to the States.

According to John Dagys of SportsCar 365, Gerard Neveu is asking that his WEC stage a day-to-night event on that Saturday afternoon, while the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship potentially shifts to running earlier that day; in 2013, the ALMS held its race at COTA on Saturday with the WEC following on Sunday.

In his comments to Dagys, Neveu expressed his wishes for a compromise between the WEC and the United series, but noted that he and the other teams in his series were not pleased about the Austin weekend this fall. As Dagys writes, less than 8,000 people out of the overall weekend attendance of 35,000 reportedly took in the WEC’s six-hour event at COTA.

“…Clearly the position of the [Automobile Club de l’Ouest] is to protect the WEC, it’s not to promote another series,” Neveu says. “In all spirits, when we wanted to do a joint venture, it was to make sure it was a successful event for both parties during the weekend.

“This is not the feeling after Austin. This is not the feeling that the paddock had in Austin. This is not the feeling and the feedback we received from our partners and from the FIA.”

Neveu also revealed that discussions are underway between the track and IMSA regarding the weekend’s organization.

Sage Karam, Tony Kanaan fastest in Monday’s practice for Indy 500

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In the second-to-last practice session of the week, Sage Karam paced the 33 drivers qualified for Sunday’s Indianapolis 500 on Monday.

Karam had a field-best speed of 226.461 mph, followed by Tony Kanan (225.123 mph), Ryan Hunter-Reay (224.820), Charlie Kimball (224.582) and Alexander Rossi (224.507).

Sixth through 10th fastest were Will Power (224.445), Helio Castroneves (224.368), Marco Andretti (224.148) and rookie Zachary Claman Demelo (224.91) and Scott Dixon (223.966).

Power and Castroneves ran the most laps of all drivers at 120 and 118, respectively.

Two other Team Penske drivers struggled to get speed out of their cars. Defending Verizon IndyCar Series champion Josef Newgarden was 28th-fastest (221.982 mph) and Simon Pagenaud, who was the slowest (220.902 mph) of the 33 cars on-track.

Pole sitter Ed Carpenter was 14th-fastest with a best speed of 223.573 mph in a 100-lap effort.

Most drivers were in race trim or were testing things for Sunday’s Greatest Spectacle In Racing such as fuel mileage, chassis setup and more.

Rookie Matheus Leist missed most of the session with an apparent electrical problem that kept him to just 19 laps.

There was one incident of note during the 3 ½ hour session: IndyCar rookie Robert Wickens crashed coming out of Turn 2 during the first hour of practice.

Wickens appeared to skim the outside SAFER Barrier, went left and then violently turned hard back into the outside retaining wall.

MORE: Wickens wrecks during Indy 500 practice

The Honda-powered machine for the Canadian driver suffered heavy damage to the right side, particularly the right front tire and the right side of the front end.

There will be no further on-track activity for the Indy cars until Friday’s final practice to fine tune things for Sunday’s 102nd Running of the Indianapolis 500.

We’ll have the full practice speed chart, as well as What Drivers Said, shortly. Please check back soon.

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