WEC wraps 2013 season in Bahrain, crowns champions

Leave a comment

The FIA World Endurance Championship concluded its second full season this weekend in Bahrain, with some of the championships available decided.

The race first: Toyota dominated and was able to get its second overall win of the year, albeit this was the first under normal circumstances. An absolute deluge of rain at the scheduled Fuji race in October meant the race’s 16 total laps were run almost entirely behind the safety car, and only half points were awarded. Qualifying there made the entire difference as to who was classified as race winners.

Alas, on this Saturday in Bahrain, the No. 8 TS030 Hybrid (shown at Le Mans) took its first win of the year with drivers Anthony Davidson, Stephane Sarrazin and Sebastien Buemi. Retirements by both the sister Toyota, the No. 2 Audi of Tom Kristensen, Allan McNish and Loic Duval and the Rebellion Racing Lola Toyota promoted an LMP2 class car to the overall podium in the form of that class’ winners, G-Drive Racing. The No. 26 Oreca 03 Nissan scored its fourth win in the last five races with drivers Mike Conway, John Martin and Roman Rusinov.

AF Corse took the GTE Pro class win with Gianmaria Bruni and Toni Vilander in the No. 51 Ferrari F458 Italia, and Aston Martin Racing capped off a challenging year for its Danish No. 95 Vantage with a GTE Am class win for the trio of countrymen Christoffer Nygaard, Kristian Poulsen and Nicki Thiim.

Although they retired, the Kristensen/McNish/Duval trio had banked enough points throughout the rest of the eight-race season to win the World Driver’s Championship overall. After racing alongside fellow ex-Formula One shoe Giancarlo Fisichella the other seven races, Bruni was split from his Italian countryman for Bahrain in an effort to ensure one of them won the World Cup for GT Drivers. Bruni took home that honor while a retirement for the No. 97 Aston Martin pairing of Darren Turner and Stefan Mucke cost them a shot.

The trio of Bertrand Baguette, Martin Plowman and Ricardo Gonzalez secured the Trophy for LMP2 Drivers for OAK Racing after a solid, consistent season in their No. 35 OAK Racing Morgan Nissan that included the class win at Le Mans. Lastly Jamie Campbell-Walter and Stuart Hall wrapped up the Trophy for GTE Am Drivers in their No. 96 Aston Martin.

Audi (LMP) and Ferrari (GTE) took home the Manufacturer World Championships, while OAK No. 35 (LMP2), AF Corse No. 51 (GTE Pro) and 8Star Motorsports No. 81 (GTE Am) won FIA Endurance Trophies for teams.

And to answer your next question, no, not everyone who competed in the WEC this year took home a trophy. But there were many pieces of hardware to dole out.

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

Helio Castroneves IMSA IndyCar
IMSA
Leave a comment

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.”