Karam could end up in Ganassi development program

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Sage Karam, the 2013 Firestone Indy Lights Series champion, is still unsure of his official plans for the rest of 2014 beyond his appearance with Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates at the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

But the potential exists, per the Associated Press, he could have a full-season opportunity with CGR for the remainder of the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship.

Ganassi team president Steve Lauletta told the AP’s Jenna Fryer “we’re close” to a second Ford EcoBoost Riley for Karam and Marino Franchitti.

Franchitti’s in the same boat, where his sports car status for the rest of 2014 is yet to be determined beyond Daytona. Franchitti raced the 2013 American Le Mans Series season with Level 5 Motorsports in one of that team’s HPD P2 cars.

As for Karam, a part-time opportunity with Ganassi could be better than a full-time opportunity elsewhere.

With the number of available full-time seats in IndyCar shrinking, and most requiring several million dollars to bring to a seat, Karam could be molded into part of a development program.

Those anoraks who have followed Ganassi’s history might remember the name Alex Lloyd, when it comes to a development program with the team.

Lloyd was as much a victim of timing as anything else, despite his prodigious talent.

He stormed through the 2007 Indy Lights series en route to the title, but was unable to make the full-time jump into IndyCar in 2008 with few seats available to begin with. Additionally, that was the year Champ Car folded into IndyCar, and several teams came in from the opposing series.

Lloyd was signed to a development contract with CGR, but his only race opportunity came in a jointly entered CGR-Rahal Letterman Racing Honda at the Indianapolis 500, as a teammate to Ryan Hunter-Reay.

Come the fall of 2008, Dario Franchitti was named as a replacement for Dan Wheldon in the No. 10 Target car for 2009, and Lloyd’s shot at one of IndyCar’s prime seats had passed.

Lloyd did what he could over the next three years, including winning the 2010 IndyCar series rookie-of-the-year honors and posting a fourth place finish at the Indianapolis 500 in a Dale Coyne Racing entry. But the commercial realities of the sport have sidelined Lloyd since the end of 2011.

He now is an editor-at-large for Yahoo! Autos; those who watched him coming through the ranks are no doubt frustrated he never got a true top-line opportunity in IndyCar.

Toyota No. 8 car wins the 24 Hours of Le Mans for third consecutive year

24 Hours of Le Mans
JEAN-FRANCOIS MONIER/AFP via Getty Images
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LE MANS, France — Toyota Gazoo’s No. 8 car comfortably won the 24 Hours of Le Mans by five laps Sunday to secure a third straight victory in the prestigious endurance race.

It was also a third consecutive win for Swiss driver Sebastien Buemi and Japan’s Kazuki Nakajima driving. Brendon Hartley was the other driver, having replaced two-time Formula One champion Fernando Alonso.

Buemi and Hartley sat on the side of the car as Nakajima drove toward the podium. Hartley won for a second time after tasting success with the Porsche LMP Team in 2017 before an unhappy season in Formula One.

The Swiss team’s Rebellion No. 1 featured American driver Gustavo Menezes and Brazilian Bruno Senna – the nephew of late F1 great Ayrton Senna.

It finished one lap ahead of Toyota Gazoo’s No. 7, with Rebellion’s No. 3 finishing in fourth place.

For much of the race it looked like Toyota’s No. 7 would win after leading comfortably from pole position. But late into the night the car encountered an engine problem and the 30-minute stop in the stands proved costly.

The race was first held in 1923. A total of 252,500 spectators attended in 2019, but there were none this year when the race started three months late because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“We miss the fans,” New Zealander Hartley said. “I look forward to seeing all the fans again.”

In other divisions:

United Autosports won the LMP2 division with the entry of Filipe Albuquerque, Paul Di Resta and Phil Hanson.

–In LMGTE Pro, the victory was claimed by Aston Martin Vantage AMR of Maxime Martin, Alex Lynn and Harry Tincknell (who drives for Mazda in the DPi division of IMSA).

–TF Sport won the LMGTE Am class.

The Toyota No. 7 took pole after former F1 driver Kamui Kobayashi narrowly edged out the Rebellion No. 1 team in qualifying.

In damp and humid conditions Mike Conway got away cleanly from the start, while Senna held off Buemi.

After nearly seven hours, Toyota’s No. 8 fell back after a 10-minute stop in the stands to fix a brake-cooling problem on Kazuki Nakajima’s car. Rebellion’s No. 1, driven by Frenchman Norman Nato, took advantage to move into second place behind Toyota’s No. 7.

Then came the decisive moment at 2:40 a.m. as the No. 7 – also featuring Argentine Jose Maria Lopez – encountered a turbo problem. When the car came back out it was back in fourth.

“We had a few problems early in the race,” Nakajima said. “Later they had a bigger issue than us.”

Rebellion’s No. 1 encountered a problem on the hood at around 9 a.m. and the change took six minutes, allowing the Rebellion No. 3 (Nathanael Berthon-Louis Deletraz-Romain Dumas) to close the gap.

It was becoming a tight battle between the two Rebellion cars behind Toyota’s No. 8.

At 12 p.m. Rebellion No. 3 with Dumas behind the wheel was only one second ahead of No. 1 driven by Menezes. Then both cars came in for a driver change with Deletraz swapping for Dumas on a lengthy stop, and Nato for Menezes as Rebellion No. 1 suddenly moved ahead of its team rival.

Dumas, a winner in 2016 with Porsche, appeared unhappy at the strategy decision to bring his car in first and the length of the stop. There were tense explanations in the team garage.

Colombian Tatiana Calderon, an F1 test driver with Alfa Romeo, was in the Richard Mille Racing Team in the LMP2 category. She was joined by German Sophia Florsch – an F3 driver – and Dutchwoman Beitske Visser. They placed ninth out of 24 in their category.