“Prologue” written: Mark Webber and Porsche top two-day WEC test

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The World Endurance Championship seems to be suiting former F1 fan favorite Mark Webber just fine.

Webber, who completed a 12-year run on the Grand Prix circuit last year with Red Bull, has helped Porsche attain top honors in the WEC’s two-day preseason test known as the “Prologue.”

On Friday night at the Circuit Paul Ricard in France, The No. 20 Porsche 919 Hybrid team of Webber, Timo Bernhard and Brendon Hartley set what proved to be the quickest time of the Prologue – a lap of 1:41.289 with Hartley at the controls.

The No. 1 Audi R18 e-tron quattro of Lucas di Grassi, Loic Duval and Tom Kristensen, was quickest on Saturday but with a slower quick time of 1:43.017 that was set in the morning. The final, afternoon session of the Prologue was marked by strong winds and only eight cars took laps in that particular session.

Altogether, the two Porsche squads – the No. 20 and the No. 14 919 Hybrid for Romain Dumas, Neel Jani, and Marc Lieb – turned a total of 614 laps across the two-day run at Paul Ricard. Suffice to say, they were pleased.

“This test here was a big milestone,” Webber said in a statement. “To enter two cars for the first time was a tremendous amount of hard work for the crew on the operational side. Smooth running was a well-deserved award and a good tonic for the guys after a long week.

“Every day we run, we find more areas to improve, which is very encouraging. The track lay-out at Paul Ricard seems to suit our car very well. I’m curious to find out how we can perform in Silverstone.”

The WEC season begins at the venerable British track with a six-hour affair on Sunday, April 20th. The series will visit the U.S. once again at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas later this fall.

Zach Veach splits with Andretti Autosport for rest of IndyCar season

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Zach Veach will be leaving his Andretti Autosport ride with three races remaining in the season, choosing to explore options after the decision was made he wouldn’t return for 2021.

In a Wednesday release, Andretti Autosport said a replacement driver for the No. 26 Dallara-Honda would be named in the coming days. The NTT IndyCar Series will race Oct. 2-3 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and then conclude the season Oct. 25 on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida.

Veach was ranked 11th in the points standings through 11 races of his third season with Andretti. Since a fourth in the June 6 season opener at Texas Motor Speedway, he hadn’t finished higher than 14th.

“The decision was made that I will not be returning in 2021 with Andretti Autosport in the No. 26 Gainbridge car,” Veach said in the Andretti release. “This, along with knowing that limited testing exists for teams due to COVID, have led me to the decision to step out of the car for the remainder of the 2020 IndyCar season. I am doing this to allow the team to have time with other drivers as they prepare for 2021, and so that I can also explore my own 2021 options.

“This is the hardest decision I have ever made, but to me, racing is about family, and it is my belief that you take care of your family. Andretti Autosport is my family and I feel this is what is best to help us all reach the next step. I will forever be grateful to Michael and the team for all of their support over the years. I would not be where I am today if it wasn’t for a relationship that started many years ago with Road to Indy. I will also be forever grateful to Dan Towriss for his friendship and for the opportunity he and Gainbridge have given me.

“My love for this sport and the people involved is unmeasurable, and I look forward to continuing to be amongst the racing world and fans in 2021.”

Said team owner Michael Andretti: “We first welcomed Zach to the Andretti team back in his USF2000 days and have enjoyed watching him grow and evolve as a racer, and a person. His decision to allow us to use the last few races to explore our 2021 options shows the measure of his character.

“Zach has always placed team and family first, and we’re very happy to have had him as part of ours for so many years. We wish him the best in whatever 2021 may bring and will always consider him a friend.”

Andretti fields five full-time cars for Veach, Alexander Rossi, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Marco Andretti and Colton Herta.

It also has fielded James Hinchcliffe in three races this season.