Toyota scores 1-2 finish in WEC season opener at Silverstone

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A heavy rain shower at Silverstone ended the 2014 World Endurance Championship season opener almost half an hour early with the two Toyota TS040 Hybrids claiming a 1-2 finish.

The No. 8 Toyota of Sebastien Buemi, Anthony Davidson, and Nicolas Lapierre won the Six Hours of Silverstone by a one-lap margin over the No. 7 of Alex Wurz, Stephane Sarrazin, and Kazuki Nakajima.

Porsche also earned a podium finish in its comeback to top-tier sports car racing, earning a third-place result with its No. 20 919 Hybrid driven by Mark Webber, Timo Bernhard and Brendon Hartley. The No. 20 finished two laps off the pace.

The turning point of the race came in the opening hour. As light rain began to fall, Wurz brought the No. 7 in for service and went on the wet tires, while Buemi in the No. 8 got the intermediate tires.

The inters ultimately allowed Buemi to take control of the lead from Wurz, who spun out and pitted again shortly afterwards.

Meanwhile, both of Audi’s R18 e-tron quattros were forced to leave the race early. Lucas di Grassi crashed the No. 1 Audi in the opening hour, and the team was unable to get it back on the track due to terminal chassis damage.

Then, later in the running, Benoit Treluyer lost control at the Copse corner and wrecked the No. 2 Audi. The Frenchman tried to get the damaged car back to the pits, but was forced to abandon it in the end.

Porsche’s second car, the No. 14, also failed to make the finish. Neel Jani entered the pits after losing the left front wheel on his 919 Hybrid, but after repairs, he was forced to go back with a hydraulic problem that would end the day for that team.

In P2, the No. 26 G-Drive Morgan/Nissan was victorious after a mid-race fight with the No. 47 KCMG Oreca that ended when the latter suffered a 10-second stop and go penalty for speeding on pit road. Olivier Pla ultimately took the No. 26 to a two-lap win over the No. 47.

GTE-Pro honors went to the No. 92 Team Manthey Porsche 911 RSR (Frederic Makowiecki, Marco Holzer and Richard Lietz), which defeated its sister car, the No. 91, for the win.

Aston Martin’s No. 97 finished third in that category, but claimed a 1-2 finish in GTE-Am. The No. 95 Vantage V8 of Kurt Thiim, Kristian Poulsen and David Heinemeier Hansson earned first, while the runner-up went to the No. 98 of Pedro Lamy, Paul Dalla Lana and Christoffer Nygaard.

Andretti Autosport picks James Hinchcliffe for last 3 races of season

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James Hinchcliffe will finish the NTT IndyCar Series season for Andretti Autosport, replacing Zach Veach in the No. 26 Dallara-Honda.

The team made the announcement Friday afternoon that Hinchcliffe will return after racing for Andretti at Texas Motor Speedway, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and the Indianapolis 500.

Hinchcliffe, who also has worked as an IndyCar on NBC analyst and pit reporter, will race in the Oct. 2-3 doubleheader race weekend at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and the Oct. 25 season finale at St. Petersburg, Florida.

“It’s always unfortunate to have to change drivers this far into a season, but we have to look at finishing the year the best we can for the 26 team and start evaluating and looking at options for 2021,” team owner Michael Andretti said in a release. “James has an existing relationship with our team that we’d love to build on and it makes the most sense for him to step in for these last three races. We are looking forward to seeing what he can do.”

Hinchcliffe has a season-best finish of seventh in the Indy 500. He had been working on trying to put together a deal for next season after scrambling to secure a partial schedule this year when he lost his ride at Arrow McLaren SP after 2020 with a year left on his deal.

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“I know, probably better than most, what Zach is feeling right now, and I have to say that he has handled everything about as class act as you can,” Hinchcliffe said. “I’ve known Zach as a teammate, before that as a colleague and even before that as a friend, and he is a guy that I respect in every way. I know he is a fighter and will fight back to where he wants to be.

“For me now, my focus is 100% on racing the Harvest GP and getting the best possible results for Gainbridge, for Honda, for Michael and for the team. I obviously haven’t been on a road course in a while, but at least the last time I was, it was here at IMS! Hopefully that puts us in a good position to go out there and have a strong weekend.”