IndyCar: Martin Plowman to kick off GP of Indy week with charity go-kart race

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Martin Plowman will make his return to the Verizon IndyCar Series this weekend in the No. 41 Alfe Heat Treating Honda for A.J. Foyt Racing at the Grand Prix of Indianapolis. But first, he’ll be kicking off the weekend on Wednesday with a charity event for a good cause.

Plowman, who has worked with the Snowball Express charity for children of fallen military heroes for several years (since 2011), and fiancee Nicole Pollard have organized a charity go-kart race at Fastimes Indoor Karting on Wednesday night. All proceeds from the event go to Snowball Express.

It’s a two-and-a-half hour endurance kart race with nine teams. A mix of athletes from the NFL and IndyCar will be in attendance. Those NFL players coming from the Indianapolis Colts include Pat McAfee, Dwayne Allen, Matt Overton, Anthony Heygood and Ryan Baker.

Meanwhile the IndyCar contingent in attendance include rookie Jack Hawksworth, Indy Lights driver and the very similarly named Jack Harvey, and Indy Lights veteran and current off-road truck racer Arie Luyendyk Jr.

Plowman, who won the 2013 FIA World Endurance Championship LMP2 Driver’s Championship and the 24 Hours of Le Mans driving for OAK Racing, makes his first IndyCar start since 2011 this weekend. He’ll also compete in the No. 41 ABC Supply Co. Honda for the Indianapolis 500. He competed in three IndyCar races (Mid-Ohio, Sonoma, Baltimore) in 2011.

More information is available here, via Plowman’s official website.

Sebastien Ogier in driver’s seat for sixth straight World Rally Championship title

Sebastien Ogier leads the way in the WRC title chase. Photo: Getty Images
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COFFS HARBOUR, Australia (AP) — Thierry Neuville finished the sixth stage of Rally Australia on Friday without a rear left tire, damaging his chances of catching five-time defending champion Sebastien Ogier for the World Rally Championship title.

The Belgian driver entered the rally just three points behind Ogier in the closest title fight in 15 years.

He held the upper hand on his French rival, building a near-10 second gap through the first five stages at Coffs Harbour before hitting a chicane and finishing the stage with only three tires on his Hyundai.

Neuville was fortunate the puncture occurred late enough in the day to finish all six forestry stages and avoid a retirement. But the mistake cost him 40 seconds and gave Ogier, who is 33 seconds ahead of him, a clear run at his sixth straight championship.

In his last start with Ford before a move to Citroen next year, Ogier struggled as the first to drive the dusty, slippery forest routes.

“I pushed like crazy, I was on the limit over the jump and everywhere, I can’t do (any) more,” Ogier said. “I was on the limit.”

With Ogier on sweeping duties the back markers flourished, and Mads Ostberg took the lead in his return to the series.

Ostberg was forced to miss the previous round in Spain to make way for rally winner and nine-time world champion Sebastien Loeb, who was making the last of his three guest appearances for Citroen.

Now back in the seat, Ostberg leads Jari-Matti Latvala by 6.8 seconds in the Australian rally, with sixth-stage winner Craig Breen in third.

Ogier was seventh, 38.2 seconds off the pace, but only needs to finish ahead of Neuville to claim the championship title. Neuville is in 10th place after six stages.

Roles will reverse on Saturday, with Ogier to start further back in the field and do his best on cleaner roads to make up the day-one deficit before Sunday’s final stages.

Andreas Mikkelsen, the 2016 Rally Australia champion, was an early dropout after rolling into a ditch in his Hyundai. Mikkelsen had only just avoided a tractor that had found its way onto the course.

Former winner Molly Taylor and co-driver Malcolm Read were also forced out of their event when their Subaru hit a hay bale at high speed on the morning’s second stage. Both reported soreness but suffered no serious injuries.

The 24-stage rally totals 319 kilometers (197 miles). Ten stages are scheduled Saturday with the final six on Sunday, most of them through forests on the New South Wales state’s north coast about 530 kilometers (325 miles) north of Sydney.