IMSA: IndyCar rookie Hawksworth to make sports car debut in Brickyard GP

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Verizon IndyCar Series rookie Jack Hawksworth will be facing the unfamiliar and the familiar later this week.

The British pilot, who finished 13th and sixth for Bryan Herta Autosport in yesterday’s Honda Indy Toronto doubleheader, will make his sports car racing debut in Friday’s Brickyard Grand Prix on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.

Hawksworth will join Paul Gentilozzi’s RSR Racing and co-drive the No. 08 ORECA FLM09 with Chris Cumming in Prototype Challenge.

Cumming’s normal co-driver, Alex Tagliani, is serving a one-race suspension from IMSA after his involvement in a practice crash during last month’s TUDOR United SportsCar Championship weekend at Watkins Glen.

The decision to bring in Hawksworth may prove very fruitful for the RSR camp.

While the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series raced at IMS in 2012 and 2013, it was done on a 2.534-mile course that was reconfigured this past winter into its current 14-turn, 2.435-mile form.

Hawksworth starred on the “new” circuit during IndyCar’s Grand Prix of Indianapolis back in May (led 31 laps, finished seventh), and Gentilozzi hopes Hawksworth’s experience will help the team.

“We looked at a number of drivers to fill this seat,” Gentilozzi explained in a release. “We knew we wanted someone with experience at the Indy road course and Jack certainly fit that requirement given his success.

“Given his record, we know he will be fast and will give us 100 percent every time he gets in the car. We are very pleased to have him with us.”

It bears noting that a second driver from May’s GP of Indy will also be taking part in Friday’s event – and in the same class as Hawksworth, no less.

Martin Plowman, who drove this year for A.J. Foyt Racing in both the GP of Indy and the Indianapolis 500, is listed to co-drive the No. 88 Prototype Challenge car for BAR1 Motorsports.

Valtteri Bottas wins chaotic season-opening F1 Austrian Grand Prix

Mark Thompson/Getty Images
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SPIELBERG, Austria — Valtteri Bottas won a chaotic season-opening F1 Austrian Grand Prix while six-time series champion Lewis Hamilton finished fourth after getting a late time penalty Sunday.

The Formula One race was interrupted three times by a safety car, and nine of 20 drivers abandoned, including both Red Bulls of Max Verstappen and Alexander Albon – who tried to overtake Hamilton on the outside with 10 laps left, touched wheels and flew off track.

Hamilton was given a 5-second time penalty for causing the collision, having earlier been hit with a three-place grid penalty after an incident in Saturday’s qualifying was reviewed by stewards.

SHOW OF SUPPORT: Drivers take knee before race

Bottas led all 71 laps in the eighth victory of his career. It was the second consecutive victory in the season opener for the Finn, though he won four months earlier in 2019 after this season’s start was delayed by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Lando Norris of McLaren F1 celebrates after his first podium finish (Mark Thompson/Getty Images).

Bottas started from pole position and Hamilton from fifth, but it looked like a straight fight between the two Mercedes drivers as has been the case so often in recent years.

But late drama in Spielberg ensured otherwise and Hamilton’s time penalty meant Charles Leclerc took second place for Ferrari, and Lando Norris sent McLaren’s garage into raptures – and threw all social distancing rules out of the window amid the euphoria – with third place.

It was the 20-year-old British driver’s first career podium, and his superb final lap was the fastest of a dramatic season opener.

Norris became the youngest British driver to secure a podium finish and the third-youngest ever in Formula One.

Valtteri Bottas leads Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton during the Formula One Grand Prix of Austria (Mark Thompson/Getty Images).