GP2: Caterham Racing sold to Status Grand Prix

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Former Caterham F1 Team owner Tony Fernandes has sold his final interest in single seater racing today after confirming that Status Grand Prix will be taking over the Caterham Racing GP2 team.

Fernandes had established his GP2 racing team back in 2010, and elected to retain it whilst selling the F1 operation and facility earlier this year.

Despite Caterham F1 Team and Caterham Racing sharing a name, color scheme and even base in Leafield, England, there was actually no connection between the outfits once the F1 team had been sold to a consortium back in July.

When the F1 team’s facility was visited by bailiffs earlier this month, the GP2 team moved to make clear that it was not affected by any financial issues and was continuing to race with drivers Rio Haryanto and Pierre Gasly.

However, it seems Fernandes was still looking to offload the operation, and today confirmed that he had agreed a deal with Status Grand Prix which currently races in GP3.

“I would like to say that this announcement is very positive for us and Status Grand Prix,” Fernandes said. “We have built a strong GP2 team with excellent personnel over the last four years, and we can be proud of the multiple race wins and podiums we have achieved in the series.

“Following in-depth discussions with Status Grand Prix, we have reached an agreement that will strengthen and secure the future of the GP2 team. I would like to thank Bruno Michel and the GP2 Series for four successful years and wish Status Grand Prix the best of luck for the future.”

“Status Grand Prix has been part of the GP2 family for five years and, having been multiple race winners in GP3, we have always had the ambition to move up into the senior formula when the time is right,” Status team boss Teddy Yip said. “The opportunity to take over an established and highly-regarded team such as Caterham Racing makes that time now.

“I would like to thank Tony Fernandes and Mia Sharizman at Caterham Racing for their constructive approach to this agreement, and Bruno Michel [CEO] at GP2 for his valuable support during the negotiations.”

Caterham Racing will remain under its current guise for the final round of the season in Abu Dhabi, retaining its drivers before rebranding for the beginning of the 2015 GP2 campaign. The team will also relocate from Leafield to Silverstone.

This sale means that Fernandes’ only remaining racing interest comes in Moto 2 (Moto GP’s feeder series), where he owns the Air Asia Caterham motorcycle racing team.

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.