Mazda Road to Indy 2015 schedules released

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The 2015 schedules for the Mazda Road to Indy ladder – Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires, the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires and the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda – will feature an expanded schedule of 16 races with some exciting new venues added to the traditional mix of circuits.

All three series will end with the Pirelli World Challenge season finale at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in September, which will serve as the MRTI trip to the Bay Area after all championships raced at Sonoma Raceway this year. Sonoma is now dropped from the MRTI schedule.

Indy Lights will race at nine venues, including eight race weekends with the Verizon IndyCar Series. Doubleheaders make up a majority of the schedule with all road and street races doubleheaders except for Long Beach; oval races at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Milwaukee Mile and Iowa Speedway are single-race events. Iowa makes its return for Indy Lights in 2015 after a one-year hiatus.

Pro Mazda and USF2000 run similar schedules. They’ll be with IndyCar at St. Petersburg, NOLA, Barber, the Grand Prix of Indianapolis weekend, Toronto and Mid-Ohio. Pro Mazda will also race at Iowa.

The traditional Night Before the 500 at Lucas Oil Raceway will see the Pro Mazda and USF2000 races rebadged as the Freedom 90 and Freedom 75, respectively, and shifted to the afternoon from night.

SCHEDULES

Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires 2015 Schedule

March 27-29      Streets of St. Petersburg, Florida* (1.8-mile street course)
April 17-19	 Streets of Long Beach, California (1.968-mile street course)
April 24-26	 Barber Motorsports Park* (2.38-mile road course)
May 7-9          Indianapolis Motor Speedway* (2.439-mile road course)
May 22           Indianapolis Motor Speedway (2.5-mile oval)
June 12-14       Streets of Toronto, Ontario, Canada* (1.755-mile street course)
July 11-12       The Milwaukee Mile (1.015-mile oval)
July 17-18       Iowa Speedway (.875-mile oval)
July 31-August 2 Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course* (2.258-mile road course)
September 11-13  Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca* (2.238-mile road course)
* Doubleheader Event

Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires 2015 Schedule

March 27-29      Streets of St. Petersburg, Florida* (1.8-mile street course)
April 10-12	 NOLA Motorsports Park* (2.75-mile road course)
April 24-26	 Barber Motorsports Park* (2.38-mile road course)
May 7-9          Indianapolis Motor Speedway* (2.439-mile road course)
May 23           Lucas Oil Raceway (.686-mile oval)
June 12-14       Streets of Toronto, Ontario, Canada* (1.755-mile street course)
July 17-18       Iowa Speedway (.875-mile oval)
July 31-August 2 Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course* (2.258-mile road course)
September 11-13  Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca* (2.238-mile road course)

Cooper Tires Winterfest
February 19/20   NOLA Motorsports Park** (2.75-mile road course)
February 25/26   Barber Motorsports Park** (2.38-mile road course)
** Tripleheader Event

Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda 2015 Schedule

March 27-29      Streets of St. Petersburg, Florida* (1.8-mile street course)
April 10-12	 NOLA Motorsports Park* (2.75-mile road course)
April 24-26	 Barber Motorsports Park* (2.38-mile road course)
May 7-9          Indianapolis Motor Speedway* (2.439-mile road course)
May 23           Lucas Oil Raceway (.686-mile oval)
June 12-14       Streets of Toronto, Ontario, Canada* (1.755-mile street course)
July 31-August 2 Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course** (2.258-mile road course)
September 11-13  Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca* (2.238-mile road course)
* Doubleheader Event
**Tripleheader Event

Cooper Tires Winterfest
February 19/20 NOLA Motorsports Park**(2.75-mile road course)
February 25/26 Barber Motorsports Park** (2.38-mile road course)
** Tripleheader Event

Upcoming tests will take place at Palm Beach International Raceway on December 16/17, the Homestead-Miami Speedway road course on January 26/27 and oval on January 29, NOLA Motorsports Park on February 17/18 and Barber Motorsports Park on February 23/24.

TV

Indy Lights will continue to enjoy one-hour race broadcasts on the NBC Sports Network with primarily same-day coverage as well as live broadcasts on the IMS Radio Network to Sirius XM Satellite Radio, indycar.com, indycarradio.com and the INDYCAR app from Verizon. ESPN International holds the international broadcast rights with races airing in Canada, Colombia, Mexico and Australia amongst others. The popular RoadToIndy.TV will continue to provide behind-the-scenes access to all competitors on the Mazda Road to Indy.

Pro Mazda will visit nine circuits next year with five road course, two street circuit and two oval events while USF2000 contests eight venues with five road course, two street circuit and one oval round. Four one-hour highlight shows on the NBC Sports Network and MOTORS TV in Europe will continue in 2015.

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.