1972 Monaco GP winner Jean-Pierre Beltoise has died, age 77

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Beltoise in 1968 in a Matra. Photo: Getty Images

Veteran Grand Prix and motorcycle racer Jean-Pierre Beltoise has died at age 77 while in holiday in Dakar, Senegal of a stroke (French report from l’Equipe here).

Beltoise began as a motorcycle rider for three seasons from 1962 through 1964, before he made his Grand Prix debut in the 1966 German Grand Prix.

He joined the grid full-time in 1968, and Beltoise made it onto the podium for the first time in his eighth Grand Prix, the 1968 Dutch Grand Prix at Zandvoort, when he came second to Jackie Stewart.

The two were teammates at the Matra team a year later in 1969. Beltoise had his best season, with three podium finishes and a fifth place finish in the championship.

Beltoise’s most famous triumph and elusive breakthrough victory came in the 1972 Monaco Grand Prix, driving with BRM. That was his first and only victory in 86 career starts.

He later tested for Ligier and was featured in the Le Mans fictional series “Michel Vaillant,” where he was frequently one of the winning drivers.

A statement from the ACO’s president, Pierre Fillon reads, “One of the great names in French motor sport has left us. Jean-Pierre will forever be remembered as a flamboyant driver who was so proud to fly his country’s colours and take part in the revival of French teams in the 60s and 70s. He wrote his name in some of the most emblematic pages in the history of the Le Mans 24 Hours by giving his all at the wheel of Matras, Ligiers and a Rondeau. Jean-Pierre Beltoise was not only part of the legend of motor sport, but above all he also made a big contribution to writing it!”

Some thoughts have already started coming in, including from the current World Championship-winning Mercedes team.

Helio Castroneves ‘hustling’ for IndyCar, IMSA rides; talking with four to five teams

Helio Castroneves IMSA IndyCar
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As his season gathers steam, Helio Castroneves said his prospects for finding new rides for 2021 in IMSA and IndyCar also are gaining momentum.

The three-time Indianapolis 500 winner said Monday he is optimistic about landing in either or perhaps a combination of both series when Team Penske and Acura end their DPi partnership after this season.

“A lot of people I spoke with, four to five teams, are interested,” Castroneves said. “Whether it’s doing Indy 500 only, whether it’s pushing to do full time or do the sports cars as well. It’s been a very nice conversation.

LOOKING AHEADTeam Penske drivers seeking new rides for 2021

“I have a lot of respect for all the teams that have been talking, and I feel the same feedback. We just have to wait for their (sponsor) connections, and I’m also looking for some connections on my side as well, so hopefully we’ll be able to put this together and get something very soon.”

Given two decades of success with Penske in IndyCar and IMSA, Castroneves’ resume hardly needs burnishing. But the Brazilian has combined with co-driver Ricky Taylor in the No. 7 Acura DPi to win the past two overall victories at Road America and Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.

But Castroneves, who doesn’t have a manager, said he has been working the phones hard rather than wait for the strong results to bring in the calls.

“At this point, I feel like I’m the one who needs to be talking to them because people need to know I want to continue racing and understand my desire,” Castroneves, 45, said. “There is opportunity, no question, in both (IndyCar and IMSA), which I’m really happy about it. However, because of the COVID-19, a lot of things sometimes have to be a little delayed. But I’m excited. Whatever the opportunity and whatever destiny guides me, whether IndyCar or sports cars, trust me I’ll be as happy as it could be and doing my 100 percent like I always did.

“It’s like politics, you need to be out there, good news or bad news. People have to make notice of your presence. I’m hustling. I want to continue to keep it going. Hopefully, we’ll have good news very soon.”

The news has been all good lately on track for Castroneves and Taylor, who hope to continue their run Sunday at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

The No. 6 duo has surged to sixth in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship standings, 10 points out of the lead with four races remaining. After thinking there was “no hope” to be competitive after opening the season with three consecutive poor finishes, Taylor now sees an opportunity for a happy ending.

“With the program going away, Helio has won all the big races and given so much back to the team and left such a mark, he’s really part of Penske history,” Taylor said. “For me, it’s been an opportunity of a lifetime to be a part of it. I’d like to leave my little mark as well. Helio has won everything except for a championship.

“Obviously, we’ve won races already together, but we can win a championship now. I think if both of us can do that together and both win our first championship for ‘The Captain,’ that would be an absolute dream come true, and we can tie a bow on it and be happy.”