WEC: Mardenborough, Ordonez and Krumm join Nissan LMP1 line-up

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Jann Mardenborough, Lucas Ordonez and Michael Krumm have been confirmed as the next three drivers for Nissan’s return to the LMP1 class in this year’s FIA World Endurance Championship.

The Japanese manufacturer will be taking on the might of Audi, Toyota and Porsche in the top class of endurance racing in 2015, having confirmed the first three drivers earlier this month.

We now know the identities of the men filling the next three seats in the Nissan LMP1 programme, with both Mardenborough and Ordonez being graduates of the GT Academy that looked to take racers from their PlayStation gamesm console to the race track.

Mardenborough, 23, won the GT Academy competition back in 2011 after beating 90,000 other entrants in the competition that sees racers initially set a time on the Gran Turismo PlayStation game before moving onto the race track.

The Briton has since balanced his racing career in both sportscars and single-seaters, finishing third in the LMP2 class at Le Mans in 2013 and fifth in 2014. He finished ninth in last year’s GP3 championship, but is now set for the step up to LMP1 with Nissan.

“I want to show that there is a different route to the top of motorsport, than just years and years of expensive go karting, by winning at Le Mans,” said Mardenborough, who will race in the #22 car alongside Marc Gene and Harry Ticknell.

“It’s an honour for me to be chosen to compete in LMP1 for Nissan. I have raced at Le Mans twice in LMP2 so I have seen the current LMP1 cars at very close quarters out on the track. To think I will be racing one this year is very exciting. The Nissan GT-R LM NISMO looks set to be a historic race car and I get to drive it!”

Ordonez was the first GT Academy winner back in 2009, and has twice finished on the podium at Le Mans in the LMP2 class. He will race in the third Nissan car in tandem with a full season the Japanese Super GT championship.

“When I received the call telling me I would race the Nissan GT-R LM NISMO and the Nissan GT-R NISMO GT500 it was like winning GT Academy all over again,” Ordonez said. “Last year was incredible, racing in Japan and learning all about the unique racing culture over there. Now I get to race in the top class in Japan and at Le Mans I will jump into the ultimate GT-R.”

Krumm, 44, brings a wealth of experience to the team having raced in GT and sportscars for the past 20 years. He has also been an important part of the Nissan NISMO family, and will race alongside Olivier Pla in the #23.

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.”