Dennis: McLaren-Honda ready for the challenge ahead

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McLaren CEO Ron Dennis is confident that the team can return to winning ways in 2015 after reforging its famed partnership with Japanese enginer supplier Honda.

McLaren-Honda dominated Formula 1 in the late 1980s and early 1990s, with Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost winning four world titles between them as their rivalry etched itself into the sport’s folklore.

After six years away from F1, Honda has returned in 2015 to exclusively power McLaren, and Dennis is confident that it can take both parties back to the top of the sport despite starting one year after the other engine manufacturers with the new V6 units.

“Honda is a phenomenally committed company and the challenge we face together as we approach the 2015 season is just huge,” he explained. “Our competitors have had one year’s head start, which again amplifies the challenge. The rules and regulations have never been so complex for the power units.

“As we approach this first grand prix, the expectation becomes more intensive. The pressure from our fans, our drivers, our sponsors, the media gets more and more intense, but we are ready for the challenge.”

Said ‘challenge’ is reviving McLaren’s fortunes, with the team not winning a grand prix in over two years and finishing a lowly fifth in the constructors’ champinship in 2014.

Despite the enormity of the task, Dennis believes that the team can aim to win a race in the near future before going on to clinch the first McLaren-Honda championship since 1991 in the coming years.

“I hope to be stood here in the not too distant future celebrating the world championships that I’m very confident we will win together, given some time,” he boldy said.

“The first challenge is to win a first grand prix and, in the short term, compete in Australia and finish with the most competitive result that we can possibly have.”

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.”