WEC: Porsche quickest in rain-affected practice sessions

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Porsche managed to make the most of the wet conditions at the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps on Thursday to top both practice sessions ahead of the second round of the 2015 FIA World Endurance Championship this weekend.

On a day marred by wet weather and a heavy accident for Kazuki Nakajima in the no. 1 Toyota, the no. 18 Porsche of Neel Jani, Marc Lieb and Romain Dumas managed to post a fastest lap of 2:16.616 in FP1, finishing half a second clear of the field.

In spite of the accident, the no. 1 Toyota finished second in the final standings ahead of the other two Porsche cars, with the no. 17 finishing ahead of the no. 19 car for third place.

The result was reversed for FP2, though, as Earl Bamber, Nick Tandy and Force India F1 driver Nico Hulkenberg topped the timesheets with a best lap of 2:25.495 despite completing just four laps in the torrential rain.

In LMP2, the no. 42 Strakka Racing car of Nick Leventis, Danny Watts and Jonny Kane topped both sessions ahead of the no. 38 Jota Sport car, which finished second in its first official WEC running of the season.

Porsche’s impressive start to the race weekend at Spa continued in the GTE Pro class, with the no. 91 car of Sven Muller and Kevin Estre finishing fastest in FP1 before its sister 911, the no. 92 of Frederic Makowiecki and Richard Lietz, set the best time in FP2. Aston Martin Racing did manage to get among the Porsches in the second session, as the no. 99 finished second by three-tenths of a second.

In GTE Am, Abu Dhabi Proton Racing continued to fly the Porsche flag high by finishing fastest with its no. 88 car in FP1. AF Corse bounced back in FP2, though, as Francois Perrodo, Emmanuel Collard and Rui Aguas took top spot.

For complete classification of FP1 and FP2, click here.

Qualifying for the 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps takes place on Friday following FP3, with the race being held on Saturday afternoon.

Three-time W Series champ Jamie Chadwick joining Andretti in Indy NXT Series for 2023

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Jamie Chadwick, the three-time W Series champion, will drive for Andretti Autosport in the Indy NXT Series next season.

Chadwick will make her debut in an American racing series in March, driving the No. 28 for Andretti Autosport with sponsorship from DHL. The 24-year-old will become the first female driver in 13 years to compete full time in the Indy NXT championship.

Chadwick joined the female free-to-enter W Series in its inaugural 2019 season, winning two races and the first of three consecutive championships. She has been a reserve driver for the Williams Formula One team and will continue in that role in 2023. She also has driven in the Extreme E Series.

Despite her success, Chadwick hasn’t landed a bigger ride in F3 or F2, and her break didn’t come until Michael Andretti contacted her and offered a test in an Indy NXT car.

The final three races of this year’s W Series schedule were canceled when funding fell through, but Chadwick still believes the all-female series was the right path for her.

“W Series has always been and will continue to be an opportunity to be racing for every female driver, so for my side, I looked at it while perhaps I would have liked to step up maybe earlier, at the same time being able to have that chance to race, get that experience, have that development, seat time… I was constantly learning,” Chadwick told The Associated Press.

“In that sense, I wasn’t frustrated at all. But on the flip side of it, now I’ve had that experience testing in the United States in Indy NXT and this is something I’m really excited about.”

Chadwick also is expected to have an enhanced role as a development driver next season with Williams, which chose American driver Logan Sargeant to fill its open seat on next year’s F1 grid.

“Andretti Autosport is proud to be supporting Jamie alongside DHL,” said Michael Andretti. “Jamie’s successful career speaks for itself, but Indy NXT gives Jamie the opportunity to continue her development in a new type of racing.

“We’ve turned out five Indy NXT champions over the years and look forward to continuing our role in developing new talent.”

Indy NXT is the new name of the rebranded Indy Lights Series, the final step on the ladder system before IndyCar.

Andretti will field two drivers next season in IndyCar that were developed in Indy NXT: Kyle Kirkwood, the 2021 champion, will return to Andretti after one season in IndyCar driving for A.J. Foyt Racing, and Devlin DeFrancesco is back for a second season.

Chadwick will be teammates in Indy NXT with Hunter McElrea and Louis Foster. She becomes Andretti’s second full-time female driver alongside Catie Munnings, who competes for Andretti United in the Extreme E Series.