Nissan LMP1 drivers cut their teeth in Nurburgring 24 Hours and Imola ELMS

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Five of the nine drivers that are set to make their Nissan LMP1 debuts at next month’s 24 Hours of Le Mans cut their teeth at Imola and the Nurburgring over what was a busy weekend in the endurance racing world.

A bumper field of 151 cars took to the Nurburgring’s Nordschleife layout on Saturday afternoon for one of the most fearsome 24 hour races in motorsport, with Audi’s no. 28 car emerging victorious by 40 seconds ahead of the Marc VDS Racing no. 25 BMW.

Nissan enjoyed a particularly fruitful race as three of its LMP1 drivers drove in the no. 35 car for the twice-around-the-clock event. Lucas Ordonez, Michael Krumm and Alex Buncombe ran alongside Super GT racer Kazuki Hoshino en route to ninth place overall, marking the Japanese marque’s best result in recent years.

“We had a very straightforward race,” team boss Bob Neville said. “After the initial single stints the drivers all did doubles and didn’t put a foot wrong. We were pretty cautious during the night when it was raining and this worked out well for us.

“The car ran like clockwork and it is always good to be able to say that the car didn’t need any repairs during the race. I’m very pleased with my team and very happy to take such a good finish here.”

Imola played host to the second round of the 2015 European Le Mans Series season on Sunday, with Nissan’s Harry Ticknell claiming a podium finish in the no. 38 Jota Sport car in the LMP2 class. The race was won by Thiriet by TDS Racing’s no. 46 car, piloted by Pierre Thiriet, Ludovic Badey and Tristan Gommendy.

Another Nissan LMP1 driver, Mark Shulzhitskiy, made his debut for Lanan Racing in LMP3 where he finished third in class.

The quintet will now be turning their attention to Nissan’s LMP1 racing bow at Le Mans, which is less than one month away and promises to be yet another thrilling event.

Provisional Indy Lights champion Oliver Askew ready for IndyCar ride

Road to Indy
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Provisional Indy Lights champion Oliver Askew has done nothing but dominate the 2019 season, winning seven of the 16 races run so far and finishing on the podium in all but two of those events.

Now all the 22-year-old Floridian needs to do to formally clinch the 2019 title is simply start the final two races of the season, both of which will be held this weekend at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.

For Askew, his maiden Indy Lights season will likely be one he’ll never forget. 

“It’s been a dream come true,” Askew told NBC Sports. “Being with the championship-winning team from last year, we had a really good shot at winning it again for Andretti Autosport. It’s very rare that we show up to a track and struggle to find speed. 

“That’s a fantastic feeling, especially as a driver. That gave me a lot of confidence and hopes of holding the million dollar check at the end of the year. That was the goal going into it.”

This weekend, Askew will accomplish said goal. The championship will not only bring him a sense of pride, but also the opportunity of a lifetime. 

As an award for being crowned the Indy Lights champion, Askew will be awarded a scholarship that guarantees him entry into a minimum of three NTT IndyCar Series events next year – including the 104th running of the Indianapolis 500. 

Time will only tell which team Askew will race for in IndyCar next season, and whether or not Askew’s rookie campaign will be a full-time or part-time affair, but Askew’s performance during the last few seasons in the Road to Indy system has certainly drawn attention of IndyCar’s top team owners.

In August, Askew had the chance to drive an Indy car for the first time in his career during a test session at Portland International Raceway, driving the No. 9 PNC Bank Honda usually piloted by Scott Dixon.

“It was an opportunity with Chip Ganassi Racing that I was very fortunate to have,” Askew said. “I think with my experience in the past couple of years with Cape Motorsports and this year with Andretti Autosport, going into that test was very helpful.

“Going into the test, it was more of trying to treat it as just another day at the racetrack, when it really wasn’t. It was a fantastic opportunity for me – a great experience – and I hope I can take that into my rookie season next year in IndyCar.” 

The final two races of the 2019 Indy Lights season will take place this weekend on Saturday, September 21 at 6 p.m. ET and Sunday, September 22 at 12:05 p.m. ET. Both races will air live on NBC Sports Gold.

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