Le Mans: Nakajima cleared to take part in test day


Kazuki Nakajima has been given the green light to take part in the first official test day ahead of the 2015 24 Hours of Le Mans at the Circuit de la Sarthe on Sunday following his injury at Spa-Francorchamps at the beginning of the month.

Nakajima sustained a fractured vertebra in a crash during practice for the 6 Hours of Spa behind the wheel of the no. 1 Toyota LMP1 car, and was ruled out of the race as a result.

Few expected Nakajima to be fit for Le Mans, with team reserve Kamui Kobayashi being pencilled in as a likely replacement for the race alongside regular drivers Anthony Davidson and Sebastien Buemi.

However, Toyota has confirmed that Nakajima will be taking part in practice on Sunday as originally planned following a swift recovery from injury.

“Kazuki Nakajima will return to the No. 1 TS040 HYBRID on Sunday for the official Le Mans test, the first time he has driven the car since an accident at Spa earlier this month left him with a fractured vertebra,” a statement from the team read.

In a Q&A on Toyota’s website, Nakajima explained how he feels mentally stronger as a result of the accident and that he originally had hoped to still race at Spa.

“Right after accident firstly I thought about the car,” he said. “I was worried about the chassis because we have damaged a couple this year already and if that was another one I would be very disappointed.

“I had some back pain so I was a bit worried about myself. But I could feel my legs so I knew it was not too serious and initially I still hoped to race at Spa. This is my first full season of WEC so I didn’t want to miss the second race.”

Le Mans remained the main target for Nakajima and Toyota, though, as the Japanese marque looks to break Audi’s stranglehold on the famed event and claim victory in what is shaping up to be one of the most unpredictable LMP1 class fights in years.

“I was always thinking that I could drive [at Le Mans],” Nakajima said. “I did have a little pain in my muscles after the operation so I wondered then if it would work out okay.

“But the pain reduced every day and after a few days everything felt basically fine. In a way I think I am stronger now as a driver, certainly I am mentally stronger due to this experience.”

Sunday’s practice will mark the beginning of the two-week long programme at Le Mans, culminating in the the twice-around-the-clock race on June 14-15.

IndyCar releases schedule for 2023 season

IndyCar schedule 2023
Douglas Stringer/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The NTT IndyCar Series’ 2023 schedule will feature the same number of races and tracks as this season with some minor reshuffling of dates.

IndyCar will open the 2023 season March 5 on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida, and will conclude Sept. 10 at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, California. The 107th Indy 500 will take place May 28 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The 17-race schedule will conclude with a stretch of eight races in the final nine weeks.

“The NTT IndyCar Series is on an impactful upward trajectory, making progress at a pace that befits our thrilling style of competition,” Penske Entertainment Corp. president and CEO Mark Miles said in a release. “The 2023 season provides an opportunity to further build on this trend, bringing our sport and its stars to more markets and households and reaching new consumers across the globe.”

There will be 15 events on NBC: 13 races (including six of the final seven) plus Indy 500 qualifying May 20-21. There also are three races on USA Network and the Toronto race exclusively on Peacock. All races on NBC and USA also will have live simulstreams on Peacock.

In partnership with NBC Sports, the 2022 IndyCar season was the most-watched in six years and the most-watched across NBC Sports on record. The 2022 season also was the most streamed season on record.

“We’re very excited for our 2023 NTT IndyCar Series schedule and to build on this past season’s viewership milestones,” NBC Sports vice president of programming Mike Perman said in a release. “In providing comprehensive coverage across NBC, Peacock and USA Network, NBC Sports is once again looking forward to telling the stories of these world-class drivers and this compelling series.”

Notable elements on the 2023 schedule:

–There will be the same balance of seven road course races, five street courses and five ovals.

–St. Pete will be the season opener for the 13th time.

–The Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix will move from Belle Isle to the streets of downtown.

–The NASCAR doubleheader weekend at the IMS road course will shift to mid-August.

–The World Wide Technology Raceway event will move from Saturday to Sunday.

Start times for the 2023 events will be announced at a later date.

Here’s the 2023 IndyCar schedule:

Date Race/Track Network/Platform
Sun., March 5 Streets of St. Petersburg NBC, Peacock
Sun., April 2 Texas Motor Speedway NBC, Peacock
Sun., April 16 Streets of Long Beach NBC, Peacock
Sun., April 30 Barber Motorsports Park NBC, Peacock
Sat., May 13 Indianapolis Motor Speedway (Road Course) NBC, Peacock
Sun., May 28 The 107th Indianapolis 500 NBC, Peacock
Sun., June 4 Streets of Detroit NBC, Peacock
Sun., June 18 Road America USA Network, Peacock
Sun., July 2 Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course USA Network, Peacock
Sun., July 16 Streets of Toronto Peacock
Sat., July 22 Iowa Speedway – Race 1 NBC, Peacock
Sun., July 23 Iowa Speedway – Race 2 NBC, Peacock
Sun., Aug. 6 Streets of Nashville NBC, Peacock
Sat., Aug. 12 Indianapolis Motor Speedway (Road Course) USA Network, Peacock
Sun., Aug. 27 World Wide Technology Raceway NBC, Peacock
Sun., Sept. 3 Portland International Raceway NBC, Peacock
Sun., Sept. 10 WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca NBC, Peacock

*dates and networks/platforms are subject to change