Le Mans: GTE stunners and spoilers

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We’re taking a look through the field ahead of this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans at the manufacturers and teams entered. Next up is GTE, with both the GTE-Pro and GTE-Am classes (race action from 2014 pictured right).

ENTRY LIST

GTE-Pro: What the class lacks in manufacturer diversity it still has in quality. We say this every year seemingly, but take your pick of a Ferrari, Aston Martin, Porsche or Corvette.

  • AF Corse Ferrari: The defending class champions of Vilander, Bruni and Fisichella will be going for broke once again. Rigon, Calado and Beretta seek to upend their more successful teammates, or at least provide rear gunner support.
  • Corvette Racing: Corvette got back to P2 last year with the C7.R in its race debut, and nothing less than a win is the goal this year. If Magnussen, Garcia and Briscoe pull it off, they’ll be a perfect three-for-three at Daytona, Sebring and Le Mans, and the story that could provide is an incredible one. But I’m sure Mssrs. Gavin, Milner and Taylor would like a win themselves…
  • Porsche Team Manthey: With the focus on the overall win for Porsche, it remains to be seen whether the factory GTE program will suffer any. Still very good lineups and preparation, and while a win wouldn’t be a surprise, they’re not the first pick this year.
  • Aston Martin Racing: Three all-pro lineups and the lone three-car entry in class does give Aston Martin a much better fighting chance than it had a year ago. Still, the veteran trio of Turner, Mucke and Bell is the team’s best bet above either of the young guns in the Nos. 95 and 99 car. Consider Aston the Audi of GTE-Pro, with one veteran trio and two cars with young chargers.

GTE-Am: Ferrari, Porsche and Aston are joined by the full-season Larbre Corvette, back in the class after a year’s hiatus, and the SRT Viper, now a privateer effort and also back after a year’s hiatus.

  • Larbre Competition: Larbre went back-to-back in the first two Le Mans with GTE-Am in 2011 and 2012, and with a great GTE-Am lineup of Roda, Ruberti and past Le Mans winner Poulsen, this car should contend in the Corvette C7.R’s class debut.
  • Riley Motorsports-TI Automotive: Bound to be a fan favorite, the ground-pounding V10 Viper will be in good hands with Bill Riley leading the charge and another very good for GTE-Am lineup of Bleekemolen, Keating and Miller.
  • AF Corse: AF is the favorite in GTE-Pro… it is not in GTE-Am. Other than Matt Griffin in the No. 55 car and Emmanuel Collard in the No. 83 car, it’s less than stellar lineups across the board in the team’s three cars.
  • Scuderia Corsa: A lineup of Townsend Bell, Jeff Segal and Bill Sweedler pushes the limit of what should be legal in GTE-Am, which is to say Giacomo Mattioli and his team have given themselves the best possible opportunity to win in their race debut.
  • JMW Motorsport: Always one of the sneakier entries in class because the Jim McWhirter-led team has a propensity to punch above its weight. This year should be no different with a very solid trio of Kuba Giermaziak, Michael Avenatti and Abdulaziz Al Faisal.
  • Team AAI: The surprise team with two cars via Asian Le Mans Series automatic entries, it will be a surprise if either of these Porsches factor in the class.
  • SMP Racing: While SMP’s two P2 cars don’t have a realistic shot, this one could be decent in GTE-Am. Watch Andrea Bertolini in his stints.
  • Dempsey Racing-Proton: Dempsey’s single focus on the WEC and Le Mans this year will guide this team’s ultimate result. He’s had two races to prep in Europe, compared to being a U.S.-based entrant just coming over now. Long and Seefried will be fine but it’s how Dempsey stacks up against the fellow Bronze drivers that likely will determine the finish.
  • Abu Dhabi-Proton Racing: Of four Porsches in class, this is likely one with the best chance of a result. Ried, Al Qubaisi and Bachler is a solid GTE-Am lineup.
  • Aston Martin Racing: We come last to the defending GTE-Am winners. The team’s No. 98 car must be considered favorite with a gaudy GTE-Am lineup of Lamy, Dalla Lana and Lauda. The sister No. 96 car has potential but is not as strong on paper.

Indianapolis Motor Speedway can have 10,000 fans for IndyCar races

Indianapolis Motor Speedway fans
Jamie Squire/Getty Images
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Indianapolis Motor Speedway will have crowds for its NTT IndyCar Series race weekend next month, the first time fans are allowed at the track this year.

The track announced Friday that up to 10,000 fans will be allowed in the grandstands daily from Oct. 1-4. The IndyCar Harvest GP race doubleheader will be held on the track’s road course Oct. 2-3.

IMS has played host to several events this year without fans, including the 104th Indianapolis 500 on Aug. 23 and a NASCAR-IndyCar weekend July 4-5 that included the Brickyard 400. Plans originally were made to have fans at the Indy 500 before reversing course a few weeks ahead of the race. In a letter last month, Roger Penske vowed that fans would return for the 2021 Indy 500.

“We can’t wait to see fans come through our gates for the first time in 2020,” IMS president Doug Boles said in a release. “They’ll be greeted by a vastly improved facility, featuring significant upgrades to the spectator experience. We’re also extremely grateful to have a presenting sponsor with the expertise and resources of GMR as we look to implement our detailed and comprehensive health and safety plan.”

Fans will undergo temperature screenings upon entry and also be required to wear face coverings at all times on property. The track said each attendee will receive a mask and bottle of hand sanitizer.

The Friday, Oct. 2 race will be shown at 3:30 p.m. ET on USA, and NBC will broadcast the Saturday, Oct. 3 race at 2:30 p.m. ET.

Here’s the release from Indianapolis Motor Speedway:

INDIANAPOLIS, Friday, Sept. 18, 2020 – For the first time in 2020, Indianapolis Motor Speedway will welcome fans to the Racing Capital of the World for the INDYCAR Harvest GP presented by GMR weekend. Up to 10,000 spectators can be in the grandstands each day of racing action Oct. 1-4, per approval from the Marion County Public Health Department.

Tickets are available now via IMS.com and will be sold on a first-come, first-served basis.

The massive facility, which holds more than 300,000 people, will provide two spectator zones with up to 5,000 fans in each. The zones will be located in Turns 1 and 4 of the oval, offering strong sightlines of the road course. Strict health and safety rules will be in place, including the following:

  • Face coverings must be worn throughout the property at all times;
  • All fans will receive temperature screenings before gate entry;
  • Grandstand seats will be marked for distancing;
  • Attendees must use pre-assigned gates and remain in their designated zones.

Global Medical Response, the world leader in compassionate, quality emergency medical and patient relocation services, will be the presenting sponsor of the penultimate weekend of INDYCAR racing this season.

“We can’t wait to see fans come through our gates for the first time in 2020,” IMS President J. Douglas Boles said. “They’ll be greeted by a vastly improved facility, featuring significant upgrades to the spectator experience. We’re also extremely grateful to have a presenting sponsor with the expertise and resources of GMR as we look to implement our detailed and comprehensive health and safety plan.”

The plan, which includes each attendee receiving a mask and a bottle of hand sanitizer upon entering the track, was developed in consultation with state and local health officials.

This event weekend is highlighted by an NTT INDYCAR SERIES doubleheader, with races Friday, Oct. 2 and Saturday, Oct. 3. It will be the penultimate event of the series’ season as the field pursues the champion’s prestigious Astor Challenge Cup to be awarded Sunday, Oct. 25 at the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

The INDYCAR Harvest GP will pay tribute to a storied IMS event, the Harvest Classic in September 1916. The Harvest Classic was the only racing event held outside of May at IMS from 1911 through 1993. The event featured three races, all won by legendary driver Johnny Aitken.

Fans also will see a host of facility improvements during the event weekend, including more than 30 new LED video boards, refreshed concession stands and restrooms, and 5G wireless connectivity throughout the facility.

The first race will air at 3:30 p.m. (ET) Friday, Oct. 2 on the USA Network. NBC will broadcast the second race at 2:30 p.m. (ET) Saturday, Oct. 3, with WTHR-13 airing the action live in Central Indiana.

Also racing that weekend will be the first pairing of two major sports car series — the Intercontinental GT Challenge Powered by Pirelli and its North American counterpart, GT World Challenge America Powered by AWS. Former Indianapolis 500 pole winner Ryan Briscoe is among the drivers in the Indianapolis 8 Hour event held Sunday, Oct. 4.

The event also will showcase drivers in SRO America’s Pirelli GT4 America, GT Sports Club America and the TC America series.

The full on-track schedule is available at IMS.com.