Jani retains pole at Le Mans, while No. 63 Corvette withdrawn from race


LE MANS, France – With no major changes on Thursday, the grid for Saturday’s 83rd running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans doesn’t look too different from how it did after Wednesday.

Neel Jani’s new lap record of 3:16.887 in the No. 18 Porsche 919 Hybrid is now set as the pole position time, in the car he’ll share with Romain Dumas and Marc Lieb.

None of the three other class pole positions changed, either. Richard Bradley (LMP2, No. 47 KCMG Oreca 05 Nissan), Richie Stanaway (GTE-Pro, No. 99 Aston Martin Vantage V8) and Pedro Lamy (GTE-Am, No. 98 Aston Martin Vantage V8) retained their poles from Wednesday.

The biggest moment of drama on the day came during the second qualifying session when Jan Magnussen had a mechanical issue that took him into the barriers exiting Porsche Curves.

Sadly, the Corvette Racing team confirmed the withdrawal of the No. 63 Corvette C7.R late Thursday night as the damage was not repairable on-site. It denies Magnussen, Antonio Garcia and Ryan Briscoe a chance to win at Daytona, Sebring and Le Mans in the same year.

“We are thankful that Jan has been checked and released by the ACO medical staff,” said Mark Kent, Director of Chevrolet Racing. “We are disappointed that the No. 63 Corvette C7.R will be unable to compete at Le Mans this year. The Corvette Racing team put a lot of work into two C7.Rs for this event, and unfortunately only one will be in the race.”

IndyCar’s season finale at St. Pete approved to have 20,000 fans

IndyCar St. Pete fans
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The NTT IndyCar Series’ season finale will be permitted up to 20,000 fans, making the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg possibly the circuit’s most well-attended race of 2020. The race originally was scheduled as the season opener before being moved to Oct. 25 because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

IndyCar has enjoyed limited crowds at Road America, Iowa Speedway, Gateway, Mid-Ohio and this weekend’s doubleheader races at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course, which could have up to 10,000 fans in attendance. That had been the largest maximum grandstand crowd for an IndyCar race this season.

At a St. Petersburg city council meeting Thursday, Mayor Rick Kriseman approved plans by race organizers Green Savoree Racing Promotions to hold the Oct. 23-25 weekend for the IndyCar Grand Prix of St. Pete with 20,000 fans who would follow health and safety protocols that include mandatory temperature checks and masks.

 “My thanks to Green Savoree Racing Promotions and IndyCar for their flexibility and resilience during this challenging time,” Kriseman said in a release. “I know that everyone is excited to get back on the track in St. Pete. I can’t wait for Oct. 23rd. I know everyone will embrace this race the St. Pete way, adhering to the COVID-19 health and safety protocols. Let’s have some great racing in the Sunshine City.”

Paddock and the pit lane will remain closed to spectators, and social distancing of at least 6 feet will be observed on site.

“Our entire team greatly appreciates the patience and understanding of our ticket holders as we worked through this process with Mayor Kriseman, City Council and local health officials,” Kim Green, co-owner, chairman and CEO of Green Savoree Promotions. “It’s important for everyone who attends to read and follow all the COVID-19 protocols to contribute to a fun, safe and successful event for us all.”

“The ongoing guidance and support of Mayor Kriseman, City Council, and the City of St. Petersburg’s event team have been phenomenal,” said Kevin Savoree, co-owner, president and COO of Green Savoree Promotions. “We also would not be in this position to move this spring tradition to fall without Firestone’s unwavering commitment and dedication. It’s going to be a terrific weekend again in downtown St. Pete in three weeks featuring world-class racing from INDYCAR.”