Le Mans: Seven cars handed penalties after qualifying

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Seven cars have been hit with penalties following the conclusion of qualifying for the 2015 24 Hours of Le Mans on Friday after failing to record a quick enough lap time.

The regulations at Le Mans state that all drivers must post a time within 110% of that set by the class pole-sitter, or the entry will be relegated to the back of the grid regardless of the efforts by the other drivers in the car.

Four cars in LMP1 and one car from LMP2, GTE Pro and GTE Am apiece were hit with penalties after qualifying as a result, shaking up the order throughout the grid.

Nissan managed to rally towards the end of qualifying to get all three of its GT-R LM Nismo cars into the top 15, but failed to get within the required lap time of 3:36.575 that was 110% of Neel Jani’s pole position lap for Porsche of 3:16.887.

As a result, the trio of Nissans have been relegated to the back of the LMP2 grid, leaving them P30, P31 and P32 for the start of tomorrow’s race. They will start behind the Team ByKolles car, which also fell foul of the 110% rule in LMP1.

The only car in LMP2 to be hit with a penalty was the no. 45 Ibanez Racing car after Pierre Perrett failed to post a lap time within 110% of the class pole, dropping the all-French effort from P32 to P33 on the grid.

In GTE Pro, the no. 71 AF Corse car of James Calado, Davide Rigon and Olivier Baretta was sent to the back of the grid after Baretta failed to record a lap within 120% of the LMP1 pole time. As a result, it will start 54th on the grid ahead only of the no. 68 Team AAI car, which was hit with a penalty for missing the 110% time.

To see the full grid for the 2015 24 Hours of Le Mans, click here. The 83rd edition of the world’s most famous endurance race kicks off at 10am ET on Saturday.

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.