Webber puts No. 17 car runner-up finish down to lack of pace, not overtaking penalty

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Porsche went 1-2 in Sunday’s 24 Hours of Le Mans, although perhaps not in the order of cars that many envisioned going into the race.

After finishing second, Mark Webber offered a simple explanation why he, Brendon Hartley and Timo Bernhard weren’t able to be the trio that delivered the manufacturer its first overall win at Circuit de la Sarthe in 17 years… with the No. 17 car… to deliver Porsche its 17th overall Le Mans win.

“We weren’t quick enough. Simple as that,” the Australian said in the post-race press conference.

A one-minute stop-and-go penalty in the 10th hour for overtaking during a safety car period proved a setback, but not the ultimate death knell to the team’s chance.

“Even without that, I don’t think it would have been enough.”

He added, “slow zones are a heavy feature of this race. We saw with the No. 8 Audi (Loic Duval then driving), he got the entry wrong.

“It was hard driving in and out, with a lot of traffic. Brendon missed a light. We pushed hard early from the outside. But the visibility was extremely limited. I had to take the penalty four hours later. I don’t think that was the difference to victory.

“Still, congrats to our teammates on the 17th win. The 19 car deserved it. If we can’t do it I’m glad it’s them. Thing is no one remembers second,” added the driver whose Formula 1 career frequently included hard-luck runner-up finishes.

Webber noted the mentality difference in racing at Le Mans, now making his second consecutive start and scoring his first race podium.

“Endurance racing requires a different mentality,” he said. “The pace difference is endurance racing. It’s not psychoanalyzed like F1.

“You go with what you have, and you have it for the race.

“In our case, we had a good car, but we weren’t quick enough.”

The bright side for Webber, Hartley and Bernhard is that the trio was the top-scoring LMP1 car of full-season entrants, in the double points race.

That will undoubtedly play dividends for their championship hopes the remainder of the FIA World Endurance Championship season.

Helio Castroneves ‘hustling’ for IndyCar, IMSA rides; talking with four to five teams

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As his season gathers steam, Helio Castroneves said his prospects for finding new rides for 2021 in IMSA and IndyCar also are gaining momentum.

The three-time Indianapolis 500 winner said Monday he is optimistic about landing in either or perhaps a combination of both series when Team Penske and Acura end their DPi partnership after this season.

“A lot of people I spoke with, four to five teams, are interested,” Castroneves said. “Whether it’s doing Indy 500 only, whether it’s pushing to do full time or do the sports cars as well. It’s been a very nice conversation.

LOOKING AHEADTeam Penske drivers seeking new rides for 2021

“I have a lot of respect for all the teams that have been talking, and I feel the same feedback. We just have to wait for their (sponsor) connections, and I’m also looking for some connections on my side as well, so hopefully we’ll be able to put this together and get something very soon.”

Given two decades of success with Penske in IndyCar and IMSA, Castroneves’ resume hardly needs burnishing. But the Brazilian has combined with co-driver Ricky Taylor in the No. 7 Acura DPi to win the past two overall victories at Road America and Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.

But Castroneves, who doesn’t have a manager, said he has been working the phones hard rather than wait for the strong results to bring in the calls.

“At this point, I feel like I’m the one who needs to be talking to them because people need to know I want to continue racing and understand my desire,” Castroneves, 45, said. “There is opportunity, no question, in both (IndyCar and IMSA), which I’m really happy about it. However, because of the COVID-19, a lot of things sometimes have to be a little delayed. But I’m excited. Whatever the opportunity and whatever destiny guides me, whether IndyCar or sports cars, trust me I’ll be as happy as it could be and doing my 100 percent like I always did.

“It’s like politics, you need to be out there, good news or bad news. People have to make notice of your presence. I’m hustling. I want to continue to keep it going. Hopefully, we’ll have good news very soon.”

The news has been all good lately on track for Castroneves and Taylor, who hope to continue their run Sunday at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

The No. 6 duo has surged to sixth in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship standings, 10 points out of the lead with four races remaining. After thinking there was “no hope” to be competitive after opening the season with three consecutive poor finishes, Taylor now sees an opportunity for a happy ending.

“With the program going away, Helio has won all the big races and given so much back to the team and left such a mark, he’s really part of Penske history,” Taylor said. “For me, it’s been an opportunity of a lifetime to be a part of it. I’d like to leave my little mark as well. Helio has won everything except for a championship.

“Obviously, we’ve won races already together, but we can win a championship now. I think if both of us can do that together and both win our first championship for ‘The Captain,’ that would be an absolute dream come true, and we can tie a bow on it and be happy.”