Vautier returns to his sports car drive, ends seventh overall in Paul Ricard

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For as much as we’ve chronicled Tristan Vautier and his exploits this year, the one things we haven’t done is actually chronicle when he has been in a sports car for Team AKKA-ASP.

Vautier, who missed the previous Blancpain Endurance Series round at Silverstone due to his last-minute call-up in the Indianapolis 500, was in the team’s Pro class entry with Morgan Moullin-Traffort and Alessandro Pier Guidi, the No. 20 Ferrari 458 Italia GT3 in Paul Ricard for the six-hour race.

Despite an 18th place grid position and multiple punctures during the race, the No. 20 car ended a respectable seventh overall, and sixth in the Pro class.

Vautier is expected back in the No. 19 Dale Coyne Racing Honda next week at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif., for the 11th round of the Verizon IndyCar Series season.

The Nissan trio of Wolfgang Reip, Alex Buncombe and Katsumasa Chiyo, in the Nissan GT Academy Team RJN Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3, won the race overall. Chiyo, Reip and Florian Strauss won earlier this year in the Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12-Hour.

Zach Veach splits with Andretti Autosport for rest of IndyCar season

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Zach Veach will be leaving his Andretti Autosport ride with three races remaining in the season, choosing to explore options after the decision was made he wouldn’t return for 2021.

In a Wednesday release, Andretti Autosport said a replacement driver for the No. 26 Dallara-Honda would be named in the coming days. The NTT IndyCar Series will race Oct. 2-3 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and then conclude the season Oct. 25 on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida.

Veach was ranked 11th in the points standings through 11 races of his third season with Andretti. Since a fourth in the June 6 season opener at Texas Motor Speedway, he hadn’t finished higher than 14th.

“The decision was made that I will not be returning in 2021 with Andretti Autosport in the No. 26 Gainbridge car,” Veach said in the Andretti release. “This, along with knowing that limited testing exists for teams due to COVID, have led me to the decision to step out of the car for the remainder of the 2020 IndyCar season. I am doing this to allow the team to have time with other drivers as they prepare for 2021, and so that I can also explore my own 2021 options.

“This is the hardest decision I have ever made, but to me, racing is about family, and it is my belief that you take care of your family. Andretti Autosport is my family and I feel this is what is best to help us all reach the next step. I will forever be grateful to Michael and the team for all of their support over the years. I would not be where I am today if it wasn’t for a relationship that started many years ago with Road to Indy. I will also be forever grateful to Dan Towriss for his friendship and for the opportunity he and Gainbridge have given me.

“My love for this sport and the people involved is unmeasurable, and I look forward to continuing to be amongst the racing world and fans in 2021.”

Said team owner Michael Andretti: “We first welcomed Zach to the Andretti team back in his USF2000 days and have enjoyed watching him grow and evolve as a racer, and a person. His decision to allow us to use the last few races to explore our 2021 options shows the measure of his character.

“Zach has always placed team and family first, and we’re very happy to have had him as part of ours for so many years. We wish him the best in whatever 2021 may bring and will always consider him a friend.”

Andretti fields five full-time cars for Veach, Alexander Rossi, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Marco Andretti and Colton Herta.

It also has fielded James Hinchcliffe in three races this season.