Serralles wins first career Indy Lights race in Milwaukee

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MILWAUKEE – A first-time winner emerged in Sunday’s Grand Prix of Milwaukee, Round 11 of the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires season, in the form of Belardi Auto Racing driver Felix Serralles.

Serralles won in a thrilling scrap with RC Enerson, who was also seeking his first career win in the 100-lap race.

Enerson took the lead on the start from polesitter Spencer Pigot and led the opening 47 laps, before a spin by Pigot’s Juncos Racing teammate Kyle Kaiser exiting Turn 4 brought the field closer together.

Serralles only barely avoided hitting Kaiser as the American spun off Turn 4. Serralles darted to the inside, and made it around Kaiser without incident.

The restart occurred on Lap 51 and from there, Serralles began to close and hunt down Schmidt Peterson Motorsports driver Enerson.

The race built to its crescendo in the final 15 laps. With Serralles closing on Enerson, he made a move to Enerson’s inside exiting Turn 4 at the conclusion of Lap 87 and start of Lap 88.

Serralles made it by the inside of Enerson, completing the pass by the exit of Turn 2.

From there, he avoided another scary moment trying to lap Shelby Blackstock on the backstraight. Serralles’ car got very loose, but he managed to avoid the Andretti Autosport driver.

Enerson banked another podium with Juan Piedrahita, an ace at Milwaukee, in third.

Jack Harvey avoided too much drama on the day and ended fourth, ahead of Scott Anderson, who also was lucky to avoid Kaiser.

Max Chilton was sixth with Pigot down to seventh after losing fifth gear. Ed Jones, the other member of the title contending trio, ended in eighth.

Today’s exciting race will air on NBCSN on Tuesday night, July 14, at 11 p.m. ET.

Sebastien Ogier in driver’s seat for sixth straight World Rally Championship title

Sebastien Ogier leads the way in the WRC title chase. Photo: Getty Images
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COFFS HARBOUR, Australia (AP) — Thierry Neuville finished the sixth stage of Rally Australia on Friday without a rear left tire, damaging his chances of catching five-time defending champion Sebastien Ogier for the World Rally Championship title.

The Belgian driver entered the rally just three points behind Ogier in the closest title fight in 15 years.

He held the upper hand on his French rival, building a near-10 second gap through the first five stages at Coffs Harbour before hitting a chicane and finishing the stage with only three tires on his Hyundai.

Neuville was fortunate the puncture occurred late enough in the day to finish all six forestry stages and avoid a retirement. But the mistake cost him 40 seconds and gave Ogier, who is 33 seconds ahead of him, a clear run at his sixth straight championship.

In his last start with Ford before a move to Citroen next year, Ogier struggled as the first to drive the dusty, slippery forest routes.

“I pushed like crazy, I was on the limit over the jump and everywhere, I can’t do (any) more,” Ogier said. “I was on the limit.”

With Ogier on sweeping duties the back markers flourished, and Mads Ostberg took the lead in his return to the series.

Ostberg was forced to miss the previous round in Spain to make way for rally winner and nine-time world champion Sebastien Loeb, who was making the last of his three guest appearances for Citroen.

Now back in the seat, Ostberg leads Jari-Matti Latvala by 6.8 seconds in the Australian rally, with sixth-stage winner Craig Breen in third.

Ogier was seventh, 38.2 seconds off the pace, but only needs to finish ahead of Neuville to claim the championship title. Neuville is in 10th place after six stages.

Roles will reverse on Saturday, with Ogier to start further back in the field and do his best on cleaner roads to make up the day-one deficit before Sunday’s final stages.

Andreas Mikkelsen, the 2016 Rally Australia champion, was an early dropout after rolling into a ditch in his Hyundai. Mikkelsen had only just avoided a tractor that had found its way onto the course.

Former winner Molly Taylor and co-driver Malcolm Read were also forced out of their event when their Subaru hit a hay bale at high speed on the morning’s second stage. Both reported soreness but suffered no serious injuries.

The 24-stage rally totals 319 kilometers (197 miles). Ten stages are scheduled Saturday with the final six on Sunday, most of them through forests on the New South Wales state’s north coast about 530 kilometers (325 miles) north of Sydney.