Lieb: Porsche pumped up following Le Mans success

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NÜRBURGRING – Porsche LMP1 driver Marc Lieb believes that the team is entering the second half of the FIA World Endurance Championship in high spirits following its success at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June.

Porsche claimed its first overall victory at Le Mans since 1998 as the no. 19 car of Nico Hülkenberg, Earl Bamber and Nick Tandy headed up a one-two finish for the German marque.

Speaking ahead of this weekend’s 6 Hours of Nürburgring in his native Germany, Lieb spoke about the new high downforce package that has been fitted to the Porsche 919 Hybrid cars for the race.

“It looks a little bit different from the outside,” Lieb said. “It’s a big change. Obviously the track conditions weren’t as good as in the test days in the first session [which was largely wet], but everyone is pushing forwards in one direction.

“In the team, everyone is really pumped up after the success at Le Mans. So it’s obviously giving everything a lot of confidence. It’s great to see the work which has been done after Le Mans.

“I think it’s a good step and should bring us a little bit closer to the competitors. I think we’re in good shape for the weekend, but it’s a six hour race, and temperatures will increase for Sunday, so this will be the question mark for tire wear. But I can’t wait to go out and race.”

Audi has also changed its aero kit for the forthcoming weekend, reverting back to the package that it used for the 6 Hours of Spa in June.

Championship leader Marcel Fassler spoke about how Audi has been working to improve its car following its defeat at Le Mans to Porsche.

“Yes for sure after Le Mans, we were working a little bit,” Fassler said. “But obviously from the outside you can’t see it as much as for example with Porsche, the aerodynamics they have.

“Sure, we try to develop things to be prepared for the big fight now to the end of the season. There are still five races to go.

“We’re leading by 22 points or something. It’s at least something, but the races are long and our opponents are really good and fast so we need to score points, that’s the main point, and try to be in front of our competitors all the time. It sounds an easy thing to do, but we’ll try to do it.”

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

Helio Castroneves IMSA IndyCar
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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.”