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2016 FIA WEC schedule released

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AUSTIN, Texas – The 2016 FIA World Endurance Championship schedule has been released, which sees the addition of Mexico City to the returning eight races to make a nine-race calendar.

Silverstone will take place on April 17 to kick off the campaign, before the championship moves to Spa-Francorchamps on May 7.

Next year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans runs June 18-19.

The Nürburgring round returns on July 24, and then the entire month of August is left open before the schedule amplifies in September.

The Mexico City round will take place September 4, with Circuit of The Americas returning two weeks later on September 17.

Further flyaway rounds to Fuji (October 16), Shanghai (November 6) and Bahrain (November 19) conclude the season.

The Prologue test occurs March 25-26 at Paul Ricard, with the Le Mans Test Day on June 5.

CONFLICTS OF NOTE

While the WEC will run alongside IMSA’s newly renamed WeatherTech SportsCar Championship at COTA for a third consecutive year, it will have two head-to-head clashes with the North American domestic championship.

The Silverstone round will clash with both IMSA and, for that matter, Pirelli World Challenge at Long Beach the weekend of April 15-17.

Additionally, the Nürburgring round, moved forward from end of August to end of July, now falls on the same weekend as IMSA’s Lime Rock Park date, July 22-23. The Six Hours of Nürburgring will fall on the Sunday, though, while the Lime Rock PC/GTLM/GTD race will be Saturday, July 23.

While the Verizon IndyCar Series is yet to release its full 2016 calendar, it has a few clashes with the WEC as well, for any drivers or participants who may be interested in being a part of both championships.

As noted, the Long Beach/Silverstone clash affects these two series.

The Le Mans Test Day falls on the second day of the Detroit race weekend, June 5, as it did this year.

Meanwhile the last two rounds for now on IndyCar’s calendar – Boston on September 4 and Sonoma on September 18 – would coincide with WEC events.

The WEC is at Mexico City and COTA those two weekends.

The WEC’s Spa-Francorchamps round clashes with the Blancpain Sprint Series race weekend, May 6-8. It also clashes with the Blancpain Endurance Series finale, again, that September 17-18 weekend.

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.”