© Getty Images

Mikkelsen claims maiden WRC win after Ogier crashes on final stage

1 Comment

Andreas Mikkelsen claimed his first FIA World Rally Championship victory last Sunday in Spain after Sebastien Ogier threw away a comfortable lead by crashing on the very final stage of the weekend.

Ogier controlled proceedings throughout Rally Catalunya, entering the final of 23 stages with a 50 second lead over Jari-Matti Latvala and Mikkelsen, who were poised to duke it out for P2.

However, when Ogier made a mistake on a tight uphill section and took the front-right corner off his car after slamming into the armco barrier, the three-time world champion’s fate was sealed.

This left a surprised Mikkelsen – who had edged out Latvala on the final stage to lead the Finn home by 3.1 seconds – to claim his first ever WRC win, only learning of Ogier’s demise after finishing the rally.

“It was absurd because Ogier never makes mistakes so when they told me I didn’t believe it,” Mikkelsen admitted.

“It was a big surprise, and although it’s not the way I want to win a rally, we’ve been so close so many times that I feel I really deserve this one.”

Ogier was airlifted to hospital due to the severity of his crash, but was released later on Sunday unharmed. The Frenchman admitted that he had been pushing hard on the final stage in spite of his comfortable lead.

“I had nothing to prove, there is no need for that any more, but for sure I’m a competitor and I always want to give my best,” Ogier said.

“Somehow it wasn’t the most exciting rally, and since Saturday midday when I had a good lead I’d backed off a bit and just controlled the event. In this moment I wanted to have fun and give a push to finish the race.”

Ogier’s crash allowed Dani Sordo to rise to third and claim his first podium finish of the year, while Mads Ostberg and Kris Meeke rounded out the top five.

The 2015 WRC season comes to a close with Rally GB in Wales on November 13-15.

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

Helio Castroneves IMSA IndyCar
Leave a comment

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.”