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Tom Dillmann gets good open-wheel, bad sports car news on same day

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Tom Dillmann, a 26-year-old French driver whose name sounds either English or German depending on the day, is one of the rising open-wheel stars who’s also dovetailed his open-wheel races with a bit of sports car racing.

He confirmed on Monday he’s signed with AV Formula for next year’s Formula 3.5 V8 championship, alongside teammate Alfonso Celis Jr.

Here’s his tweets confirming that:

It means he’ll be able to continue in open-wheel. Besides the Formula 3.5 series, Dillmann has also competed in parts of three GP2 Series seasons from 2012 to 2014.

This year, he finished seventh in the Formula 3.5 V8 series, the last known as Formula Renault 3.5 before the manufacturer pulled its support (Oliver Rowland won the title).

While Dillmann’s news is good on the open-wheel side, after the FIA World Endurance Championship season finale in Bahrain on November 21, he might find the sledding tougher finding rides on the sports car side of things.

Dillmann joined the Signatech Alpine LMP2 team for the final two rounds of the season and won in Shanghai last week upon his team debut.

Dillmann, while a professional, was rated as a Silver driver by the FIA, thus fulfilling the “amateur” driver requirement to the regulations of the three-driver lineup (one Silver is required in LMP2).

Upon today’s release of the new-for-2016 ratings (linked here via the FIA), Dillmann has been bumped up from Silver to Gold.

In theory that would be a good thing, but in actuality it isn’t.

As a Gold, and since there are more professionally rated Golds than there are available pro seats, Dillmann’s chances to secure a ride will likely go down, as his value was higher as a Silver.

Dillmann addressed the sports car element of the day in a couple tweet replies.

If Dillmann is able to find further sports car opportunities next year given his new ratings, good on him, but chances are he’ll find the road more difficult on that front. But having an open-wheel program confirmed secures his chances for yet another year.

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.”