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Porsche takes home WEC trophies at end-of-season FIA gala

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Porsche enjoyed a fruitful night at the FIA end-of-season gala in Paris as its victorious LMP1 and GTE teams picked up their FIA World Endurance Championship trophies.

The ceremony on the Champs-Elysées in Paris saw the winners of the FIA championships finally take home the silverware won across the course of the 2015 season, as well as honoring many of the outstanding performances during the racing year.

Porsche dominated proceedings in the FIA WEC in 2015, winning the drivers’ and manufacturers’ championships in both LMP and GT classes as well as the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June.

The no. 17 crew of Mark Webber, Brendon Hartley and Timo Bernhard won the overall WEC drivers’ title in Bahrain, and all three were on hand to receive their trophy in Paris on Friday.

“To win a world championship title with Porsche as a driver is a massive moment,” Webber said. “I’m very proud of my grand prix victories but to put together this campaign with the team is right up there.

“It’s not an easy thing to achieve and to have won it with Porsche, which is such a famous sportscar brand, is certainly another very special feather in my cap.

“Porsche last won the drivers title 29 years ago and it’s nice to be part of that piece of history with Timo and Brendon.”

Porsche LMP1 vice-president Fritz Enzinger was on hand to collect the manufacturers’ trophy, and revelled in the success the German marque has enjoyed less than two years since returning to top line sportscar racing.

“Congratulations firstly to Timo Bernhard, Brendon Hartley and Mark Webber for their well deserved world championship title,” Enzinger said.

“In what is only our second year in the WEC, we as the Porsche team first won Le Mans and then took both world championship titles – it is still difficult to believe this has happened.

“Thanks to the whole team and to all our technical partners and sponsors, who have supported us right from the beginning of this programme and who deserve a big share of this success.”

GT drivers’ champion Richard Lietz and the Porsche Team Manthey squad also claimed their respective world title awards in Paris.

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.”