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Track layout unveiled for Paris Formula E race

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Officials from the FIA have unveiled the track layout for the inaugural Formula E race in Paris, France ahead of its planned running on April 23.

Formula E confirmed back in July that Paris would be joining the calendar for season two with a track at Les Invalides, an important military landmark in the city that houses many museums and the tomb of Napoleon Bonaparte.

At a press conference in Paris on Wednesday, Formula E CEO Alejandro Agag and FIA president Jean Todt revealed the layout for the ePrix that enjoys an impressive backdrop featuring the historic buildings in the area.

“As a series we are fortunate enough to race in some incredible locations but none more spectacular than the backdrop in the city of Paris,” Agag said.

“The ethos of Formula E is urban racing in the heart of cities around the world – Paris certainly ticks all those boxes. France is also a key market for the championship as the home of the FIA, official founding partner and tire supplier Michelin, and team partners such as DS and Renault.

“The Paris ePrix will be an iconic setting for Formula E with DHL, the championship’s official logistics partner, delivering the first fully-electric race to the French capital.”

Todt added: “The FIA is particularly pleased that there will be a Formula E race run through the streets of the centre of Paris, the city that has been our home for over a century.

“This series is heavily linked to the development of new technologies and to promoting a new model for sustainable mobility. It is entirely logical therefore, that a country like France, that has always been at the cutting-edge of innovation, should host an ePrix in its capital city.

“I am sure that the spectacle offered by Formula E on a track laid out against the amazing backdrop of Les Invalides, will make this event truly unique among motorsport events at a world level.”

French manufacturer Renault announced that it would be a partner for the Paris ePrix, while Formula E confirmed that tickets would start at just €25 for those making the trip in April.

Coyne transitioning from underdog to Indy 500 threat

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For most of the team’s existence, Dale Coyne Racing has been the Chicago Cubs of American Open Wheel Racing – a team whose history was more defined by failures, at times comically so, than success.

The last decade, however, has seen the tide completely change. In 2007, they scored three podium finishes with Bruno Junqueira. In 2009, they won at Watkins Glen with the late Justin Wilson.

The combination won again at Texas Motor Speedway in 2012, and finished sixth in the 2013 Verizon IndyCar Series championship. That same year, Mike Conway took a shock win for them in Race 1 at the Chevrolet Dual in Detroit.

Carlos Huertas scored an upset win for them in Race 1 at the Houston double-header in 2014, and while 2015 and 2016 yielded no wins, Tristan Vautier and Conor Daly gave them several strong runs – Vautier’s best finish was fourth in Race 2 at Detroit, while Daly finished second in Race 1 at Detroit, finished fourth at Watkins Glen, and scored a trio of sixth-place finishes at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course, Race 2 at Detroit, and the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

And 2017 was set to possibly be the best year the team has ever had. Sebastien Bourdais gave the team a popular win in the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, and then rookie Ed Jones scored back-to-back top tens – 10th and sixth – at St. Pete and the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach to start his career.

But, things started unraveling at the Indianapolis 500. Bourdais appeared set to be in the Fast Nine Pole Shootout during his first qualifying run – both of his first two laps were above 231 mph –  before his horrifying crash in Turn 2.

While Jones qualified an impressive 11th and finished an even more impressive third, results for the rest of the season became hard to come by – Jones only scored two more Top 10s, with a best result of seventh at Road America.

But, retooled for 2018, the Coyne team is a legitimate threat at the 102nd Running of the Indianapolis 500.

Bourdais, whose No. 18 Honda features new sponsorship from SealMaster and now ownership partners in Jimmy Vasser and James “Sulli” Sullivan, has a win already, again at St. Pete, and sits third in the championship.

And Bourdais may also be Honda’s best hope, given that he was the fastest Honda in qualifying – he’ll start fifth behind Ed Carpenter, Simon Pagenaud, Will Power, and Josef Newgarden.

“I think it speaks volumes about their work, their passion and their dedication to this program, Dale (Coyne), Jimmy (Vasser) and Sulli (James Sullivan) and everybody from top to bottom. I can’t thank them enough for the opportunity, for the support,” Bourdais said of the team’s effort.

Rookie Zachary Claman De Melo has been progressing nicely, and his Month of May has been very solid – he finished 12th at the INDYCAR Grand Prix on the IMS Road Course and qualified a strong 13th for the “500.”

“It’s been surreal to be here as rookie. I’m a bit at a loss for words,” Claman De Melo revealed after qualifying. “The fans, driving around this place, being with the team, everything is amazing. I have a great engineer, a great group of experienced mechanics at Dale Coyne Racing.”

While Conor Daly and Pippa Mann struggled in one-off entries, with Mann getting bumped out of the field in Saturday qualifying, Daly’s entry essentially puts three Coyne cars in the race – Daly’s No. 17 United States Air Force Honda is a Dale Coyne car that has been leased to Thom Burns Racing.

Rest assured, the days of Coyne being an “also ran” are long gone, and a Coyne car ending up in Victory Lane at the biggest race of the year would complete the Chicago Cubs analogy – the Cubs won a World Series title in 2016, and an Indy 500 triumph would be the crowning achievement in Coyne’s career.

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