Porsche closes out FIA WEC Prologue on top

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Porsche closed out the pre-season FIA World Endurance Championship Prologue test at Paul Ricard in France at the top of the timesheets.

After seeing Neel Jani set the pace in the Porsche 919 Hybrid on Friday evening, Brendon Hartley led the way on Saturday with a best lap of 1:37.445 in the afternoon session

Hartley’s lap was less than half-a-tenth quicker than Jani’s, giving him the fastest time of the entire two-day test at Paul Ricard.

Porsche drivers claimed the top three positions in the overall timesheets, with Romain Dumas following Hartley and Jani half a second behind.

Stephane Sarraizin finished as the best of the rest for Toyota, finishing eight-tenths of a second further back. Teammate Kamui Kobayashi followed in fifth place, although his Saturday running was cut short by an issue.

Benoit Treluyer finished as the quickest Audi driver in eighth place, 1.4 seconds down on Hartley at the top, with the German marque hitting trouble on both days with the R18 car.

In LMP2, Gustavo Menezes finished fastest for Signatech Alpine after lapping 0.002 seconds quicker than Jonny Kane of Strakka Racing on the second morning of testing.

The new Ford Chip Ganassi Racing led the way in GTE Pro on Saturday afternoon, but could not topple the AF Corse Ferrari F488 GTE of Gianmaria Bruni and James Calado from P1 in class in the overall timesheets. The Italian team locked out the top three positions, with Olivier Pla finishing eight-tenths of a second behind in the leading Ford GT.

Paolo Ruberti’s time from the first morning of running at Paul Ricard was good enough for P1 in GTE Am, giving Larbre Competition a boost heading into the new season.

The opening round of the 2016 FIA WEC season takes place at Silverstone on April 17.

AJ Foyt Racing promotes Benjamin Pedersen from Indy Lights to IndyCar for 2023 season

Benjamin Pedersen AJ Foyt
AJ Foyt Racing
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Benjamin Pedersen is the first driver to land a promotion from Indy Lights into IndyCar for next season as AJ Foyt Racing confirmed Wednesday he’ll be part of its 2023 lineup.

Pedersen, a 23-year-old dual citizen of Denmark and the United States, spent last season running the full Indy Lights schedule for HMD Motorsports. Linus Lundqvist, his teammate, won the Lights title, and Pedersen finished fifth in the final standings. Pedersen earned his only win earlier this month when he led every lap from the pole at Portland.

Pedersen also ran four races for HMD in 2021 with back-to-back runner-up finishes in his debut. Pedersen landed on AJ Foyt Racing team president Larry Foyt’s radar through a “trusted colleague” and Pedersen spent most of last season shadowing the IndyCar team.

His promotion to IndyCar comes ahead of all four drivers who finished ahead of him in the Indy Lights standings, including champion Lundqvist.

“We are really looking forward to having Benjamin as part of the team,” Larry Foyt said. “His enthusiasm is infectious, and he is 100 percent committed to IndyCar, AJ Foyt Racing, and doing the best he can to win races.

“It’s been great to have him embedded with the team this past season, and everyone is excited to hit the ground running when testing begins. It is also great to have a multi-year program in place, which will help him and the team grow together.”

Foyt did not announce a car number for Pedersen. Kyle Kirkwood spent his rookie season driving AJ Foyt’s flagship No. 14 but Kirkwood is moving to Andretti Autosport. The team has not yet announced if Dalton Kellett will return for a fourth season, and a third car for Tatiana Calderon was pulled from competition after seven races because of sponsorship non-payment. Shutting down Calderon’s team removed the only semi-regular female driver from the IndyCar field.

Pedersen, however, was signed to an agreement Foyt said “spans multiple seasons as the team plans to develop the young rookie and is aligned to a longer-term plan for AJ Foyt Racing.”

Pedersen was born in Copenhagen but raised in Seattle and currently lives in Indianapolis. He said his time shadowing the IndyCar team has given him a jump on his rookie preparations.

“I’ve spent a lot of time this season with AJ Foyt Racing learning the ins and outs of making the jump to IndyCar and it’s been really nice to do that in conjunction with my Indy Lights season,” Pedersen said. “IndyCar has been my target goal since I started open wheel racing in 2016. The racing, atmosphere, fans, events, tracks, etc. are all awesome.”