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di Grassi’s stunning ’16 form continues with Spa WEC victory

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SPA – Lucas di Grassi’s impressive run of racing form in 2016 continued on Saturday at the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps as he claimed his first FIA World Endurance Championship victory with Audi.

Alongside teammates Oliver Jarvis and Loic Duval, di Grassi weathered a race of attrition to give the German marque victory in the 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps, going some way to make up for its disqualification from the season-opener at Silverstone.

“What a crazy race! We really didn’t expect this result,” di Grassi said after the race.

“In the end, it was about endurance racing qualities and we were the only driver squad in a hybrid sports car to finish without issues. Following the season opener at Silverstone, Audi provided us with a very reliable car today.

“I’m very happy about my first victory with this team. This is a motivational boost for all of us. Now I’m wishing for us to have a good race at Le Mans.”

The result marked the latest in a string of successes for di Grassi, who splits his focus between WEC and Formula E.

In 2016, di Grassi has taken part in seven races: four Formula E rounds, two in the WEC and a one-off appearance in a Brazilian stock-car event at Curitiba.

He has crossed the line first in four races (losing one due to exclusion from the Mexico City Formula E event), taken one further podium finish and retired when in contention for the win at the WEC Silverstone round.

When looking at the most dominant top-line racing drivers in global motorsport at the moment, di Grassi is certainly in the conversation. The fact he is proving himself across two series – in neither of which he has the fastest car – makes his success all the more impressive.

Besides di Grassi, Formula 1 championship leader Nico Rosberg is obviously in excellent form, having won the last seven grands prix. Simon Pagenaud’s start to the IndyCar season (two wins, two second places) also puts him in the mix.

Di Grassi is unlikely to settle for how he has started 2016, though. In the next two months, he will fight for his first Le Mans victory and his maiden Formula E title, leading the latter’s drivers’ championship with three races remaining. There’s still plenty of time to fit in more victorious in the coming seventh months.

Female racer makes history with record finishes in dirt national midget events

Photo courtesy Toyota Racing
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Holly Shelton is riding high after setting a milestone for a female driver in a national midget series feature event on dirt this past weekend.

The Sacramento, California-area resident recorded the highest finish ever for a female dirt national midget series driver with a runner-up finish last Friday at the POWRi Lucas Oil National Midget League double-header weekend at Valley Speedway in Grain Valley, Missouri.

Shelton broke her own national record for top finish by a woman in a national dirt event – she finished third in a USAC race at Lawrenceburg, Indiana, last year.

One night after setting her new national record, Shelton and her Keith Kunz Motorsports Toyota roared back Saturday to finish third (started on the outside pole) in the second half of the weekend double-header, making her the first female dirt driver ever on the national midget circuit to earn back-to-back podium finishes.

“It’s cool making history as a female, but my number one thing is I just want to win,” said Shelton, who will be graduating from Cal-State Sacramento with a B.A. in Criminal Justice this fall. “Truthfully, on the track I don’t even remember that I’m a girl. I’m just racing all the guys with the same goal they have – to win.”

Only one other woman has finished second in either a USAC or POWRi midget feature – Sarah McCune at Winchester (Ind.) Speedway in 1999 – but that was on pavement, not dirt.

The record-setting weekend was great consolation for Shelton, who missed three races earlier this season due to surgery and then sat out three other races last month after suffering a race-related concussion.

“It felt good,” she said of her back-to-back podium finishes. “It builds up my confidence. The car is fast and we keep getting better and we want to build on it.”

Shelton was one of four women that competed in midget competition this weekend. The others were 19-year-old Maria Cofer and 16-year-olds Holley Hollan and Presley Truedson.

“It’s awesome seeing all the little girls come up to me excited to see me at the track,” Shelton said. “Hopefully, it encourages them to pursue their dreams as well and, as the years go on, more girls will get into it.”

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