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Belloc in at Larbre, Berthon joins Greaves for Le Mans

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Jean-Philippe Belloc and Nathanael Berthon will both race at this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans after being drafted in as replacements this week.

Belloc tested with Larbre Competition on Sunday at the Circuit de la Sarthe alongside Nicky Catsburg as the team sought a replacement for the injured Paolo Ruberti.

Ruberti was injured in an accident at Hockenheim last week while coaching, ruling him out of Le Mans.

On Thursday, Larbre announced that Belloc would be joining Yutaka Yamagishi and Pierre Ragues in the Chevrolet Corvette C7.R, marking his 10th entry to Le Mans.

“I am delighted to have been chosen by Jack Leconte to replace Paolo Ruberti, to whom everybody sends their best wishes, for this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans,” Belloc said.

“It’s a very nice show of trust and a great privilege to defend the colours of Larbre Competition in the world’s greatest endurance race.

“The LMGTE AM category is quite competitive this year but I think we have a very solid package. The Corvette C7.R has proven its worth and the team has what it takes to challenge for a good result.

“Finally, I’d like to extend my warmest thanks to my friend and long-time teammate Christophe Bourret, who made it possible for me to be available for this iconic event.”

Greaves Motorsport has also made a change to its driver line-up, replacing Kuba Giermaziak who was dropped prior to Sunday’s test after his financial backing fell through.

Berthon parted company with G-Drive Racing last week, making way for Manor driver Will Stevens, but will still race at Le Mans in LMP2 after striking a deal with Greaves Motorsport.

“I am delighted to join Greaves Motorsport for the 24 Hours of Le Mans. I have been speaking with the team for a few years, now we are able to finally able to work together,” said Berthon.

“Greaves Motorsport is a very strong and professional organisation and I have no doubt that we are going to do an amazing job together in Le Mans.

“I would like to thank the Greaves family for welcoming me onboard and giving me this great opportunity.”

Alex Palou fastest as several go off course during IndyCar practice at IMS

IndyCar Harvest GP practice
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Alex Palou paced the opening practice Thursday for the IndyCar Harvest GP at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.

The Dale Coyne Racing rookie turned a 1-minute, 10.177-second lap around the 2.439-mile, 14-turn road course in his No. 55 Dallara-Honda.

Jack Harvey was second, followed by Colton Herta, points leader Scott Dixon and Max Chilton.

PRACTICE CHART: Click here to see the speed rundown from Thursday’s session

FRIDAY AT IMS: Details for watching Race 1 of the Harvest GP

Qualifying for Friday’s race will be at 6:20 p.m. ET Thursday on NBC Sports Gold.

Will Power, who won the pole position for the July 4 race at the track, spun off course with just more than a minute left in the session after the left rear of his No. 12 Dallara-Chevrolet made slight contact with the right front of Alexander Rossi’s No. 28 Dallara-Honda.

Power was among several drivers who went off track, but there were no damaged cars during the session. Marcus Ericsson missed the final 5 minutes of the practice after being penalized for causing a red flag with a Turn 8 spin.

Arrow McLaren SP drivers Pato O’Ward and Helio Castroneves, who is driving for Oliver Askew (who is recovering from concussion-like symptoms), also veered off course as did rookie Rinus VeeKay and Santino Ferrucci.

Seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson was in attendance at the session before racing Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway. Johnson will be driving a partial schedule of road and street courses in IndyCar next season for Chip Ganassi Racing.

“Literally, the smallest of details, I can pick up on,” Johnson told NBC Sports pit reporter Kevin Lee. “It’s been really nice today just to see how a session starts and obviously to jump on the radio and listen to how the systems work and then obviously you get into the car and the setup and such. I’m at ground zero right now, a 45-year-old rookie trying to learn my way into a new sport essentially.”

Johnson told Lee his sponsorship hunt to run a Ganassi car “has gone really well. The fact that I’m here today and ingrained so deeply in the team is a great sign of where things are going. Looking forward to getting behind the wheel of a car soon and hopefully having some announcements for the world to see soon, too.”

Fans were in attendance Thursday for the first time this season at IMS, which is allowed a limited crowd of 10,000 for its races this weekend.