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Reports: Rahal keen to explore Le Mans P2 effort

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It’s not just Verizon IndyCar Series drivers Scott Dixon, Sebastien Bourdais, Mikhail Aleshin and NBCSN IndyCar analyst Townsend Bell making the trip to the 24 Hours of Le Mans this year.

So too is IndyCar team co-owner Bobby Rahal, making an exploratory voyage in case his Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing team can find a European dancing partner to make his team’s dream a reality for the 2017 edition of the race.

Rahal made the rounds to media on site at Le Mans today and confirmed interest in an LMP2 program, which could theoretically be in partnership with another team.

Rahal told Autosport,  “Maybe we could do a joint venture with an existing team, which might make sense logistically and operationally. I’m really here on a busman’s holiday but there are a few people I want to meet to start talking about next year.”

He added to Sportscar365, “As busy as we are with IndyCar and IMSA, there’s still time to do something like this, as evidenced by Chip [Ganassi] and his team.”

Rahal raced twice at Le Mans on his own in the 1980s.

Here’s a couple tweets Rahal posted this morning from Le Mans:

Valtteri Bottas takes pole position for season-opening Austrian GP

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SPIELBERG, Austria — Valtteri Bottas upstaged Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton to take pole position Saturday for the Formula One Austrian GP.

The Finnish driver edged out the world champion by 0.012 seconds to claim the top spot for the season opener at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg. He clenched his fist as he climbed out of his car and shared a hug with Hamilton.

“It’s something special when you push the car to the limit,” said Bottas, who is chasing an eighth career win. “Feels so good. It’s very impressive (from the team).”

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen was third, and Lando Norris gave McLaren a boost by finishing fourth. Verstappen has won the past two years here, including 2019 when he started third behind Hamilton and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc.

“It’s going to be interesting quite a bit warmer tomorrow and hopefully this will play to our advantage,” Verstappen said. “Today, Mercedes was on a different level, unfortunately. Last year we were also a little bit off in qualifying so I expect we will be a bit better in the race.”

Bottas had the leading time when drivers embarked on their final laps and beat his own mark before sliding off the track into the gravel.

Hamilton was chasing a record-extending 89th career pole. He was ahead but then dropped off slightly as Bottas secured a 12th career pole.

“Great job by Valtteri. It’s a great start to the season,” Hamilton said. “We show year on year that we continue to be the best team. We’re open-minded … constantly learning from each other and pushing the boundaries.”

Ferrari struggled for speed, with Leclerc nearly one second behind in seventh and Sebastian Vettel failing to make it into the third and final part of qualifying, known as Q3. He starts the race from 11th on the grid.

Vettel is leaving Ferrari at the end of the season with his future in F1 uncertain.

Earlier, Hamilton posted the fastest time in morning practice. The 35-year-old British driver was also quickest in both sessions on Friday.

Midway through third practice, F1 newcomer Nicholas Latifi misjudged the exit of a turn and spun his Williams car into a protective tire wall.