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Ford completes its quest, wins Le Mans again 50 years later

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The Ford GT came back to Le Mans with one goal and one goal only: to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans 50 years after the memorable and legendary 1-2-3 in 1966 with the Ford GT40.

Following a dominant performance in the GTE-Pro class all week with a car that was clearly the pacesetter, plus a car that was super reliable thanks to the work and efforts of the Chip Ganassi Racing and Multimatic crews, the car has done just that.

The trio of Joey Hand, Dirk Mueller and Sebastien Bourdais will go down in history as the trio that delivered the accomplishment, driving the No. 68 Ford Chip Ganassi Team US Ford GT, one of the two IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Fords joining the two full season FIA World Endurance Championship Fords.

It’s the first Le Mans win for all three drivers, and particularly Bourdais who was born in Le Mans, it’s going to mean quite a lot.

IMSA teams have locked out the class podium, with the No. 82 Risi Competizione Ferrari 488 GTE and second U.S.-entered Ford – the No. 69 entry – completing the top three in class.

Giancarlo Fisichella, Toni Vilander and Matteo Malucelli (Risi) and Scott Dixon, Ryan Briscoe and Richard Westbrook (Ford 69) completed great drives of their own.

It all looked set to go away from Risi in the last half hour courtesy of a controversial leader light penalty assessed, although the team stayed out and did not serve the penalty. Once the podium ceremony began, the car was not demoted.

After the race was complete, two post-race time penalties were assessed, but they didn’t change the outcome.

The No. 68 Ford received a total of minute and 10 seconds assessed for two separate penalties, while the Risi Ferrari was docked 20 seconds for not adhering to the black and orange flag assessed to serve that penalty.

While the No. 68 Ford was flawless it wasn’t the only U.S. entry to post success in the GTE classes.

The same was true in GTE-Am, with Scuderia Corsa going two better from a podium last year to win for the first time at Le Mans itself – a fantastic effort from Giacomo Mattioli’s Los Angeles-based team, with NBCSN IndyCar analyst Townsend Bell winning along with co-drivers Bill Sweedler and Jeff Segal.

The remainder of the GTE-Am class podium was the No. 83 AF Corse Ferrari (Emmanuel Collard, Rui Aguas, Francois Perrodo) and the No. 88 Abu Dhabi Proton Racing Porsche 911 RSR (Patrick Long, David Heinemeier Hansson, Khaled Al Qubaisi). Collard made a late race of “DHH” for second in class.

The frustration beyond Ford and Ferrari in GTE-Pro occurred for Aston Martin, Corvette and Porsche, which were never factors.

Helio Castroneves ‘hustling’ for IndyCar, IMSA rides; talking with four to five teams

Helio Castroneves IMSA IndyCar
IMSA
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As his season gathers steam, Helio Castroneves said his prospects for finding new rides for 2021 in IMSA and IndyCar also are gaining momentum.

The three-time Indianapolis 500 winner said Monday he is optimistic about landing in either or perhaps a combination of both series when Team Penske and Acura end their DPi partnership after this season.

“A lot of people I spoke with, four to five teams, are interested,” Castroneves said. “Whether it’s doing Indy 500 only, whether it’s pushing to do full time or do the sports cars as well. It’s been a very nice conversation.

LOOKING AHEADTeam Penske drivers seeking new rides for 2021

“I have a lot of respect for all the teams that have been talking, and I feel the same feedback. We just have to wait for their (sponsor) connections, and I’m also looking for some connections on my side as well, so hopefully we’ll be able to put this together and get something very soon.”

Given two decades of success with Penske in IndyCar and IMSA, Castroneves’ resume hardly needs burnishing. But the Brazilian has combined with co-driver Ricky Taylor in the No. 7 Acura DPi to win the past two overall victories at Road America and Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.

But Castroneves, who doesn’t have a manager, said he has been working the phones hard rather than wait for the strong results to bring in the calls.

“At this point, I feel like I’m the one who needs to be talking to them because people need to know I want to continue racing and understand my desire,” Castroneves, 45, said. “There is opportunity, no question, in both (IndyCar and IMSA), which I’m really happy about it. However, because of the COVID-19, a lot of things sometimes have to be a little delayed. But I’m excited. Whatever the opportunity and whatever destiny guides me, whether IndyCar or sports cars, trust me I’ll be as happy as it could be and doing my 100 percent like I always did.

“It’s like politics, you need to be out there, good news or bad news. People have to make notice of your presence. I’m hustling. I want to continue to keep it going. Hopefully, we’ll have good news very soon.”

The news has been all good lately on track for Castroneves and Taylor, who hope to continue their run Sunday at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

The No. 6 duo has surged to sixth in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship standings, 10 points out of the lead with four races remaining. After thinking there was “no hope” to be competitive after opening the season with three consecutive poor finishes, Taylor now sees an opportunity for a happy ending.

“With the program going away, Helio has won all the big races and given so much back to the team and left such a mark, he’s really part of Penske history,” Taylor said. “For me, it’s been an opportunity of a lifetime to be a part of it. I’d like to leave my little mark as well. Helio has won everything except for a championship.

“Obviously, we’ve won races already together, but we can win a championship now. I think if both of us can do that together and both win our first championship for ‘The Captain,’ that would be an absolute dream come true, and we can tie a bow on it and be happy.”