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Binder replaces suspended Matsushita for Austria GP2 round

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ART Grand Prix has confirmed that Rene Binder will replace the suspended Nobuharu Matsushita for this weekend’s GP2 Series round in Austria.

Matsushita was handed a ban for the upcoming event at the Red Bull Ring for driving dangerously during the sprint race in Azerbaijan two weeks ago, where his antics behind the safety car came under scrutiny.

Binder arrives with a wealth of experience racing in GP2, having made his debut back in 2012.

The Austrian currently races in Formula V8 3.5 with Lotus, where he sits fourth in the drivers’ championship after eight races.

“First of all I want to thank ART Grand Prix for this great opportunity to drive their car at my home race in Spielberg,” Binder said.

“I like GP2 but I still have some unfinished business with it so I always said that if there was a chance to get a drive with a top team within the season I would not hesitate to take the challenge.

“Of course it will take a few laps to get the feeling for the car and for the Pirelli tires again. However, I am sure that I will get the best possible support from the team who is, without any doubt, among the most successful race teams in Europe.”

McLaren junior Matsushita will return for the following round at Silverstone next weekend.

April 5 in Motorsports History: Alex Zanardi’s amazing Long Beach rally

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Alex Zanardi entered the Long Beach Grand Prix on April 5, 1998 as the race’s defending champion and the series’ defending champion.

But the Italian didn’t seem a serious contender for much of the 105-lap event. Zanardi started 11th position and lost a lap early when he was involved in a multicar spin in the hairpin.

Alex Zanardi celebrates after winning the 1998 Grand Prix of Long Beach. Photo: Getty Images

But the race was still young, and despite emerging from the incident in 18th place, Zanardi slowly progressed through the field while battling radio problems that made communication difficult with his team.

With five laps remaining, Zanardi passed Dario Franchitti on the backstretch for second place and then focused in on leader Bryan Herta.

With two laps remaining, Zanardi made his move, making a daring pass on the inside of Herta in the Queen’s Hairpin (which no longer exists as the track layout was changed the following year).

The move was reminiscent of Zanardi’s famous last-lap move on the inside of Laguna Seca’s famed Corkscrew in 1996, which deprived Herta of his first CART victory.

Franchitti passed Herta as well, and Zanardi went on to clinch his first victory of the season.

“On a day when everything went wrong, we came back and won,” Zanardi said following the race. “I can’t explain it. It wasn’t until I saw Bryan ahead of me that I ever thought I had a shot at winning. It was amazing. I have no words to describe it.”

Following Long Beach, Zanadri won six more times in 1998 en route to his second and final CART championship.

Also on this date:

1992: Bobby Rahal led from start to finish to win the Valvoline 200 at Phoenix International Raceway. The win was the first of four victories for Rahal during his championship season.

2009: Ryan Briscoe won the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, the first of three victories for the Aussie in 2009. The race was also the first IndyCar Series on Versus, which was rebranded as NBC Sports Network in 2012.

Follow Michael Eubanks on Twitter @michaele1994