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Piquet won’t give up in fight to enter Macau F3 race

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Nelson Piquet Jr. is refusing to give up in his fight to enter the prestigious Macau Formula 3 round later this year despite having his attempt to race in Pau blocked by the FIA in May.

Ex-Formula 1 driver and defending Formula E champion Piquet announced in May that he would be making a one-off appearance in the FIA European F3 Championship event at Pau in France with Carlin.

However, upon arrival at Pau, Piquet was informed that the FIA had blocked his entry, believing it defeated the object of a junior championship.

“I was shocked, absolutely shocked,” Piquet told NBC Sports.

“I was on the plane, arriving there, everything was normal. We landed, I turned my phone on… This can’t be true. I was so, so pissed off. I didn’t even go to the track. I landed, got a car and went straight back to Monaco, I was so upset.

“The team, they spent the money, they brought the car all the way down and everything. For the FIA to say no two days before the race… Still, I don’t agree with it.

“I spoke to most of the teams, most of the teams were OK with me doing it. And then they told me that wasn’t true, that most of the teams were against me racing. So I don’t know.

“Everybody was looking forward to it: the fans, the journalists, the media. I wasn’t there for money. I was there purely because I like that race, I wanted to do it, and we found a solution with Trevor [Carlin]. Plus that would have allowed me to do Macau.

“There’s not much I can say. I’m upset about it. I won’t give up.

“I’ll maybe do Macau if the FIA allows me. We’ll see.”

When asked if he thought the FIA would change its mind, Piquet said: “I don’t know. I have no idea what they’re thinking.”

Piquet announced last week that he would be returning to the NASCAR Xfinity Series next month at Mid-Ohio, and also remains open to entering IndyCar on a full-time basis should the right seat become available.

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

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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.”