Reports: No Porsche, Audi third cars at Le Mans in 2017

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Next year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans will be the same as this year’s in at least one respect: there won’t be a third Audi and a third Porsche, respectively.

The respective LMP1 program heads confirmed to Autosport that as part of their parent company Volkswagen’s budget cutbacks in the wake of their emissions scandal that it wouldn’t make financial sense to go back to three cars after scaling back to two this year.

“Three cars is not in the plan,” Head of Audi Sport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich told Autosport’s Gary Watkins, thus confirming what Ullrich had hinted at to Endurance-Info during the Total 24 Hours of Spa GT3 endurance race.

In the same Autosport report, Porsche LMP1 team principal Andreas Seidl told Watkins the third car for Porsche was “not a topic for discussion.”

Toyota could still run three cars at Le Mans next year, but hasn’t done so since arriving in the WEC in 2012.

Porsche’s third car famously won Le Mans in 2015 overall with Nico Hulkenberg joining Porsche factory aces Nick Tandy and Earl Bamber in their LMP1 Le Mans debuts.

But the scale back that came into play this year was always going to leave a gap on the LMP1 grid. The LMP1 grid fell from 14 cars at Le Mans in 2015 to nine cars this year.

Porsche, of note, should have more of its works drivers to place around its GT program in 2017 because of the impending arrival of a new GTE car to replace the venerable latest 911 RSR, which premiered worldwide in 2013.

Audi’s leftover third car drivers wound up in LMP2 seats, with Rene Rast (G-Drive Racing) and Filipe Albuquerque (RGR Sport by Morand) running the full season this year.

Three-time W Series champ Jamie Chadwick joining Andretti in Indy NXT Series for 2023

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Jamie Chadwick, the three-time W Series champion, will drive for Andretti Autosport in the Indy NXT Series next season.

Chadwick will make her debut in an American racing series in March, driving the No. 28 for Andretti Autosport with sponsorship from DHL. The 24-year-old will become the first female driver in 13 years to compete full time in the Indy NXT championship.

Chadwick joined the female free-to-enter W Series in its inaugural 2019 season, winning two races and the first of three consecutive championships. She has been a reserve driver for the Williams Formula One team and will continue in that role in 2023. She also has driven in the Extreme E Series.

Despite her success, Chadwick hasn’t landed a bigger ride in F3 or F2, and her break didn’t come until Michael Andretti contacted her and offered a test in an Indy NXT car.

The final three races of this year’s W Series schedule were canceled when funding fell through, but Chadwick still believes the all-female series was the right path for her.

“W Series has always been and will continue to be an opportunity to be racing for every female driver, so for my side, I looked at it while perhaps I would have liked to step up maybe earlier, at the same time being able to have that chance to race, get that experience, have that development, seat time… I was constantly learning,” Chadwick told The Associated Press.

“In that sense, I wasn’t frustrated at all. But on the flip side of it, now I’ve had that experience testing in the United States in Indy NXT and this is something I’m really excited about.”

Chadwick also is expected to have an enhanced role as a development driver next season with Williams, which chose American driver Logan Sargeant to fill its open seat on next year’s F1 grid.

“Andretti Autosport is proud to be supporting Jamie alongside DHL,” said Michael Andretti. “Jamie’s successful career speaks for itself, but Indy NXT gives Jamie the opportunity to continue her development in a new type of racing.

“We’ve turned out five Indy NXT champions over the years and look forward to continuing our role in developing new talent.”

Indy NXT is the new name of the rebranded Indy Lights Series, the final step on the ladder system before IndyCar.

Andretti will field two drivers next season in IndyCar that were developed in Indy NXT: Kyle Kirkwood, the 2021 champion, will return to Andretti after one season in IndyCar driving for A.J. Foyt Racing, and Devlin DeFrancesco is back for a second season.

Chadwick will be teammates in Indy NXT with Hunter McElrea and Louis Foster. She becomes Andretti’s second full-time female driver alongside Catie Munnings, who competes for Andretti United in the Extreme E Series.