Duval, di Grassi score WEC pole for Audi in Mexico City

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Audi bounced back from Porsche’s domination at the Nürburgring last month to score pole position for the FIA World Endurance Championship round in Mexico City with the no. 8 R18 car shared by Loic Duval and Lucas di Grassi.

Duval and di Grassi teamed up to post a two-lap average of 1:25.069, good enough for Audi’s third pole position of the 2016 WEC season and the first for the no. 8 crew.

The Le Mans-winning no. 2 Porsche 919 Hybrid will line up second on the grid at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez as Neel Jani and Romain Dumas finished just 0.042 seconds behind.

Audi’s no. 7 car shared by Andre Lotterer and Marcel Fassler qualified third, two-tenths of a second further back. The pair will race without regular teammate Benoit Treluyer on Saturday, the Frenchman ruled out through injury.

Porsche’s no. 1 car was fourth ahead of the pair of Toyota TS050 Hybrids, the no. 5 finishing within nine-tenths of a second of the pole time.

In LMP2, the RGR Sport by Morand team enjoyed a memorable maiden home qualifying session by taking pole position with its no. 43 Ligier Nissan.

Ricardo Gonzalez and Bruno Senna posted a combined average of 1:35.485 to finish three-tenths of a second clear at the top of the timesheets. The no. 43 Signatech Alpine entry was second ahead of the no. 42 Strakka Racing Gibson-Nissan.

Aston Martin Racing enjoyed a sweep of the GTE classes, locking out the front row in Pro with its no. 95 and no. 97 cars.

Nicki Thiim and Marco Sørensen combined for a two-lap average of 1:40.458, edging out the sister AMR entry by one-tenth of a second. The no. 51 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GTE was half a second further back in third place.

The no. 98 Aston Martin Vantage V8 shared by Pedro Lamy and Paul Dalla Lana swept to pole in GTE Am, finishing four-tenths clear of the no. 88 Abu Dhabi Proton Racing Porsche 911 RSR.

The FIA WEC 6 Hours of Mexico kicks off at 1:30pm local time on Saturday in Mexico City.

Ganassi announces multiyear sponsorship extension with American Legion for No. 10

Chip Ganassi American Legion
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Chip Ganassi Racing announced a new primary sponsorship deal with The American Legion this week, shoring up the funding on its No. 10 Dallara-Honda of Alex Palou.

The 2021 NTT IndyCar Series champion primarily had driven with NTT Data sponsorship the past two seasons. But NTT Data will move next season to McLaren Racing as a primary sponsor for Felix Rosenqvist in 10 races and on the Indy 500 car of Tony Kanaan (who drove an American Legion car for Ganassi at the Brickyard last year).

It was the latest twist in a McLaren-Ganassi saga that included a contract dispute for the services of Palou (who is expected to move to McLaren in 2024 after reaching an agreement to race with Ganassi next year).

Ganassi stayed within its own walls to help plug the sponsorship gap left by NTT Data, re-signing The American Legion to a multiyear extension. The Indianapolis-based non-profit organization, which has been sponsoring Ganassi cars for the past few seasons, also will be associated with other Ganassi drivers, including Indy 500 winner Marcus Ericsson and development driver Kyffin Simpson in Indy NXT.

The Ganassi organization will continue promoting The American Legion’s “Be The One” campaign aimed at reducing veteran suicides. The team launched an online auction for the initiative this week.

“Supporting our nation’s veterans is of immense importance to our organization and we are humbled to continue supporting The American Legion’s mission in ending veteran suicide,” team owner Chip Ganassi said in a release. “We will do absolutely everything we can to help veterans get the support they need while raising public awareness of the ‘Be The One’ platform.”

“We have received an overwhelming amount of support from fans, active-duty military members and veterans as a result of this partnership and we’re pleased to see it grow,” said Dean Kessel, chief marketing officer at The American Legion. “Thanks to the continuous collaboration with the team’s other partners, and the promotion of the ‘Be The One’ initiative, we are discovering more ways to engage with the military community than ever before. We want all veterans to know that it’s okay to ask for help.”