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Giovinazzi victorious amid safety car confusion in GP2 Monza feature race

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Antonio Giovinazzi claimed a stunning home victory in Saturday’s GP2 feature race at Monza, fighting back from qualifying exclusion to claim his fourth win of the season.

Giovinazzi had qualified second on Friday, only for a technical irregularity to drop him to the back of the field.

Prema Racing teammate Pierre Gasly led the field away from pole, narrowly escaping damage at the first corner after minor contact with Artem Markelov.

Gasly managed to retain his lead before pitting at the end of lap 12, switching from soft tires to mediums that would see him to the end of the race.

The lead cycled around to the drivers running an alternate strategy, with the trio of Raffaele Marciello, Gustav Malja and Giovinazzi going deep into the race before making a stop.

All three became embroiled in the fight for victory when the safety car was deployed following a terrifying crash involving Arthur Pic and Sergio Canamasas, the latter’s car rolling in the air after contact at the second Lesmo. Thankfully, both drivers were able to walk away.

Marciello, Malja and Giovinazzi all dived into the pits to switch to soft tires, with the safety car emerging from the pit lane behind them before incorrectly picking up Gasly at the front of the train.

After a few laps of confusion that had seen the trio essentially gain a lap, Gasly and co. were waved past before the safety car picked up Marciello as the rightful race leader ahead of Malja and Giovinazzi.

The race returned to green with seven laps remaining, with Gasly running fourth. The Frenchman tried to pass Giovinazzi at the first chicane, only for the lapped Sean Gelael to get in the way. The Indonesian driver was black flagged on the last lap.

Giovinazzi found his feet and passed Malja for second place in the closing stages before diving past Marciello on the final lap, completing an epic comeback.

Giovinazzi led Marciello home to head up an Italian one-two at Monza, delighting the fans that had stuck around after Formula 1 qualifying.

Malja clung on to third place ahead of Gasly, who saw his series lead fall to just eight points on Saturday as a result of Giovinazzi’s victory.

Norman Nato was fifth for Racing Engineering ahead of Luca Ghiotto and Jordan King, while Mitch Evans will start from reverse grid pole on Sunday after finishing eighth.

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

Helio Castroneves IMSA IndyCar
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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.”