Photo: Michael Shank Racing

Tim Keene confirmed to switch to Shank Acura program

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Although Petit Le Mans turned out to not be the last race for the DeltaWing Racing Cars program, it is the last race for at least one of its key team members.

Tim Keene, who had served as DeltaWing team manager, will join Michael Shank Racing with Curb-Agajanian as its General Manager.

Shank signed off its current run of prototype competition with a banner win at Petit Le Mans and will field a two-car Acura NSX GT3 program next year in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship GT Daytona class.

Said Keene of the switch, “I’ve always held Mike Shank in very high regard, as his passion for racing is without question, and his team is always considered a threat come race day.

“When Mike approached me about the possibility of working together on the new Acura NSX project, it was his excitement that led me to this decision. I know we are both looking forward to the challenges ahead, and I’m honored to be a part of a program that will immediately be challenging for wins. There’s a very formidable task ahead and I’m ready to hit the ground running.

“With that said, I want to say thank you to Don Panoz for everything he has done for me the past couple of years, as he and everyone that’s part of the DeltaWing Racing Team will always have a fan in me, and I wish them all the best moving forward.”

Lewis Hamilton aims to match Michael Schumacher’s F1 win record

Lewis Hamilton Schumacher record
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SOCHI, Russia — Lewis Hamilton has set many Formula One marks over the years, but few are as significant as the Michael Schumacher record he can match Sunday at the Russian Grand Prix.

Victory for Hamilton at the Sochi Olympic Park would see him draw level with Schumacher at 91 career victories, more than any other driver in the 70-year history of F1.

It also would increase Hamilton’s commanding 55-point lead over teammate Valtteri Bottas in the championship standings, putting him closer to a seventh world championship, matching another Schumacher record.

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History is on the side of Hamilton, who won Sept. 13 at Mugello. He’s won four of the six Russian races so far, and all six were won by Mercedes drivers. His closest challenger is likely to be Bottas, who beat Hamilton in the 2017 edition of the Russian Grand Prix.

Elsewhere in the championship hunt, Red Bull driver Max Verstappen’s season has gone up in smoke since his Aug. 9 victory at Silverstone. An overheating engine forced the Dutch driver out of the Sept. 6 race at Monza and then a similar problem struck just before the start at Mugello. Verstappen was far slower off the line than the cars around him and was struck by Kimi Raikkonen’s Alfa Romeo.

That leaves Verstappen 80 points off Hamilton in the standings and a 25-point deficit to Bottas.

If Hamilton does win to tie Schumachher at Sochi, more fans will see it in person than any other race in a 2020 season mostly run before empty grandstands because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Organizers say the race weekend is sold out but haven’t given final ticket sales figures.

Race promoter Alexei Titov previously told Russian state TV that the stands would be at 50 percent of their capacity, which equates to around 30,000 spectators.

That’s far more than the previous season high of 3,000 fans for the most recent race, the Tuscan Grand Prix at the Mugello circuit.

Unlike at the last two races in Italy, there will be a full entertainment program on offer for fans with concerts featuring some of Russia’s most popular musicians.

Russian organizers say they’re taking precautions to keep fans safe and will have medical staff posted at checkpoints around the venue, and that spectators will have their temperature measured on entry.