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Jani, Porsche lead again in second Bahrain WEC practice

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Neel Jani and the no. 2 Porsche 919 Hybrid crew continued to set the pace in practice for the final FIA World Endurance Championship round of the season in Bahrain on Thursday night.

Alongside teammates Marc Lieb and Romain Dumas, Jani heads into the final race of the year needing just a sixth-place finish to secure a maiden drivers’ championship.

Jani set the fastest lap in FP1 earlier in the day before doubling up in second practice, turning in a quickest lap of 1:39.817 to head up a Porsche one-two.

“During the first session I had a small issue with the door, but other than that everything went well. This time here the track is quite clean, and that’s why lap times were immediately pretty good,” Jani said.

“We did the qualifying simulation in the second session, because the fight for pole tomorrow will also be after sunset. I had an OK lap, but there certainly is room for improvement.

“Afterwards we built the car back up to race spec. We want to keep a high performance level over the race distance.”

Jani’s lap was 0.455 seconds quicker than that of no. 1 Porsche driver Brendon Hartley in second place as Audi trailed in third place, a further one-tenth of a second behind.

Toyota’s championship-chasing no. 6 crew slotted into fourth place in the TS050, getting a lap in early before focusing on its race simulations.

In LMP2, the returning Rene Rast immediately impressed behind the wheel of the no. 26 G-Drive Racing Oreca Nissan by setting the fastest time in class, finishing three-tenths of a second faster than the championship-winning no. 36 Signatech Alpine entry. Manor’s no. 44 Oreca Nissan ended the day third-fastest.

Aston Martin Racing continued its dominance at the top of GTE Pro by romping to another one-two finish, this time reversing the positions from FP1. Championship leaders Nicki Thiim and Marco Sørensen edged out Jonny Adam and Darren Turner by just 0.007 seconds – an apt time delta for the WEC’s Bond brand – with Ford finishing a further 1.9 seconds adrift in P3.

Aston Martin also managed to take top spot in GTE Am with the no. 98 Vantage V8 shared by Pedro Lamy, Paul Dalla Lana and Mathias Lauda finishing over a second clear of the field. The champions elect no. 83 AF Corse crew finished third-fastest, knowing that pole on Friday will be enough to wrap up the championship a day early.

Indianapolis Motor Speedway can have 10,000 fans for IndyCar races

Indianapolis Motor Speedway fans
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Indianapolis Motor Speedway will have crowds for its NTT IndyCar Series race weekend next month, the first time fans are allowed at the track this year.

The track announced Friday that up to 10,000 fans will be allowed in the grandstands daily from Oct. 1-4. The IndyCar Harvest GP race doubleheader will be held on the track’s road course Oct. 2-3.

IMS has played host to several events this year without fans, including the 104th Indianapolis 500 on Aug. 23 and a NASCAR-IndyCar weekend July 4-5 that included the Brickyard 400. Plans originally were made to have fans at the Indy 500 before reversing course a few weeks ahead of the race. In a letter last month, Roger Penske vowed that fans would return for the 2021 Indy 500.

“We can’t wait to see fans come through our gates for the first time in 2020,” IMS president Doug Boles said in a release. “They’ll be greeted by a vastly improved facility, featuring significant upgrades to the spectator experience. We’re also extremely grateful to have a presenting sponsor with the expertise and resources of GMR as we look to implement our detailed and comprehensive health and safety plan.”

Fans will undergo temperature screenings upon entry and also be required to wear face coverings at all times on property. The track said each attendee will receive a mask and bottle of hand sanitizer.

The Friday, Oct. 2 race will be shown at 3:30 p.m. ET on USA, and NBC will broadcast the Saturday, Oct. 3 race at 2:30 p.m. ET.

Here’s the release from Indianapolis Motor Speedway:

INDIANAPOLIS, Friday, Sept. 18, 2020 – For the first time in 2020, Indianapolis Motor Speedway will welcome fans to the Racing Capital of the World for the INDYCAR Harvest GP presented by GMR weekend. Up to 10,000 spectators can be in the grandstands each day of racing action Oct. 1-4, per approval from the Marion County Public Health Department.

Tickets are available now via IMS.com and will be sold on a first-come, first-served basis.

The massive facility, which holds more than 300,000 people, will provide two spectator zones with up to 5,000 fans in each. The zones will be located in Turns 1 and 4 of the oval, offering strong sightlines of the road course. Strict health and safety rules will be in place, including the following:

  • Face coverings must be worn throughout the property at all times;
  • All fans will receive temperature screenings before gate entry;
  • Grandstand seats will be marked for distancing;
  • Attendees must use pre-assigned gates and remain in their designated zones.

Global Medical Response, the world leader in compassionate, quality emergency medical and patient relocation services, will be the presenting sponsor of the penultimate weekend of INDYCAR racing this season.

“We can’t wait to see fans come through our gates for the first time in 2020,” IMS President J. Douglas Boles said. “They’ll be greeted by a vastly improved facility, featuring significant upgrades to the spectator experience. We’re also extremely grateful to have a presenting sponsor with the expertise and resources of GMR as we look to implement our detailed and comprehensive health and safety plan.”

The plan, which includes each attendee receiving a mask and a bottle of hand sanitizer upon entering the track, was developed in consultation with state and local health officials.

This event weekend is highlighted by an NTT INDYCAR SERIES doubleheader, with races Friday, Oct. 2 and Saturday, Oct. 3. It will be the penultimate event of the series’ season as the field pursues the champion’s prestigious Astor Challenge Cup to be awarded Sunday, Oct. 25 at the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

The INDYCAR Harvest GP will pay tribute to a storied IMS event, the Harvest Classic in September 1916. The Harvest Classic was the only racing event held outside of May at IMS from 1911 through 1993. The event featured three races, all won by legendary driver Johnny Aitken.

Fans also will see a host of facility improvements during the event weekend, including more than 30 new LED video boards, refreshed concession stands and restrooms, and 5G wireless connectivity throughout the facility.

The first race will air at 3:30 p.m. (ET) Friday, Oct. 2 on the USA Network. NBC will broadcast the second race at 2:30 p.m. (ET) Saturday, Oct. 3, with WTHR-13 airing the action live in Central Indiana.

Also racing that weekend will be the first pairing of two major sports car series — the Intercontinental GT Challenge Powered by Pirelli and its North American counterpart, GT World Challenge America Powered by AWS. Former Indianapolis 500 pole winner Ryan Briscoe is among the drivers in the Indianapolis 8 Hour event held Sunday, Oct. 4.

The event also will showcase drivers in SRO America’s Pirelli GT4 America, GT Sports Club America and the TC America series.

The full on-track schedule is available at IMS.com.