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Manor F1 ready for takeover after terms agreed with investor

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ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates (AP) The struggling Manor Formula One team is on the verge of a takeover after its owner said Friday that terms have been agreed with a new investor.

Speaking at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, British businessman Stephen Fitzpatrick said that the team has been in discussions with several investors over the past six months and one is now in pole position.

“We have agreed terms with an investor at the moment and we are still working through that,” said Fitzpatrick, who rescued the team from administration in time for the 2015 season. “I can’t really talk more about the specifics.”

Fitzpatrick is now prepared to take a back seat as long as it makes the team stronger.

“One of the things I was quite clear on, right from the start, was that in the current F1, money equals performance,” he said. “So anything that was going to bring more funding to the team and help the team develop I was very open to … (even) if that meant bringing in another investor, and even a majority investor.”

Manor has scored one point this season, putting it in 11th and last place in the constructors’ standings heading into Sunday’s season-ending Abu Dhabi GP.

Manor is still aiming for 10th place and is one point behind Sauber, which currently holds that position.

The difference between 10th and 11th is several millions in terms of television rights and revenue distribution.

Losing out on 10th spot would not affect the impending takeover, however.

“It doesn’t help financially, but the terms of our agreement have been re-finalized, let’s say,” Fitzpatrick explained. “(It’s) not a deal breaker.”

Highly-rated German driver Pascal Wehrlein scored the team’s only point this year after finishing 10th at the Austrian GP in July.

Esteban Ocon is Manor’s other driver, but the 20-year-old Frenchman is joining Force India next season.

Werhlein, meanwhile, is tipped to replace Brazilian Felipe Nasr at Sauber, a move made potentially more likely with the news that Nasr has lost his banking sponsor Banco do Brasil.

“That’s correct. The bank informed us as well,” Sauber team principal Monisha Kaltenborn said at the same news conference as Fitzpatrick. “They have interrupted their 2017 sponsorship program. Our seat is still open, we are including that in our assessment.”

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.