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Porsche tests 2017 919 Hybrid with Bamber, Hartley in Spain

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The 2016 FIA World Endurance Championship may have finished almost a month ago, but Porsche is yet to wrap up its track running for the year after completing a test at Motorland Aragon in Spain on Wednesday.

Porsche won both the drivers’ and manufacturers’ WEC titles in 2016, claiming six race wins including the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June.

As part of its development and preparation for 2017, Porsche completed running with drivers Earl Bamber and Brendon Hartley with the updated 919 Hybrid car.

After losing planned running earlier in the week to fog, Porsche was able to complete 179 laps on Wednesday with the car sporting a special ‘dazzle’ testing livery.

The test marked Bamber’s return to the wheel of the 919 Hybrid, having last raced it at Le Mans in 2015 when he claimed a famous victory in Porsche’s third car alongside Nick Tandy and Nico Hulkenberg.

Bamber and Tandy will both race full-time for Porsche’s LMP1 team in 2017 following Mark Webber’s retirement from racing and the relocation of Marc Lieb and Romain Dumas within its motorsport program.

Bamber joins Hartley and Timo Bernhard in the no. 2 car for the 2017 season, while Tandy is set to race with Neel Jani and new signing Andre Lotterer, the latter arriving from Audi, in the no. 1.

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.”