Engel returns to DTM with Mercedes for 2017, set to miss two FE rounds

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Maro Engel will return to DTM in 2017 with Mercedes after being named as part of its trimmed down line-up for the new season.

Mercedes, Audi and BMW agreed to reduce their entries from eight to six drivers for 2017, with the new season due to begin at Hockenheim on May 7.

Engel raced for Mercedes in DTM between 2008 and 2011, and has remained a factory driver for the German marque since leaving the series, tasting victory at the Nürburgring 24 Hours in 2016.

Engel will race alongside Gary Paffett, Lucas Auer, Paul di Resta, Robert Wickens and Edoardo Mortara in DTM this year for Mercedes, with Felix Rosenqvist, Maximillian Götz, Daniel Juncadella and Christian Vietoris losing their seats.

“I definitely have some unfinished business with the DTM,” Engel said. “I am very pleased to that I’ve been able to battle my way back into the squad over the past few years and that I now have a chance to prove myself in the coming season.

“I have fantastic teammates who I’ve obviously known for a long time. That’s why I’m sure I won’t have any problems settling in.”

Engel is also signed up to race in Formula E during its third season with Venturi, but NBC Sports understands that the German will miss races in Paris and Brussels due to clashing DTM commitments.

Audi’s Loic Duval is in a similar position, racing for Faraday Future Dragon Racing in Formula E, and could also join Engel in dropping out of two rounds of the all-electric series.

Rosenqvist had been facing a similar dilemma heading into 2017, but the ex-Indy Lights racer confirmed in a statement that Formula E was his priority this year.

“I really enjoyed racing in the DTM with Mercedes last year, and I learned a lot about how to deal with the pressure that comes with representing a top-line manufacturer,” Rosenqvist said.

“It’s a fantastic championship, but at the end of the day it just wasn’t possible to combine it with Formula E this year, which is obviously a shame.

“I’ve had a strong start to the season with Mahindra; I’m currently fourth in the standings and we’ve been putting a lot of effort into the development of our package.

“It’s impossible to say how we’ll fare now that we get to circuits that the others know, but we are in a good position and we’re working flat out to try and get our first win. That requires my full attention at the moment.”

Meyer Shank Racing wins Petit Le Mans to take final DPi championship in dramatic finale

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Meyer Shank Racing outdueled Wayne Taylor Racing to win the Petit Le Mans and clinch the championship in a thrilling final race for the DPi division.

Tom Blomqvist, who started from the pole position, drove the No. 60 Acura ARX-05 to a 4.369-second victory over Pipo Derani in the No. 31 Action Express Cadillac.

“That was incredible,” Blomqvist told NBC Sports’ Matt Yocum. “I’ve never dug so deep in my life. The adrenaline. I did that for the guys. I was so motivated to win this thing this weekend. But I’ve got to thank everyone on the whole team.”

With co-drivers Oliver Jarvis and Helio Castroneves, Blomqvist helped MSR bookend its season-opening victory in the Rolex 24 at Daytona by winning Saturday’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season finale at Michelin Road Atlanta.

In between those two victories, the No. 60 earned five runner-up finishes to stay in the thick of the championship hunt and trail WTR’s No. 10 Acura by 14 points entering Saturday’s race.

WTR’s Filipe Albuquerque had a lead of more than 10 seconds over Blomqvist with less than 50 minutes remaining in the 10-hour race.

But a Turn 1 crash between the Chip Ganassi Racing Cadillacs brought out a yellow that sent both Acuras into the pits from the top two positions.

Though he entered in second, Blomqvist barely beat Albuquerque out of the pits, and he held the lead for the final 45 minutes.

Blomqvist said he gained the lead because of a shorter fuel fill after he had worked on being efficient in the second-to-last stint.

“The team asked a big job of me with the fuel; I had a big fuel number to hit,” Blomqvist said. “We knew that was probably our only chance. The yellow came at the right time and obviously we had a bit less fuel to fill up, so I was able to jump him and then it was just a matter of going gung-ho and not leaving anything on the line. And obviously, the opposition had to try too hard to make it work. I’m so thankful.”

Albuquerque closed within a few car lengths of Blomqvist with 14 minutes remaining, but he damaged his suspension because of contact with a GT car in Turn 1.

It’s the first prototype championship for Meyer Shank Racing, which also won the 2021 Indy 500 with Castroneves.

“We’ve had in the last four years, three championships for Acura, the Indy 500 win and the Rolex 24, it doesn’t get any better,” team co-owner Mike Shank told NBC Sports’ Kevin Lee.

It’s the third consecutive runner-up finish in the points standings for Wayne Taylor Racing, which won the first Daytona Prototype international championship in 2017. The premier category will be rebranded as the Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) class with the LMDh cars that will establish a bridge to racing in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Kamui Kobayashi finished third in the No. 48 Cadillac of Action Express that also includes Jimmie Johnson and Mike Rockenfeller.

The podium showing marked Johnson’s last scheduled race in IMSA’s top prototype division. The seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion has raced in the No. 48 Ally Cadillac lineup as the Action Express entry has run the Endurance Cup races.

Johnson said a lack of inventory will preclude him having a 2023 ride in the top category. But he still is hopeful of racing the Garage 56 Next Gen Camaro in next year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans and possibly running in a lower class for the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

“I’d love to be at Le Mans next year,” Johnson told NBC Sports’ Dillon Welch after his final stint Saturday. “I’d love to be at the Rolex 24. The series is going through a shake-up with the reconfiguration of the rules and classes, so I don’t have anything locked down yet, but I’m so thankful for this experience with Action. The support Ally has given us, Mr. Hendrick, Chad Knaus, all of Hendrick Motorsports. It’s been a fun two years, and I certainly hope I’m on the grid again next year.”