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FIA, ACO confirm 2017 entry lists for WEC and Le Mans

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The FIA and Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO) have jointly confirmed the entry lists for this year’s FIA World Endurance Championship and the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

As expected, the launch conference revealed a slimmed-down WEC field for 2017, with the headline omission being Audi following its decision to end its LMP1 program at the end of last year.

Toyota confirmed late last night that it would be fielding three cars with the rounds at Spa and Le Mans, with Jose Maria Lopez replacing Stephane Sarrazin in a full-time seat. Sarrazin will race in the third car at Spa and Le Mans.

Defending manufacturers’ champion Porsche confirmed its line-up last December, with Andre Lotterer, Nick Tandy and Earl Bamber all getting LMP1 seats. Despite many hoping it would revive its third car entry from 2015, Porsche will only race with two cars at Le Mans once again.

Following Rebellion Racing’s move down to LMP2 means that ByKolles is the only non-factory team racing in the LMP1 class this year, entering one car. Ex-Formula 1 racer Robert Kubica will make his Le Mans debut with the privateer team, being listed as its driver for Le Mans.

The LMP2 grid will feature 10 cars through the WEC season, with a bumper grid of 25 slated for Le Mans. As expected, all the full-season entries will run ORECA chassis.

In GTE Pro, 13 cars were confirmed to be racing at Le Mans, including a full complement of four Ford GTs that combines both the US and European squads, as seen at Daytona last weekend. The biggest talking point here is the signing of rising endurance star Pipo Derani for the first three races, the Brazilian joining Andy Priaulx and Harry Tincknell in the No. 67 Ford GT.

In GTE Am, five cars will take part in the full WEC season, with a grid of 16 set for Le Mans.

The full list for Le Mans, and by extension the FIA WEC, is linked here.

Australia SuperCar Champion gets IndyCar Test at Team Penske

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Scott McLaughlin’s latest reward for winning the 2019 Virgin Australia SuperCar championship is an INDYCAR test at Team Penske.

“Scott has been incredibly successful for DJR Team Penske over the last three seasons and he has become a true champion of our sport,” said team owner Roger Penske, who will become the owner of INDYCAR, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the Indianapolis 500 in early January. “He certainly embraces new challenges and we think this is a great opportunity to utilize the IndyCar Series rookie testing program so Scott can experience what it is like to get behind the wheel of one of our Indy cars.”

McLaughlin, who has scored back-to-back Virgin Australia Supercars Champion for DJR Team Penske (DJRTP), will participate in an INDYCAR Rookie Evaluation test at Sebring International Raceway in Sebring, Fla. on Monday, January 13.

“I am always open to new challenges and I’m thankful to Team Penske for providing this opportunity to test an Indy car,” said McLaughlin, who established a new Supercars single season record with 18 victories this past season. “We had an amazing year in 2019 and I’m looking forward to defending our Supercars championship next season. I’m also excited to grow as a driver and being with Team Penske creates cool opportunities to try something new. Although I have spent a few hours in a simulator earlier this year, it’s going to be a blast to see what one really feels like at a place like Sebring.”

McLaughlin joined DJR Team Penske in 2017 as one of the brightest stars in Supercars. He has produced 35 victories and 44 pole positions over the last three seasons while helping DJRTP claim team championships in 2017 and 2019, the driver’s title each of the last two seasons and the legendary Bathurst 1000 race in October, along with co-driver Alex Premat.

McLaughlin will defend his Supercars title for DJRTP in 2020 in the No. 17 Shell V-Power Ford Mustang.  He will build on his already successful racing career by driving a full-sized open-wheel car for the first time.

Team Penske enjoyed another successful IndyCar Series season in 2019. The team earned its record 18th Indianapolis 500 victory as Simon Pagenaud captured the checkered flag in May, while Josef Newgarden won his second series title in three years and the team’s 16th INDYCAR Championship. Team Penske will once again compete with three full-season entries in 2020, featuring series champion drivers Newgarden, Pagenaud and Will Power.

Team Penske is one of the most successful teams in the history of professional sports. Cars owned and prepared by Team Penske have produced more than 540 major race wins, over 620 pole positions and 37 Championships across open-wheel, stock car and sports car racing competition. Over the course of its 53-year history, the team has also earned 18 Indianapolis 500 victories, two Daytona 500 Championships, a Formula 1 win, overall victories in the 24 Hours of Daytona and the 12 Hours of Sebring along with a win in Australia’s legendary Bathurst 1000 race. Team Penske currently competes in the IndyCar Series, the NASCAR Cup Series, the NASCAR Xfinity Series and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. The team also races in the Virgin Australia SuperCars Championship, in a partnership with Dick Johnson Racing, as DJR Team Penske.

Follow Bruce Martin on Twitter at @BruceMartin_500