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Alonso confident McLaren will return to Le Mans in the future

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Fernando Alonso is impressed by new McLaren boss Zak Brown’s more open approach to racing in other categories, and is confident that the British marque will return to the 24 Hours of Le Mans in the future.

Following the end of Ron Dennis’ 35-year reign of McLaren, Brown officially became executive director of the company in December last year.

The American businessman has already made widespread changes to the company, the most significant being the decision to allow Alonso to enter the Indianapolis 500 later this month and skip the Monaco Grand Prix.

When asked about the difference in approach between Brown and Dennis, Alonso said that McLaren’s new chief has a more open approach that is felt throughout the team.

“I think they are very different and I think there is a not a magic solution, or a magic way to lead a team to success,” Alonso said.

“Ron had a fantastic time in the past in McLaren with a lot of success, and now with Zak things are a little bit more open, inside the team but also for you guys, outside, how you can approach McLaren now is different, on the commercial side, also in a technical side.”

Alonso also praised Brown’s vision for McLaren in categories beyond F1, stating his belief that the team will feature more in the Indy 500 in the future and at the 24 Hours of Le Mans one day.

“I think also with Zak the biggest difference is the vision and the approach for the brand, for McLaren, which is a little bit different and wants to span the McLaren in different worlds and different categories,” Alonso said.

“We’ll see with the Indy 500, I think it is not only this year. I think McLaren will be in the Indy 500 for the future. I think McLaren will be in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in the future, as they were in the past, when they won the Indy 500, when they won Le Mans.

“So that’s the biggest change we can feel inside McLaren, that Zak will not only concentrate in Formula 1, will concentrate in McLaren as a race team in different series.

“And the most important thing is obviously to sell cars and to sell the McLaren cars you need to open to new markets and especially the US market is probably the biggest one.”

McLaren famously won Le Mans back in 1995 with its F1 GTR car, but has not featured at the Circuit de la Sarthe since 1998.

Rinus VeeKay to drive for Ed Carpenter Racing in 2020

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Ed Carpenter Racing has signed 2019 Indy Lights runner-up Rinus VeeKay to drive the full 2020 NTT IndyCar Series season, the team announced Wednesday.

VeeKay will drive the No. 21 Chevrolet previously occupied by Spencer Pigot.

“I’m so happy!” the 19-year-old driver from the Netherlands said in a press release. “It’s a dream come true and something we have worked extremely hard for over the last couple of years. To step up from USF2000 to the NTT IndyCar Series in three years is really special.”

In his maiden Indy Lights season this year, VeeKay collected six race victories and seven pole potions. VeeKay previously won the 2018 Indy Pro 2000 championship, and finished second in the 2017 USF2000 standings.

VeeKay’s success in the ladder series caught the attention of Carpenter, who gave VeeKay the opportunity to first test for the team at Portland International Raceway in August.

“I have been following Rinus’s path through the Road to Indy, especially the past two years,” Carpenter said. “It was clear to me that he deserves to be in an Indy car. After his first day in a car at Portland this past season, that feeling became even more apparent. His pace, feedback and demeanor inside the car was very impressive for such a young driver.”

As a driver, Carpenter will be VeeKay’s teammate during the five oval races in 2020, once again returning to the team’s No. 20 entry. An announcement on which driver will pilot the No. 20 on the road and street circuits will be made at a later time.

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