Formula E/LAT

Sarrazin takes Gutierrez’s Techeetah Formula E seat

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Esteban Gutierrez looks poised to see out the remainder of the Verizon IndyCar Series season with Dale Coyne Racing after the Techeetah Formula E team signed Stephane Sarrazin to his seat.

Gutierrez moved into Formula E after losing his Formula 1 drive at the end of last year, racing in Mexico City, Monaco and Paris with Techeetah.

The Mexican will make his IndyCar debut in Detroit this weekend with Dale Coyne Racing in place of the injured Sebastien Bourdais, who is out of action until at least the season finale at Sonoma on September 17.

Team owner Dale Coyne confirmed on Friday that he planned for Gutierrez to see out the season despite three Formula E schedule clashes in the next two months.

On Saturday, Sarrazin was confirmed to be leaving Venturi for the remainder of the Formula E campaign, joining Techeetah in place of Gutierrez.

Venturi will replace Sarrazin with Tom Dillmann, who made his Formula E debut in Paris last month in place of Maro Engel, who was tied up with DTM duties.

“A positive solution for all those involved,” Venturi team principal Gildo Pallanca Pastor said. “With his experience, Stephane will be embraced by Techeetah and at the same time, the season will offer Tom the chance of gathering further important experiences with Venturi.

“This means that all the three Venturi joint drivers, Maro Engel, Stephane Sarrazin and Tom Dillmann will contest the coming championship rounds in Berlin, New York and Montreal.”

As noted by my colleague Tony DiZinno, this was the penultimate hurdle for Gutierrez to clear if he wants to enter the remaining races on the IndyCar calendar, with the final task being an oval test ahead of next weekend’s Firestone 600 at Texas Motor Speedway.

Sebastien Ogier in driver’s seat for sixth straight World Rally Championship title

Sebastien Ogier leads the way in the WRC title chase. Photo: Getty Images
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COFFS HARBOUR, Australia (AP) — Thierry Neuville finished the sixth stage of Rally Australia on Friday without a rear left tire, damaging his chances of catching five-time defending champion Sebastien Ogier for the World Rally Championship title.

The Belgian driver entered the rally just three points behind Ogier in the closest title fight in 15 years.

He held the upper hand on his French rival, building a near-10 second gap through the first five stages at Coffs Harbour before hitting a chicane and finishing the stage with only three tires on his Hyundai.

Neuville was fortunate the puncture occurred late enough in the day to finish all six forestry stages and avoid a retirement. But the mistake cost him 40 seconds and gave Ogier, who is 33 seconds ahead of him, a clear run at his sixth straight championship.

In his last start with Ford before a move to Citroen next year, Ogier struggled as the first to drive the dusty, slippery forest routes.

“I pushed like crazy, I was on the limit over the jump and everywhere, I can’t do (any) more,” Ogier said. “I was on the limit.”

With Ogier on sweeping duties the back markers flourished, and Mads Ostberg took the lead in his return to the series.

Ostberg was forced to miss the previous round in Spain to make way for rally winner and nine-time world champion Sebastien Loeb, who was making the last of his three guest appearances for Citroen.

Now back in the seat, Ostberg leads Jari-Matti Latvala by 6.8 seconds in the Australian rally, with sixth-stage winner Craig Breen in third.

Ogier was seventh, 38.2 seconds off the pace, but only needs to finish ahead of Neuville to claim the championship title. Neuville is in 10th place after six stages.

Roles will reverse on Saturday, with Ogier to start further back in the field and do his best on cleaner roads to make up the day-one deficit before Sunday’s final stages.

Andreas Mikkelsen, the 2016 Rally Australia champion, was an early dropout after rolling into a ditch in his Hyundai. Mikkelsen had only just avoided a tractor that had found its way onto the course.

Former winner Molly Taylor and co-driver Malcolm Read were also forced out of their event when their Subaru hit a hay bale at high speed on the morning’s second stage. Both reported soreness but suffered no serious injuries.

The 24-stage rally totals 319 kilometers (197 miles). Ten stages are scheduled Saturday with the final six on Sunday, most of them through forests on the New South Wales state’s north coast about 530 kilometers (325 miles) north of Sydney.