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Rubens Barrichello relishing ‘important’ Le Mans debut

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Ex-Formula 1 driver Rubens Barrichello is relishing his upcoming debut in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, believing it to be an important step in his storied racing career.

Barrichello raced in F1 between 1993 and 2011, taking 11 race wins and finishing second in the drivers’ championship in 2002 and 2004 with Ferrari.

The Brazilian has raced in IndyCar and Brazilian Stock Cars since his F1 career ended, as well as making two starts in the Rolex 24 at Daytona, where he finished second in 2016 with Wayne Taylor Racing.

Barrichello confirmed back in February that he would be making his first Le Mans start in 2017 with Racing Team Nederland in the LMP2 class alongside Jan Lammers and Frits van Eerd.

The F1 veteran will get his first real-life taste of the Circuit de la Sarthe on Sunday during the Le Mans test day, and the prospect of being part of the famous race is something he relishes.

“I watched the race on TV for such a long and time. The fact that I have done Monaco and I have done Indianapolis, I think Le Mans is something that is important to do as well as part of my career too,” Barrichello told the FIA website.

“Most important is the fact that I love what I do. When I raced in Formula 1 after 19 years, people said to me: ‘You should stop, you’ve done so much already’. But I will stop when I think I don’t love driving anymore.

“I’m doing more driving now than I did when I was in Formula 1 with Stock Cars and karting, so I am still a very competitive person.

“So the shot at Le Mans is very nice to do because I love what I do very much.”

Zach Veach splits with Andretti Autosport for rest of IndyCar season

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Zach Veach will be leaving his Andretti Autosport ride with three races remaining in the season, choosing to explore options after the decision was made he wouldn’t return for 2021.

In a Wednesday release, Andretti Autosport said a replacement driver for the No. 26 Dallara-Honda would be named in the coming days. The NTT IndyCar Series will race Oct. 2-3 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and then conclude the season Oct. 25 on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida.

Veach was ranked 11th in the points standings through 11 races of his third season with Andretti. Since a fourth in the June 6 season opener at Texas Motor Speedway, he hadn’t finished higher than 14th.

“The decision was made that I will not be returning in 2021 with Andretti Autosport in the No. 26 Gainbridge car,” Veach said in the Andretti release. “This, along with knowing that limited testing exists for teams due to COVID, have led me to the decision to step out of the car for the remainder of the 2020 IndyCar season. I am doing this to allow the team to have time with other drivers as they prepare for 2021, and so that I can also explore my own 2021 options.

“This is the hardest decision I have ever made, but to me, racing is about family, and it is my belief that you take care of your family. Andretti Autosport is my family and I feel this is what is best to help us all reach the next step. I will forever be grateful to Michael and the team for all of their support over the years. I would not be where I am today if it wasn’t for a relationship that started many years ago with Road to Indy. I will also be forever grateful to Dan Towriss for his friendship and for the opportunity he and Gainbridge have given me.

“My love for this sport and the people involved is unmeasurable, and I look forward to continuing to be amongst the racing world and fans in 2021.”

Said team owner Michael Andretti: “We first welcomed Zach to the Andretti team back in his USF2000 days and have enjoyed watching him grow and evolve as a racer, and a person. His decision to allow us to use the last few races to explore our 2021 options shows the measure of his character.

“Zach has always placed team and family first, and we’re very happy to have had him as part of ours for so many years. We wish him the best in whatever 2021 may bring and will always consider him a friend.”

Andretti fields five full-time cars for Veach, Alexander Rossi, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Marco Andretti and Colton Herta.

It also has fielded James Hinchcliffe in three races this season.