Photo: Aston Martin Racing

Aston Martin snatches Le Mans GTE-Pro win from Corvette

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A storybook finish to the GTE-Pro class ended with pure elation for Aston Martin Racing and sheer heartbreak for Corvette Racing at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Jonny Adam in his venerable No. 97 Aston Martin Vantage V8 pressed Jordan Taylor in his No. 63 Corvette C7.R in the final stint of the race, with the battle culminating in the final 10 minutes.

At Arnage corner, Adam went to the inside of Taylor but overshot the corner apex. Adam was on the outside driver’s left with Taylor to the right, and the two made contact at corner exit. However not long afterwards, Taylor went off course into the gravel at one of the chicanes on the Mulsanne Straight.

Taylor’s car then began to slow shortly thereafter and had there only been one lap still to go, he may have been able to hold off Adam. But Adam made it past Taylor at the exit of the Ford Chicane and waltzed through to the victory from there after an intense finish.

Adam, Darren Turner and Daniel Serra took the win in the No. 97 car while Harry Tincknell’s storming charge netted the No. 67 Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK Ford GT a second place finish on the final lap with Andy Priaulx and Pipo Derani.

Taylor fell to third with a right rear puncture, after a final lap of 5:37.233, 1 minute 36 seconds back of Adam, in the No. 63 Corvette he shared with Jan Magnussen and Antonio Garcia.

The parity in class continued with the No. 91 Porsche 911 RSR and No. 71 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GTE completing the top five, making it five different manufacturers in as many positions, a year after the Ford and Ferrari domination of a year ago.

Verizon IndyCar Series stars Tony Kanaan and Scott Dixon shared Fords that ended sixth and seventh in GTE-Pro, respectively.

GTE-Am was a far more straightforward affair with the Ferrari 488 GTEs sweeping the podium.

JMW Motorsport, which won its signoff with the old Ferrari 458 Italia at Monza’s European Le Mans Series race, won in GTE-Am with a new lineup and a new car. Rob Smith, Dries Vanthoor and Will Stevens took the No. 84 car to the win.

Spirit of Race was second in the No. 55 Ferrari (Aaron Scott, Marco Cioci, Duncan Cameron) while Townsend Bell and Bill Sweedler have continued their podium streak, three podiums in as many years for Scuderia Corsa, in their No. 62 WeatherTech-backed Ferrari they shared with Cooper MacNeil, who has made the Le Mans podium for the first time in his career.

Both GTE classes were very reliable with 11 of 13 in the Pro class and 15 of 16 in the Am class finishing, so it left 26 of the 29 starters able to see the checkered flag.

UNOFFICIAL RESULTS
UNOFFICIAL RESULTS BY CLASS

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.