Photo: Toyota Gazoo Racing

Sarrazin deputizes for Davidson at WEC’s trip to COTA

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The Toyota Gazoo Racing has gone to its bench to bring up Stephane Sarrazin for this weekend’s upcoming 6 Hours of Circuit of The Americas, for what is expected to be the FIA World Endurance Championship’s last trip to Austin, Texas for the foreseeable future (new FIA WEC 2018-2019 “super season” sees Sebring the new U.S. venue in March 2019).

Sarrazin will fill in for Anthony Davidson in the team’s No. 8 Toyota TS050 Hybrid with Toyota citing “personal reasons” for Davidson’s absence.

It will see the Frenchman in alongside Sebastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima this weekend, and will also mean Sarrazin will have driven all three Toyotas in the same season. He co-drove with Yuji Kunimoto and Nicolas Lapierre in the team’s third car, the No. 9 car, in Spa and then was switched on a one-off drive to the No. 7 car with Mike Conway and Kamui Kobayashi at Le Mans. Both cars were listed fifth in LMP1 on those occasions, with Le Mans a failure to finish.

He’s also raced for a pair of FIA Formula E Championship teams this past season, Venturi for the first half and then Techeetah the second half from Berlin onwards.

“It’s a surprise to be racing the TS050 HYBRID again this season but I am excited to be back and I’m looking forward to racing with Sébastien, Kazuki and the whole team,” Sarrazin said. I know the Circuit of the Americas well and it’s an impressive circuit, with some great corners. I will give my all to score as many points for the team as possible.”

Sarrazin has two podium finishes at COTA, with second in 2013 and third in 2016 with Toyota.

“Anthony will not be with us this weekend but he has our full support and we look forward to seeing him behind the wheel again,” said Hisatake Murata, Team President. “We are happy that Austin comes so soon after Mexico, which was not a positive race for us. Everyone is pushing to get a better result this week. The drivers are very motivated to get both cars on the podium and win races again; they fought hard in Mexico and never gave up. The whole team has this fighting spirit so we go to Austin with big hopes.”

Provisional Indy Lights champion Oliver Askew ready for IndyCar ride

Road to Indy
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Provisional Indy Lights champion Oliver Askew has done nothing but dominate the 2019 season, winning seven of the 16 races run so far and finishing on the podium in all but two of those events.

Now all the 22-year-old Floridian needs to do to formally clinch the 2019 title is simply start the final two races of the season, both of which will be held this weekend at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.

For Askew, his maiden Indy Lights season will likely be one he’ll never forget. 

“It’s been a dream come true,” Askew told NBC Sports. “Being with the championship-winning team from last year, we had a really good shot at winning it again for Andretti Autosport. It’s very rare that we show up to a track and struggle to find speed. 

“That’s a fantastic feeling, especially as a driver. That gave me a lot of confidence and hopes of holding the million dollar check at the end of the year. That was the goal going into it.”

This weekend, Askew will accomplish said goal. The championship will not only bring him a sense of pride, but also the opportunity of a lifetime. 

As an award for being crowned the Indy Lights champion, Askew will be awarded a scholarship that guarantees him entry into a minimum of three NTT IndyCar Series events next year – including the 104th running of the Indianapolis 500. 

Time will only tell which team Askew will race for in IndyCar next season, and whether or not Askew’s rookie campaign will be a full-time or part-time affair, but Askew’s performance during the last few seasons in the Road to Indy system has certainly drawn attention of IndyCar’s top team owners.

In August, Askew had the chance to drive an Indy car for the first time in his career during a test session at Portland International Raceway, driving the No. 9 PNC Bank Honda usually piloted by Scott Dixon.

“It was an opportunity with Chip Ganassi Racing that I was very fortunate to have,” Askew said. “I think with my experience in the past couple of years with Cape Motorsports and this year with Andretti Autosport, going into that test was very helpful.

“Going into the test, it was more of trying to treat it as just another day at the racetrack, when it really wasn’t. It was a fantastic opportunity for me – a great experience – and I hope I can take that into my rookie season next year in IndyCar.” 

The final two races of the 2019 Indy Lights season will take place this weekend on Saturday, September 21 at 6 p.m. ET and Sunday, September 22 at 12:05 p.m. ET. Both races will air live on NBC Sports Gold.

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