Photo courtesy of IMSA

Petit Le Mans entry list features some star extra drivers

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The Motul Petit Le Mans entry list is out and the fourth and final round of the Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup season-within-a-season of the 2017 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship campaign features, as usual, a number of star extra drivers.

ENTRY LIST

Before getting into those, there is one notable absence for the moment, as Team Penske isn’t listed.

Reports percolated over the fall that Penske was poised to run an Oreca 07 Gibson at Petit Le Mans, in advance of its Acura ARX-05 DPi bow in 2018, but Team Penske president Tim Cindric told NBC Sports at Watkins Glen the team would need to complete a late entry form to run. As of press time, the team said it was still evaluating an entry.

Among the 38 cars that are present, split between 9 Prototype, 3 Prototype Challenge, 9 GT Le Mans and 17 GT Daytona cars, there’s these notable driver additions:

  • IndyCar drivers Ryan Hunter-Reay (No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R), Sebastien Bourdais (No. 66) and Scott Dixon (No. 67) in Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GTs
  • Brendon Hartley (No. 2) and Bruno Senna (No. 22) in Tequila Patron ESM Nissan Onroak DPis
  • Filipe Albuquerque (No. 5) and Mike Conway (No. 31) in Mustang Sampling and Whelen Engineering Cadillac DPi-V.Rs
  • Rebellion Racing’s return with Mathias Beche, Nick Heidfeld and Gustavo Menezes in No. 13 Oreca 07 Gibson
  • Julien Canal (No. 52 PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports Ligier JS P217 Gibson) and Chris Miller (No. 85 JDC-Miller Motorsports Oreca 07 Gibson) as other pro/am extras in LMP2 cars
  • Mazda factory driver Jonathan Bomarito on loan to the No. 90 VISIT FLORIDA Racing Ligier JS P217 Gibson, filling in for Rene Rast on DTM duty
  • Porsche factory driver Patrick Long in his third IMSA GTD Porsche of the year, the No. 50 WeatherTech Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R, after also being in No. 28 Alegra and No. 54 CORE Porsches
  • Mike Rockenfeller (No. 3) and Marcel Fassler (No. 4) in Corvette C7.Rs
  • Kuno Wittmer (No. 24) and Nicky Catsburg (No. 25) in BMW Team RLL BMW M6 GTLMs
  • Nick Tandy (No. 911) and Earl Bamber (No. 912) in Porsche 911 RSRs
  • Alessandro Pier Guidi in No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari 488 GTE
  • The No. 23 Alex Job Racing (Townsend Bell, Bill Sweedler, Frankie Montecalvo) and No. 29 Montaplast by Land-Motorsport (Connor De Phillippi, Chris Mies, Kelvin van der Linde) Audi R8 LMS in GTD
  • Ian James (No. 14) and Austin Cindric (No. 15) in 3GT Racing Lexus RC F GT3s
  • Trent Hindman in No. 48 Paul Miller Racing Lamborghini Huracán GT3 in his second different GTD car this year
  • Other GTD third drivers that include Brett Sandberg, Michael de Quesada, Mario Farnbacher, Nic Jonsson, Matt Bell, Matteo Cressoni, Matt McMurry, Dion von Moltke, Tom Dyer, Mark Wilkins, and Justin Marks
  • MRTI veterans Danny Burkett and Garett Grist back in BAR1 Motorsports PC cars for that class swan song, along with Performance Tech Motorsports regular third driver Kyle Masson

The race runs Saturday, October 7, to cap off IMSA’s season.

Helio Castroneves ‘hustling’ for IndyCar, IMSA rides; talking with four to five teams

Helio Castroneves IMSA IndyCar
IMSA
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As his season gathers steam, Helio Castroneves said his prospects for finding new rides for 2021 in IMSA and IndyCar also are gaining momentum.

The three-time Indianapolis 500 winner said Monday he is optimistic about landing in either or perhaps a combination of both series when Team Penske and Acura end their DPi partnership after this season.

“A lot of people I spoke with, four to five teams, are interested,” Castroneves said. “Whether it’s doing Indy 500 only, whether it’s pushing to do full time or do the sports cars as well. It’s been a very nice conversation.

LOOKING AHEADTeam Penske drivers seeking new rides for 2021

“I have a lot of respect for all the teams that have been talking, and I feel the same feedback. We just have to wait for their (sponsor) connections, and I’m also looking for some connections on my side as well, so hopefully we’ll be able to put this together and get something very soon.”

Given two decades of success with Penske in IndyCar and IMSA, Castroneves’ resume hardly needs burnishing. But the Brazilian has combined with co-driver Ricky Taylor in the No. 7 Acura DPi to win the past two overall victories at Road America and Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.

But Castroneves, who doesn’t have a manager, said he has been working the phones hard rather than wait for the strong results to bring in the calls.

“At this point, I feel like I’m the one who needs to be talking to them because people need to know I want to continue racing and understand my desire,” Castroneves, 45, said. “There is opportunity, no question, in both (IndyCar and IMSA), which I’m really happy about it. However, because of the COVID-19, a lot of things sometimes have to be a little delayed. But I’m excited. Whatever the opportunity and whatever destiny guides me, whether IndyCar or sports cars, trust me I’ll be as happy as it could be and doing my 100 percent like I always did.

“It’s like politics, you need to be out there, good news or bad news. People have to make notice of your presence. I’m hustling. I want to continue to keep it going. Hopefully, we’ll have good news very soon.”

The news has been all good lately on track for Castroneves and Taylor, who hope to continue their run Sunday at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

The No. 6 duo has surged to sixth in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship standings, 10 points out of the lead with four races remaining. After thinking there was “no hope” to be competitive after opening the season with three consecutive poor finishes, Taylor now sees an opportunity for a happy ending.

“With the program going away, Helio has won all the big races and given so much back to the team and left such a mark, he’s really part of Penske history,” Taylor said. “For me, it’s been an opportunity of a lifetime to be a part of it. I’d like to leave my little mark as well. Helio has won everything except for a championship.

“Obviously, we’ve won races already together, but we can win a championship now. I think if both of us can do that together and both win our first championship for ‘The Captain,’ that would be an absolute dream come true, and we can tie a bow on it and be happy.”