Porsche AG

Hartley, Bamber head up Porsche front row for Fuji WEC

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The pair of New Zealanders, Brendon Hartley and Earl Bamber, have secured the pole position in their No. 2 Porsche 919 Hybrid for Sunday’s FIA World Endurance Championship 6 Hours of Fuji.

Bamber hadn’t yet won an FIA WEC overall pole and shared qualifying duties with Hartley, the pair posting an average lap time of 1:35.160.

Qualifying took place under wet conditions in advance of a potential wet race on Sunday.

If Bamber, Hartley and Timo Bernhard end ahead of the No. 8 Toyota TS050 Hybrid, they wrap the driver’s championship.

“Due to the bad weather forecast for tomorrow it is very important to have both Porsches starting from the front row – this could be an advantage for us. We have again collected another point in the defence of both world championship titles,” Fritz Ensinger, vp of Porsche’s LMP1 program, said. “As expected, Toyota was very fast. A huge compliment to our whole team for a tremendous concerted effort. Now we are looking forward to an endurance race that will be the third last for us with the 919 Hybrid.”

Porsche also scored the GTE-Pro pole courtesy of Richard Lietz and Fred Makowiecki in the No. 91 Porsche 911 RSR.

Other class polesitters included the No. 13 Vaillante Rebellion Oreca 07 Gibson (Nelson Piquet Jr. and David Heinemeier Hansson qualifying) in LMP2 and the No. 61 Clearwater Racing Ferrari 488 GTE (Weng Mok Sun and Matt Griffin qualifying) in GTE-Am.

The race starts at 10 p.m. ET Saturday night, which is 11 a.m. Sunday local time in Fuji.

RESULTS

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.”