Photo courtesy of IMSA

IMSA: BAR1 steps up to prototype

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BAR1 Motorsports, stalwarts of the now defunct Prototype Challenge class of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and recent PC class winners at the Motul Petit Le Mans, confirmed on Tuesday that they will make the jump up to Prototype in 2018, using a Riley Mk. 30 Gibson platform. The team confirmed that it will contest the entirety of the 2018 season with its new chassis, doing so with an eye toward branching out even more in the future, possibly even to the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

“Obviously, this is an important step for us,” said team owner Brian Alder. “The move to LMP2 opens up a lot of opportunities for the team. Running in the series’ flagship class attracts a higher level of marketing partners, top tier drivers and, for me personally, a chance to return to Le Mans.”

Alder added that the team’s decision to use a Riley Mk. 30 comes after evaluating how the chassis is developing with help from Multimatic and Mazda Team Joest, whose Mazda RT24-P is based on the Riley chassis.

“After spending the past few months researching the different options for our move into the prototype class, we feel this car has the most potential of the P2 cars and is the best fit for our program in 2018,” Alder explained. “Multimatic’s continued support from Mazda and their new relationship with Team Joest only enhances the attractiveness of this program. Clearly, they learned quite a bit in 2017… I’ve seen first hand the changes they have made for 2018 and they are impressive. They have definitely done their homework and the initial testing results from overseas are exceeding everyone’s expectations.”

Further, the ACO’s decision to allow Ligier, Dallara, and Riley to update their respective LMP2 platforms – nicknamed a “joker” rule – also got the attention of Alder and team, noting that it signifies the importance of maintaining a competitive environment in the LMP2 field.

“The development allowances and ‘joker’ rule are very important to us,” Alder added. “It demonstrates that organizers are adamant in their desire to maintain the competitiveness of the class and their ultimate aim to ensure that LMP2 remains a category that contains variety and a high level of competitiveness.”

Further announcements regarding a driver lineup will be revealed in the coming weeks.

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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.”