Harcus (next to trophy, right side) stays with Andretti. Photo: IndyCar

New driver horizon for ‘Ziggy’ Harcus as Sato heads to RLL

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It’ll be another new driver for Andretti Autosport race strategist Paul “Ziggy” Harcus to work with in the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series season.

After just one year working with Takuma Sato during the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series season, he will not follow Sato to Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing in 2018. Sato, who signed with RLL earlier in the year, won the 2017 Indianapolis 500 and contested his best year in IndyCar to date with Harcus on top of the pit stand this year.

The Andretti crew was on site with Sato at last week’s face unveil on the Borg-Warner Trophy in Indianapolis.

Harcus, who is staying at Andretti Autosport, did not indicate which of the team’s four drivers he’ll be working with next year. However, with Zach Veach taking the spot vacated by Sato, Harcus being assigned to mentor the young driver and Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires race winner is a strong possibility.

“We don’t like to change to make a change, but we’ll see with the mechanics, and engineering,” Harcus told NBC Sports about any potential shakeups in the Andretti crew.

“Just because Zach’s new doesn’t mean he will get worst of the lot. He could be our next generation. You never know. There’s a good possibility I might be with Zach. If they move it around, I go with it.”

Harcus also added that Veach has made a good first impression and if he is assigned to work with him, he is confident that they’ll work well together.

And in spite of Veach’s small frame, Harcus emphasized he could still find success, using Sato –  who at 5’5″ is just barely taller than Veach – as a reference point.

“Here’s another tiny little guy, just like Taku… and I’m not exactly a giant!” Harcus quipped. “But I’ve always liked (Zach). Nice guy to work with. Pleasant, polite, knows how to win.

“You doubt if he’s the size to win the Indy 500 but look (at Sato) right herein front of you – here’s the proof.”

Andretti Autosport won’t be able to test until the new year, when team testing opens up for 2018 after the manufacturer testing concludes.

Toyota No. 8 car wins the 24 Hours of Le Mans for third consecutive year

24 Hours of Le Mans
JEAN-FRANCOIS MONIER/AFP via Getty Images
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LE MANS, France — Toyota Gazoo’s No. 8 car comfortably won the 24 Hours of Le Mans by five laps Sunday to secure a third straight victory in the prestigious endurance race.

It was also a third consecutive win for Swiss driver Sebastien Buemi and Japan’s Kazuki Nakajima driving. Brendon Hartley was the other driver, having replaced two-time Formula One champion Fernando Alonso.

Buemi and Hartley sat on the side of the car as Nakajima drove toward the podium. Hartley won for a second time after tasting success with the Porsche LMP Team in 2017 before an unhappy season in Formula One.

The Swiss team’s Rebellion No. 1 featured American driver Gustavo Menezes and Brazilian Bruno Senna – the nephew of late F1 great Ayrton Senna.

It finished one lap ahead of Toyota Gazoo’s No. 7, with Rebellion’s No. 3 finishing in fourth place.

For much of the race it looked like Toyota’s No. 7 would win after leading comfortably from pole position. But late into the night the car encountered an engine problem and the 30-minute stop in the stands proved costly.

The race was first held in 1923. A total of 252,500 spectators attended in 2019, but there were none this year when the race started three months late because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“We miss the fans,” New Zealander Hartley said. “I look forward to seeing all the fans again.”

In other divisions:

United Autosports won the LMP2 division with the entry of Filipe Albuquerque, Paul Di Resta and Phil Hanson.

–In LMGTE Pro, the victory was claimed by Aston Martin Vantage AMR of Maxime Martin, Alex Lynn and Harry Tincknell (who drives for Mazda in the DPi division of IMSA).

–TF Sport won the LMGTE Am class.

The Toyota No. 7 took pole after former F1 driver Kamui Kobayashi narrowly edged out the Rebellion No. 1 team in qualifying.

In damp and humid conditions Mike Conway got away cleanly from the start, while Senna held off Buemi.

After nearly seven hours, Toyota’s No. 8 fell back after a 10-minute stop in the stands to fix a brake-cooling problem on Kazuki Nakajima’s car. Rebellion’s No. 1, driven by Frenchman Norman Nato, took advantage to move into second place behind Toyota’s No. 7.

Then came the decisive moment at 2:40 a.m. as the No. 7 – also featuring Argentine Jose Maria Lopez – encountered a turbo problem. When the car came back out it was back in fourth.

“We had a few problems early in the race,” Nakajima said. “Later they had a bigger issue than us.”

Rebellion’s No. 1 encountered a problem on the hood at around 9 a.m. and the change took six minutes, allowing the Rebellion No. 3 (Nathanael Berthon-Louis Deletraz-Romain Dumas) to close the gap.

It was becoming a tight battle between the two Rebellion cars behind Toyota’s No. 8.

At 12 p.m. Rebellion No. 3 with Dumas behind the wheel was only one second ahead of No. 1 driven by Menezes. Then both cars came in for a driver change with Deletraz swapping for Dumas on a lengthy stop, and Nato for Menezes as Rebellion No. 1 suddenly moved ahead of its team rival.

Dumas, a winner in 2016 with Porsche, appeared unhappy at the strategy decision to bring his car in first and the length of the stop. There were tense explanations in the team garage.

Colombian Tatiana Calderon, an F1 test driver with Alfa Romeo, was in the Richard Mille Racing Team in the LMP2 category. She was joined by German Sophia Florsch – an F3 driver – and Dutchwoman Beitske Visser. They placed ninth out of 24 in their category.