(Photo by Dean Treml/Red Bull via Getty Images)

Remember ‘Porsche driver Brendon Hartley?’ He’s back in China

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Remember when Brendon Hartley was merely a Porsche LMP1 driver in the FIA World Endurance Championship, before his future of a possible IndyCar bow and now actual Formula 1 bow arose?

It seems hard to believe just one month ago, before Hartley has now embarked on his first four weeks of crazy in October racing between IMSA, FIA WEC and Formula 1 all in consecutive weekends that Hartley was first and only a Porsche LMP1 driver.

That Hartley returns this weekend co-driving with Earl Bamber and Timo Bernhard in the No. 2 Porsche 919 Hybrid as the trio looks to wrap the FIA WEC title at the 6 Hours of Shanghai. The trio failed to do so in the water-logged Fuji race last month, but still lead Toyota’s pair of Kazuki Nakajima and Sebastien Buemi by 39 points (172-133) entering this weekend.

Hartley and Bernhard look to add a second FIA WEC championship to one they achieved co-driving with Mark Webber in 2015, while Bamber is in search of his first. Last year, it was Neel Jani, Romain Dumas and Marc Lieb that wrapped the title.

Porsche will remain in high-downforce configuration this weekend and Hartley said that coupled with the Shanghai International Circuit’s characteristics will suit the car well.

“It’s a busy time for me at the moment and I feel really good and excited,” he said. “The most important thing is to focus on the very next target. In Shanghai, together with Earl and Timo, we definitely want to secure the drivers’ world championship title with our Porsche 919 Hybrid.

“The most recent six-hour race in Fuji didn’t bring the results we were aiming for. Shanghai is a circuit that should suit our car and we have to have everything lined up there perfectly.”

After Shanghai this weekend, Hartley will fly to Brazil for the Brazilian Grand Prix with Toro Rosso next weekend, then head back to the Middle East for the FIA WEC season finale in Bahrain and the Formula 1 finale in Abu Dhabi in successive weeks, to complete an incredible eight-week world tour.

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

Helio Castroneves IMSA IndyCar
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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.”