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Porsche wraps up WEC titles as Toyota takes race win in Shanghai

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Porsche will bow out of the FIA World Endurance Championship’s LMP1 class off the back of a third straight championship-double after wrapping up both the drivers’ and manufacturers’ titles in Sunday’s 6 Hours of Shanghai.

Brendon Hartley and Timo Bernhard became the first drivers in history to win multiple overall drivers’ titles in the WEC, with a second-place finish ensuring they hold an unassailable lead alongside first-time champion Earl Bamber heading into the season finale in Bahrain.

Porsche also sewed up the manufacturers’ title after a late mistake from Toyota’s Jose Maria Lopez cost the Japanese marque a surefire one-two finish, crashing with a Porsche GT car while leading late on.

The clash allowed the No. 8 Toyota TS050 Hybrid crew of Sebastien Buemi, Anthony Davidson and Kazuki Nakajima to pick up their fourth victory of the season, finishing a lap clear of the newly-crowned champions.

Andre Lotterer, Nick Tandy and Neel Jani took third in the No. 1 Porsche 919 Hybrid, while the No. 7 Toyota recovered to fourth place following the shunt for Lopez.

The manufacturers’ championship was also settled in GTE-Pro as AF Corse’s James Calado and Alessandro Pier Guidi finished third in the No. 51 Ferrari 488 GTE, with Ford Chip Ganassi Racing taking class victory through Andy Priaulx and Harry Tincknell in the No. 67 Ford GT.

Calado and Pier Guidi head into the season finale in Bahrain leading the drivers’ standings by just two points from Porsche’s Frederic Makowiecki and Richard Lietz, with Priaulx and Ticknell a further 5.5 points behind.

A title decider is also on the cards in LMP2 after the No. 31 Vaillante Rebellion squad of Bruno Senna, Nicolas Prost and Julien Canal took their third win in the last four races, moving into the lead of their championship in the process.

Senna and Canal will head into the Bahrain finale four points clear of No. 38 Jackie Chan DC Racing drivers Oliver Jarvis, Ho-Pin Tung and Thomas Laurent, with the Le Mans class-winning trio only finishing fourth in Shanghai in front of team owner Jackie Chan after an incident-strewn race.

Aston Martin Racing dominated proceedings in GTE-Am with the No. 98 Vantage GTE of Pedro Lamy, Mathias Lauda and Paul Dalla Lana, the trio taking victory by a lap from the No. 86 Gulf Racing Porsche 911 RSR.

The result saw the No. 98 crew move 10 points clear in their class championship heading to Bahrain, with the No. 77 Dempsey-Proton Racing team losing ground after finishing third on Sunday.

Provisional Indy Lights champion Oliver Askew ready for IndyCar ride

Road to Indy
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Provisional Indy Lights champion Oliver Askew has done nothing but dominate the 2019 season, winning seven of the 16 races run so far and finishing on the podium in all but two of those events.

Now all the 22-year-old Floridian needs to do to formally clinch the 2019 title is simply start the final two races of the season, both of which will be held this weekend at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.

For Askew, his maiden Indy Lights season will likely be one he’ll never forget. 

“It’s been a dream come true,” Askew told NBC Sports. “Being with the championship-winning team from last year, we had a really good shot at winning it again for Andretti Autosport. It’s very rare that we show up to a track and struggle to find speed. 

“That’s a fantastic feeling, especially as a driver. That gave me a lot of confidence and hopes of holding the million dollar check at the end of the year. That was the goal going into it.”

This weekend, Askew will accomplish said goal. The championship will not only bring him a sense of pride, but also the opportunity of a lifetime. 

As an award for being crowned the Indy Lights champion, Askew will be awarded a scholarship that guarantees him entry into a minimum of three NTT IndyCar Series events next year – including the 104th running of the Indianapolis 500. 

Time will only tell which team Askew will race for in IndyCar next season, and whether or not Askew’s rookie campaign will be a full-time or part-time affair, but Askew’s performance during the last few seasons in the Road to Indy system has certainly drawn attention of IndyCar’s top team owners.

In August, Askew had the chance to drive an Indy car for the first time in his career during a test session at Portland International Raceway, driving the No. 9 PNC Bank Honda usually piloted by Scott Dixon.

“It was an opportunity with Chip Ganassi Racing that I was very fortunate to have,” Askew said. “I think with my experience in the past couple of years with Cape Motorsports and this year with Andretti Autosport, going into that test was very helpful.

“Going into the test, it was more of trying to treat it as just another day at the racetrack, when it really wasn’t. It was a fantastic opportunity for me – a great experience – and I hope I can take that into my rookie season next year in IndyCar.” 

The final two races of the 2019 Indy Lights season will take place this weekend on Saturday, September 21 at 6 p.m. ET and Sunday, September 22 at 12:05 p.m. ET. Both races will air live on NBC Sports Gold.

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