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

First draft of FIA WEC Bahrain rookie test entry list revealed

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A week from Sunday, on Nov. 19, the FIA World Endurance Championship will hold its annual postseason rookie test at the Sakhir International Circuit in Bahrain, a day after the series’ season finale.

Confirmed rookies to test so far include Thomas Laurent in LMP1 (Toyota), Maheveer Raghunathan (G-Drive Racing), Konstantin Tereshchenko (TDS Racing), and Gabriel Aubry (Signatech Alpine Matmut) in LMP2 and Ishikawa Motoaki (AF Corse) in GTE-Pro.

Plenty more TBA slots are listed among the 12 cars, with the following slots still to be determined depending on the outcome of the 2017 World Series Formula V8 3.5 season finale, which takes place as a support to FIA WEC at Bahrain:

  • Champion driver in LMP1 Porsche 919 Hybrid (Pietro Fittipaldi leads that series now by 10 points)
  • 2nd place driver in LMP2 second-place finishing team (Vaillante Rebellion, G-Drive or Jackie Chan DC Racing, and current second place driver is Matevos Isaakyan)
  • 3rd place driver in GTE-Pro championship team (AF Corse, Porsche or Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK, and current third place driver is Egor Orudzhev by six points over Alfonso Celis Jr.)

Two other drivers are linked to this test as well, at different ends of the open-wheel experience spectrum.

Two-time Formula 1 World Champion Fernando Alonso has been linked to a Toyota seat for this test, with DailySportscar posting on Tuesday that Alonso had been to the team’s Cologne, Germany base for a seat fitting. Other reports have surfaced that Alonso is close to the test, as well.

Quite by contrast, Mazda Road to Indy race-winning veteran Garett Grist will test for Jackie Chan DC Racing. The young Canadian was the lead pro in BAR1 Motorsports’ PC class victory in that class’ finale at Motul Petit Le Mans and is exploring a full-time switch to sports car racing after dabbling in it this year.

FIA WEC has the full entry list thus far linked here.

IndyCar’s season finale at St. Pete approved to have 20,000 fans

IndyCar St. Pete fans
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The NTT IndyCar Series’ season finale will be permitted up to 20,000 fans, making the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg possibly the circuit’s most well-attended race of 2020. The race originally was scheduled as the season opener before being moved to Oct. 25 because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

IndyCar has enjoyed limited crowds at Road America, Iowa Speedway, Gateway, Mid-Ohio and this weekend’s doubleheader races at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course, which could have up to 10,000 fans in attendance. That had been the largest maximum grandstand crowd for an IndyCar race this season.

At a St. Petersburg city council meeting Thursday, Mayor Rick Kriseman approved plans by race organizers Green Savoree Racing Promotions to hold the Oct. 23-25 weekend for the IndyCar Grand Prix of St. Pete with 20,000 fans who would follow health and safety protocols that include mandatory temperature checks and masks.

 “My thanks to Green Savoree Racing Promotions and IndyCar for their flexibility and resilience during this challenging time,” Kriseman said in a release. “I know that everyone is excited to get back on the track in St. Pete. I can’t wait for Oct. 23rd. I know everyone will embrace this race the St. Pete way, adhering to the COVID-19 health and safety protocols. Let’s have some great racing in the Sunshine City.”

Paddock and the pit lane will remain closed to spectators, and social distancing of at least 6 feet will be observed on site.

“Our entire team greatly appreciates the patience and understanding of our ticket holders as we worked through this process with Mayor Kriseman, City Council and local health officials,” Kim Green, co-owner, chairman and CEO of Green Savoree Promotions. “It’s important for everyone who attends to read and follow all the COVID-19 protocols to contribute to a fun, safe and successful event for us all.”

“The ongoing guidance and support of Mayor Kriseman, City Council, and the City of St. Petersburg’s event team have been phenomenal,” said Kevin Savoree, co-owner, president and COO of Green Savoree Promotions. “We also would not be in this position to move this spring tradition to fall without Firestone’s unwavering commitment and dedication. It’s going to be a terrific weekend again in downtown St. Pete in three weeks featuring world-class racing from INDYCAR.”