Courtesy of IMSA

Bourdais, Hunter-Reay to compete in Sunday’s IMSA race at Mid-Ohio

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For most IndyCar competitors, this weekend will be the final one off before a grueling five consecutive weeks of racing that includes the 103rd running of the Indianapolis 500 (May 26 on NBC).

For Sebastien Bourdais and Ryan Hunter-Reay, however, Sunday afternoon will be another one spent at the office.

Both former NTT IndyCar Series champions will be competing in Sunday’s Acura Sports Car Challenge at Mid-Ohio, the fourth round of IMSA’s 2019 WeatherTech Sports Car Championship, with Bourdais once again behind the wheel of the No. 66 Ford Chip Gannasi Racing entry in GTLM and Hunter-Reay in the No. 55 Mazda Team Joest machine in DPi.

Bourdais will once again share the No. 66 Ford GT with Dirk Mueller in substitution for Joey Hand, who will miss his second-consecutive race due to suffering flu-like symptoms.  Bourdais also subbed for Hand three weeks ago at Long Beach, where he helped propel the team to a fourth-place finish.

Hunter-Reay, who will race in place of Harry Tincknell, will be making his first WeatherTech Sports Car Championship start since last year’s Petit Le Mans at Road America, where he won alongside Jordan Taylor and Renger van der Zande driving for Wayne Taylor Racing.

The 2014 Indianapolis 500 champion has already shown speed early in the weekend, finishing second to teammate Oliver Jarvis in the second practice session of the weekend Friday afternoon.

Bourdais and Hunter-Reay will join three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves, who will compete in the IndyCar Grand Prix and Indianapolis 500 later this month for Team Penske, as well Kyle Kaiser, who previously competed in the IndyCar Classic at Circuit of the Americas for Juncos Racing.

NBC Sports analyst Townsend Bell will also once again be behind the wheel of the No. 14 AIM Vasser Sullivan Lexus RC F GT3 alongside teammate Frank Montecalvo.

Coverage of the Acura Sports Car Challenge at Mid-Ohio begins Sunday at 1:30 p.m. E.T. on NBCSN.

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Valtteri Bottas wins chaotic season-opening F1 Austrian Grand Prix

Mark Thompson/Getty Images
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SPIELBERG, Austria — Valtteri Bottas won a chaotic season-opening F1 Austrian Grand Prix while six-time series champion Lewis Hamilton finished fourth after getting a late time penalty Sunday.

The Formula One race was interrupted three times by a safety car, and nine of 20 drivers abandoned, including both Red Bulls of Max Verstappen and Alexander Albon – who tried to overtake Hamilton on the outside with 10 laps left, touched wheels and flew off track.

Hamilton was given a 5-second time penalty for causing the collision, having earlier been hit with a three-place grid penalty after an incident in Saturday’s qualifying was reviewed by stewards.

SHOW OF SUPPORT: Drivers take knee before race

Bottas led all 71 laps in the eighth victory of his career. It was the second consecutive victory in the season opener for the Finn, though he won four months earlier in 2019 after this season’s start was delayed by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Lando Norris of McLaren F1 celebrates after his first podium finish (Mark Thompson/Getty Images).

Bottas started from pole position and Hamilton from fifth, but it looked like a straight fight between the two Mercedes drivers as has been the case so often in recent years.

But late drama in Spielberg ensured otherwise and Hamilton’s time penalty meant Charles Leclerc took second place for Ferrari, and Lando Norris sent McLaren’s garage into raptures – and threw all social distancing rules out of the window amid the euphoria – with third place.

It was the 20-year-old British driver’s first career podium, and his superb final lap was the fastest of a dramatic season opener.

Norris became the youngest British driver to secure a podium finish and the third-youngest ever in Formula One.

Valtteri Bottas leads Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton during the Formula One Grand Prix of Austria (Mark Thompson/Getty Images).