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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WATCH: Red Bull F1 team completes pit stop in zero gravity

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The Red Bull Racing pit crew may have already made headlines last weekend when it completed the fastest pit stop in Formula One history, changing Max Verstappen’s tires in 1.82 seconds, but the team’s most recent stunt took their skills to new heights – quite literally.

With the help of the Russian Space agency Roscomos, a group of the team’s mechanics completed the world’s first zero-gravity pit stop, on-board a IIyushin II-76K cosmonaut training plane.

Using a 2005 BR1, the team filmed the viral video over the course of a week, enduring seven flights and about 80 parabolas – periods in which the plane climbs 45 degrees before falling again at a ballistic arch of 45 degrees, creating a period of weightlessness for approximately 22 seconds.

With such a short time frame between weightlessness periods, the car and equipment had to be both quickly and safely secured before gravity once again took effect. Each filming lasted roughly 15 seconds, and the stunt was the most physically and technically demanding activity the live demo team had ever undertaken.

“It pushed us harder than I thought it would,” said Red Bull Support Team Mechanic Joe Robinson. “You realize how much you rely on gravity when you don’t have any!

“It challenges you to think and operate in a different way – and that was brilliant. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity and honestly, I could have stayed and done it all month. It was amazing. I think it’s the coolest, most fun thing the Live Demo team has ever done with a show car.”

Though Red Bull was the first team to perform a pit stop in zero gravity, surprisingly Red Bull was not the first team to put a car through zero gravity. In 1999, McLaren driver David Coulthard and his car experienced zero gravity as part of a promotion for then-sponsor West Cigarettes.

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