IndyCar delays start of 2021 season by one week

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Japan's Takuma Sato, the reigning Indianapolis 500 champion, will have a chance to win back-to-back titles at Alabama in the delayed opener of the 2021 season, the first race at the road course since 2019 after the 2020 event was called off due to Covid-19

IndyCar has delayed its season opener one week to April 18, the US-based open-wheel series announced Friday, setting up a 2021 starting stretch of four races in 15 days.

The IndyCar Grand Prix of Alabama over a 2.38-mile road course at Birmingham will move in part for television considerations and in part due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

"The schedule changes we've had, while partially prompted by ongoing pandemic conditions, give us a powerful start to the 2021 season," Penske Entertainment Corporation president Mark Miles said.

Two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Takuma Sato of Japan was the most recent winner of the Alabama race in 2019. Last year's race was wiped out by the deadly virus that postponed the start of the campaign until June.

The season start had already been delayed when the IndyCar Grand Prix of St. Petersburg was moved from March to April 25.

Those two races, together with events May 1 and 2 at Texas Motor Speedway and a May 15 road race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, give the series a brisk run-up to the 105th Indianapolis 500 on May 30 at the famed 2.5-mile (4km) oval.

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