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Archive for January, 2014

Alexander RossiCaterham F1 Team and Caterham Racing have confirmed Alexander Rossi for 2014.

Alexander Rossi renews his GP2 challenge with Caterham Racing after finishing the 2013 season as best rookie, he will start the new season as a serious championship contender. He will combine his GP2 commitments with another year as a Reserve Driver for Caterham F1 Team at all non-GP2 race weekends, continuing his development towards an ultimate race drive in Formula One.

Cyril Abiteboul, Team Principal and CEO, Caterham F1 Team: “In GP2 we want to be competing for race wins and titles from the first race. Alexander showed last year that he’s ready to make a push for the championship, and we’re continuing his F1 development in 2014 by combining his GP2 commitments with another year as an F1 team Reserve Driver. I firmly believe he has the talent to achieve the ambitious targets we are setting him and I’m excited about seeing him fulfil his potential in GP2 this year. We are excited about adding more to Caterham Racing’s already crowded trophy cabinet and use that as a benchmark for the F1 team!”

Alexander Rossi: “I am pleased to be back with EQ8 Caterham Racing for 2014 fighting for a GP2 Championship. My 2013 program had some changes which meant I missed the pre-season tests and a couple of the early GP2 races, however, throughout the season the team and I made some big progress and by Abu Dhabi we were definitely one of the cars to beat. This continued in the post-season tests and I’m quite confident about the pace in 2014.

“As returning Caterham F1 Team Reserve Driver my duties will continue with F1 outings, simulator driver and on track Reserve for non-GP2 weekends. This is the perfect development for my future F1 race drive as I play an important role in assisting the team develop its 2014 car, something that will be particularly important this year with the current technical changes.

“I have to thank everyone involved at Caterham and Team Rossi for making this happen. We have a fantastic chance to win the GP2 title in 2014, while the F1 team achieves its goals of moving forward. This is an important era for all of us, as the sport enters a new generation. What a great way to start 2014!”

Mia Sharizman, EQ8 Caterham Racing Team PrincipaI: “I am delighted to announce that Alexander will continue with us into 2014. This announcement also means that we can focus on our 2014 preparations much earlier than we have been able to in previous years. Our team has undergone a number of changes since the end of the 2013 season which we believe gives us the capability to have our best season to date, and to build on our previous Championship results.”

“Our plan for Alexander in 2014 is part of a two year GP2 programme. After finishing 2013 as top rookie it is now time for him to mount a challenge for the Championship, and with the experience he has gained and the increased support he will have in 2014, I believe that the Championship is a realistic target.”

Richard GondaRichard Gonda has been signed by Accelerate Driver Development Ltd (ADD), a UK-based leading management organisation.

Gonda, who is the only Slovakian single-seater race driver, has been making a name for himself in his native country as a potential future F1 driver and last year successfully won the European F3 Open series Copa class title, scoring 100 points in total and impressively taking eleven podiums – including seven wins.

“I’m sure that after the results I have achieved, especially the title in the European F3 Open series, it has come at the right moment to co-operate with Graeme [Glew] and John [Byfield] of Accelerate Driver Development Ltd (ADD), who have so much experience in the world of motorsport and in F1,” said the 19-year-old, who began karting in 2003, before then moving to Formula Renault in 2010.

“I believe that with Graeme, John and Accelerate Driver Development Ltd (ADD), who choose me to progress with, I can successfully reach the highest level in single-seater racing.

“We will need to work very hard in the near future, but I hope we can realise our first significant step to our target which is to race in the AutoGP World Series in 2014.

“It is all looking very exciting.”

Graeme Glew, Director, Accelerate Driver Development Ltd (ADD), meanwhile believes Gonda has what it takes to progress to the pinnacle of the sport.

“Having watched Richard in last year’s European F3 Open Series he always impressed me with his speed and calm attitude,” said Glew. “Even when he had to start from the back in one of the races at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium, the way he carved through the field was very impressive and a sure sign he is a winner.”

“It is clear that given the opportunity, Richard will go all the way to the very top of the sport and the fact he is the only race driver to come out of Slovakia creates a unique opportunity for him,” Glew added.

ADD was established back in 2010 by Glew and Byfield, who between them have over 50 years of motorsport experience at all levels from grass roots to the very pinnacle of the sport, F1. The organisation headed up by Glew specialises in driver management and sponsorship acquisition and currently also looks after, in addition to Gonda, Ferrari F1 Academy member, Nicolas Costa, as well as Robert La Rocca, Liam Venter and Lucas Biagioni. ADD also recently launched a new Driver Development Initiative at the Autosport International Show at the NEC in Birmingham, the Accelerate Driver Development Junior Academy, naming karters Sam Pooley, Cameron Roberts, Kyle Hornby and Brett Ward on its initial intake.

Photo by Foto Speedy / www.fotospeedy.it

Tristan NunezUntil age eleven, he thought he would follow his father’s path and become a professional tennis player. Then he discovered karting, and Tristan Nunez had a new passion – one which has carried him in amazing leaps to the top of the his chosen trade.

Several karting championships led to a Skip Barber title and a test in an IMSA Lites car, which led to a full-season ride, which led to Nunez becoming the youngest sports car champion in history at age 16 – which led to rides in the top-tier professional ALMS and Rolex, which led to becoming the youngest winner in those series – while still in high school.

Now just turned 18, Nunez has reached the next level in his career – a very, very elevated level.

The young driver has been chosen as one of four Mazda SpeedSource factory drivers who will pilot the brand-new Mazda/SpeedSource LMP2 SkyActiv diesel in the Tudor United Sports Car Series Prototype class—the fastest class of sports cars on the continent.

The young driver understands what a rare honor it is to be chosen as a factory drive so early in one’s career.

Nunez received the news officially while driving for Mazda at the TUSC Roar Before The Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway, Jan. 3–5 and “almost broke down in tears—that’s just a dream come true,” he said a few hours after the announcement. “It’s one step closer to my big dream, which is racing at Le Mans.”

Mazda might well take Tristan Nunez to Le Mans, if not this season, then soon. “Because it’s a brand new car we need to develop it,” he said. [Mazda’s] view is, if they’re going to go to Le Mans they want to win it. If we are going to go to Le Mans we want to be prepared for it.” Starting with the Roar Before the 24, he has been part of that preparation.

Read the full story at Epoch Times.

Photo and article by Chris Jasurek, Epoch Times.

A new team name will be present on the 2014 FIA Formula 3 European Championship grid this season in the form of Jagona Ayam with Carlin. Representing the team will be Indonesian Sean Gelael, Italian Antonio Giovinazzi and Briton Tom Blomqvist.

Sponsorship for the campaign comes from KFC Indonesia, Recapital (who recently purchased FC Inter Milan) and DMS Investama along with other high profile global companies. The three drivers will consequently race in the distinctive brand colours of Jagonya Ayam, in yellow Dallara F312s prepared by multiple F3 champions Carlin.

All three drivers have previous experience in the championship, with Blomqvist taking three podiums in 2013. Having contested two seasons in the championship, Blomqvist’s experience will be invaluable to both Gelael and Giovinazzi who enjoyed their first season in Formula 3 last year. Following a strong debut season in 2013, the Indonesian and Italian are looking to fight near the front next year.

Although the trio will make their racing debuts with Carlin this year, all three have experience of working with the team from winter testing in Jerez and Valencia in December.

“I am really excited to be joining Carlin,” said Gelael. “We had quite a few good days of testing in December at Jerez and Valencia. The team are so professional and give a young driver everything he needs to succeed.

“I will be part of a very strong team at Carlin so my aim is to learn as much as I can from my team-mates, and we can all move forwards together. I feel for 2014 I can start to focus on getting some good results and put Indonesia in the picture in one of motor racing’s most competitive championships!”

Trevor Carlin added, “We are very proud to be able to represent the Jagonya Ayam brand in the FIA Formula 3 European Championship. We feel the combination of experience and potential of Jagonya Ayam with Carlin can compete for championship honours. This is a massive commitment from the sponsor and we are proud to be chosen as the team to take these Sean, Tom and Antonio forwards in their careers.”

The 2014 season will kick off with the first official test at the Hungaroring on the 4th April, with the first race of the season at Silverstone on the 18 – 20th April.

Sam RandonSam Randon has joined the leading SV Racing team as he prepares to step up to the ‘Racecar’ division of the Michelin Clio Cup Series with Protyre in 2014.
The 18-year old from the Derbyshire Dales market town of Ashbourne was highly impressive during his maiden season of car racing in the burgeoning Michelin-backed Clio Cup Series.

A leading light in the series’ ‘Roadcar’ division for road-going Clio Renaultsport 197s throughout last year, he achieved numerous class podiums before capping off a sensational season with a race win at Brands Hatch in September.

Randon went on to show a great turn of speed during his maiden test in a race-spec Clio Cup car with SVR in October, completing approximately 120 laps of the 2.99mile Snetterton ‘300’ circuit near Thetford, Norfolk with guidance from SVR Director, Danny Buxton, and Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) podium finisher, Jack Goff.

The young charger far exceeded all expectations on his first outing in Clio Cup machinery and this raw speed, consistency and maturity proved to be a catalyst for a full 2014 Michelin Clio Cup Series campaign in SVR colours, during which he hopes to mount a consistent challenge for victory.

“To be entering the ‘Racecar’ class of the Michelin Clio Cup is exciting and another step up the ladder,” said Randon. “We wouldn’t be making the move without my sponsors, Airglide International Ltd and Twincentric Integration, but I feel I extracted the most from my maiden season in the ‘Roadcar’ division last year and graduating to a race-spec Clio is naturally the next step.

“I think my performance during the Snetterton test in October backed that up, as it not only demonstrated my potential to Danny (Buxton), but also boosted my own confidence and indicated that I could really challenge for some good results in 2014. Without being over confident, I think I have the ability to mix it up at the sharp end and threaten for race wins on a consistent basis. There’s still some work to do, as I need to get to grips with the amount of speed you can carry through corners on the slick tyres.”

Randon – a Maintenance Apprentice for JCB – brings with him lucrative backing from Twincentric Integration and Airglide International Ltd.

Twincentric Integration – a long-established IT software and services company – sponsored Randon’s early Karting career and, having found the lure of the Michelin Clio Cup Series too much to resist, will rekindle its partnership with the young Ashbourne-based hotshot in 2014.

Airglide International’s drag reduction surface protectant system, Airglide Ultimate, had a profound effect when it was applied to Sam’s car for last year’s season finale, producing a measureable difference through the speedtraps and lifting the 18-year old to the top step of the podium for the first time.

Robert Sandham, Director of Airglide International, said: “Airglide has been proud of the progress made as Sam’s sponsor and is delighted to confirm its increased support for the 2014 season. Recent discussions and the confirmation of Sam as one of SVR’s drivers made Airglide’s commitment easy and I’m looking forward to developing our relationship with the team, to not only secure the partnership for the immediate future, but for the long-term too. Here’s to a successful year for Sam and Airglide International!”

SV Racing Director, Danny Buxton, added: “It’s tremendously exciting to have somebody with Sam’s potential on-board for the 2014 Michelin Clio Cup Series. He adapted remarkably well to the demands of a Clio Cup racer during his test with us in October and left us a bit stunned, in all honesty. He’s a talent for the future and SVR will give him all the tools he needs to flourish in the Clio Cup Series and to provide his sponsors, Twincentric Integration and Airglide, a return on their investments in the form of strong results.”

For more information on SV Racing, please ‘like the team’s Facebook page or follow @SV_Racing on Twitter.

Gustavo LimaMultiple race-winning BRDC Formula 4 Championship team Hillspeed is delighted to announce the signing of South American racer Gustavo Lima for the 2014 season after today, Monday, 20th January, finalising a deal with the category podium finisher.

Coming hot on the heels of the Hathersage squad’s agreement in the Ginetta Junior Championship with Lima’s fellow Brazilian Pedro Cardoso, who is part of the same XYZ Live Sports management stable, Hillspeed is absolutely delighted to have secured the second year F4 driver’s services.

Currently participating in the Toyota Racing Series in New Zealand, as preparation for his sophomore season in BRDC Formula 4, the 17-year-old will be aiming to become a consistent podium challenger when his main 2014 campaign gets underway in late-April. Lima will team-up at Hillspeed with the already confirmed Rahul Raj Mayer, the Malaysian having concluded a fresh deal last October.

“I’m really happy to be back in Formula 4 this year and pleased with the deal my management team has put together with Hillspeed”, commented Lima from his current base in New Zealand, “I learnt a lot in F4 last year, it was a very competitive season with a lot of really quick drivers.

“The final weekend was the highlight, taking my first podium was fantastic and the plan is to have many more this year! Hillspeed is a great team and I’m really looking forward to working with the guys there. They’ve won races in F4 and a lot of championships in other categories, like Formula Renault, so it should be a strong season.”

Lima began his karting career in 2010, where he finished third in the Junior Class of the Brazil Cup, and went on to contest the Rotax Junior Class in the Florida Winter Tour the following year as well as finishing third in the Sudam Junior Class.

Travelling from South America to Europe in 2012 to embark on his first season in single-seaters, the Brazilian ran a full campaign in Formula Renault 2.0 Alps while also contesting two races in Formula Renault 2.0 Northern European Cup (NEC).

From there, he entered the inaugural BRDC Formula 4 Championship in the UK last year and ended the 24-race campaign 14th overall with a maiden podium finish coming during the penultimate race of the year at Donington Park.

Adding two races in the Campeonato CoDA Sur del Formula 3 Sudamericana in 2013, winning one, Lima also secured a brace of podiums in the Brazilian Formula 3 Championship where he contested six rounds.

“It’s fantastic for Hillspeed to have a driver as talented as Gustavo signed-up for the new F4 season, we’re absolutely delighted”, said Hillspeed’s Richard Ollerenshaw, “He made excellent progress last year and thoroughly deserved his podium at Donington during the final weekend. He’s clearly a very quick driver and with a full year of experience behind him, we’re sure he’ll be a strong front-runner.”

Silverstone Grand Prix Circuit in Northamptonshire will host the opening event of the 2014 BRDC Formula 4 Championship season on 26th/27th April.

Photo by Jakob Ebrey Photography.

Seb MorrisSeb Morris, one of the 2013 McLaren Autosport BRDC Award finalists and a British Racing Drivers’ Club ‘Rising Star’, will compete in the ultra-competitive Formula Renault 2.0 Northern European Cup (NEC) this year it can be officially confirmed today, Monday, 20th January, after finalising a deal with reigning champion team Fortec Motorsport.

Welsh 18-year-old Seb, from Marford near Wrexham, will embark on his first season of European level competition in single-seaters off the back of a strong year in the BRDC Formula 4 Championship where he concluded the campaign as Vice-Champion.

With three car racing titles already on his CV, in Ginetta Junior and Protyre Formula Renault, Seb is now aiming for a championship challenge in Europe.

“I am very pleased to be racing with Fortec and especially in Formula Renault NEC”, he commented, “It promises to be a fantastic season of racing on some of the world’s most famous tracks, such as Monza, Spa, Nurburgring and Silverstone.”

Seb, one of Jack Wills’ Young Brits and an ambassador for TAG Heuer and Ginetta Cars, will start his 2014 campaign on 12th/13th April at Monza in Italy with his home event following on 24th/25th May at Silverstone Grand Prix Circuit. The seven weekend season will end on 20th/21st September at Germany’s Nurburgring.

Photo by Haymarket/LAT.

Harold PrimatHarold Primat is set to contest some of the world’s greatest GT events in 2014, beginning with the Bathurst 12 Hour on February 7-9, after joining ultra-successful Mercedes-Benz AMG squad HTP Motorsport.

The Swiss ace, who switched to the GT ranks full-time last season following a near-decade spent racing sports-prototypes, is looking forward to a packed schedule that comprises all five Blancpain Endurance Series rounds and selected VLN events, as well as February’s trip to Australia.

Each championship also features its own 24-hour classic, with the races at Spa and Nurburgring, as well as the early-season trip to Bathurst, earmarked as top priorities.

Achieving strong results in each of these blue riband events will require an exceptional team and strong co-drivers, and fortunately Harold can count on both ahead of his second appearance at Bathurst after finishing fourth in 2013. While this will be HTP Motorsport’s Mount Panorama debut, their recent endurance record – which includes winning last season’s 24 Hours of Spa and Blancpain Endurance Series drivers’ title – marks them out as one to watch.

Likewise defending Bathurst 12 Hour winner Thomas Jäger and 24 Hours of Spa victor Maximilian Buhk who, when combined with Primat’s experience of long-distance races, together form one of the most potent driver line-ups on this year’s grid.

While his team-mates for both the regular Blancpain Endurance Series and VLN rounds are still to be decided, HTP has confirmed that Primat will be joined by racing legend Bernd Schneider at the 24 Hours of Spa on July 23-27.

Harold first sampled the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 he will campaign in 2014 at Portimao last November and will have another opportunity to do so, this time with both team-mates present, at a pre-season test on January 24/25 before flying to Australia.

Harold Primat: “I spent 2013 competing against HTP and knew exactly how fast their Mercedes package could be, so was delighted when they contacted me at the end of last season. From our first meeting it was clear just how professional the team is, something that was further emphasised during our successful two-day test at Portimao. Plus, the opportunity to link up with quality, proven drivers made signing with them an obvious choice.

“The Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 proved very successful last season and it’s good to see that the Balance of Performance regulations won’t be tweaked as a result. That gives me a lot of confidence ahead of Bathurst, which was won by a different Merc last season. Mount Panorama provides a real challenge and I’m excited to be heading back there. It’s the first of my grandee events this year and one that I’m particularly looking forward to. I have experience of the circuit, Thomas won there in 2013 and Max is no stranger to success in endurance events, so together all of the ingredients are in place to do well.”

Norbert Brueckner, HTP Motorsport Team Principal: “Harold was one of our top targets for 2014 so I’m delighted to have secured his services for the year ahead. He has vast experience of endurance racing and a year in GTs behind him too, which we saw as key to continuing HTP’s success. Part of that is his ability to remain fast and consistent without making mistakes over long stints, and in that regard he ticked all of the boxes.”

Andrew TangFast and clean was the order of the day for Singapore’s Andrew Tang in this afternoon’s feature race, the Timaru Herald Trophy. Though he shadowed pole man Martin Rump through the 20 lap race, Tang knew he had the race under control after Rump crept forward at the start.

The jump start penalty dropped the Estonian three places in the results, allowing Tang his second win of the series. The pair had cleared out on the field at the start, establishing a gap on third-placed Jann Mardenborough of more than 5 seconds. James Munro, winner of the first race of the weekend yesterday, had started third but slipped one place in the opening laps. He hung on to fourth which became third once Rump’s penalty was applied.

That gave Andy Neale’s two-car team a double podium finish in the feature race. The team has now won three of the six races held so far.

There was disappointment for series front-runner Egor Orudzhev who was forced to pit on lap eight when his engine developed a camshaft sensor fault. Australian Macauley Jones was also in the pits with an engine problem, rejoining the race after an excruciating nine minute stop.

Winners this weekend were James Munro, who scored his first ever victory in TRS on Saturday, starting off pole; Jann Mardenborough, who won from pole in Sunday morning’s semi-reverse grid race; and Tang, who won from the front row. All three say their qualifying performances were crucial to their wins.

Mardenborough set the new outright race lap record for levels during Sunday morning’s race with a 57.693.

Martin Rump retains the championship lead on 329 points ahead of Jann Mardenborough on 321 and Egor Orudzhev on 282.

Photo by Bruce Jenkins.

James MunroChristchurch teenager James Munro won his first Toyota race today at Levels Raceway, Timaru.

The race was interrupted by a spectacular crash in the first corner which took six cars out of contention, but Munro’s first victory came in emphatic form, the 16 year old carving out a lead of almost four seconds over the 15 lap race distance.

He had qualified on pole in the first session of the day, with Steijn Schothorst behind him and lining up alongside on the grid; Egor Orudzhev was third and Damon Leitch started fourth.

Munro’s start was a perfectly judged balance of throttle and the grip despite pole being off the racing line and thus offering less grip than was available to Schothorst alongside him.

The pair surged ahead of third-placed Orudzhev and Damon Leitch and were into the fourth turn by the time the field tangled in turn 1.

A multiple-car crash there took out Matteo Ferrer, Macauley Jones, Andrew Tang, Michael Scott, Martin Kodric and Denis Korneev, none of whom were able to restart. Levin Amweg was also involved and lost his car’s nose cone, but was able to continue for another two laps.

The race was red-flagged and restarted under a safety car, negating Munro’s initial advantage, but he was able to extend a lead again over Schothorst.

“The car was really good today in qualifying and the race, I was really happy with it. I did feel a lot of nerves before the start because I had so little experience in these cars, but I was really pleased to get this first win,” he said.

Munro said going into the weekend he could not have imagined being on the podium, much less winning.

“I wasn’t sure how I’d go against the internationals, they are very quick. But I do really like this track, it’s very fast and very narrow, great for a driver,” he said.

The order at the chequered flag was Munro, Schothorst, Orudzhev, Damon Leitch and Neil Alberico.

The result propels Munro from 16th in the championship to sixth, while Orudzhev takes a narrow points lead with 210 over Estonian Martin Rump on 208. Schothorst is handily placed in third with 197 points.

The Toyota Racing Series, New Zealand’s premier motor racing category, is back on track at Timaru tomorrow with a 15 lap race at 11.00 am and the 20-lap feature race for the Timaru Herald Trophy. The first race tomorrow has a partial reverse grid dictated by a marble draw after today’s race. James Munro drew the marble, and was somewhat disappointed to pull an eight out of the hat, meaning he lines up on the fourth row of the grid.