12.17.14 — Weiron Tan will be the first Malaysian driver to compete for an open-wheel racing team in U.S. motorsport, as he and Andretti Autosport partner together for the 2015 Pro Mazda Championship presented by Cooper Tires campaign.
Kuala Lumpur-born Tan, who has been part of the Caterham F1 Young Driver programme for the past three years, moved to Europe in 2013 to compete in the Protyre British Formula Renault championship and secured second place in the points standings, scoring five wins, nine podiums and six pole positions. 2014 saw Weiron compete in the ATS Formel 3 Cup (commonly referred to as German F3) for Van Amersfoort Racing where he recorded two wins and five podiums for the Dutch outfit and now he feels the time is right to turn his attention to U.S. open-wheel racing.
“I am really thankful to Caterham F1 for all their support over the past few years, and I have really enjoyed racing in Europe and I can’t wait to start the next chapter of my career with Andretti Autosport in the USA.”
19-year-old Tan is managed by WH Sports Group who are the UK-based agency which also manages the career of 2012 Pro Mazda champion and current Verizon IndyCar Series driver Jack Hawksworth.
“As Jack and I share the same management company, I naturally took a big interest in him and his racing, and his success is part of the reason why I wanted to move my career to the U.S.; to try and emulate what Jack has achieved,” said Weiron.
The 2013 Pro Mazda Champions are equally excited to be working with Weiron for the 2015 season and Team Owner, President and CEO Michael Andretti had the following to say,
“Weiron has a great resume so far in his racing career, and we are very pleased to welcome him to open-wheel racing in the U.S. to our Pro Mazda team. He did very well for us at our evaluation test at Nola Motorsports Park last week, and we’re all looking forward to a successful season together."
Weiron and the Indianapolis, IN-based team will be back in action together in January in preparation for the Mazda Road to Indy Winterfest Championship that will visit the two permanent road courses of Nola and Barber Motorsports Park.
12.14.14 (via RaceChaserOnline.com) – The pieces look to be finally falling into place for 20-year-old Zach Veach, after five years of climbing the Mazda Road to Indy ladder system with Andretti Autosport.
Veach, the fresh faced young gun with the poise of a veteran, says he is “close” to having a full-season ride sewn up in the Verizon IndyCar Series for the 2015 season.
“We’re really, really close to having a full-time IndyCar deal done for 2015,” Veach said to Race Chaser Online during last Monday’s edition of Motorsports Madness. “It’s not signed yet, but we’re in the final stages of it so hopefully we can get that put together and you guys will find us in the fourth car at Andretti Autosport – running the big series.”
The Ohio native was in contention for this season’s Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires championship all the way to the final weekend of the year – starting strong with two wins in the first three races (St. Petersburg and Barber 1) and keeping his hopes alive with a clutch triumph at Milwaukee – before mechanical troubles at Sonoma took him out of the title hunt.
Despite not coming away with his ultimate goal of a championship, Veach is still grateful for a campaign that produced three wins, nine podiums, 11 top-fives and four poles, placing him third in the points rundown behind eventual champion Gabby Chaves and British rookie Jack Harvey.
“I’m just very thankful,” Veach said of his campaign this year. “I mean, this past season we really just showed me [that] how much you work at something, or what you put in, is what you get [back] in return. 2013 wasn’t the year we wanted so we tore everything down and rebuilt it from the ground up and really put together the year that I wanted to have in 2014.”
12.13.14 (via RACER.com) – Former Toro Rosso Formula 1 racer Jean-Eric Vergne will start his first Formula E race from pole position after setting the quickest time in Punta del Este qualifying.
Despite running in the first session, which is usually slowest due to the track cleaning up through the four-session qualifying process, Vergne set an unbeatable 1m15.408s lap, brushing a wall along the way in his Andretti Autosport-run car. The performance was a brilliant effort given that he had never driven the Spark-Renault until this weekend.
In the second session, Sebastien Buemi looked the man most likely to topple his fellow ex-Toro Rosso racer, and set the fastest first sector but locked up at Turn 17. His DAMS teammate Nico Prost then topped Buemi on his last lap by 0.12 seconds. But neither DAMS car will start from the front row, as Nelson Piquet Jr. annexed second on the grid with a storming final sector in his China Racing machine. His lap was only 0.122sec off Vergne's pole time.
The shock of the third session was Malaysia winner Sam Bird crashing out on his first flying lap at Turn 17. His Virgin car nosed into the TechPro barrier, and took no further part in the session.
Jerome d'Ambrosio also crashed, his right-rear clipping the wall at the exit of Turn 1, and he too failed to set a time.
Bird's teammate Jaime Alguersuari will start fifth, having topped practice in the morning, with championship leader Lucas di Grassi next up for Abt, just 0.05sec slower. Jarno Trulli and Bruno Senna will share row four, ahead of Nick Heidfeld and Daniel Abt.
As expected, due to the low grip levels of the beachside street circuit, there were plenty of spins and collisions with the walls. Antonio Felix da Costa brushed the fence at the quick chicane, but not before he'd set the 13th-fastest time. Stephane Sarrazin will start next to him, but spun at Turn 1.
Matthew Brabham hit the wall in the second session, damaging his Andretti Autosport car on his first flying lap and joining the three-strong list of drivers who failed to record a time.
The race runs this afternoon, and airs tonight on FOX Sports 1 at 9:00 p.m. Eastern.
12.12.14 (via RACER.com) – Matthew Brabham will return to the Formula E championship this weekend in Uruguay, replacing Franck Montagny at the Andretti Autosport team.
Brabham, the grandson of three-time Formula 1 world champion Sir Jack Brabham, made his debut in the series in Putrajaya in Malaysia last month when he stood in for Frenchman Charles Pic.
Andretti said on Friday that regular driver Montagny would be unable to race in Punta del Este this weekend, with the Frenchman citing health reasons, meaning reserve Brabham will get his second outing.
The American-born 20-year-old spent 2014 with Andretti's Indy Lights team. He will race alongside ex-Toro Rosso F1 driver Jean-Eric Vergne, who is making his Formula E debut this weekend.
12.10.2014 (via IndyCar.com) – It might be a fun, get-to-know-you all-star event, but once helmets are strapped on it transitions to a serious competition.
That’s Ryan Hunter-Reay’s assessment of the Race of Champions, which he’ll participate in Dec. 13-14 at the Bushy Park Circuit in Barbados.
The event brings together some of the world’s greatest drivers from major disciplines – the Verizon IndyCar Series, Formula 1, World Rally, Le Mans, MotoGP and NASCAR – for head-to-head contests in identical machinery on a parallel course.
Hunter-Reay, the reigning Indianapolis 500 Mile Race champion, competed in the Race of Champions in Thailand following his 2012 Verizon IndyCar Series championship season. The event was not held in 2013.
“It is all fun and casual, and everybody is patting each other on the back until you line up next to each other and it’s like the championship is on the line,” said the Fort Lauderdale, Fla., resident who will enter his sixth season with Andretti Autosport in 2015. “You have an opportunity to beat some of the best drivers in the world.”
Other competitors include Tom Kristensen (nine-time Le Mans 24 Hours winner), Romain Grosjean (Lotus Formula 1 driver, reigning ROC Champion of Champions), Jamie Whincup (five-time V8 Supercar champion), Petter Solberg (2014 FIA World Rallycross champion), José María López (2014 FIA World Touring Car champion), Esteban Ocon (2014 FIA European F3 champion), Mick Doohan (five-time 500cc MotoGP world champion), David Coulthard (13-time Formula 1 Grand Prix winner), Jolyon Palmer (2014 GP2 champion), Susie Wolff (Williams F1 test driver), Robby Gordon (four-time BAJA 500 winner and Hunter-Reay's brother-in-law), and Kurt Busch (2004 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion and 2014 Indianapolis 500 Mile Race Rookie of the Year).
Hunter-Reay and Busch, Andretti Autosport teammates for the Indy 500 in May, will represent the U.S. in the Nations Cup competition.
“I look forward to working with Kurt again,” Hunter-Reay said. “It’s an honor to be the company of champions from around the world.”
12.8.2014 – The Andretti Formula-E Team will place Frenchman Jean-Éric Vergne behind the wheel of the No. 28 electric-powered machine for Round Three of Formula E competition in Punta del Este.
“It’s not often that you get to race at this time of the year,” said Vergne. “I am really looking forward to this opportunity, especially given its location in a place like Punta del Este. Although I have no experience in this new series, I am excited about the prospect of racing in Formula E, and racing for such a prestigious team as Andretti. As always, the main objective of the weekend is to stay out front and finish the year on a high note. The weekend will be a little like a journey into the unknown, but it is a journey that I am thoroughly looking forward to!”
The 24-year-old Vergne has three seasons of FIA Formula 1™ World Championship experience and has participated in seven championships throughout his career, recording 40 victories and 68 podiums. The 2010 British Formula 3 Champion will join fellow countryman Franck Montagny to complete the Andretti Formula-E two-car lineup for the American team led by Michael Andretti.
“We’re really happy to put JEV (Jean-Éric Vergne) in the car for Punta del Este,” said Andretti. “He has great talent and we think he’ll pair well with our team for competitive results. I also think having interest and participation from respected F1 drivers shows great strength and the true potential for Formula E as a series and World Championship.”
The Punta del Este ePrix will mark the Formula E debut for Vergne, who competed full-time on the Formula 1 circuit with Scuderia Toro Rosso where he ranked 13th in the 2014 F1 Drivers’ standings. The previous two rounds in the inaugural all-electric racing series saw the team’s full-season championship driver Montagny, as well as Charles Pic and reserve driver Matthew Brabham in competition for Andretti.
Fans can cast their vote for Vergne or teammate Montagny in the Formula E #FanBoost by visiting http://fanboost.fiaformulae.com.
12.2.2014 – It was announced today that Mazda Road to Indy standout Shelby Blackstock will graduate from Pro Mazda to the Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires Championship for the 2015 season; the 24-year-old remains with Andretti Autosport, entering his fourth year with the Indianapolis-based team.