Former Indy winner Rice declines ride with Schmidt

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Citing the need to run the Indianapolis 500 properly, former “500” winner Buddy Rice has opted not to run Sam Schmidt’s third car for the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing” according to SPEED.com’s Marshall Pruett. Rice had been slated to team up with the Schmidt camp, but was never confirmed on entry lists for the race.

“When we agreed I would drive, it was a program that would start on Wednesday or Thursday and the sponsors we had were cool with that,” Rice told Pruett. “But then it turned into a Bump Day, Carb Day, Race Day-only deal and the sponsors didn’t want to run the short program.

“I appreciated Sam’s effort and Honda was willing to take the risk if they needed 33 cars, but I don’t want to do a Bump Day program just to fill the field.”

Schmidt’s open seat, the No. 99 Honda, does remain in play and drivers such as Katherine Legge, Jay Howard and Bryan Clauson are still supposedly looking for their chance to try and make the show this weekend. However, Schmidt himself has told Pruett that should the No. 99 hit the track, it would likely be “a Sunday deal” — referencing Bump Day, the final session that creates the field for the May 26 race.

Rice won the 2004 Indy 500 with Rahal Letterman Racing and has made six career starts at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway overall. His last “500” came in 2011 with Panther Racing, in which he qualified seventh and finished 18th.

As of now, Schmidt has two programs this month for full-time drivers Simon Pagenaud and rookie Tristan Vautier.

Rebellion confirms LMP1 return, all-star line-up for WEC super season

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Rebellion Racing has confirmed it will return to the LMP1 class of the FIA World Endurance Championship for the 2018/19 ‘super season’ with an all-star line-up featuring Le Mans winners Neel Jani and Andre Lotterer.

Rebellion raced in LMP1 as a privateer between 2009 and 2016 before stepping down to LMP2 for the most recent season, capturing the class titles at the first attempt.

Following a push from the WEC and Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO) to make LMP1 more appealing to privateer teams, Rebellion announced on Wednesday it would return to the premier class for the 2018/19 season with a two-car effort.

WEC LMP2 champion Bruno Senna will return with Rebellion next year, as will Mathias Beche, with the pair set to be joined by four new faces.

The most notable arrivals are Porsche factory drivers Lotterer and Jani, both of whom were left without an LMP1 drive following the closure of the German manufacturer’s program at the end of the season.

American racer Gustavo Menezes will also join Rebellion, stepping up after two years in LMP2, while outstanding 2017 rookie Thomas Laurent completes the Swiss team’s line-up.

“I am looking forward to coming back where my endurance career started nine years ago,” said Jani.

“Rebellion Racing played a huge role in my career and also helped me become a factory driver for Porsche. When Porsche stopped in LMP1, it was clear for me that I wanted to race again for Rebellion.

“With the new regulations, I hope we can reach the overall podium at Le Mans and with a bit of luck, maybe we can even grab some wins during the super season of WEC.”

“I am very happy to join the champion Rebellion team,” added three-time Le Mans winner Lotterer.

“The LMP1 project is very exciting and to be able to go on with the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the FIA WEC challenge is something I did not want to miss.

“I am motivated and looking forward to have a great time with great people there.”