Tagliani gets to drive a Ferrari in Kansas

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Cool news as Alex Tagliani’s post-Barracuda Racing period without a vehicle – other than a tricycle while wearing a beaver suit – will include his return to the GRAND-AM Rolex Series and a chance to race a Ferrari F458 Italia.

The Canadian steps into what has become a revolving door at the R.Ferri/AIM Motorsport Racing with Ferrari No. 61 car alongside full-season driver Jeff Segal. Segal’s full-season co-driver Max Papis has been called to NASCAR duties in Watkins Glen for Tony Stewart this weekend, then in Mid-Ohio for the Nationwide Series race the following weekend.

So Kenny Wilden, a one-time rival of Tagliani’s in the Formula Atlantic series in the 1990s, steps into the No. 61 F458 this weekend at Road America and Tagliani will do at Kansas, a roval, on Aug. 17.

“It’s not every day that a driver has the chance to drive a red Ferrari in racing, and doing it for R.Ferri/AIM Motorsport means even more,” Tagliani said in a team release. “I have a great respect for Ian as an engineer and Andrew, whom I raced against. They have been long-time friends on and off track. Driving Remo’s car is a great opportunity and an honor for a Canadian-born driver with Italian heritage. Remo is such a passionate guy for motorsports and I can already feel a great vibe in this team.”

It’s good to see “Tag” land back on his feet so quickly and continue racing something, as his IndyCar team evaluates their drivers for next year.

Neuville wins Rally Australia; Ogier takes FIA WRC title

Sebastien Ogier. Photo: Getty Images
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COFFS HARBOUR, Australia (AP) Belgium’s Thierry Neuville won Rally Australia by 22.5 seconds on Sunday as torrential rain added drama to the last day of the last race of the World Rally Championship season.

Neuville entered the final day with an almost 20 second advantage after inheriting the rally lead Saturday when his Hyundai teammate, defending champion Andreas Mikkelsen crashed and was forced to retire for the day.

His lead was halved by Jari-Matti Latvala early Sunday as monsoon-like rain made conditions treacherous on muddy forest stages on the New South Wales coast. The rain stopped on the short Wedding Bells stage where Neuville was almost 5 seconds quicker than his rivals, stretching his lead to 14.7 seconds entering the last stage.

COFFS HARBOUR, AUSTRALIA – NOVEMBER 17: Thierry Neuville of Belgium and Nicolas Gilsoul of Belgium compete in their Hyundai Motorsport WRT Hyundai i20 coupe WRC during Day One of the WRC Australia on November 17, 2017 in COFFS HARBOUR, Australia. (Photo by Massimo Bettiol/Getty Images)

That stage was full of incident. The driver’s door on Neuville’s Hyundai i20 coupe swung open in the middle of the stage and Neuville had to slam it closed as he approached a corner.

Latvala’s Toyota then crashed seconds from the end of the stage, allowing Estonia’s Ott Tanak, in a Ford, to take second place overall and New Zealalnd’s Haydon Paddon, in a Hyundai, to sneak into third.

Sebastian Ogier was fourth after winning the final, power stage but the Frenchman had already clinched his fifth world title before Rally Australia began. Neuville’s win was his fourth of the season, two more than Ogier, and was enough to give him second place in world drivers’ standings for the third time in five years.

Ogier owed his drivers’ title to his consistency: he retired only once and finished no worse than fifth all season.

Neuville admitted the last day was touch and go as the rain made some stages perilous, forcing the cancellation of the second to last stage.

“That was a hell of a ride,” Neuville said. “Really, really tricky conditions.

“I kept the car on the road but it was close sometimes. I knew I could make a difference but I had to be clever. You lose grip, you lose control and the car doesn’t respond to your input.”