Ryan Briscoe will make his sixth and last IndyCar start of 2013 for Panther Racing (seventh overall, with the Indianapolis 500) at this weekend’s GoPro Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma (4 p.m. EST, Sunday, NBCSN).
Briscoe has been cleared to drive after recovering from surgery on his right wrist. He tested last Tuesday at Sonoma with a carbon fiber wrist brace, and will now have the opportunity to defend his 2012 Sonoma race win.
“I’m obviously very happy to be back with the team and in the National Guard car,” Briscoe said in a team release. “My wrist held up pretty good during the test, although the (wrist) brace was a bit of a nuisance. But we made good progress during the test and worked through our program really well. I was pleased with our pace and definitely looking forward to coming back next week to find more speed.”
Conflicts on each of the three remaining IndyCar weekends at Baltimore, Houston and Fontana with the American Le Mans Series will see Briscoe back in one of Level 5 Motorsports’ HPD ARX-03bs in the P2 class. The team will name its replacement for those races after Sonoma, but it is likely to be Oriol Servia once again.
Juncos Racing continued to bolster its entries in the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires by signing Carlos Cunha to pilot a third Juncos Pro Mazda entry for 2018. Cunha, who finished third in the 2017 Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda season on the back of seven podium finishes, joins Rinus VeeKay and Robert Megennis in Juncos’ Pro Mazda lineup for 2018.
Cunha previously tested with the team at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in October and joined Juncos for the Chris Griffis Memorial test at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in November, testing cars for both the Pro Mazda and Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires teams.
“It’s great to become a part of Juncos Racing,” said the 18-year-old Cunha. “I am really excited to start the 2018 season with Juncos Racing. This fall we did some testing together and from there I was able to see how focused everyone on the team is and I even felt like I became a part of their family in no time. I am confident we will get great results together next year and I look forward to learning and growing more with the team. It will be a huge pleasure and also a great responsibility to carry the number one on my car, thanks to (2017 Pro Mazda champion Victor Franzoni) and I hope to deliver it back to the team at the end of the year!”
Team owner Ricardo Juncos added, “We are excited to add Carlos to our Pro Mazda lineup. From the moment we started testing with him in early October, we knew he would be a great fit for our team. Carlos has been very quick in testing and even had an impressive showing in the Indy Lights car at the Chris Griffis test back in October. He had a great run this past season in the Pro Mazda series and we are confident he will carry that momentum into the 2018 season.”