Night race possible for GP of Houston in 2014

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The 2014 edition of the Shell/Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston could take place at night, as race promoter and IndyCar team co-owner Mike Lanigan said that his group was “investigating” the prospect.

This weekend’s doubleheader marks the first year of a five-year pact between the Houston race and the series, but it is expected to find a new date on the 2014 schedule.

Considering the 96-hour scramble to convert the parking lot of Reliant Stadium into a 1.7-mile race track following the end of the Houston Texans’ game last Sunday, one could argue that Lanigan would prefer a date before football season kicks in.

Lanigan indicated that he has indeed found a date for Houston in 2014 (a date he said he wants to stay as a doubleheader), but wouldn’t reveal it.

“I have a memory lapse right now,” Lanigan said with a grin before adding, “I don’t think I’m permitted to say anything on that.”

The event has gotten off to a rocky start after a track repair issue scrapped or delayed multiple practice sessions this morning for the various series that are racing here in Houston. A temporary chicane has been installed at the problem spot in Turn 1 for the remainder of today’s activity before grinding takes place later tonight.

Still, as Lanigan noted, his group did take on a massive project with very little time to spare.

“It’s certainly a challenge, to say it mildly,” he said. “Normally, a street course takes four to six weeks. We did it in four days. We thought we had it right and we were finished around 5:30 this morning. Unfortunately, we missed something extremely important coming out at Turn 1.

“We’ve got some work to do tonight, but we’re really pleased we got everything here and everybody seems to be happy, so it’s been a success…Quite frankly, I feel a lot better today than I did last Saturday when we first got here.”

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.”