E.J. Viso

Munoz: Fontana draft in versus Toronto a “totally different” situation

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Details as to why E.J. Viso was taken out of his Andretti Autosport seat for this weekend’s IZOD IndyCar Series season finale still remain murky at best. Viso did tweet late Friday, “Wishing the best to @CarlosMunoz026 driving my car this weekend. Trying my best to recover from food poisoning. So frustrated.”

But regardless of what the situation was, the team still had to figure out a backup plan, and had the best possible choice ready to go with its Indy Lights driver Carlos Munoz.

Munoz now has the unique opportunity of being a Colombian driver stepping into the No. 5 Team Venezuela/Andretti Autosport/HVM Chevrolet. Additionally, he’s the only driver of the 38 who have started an IndyCar race this year to have driven three different cars (Nos. 26 and 5 for Andretti, No. 4 for Panther Racing).

It’s the second time he’s been called on as a replacement driver this year, having also filled in for the injured Ryan Briscoe at Toronto Race 2 for Panther Racing. The situations, however, could not have been more different.

“It’s a totally different situation actually,” Munoz explained to me after qualifying. “The first practice here was really tough and difficult after Indy lights. It’s a different track, with different line to run, so you’re trying to learn that. Toronto was the day of race and I had a morning warmup. But I think rookie drivers struggle more on the ovals.”

It was interesting to hear Munoz say that because the Colombian dominated the Indy Lights race here a year ago. But, IndyCar and Indy Lights are about as similar at Fontana as are apples and oranges.

Munoz now has the unintentional bonus of being the second straight Andretti Autosport driver to do the 600 miles of Indianapolis and Fontana in the same year, following Sebastian Saavedra last year. But, he agreed these are totally different situations as well.

He qualified 14th on Friday and should move up at least two more spots on the grid with 10-grid spot engine penalties to Scott Dixon (seventh) and Josef Newgarden (10th) to be enforced.

Formula E adds Hong Kong race for October 2016

Photo: FIA Formula E
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The FIA Formula E Championship will add Hong Kong to its calendar for its third season, 2016-2017.

The race will take place on October 9, 2016 – exactly one year from now – around the city’s Central district. The 2km circuit will run between Lung Wo Road and the Star Ferry, with cars reaching speeds of up to 225kph (140mph).

The launch event today featured the Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, the Honourable CY Leung; Mr. Gregory So, Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development; Mr. Alejandro Agag, CEO, Formula E Holdings; Mr. Lawrence Yu Kam-Kee, President of the Hong Kong Automobile Association; and reigining FE champion Nelson Piquet Jr.

“The Hong Kong ePrix will be one of the highlights on the FIA Formula E Championship calendar,” Agag said in a release. “As one of the most innovative, cutting-edge and fun-loving cities in the world, Hong Kong and Formula E share many of the same qualities. We look forward to bringing all the fun and entertainment of Formula E to this amazing city, and international motorsport back to Hong Kong.”

The track map is linked below.

Hong Kong track map

Prema Powerteam to race in GP2 next season

MACAU, MACAO - NOVEMBER 16:  Prema Powerteam driver Esteban Ocon of France in action during the Formula 3 event as part of the 60th Macau Grand Prix on November 16, 2013 in Macau, Macau.  (Photo by Victor Fraile/Getty Images)
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Prema Powerteam has confirmed that it will enter GP2 for the first time in 2016, taking over the entry of Team Lazarus.

Prema has established itself as one of the most formidable teams in junior motorsport over the past 30 years, winning countless championships – including the last five FIA F3 titles – and helping to launch the careers of Ryan Briscoe, Roberto Merhi and Esteban Ocon (pictured).

In 2016, it will enter GP2 – Formula 1’s feeder series – for the very first time, taking over Lazarus’ entry as its four-year association with the series comes to an end.

“We are delighted to line-up for this exciting new adventure in the GP2 Series,” Prema manager Rene Rosin said. “Prema always followed the evolution of the GP2 concept as an interested spectator, and it is now finally time to join the game in first person.

“The move to the GP2 Series is a logical step for Prema, following the successful experiences in the FIA Formula 3 European Championship and in the Italian and the German Formula 4 Championships, which will continue with the same level of commitment.”

Series CEO Bruno Michel was pleased to welcome Prema to GP2, and believes that it will adapt quickly to life in the championship thanks to its impressive racing record.

“I am very pleased to welcome Prema to the GP2 Series,” Michel said. “Their remarkable track record makes me believe that they should be able to adapt quickly to our category.

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank [Lazarus team principal] Tancredi Pagiaro and his team for their hard work and dedication for the past four seasons. I wish them the best for the future.”