Conway, Carpenter to split Fuzzy’s IndyCar in 2014

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Mike Conway starred in his street course cameos this season in IndyCar. Now, look forward to seeing the English “silent assassin” at all road and street course events in 2014.

Initially broke by RACER and confirmed almost immediately thereafter by the team, Conway will join Ed Carpenter Racing as the road and street course driver of the No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet, replacing the eponymous team owner. Carpenter will continue on all oval races, including the Indianapolis 500.

“We couldn’t be happier to welcome Mike Conway to the Ed Carpenter Racing family,” Carpenter said in the team release. “My partners, (team manager) Tim Broyles, and I are committed to building an organization based on culture, sustainability, and performance.  We are very proud of the group of people we have assembled and bringing Mike into the fold creates an opportunity for us to show even more value to our partners and strengthen our team by competing for victories at every single event in the 2014 IndyCar Series.”

Added Conway, “It is great news to be back in IndyCar next year for all the road and street courses. I had a lot of fun this year in the select races that I could do and I hope that I can continue my success with Ed Carpenter Racing next year.”

Carpenter has made steady progress over the last two years on road and street courses working with driver coach Lee Bentham and former team manager Derrick Walker. The problem was, it was hard to notice unless you really examined the timesheets because it was a case of Carpenter clawing his way back from north of 3 seconds behind the leader to 1.2 to 1.5, which in the spec-car field, was still towards the bottom.

Conway made the decision to step out of IndyCars on ovals citing his discomfort at the tail end of the 2012 season. Meanwhile, Carpenter has performed one of racing’s most selfless acts in taking himself out of the driver’s seat for the betterment of his team. They should be all the better for it if the team’s engineering on road and street courses matches Conway’s ability behind the wheel.

“I have a great deal of respect for Ed Carpenter to have the vision to put Mike in the car for the street and road tracks,” said Mark Blundell, a former IndyCar race winner and Conway’s manager. “I think that the blend of his skill sets on the ovals combined with Mike’s talent and pace makes for a very strong combination over the 2014 season.”

Fernando Alonso completes first test with United Autosports

Photo: United Autosports
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Two-time Formula 1 World Champion Fernando Alonso enjoyed his first outing with United Autosports, with whom he will contest the 2018 Rolex 24 at Daytona, in their Ligier JS P217 LMP2 chassis.

The McLaren Formula 1 driver completed the test at Motorland Aragon in Spain alongside co-driver Phil Hanson, who will be a teammate with Alonso at next year’s 24-hour Daytona enduro. Filipe Albuquerque, a former GT class winner at the Rolex 24, was also on hand to help Alonso and the team ahead of Alonso’s first run in an LMP2 car, which comes only a couple days after he made his LMP1 testing debut with Toyota. Albuquerque races with Mustang Sampling Racing in IMSA, but will return to United’s European Le Mans Series program for all but one race in 2018.

“I had a great first test with United Autosports. Obviously, we are on a really tight schedule between now and Daytona, but it was nice to jump in the car for the first time,” said Alonso, who will rejoin the team at the official Roar Before the 24 test on January 5-7.

Alonso added, “There’s quite a few switches and things to study so it was important to do this initial shakedown before Daytona, so I could fully learn about the car. I’m happy with everything – the car felt great and the team were fantastic. The atmosphere here is wonderful, like a big family, so today has been amazing. I cannot wait for Daytona.”

Team owner Zak Brown, who also serves as executive director of McLaren Technology Group and helps lead the McLaren Formula 1 effort, shared Alonso’s enthusiasm and was not surprised he was able to acclimate himself relatively quickly.

“Fernando’s first test with United Autosports went awesome as expected. He is a world champion and it is a pleasure to have him in our car,” he said of Alonso’s debut with the team.

Alonso is currently schedule to contest the Rolex 24 with the aforementioned Hanson and McLaren test driver Lando Norris.