More problems today for World Champs Red Bull

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Time may be running out for four-time reigning World Champions Red Bull, who suffered through more issues with their Renault-powered RB10 today during the start of the final F1 preseason test at Bahrain International Circuit.

Daniel Ricciardo had started things off today well enough with a total of 32 laps in the morning. But his afternoon session was marred by an exhaust problem on the car that sent the Australian into the paddock.

He wouldn’t return until late in the session, adding another seven laps for a total of 39 on the day. His fastest lap was a 1:37.908, good for seventh on the time sheets.

Afterwards, Ricciardo tried to keep positive despite the setback.

“The morning was much better for us with a few longer runs,” said Ricciardo. “Behind the wheel, that’s the best I’ve felt so far. The package seems to be coming together better. We still had a few issues today, but at least when the car was on track it was much more useful running and we made progress in the morning.

“It’s getting there. I’d love to keep going, but at least [Sebastian Vettel] has two days after me in the car, so I think we’ll be looking pretty good for the next three days.”

Team race engineering coordinator Andy Damerun said that the plan had been for Ricciardo to increase the length of his runs incrementally.

“We sent Daniel out for a long-ish run, but we had to abort about five laps in, as we noticed some issues on the sensors,” he said. “We brought him in, had a look at the car and discovered that we had a problem with the exhaust. So we had a long afternoon in the garage, but we did manage to get Daniel back out at the end of the session, which was good.

“We have some work to do overnight but hopefully tomorrow, we’ll able to run in a similar style to this morning.”

MRTI: Keith Donegan earns Mazda Shootout Scholarship

Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography
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Dublin, Ireland’s Keith Donegan claimed a $200K scholarship from Mazda after emerging victorious at the second annual Mazda Road to Indy Shootout. The 20-year-old Donegan earned an at-large nomination for the scholarship based on his performance at this year’s Formula Ford Festival, in which he finished second in the final, and emerged from a pack of 17 drivers from across the globe to claim the scholarship.

“It really hasn’t hit me yet,” said an emotional Donegan, who earlier in his career actually spent two years away from racing as he focused on academics. “The weekend was really good and I enjoyed it. I have to say a huge thanks to Mazda and Cooper Tires and everyone at the Mazda Road to Indy. I enjoyed every moment. Throughout the weekend we were consistent and I kept the small things in check. I didn’t make any stupid mistakes and kept my head cool and that really paid off in the end.”

The two-day shootout was held at the Bondurant Racing School in Arizona and saw the nominated drivers tackle the school’s 1.6-mile circuit in Formula Mazda race cars before facing on and off-track assessments. Donegan was selected by a panel of judges that included former driver and current Verizon IndyCar Series TV analyst Scott Goodyear, Mazda drivers Tom Long, Andrew Carbonell, and Jonathan Bomarito, as well as Victor Franzoni – the current champion of the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires – and Oliver Askew, the current champion of the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda.

Donegan was humbled to be in the presence of drivers who have won scholarships and championships previously, and added that he is grateful to have the opportunity to continue his racing career.

“You see all these champions here today that will go on to great things in the future and I’m sure the names you see here today aren’t going to disappear,” Donegan added. “They will be back up there and I’m sure I will be racing them again some day. It is an unbelievable opportunity to be given and for Mazda to provide that for any young driver. It just gives that bit of motivation that you need because the [U.S.] is where you need to go to become a professional these days. It is such a boost to my career.”

Donegan is now slated to join the 2018 USF2000 championship, with further announcements regarding the team with whom he’ll be racing to come in the future.

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