TUSC: AIM Autosport confirms return to series

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AIM Autosport will make its return to the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship, as it takes over operations of the Townsend Bell/Bill Sweedler Ferrari GT Daytona program that was fielded by Level 5 Motorsports at the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

Bell and Sweedler were part of the car’s winning lineup, as the No. 555 Ferrari 458 Italia GT3 entry was reinstated to the class victory following a review by IMSA’s supervisory officials after a penalty had been assessed for avoidable contact.

Since that point, Level 5 pulled out of the series, saying it was in the team’s best interests to withdraw and focus on other opportunities.

“Daytona was probably the biggest roller coaster I’ve been through in my career, and it’s nice to have that behind us and to have Sebring ahead of us,” Bell said in a team release. “AIM Autosport is a new team for us, but we have continuity with Ian Willis and with the Ferrari 458 Italia.”

Willis has a distinct history with AIM from both the managerial and engineering standpoints, and worked with the No. 555 lineup at Daytona.

AIM won the 2012 GRAND-AM Rolex Series GT championship, with co-drivers Jeff Segal and Emil Assentato in the team’s then-No. 69 Ferrari.

A third driver will join Bell and Sweedler at next week’s Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, although that driver is still the ubiquitous “TBD” on the entry list.

Bell will have a busy year, as he’ll also return to NBCSN’s coverage of the IndyCar Series, as an analyst.

Audi bids farewell to Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich upon retirement

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Audi bid farewell to its iconic head of motorsport, Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich, at its end-of-season ‘Race Night’ event in Germany on Friday upon his retirement.

Ullrich took over the reins as Audi’s head of motorsport in 1993 and stayed in the role for 23 years, overseeing its arrival in the prototype class of sports car racing and domination of the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Ullrich stepped down from the position at the end of 2016, handing the reins over to ex-Audi DTM chief Dieter Gass, and attended his final racing event with the German marque at its first works Formula E outing in Hong Kong earlier this month.

Ullrich was honored at the Race Night event on Friday and thanked for his efforts in developing Audi into a force within global motorsport.

“In 566 factory-backed commitments during this period he celebrated 209 victories, 13 of them in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, eleven in the 12-hour race at Sebring and nine in the ‘Petit Le Mans’ at Road Atlanta,” a piece on Ullrich’s tenure for Audi’s website reads.

“31 driver titles in super touring car racing, in the DTM and in the sports prototype category are credited to him. 57 campaigners were Audi factory drivers during Wolfgang Ullrich’s era and he was responsible for 18 new developments of racing cars – an impressive tally.”