Rahal

RLL successfully punks the racing world with “Bobby Rahal returning” PR

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Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing has been in the news a lot this year, primarily due to its new commercial partner of the National Guard, and new (old) second driver Oriol Servia on a part-time basis along with Graham Rahal.

Then they had a transporter fire on the way to St. Petersburg for the Verizon IndyCar Series season opener, needed to turn around and head back for a new one, and Graham Rahal successfully threw down in practice on Friday. He ended 14th in the race, which was an unrepresentative result given a monster start from 21st up to 10th.

And then today happened… and the racing world got Rahal-Rolled.

From a team press release:

Although the 1998 season was billed as “Rahal’s Last Ride,” 1986 Indi­anapolis 500 winner and three-time Indy car cham­pion Bobby Rahal has decided to come out of retire­ment to partic­i­pate in the 98th running of the Indi­anapolis 500. Details of the spon­sor­ship for the No. 61 entry, to be fielded by Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, will be unveiled in the near future.

Funny, but it ain’t happening. It was just an April Fools’ joke.

That’s not to say people weren’t tweeting about it when it happened, including former INDYCAR CEO Randy Bernard. Here are some tweets that came in after that announcement.

This from Rahal’s former competitor and another team owner, Jimmy Vasser.

This was Porsche factory sports car driver Patrick Long’s reaction.

Veteran race reporter John Kernan tweeted this out, and Florida-based reporter Brant James said he read through most of the press release.

Fans wanted in, too.

Even Graham Rahal tweeted about it… before giving away the joke at the end with a smiley face.

As it is, the number, 61, is Bobby Rahal’s age. He hasn’t raced in North American open-wheel racing since 1998 and his last Indianapolis 500 appearance was in 1995, when he finished third behind winner Jacques Villeneuve and Christian Fittipaldi. Villeneuve is making his return to the race for the first time in 19 years in a third Schmidt Peterson Motorsports entry.

The team has stated it is unlikely to run a third car for the Indianapolis 500 anyway, and Honda can only likely accommodate one more engine lease anyway beyond its current number of 17 at the Indianapolis 500.

Anyway, that was your morning fun and games. Fun as it would be, the 1986 Indianapolis 500 winning driver and 2004 winning owner has plenty on his plate with the RLL IndyCar and TUDOR United SportsCar Championship BMW programs, and other activities such as bobsled and the Road Racing Drivers’ Club.

Esteban Ocon secures Mercedes DTM seat for 2016

2015 GP3 Series Round 9
Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE.
Sunday 29 November 2015.
Esteban Ocon (FRA, ART Grand Prix) 
Photo: Sam Bloxham/GP3 Series Media Service.
ref: Digital Image _G7C8733
© GP3 Series
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2015 GP3 Series champion Esteban Ocon will race in the DTM championship this year with Mercedes in tandem with a reserve role in Formula 1 at Renault.

Ocon joined Mercedes’ junior program in the spring of 2015 before becoming a fully-fledged member at the end of the year just days before his GP3 title success.

The Frenchman was known to be considering a move into either DTM or GP2 for 2016, but will now replace F1-bound Pascal Wehrlein at Mercedes’ factory team for the new DTM campaign.

“It’s an incredible feeling to be part of such a professional and strong racing series,” Ocon said.

“I’m very pleased to be driving for Mercedes-Benz. It’s the best team in the DTM and I’m very grateful for this fantastic opportunity.

“Mercedes is the most successful manufacturer in DTM history. You can only achieve that with real passion and hard work, and those are characteristics that we share. After driving in free practice during the final race weekend of the 2015 season at Hockenheim, I can’t wait to start a DTM race.

“I obviously have a lot to learn, but my goal – and that of everyone in the team – is to fight for wins as soon as possible.”

Trident completes 2016 GP2 line-up with Armand

2015 GP2 Series Test 3.
Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
Friday 4 December 2015.
Philo Armand (INA, Status Grand Prix).
Photo: Zak Mauger/GP2 Series Media Service.
ref: Digital Image _L0U4261
© GP2 Series
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Trident has completed its line-up for the 2016 GP2 Series season by signing Indonesian driver Philo Paz Armand.

Armand has previously raced in a number of European Formula Renault 2.0 championships, and most recently took part in half of last year’s Formula Renault 3.5 rounds, scoring one point.

Armand will now step up to GP2 for the 2016 season, racing alongside 2015 GP3 runner-up Luca Ghiotto at Trident.

“We are very excited to start this collaboration with Philo and we are confident he will express all his talent thanks to the team’s help,” Trident team manager Giacomo Ricci said.

The grid for GP2’s support series, GP3, is also beginning to come together for the new season following the announcements of Tatiana Calderon and Honda junior Nirei Fukuzumi.

Calderon moves into GP3 from FIA F3 and will race for Carlin, while Fukuzumi joins ART Grand Prix, continuing the French squad’s association with Honda.

Marchionne calls for Alfa Romeo to consider F1 entry

LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 20:  The Alfa Romeo 4C on display at the Vanity Fair Campaign Hollywood Alfa Romeo Ride and Drive luncheon at The Polsky Residence on February 20, 2015 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Michael Buckner/Getty Images for Vanity Fair)
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Fiat-Chrysler CEO and Ferrari president Sergio Marchionne believes that Italian car manufacturer Alfa Romeo must consider entering Formula 1 with a team in the near future.

Alfa Romeo last raced as a constructor in F1 between 1979 and 1985, but has enjoyed no involvement within the series since 1988 when it supplied engines to the Osella team.

Marchionne believes that a return to F1 would be an effective way for Alfa Romeo to grow as a brand and gain more public awareness.

“In order to restore their name, they must consider returning to Formula 1,” Marchionne told Italian publication La Gazzetta dello Sport.

“Alfa Romeo are capable of making their own chassis, just like they are capable of making their own engine,” he added, before conceding that it could enjoy an engine supply from Ferrari should it wish to enter F1.

Marchionne believes that adding more manufacturers to the F1 grid is key to safeguarding the long-term future of the series.

“In the end this sport must be saved,” Marchionne said.

“The important thing is to make other car manufacturers enter grand prix racing.”

Grosjean unveils new helmet design for first F1 season with Haas

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© Romain Grosjean
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Romain Grosjean has revealed his new-look helmet design ahead of his first Formula 1 season with Haas in 2016.

NASCAR team co-owner Gene Haas won the race to get an F1 team on the grid back in 2014, and has spent the past 18 months meticulously planning its arrival in the sport.

Haas F1 Team’s full debut is now just five weeks away, with the first on-track test of its new car coming on February 22 in Barcelona.

Grosjean walked away from Lotus at the end of last year to join Haas for the new season, where he will race alongside former Ferrari reserve Esteban Gutierrez.

In a post on his Twitter account on Saturday, Grosjean unveiled his new helmet design for the 2016 season, featuring plenty of Haas signage.

Grosjean also revealed earlier this week that he would be racing with a tribute to Jules Bianchi on his helmet, who died at the age of 25 last July.