Conor Daly confirmed for full season of GP2 with Lazarus

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Conor Daly has been confirmed for a full season of GP2, with the same Venezuela GP Lazarus squad he has tested and raced the opening round of the season with.

The 22-year-old American spent the winter determining whether another season in Europe or a full-season in North America would be his next career step after racing the last three seasons in GP3, and also dovetailing with some other part-time open-wheel opportunities.

Unfortunately for Daly, options for both a full Verizon IndyCar Series season or even a month of May program dried up, due to the nature of requiring a sizable budget for opportunities. Thus when Lazarus came calling late this year to confirm he’d be testing for them at Abu Dhabi, GP2 suddenly became an option.

This officially confirms Daly alongside Alexander Rossi as the two Americans with full-season programs in GP2.

“This has been a long winter of uncertainty for me, but I am committed on my path to Formula One,” Daly said via a team release. “GP2 is where I want to be right now, and the Lazarus team really has a great group of people. We have learned a lot so far this season and have more work to do, but I will give everything to the team to help achieve a great result.”

Added team principal Nicolo Gaglian, “We are delighted to have reached an agreement for this season with Conor Daly, a driver we have followed in recent years in GP3 and that has now thoroughly impressed when he got behind the wheel of our GP2 test in Abu Dhabi. It is a pleasure for us to be able to get on track an US driver: Conor, despite having little experience with the GP2 car, knows the circuits having raced three seasons in GP3. He’s a talented driver and we hope to reach good results together.”

NHRA: John Force-like motor explosions get contagious during Sunday’s Gatornationals

Photo and video courtesy NHRA
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John Force is rubbing off on others – but probably not the way they or he would like.

The 16-time NHRA Funny Car champion has had spectacular motor explosions in each of the first three races of the new NHRA season, including during Friday’s qualifying for this weekend’s Gatornationals.

During Sunday’s quarterfinals of eliminations, Force’s teammate (and son-in-law and president of John Force Racing) Robert Hight squared off with fellow Funny Car driver Matt Hagan.

As the duo closed in on the finish line, both cars experienced spectacular motor explosions of their own – virtually side-by-side and nearly at the same time.

Hight’s car was the first to explode, tossing its body high in the air. A split-second later, Hagan’s car exploded, also sending the body flying.

Check out the NHRA video:

Hight wound up losing the race.

Hagan, meanwhile, and his crack pit crew rolled their backup car off the hauler, put in a new motor and went on to race through the semifinals and into the finals, losing to race winner “Fast Jack” Beckman.

“We had a pretty great race day, to be honest,” Hagan said. “I’ve never been to the finals in Gainesville.

“We obviously had a huge blow up in the second round, then to watch these guys pull the other car back out and put it together in the amount of time they had, then turn a win light on against Capps (Don Schumacher Racing teammate Ron Capps in the semifinals), then to be able to go to a final, it was huge and it speaks for itself.”

As for Hight, here’s his take on what happened with the motor explosion:

“I couldn’t see (Hagan) over there and it wasn’t like it was hazing the tires or anything else. As it turns out it wasn’t spinning at all. It kicked two rods out when it blacked the bearings in the crank then it hit the valves and blew up.

“The thing gave me no indication at all before that. What really scared me was once I got it under control and I look over and see his body is off his car. I am thinking ‘Oh man, he got gathered up in me.’ Then I stood up and looked and his injector was sideways so I realized he had an explosion as well. We are just lucky we didn’t get into each other.”

As for the guy who has had so much trouble in the motor department, John Force, he lost in the first round of Sunday’s eliminations to daughter Courtney Force.

John Force planned on shutting the motor off on his car at around the 700-foot mark of the 1,000-foot dragstrip, not wanting to risk another motor explosion – even though it meant a likely loss to his daughter.

Now John Force and his entire four-car team, including Courtney Force, Robert Hight and daughter and Top Fuel driver Brittany Force, will be off for extensive testing to try and determine what’s been causing the motor explosions.

“We have to evaluate it and go test,” Force said. “We’ll figure it out.”

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