Jimmie Johnson says RTA is a good thing; also wants fewer races

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Six-time and defending NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson said Friday the newly formed Race Team Alliance will be a good thing for the sport. In his mind, NASCAR and the RTA will work collectively for cost reduction.

“The RTA is all about saving costs; it’s about driving costs down,” Johnson said during his media availability at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. “I know the conversation is ‘owners against NASCAR,’ but NASCAR is trying to help bring costs down, too.”

Johnson said the first he heard of it was at the beginning of the week, just before the RTA was publicly announced. He said everyone wants the sport to succeed.

Johnson tried to dispel fears the RTA will be a bad thing for the sport. He said worry exists on any topic; additionally, he thinks having a single, unified voice (even if the RTA is avoiding the term ‘union’) will be clearer for NASCAR to understand the teams’ collective concerns rather than nine-plus different voices.

“It’s human nature for some to worry. It doesn’t matter what the topic is,” Johnson said. “I don’t see a downside in owners working closer together and sharing what’s important to them to run their business and put a car in the field each week. That’s the environment we have there today.

“It’s a case now where at Hendrick you’ll hear this, at Roush that, and Penske something altogether different. I don’t see any downside in being organized.”

With an off weekend coming after New Hampshire this weekend, the last of the season, Johnson said he was looking forward to doing “as little as possible.”

“I’m happy to see it. I want to see six or seven more of them; get down to a 25-race schedule,” he said. “I can’t wait to chill out and relax.”

Rebellion confirms LMP1 return, all-star line-up for WEC super season

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Rebellion Racing has confirmed it will return to the LMP1 class of the FIA World Endurance Championship for the 2018/19 ‘super season’ with an all-star line-up featuring Le Mans winners Neel Jani and Andre Lotterer.

Rebellion raced in LMP1 as a privateer between 2009 and 2016 before stepping down to LMP2 for the most recent season, capturing the class titles at the first attempt.

Following a push from the WEC and Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO) to make LMP1 more appealing to privateer teams, Rebellion announced on Wednesday it would return to the premier class for the 2018/19 season with a two-car effort.

WEC LMP2 champion Bruno Senna will return with Rebellion next year, as will Mathias Beche, with the pair set to be joined by four new faces.

The most notable arrivals are Porsche factory drivers Lotterer and Jani, both of whom were left without an LMP1 drive following the closure of the German manufacturer’s program at the end of the season.

American racer Gustavo Menezes will also join Rebellion, stepping up after two years in LMP2, while outstanding 2017 rookie Thomas Laurent completes the Swiss team’s line-up.

“I am looking forward to coming back where my endurance career started nine years ago,” said Jani.

“Rebellion Racing played a huge role in my career and also helped me become a factory driver for Porsche. When Porsche stopped in LMP1, it was clear for me that I wanted to race again for Rebellion.

“With the new regulations, I hope we can reach the overall podium at Le Mans and with a bit of luck, maybe we can even grab some wins during the super season of WEC.”

“I am very happy to join the champion Rebellion team,” added three-time Le Mans winner Lotterer.

“The LMP1 project is very exciting and to be able to go on with the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the FIA WEC challenge is something I did not want to miss.

“I am motivated and looking forward to have a great time with great people there.”