MRTI: Pigot wins and Hargrove retains points lead in GT3 Canada at GP3R

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The Mazda Road to Indy divisions, as well as the Verizon IndyCar Series, were off this past weekend – but several drivers were making the rounds around North America this weekend.

We noted IndyCar drivers Jack Hawksworth and James Hinchcliffe in action at Road America; Gabby Chaves, the Indy Lights points leader, also made a day trip to Road America to support the DeltaWing team, which he’s driven for in the Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup this year.

In Trois-Rivieres, Pro Mazda title rivals Scott Hargrove and Spencer Pigot continued their battle at the legendary street course in Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Michelin action. It was part of the weekend that also included this accident in the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series.

Pigot finished fourth in Saturday’s race one (Chris Green won) and won Sunday’s race two; the Sunday win was his second of the year (Toronto).

“I knew I had the pace. I just had to take advantage when I could but not take too many risks and end up in the wall, which is easy to do here,” Pigot said. “Just worked my way past Chris and Scott. It was good battling with them, as always. Really hard racing, but it was all clean today. Happy to get the win.”

Meanwhile Hargrove finished second in both races and retains the series points lead with a final two-race weekend to go at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, August 30-31. Hargrove leads Green by 16 points (152-136); 20 points are on offer for each win, and a maximum 40 possible.

Pigot and Hargrove’s Pro Mazda title battle will be decided in the next two weeks, after one race in Milwaukee this weekend and two in Sonoma the following weekend. There, Pigot currently leads Hargrove by 14 points (259-245). Wins are worth more than 30 points.

The other IMSA Development Series were in action at Road America this weekend. Sloan Urry, Michael Lewis and Angel Benitez Jr. won the three IMSA Porsche GT3 Cup USA races with Mikhail Goikhberg and Andrew Novich winning in IMSA Cooper Tire Prototype Lites.

We’ll have more on the Pigot/Hargrove title battle later this week on MotorSportsTalk.

Michael Andretti looking forward to new Australian Supercars venture

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If it seems like Michael Andretti is out to conquer the world, he is – kind of.

The former IndyCar star turned prolific team owner has won three of the last four Indianapolis 500s and five overall, second only to Roger Penske’s 16 Indy 500 triumphs.

Along the way, in addition to expanding his own IndyCar and Indy Lights operation, the son of Mario Andretti and the primary shareholder of Andretti Autosport has also branched out into Global RallyCross and Formula E racing in recent years.

And now, Andretti has further expanded his brand internationally, following Penske to the world down under — as in the world of Australian V8 Supercars.

Andretti has teamed with Supercars team owner Ryan Walkinshaw, along with veteran motorsports marketer and executive director of McLaren Technology Group and United Autosports owner and chairman, Zak Brown.

Together, the three have formed Walkinshaw Andretti United, based in suburban Melbourne, Australia. The new team kicks off the new season with the Adelaide 500 from March 1-4.

“It’s just extending our brand and putting it out there,” Andretti told NBC Sports. “The Supercars are such a great series.

“It all started with Zach Brown calling me and said ‘You have to talk to Ryan Walkinshaw. He’s got something interesting to talk to you about.’

“We talked and literally in like a half-hour, we said, ‘Let’s figure out how we’re going to make this work.’ And then Zack was like, ‘Hey, what about me?’ And then Zack came in as a partner and it’s cool now that we have the Walkinshaw Andretti United team.

“I’m really excited about that program, the guys at the shop are excited about it, we’ve been doing a lot of things to try and help it because it’s such a cool series and the cars are so cool.

“I went down there to Bathurst, which was to me one of the coolest tracks in the world. I wish I could have driven it, I really do. It looks like a blast.

“It’s amazing how big that series is when you go down there. It’s one of the biggest sports in Australia. It was just a great opportunity for us to extend our portfolio.”

Admittedly, Andretti had some extra incentive to want to get involved in the Supercars world: Penske joined forces with legendary Dick Johnson Racing in September 2014.

The organization came together quickly and the rebranded DJR Team Penske went on to win the 2017 V8 Supercars championship.

“Roger was down there the last few years,” Andretti said, adding that fact as incentive to get his own organization into the series. “So it’s cool to go race head-to-head with Roger. That was also in the back of our minds.”

This is no start-up venture for Andretti. The roots of the new venture began in 1990 as the Holden Racing Team, which went on to become one of the most successful organizations in Australian V8 Supercar racing, having won the drivers’ championship six times and the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship’s top race, the Bathurst 1000 (essentially Australia’s version of the Indy 500), seven times.

Last season, Holden Racing team morphed into Triple Eight Race Engineering and was renamed Mobil 1 HSV Racing.

And now the company has been renamed once again for the 2018 campaign under the Walkinshaw Andretti United banner.

The team will be composed of two Holden ZB Commodores with drivers James Courtney and Scott Pye, as well as a Porsche 911 GT3-R in the Australian GT championship.

What’s next for Andretti’s motorsports portfolio? Right now, it’s pretty full, but you can bet running for championships from Australia (Supercars) to globally (GRC) to Indianapolis (Indy 500) to the U.S. (Verizon IndyCar Series) are at the top of this year’s list.