Milwaukee IndyFest - Day 2

IndyCar: Andretti confirms RHR, DHL extensions; reveals more on 2015


WEST ALLIS, Wis. – “The family” of DHL, Ryan Hunter-Reay and Andretti Autosport will continue for a further three seasons.

The current Indianapolis 500 champion joined his team boss, Michael Andretti, and DHL Express U.S. CEO Mike Parra to confirm the partnership before today’s ABC Supply Co. Wisconsin 250 at Milwaukee IndyFest Presented by the Metro Milwaukee Honda Dealers.

“It’s a really big day for us and for IndyCar, to have DHL committed to a multi-year deal,” Andretti said.

Added Hunter-Reay, “I can’t say enough about DHL from day one we worked together back in 2011. We’ve grown as a team, and as a family. We’ve just won the biggest race together, and the 2012 championship. And we’re working hard for more.”

Parra added the partnership extension was “not a difficult one” and that it provided huge ad value for the company. International races were also mentioned, but not expanded.

What followed in an impromptu Q&A with Andretti directly provided a series of nuggets.

First, the team’s possible sports car program – Andretti had been rumored to run a new HPD ARX-04b coupe – is all but dead for 2015.

“It doesn’t look like that’s gonna happen. Something fell through and it’s disappointing,” Andretti said.

The focus, instead, shifts to the goal of a fifth full-time IndyCar for 2015. It does “not necessarily” need to be Simon Pagenaud.

Andretti did confirm Carlos Munoz for a second season alongside RHR and Marco Andretti. Sponsorship-wise, Marco Andretti’s car is likely to have different sponsors for at least selected races and Michael Andretti did not confirm the Dr Pepper Snapple group’s full-time presence – yet anyway. The team now works to re-sign James Hinchcliffe. Andretti did say he was pleased to have three cars already put to bed.

One of Andretti’s Indy Lights drivers, Zach Veach, could drive a partial IndyCar season in 2015 if he wins this year’s Lights championship. Andretti said he has a lot of time for both Veach and Matty Brabham, who finished 1-2 in today’s race. However, he could not commit to running either of them with the new Indy Lights chassis in 2015; Andretti said he’ll only run one if he can find a paying driver.

“The only way I can do it is if I can find kids who can afford paying for the car,” Andretti said. “I won’t be able to go out and buy the new chassis. It’s not dead, it’s still possible, but at this time we don’t have anything.”

Andretti’s Pro Mazda team is also a question mark, while Andretti said he hopes to reveal the second driver (or drivers) of his second FIA Formula E entry soon.

As for the Andretti Sports Marketing department, Andretti is optimistic the New Orleans race – discussed earlier this year – will happen in 2015.

“We’re working on New Orleans. We’re announcing it hopefully somewhere soon,” Andretti said. “We’re very excited about this event. It’s going to be way bigger than people think. It will be for ’15.”

Asked on a date, Andretti replied, “I think they have a spot, I’m not gonna say where, but we’ll be happy with what’s being discussed.”

And as for this race, in the first of its two-year deal in August, Andretti said walkup ticket sales will be key.

“We have another year. We’re still building and we want to go beyond next year,” he said. “I think today’s walkup is important. Sponsorship is way up. We’re going the right direction; we continue to build and we want to say next year that hopefully we can continue this thing.”

Lorenzo looking to Honda, Ducati for help in MotoGP title race

ALCANIZ, SPAIN - SEPTEMBER 27:  Jorge Lorenzo of Spain and Movistar Yamaha MotoGP celebrates the victory on the podium at the end of the MotoGP race during the MotoGP of Spain - Race at Motorland Aragon Circuit on September 27, 2015 in Alcaniz, Spain.  (Photo by Mirco Lazzari gp/Getty Images)
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Jorge Lorenzo hopes that he can get some help from the Honda and Ducati riders in his championship battle with Yamaha teammate Valentino Rossi in the final four races of the 2015 MotoGP season.

Lorenzo currently trails Rossi by 14 points at the top of the riders’ championship, and with just four races to go, barring an unlikely run of results, the title will go to a Yamaha rider for the first time since 2012.

The formbook offers little in the way of clues for the Lorenzo/Rossi battle, for although Lorenzo has won more races, Rossi has been more consistent, finishing off the podium just once this season.

Lorenzo had hoped to reel Rossi in last time out at Motorland Aragon, but the Italian rider managed to finish third, minimizing the damage of his teammate’s victory.

Nevertheless, Lorenzo was pleased to bounce back after two disappointing races at Silverstone and Misano, having lost ground on Rossi in the title race.

“I am very happy with this victory because it came after two races that were a bit disappointing and I expected to take more points, but due to a few factors and especially the weather, I failed to achieve the desired result,” Lorenzo said. “The victory in Motorland [Aragon] was crucial.”

Rossi was beaten to second place by Honda’s Dani Pedrosa after a titanic battle in the closing stages of the last race, and Lorenzo hopes that the Spaniard, among others, could aid his cause inadvertently again in the remaining four races.

“[Pedrosa] was very strong and it was useful to recover the points lost earlier and it has given me more chances to recover with four races left until the end,” Lorenzo said.

“But [Marc] Marquez or maybe the two Ducati riders could also stand in front of Valentino and take away some points. It is a real possibility, but very dangerous for us both.”

The next round of the MotoGP season takes place at Motegi, Japan next weekend.

Steiner: Haas F1 Team could not afford rookie mistakes

KANNAPOLIS, NC - SEPTEMBER 29:  (L-R) Gunther Steiner, team principal of Haas F1 Team, Romain Grosjean of France, and Gene Haas, owner of Haas F1 Team, pose for a photo opportunity after Haas F1 Team announced Grosjean as their driver for the upcoming 2016 Formula 1 season on September 29, 2015 in Kannapolis, North Carolina.  (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Stewart-Haas Racing via Getty Images)
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Günther Steiner has said that Haas Formula 1 Team could not afford to have its drivers making rookie mistakes during its debut season in the sport, reasoning the decision to only sign experienced racers for 2016.

On Tuesday, Haas unveiled Lotus driver Romain Grosjean as its first signing for next season, luring the Frenchman away from Enstone after ten years of association.

The second seat is set to go to either Esteban Gutierrez or Jean-Eric Vergne, who both work as development drivers for Ferrari and both have at least two seasons of racing under their belt.

As team principal, Steiner (pictured left) will work under team owner Gene Haas, and said that both had agreed that a rookie driver for season one would be unwise.

“We looked around a lot to find the right guy because we wanted somebody with experience but still hungry to do something, to go with us this long way,” Steiner explained.

“I started talks with the management of Romain in Barcelona to see if he’s interested and, you know, we spoke to quite a few drivers, and in the end I spoke also with technical people, what they think about Romain, how he develops a car.

“We have got a steep mountain to climb here, new team, all new team members, so we needed somebody who knows what he’s doing. I think in the end we found the right guy because he has so much ‘want to drive’ now, and he’s still aggressive or still wants it.

“He’s not [so] young anymore that he’s inexperienced. We lose time by having accidents or doing rookie mistakes. I think we just picked the best one out there for what we are doing, and we focused on him and got him, and we are very happy and we are looking forward to working with him.”