MRTI: Veach, Pigot take critical wins in Milwaukee

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The penultimate weekend for two of the three rungs on the Mazda Road to Indy ladder occurred this weekend at Milwaukee. While one title lead was extended, another was closed up.

INDY LIGHTS

Andretti Autosport teammates Matty Brabham and Zach Veach dominated Sunday’s 100-lapper for the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires, but the outcome of which of the two would take it was in doubt until a final restart with less than 10 laps to go.

Veach led the opening 39 laps from pole before Brabham made it past on Lap 40, and began to stretch his lead over the next 50-plus laps while Veach struggled with balance. But following Luiz Razia’s crash with eight laps to go, Veach capitalized on the restart with an outside move on Brabham through Turns 1 and 2 with just four to go.  Brabham finished a hard-luck second after one of his best drives of the season.

Veach now sits just seven points behind Gabby Chaves (466-459), who finished third on Sunday and drove well to fight a seriously ill-handling, down on grip car. Jack Harvey also still has a shot going into Sonoma, 23 points behind, in third in the championship. But the Englishman ended fifth on Sunday, behind Scott Anderson, who posted a season-best fourth place for Fan Force United.

PRO MAZDA 

Despite starting fourth, points leader Spencer Pigot made it through to the win in Saturday evening’s Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires race at Milwaukee. Pigot made a move past title rival Scott Hargrove past half-distance in the 90-lap race, and held on despite a late restart. Shelby Blackstock made it up to third after Kyle Kaiser and Neil Alberico collided while battling for the final podium position.

Pigot now leads Hargrove by 18 points – 289-271 – heading to Sonoma next weekend.

Indy Lights, Pro Mazda and USF2000 all have doubleheader weekends in Sonoma for the season finale.

SMP Racing unveils BR1 LMP1 car in Bahrain ahead of WEC entry

SMP Racing
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SMP Racing has publicly unveiled its new BR1 LMP1 car that will enter the FIA World Endurance Championship from 2018.

SMP Racing opted to pull out of racing full-time in the WEC for 2017 in order to focus on its preparations for an LMP1 entry the following year, with the decision being taken long in advance of Porsche’s exit announcement.

Officials from the Russian-backed SMP Racing, as well as drivers including recent IndyCar racer Mikhail Aleshin (sporting a broken arm in a sling), Vitaly Petrov and Sergey Sirotkin were all on hand to unveil the car on Friday in the Bahrain International Circuit paddock ahead of this weekend’s WEC finale.

The BR Engineering BR1 features a Dallara chassis and an AER engine, and has completed over 2,000 km in private testing, with further running set to be completed in the coming weeks.

SMP Racing plans to field two cars in the WEC’s LMP1 class next year, and is keen to get as many Russian drivers as possible in the seats from its wide pool of talent.

Even with Porsche’s departure from LMP1, the class is set to feature a bigger field thanks to the increased number of privateers moving up, with Toyota set to remain the sole manufacturer in the class.