Verstappen set for practice sessions in Austin, Brazil, Abu Dhabi

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Max Verstappen will get his first taste of an F1 race weekend at this year’s United States Grand Prix in Austin, Texas, after Toro Rosso team boss Franz Tost confirmed that the Dutch youngster will enjoy three practice run-outs at the end of the season.

The team confirmed this week that Verstappen, 16, will become the youngest ever F1 driver next season, joining the team in a full-time race seat alongside Daniil Kvyat. This has left Jean-Eric Vergne out in the cold for 2015.

In order to give him some track time, Verstappen will be taking part in practice for the races in the USA, Brazil and Abu Dhabi at the end of the year. He will complete some external running in a 2011 car to gain his FIA superlicense in the meantime, as permitted by the regulations.

“In a few weeks we want to do a test with him, just to give him a feeling, with a two-year-old car,” Tost explained on Thursday at Spa. “We want to give him as much time and mileage as possible in a Formula 1 car.

“We expect a Friday session at least from Austin onwards. So Austin, Sao Paulo and Abu Dhabi. Then he will do one test day after Abu Dhabi.”

Verstappen’s manager also confirmed the plans in a statement on the driver’s website.

“Together with Franz Tost, we’ve discussed how we can optimize Max’ preparation for his debut season in Formula 1,” Raymond Vermeulen said. “Initially, he will test a lot with a Formula Renault 3.5-racer. Furthermore, he’ll drive a two-year-old Toro Rosso.”

Verstappen’s promotion to an F1 drive at such a young age has caused a stir in the paddock, with many claiming that he is too young to be racing. Sauber’s Adrian Sutil called it a “risky move”, but, like most of the other drivers, saw no problem racing against him so long as he had the experience.

These practice run-outs should give Verstappen a leg-up ahead of his F1 debut next March, as well as giving us a chance to see this talented youngster in action.

The Callaway Corvette GT3 is coming to America, in PWC

Photo: Callaway Competition USA
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Pirelli World Challenge has been in need of some good news from a car count standpoint early into this offseason, and receives it Monday with confirmation Callaway Competition will bring its GT3-spec homologated Corvette C7 GT3-R Stateside next season.

The withdrawal of the factory Cadillac Racing program after PWC’s season finale in Sonoma in September has opened the door for the factory-blessed Corvette C7 GT3-R to run in North America, because Cadillac’s ATS-V.R has been the lone GT3-spec car under the General Motors awning for the last three seasons, while the Callaway Corvette has raced only internationally.

Reeves Callaway has been on site at the tail end of the PWC season to survey the opportunity and now a deal has been struck for a factory effort to run next year, before the Callaway Corvette program becomes a customer effort in 2019. This follows the same timeline as Acura did with its new NSX GT3 this year to run it as a factory program in 2017 before shifting to customer efforts in 2018.

“Joining the Pirelli World Challenge has been a long term objective for Callaway Competition,” Callaway said in a release. “Now the field is a roll-call of the most capable sports cars from every country. To do well here, you must beat the best in the world. What better way to showcase our iconic American car?

“For 2018, we will run a Callaway factory team to give us the best chance of continuing the championship record the Corvette has achieved in international competition. For 2019, we will not race against our customers, but provide high-quality support to them in the tradition of other manufacturer customer racing support programs.”

“For several years fans have asked when they would see the Callaway Corvette GT3 run in the Pirelli World Challenge,” added Greg Gill, President and CEO of Pirelli World Challenge. “The wait is over and we are very pleased to announce the arrival of the Callaway Corvette GT3 for the 2018 season.”

The Callaway Competition USA Corvette C7 GT3-R will be unveiled and both full season drivers announced at the Performance Racing Industry show in Indianapolis on December 7 at the Pirelli World Challenge booth. Following the unveiling event, the car will be on display for the remainder of the trade show. Details of the presentation will be announced in the coming weeks.

Callaway’s confirmation comes amidst the likely drawdown of potentially nine or 10 cars that raced in PWC’s GT and GTA ranks either all season or most of it in 2017, among at least five manufacturers. That’s not to say those losses can’t be recouped elsewhere on the grid, over the next several months before the St. Petersburg season opener in March.

PWC will hold its annual state of the series and competitor meeting to finalize the next year’s plans at the PRI show as well.