Formula E fans’ forum to be held in London ahead of ePrix

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Racing enthusiasts will get a chance to put their questions to a panel of FIA Formula E drivers in a fans’ forum ahead of the championship’s finale in London at the end of the month.

Following the success of the fans’ forums organized by the Formula One Teams’ Association (FOTA) and the COTA Forum held in Austin, Texas ahead of last year’s United States Grand Prix, a similar event has been confirmed ahead of the London ePrix.

Former FOTA secretary general Oliver Weingarten announced earlier this week that the fans’ forum would be held in London featuring a number of drivers and figures that feature in the series.

Championship contenders Nelson Piquet Jr and Sebastien Buemi will be joined by Jean-Eric Vergne and Karun Chandhok for the fans’ forum, taking place at Planet Hollywood in Haymarket, London on Thursday 25th June.

As per the other forums, entry to the Formula E fans’ forum will be free, with registration available via this link.

Following FOTA’s disbanding in 2014, Weingarten has since set up his own sports advisory and fan engagement agency, organizing fans’ forums for sports such as darts with more planned in the future due to the successful concept.

His hope is that this inaugural fans’ forum will set a precedent for future Formula E events to tie in with the series’ fan-focused approach.

“There is a lot of excitement ahead of the London ePrix and the fans’ forum has now added to that sense of anticipation,” Weingarten told MotorSportsTalk.

“I am a big believer in the fans connecting with the sport, and Formula E has always shown itself from the outset to be a big supporter of fan engagement.

“I would like to thank Formula E for sanctioning the forum, and believe that the demand over the last twenty four hours in respect of registrations shows that the UK public have swiftly adopted Formula E, and are excited about meeting drivers like Jean-Eric Vergne, Sebastien Buemi, Karun Chandhok and Nelson Piquet Jr.

“The hope is that this forum will provide a template for others, and attract sponsors in future.”

The London ePrix takes place on June 27 and 28 at Battersea Park, acting as the final two rounds of the inaugural Formula E season.

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.