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Norris joins Carlin for 2017 FIA F3 season, targets title in rookie year

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Rising British racer Lando Norris will contest the full FIA Formula 3 European Championship season in 2017 with Carlin.

Norris, 17, was one of the most successful young drivers on the European junior racing scene in 2016, claiming both the Formula Renault NEC and Eurocup 2.0 titles as well as the Toyota Racing Series crown in New Zealand.

The Briton is set to enjoy his first Formula 1 test with McLaren next year after winning the McLaren BRDC Autosport Award earlier this month.

Norris’ primary focus through 2017 will be the FIA F3 series that has recently helped to launch the careers of Max Verstappen, Esteban Ocon and Lance Stroll, all of whom will race in F1 next year.

On Thursday, Norris confirmed that he would be continuing his partnership with British racing team Carlin through 2017, setting his sights on the FIA F3 title in his first full season, having enjoyed three races in the series this year.

“I’m very excited to be joining Carlin and can’t wait to contest the FIA Formula 3 European Championship,” Norris said.

“My aim is simple and the same as at the start of every season: I want to win the championship title outright. Although it’s my ‘rookie’ F3 season, I’m totally confident with the package, the team and Volkswagen.

“The competition will be tough, it’s an ultra-competitive series, of that there is no doubt. Many of the drivers I’m up against will be in at least their second year in the category so will have a lot of F3 experience on the tracks we’ll be racing on.

“There will be a couple of circuits totally new to me but this year in Renault I learnt them quickly. If, in my first year, the outright F3 title is not within my grasp, it won’t be for the want of trying and then winning the ‘rookie’ title is an absolute must.”

Team owner Trevor Carlin added: “We are very pleased and proud that Lando and his management have chosen to stay with the team for a third season, and I’d like to thank them for the trust they’ve placed in our FIA F3 team after two very promising outings in Hockenheim and Macau.

“Lando is an incredibly exciting young driver and has already shown in his short career his talent, dedication and work ethic. We very much look forward to working with him again in 2017 and showing what we can achieve together in FIA F3.”

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.