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Kubica joins ByKolles for 2017 WEC season, marking full-time circuit racing return

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Ex-Formula 1 driver Robert Kubica will make his full-time return to circuit racing in 2017 after being announced as one of the ByKolles team’s drivers for the FIA World Endurance Championship season.

Kubica claimed one grand prix victory during his stint in F1 from 2006 to 2010, before being forced to quit due to injuries sustained in a rally crash during the off-season before the 2011 season.

The severity of the injuries to his right arm and hand meant that Kubica could not return to single-seaters, instead making his comeback in the World Rally Championship in 2013.

The Pole won the WRC2 title in his debut season before stepping up to the main WRC class, only to find minimal success before leaving the series following the 2016 Rally Monte Carlo.

Kubica tested an LMP1 car for the first time last November with ByKolles in Bahrain, and was receptive to the idea of racing in the WEC full-time.

On Thursday, the FIA and ACO confirmed the entry lists for both Le Mans and the upcoming WEC season, with Kubica being named as ByKolles’ lead driver on both, confirming his return to circuit racing on a full-time basis.

Kubica will race alongside Oliver Webb for ByKolles, with the team still yet to decide on its third driver. ByKolles will be the only privateer LMP1 team racing in the WEC this year.

“After my time in rallying I’ve been looking for something as close to Formula 1 as possible. This is exactly what I’ve found in LMP1,” Kubica said.

“At the end of last year’s WEC season, I was able to do my first laps behind the wheel of the CLM P1/01. I felt comfortable in the car very quickly and was able to increase my pace accordingly. With even more experience I’m sure I will be able to extract more performance.

“I’m already very much looking forward to the Prologue at Monza and the season start at Silverstone. The professional team of ByKOLLES Racing will continue to make important improvements to the car during the season. I’m happy to be a part of it.

“The WEC is racing on circuits that I know well from my time in Formula 1. The exception is Le Mans. I’ve heard so many good things about the event at the Sarthe. I’m very excited about my first start at this 24 hour race.”

Alexander Rossi’s Grand Prix of Alabama gamble fails to pay off

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Alexander Rossi bobbled for the first time in 2018 with an 11th-place finish in the Honda IndyCar Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park.

And to add insult to injury, Rossi also lost the points lead as a result.

Rossi got off to about as great a start to the season as possible. He finished third at St. Petersburg and sat third in the standings. He finished third again at Phoenix and climbed to second in the points.

Rossi won the Long Beach Grand Prix after starting from the pole and leading 71 laps. That put him at the top of the standings after three races.

Then, as quickly as he climbed to the top, he got knocked down a spot after finishing off the podium for the first time in 2018.

Rossi not only missed the podium, he finished outside the top 10.

“We didn’t get the result that we wanted,” Rossi said after the race. “That remains a mystery. But at the end of the day it was about survival. We couldn’t make the tires last; we couldn’t really get a great fuel number.”

The biggest negative was the one factor that was mostly out of his control. Rossi gambled that he was facing only a brief shower when rain began to fall with about 15 minutes remaining. He was wrong.

“We tried to be pretty aggressive on the dry tires and stay out and survive the rain, hoping it would dry out,” Rossi said. “And it didn’t really work.

“Sometimes you’ll have those days.”