All photos courtesy Dreyer & Reinbold Racing

Red Bull GRC: DRR confirms three GRC Lites drivers for 2017

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Alex Keyes, Travis PeCoy and Christian Brooks will seek to deliver Dreyer & Reinbold Racing another championship in the GRC Lites division of Red Bull Global Rallycross, after Cabot Bigham did so last year.

The release and details of the program are below:

Dreyer & Reinbold Racing, the defending Red Bull Rallycross Lites champions, announced today that young driving stars Alex Keyes, Christian Brooks and Travis PeCoy have signed with the team to compete in the 12-race 2017 Red Bull Global Rallycross Lites division beginning at the series opener scheduled for April 28-29 in Memphis, Tenn.

Keyes, Brooks and PeCoy return to the highly-competitive GRC Lites division with the reigning Lites series winners in Dreyer & Reinbold Racing, the Indiana-based operation which captured five Red Bull Global Rallycross Lites Series main events, 23 heat races and seven fast qualifying honors in 2016. Keyes, racing a limited schedule in 2016, scored two main event wins, seven heat race victories and five fast qualifying times for DRR.

“I am extremely thrilled to announce the three-driver lineup with Alex, Christian and Travis joining our Dreyer and Reinbold Racing Lites team in 2017,” said Dennis Reinbold, team owner of the DRR organization. “All three of the drivers have shown tremendous potential in the Lites cars already and we feel this ‘Triple Threat’ offers us another great chance to repeat as Series champions. We’re very excited to have Buddy Rice back as our Lites director, Jeff Britton returning as our chief engineer and to maintain the continuity of our high-quality core group of personnel, which we believe positions us very well for another run at a championship in 2017. I couldn’t be more excited for the 2017 season.”

Rice, the 2004 Indianapolis 500 champion, will continue to serve as DRR’s Lites director in 2017 where he will oversee the DRR Lites program and focus on driver development. Britton also has been a race-winning engineer in the Verizon IndyCar Series for the past 20 years.

“We believe that our three young Lites drivers are very talented and Alex, Christian and Travis have a great opportunity to battle for the Lites championship in 2017,” said Rice, also a Rolex 24 winner at Daytona. “Alex is already a race winner in the Lites division and Christian and Travis have been winners in other racing divisions and showed potential in their rookie seasons in GRC Lites last year. With some early testing, I think we can develop all three Lites cars into winning machines for the three drivers.”

Alex Keyes.
Alex Keyes.

Keyes, 19, enters his third GRC Lites season in 2017 but his third-year as a GRC Lites competitor, as the Folsom, Calif., racer has been a regular on the victory podium in 2015 and 2016. Keyes, coming from open-wheel racing including winning a Formula Pro Mazda title, has recorded five career Lites feature wins as well as taking numerous Lites heat races and No. 1 qualifying spots. Alex will drive the No. 24 car for DRR in 2017.

“I’m excited to be back in the Red Bull GRC Lites in 2017, but I’m stoked to be back with Dreyer & Reinbold Racing,” said Keyes, who scored features at Atlantic City and Los Angeles last year. “Over the past few years, I have gotten to know this team, not only have we been successful but they have become a family to me. I think we have a recipe for success. Everyone from Dennis, Buddy, our mechanics and our partners are all motivated to win this year. I’m looking forward to working with Travis and Christian too. DRR always has a great atmosphere so I look for us to elevate each other.”

Christian Brooks.
Christian Brooks.

Brooks, 16, comes to Dreyer & Reinbold Racing after his rookie season in GRC Lites in 2016 with a stellar racing career in karting. The Santa Clarita, Calif., driver spent ten years in various karting divisions and took championships in the 2011 US Rotax Grand Nationals and the 2012 and 2016 Rotax Challenge of the Americas.

Last year, Christian recorded three top-five finishes in main events and placed fifth in the final Lites point standings. Brooks, a “fan favorite” throughout the 12-event Red Bull GRC Lites series, will pilot the No. 44 machine for DRR in 2017.

“Driving for Dreyer & Reinbold Racing is truly an honor,” said Brooks. “To be among the historic list of drivers to compete for the team will be something that pushes me to the limit and to achieve the best results possible. With one GRC Lites season under my belt and a championship team behind me, I am entering the year with high confidence and I’m excited about the 2017 season!”

Travis Pecoy.
Travis Pecoy.

PeCoy, 16, also debuted in the Red Bull GRC Lites category in 2016 with a second place in the Atlantic City feature and a heat race win. The Yorba Linda, Calif., high schooler comes from an off-road background where his father, Bobby, is a multi-time winner. Travis scored five off-road championships early in his racing career as well as taking a world title. Last season was PeCoy’s first experience racing on pavement but he quickly showed his potential despite a limited schedule. Travis will compete for the DRR squad in the No. 3 Lites car.

“I’m very excited to join a championship-winning team this year with Dreyer & Reinbold Racing,” said PeCoy. “I think we can work together in hopes of gaining a 1-2-3 in the championship. I want to be in contention for the title. GRC is a chance to show who I am and what I have to offer through driving and self-preservation. I’m a normal kid – I go to school dances and I play video games, surf, ride mountain bikes and snowboard. But I’m ready for the potential of having a great race team in 2017.”

Dreyer & Reinbold Racing will utilize the spec GRC Lites machines from Olsbergs, the all-wheel drive vehicles with six-speed sequential transmissions and 310-horsepower engines.

DRR will announce a full roster of commercial partners for the Red Bull GRC Lites team in the near future.

The Red Bull Global Rallycross Lites division will be televised nationally with each event being produced on the NBC Sports Network.

Ricky Brabec wins 2017 Sonora Rally (PHOTOS, VIDEO)

Ricky Brabec wins Sonora Rally. Photo: Sonora Rally
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Honda rider Ricky Brabec, who won a stage at this year’s Dakar Rally, has captured the victory in last week’s Sonora Rally, held March 21-24 in Sonora, Mexico.

He led all four of the special stages in a start-to-finish romp for victory.

Despite Joan Barreda and Steve Hengeveld’s injuries that ruled them out of the rally, Brabec still had to focus on the job at hand.

“You are really racing against yourself out here, against the terrain,” he said in a release.  “I’m much more familiar now with open up a course than I was back in January at Dakar when I had to do it for the first time.”

Fellow Honda riders Mark Samuels and Andrew Short completed the podium. Samuels won the Sonora Rally’s Dakar Challenge, which presents a free opportunity for a rider to enter the 2018 Dakar Rally.

“The hard work of getting to Dakar is still ahead of me, but I will do everything in my power to make America proud,” Samuels said.

Polaris ATR rider Dave Sykes won the UTV class, with Eric Pucelik and Mike Shirley winning the Cars class.

On background, the Sonora Rally is the only event of its kind in North America. The rally raid format requires street legal vehicles to transit along untimed “liaison” sections and timed “special stages” over multiple days, with the lowest combined time winning the event. Now in its third year, the Sonora Rally realizes the vision of founders Scott Whitney and Darren Skilton to bring a world class rally raid event to these shores (2016 recap).

Brabec’s winning ride is captured in the below video, via Race-Dezert.

Meanwhile, because photos do this event more justice than words do, those are below (All Photos: Sonora Rally)

Webber: Alonso may not see out the season with McLaren

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Mark Webber never had the easiest time in Formula 1, particularly his latter years as the number two driver at Red Bull Racing to Sebastian Vettel.

That being said, he was never on the verge of leaving it directly until he announced his plans to move to Porsche’s LMP1 Team, where he raced for three years from 2014 to 2016 before retiring at the end of last season.

But the Australian pondered whether Fernando Alonso might not be able to see out the season with McLaren Honda, if the team and manufacturer’s woes continue.

“Alonso may not stay with the team,” Webber told Belgian outlet Sporza. “Maybe Stoffel (Vandoorne) soon will have a new teammate.”

“I could see it happen that Alonso does not drive out the season. He is very frustrated. Fernando doesn’t start for a sixth or seventh place; he wants to fight for the podium.”

Webber added that for Vandoorne’s sake, starting in a team with lower expectations might not be the worst thing for him. It may allow the Belgian rookie to learn without extra pressure, since the onus is focused on the team.

For Alonso though, time is of the essence for what’s left of his career in F1. This is his last season under contract with McLaren Honda and he made no secret of his frustration for how well he drove at Melbourne, yet the car wasn’t up for it.

“Well the race was good, one of my best races driving like that,” Alonso told NBCSN post-race. “The car’s uncompetitive and to be close for a point was a nice surprise. It was good fuel saving as well. I was surprised to keep it in the points. A suspension (issue) stopped us from getting this point.

“I feel very well prepared, driving at the best of my career, and I’m fighting for one point. That’s disappointing and frustrating. But so long as I’m driving at my best, it’s a problem for the team… not me.”

Rosberg, Button soak up their first weekends out of F1 (PHOTOS)

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Since 2008, Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel have won seven World Championships. The two drivers that won titles in that period not named Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel – Nico Rosberg (2016) and Jenson Button (2009) – were both enjoying their first weekends not on a Formula 1 grid as full-time drivers for the first time in more than a decade this weekend as the 2017 season commenced at Melbourne’s Albert Park.

Rosberg made a visit to preseason testing in Barcelona a few weeks ago for his first appearance as spectator since winning the World Championship. But he watched from home this weekend with his family and posted a few thoughts during both qualifying and the race:

We’re now quite familiar with Rosberg’s home TV set and coffee table. This is the first time Rosberg has been out of an F1 race since 2005, the year he won the first GP2 championship.

Button meanwhile paid a visit to California for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series weekend at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana… once he got off his couch. He checked in with seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson at Fontana.

Do you guys know if there's anything good to watch on tele this weekend? @storm_and_rogue_pomskies

A post shared by Jenson Button (@jensonbutton_22) on

Given McLaren Honda’s struggles, Button is probably smart to have got out when he did. He’d been on the grid since 2000, save for a couple races out in 2005 when BAR-Honda was barred from competing after being disqualified from the San Marino Grand Prix.

Meanwhile for Rosberg, he watched as Mercedes was unable to win the season opener for the first time since 2013.

DJR Team Penske wins three of four Supercars races at Melbourne

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DJR Team Penske has won its first Virgin Australia Supercars Championship races over the weekend during the Australian Grand Prix, with Scott McLaughlin and Fabian Coulthard taking the first three wins in the four-race, non-championship race weekend.

While Penske’s teams have long succeeded in North America and have had some international success, notably a Formula 1 win at the 1976 Austrian Grand Prix with John Watson, success has thus far eluded them since arriving in Supercars two years ago as majority shareholders of Dick Johnson Racing.

McLaughlin had the honor of beating Coulthard to the first win in race one of the weekend, before Coulthard doubled up with wins in races two and three. The first two races were one-two finishes, though, and McLaughlin said he’d received a text from Roger Penske in the wake of the victory.

“I got a text from Roger straight away and they’re all pretty happy,” McLaughlin told Supercars.com.

“They’re thanking me but I should be thanking them for giving me the opportunity.”

The first race was marred by this incident between Nick Percat and Lee Holdsworth, Percat having lost his brakes entering Turn 1 and crashing into Holdsworth, who was an innocent bystander.

But once the race resumed, McLaughlin held off Coulthard for the victory.

Coulthard led from start-to-finish in race two after his second straight pole position. He did the same in race three, albeit not in a Penske 1-2 as Jamie Whincup came second for Red Bull Holden Racing Team Commodore. McLaughlin was third.

A left-front puncture stopped Coulthard making it three in a row in the fourth race, and with steering damage, McLaughlin was resigned to 17th. Chaz Mostert took the win his Supercheap Ford, ending his own winless spell that dated to August of 2015.

Also of note from the weekend, ex-IndyCar driver Simona de Silvestro in her Team Harvey Norman Nissan Altima finished 13th in race one, her best finish yet in her first full season in the series.

The Supercars series is back in action at Symmons Plains Raceway on April 7-9.  Coulthard sits second in the series championship, 51 points back of Whincup’s teammate, Shane van Gisbergen.