Photo: Larry Chen/Red Bull Content Pool

Red Bull GRC: RLL Racing enters series with Austin Dyne

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Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing will spread its wings to a third different championship, with the team announcing its entry into Red Bull Global Rallycross today.

Austin Dyne will run his Ford Fiesta ST for RLL Racing, based out of the team’s Hilliard, Ohio race shop. This sees RLL add Red Bull GRC to its exiting Verizon IndyCar Series and IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship programs with Honda and BMW, respectively.

Dyne, now, is entered under his third different Supercars team in as many seasons. He raced under his own AD Racing banner this year, while having been entered under the Bryan Herta Rallysport banner in 2015.

RLL joins the list of active IndyCar owners within Red Bull GRC. Michael Andretti fields the two-car Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross team and Herta, Andretti’s IndyCar co-owner, fields a single-car Ford entry. Dennis Reinbold and James “Sulli” Sullivan have also had GRC teams; Reinbold still runs a three-car GRC Lites program while Sullivan, who had been a co-owner with KVSH Racing and singularly ran the SH Rallycross team the last several seasons, has not yet revealed his own 2017 racing plans. Chip Ganassi Rallycross is no more, the team now re-launching under the Loenbro Motorsports banner.

RLL’s release is below:

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (RLLR) announced today that the team will compete in the 2017 Red Bull Global Rallycross Supercar championship and enter a Ford Fiesta ST for driver Austin Dyne. The program will operate from the team’s Ohio race shop.

The GRC team is the latest addition to RLLR’s portfolio that includes a current program in the Verizon IndyCar Series and the GTLM class of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. Since being formed in 1992, the team has fielded entries in series such as CART, Champ Car, the IndyCar Series, Toyota Atlantic, American Le Mans Series and IMSA.

“We have been closely following the Global Rallycross series for the past few years but were waiting until the right opportunity came along,” said Bobby Rahal, co-owner of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing with CBS Late Show host David Letterman and Mi-Jack co-owner Mike Lanigan. “We’re really happy to be entering the series with Austin. It will be a new challenge for us for sure but we have the resources to learn quickly. When you look at the demographics of the series, they are considerably younger than other forms of racing. I’ve see a couple of races before as a spectator and it’s a different form of racing for sure and very intriguing. It’s a good place for us to be because it gives us access to a different crowd and a good addition to what we’re doing as a team.”

“Rahal Letterman Lanigan has a lot of experience in motorsports and a lot of resources that we’ve never had access to before, so I’m excited to start the 2017 season,” added Austin Dyne. “Last year we struggled a little early in the season due to a late start with a new team, but this year will be a much smoother transition. I will be working with the same engine engineer, chief mechanic and race engineer, Clément Mitchell, that I ended last season with. We can also fabricate parts in-house at the Ohio race shop, which will benefit our program. We had some good momentum toward the end of the year, and I am optimistic we can carry that forward for a stronger start for 2017. It will allow me to focus solely on the racing aspect for the first time in a while. I’m looking forward to working with everyone at Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, especially Bobby, who has so much experience to learn from.”

Dyne, a native of Los Angeles, California, got his start in racing in karting at the age of 15, progressed to the Skip Barber Regional series in 2010 and raced late model stock cars at Irwindale Speedway in 2011. He moved up to the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West, where he was the Rookie of the Year in 2012, and competed in the East division in 2013. Also in 2013, he made his move to Red Bull Global Rallycross in the GRC Lites class and earned a season-best second place at Bristol. He moved up to Supercar with Barracuda Racing in 2014 then competed for Bryan Herta Rallysport in 2015 where he earned his first podium (Daytona) and first pole (Barbados). For 2016, he started his own team — AD Racing — and finished a career-high eighth in points as well as added a second car to his team at Phoenix.

The 2017 Red Bull Global Rallycross season will kick off with a brand new event at Memphis International Raceway. Taking place on Friday, April 28 and Saturday, April 29, the new event will represent the first of 12 rounds on this year’s championship schedule. For more information visit http://www.redbullglobalrallycross.com, or follow Red Bull GRC on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram at @GRCseries.

NBC and NBCSN will combine to produce more than 20 telecasts of the Red Bull GRC Supercar and GRC Lites series, and all events will be live streamed on NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app – NBC Sports Group’s live streaming platforms for desktops, mobile devices, tablets, and connected TVs.

MRTI: Chris Griffis Test Saturday times and notebook

New Tatuus PM-18. Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography
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INDIANAPOLIS – Here’s a rundown of times and notes from Saturday at the Chris Griffis Memorial Mazda Road to Indy Test, as all three rungs of the Mazda Road to Indy presented by Cooper Tires ladder had their first day of testing on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course. A link to Friday’s notebook is here.

Times are below, followed by notes.

COMBINED TIMES

INDY LIGHTS (Best Session); Full Results

Jamin. Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography

1. 5-Nico Jamin, Belardi Auto Racing, 1:15.7173 (Session 2)
2. 98-Colton Herta, Andretti-Steinbrenner Racing, 1:15.8246 (Session 4)
3. 23-Victor Franzoni, Juncos Racing, 1:15.9875 (Session 4)
4. 4-Rinus Veekay, Belardi Auto Racing, 1:16.2067 (Session 4)
5. 31-Nicolas Dapero, Juncos Racing, 1:16.2491 (Session 4)
6. 3-Pato O’Ward, Team Pelfrey, 1:16.2563 (Session 4)
7. 48-Ryan Norman, Andretti Autosport, 1:16.3285 (Session 4)
8. 27-Anthony Martin, Andretti Autosport, 1:16.5185 (Session 4)
9. 2-TJ Fischer, Team Pelfrey, 1:17.1030 (Session 4)
10. 21-Heamin Choi, Juncos Racing, 1:18.5179 (Session 4)

PRO MAZDA (Best Session); Full Results 

Askew. Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography

1. 8-Oliver Askew, Cape Motorsports, 1:19.8920 (Session 2)
2. 1-Carlos Cunha, Juncos Racing, 1:20.0236 (Session 2)
3. 3-Robert Megennis, Juncos Racing, 1:20.1268 (Session 4)
4. 81-Kaylen Frederick, Team Pelfrey, 1:20.2252 (Session 2)
5. 79-David Malukas, BN Racing, 1:20.2456 (Session 4)
6. 91-Nikita Lastochkin, Exclusive Autosport, 1:20.7001 (Session 2)
7. 18-Calvin Ming, Pabst Racing, 1:20.7373 (Session 4)
8. 80-Kris Wright, Team Pelfrey, 1:20.9930 (Session 4)
9. 2-Sting Ray Robb, Juncos Racing, 1:21.1250 (Session 2)
10. 90-Parker Thompson, Exclusive Autosport, 1:21.4425 (Session 4)
11. 78-Leonard Hoogenboom, BN Racing, 1:23.0447 (Session 4)

USF2000 (Best Session); Full Results

Gutierrez. Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photgraphy

1. 22-Andres Gutierrez, Pabst Racing, 1:25.5618 (Session 3)
2. 27-Callan O’Keefe, BN Racing, 1:25.6295 (Session 2)
3. 36-Darren Keane, Newman Wachs Racing, 1:25.6882 (Session 3)
4. 90-Parker Thompson, Exclusive Autosport, 1:25.8743 (Session 2)
5. 23-Lucas Kohl, Pabst Racing, 1:26.0760 (Session 2)
6. 21-Hunter McElrea, Pabst Racing, 1:26.1432 (Session 3)
7. 37-Jake Craig, Newman Wachs Racing, 1:26.2452 (Session 4)
8. 80-Michael D’Orlando, Team Pelfrey, 1:26.2751 (Session 2)
9. 31-Rasmus Lindh, Team BENIK, 1:26.3193 (Session 4)
10. 20-Aaron Telitz, RJB Motorsports, 1:26.4349 (Session 4)
11. 32-Jaden Conwright, Team BENIK, 1:26.4557 (Session 2)
12. 38-Max Peichel, Newman Wachs Racing, 1:26.5739 (Session 4)
13. 82-David Osborne, Team Pelfrey, 1:26.6824 (Session 2)
14. 25-Elliott Finlayson, BN Racing, 1:26.8219 (Session 3)
15. 33-Myles Rowe, John Cummiskey Racing, 1:27.0620 (Session 4)
16. 34-Sabre Cook, John Cummiskey Racing, 1:27.2107 (Session 4)
17. 92-Justin Gordon, Exclusive Autosport, 1:27.7750 (Session 3)
18. 24-Zoey Edenholm, BN Racing, 1:28.6730 (Session 2)
19. 81-Jacob Loomis, Team Pelfrey, No Time
20. 93-Jayson Clunie, Exclusive Autosport, No Time

NOTES

Kohl and McElrea joined Gutierrez in Pabst’s pace. Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography
  • Drivers and teams alike have raved about the pace, and the rather loud sound, of the new Tatuus PM-18 Mazda. Reports from private testing had the new car rather close to Indy Lights pace at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course and rather quicker than the old car at Road America. The first tangible evidence of that occurred today as all 10 of the Pro Mazda drivers who got representative laps (second BN Racing car of Leonard Hoogenboom ran only a few laps in session four after engine issues all day) supplanted the Pro Mazda lap record at IMS – 1:22.8800 by Pato O’Ward in 2016 – easily. Oliver Askew’s best time of 1:19.8920 in the second session was nearly a full three seconds quicker on the 2.439-mile, 14-turn road course.
  • Of the 11 Pro Mazda drivers that ran today, only Carlos Cunha, Robert Megennis, Nikita Lastochkin, Kris Wright and Sting Ray Robb ran in the 2017 season. But it wouldn’t be a surprise to see any or all five of them running full-time in 2018 for what would be each of their second seasons in the championship, as returning sophomores along with what should be a glut of strong rookies. Wright, who also races sports cars, looks poised to add a second program of some other series to a planned Pro Mazda full season.
  • Megennis is planning to test with other teams in the weeks to come, as he tests for Juncos this week after racing in USF2000 with Pelfrey the last two years. Both he and Robb missed portions of sessions today with new car issues.
  • Several Indy Lights spins and off-course excursions occurred but none produced any serious issues. Rinus Veekay and Anthony Martin were among those to test the course limits but kept on going unharmed. Veekay had a spin in session three on new tires, then promptly laid down the fastest lap of the session for Belardi later on.
  • His teammate this weekend, Nico Jamin, wound up with the fastest lap of the day in Indy Lights – although he wasn’t quickest in the cool evening session, the fourth of the day, when most of the field ran some sticker tire runs on their Cooper tires.
  • Pro Mazda title combatants Victor Franzoni (Juncos) and Anthony Martin (Andretti) made their Indy Lights test debuts. The perpetually happy Franzoni wrote on Instagram, “Awesome day!! We finished the day in P3!! The most import we learned a lot!! Tomorrow will be even better!!” Martin, meanwhile, said this: “It’s obviously a new car – bigger, faster and a lot more downforce, so I’m adapting to it and growing up to it nice and slowly. You don’t want to push yourself too early, so we’re working up to a few things. You have to do things a lot quicker and you have to use a lot more brake pressure.”
  • In USF2000, it was an excellent day at the office for Pabst Racing with Andres Gutierrez – who impressed in a pair of weekends with DE Force Racing this year – leading three of four sessions, while teammates Hunter McElrea and Lucas Kohl were also in the top-five. Pabst has been busy running cars in both USF2000 and Pro Mazda this weekend.
  • Beyond Pabst, Newman Wachs Racing also had an excellent day, mainly with sophomore Darren Keane and Californian rookie Jake Craig. Keane, who’s coached by Ozz Negri, led the fourth and final session of the day, and stands as a driver who could make a big leap forward in performance if he secures a full season in 2018.
  • Another team of note today was BN Racing, with Callan O’Keefe – Keane’s teammate when both drove for Team BENIK at this race weekend last May – second best on the day. The South African is poised to be that team’s lead driver next season. Teammates Elliott Finlayson and Zoey Edenholm are working towards seasons of their own; Finlayson having coming off a recent Super Sweep in SCCA Runoffs competition at IMS last month and Edenholm having only just graduated from karts into cars just this month.
  • While the USF2000 field was primarily rookie-dominated, two-year series veteran Aaron Telitz made a cameo return today with RJB Motorsports, and brought the ex-ArmsUp chassis its best pace yet in RJB’s hands as the Wisconsinite ran with Mirl Swan and Alex Barron’s crew support. Past RJB driver and two-time Team USA Scholarship, Michai Stephens, was also on site today.
  • Speaking of ArmsUp, its top rookie from 2017, Devin Wojcik was on hand today making the rounds as well, although wasn’t in a car. He looks to return to USF2000 for a second season in 2018.
  • USF2000 boasted some good diversity with Pabst, BN, Newman Wachs, Exclusive, Pelfrey, BENIK and RJB teams in the top 10 today, but there’s one notable omission: Cape Motorsports. The seven-time defending champions in the series are not testing in USF2000 this weekend, and has just a single Pro Mazda car on site for Oliver Askew. Granted, the team is also at Circuit of The Americas this weekend for F4 U.S. Championship action, where Kyle Kirkwood has taken that series’ championship. DE Force, which also ran in USF2000 this year, is also not here this weekend as it’s at COTA. ArmsUp isn’t here this weekend either.