Photo courtesy of IMSA

RHR joins Taylor Cadillac crew for Petit Le Mans

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Ryan Hunter-Reay’s schedule after the Verizon IndyCar Series season concludes next month at Sonoma Raceway will grow a little busier with a return to Wayne Taylor Racing’s team, for his first drive aboard the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R.

Hunter-Reay will deputize for Alex Lynn, on a potential Formula E schedule conflict, in joining Jordan and Ricky Taylor for Motul Petit Le Mans Oct. 5-7, the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season finale.

Hunter-Reay has been drafted in to a number of Petit Le Mans before, having been with VISIT FLORIDA Racing last year and SRT Motorsports in 2014 and 2012 and Level 5 Motorsports in 2011.

The clear task here for the veteran of 33 career sports car starts is to aid the Taylor brothers in helping deliver them the Prototype class championship, as they hold a 26-point lead with just two races remaining.

“I’m thrilled to be joining Wayne Taylor and his sons once again,” said Hunter-Reay. “Through our runner-up finish at the Daytona 24-hour and since then, I’ve formed a pretty close relationship with the team as a whole – Wayne, Jordan and Ricky.

“The team has done an incredible job this season with five wins and leading the championship from the first round at Daytona. My goal is to fit in seamlessly, contribute in any way possible but, most importantly, do whatever I can to help this group win the IMSA WeatherTech championship. It goes without saying I’m really looking forward to getting behind the wheel of the Cadillac DPi-V.R.”

Hunter-Reay will join a number of IndyCar drivers at this year’s Petit Le Mans. Scott Dixon and Sebastien Bourdais are expected to reprise their roles as third drivers in Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GTs, and Team Penske’s debut of an Oreca 07 chassis ahead of its full plunge back into DPi in 2018 is expected to feature some combination of Juan Pablo Montoya plus one or two of its full-season IndyCar drivers. Dane Cameron, who was announced to the Penske Acura program a couple weeks ago, will be finishing his stint with Action Express Racing in the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R that race.

Spencer Pigot’s usual bow at Mazda won’t occur since the Mazda RT24-P chassis will be undergoing testing in Europe shortly, while NBCSN IndyCar analyst Townsend Bell will be back in action with longtime co-driver Bill Sweedler in Alex Job Racing’s No. 23 Audi R8 LMS.

F1 2017 driver review: Lance Stroll

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Team: Williams

Car No.: 18
Races: 20
Wins: 0
Podiums: 1
Best Finish: P3 (Azerbaijan)
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Points: 40
Championship Position: 13th

Lance Stroll’s arrival in Formula 1 at the start of the 2017 was a far from smooth one despite a significant private testing program being undertaken in the months leading up to his grand prix debut.

Even with older hand Felipe Massa at Williams, Stroll looked uneasy behind the wheel of the FW40 car through the opening run of races as he failed to reach the checkered flag in any of his first three starts.

The Canadian was left deflated after his first decent effort in Bahrain was cut short after a clash with Carlos Sainz Jr., calling it his “rock bottom” moment – but things would turn around on home soil.

Stroll produced a stunning fight through the field to take an excellent P9 in Canada, proving his talent seen in Formula 3 the previous year and shushing many of his critics.

Better would follow two weeks later in Baku when Stroll became the youngest rookie in F1 history to score a podium, dodging a crazy race to finish third. It would have been second had he not lost a drag race against Valtteri Bottas to the line.

Stroll’s form then fluctuated greatly. He was sublime on occasion, the best examples being Monza, when he started a remarkable P2 on the grid and ended as the top midfielder in P7, or Mexico where he took a brilliant sixth.

But there were too many weekends he was a little anonymous. Sure, Williams didn’t have the best car this year, but perhaps a little better was expected from Stroll.

2018 will be an even bigger challenge as he looks to the lead the team when a new teammate arrives – and at only 19, it is a lot to handle. Nevertheless, there are positive signs to be found; you just need to look for them a little.

Season High: Taking a shock podium in Baku after dodging chaos in front.

Season Low: A poor opening two races in Australia and China.