Photo: Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing

Claman De Melo confirmed for IndyCar debut with RLL at Sonoma

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Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires veteran Zachary Claman De Melo will make his Verizon IndyCar Series debut with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing next weekend at Sonoma, in the team’s No. 16 Paysafe Honda.

The confirmation Wednesday morning follows reports at this weekend’s race in Watkins Glen that the teenager out of Montreal was close to finalizing a deal. Claman De Melo spent some time in the RLL pits during the weekend.

Claman De Melo was perhaps the most improved driver in this year’s Indy Lights season, jumping from ninth to fifth in points and banking his first win at Road America with the Carlin team.

He also tested there with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports in an IndyCar earlier this year, and despite limited running owing to an afternoon engine failure, his speed wasn’t in doubt.

This will mark the third weekend RLL Racing will run its second car this year, as Oriol Servia was in the car for the Indianapolis 500 and Detroit the following week.

Claman De Melo is one of several drivers from Indy Lights who is making noise about stepping up to IndyCar sooner rather than later, and he’ll have a leg up on several of his competitors with one race now under his belt.

“I’m thrilled to be driving for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing for my IndyCar Series debut at the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma,” he said. “This opportunity marks an incredible moment for my career and for Canadian motorsport fans, as I’m getting that much closer to securing a full-time position with RLLR for next season.

“I want to extend a big thank you to my primary partner, Paysafe, for making a dream come true today and to Bobby Rahal for the incredible level of support he has provided towards getting me in the #16 Honda this season. It is an honor to drive for RLLR and I look forward to big things ahead.”

Bobby Rahal, team co-owner, added: “We’re pleased that Zach has chosen Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing to make his series debut. Zach had a very good year in the Indy Lights Series and we think that he has the ability to perform well in the IndyCar Series.

“We closely watched his performance at the recent Indy car test at Road America where he was the quickest of the rookies testing and we are confident that he can do a good, solid job for both himself and the team at Sonoma.  Our goals for Zach are that he has a good, consistent race and gains experience, which is so important, and hopefully takes that experience to use as a stepping stone for 2018.”

Pirelli reveals new super-hard, hyper-soft F1 tires in Abu Dhabi

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Pirelli has confirmed it will add two new tires to its range for the 2018 Formula 1 season, launching the ‘super-hard’ and ‘hyper-soft’ compounds in Abu Dhabi on Thursday.

Pirelli currently makes three of its five dry compounds available to teams for each race weekend, and despite varying selections across the course of the season has struggled to offer much in terms of strategy options, with one-stop races being the norm.

The hope is that the addition of two new tire compounds and a re-alignment of their durability will offer teams more choices in races.

Pirelli confirmed plans to introduce a new softest tire below the current ultra-soft earlier this month, inviting fans to pick a name.

The pink-colored compound will be known as the ‘hyper-soft’ from next year, with the arrival of a new ‘super-hard’ (colored ‘ice blue’) also being confirmed at a launch event in Abu Dhabi on Thursday.

“Compared to this year, when the tires grew by 25% to fit a brand-new generation of cars, the changes for next year are less far-reaching,” Pirelli head of car racing Mario Isola said.

“However, we’re pleased to present some important innovations with softer and faster compounds across the range: including the new hypersoft.

“We realized that, under the unique circumstances of this year, some of our 2017 compounds were perhaps conservative: the tires we have created for 2018 addresses this, in line with the objective of having around two pit stops at most races.

“However, the fundamental design concept of the tires hasn’t changed next year, preserving the attributes that all drivers have appreciated this year and allowing them to push hard from the start to the finish of each stint.

“The new range consists of faster tires that should lead to even harder and more spectacular racing in 2018.”

Besides the seven dry compounds made available, there will be the two rain tires – wet and intermediate – taking it to a total of nine for the 2018 season.