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Button to make full-time racing return next year in Super GT

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Jenson Button will make a full-time return to racing in 2017 with Honda in the Japanese Super GT championship.

Button stepped back from racing in Formula 1 at the end of 2016, and despite making a one-off return at the Monaco Grand Prix with McLaren in place of Fernando Alonso, the 2009 world champion has stressed he has no interest in a full-time return to the series.

Button confirmed in October he was keen to take on a full-season racing program for 2018, and was considering options in both Super GT and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.

During the Honda Thanks Day at Motegi on Sunday, Button confirmed he had signed a contract with Honda to race full-time in Super GT next year, having made his debut in the Suzuka 1000 km earlier this year.

“I’ll be racing for Honda and have a contract to race with Honda in Super GT in 2018,” Button confirmed.

“It’s been a dream for the last couple of years, I love the category. I did one race in Suzuka this year, and it got me very excited.

“I’m very excited about the new season. There’s a lot of testing to be done to feel comfortable and hopefully improve the package and go out next year and be competitive.”

Details regarding which team Button will race for are set to follow in the early months of 2018 when Honda finalizes its motorsport activities for the year.

MRTI: Keith Donegan earns Mazda Shootout Scholarship

Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography
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Dublin, Ireland’s Keith Donegan claimed a $200K scholarship from Mazda after emerging victorious at the second annual Mazda Road to Indy Shootout. The 20-year-old Donegan earned an at-large nomination for the scholarship based on his performance at this year’s Formula Ford Festival, in which he finished second in the final, and emerged from a pack of 17 drivers from across the globe to claim the scholarship.

“It really hasn’t hit me yet,” said an emotional Donegan, who earlier in his career actually spent two years away from racing as he focused on academics. “The weekend was really good and I enjoyed it. I have to say a huge thanks to Mazda and Cooper Tires and everyone at the Mazda Road to Indy. I enjoyed every moment. Throughout the weekend we were consistent and I kept the small things in check. I didn’t make any stupid mistakes and kept my head cool and that really paid off in the end.”

The two-day shootout was held at the Bondurant Racing School in Arizona and saw the nominated drivers tackle the school’s 1.6-mile circuit in Formula Mazda race cars before facing on and off-track assessments. Donegan was selected by a panel of judges that included former driver and current Verizon IndyCar Series TV analyst Scott Goodyear, Mazda drivers Tom Long, Andrew Carbonell, and Jonathan Bomarito, as well as Victor Franzoni – the current champion of the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires – and Oliver Askew, the current champion of the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda.

Donegan was humbled to be in the presence of drivers who have won scholarships and championships previously, and added that he is grateful to have the opportunity to continue his racing career.

“You see all these champions here today that will go on to great things in the future and I’m sure the names you see here today aren’t going to disappear,” Donegan added. “They will be back up there and I’m sure I will be racing them again some day. It is an unbelievable opportunity to be given and for Mazda to provide that for any young driver. It just gives that bit of motivation that you need because the [U.S.] is where you need to go to become a professional these days. It is such a boost to my career.”

Donegan is now slated to join the 2018 USF2000 championship, with further announcements regarding the team with whom he’ll be racing to come in the future.

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