Separate Indy Lights moves see Dempsey out, Daly in for Houston

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There’s a pair of changes for the Firestone Indy Lights Series next weekend at Houston, the penultimate round of their championship.

The unfortunate news first: Peter Dempsey, the popular and eternally snakebit Irishman, has yet again found himself a victim of circumstances. He and the Belardi Auto Racing team announced a lack of funding to get him through the final two races of the season.

“It’s very disappointing to not be in a position to finish out the championship with Belardi Auto Racing,” Dempsey said in a team release.  “However, I do fully understand the unfortunate reasons for their decision.  Motorsport is an expensive sport and things like this happen all the time.  I’ve really enjoyed the last year with the team.  Brian [Belardi] gave me the biggest opportunity anyone has ever given me, and that’s something I will never forget.”

Dempsey’s fourth-to-first last lap move in the Firestone Freedom 100 was his and Belardi’s first career win in Indy Lights, and a highlight for the finish of the year in racing. He stands fifth in points, 35 behind series leader Sage Karam.

Meanwhile, one of the most versatile drivers of the 2013 season, Conor Daly, will make his return to Indy Lights for the Houston weekend. He’ll drive the No. 22 TMR-RUS INDUSTRIAL-ALS ASSOCIATION entry for Team Moore Racing; Mark Moore’s squad returns to the track after withdrawing at Baltimore with then-driver Juan Pablo Garcia.

“I’m very excited to get in a Lights car with Team Moore Racing,” said Daly, who won the Long Beach Indy Lights race in 2011, his only year in the series. “They’re prepared at a high level and I can’t wait to get on the street course in Houston. It’s been a while since I’ve been in the car, but I am confident we can get up to speed quickly. I’ve known Mark for a long time and I’m glad we could put something together.”

Daly has raced the Indianapolis 500, GP2, GP3 and the MRF Challenge championships this year.

F1’s Valtteri Bottas to compete in first-ever rally race in his native Finland

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Formula One’s “Flying Finn” is going back home for the first time.

More precisely, Valtteri Bottas is returning to his Finland homeland to compete in his first career rally race in the Finnish Rally Championship season opener.

Bottas, teammates on the F1 Mercedes team with five-time champ Lewis Hamilton, will compete in the World Rally Championships’ Arctic Lapland Rally from January 24-26.

He’ll team with two-time World Rally champion Timo Rautiainen in a M-Sport Ford Fiesta RS WRC on rally roads of the Finnish Arctic Circle.

“This is a unique opportunity to take a peek into the world of rallying,” Bottas told Finnish rallying website Rallism.f1. “I would like to thank everyone who has made it possible.

“It’s totally new territory for me too, as I have no prior experience of a World Rally Car. Still, being the race car driver that I am, you always go flat out whatever the vehicle you’re driving in.”

Added Rautiainen, “In my life, I’ve sat in a rally car with only three drivers, but this is such an interesting mission that I just had to accept the challenge. I believe that for a talented wheelman like Valtteri, we’ll be able to establish a good basic driving routine in testing.”

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