MRTI: Anderson up to Indy Lights with returning Fan Force United

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After sitting out, Fan Force United has announced its upcoming return to the Indy Lights grid next season with 24-year-old Scott Anderson as their driver.

Anderson enters Indy Lights after finishing fifth in this year’s Pro Mazda Championship with Juncos Racing, while FFU re-enters Indy Lights after running for eight races in 2012 with an assortment of drivers.

That year, the team also fielded a Lotus-powered Indy 500 entry for ex-Formula One driver Jean Alesi that was black-flagged in the opening laps due to the motor’s dreadful pace.

“We’ve never stopped working on getting back on track, and we’re excited to be getting out there with Scott,” said FFU team co-owner and former IndyCar Series driver Tyce Carlson. “He has a solid record as he has progressed up the ladder and has proven himself at every level.

“With the team that we have assembled and will be putting around him, we’re pretty confident that we’ll be able to pick right up where we left off at the end of 2012 and be competitive very quickly.”

Anderson has been a quick climber up the Mazda Road to Indy ladder. Following a national championship in the Skip Barber series in 2011, he finished third in the 2012 USF2000 championship with two wins and six podiums before going to Pro Mazda.

After netting one podium and seven Top-5 finishes with Juncos in 2013, he now looks forward to the next level.

“It’s a new series and car for me so the focus early on will definitely be to learn the car and adjust as quickly as I can,” said Anderson, a native of Fort Collins, Colorado. “There’s a lot of experience between everyone on the team and so I look forward to absorbing as much knowledge as possible and getting some good results.”

Sebastien Ogier in driver’s seat for sixth straight World Rally Championship title

Sebastien Ogier leads the way in the WRC title chase. Photo: Getty Images
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COFFS HARBOUR, Australia (AP) — Thierry Neuville finished the sixth stage of Rally Australia on Friday without a rear left tire, damaging his chances of catching five-time defending champion Sebastien Ogier for the World Rally Championship title.

The Belgian driver entered the rally just three points behind Ogier in the closest title fight in 15 years.

He held the upper hand on his French rival, building a near-10 second gap through the first five stages at Coffs Harbour before hitting a chicane and finishing the stage with only three tires on his Hyundai.

Neuville was fortunate the puncture occurred late enough in the day to finish all six forestry stages and avoid a retirement. But the mistake cost him 40 seconds and gave Ogier, who is 33 seconds ahead of him, a clear run at his sixth straight championship.

In his last start with Ford before a move to Citroen next year, Ogier struggled as the first to drive the dusty, slippery forest routes.

“I pushed like crazy, I was on the limit over the jump and everywhere, I can’t do (any) more,” Ogier said. “I was on the limit.”

With Ogier on sweeping duties the back markers flourished, and Mads Ostberg took the lead in his return to the series.

Ostberg was forced to miss the previous round in Spain to make way for rally winner and nine-time world champion Sebastien Loeb, who was making the last of his three guest appearances for Citroen.

Now back in the seat, Ostberg leads Jari-Matti Latvala by 6.8 seconds in the Australian rally, with sixth-stage winner Craig Breen in third.

Ogier was seventh, 38.2 seconds off the pace, but only needs to finish ahead of Neuville to claim the championship title. Neuville is in 10th place after six stages.

Roles will reverse on Saturday, with Ogier to start further back in the field and do his best on cleaner roads to make up the day-one deficit before Sunday’s final stages.

Andreas Mikkelsen, the 2016 Rally Australia champion, was an early dropout after rolling into a ditch in his Hyundai. Mikkelsen had only just avoided a tractor that had found its way onto the course.

Former winner Molly Taylor and co-driver Malcolm Read were also forced out of their event when their Subaru hit a hay bale at high speed on the morning’s second stage. Both reported soreness but suffered no serious injuries.

The 24-stage rally totals 319 kilometers (197 miles). Ten stages are scheduled Saturday with the final six on Sunday, most of them through forests on the New South Wales state’s north coast about 530 kilometers (325 miles) north of Sydney.