MRTI: Matthew Brabham out for a third ‘Road to Indy’ series title

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Last year’s Pro Mazda champion, Matthew Brabham, continued his acclimation to Indy Lights earlier this week by taking part in the series’ two-day test session at Sebring International Raceway.

In just his second major outing in an Indy Lights car, Brabham was solid, posting the third-fastest time across all sessions – only beaten by Andretti Autosport teammate Zach Veach and Gabby Chaves.

Getting used to new equipment has been an interesting exercise for Brabham, who comes to Lights after storming to the Pro Mazda title in 2013 on the strength of 13 wins. But he believes he is making progress there.

“It’s definitely a step up compared to Pro Mazda,” he said recently. “So far it’s been challenging to get used to more power and more grip, but fun to drive. I’m slowly getting there, and it should be a good year for us.”

Brabham was a relatively early addition to the 2014 Lights grid, when he was announced to join Andretti Autosport’s Lights team during the 2013 IndyCar season finale weekend in October.

To him, that’s made things a little bit easier as he focuses in on conquering yet another stop on the Mazda Road to Indy (he also won the USF2000 championship in 2012).

“It gives us a jump up on everybody, and that definitely helps,” he said. “That’s what we did last year [in Pro Mazda]. We got ahead and managed to sort things out before everybody else did.

“It’s great to get out early and nice to have everything signed so I can just focus on testing and getting comfortable before we go out and start getting ready for the racing season.”

As the son of former 24 Hours of Le Mans winner Geoff Brabham and grandson of three-time Formula One World Champion Sir Jack Brabham, the third-generation racer has a lot to live up to.

But from what we’ve seen out of him so far, Matthew looks like he’s capable of making his own mark in the years ahead.

IndyCar’s Vasser-Sullivan expand into IMSA for 2019

James Sullivan and Jimmy Vasser. Photo IndyCar
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Not even one year after returning to the IndyCar ranks, Vasser-Sullivan Racing is taking AIM at the IMSA world, you might say.

While team co-owners Jimmy Vasser and James “Sulli” Sullivan will continue to partner with Dale Coyne Racing on the IndyCar side, they expanded their holdings Tuesday, announcing a partnership with AIM Autosport to campaign a new two-car Lexus-backed RC F GT3 effort in IMSA’s GT Daytona class.

The new team – named AIM Vasser-Sullivan – will replace 3GT Racing, which was part of Lexus’ sports car program launch in 2016. It will announce its two drivers in the coming weeks, the team said.

“Sulli and I are excited and looking forward to entering a new chapter in our racing careers,” Vasser said in a media release. “I have driven sports cars before, but my career was pretty much limited to the 24 Hours of Daytona, including a ‘class’ win in 1992 and second overall in 2008.

“The AIM Vasser Sullivan team, with the support of Lexus and our sponsors, has the tools to get the job done and we are looking forward to this new challenge.”

Lexus has made significant progress in its first two seasons in IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship competition, having earned a combined two race wins, five poles and finished third in the 2018 GTD Manufacturer point standings.

Vasser and Sullivan were part of the ownership group of KVSH Racing in IndyCar from 2011 through 2016 before the organization folded.

They also owned Tony Kanaan’s 2013 Indianapolis 500-winning car.

After sitting out the 2017 season, Vasser, a former CART champion, and Sullivan rejoined forces this past February, just before the start of the 2018 IndyCar season, partnering with Coyne to form a satellite team led by driver Sebastien Bourdais, who previously drove for KVSH.

Bourdais kicked off the new team’s effort with a win in the season-opening Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. He finished seventh in the overall season standings.

AIM Vasser Sullivan will have two home bases for its IMSA program: AIM’s current facility in Woodbridge, Ontario, Canada, as well as a new U.S. shop in Charlotte, North Carolina.

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