Ricciardo ready to make Red Bull debut on home soil

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March 16th 2014 will be an important date in Daniel Ricciardo’s diary. Having made his debut mid-way through the 2011 season for HRT, the Australian driver will finally get the chance to prove his worth as he makes his first appearance for Red Bull.

The defending world champions promoted Ricciardo from sister team Toro Rosso after Mark Webber confirmed his retirement from Formula 1 at the end of last season. After two years battling in the midfield, a berth at Red Bull is a huge opportunity for Ricciardo.

However, his first race for the team is made all the more important by the fact that it is his home event: the Australian Grand Prix.

“If we went to Malaysia or Bahrain for the first race then I’d be able to ease into my career with Red Bull Racing but in Oz, I assume the weekend will be right up there in my face!” he joked. “I’ll enjoy it and hopefully use the positive energy of the crowd to give me a good result.”

The race, held at Albert Park in Melbourne, has been the curtain-raiser for all but two years since 1996, and Ricciardo says that is a source of pride for Australia to have such an honor.

“Albert Park always tends to be a pretty exciting race. It’s great that Australia has a grand prix and a source of pride that it’s everybody’s choice to kick-start the season.

“I’m very, very excited about the new season. It’s always good fun going to Melbourne, it’s a great city and I like racing on street circuits.”

Ricciardo will be the sole Australian driver to be racing in Formula 1 this season following Webber’s retirement, and he will be hoping that Red Bull’s testing disaster doesn’t continue into the opening round of the season next weekend.

Helio Castroneves ‘hustling’ for IndyCar, IMSA rides; talking with four to five teams

Helio Castroneves IMSA IndyCar
IMSA
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As his season gathers steam, Helio Castroneves said his prospects for finding new rides for 2021 in IMSA and IndyCar also are gaining momentum.

The three-time Indianapolis 500 winner said Monday he is optimistic about landing in either or perhaps a combination of both series when Team Penske and Acura end their DPi partnership after this season.

“A lot of people I spoke with, four to five teams, are interested,” Castroneves said. “Whether it’s doing Indy 500 only, whether it’s pushing to do full time or do the sports cars as well. It’s been a very nice conversation.

LOOKING AHEADTeam Penske drivers seeking new rides for 2021

“I have a lot of respect for all the teams that have been talking, and I feel the same feedback. We just have to wait for their (sponsor) connections, and I’m also looking for some connections on my side as well, so hopefully we’ll be able to put this together and get something very soon.”

Given two decades of success with Penske in IndyCar and IMSA, Castroneves’ resume hardly needs burnishing. But the Brazilian has combined with co-driver Ricky Taylor in the No. 7 Acura DPi to win the past two overall victories at Road America and Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.

But Castroneves, who doesn’t have a manager, said he has been working the phones hard rather than wait for the strong results to bring in the calls.

“At this point, I feel like I’m the one who needs to be talking to them because people need to know I want to continue racing and understand my desire,” Castroneves, 45, said. “There is opportunity, no question, in both (IndyCar and IMSA), which I’m really happy about it. However, because of the COVID-19, a lot of things sometimes have to be a little delayed. But I’m excited. Whatever the opportunity and whatever destiny guides me, whether IndyCar or sports cars, trust me I’ll be as happy as it could be and doing my 100 percent like I always did.

“It’s like politics, you need to be out there, good news or bad news. People have to make notice of your presence. I’m hustling. I want to continue to keep it going. Hopefully, we’ll have good news very soon.”

The news has been all good lately on track for Castroneves and Taylor, who hope to continue their run Sunday at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

The No. 6 duo has surged to sixth in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship standings, 10 points out of the lead with four races remaining. After thinking there was “no hope” to be competitive after opening the season with three consecutive poor finishes, Taylor now sees an opportunity for a happy ending.

“With the program going away, Helio has won all the big races and given so much back to the team and left such a mark, he’s really part of Penske history,” Taylor said. “For me, it’s been an opportunity of a lifetime to be a part of it. I’d like to leave my little mark as well. Helio has won everything except for a championship.

“Obviously, we’ve won races already together, but we can win a championship now. I think if both of us can do that together and both win our first championship for ‘The Captain,’ that would be an absolute dream come true, and we can tie a bow on it and be happy.”