8Star closing on Indy Lights confirmation with Sean Rayhall as one driver

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AUSTIN, Texas – After 8Star Motorsports announced its intentions to run in the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires, the team is close to a decision to determine whether it will pull the trigger.

Team principal Enzo Potolicchio has meetings this weekend in anticipation of a decision next week, as the team plans to place a deposit on two of the new Dallara IL15 chassis.

One of the cars would be for rising American star Sean Rayhall, who currently serves as one of 8Star’s drivers in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship Prototype Challenge class (with Luis Diaz for sprint races).

“We didn’t want to join before because of the old car, as it was due to be changed,” Potolicchio told MotorSportsTalk. “We were very excited, it’s an attractive package and the AER engine looks nice and reliable. We want to come in now and there’s a new baseline. We have IndyCar experience from our team manager (Gary Neal) and engineer (Yves Touron), so we know what we need to do be competitive. We’re working with one driver really hard to support him as the next American superstar. He can be a title contender. We really believe in him.”

Potolicchio was at last week’s Chris Griffis Memorial Mazda Road to Indy test at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway observing the new Indy Lights car in action.

“We registered as a team, we were at Indy looking at the test. Very excited,” he said. “Next week we will make a decision after meetings. A lot of interest. We’ve been approached with a lot of people. We can do the job and be competitive. Good name, good brand in sports cars.”

An Indy Lights program would be the first of a multifaceted open-wheel platform the team looks to develop in the coming years.

“We had to align some other things and make a decision next week and place a deposit. Likely 15 (cars) first race but there’s a lot of work and lot of development to be done. No weather issues, close tracks in Florida so we can test the right way,” he said.

“To be a successful team we can’t concentrate on just one series. We need multiple, and we need to do IndyCar and Indy Lights. We want to be in Indy 500 eventually and Indy Lights is the first step.”

8Star Motorsports plans to continue in the TUDOR Championship with a customer Prototype Challenge program and a potential P2-spec car to run in Prototypes.

As for Rayhall, running in Indy Lights would be a return to his roots.

“There’s meetings and steps in the right direction to do Indy Lights, with long races in the NAEC,” he said. “It would be a return to my roots after Skip Barber, there’s guys like Josef Newgarden and Conor Daly that I know.

“It’s just taken the right people and the right funding to make it happen. Now I have that with Enzo and 8Star,” he added. “I had to take a stock car detour but I want to get back into it. I’m pushing hard to make it happen with the people around me.”

Sergio Perez wins rain-delayed race in Singapore over Leclerc; Verstappen seventh

Sergio Perez Singapore
Clive Rose/Getty Images,
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SINGAPORE — Max Verstappen’s Formula One title celebrations were put on hold after the Red Bull driver placed seventh at a chaotic Singapore Grand Prix, won by his teammate Sergio Perez on Sunday.

Perez’s second win of the season saw him finish 7.6 seconds ahead of Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, with Leclerc’s teammate Carlos Sainz Jr. in third place.

Perez was investigated for a potential safety car infringement but still kept the win after a 5-second time penalty for dropping too far back after being warned.

Verstappen had won the past five races but needed to win here and finish 22 points ahead of Leclerc to be crowned champion for a second straight season. That could happen next weekend at the Japanese GP.

Verstappen made a mistake after the second safety car restart, following AlphaTauri driver Yuki Tsunoda’s crash on Lap 36. When Verstappen tried to overtake Lando Norris’ McLaren, he locked his tires and needed to pit again.

Leclerc started from pole position with Verstappen going from eighth after a team blunder in qualifying.

The race start was delayed by more than an hour to clear water off the Marina Bay Circuit track following heavy rainfall. Drivers had to finish the 61-lap race within a two-hour window; 59 laps were completed.

Tricky conditions saw the virtual safety car deployed three times and DRS was allowed with about 30 minutes remaining.

Perez made a good start and jumped past Leclerc while Verstappen dropped several places. The first safety car was on Lap 8 when Zhou Guanyu’s Alfa Romeo was cut off by Nicholas Latifi’s Williams.

Perez got away cleanly at the restart, while Verstappen climbed into seventh behind Fernando Alonso – whose 350th F1 race ended disappointingly when his engine failed on Lap 21, bringing out the first VSC.

With the track still damp, drivers decided against changing to quicker tires – apart from Mercedes’ George Russell, who struggled for grip.

Hamilton made a rare mistake on Lap 33 and thudded into the crash barrier. Soon after, the leading drivers changed tires in a flurry of stops. They did so just before the safety car was deployed again following Tsunoda’s error.

Verstappen overtook Sebastian Vettel’s Aston Martin right at the end for seventh place.