SCCA’s Kenton Koch wins an FIA Young Driver Competition

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Good stuff for a good up-and-coming driver. Release below from SCCA:

Sports Car Club of America member and reigning SCCA Pro Racing Mazda MX-5 Cup Presented by BFGoodrich Tires champion Kenton Koch was named the winner of the 2015 FIA Young Driver Excellence Academy in the Americas division this week in Mexico as the lone U.S. representative to the competition. The 20-year-old Koch battled drivers from 11 countries in North and South America, coming out on top and earning a trip to the world finals with 10 other top young drivers.

Held in Mexico October 13-16, the selection event put drivers aged 16-23 from across the region through their paces. This involved a variety of fitness tests, driving performance examinations and mental exercises to determine performance and safety understanding both on and off the track.

Following an intensive four days of competition, six drivers were selected to take part in a final shoot-out. Each chosen driver had to set their fastest lap time and the winner was eventually announced as Koch by the judging panel.

Koch was nominated by SCCA through ACCUS, the United States’ liason to the FIA.

“I am really happy with the outcome,” Koch said. “Coming here I was not expecting to win, I came here to have fun and to learn and I really appreciate having this experience. I am grateful to SCCA for nominating me. I have learnt a lot about myself, both mentally and physically and I am really looking forward to attending the elite academy. Thank you to the FIA Institute for providing this opportunity to young drivers like myself, guiding and helping us progress in our careers.”

“This year we were honored to host the FIA Academy Americas Selection for a second time, and I have to recognize that the candidates were extraordinary, showing a world class competition level,” Jose Abed, President of Mexican ASN OMDAI, which hosted the event, said. “It proved to be a really tight competition, which notably complicated choosing the winner. This being said, I want to congratulate Kenton for his outstanding performance and tenacity shown throughout the event, which lead to him landing the coveted spot in the Academy. I am sure he will be a worthy representative of the Americas, and that we will see him in the pinnacle of motorsport in the years to come.”

Koch will join the other five regional selection event winners in the 2015 Academy. A number of other wild cards will be selected once every regional selection event has taken place.

All participants in the Academy will receive a fully-funded training program, which aims to develop their motor sport careers, while actively promoting the principles of safety, fairness and responsibility on and off the track. All drivers will benefit from tuition and analysis from ex-Formula One driver Alex Wurz and former World Rally Champion co-driver Robert Reid, who are both Academy Performance Managers.

More information on the Sports Car Club of America is available at SCCA.com. More information on Koch’s Championship winning season in the SCCA Pro Racing Mazda MX-5 Cup can be found at MX-5Cup.com.

Zach Veach splits with Andretti Autosport for rest of IndyCar season

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Zach Veach will be leaving his Andretti Autosport ride with three races remaining in the season, choosing to explore options after the decision was made he wouldn’t return for 2021.

In a Wednesday release, Andretti Autosport said a replacement driver for the No. 26 Dallara-Honda would be named in the coming days. The NTT IndyCar Series will race Oct. 2-3 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and then conclude the season Oct. 25 on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida.

Veach was ranked 11th in the points standings through 11 races of his third season with Andretti. Since a fourth in the June 6 season opener at Texas Motor Speedway, he hadn’t finished higher than 14th.

“The decision was made that I will not be returning in 2021 with Andretti Autosport in the No. 26 Gainbridge car,” Veach said in the Andretti release. “This, along with knowing that limited testing exists for teams due to COVID, have led me to the decision to step out of the car for the remainder of the 2020 IndyCar season. I am doing this to allow the team to have time with other drivers as they prepare for 2021, and so that I can also explore my own 2021 options.

“This is the hardest decision I have ever made, but to me, racing is about family, and it is my belief that you take care of your family. Andretti Autosport is my family and I feel this is what is best to help us all reach the next step. I will forever be grateful to Michael and the team for all of their support over the years. I would not be where I am today if it wasn’t for a relationship that started many years ago with Road to Indy. I will also be forever grateful to Dan Towriss for his friendship and for the opportunity he and Gainbridge have given me.

“My love for this sport and the people involved is unmeasurable, and I look forward to continuing to be amongst the racing world and fans in 2021.”

Said team owner Michael Andretti: “We first welcomed Zach to the Andretti team back in his USF2000 days and have enjoyed watching him grow and evolve as a racer, and a person. His decision to allow us to use the last few races to explore our 2021 options shows the measure of his character.

“Zach has always placed team and family first, and we’re very happy to have had him as part of ours for so many years. We wish him the best in whatever 2021 may bring and will always consider him a friend.”

Andretti fields five full-time cars for Veach, Alexander Rossi, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Marco Andretti and Colton Herta.

It also has fielded James Hinchcliffe in three races this season.