RLL reloads on engineering strength

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Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing has more new engineers for its pair of programs in 2015 in the Verizon IndyCar Series and TUDOR United SportsCar Championship.

While Bill Pappas, John Dick and Mitch Davis have moved on, taking on new roles or joining the squad are Uwe Wolf, Mike Talbott and Martin Pare.

Wolf will be starting his ninth season with the team over two employment terms and has been promoted to race engineer for the TUDOR program, of which further details should be announced later this offseason.

On the IndyCar side, Talbott and Pare have both worked with driver Graham Rahal before and are now reunited. Talbott was most recently senior trackside engineer with Wirth Research in support of Honda Performance Development’s IndyCar program and worked with Rahal at Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing (NHLR) in 2008, while Pare was Rahal’s race engineer at NHLR from 2009-2010 and at Chip Ganassi Racing in 2011-2012.

Talbott will lead the vehicle dynamics program and Pare has joined the team as head of the vehicle ride control development program.

Rahal is widely regarded as having had his best success with Pare in the NHLR years.

“I’m very pleased to elevate Uwe to the role of race engineer” Bobby Rahal, co-owner of RLL with David Letterman and Mike Lanigan, said in a team release. “Uwe has been with the company for many years and has spearheaded our damper program on the sports car side and also the Indy car side so it’s great seeing him in this new position that he has certainly earned. We look forward to great things from him.”

“We’re really pleased to bring Mike and Martin into the Indy car team,” he added. “Mike has a long, successful history in motorsports at Newman/Haas Racing and others previous to his role at Wirth Research. He brings a lot of value to the team as does Martin, who engineered Graham for nearly four years at Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing and Ganassi. Martin brings a wealth of experience and knowledge that can certainly help the performance of the team. Overall I think these are three great appointments that will help us to move to the front of the grid.”

Rahal slipped from 18th to 19th in the points standings this season, but the stats were a bit misleading as his season was better than the results indicated.

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.