Sports car notes: Emerson Fittipaldi to return to racing in Brazil, and more

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Couple quick news and notes from the world of sports car racing:

Two-time Formula One World Champion Emerson Fittipaldi will make his racing comeback in the FIA World Endurance Championship season finale at Sao Paulo next weekend. The Brazilian last raced in 2008; his last full season of competition came in the CART championship in 1996.

He’ll be in the No. 61 AF Corse Ferrari F458 Italia in the GTE-Am class with co-drivers Jeff Segal and Alessandro Pier Guidi. Fittipaldi, at 67, is now an FIA Bronze-rated driver.

“It’s a great honor to have a great champion like Fittipaldi driving for our team,” said Amato Ferrari, team principal, via the Ferrari Corse Clienti website. “Emerson was one of my heroes when I was young and so it’s a pleasure to have him with us in the Sao Paulo race. It will thus see his dream of driving for Ferrari realized. He is very motivated and I’m sure he will do a good job.”

Pirelli World Challenge has a new director of competition. Former Audi Sport customer racing chief engineer Marcus Haselgrove, a veteran of Champion Audi among other programs, will replace Geoff Carter in that series’ role. It’s part of a wider technical staff and personnel enhancement to come, with a series technical manager and operations manager for the TC classes to be named later.

“I am very excited to represent Pirelli World Challenge’s competitions department in this new chapter. The growth of the Series has a lot to do with the way they embrace manufacturers,” Haselgrove said in a release.

Also PWC-related, Kelly Moss Motorsports has announced three cars for the new GT Cup class. Colin Thompson, who won the IMSA Porsche GT3 USA championship this season, is the first confirmed driver.

NEOM McLaren Formula E announces Jake Hughes will join Rene Rast for 2023 season

McLaren Formula E Hughes
McLaren Racing
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Doubling down on their commitment to electric auto sports, McLaren Racing announced Jake Hughes will join Rene Rast to compete in the 2023 Formula E Series (FE), which completes their driver lineup.

The NEOM McLaren FE team was formed by the acquisition of the Mercedes-EQ Formula E team that won the 2021 and 2022 championships with Stoffel Vandoorne and Nyck de Vries behind the wheel.

“Today’s announcement feels like a long time coming,” said Ian James, managing director of NEOM McLaren Electric Racing in a release. “Since May this year, when we first announced McLaren Racing’s entry into Formula E, we have been working tirelessly to get in place the best possible team and structure for sustainable success.

“On the one hand, we have been working on the retention of the amazing talent that already was in place before going into the transitional phase. I’m proud to say I think we’ve done a great job on that front.

“On the other hand, we have been focusing on putting in place new processes and new talent – and the latter includes the drivers.”

The driver lineup clasps the two hands together.

Hughes brings 10 years racing experience in single seater cars, including a role with the acquired Mercedes-EQ team as a reserve and development driver for the past two seasons. He is the 2013 BRDC Formula 4 champion and has multiple wins in Formula 2, including two in 2020.

Announced in August, Rast joins the team after earning two podium finishes and six top-fives in 22 career Formula E starts for Audi Sport ABT before returning to the DTM Series last year. Rast’s best finish in Formula E came in the Puebla E Prix when he finished second to teammate Lucas di Grassi by less than a half second.

McLaren’s commitment to Formula E comes one year after they entered the Extreme E rally series in 2022 with Tanner Foust and Emma Gilmour in the driver lineup. After a modest start to the season, the McLaren XE drivers crossed the finish line first in Round 4 in Chile, but were assessed a time penalty that dropped them to fifth. Last week in the season finale in Uruguay, they held onto a hard-earned second place finish.