Stoffel Vandoorne returns to ART for second season of GP2

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Belgian ace Stoffel Vandoorne will return to the GP2 Series championship for a second season with ART Grand Prix, the team announced Wednesday.

He should enter the season as clear championship favorite.

“In the wake of a great season in 2014, I am very happy to continue with ART Grand Prix in GP2,” Vandoorne said in a release. “We showed we are the team to beat and many of our competitors have already pointed to us as their target, it’s normal and rather flattering.

“I am confident because it will be my second year with a fantastic team that I know well. Apart from the DRS, the regulations won’t change and I now have experience of the circuits, races, pit stops and tire management. The objective is clear: we want to win the title.”

Team manager Sebastien Philippe also praised Vandoorne’s ability.

“The results of our first collaboration with Stoffel in GP2 in 2014 speak louder than words!” he said. “He is part of that breed of naturally talented drivers, who work hard and are brilliant technically. He is instantly able to adapt in a professional context so he can make the most of the car and his colleagues.

“His personal qualities are also strong with his high ambitions similar to that of ART Grand Prix. After an outstanding first year where he missed out on the title by very little, it makes sense that we continue this partnership in the quest for the title in 2015.”

Vandoorne was a star for his rookie season in the championship and ended second to Jolyon Palmer. He also served as McLaren’s reserve driver, and was the first to have an official outing in the team’s new Honda-powered car at the Abu Dhabi postseason test.

Conor Daly honors friend killed Saturday amid Indianapolis unrest

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IndyCar driver Conor Daly posted a poignant tribute to Chris Beaty, a former Indiana University football player and Indianapolis business owner who was killed Saturday amid protests and rioting in the city.

Daly said he got to know Beaty, who owned an event and marketing promotions company, five years ago when he was organizing Indianapolis 500 afterparties.

Daly annually had been involved in Beaty’s parties since then and said Beaty helped get him home earlier this year when Daly’s blood sugar crashed while at an event.

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“The world lost a tremendous person. RIP Chris Beaty,” wrote Daly, who also tweeted “The violence has to stop.”

According to the Indianapolis Star, Beaty died after suffering multiple gunshot wounds during Saturday night’s unrest in downtown Indianapolis. It’s unclear if the shooting was tied to the protests.

Graham Rahal also posted about his interaction with Beaty.

Daly, Rahal and the rest of the IndyCar Series will return to action Saturday night at Texas Motor Speedway (8 p.m. ET, NBC).