Kamui Kobayashi moves to Super Formula in Japan

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After losing his seat at Caterham amid the team’s financial collapse at the end of 2014, Kamui Kobayashi has today announced that he will be returning to Japan to race in the national Super Formula championship.

In a statement on his Facebook page, the former Sauber and Toyota driver confirmed that he would be joining the series for 2015 as he looks to revive his racing career following a tough year with Caterham in 2014.

“I join Super Formula series for 2015,” Kobayashi wrote. “Happy to back my home race after 12 years in Europe. I would like provide exciting driving and amazing show on track! All races will take place in Japan so please come to Japan and let’s have a real race with me!” [sic]

Kobayashi made his F1 debut for Toyota back in 2009 before spending three years with Sauber, with the high point being an emotional podium finish at his home race at Suzuka in 2012.

For 2013, Sauber opted to draft in Esteban Gutierrez and Nico Hulkenberg, but Kobayashi landed on his feet by securing a works drive with Ferrari’s AF Corse team in the FIA World Endurance Championship. He finished seventh in the final GTE-Pro standings.

However, much to the fury of the Ferrari team, Kobayashi opted to walk away from the WEC in 2014 so he could join backmarkers Caterham in F1.It proved to be a disastrous move as the team’s financial woes meant it stood little chance on track

It proved to be a disastrous move as the team’s financial woes meant it stood little chance on track, and with Kobayashi not bringing backing to the team as a pay driver, he was left out in the cold and dropped for the Belgian Grand Prix to make way for Andre Lotterer. His final appearance for Caterham came in its last-minute comeback in Abu Dhabi where he retired late on.

Super Formula is a very competitive and exciting championship in Japan, and has welcomed a number of big racing names such as Loic Duval and Andre Lotterer over the past few years.

Kobayashi is unquestionably facing a fight to revive his career after his ill-fated year with Caterham, and this could prove to be the perfect platform to do exactly that.

Tony Kanaan says his message of IndyCar-NASCAR unity aimed at fans

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Over a 22-year IndyCar career featuring its share of adversity, Tony Kanaan has learned to embrace trying to find the positives in a negative situation.

He believes NASCAR and IndyCar will find a tiny silver lining from the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The series will race together at Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s road course in a July 4 doubleheader, which he believes sends a message of unity he’d like to see from the world during this dark period.

“It’s time to send that message (of unity),” Kanaan told “Happy Hours” hosts Kevin Harvick and Matt Yocum in a Wednesday afternoon interview on SiriusXM’s NASCAR Channel. “If we don’t come out of this situation as better people, globally, in every way, shape or form … it’s just being kind to people. Hopefully, we’ll be sending the right messages, doing radio shows together, doing live on Instagram together, doing races together.

ON NBCSN: IndyCar at virtual Barber Motorsports Park, Saturday, 2:30 p.m.

MORE: Jimmie Johnson wants to run IndyCar-NASCAR doubleheader

“I was bugging Jimmie Johnson to say, ‘Can I be a guest in NASCAR on iRacing?’ I think the misperception, and probably a little our fault as well, is that people don’t know how (IndyCar and NASCAR drivers) respect each and how we think each other’s jobs are so cool.”

It was Kanaan’s comment last week that “it’s not us and them. It is the motorsports world’ that prompted Harvick to ask the 2004 IndyCar champion and 2013 Indianapolis 500 winner about his views on past IndyCar and NASCAR divisions.

Harvick noted that “over the years, IndyCar and NASCAR have that separate stigma as far as the fans, but the racers in the middle, we talk with each other. We’re just racers. I think it’s absolutely great” the doubleheader will happen.

Kanaan said he felt it was the right message to send because of the fans. “For drivers, I don’t think we ever thought of it that way,” he said. “We always respected each other and thought each other’s jobs were cool. That tweet was for our fans who say, ‘Those cars are too fast. Those cars are too slow.’ It’s time for us to stop. It’s a racing family.

“For people who don’t understand about racing, any race car is cool. Doesn’t matter if it’s a go kart, a sprint car, a  Cup car, it doesn’t matter. … The situation, we’re in, we’re all equal. It doesn’t matter how much money you have. We’re all in the same boat now. We can’t do what we love. It just clicked. I said it’s time to send that message. Hopefully this will be the end for ‘you guys and us’ for the fans. For drivers, I don’t think we ever thought of it that way.”

The GMR IndyCar Grand Prix is scheduled to be run July 4 on the IMS road course ahead of the Xfinity race, which will mean that the NTT Series’ Firestone rubber will be on the asphalt before the Goodyears of NASCAR hit the track.

Recalling a NASCAR test many years ago at Nazareth Speedway when he turned laps a second faster because there’d been an IndyCar race the previous day, Harvick asked Kanaan whether the varying tire compounds might present a challenge.

“I don’t there is a solution for that,” Kanaan said. “It’s part of the job, and we need to realize that you guys run different tires. We run softer tires. It’s no different than (IndyCar) racing with the trucks at Texas. It’s probably harder on an oval than a road course.

“But I like it. It’s part of the challenge and makes the race weekend more interesting, the people who can manage that as well.”

Even though he is sidelined, Kanaan still will stay busy this weekend, racing in Saturday’s 2:30 p.m. IndyCar iRacing Challenge event at virtual Barber Motorsports Park on NBCSN. He will be tuning in Sunday at 1 p.m. on Fox and FS1 as NASCAR hits Bristol Motor Speedway.

“Last Sunday I had my alarm set for 12:40 p.m., because at 1 o’clock (NASCAR was) on,” Kanaan said with a laugh. “I told (wife) Lauren, ‘Let’s turn the TV on and watch the NASCAR race!’ I was excited, and it wasn’t even real. She’s like, ‘Man, look at you … I said, ‘That’s what we got.’ It’s been a weird year.”

Harvick also will be racing Sunday, having recently joined Kanaan in installing a new racing simulator at home.

“Let’s do this Kevin: Come do an IndyCar race on iRacing,” Kanaan said. “I’ll do NASCAR. Now that you have a sim. What do you think?”

“Well, I’ll have to go to my 7-year-old to figure out how to drive it fast,” Harvick said.

“He’s been practicing. I’m really good at crashing.”