GP2: Japan F3 champion Matsushita joins ART Grand Prix

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ART Grand Prix has completed its line-up for the 2015 GP2 Series season with the signing of 21-year-old Nobuharu Matsushita.

The French team confirmed in January that McLaren junior driver Stoffel Vandoorne would be retained for 2015, with the Belgian hoping to go one better than his second-place finish in the standings last year.

However, Takuya Izawa has been dropped for the new season and replaced by Matsushita, who has enjoyed success in Japan’s junior championships.

“First of all, I would like to thank ART Grand Prix for giving me the opportunity to race in GP2,” Matsushita said. “I am honored to be a part of ART, which is one of the most prestigious teams in young drivers’ promotion.

“The GP2 Series gives me the chance to race alongside great rivals, following the Formula 1 calendar all around the world. This is a big challenge for myself but I am determined to do my best as GP2 is the best way to race in F1, which is my dream since my childhood.

“I would like to express my thankfulness to Honda who supports my challenge, my fans, friends and family.”

Matsushita won the Japanese F3 title in 2014 with six wins and five pole positions, following on from his Formula Challenge (now Japanese F4) win in 2012, and ART team owner Sebastien Philippe believes that he has the perfect teammate in Vandoorne.

“Nobuharu has a lot of experience in motorsport and his talent is a certainty just from reading his resume, including that he is the reigning Japanese F3 champion,” Philippe said.

“Nobuharu will have many new things to discover and the start of the season will be marked by a learning phase for him, but ART Grand Prix has full confidence in his qualities and in the team’s experience to help Nobuharu integrate very quickly into the discipline. With Stoffel Vandoorne by his side, he also has the ideal teammate.”

X44 Racing win 2022 Extreme E championship as Abt Cupra score first race victory

2022 Extreme E Uruguay
Extreme E
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Abt Cupra Racing’s Nasser Al-Attiyah and Klara Andersson scored their first win in the Extreme E Energy X Prix in the 2022 finale in Uruguay as Lewis Hamilton’s X44 Vida Carbon Racing drivers Sebastien Loeb and Cristina Gutierrez survived a chaotic finale to edge the 2021 champion Rosberg X Prix team of Johan Kristoffersson and Mikhaela Ahlin-Kottulinsky, by two points.

“There are so many emotions,” Andersson said in Extreme E’s coverage. “I’ve been waiting for this for so long. In my second race, first full weekend to be at the top of the podium: it’s big.”

Andersson was behind the wheel at the finish.

Rosberg Racing entered the event with a 17-point advantage over X44, but the standings were close enough that four teams remained in contention in Round 5.

“It’s a crucial weekend for us,” Loeb said in Extreme E’s coverage prior to the race. “We are not in the best position to win the championship, but the only thing we can do is try to win the race and score as many points as possible.”

The top two title contenders each crashed in qualification and were relegated to the Crazy Race, Extreme E’s version of the Last Chance Qualifier (LCQ). For the moment, they had the steepest hill to climb, but then the other two championship contending teams, Chip Ganassi Racing and Acciona Sainz Racing failed to advance from their heats.

Only one team advances from the Crazy Race, so the X44 drivers were in a must-win situation to simply keep hope alive.

More: Extreme E 2023 schedule

Ahlin-Kottulinsky and Gutierrez ran wheel to wheel into the first turn at the start of the LCQ.

The Rosberg racer experienced crash damage in that turn that damaged her front steering, but managed to limp back to the pits at the end of her two-lap stint. The team attempted to fix the steering, but incurred a penalty for having too many mechanics in the pit area.

Meanwhile, Gutierrez took the early lead, but knew she would need to sit through a five-second penalty for an incident earlier in the weekend. The female half of the gender equal pair erased the penalty by entering the Switch Zone with a five-second lead before turning the car over to Loeb.

That was all the nine-time World Rally Championship titlist needed to give him the advantage needed to win the Crazy Race.

But the championship was not over yet. X44 Racing needed to finish third or better in the five-car finale to earn enough points for the title and after advancing from the LCQ, they were forced to take the worst grid position.

A chaotic start to the Finale saw Loeb run as high the lead and low as fourth after getting pushed off course during his first lap. And that is how he entered to Switch Zone.

On her first lap, Gutierrez slammed into Molly Taylor. With one lap remaining, X44 and Gutierrez were still in fourth and the title hope was quickly evaporating, but it was announced halfway through the lap that the third-running Andretti United team would suffer a penalty for a Switch Zone infraction. The seven-second deduction for Timmy Hansen braking too late in the zone made the difference in the title.

Coming off a disappointing Copper X Prix when Tanner Foust and Emma Gilmour crossed under the checkers first, but were relegated to fifth by penalty, the McLaren pair scored their first podium of the season in second.