GP2: Stanaway to test for Status Grand Prix in Abu Dhabi

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23-year-old Richie Stanaway will enjoy some running for Status Grand Prix at the upcoming GP2 pre-season test in Abu Dhabi, it has been confirmed.

Stanaway finished eighth in last year’s GP3 championship, picking up two race wins and two further podium finishes for Status.

At the end of 2014, the New Zealander took part in a GP2 test for the Irish team in Abu Dhabi, finishing as the top rookie.

Although he has not confirmed his racing plans for the year ahead, Stanaway appears to be leading the way for the second seat at Status, and will test for the team once again next week.

“Testing the GP2 car with Status again next week is a great opportunity for me and will be like joining the dots after being so competitive in last year’s post season test,” Stanaway said.

“Stepping up from GP3 to the GP2 car for just one day wasn’t quite long enough to reach my full potential last year. Now I am competing in the full three-day test it will be a huge benefit to me, enabling me to get up to speed and learn everything I can from the team.”

Status enters GP2 for the first time in 2015, taking over Caterham Racing’s entry. Stanaway will be joined in Abu Dhabi by Marlon Stockinger, who has already been confirmed as one of the team’s full-time drivers for the coming season.

GP2 pre-season testing starts on Monday at the Yas Marina Circuit, coming to a close on Wednesday.

March 28 in Motorsports History: Adrian Fernandez wins Motegi’s first race

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While auto racing is an international sport, oval racing remains uniquely American. 

That almost always has remained the case since the inception of the sport, but in 1998, the citizens of Japan got their first taste of American oval racing.

Having opened the previous year, Twin Ring Motegi was built by Honda in an effort to bring Indy-style racing to the Land of the Rising Sun. 

Adrian Fernandez was the first driver to win at the facility, taking the checkered flag in CART’s inaugural race after shaking off flu earlier that day.

Fernandez held off a hard-charging Al Unser Jr to win by 1.086 seconds. The victory was the second of his career and his first since Toronto in 1996.

Adrian Fernandez celebrates with Al Unser Jr and Gil de Ferran after winning the inaugural race at Motegi. (Photo by Robert Laberge/Getty Images)

The race was also memorable for a violent crash involving Bobby Rahal.

Running third with 15 laps remaining, Rahal’s right front suspension broke in Turn 2, causing his car to hit the outside wall and flip down the backstretch.

Luckily, Rahal walked away from the accident without a scratch.

“The car was on rails through (turns) 1 and 2, and all of a sudden it just got up into the marbles, and it was gone,” Rahal said. “Thank God we’ve got such safe cars.”

The following season, Fernadez went back-to-back and won again at Motegi. The track remained on the CART schedule until 2002.

In 2003, Honda switched their alliance to the Indy Racing Leauge, and Motegi followed suit.

The track continued to host IndyCar racing until 2011 with the final race being held on the facility’s 2.98-mile road course, as the oval sustained damage in the Tōhoku earthquake earlier that year.

Also on this date:

1976: Clay Regazzoni won the United States Grand Prix – West, Formula One’s first race on the Long Beach street circuit. The Grand Prix would become an IndyCar event following the 1983 edition of the race.

1993: Ayrton Senna won his home race, the Grand Prix of Brazil, for the second and final time of his career. The victory was also the 100th in F1 for McLaren.

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