Nelson Piquet, SH Rallycross look for big second year in Red Bull GRC

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Arguably one of the busiest drivers since the end of the last Red Bull Global Rallycross season is Nelson Piquet Jr., who’s carved out quite a career for himself.

Piquet Jr., a former Renault Formula 1 driver and NASCAR Xfinity and Camping World Truck Series veteran who won several races in NASCAR, has now blended roofs and open-wheel once again.

The Brazilian is in the midst of an intense FIA Formula E Championship title battle with Lucas di Grassi and e.dams Renault teammates Sebastien Buemi and Nicolas Prost, as that championship heads to its final four races of the season.

Meanwhile, he’s also gearing up for his second season with the SH Rallycross team in Red Bull GRC. James “Sulli” Sullivan, with partner Dennis Reinbold, lead the team. Both Sullivan (KVSH Racing) and Reinbold (Dreyer & Reinbold – Kingdom Racing) also maintain an active presence as team onwers in the Verizon IndyCar Series.

Photo: SH Rallycross

But for Piquet, the focus is on securing this year’s championship in the No. 07 Ford Fiesta for SH Rallycross. Partners on board include Hydroxycut and WIX Filters.

Piquet looks to improve upon his first year, when he scored four podiums and finished fourth in the points. He should get his first feature race win sooner rather than later.

“Last year was our rookie year. Everything was new for us,” Piquet told MotorSportsTalk during the Red Bull GRC media day in Long Beach. “For the team and for myself, there have been a lot of new things and new experiences.

“It was just the normal path of a rookie team and rookie driver. There were a few mistakes. We still had a lot of good results and accomplishments. We’re not gonna do too much different. We will be more prepared, with more knowledge and more mileage of our cars in this series.”

Photo: SH Rallycross

Piquet said he’s adapted well to the mix of gravel and pavement race in Red Bull GRC, although he continues to develop.

“I’m still learning. There are some parts I’m still struggling,” he said. “It’s a learning curve and there’s more I’m trying to do.”

SH is part of a deeper Red Bull GRC field that also includes additional IndyCar teams such as Chip Ganassi Racing, Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross and Bryan Herta Rallysport.

“For sure it’s going to be a much tougher year,” Piquet said. “There are better teams, drivers, cars, and they’ll up the level by quite a lot this year.”

But figure Piquet will be among the contenders.

NTT re-signs as IndyCar title sponsor in multiyear deal starting with the 2024 season

James Black/Penske Entertainment

The IndyCar Series has re-signed NTT as its title sponsor in a multiyear agreement starting in 2024.

NTT, a global information technology and communications company based in Japan, became the series’ title sponsor before the 2019 season after starting as a sponsor of the No. 10 Dallara-Honda for Chip Ganassi Racing.

NTT Data (a subsidiary of parent company Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corp.) will remain the official technology partner of IndyCar, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the Indy 500 and the NASCAR Brickyard weekend.

With the extension, an IndyCar spokesman said NTT would become the second-longest title sponsor in series history. The longest title sponsor was PPG from 1980-97 (under the CART sanction of the Champ Car Series).

NTT replaced Verizon, which was IndyCar’s title sponsor from 2014-18 after IZOD from 2010-13.

“NTT is an excellent partner across our enterprise with strong expertise and a deep commitment to our sport,” Penske Corp. chairman and IndyCar owner Roger Penske said in a release. “From Smart Venue technology at the Racing Capital of the World to the reimagined Series mobile application, NTT is transforming the fan experience in new and innovative ways. We look forward to a bright future together.”

NTT has used artificial intelligence-enabled optical detection technology at IMS to provide information to the track’s operations and security teams, helping improve fan traffic flow and safety, the track said.

“IndyCar is a great partner for NTT Data because of our shared commitment to driving innovation, increasing sustainability and delivering amazing experiences,” NTT Data CEO Kaz Nishihata said in a release. “We also appreciate how IndyCar is so diverse, with drivers from 15 different countries, and races that range from short ovals and superspeedways to road and street courses. It’s both an incredible sport and a wonderful example for our world.”

NTT also has been instrumental in helping redesign the IndyCar app and providing more race and driver data for use in NBC Sports’ broadcasts by utilizing 140 data points from every car in the field.

“NTT is fully invested in the development and growth of our sport and has already established a terrific track record in our industry with problem-solving capabilities and access to top talent and tools,” Penske Entertainment president and CEO Mark Miles said.

Said NTT Data Services CEO Bob Pryor: “We’re thrilled to continue our collaborations that enhance and expand the fan experience for motorsports and serve as proof points for data analytics, AI, and other innovative digital technologies. For more than a century, this racing series has pioneered innovations making driving safer for everyone, and by continuing this relationship, we will accelerate the pace of innovations and new technologies, particularly related to sustainability that ultimately can benefit organizations, communities and individuals around the world.”

Starting as a Japanese telephone company, NTT grew into a $100 billion-plus tech services giant with U.S. operations based in Plano, Texas.