Andretti to field No. 25 car at Sonoma; Oriol Servia to drive Wilson tribute car

4 Comments

SONOMA, Calif. – Andretti Autosport will pay tribute to Justin Wilson with his JW logo and #BadAssWilson nickname and hashtag adorning the team’s No. 25 Honda, which will run in this weekend’s GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma.

“Justin was a true racer and advocate to our sport,” team owner Michael Andretti said in a release. “We will have Justin and his family in our hearts this weekend as we honor him in the way he would want us to, by doing what he loved – racing.”

The team announced that Oriol Servia, one of Wilson’s longtime friends and on-track competitors, will take the reins of the car. Wilson, 37, died on Monday from a severe head injury sustained at Pocono Raceway last week.

“This is the most difficult quote I have ever had to come up with,” Servia said in the release. “The situation is so difficult on so many levels for obvious reasons that it’s hard for the words to come out the right way. I have known and raced Justin for more than 10 years. I have an enormous amount of respect for him as a racer, but his qualities as a human were definitely an inspiration to anyone who ever met him.

“As I said earlier this week, I truly feel he was one of these souls who has evolved a lot more than the rest of us, and it is something you could feel immediately during your first exchange with him. He will be greatly missed as we all try to emulate his spirit. I am honored and emotional with the opportunity of driving his car this weekend. I want to thank my friends at Andretti Autosport for the opportunity, and I want to express how deeply touched I am by the desire of Julia, Stefan and all the Wilson family to have me driving the No. 25. ”

“As a family, we cannot imagine a better person to race in Justin’s honor than Oriol (Servia),” said Stefan Wilson, brother to Justin and fellow IndyCar driver. “His path and Justin’s crossed in many different ways through the years. As a competitor, and also as a person, he carries Justin’s spirit well, and we know that Justin would approve.”

The No. 25 car was brought to Sonoma anyway this week, and was featured prominently in today’s Wilson motorcade tribute across the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. Marco Andretti was driving.

Servia has made one prior start this season, with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing in that team’s second car at the Indianapolis 500.

This will also mark his first start with Andretti in his career. Servia, the 41-year-old veteran who has raced in the top level of North American open-wheel racing every year but one since 2000, has previously raced with 11 other teams. Andretti marks the 12th different team he’s driven for.

Servia has written several messages paying tribute to Wilson this week, linked below.

A list of Servia’s past teams:

  • PPI Motorsports 2000
  • Sigma Autosport 2001
  • PWR Championship Racing 2002
  • Patrick Racing 2002-03
  • Dale Coyne Racing 2004-05
  • Newman/Haas, Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing 2005, 2009, 2011
  • PKV Racing, KV Racing Technology 2006-08
  • Forsythe Championship Racing 2007
  • Rahal Letterman, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing 2009, 2014-15
  • Dreyer & Reinbold Racing/Panther DRR 2012-13
  • Panther Racing 2013

WILSON TRIBUTE/DONATION INFORMATION

Additionally, American Honda Motor Company, Inc., and Honda Performance Development today announced a contribution to the Wilson Children’s Fund based on laps completed by all Honda entries in this weekend’s GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma Verizon IndyCar Series season finale at Sonoma Raceway.

The Wilson Children’s Fund was established this week to benefit the surviving daughters of Honda IndyCar driver Justin Wilson and his wife, Julia.

American Honda and HPD will contribute $50 per lap completed at Sonoma by each of the 13 Honda entries at this weekend’s race for a possible donation of just over $55,000 to the Wilson Children’s Fund.

“Justin was a valuable member of our racing program, but he also was our friend, and all of us at American Honda and HPD grieve together at his loss,” said Art St. Cyr, president of Honda Performance Development. “We’re hoping to honor his memory with this pledge, and hope that Justin’s many fans and friends can also assist the family at this tragic time.”

For anyone wishing to contribute to the Wilson Children’s Fund, please mail donations to:
Wilson Children’s Fund
c/o Forum Credit Union
PO Box 50738
Indianapolis, IN 46250-0738
*Contributions already sent to c/o INDYCAR will be forwarded on

U.K.-based supporters who wish to send cards and other condolences to Justin’s family may use the address below:
Keith Wilson c/o Lisa Davis
PalmerSport
The Old Post Office
Worthing Road
Southwater
West Sussex
RH13 9EZ

Additionally, commemorative decals and T-shirts honoring Wilson, with all proceeds going directly to the Wilson Children’s Fund, are now available from:

http://shop.ims.com/indycar/drivers/justin-wilson/

The GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma will be broadcast live on NBC Sports Network Sunday at 4 p.m. ET.

Miguel Oliveira wins MotoGP Thai Grand Prix, Bagnaia closes to two points in championship

MotoGP Thai Grand Prix
Mirco Lazzari / Getty Images
0 Comments

Miguel Oliveira mastered mixed conditions on the Chang International Circuit in Buriram, Thailand to win the MotoGP Thai Grand Prix. Oliveira showed the adaptability as he navigated a race that began in wet conditions and turned dry over the course of the race. Oliveira won the Indonesian GP in similar conditions.

“It was a long race, but I can’t complain,” Oliveira said on CNBC. “Every time we get to ride in the wet, I’m always super-fast. When it started raining, I had flashbacks of Indonesia. I tried to keep my feet on the ground, make a good start and not make mistakes and carry the bike to the end.”

All eyes were on the championship, however. Francesco Bagnaia got a great start to slot into second in Turn 1.

Meanwhile Fabio Quartararo had a disastrous first lap. He lost five positions in the first couple of turns and then rode over the rumble strips and fell back to 17th. At the end of the first lap, Bagnaia had the points’ lead by two. A win would have added to the gain and for a moment, it appeared Bagnaia might assume the lead.

Early leader Marco Bezzecchi was penalized for exceeding track limits, but before that happened, Jack Miller got around Bagnaia and pushed him back to third. Oliveira was not far behind.

After throwing away ninth-place and seven points on the last lap of the Japanese GP last week, Bagnaia did not allow the competition to press him into a mistake. He fell back as far as fourth before retaking the final position on the podium.

“It’s like a win for me, this podium,” Bagnaia. “My first podium in the wet and then there was a mix of conditions, so I’m very happy. I want to thank Jack Miller. Before the race, he gave me a motivational chat.”

Miller led the first half of the Thai Grand Prix before giving up the top spot to Oliveira and then held on to finish second. Coupled with his Japanese GP win, Miller is now fully in the MotoGP championship battle with a 40-point deficit, but he will need a string of results like Bagnaia has put together in recent weeks – and he needs Bagnaia to lose momentum.

Miller’s home Grand Prix in Australia is next up on the calendar in two weeks.

Bagnaia entered the race 18 points behind Quartararo after he failed to score any in Japan. The balance of power has rapidly shifted, however, with Quartararo now failing to earn points in two of the last three rounds. Bagnaia won four consecutive races and finished second in the five races leading up to Japan. His third-place finish in Thailand is now his sixth MotoGP podium in the last seven rounds.

Aleix Espargaro entered the race third in the standings with a 25-point deficit to Quartararo, but was able to close the gap by only five after getting hit with a long-lap penalty for aggressive riding when he pushed Darryn Binder off course during a pass for position. Espargaro finished 11th.

Rain mixed up the Moto2 running order in the MotoGP Thai Grand Prix as well. Starting on a wet track, Somkiat Chantra led the opening lap in his home Grand Prix. He could not hold onto it and crashed one circuit later, but still gave his countrymen a moment of pride by winning the pole.

Half points were awarded as the race went only eight laps before Tony Arbolino crossed under the checkers first with Filip Salac and Aron Canet rounding out the podium.

American Joe Roberts earned another top-10 in eighth with Sean Dylan Kelly finishing just outside the top 10 in 11th.