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Spencer Pigot to step up to IndyCar with RLL Racing

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Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires champion Spencer Pigot will move into the Verizon IndyCar Series with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, the team has confirmed Tuesday.

Pigot’s three-race program, courtesy of a $1 million scholarship from Mazda, will see the 22-year-old Floridian race at least at St. Petersburg, the Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis and the 100th Indianapolis 500 in a second Honda-powered entry alongside Graham Rahal.

The intent is to add more rounds, the team confirmed via a release.

While not formally confirmed yet, St. Petersburg is expected to serve as the 2016 season opener on March 13, and the pair of Indianapolis races stand as May’s two race dates.

The move comes a few weeks after Pigot noted the available options out there for him to move up into IndyCar.

“There are a lot of really good teams this year,” Pigot said during an IndyCar media teleconference. “I guess it comes down to which teams have seats available. There are some teams that are full, some one-car teams, some teams that may be looking to expand to another car.

“I think that that’s where the first conversation comes in. Just seeing who has availability for next year and whether or not they’re interested in having me drive for them. There are lots of good teams out there. I don’t really have one in mind that I really want to drive for and I’ll be disappointed if it’s not them.

“At the end of the day, we’ve seen it in IndyCar drivers from lots of different teams can be up there and win races and be on the podium. Just looking for whatever team is the best fit and we can put the strongest package together.”

Also just last week, RLL team co-owner Bobby Rahal said a second car would be “doubtful” at this stage, but didn’t rule it out entirely.

So this news today makes perfect sense for both parties.

It gives Pigot a near-perfect landing place, alongside a fellow American who overachieved in a career year last year, in a team with a well-regarded engineering staff and crew.

“I’m very excited and honored to be starting my career in the Verizon IndyCar Series with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing,” Pigot said in a team release. “It’s always been my goal to be an Indy car driver and be in the Indianapolis 500. I can’t thank everyone at RLL and Andersen Promotions enough for this opportunity.

“I think it’s a great place for me to be as a rookie because of all the experience within the team. The team is coming off a great 2015 season and hopefully we can build on that success. The 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 is going to be a very special moment for me and the highlight of my career so far. It’s what I’ve been working towards ever since I started racing. It’s the biggest race in the world and I can’t wait to be a part of it.”

Added team co-owner Bobby Rahal, “I have gotten to know Spencer over the years and have been impressed with his progression through the various series, being champion in Pro Mazda and the Indy Lights Series.  Clearly the Indy Lights platform is a very good one for young drivers trying  to reach IndyCar and I am confident that Spencer can shine with our team.

“At RLL, we have a track record of bringing young drivers in to the IndyCar Series like Danica Patrick, and giving experienced drivers new opportunities to recapture their past success like Ryan Hunter-Reay and Buddy Rice did with the team. We’re looking forward to having Spencer, another young American driver in the series, alongside Graham and are excited about what the future holds.”

F1’s Valtteri Bottas to compete in first-ever rally race in his native Finland

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Formula One’s “Flying Finn” is going back home for the first time.

More precisely, Valtteri Bottas is returning to his Finland homeland to compete in his first career rally race in the Finnish Rally Championship season opener.

Bottas, teammates on the F1 Mercedes team with five-time champ Lewis Hamilton, will compete in the World Rally Championships’ Arctic Lapland Rally from January 24-26.

He’ll team with two-time World Rally champion Timo Rautiainen in a M-Sport Ford Fiesta RS WRC on rally roads of the Finnish Arctic Circle.

“This is a unique opportunity to take a peek into the world of rallying,” Bottas told Finnish rallying website Rallism.f1. “I would like to thank everyone who has made it possible.

“It’s totally new territory for me too, as I have no prior experience of a World Rally Car. Still, being the race car driver that I am, you always go flat out whatever the vehicle you’re driving in.”

Added Rautiainen, “In my life, I’ve sat in a rally car with only three drivers, but this is such an interesting mission that I just had to accept the challenge. I believe that for a talented wheelman like Valtteri, we’ll be able to establish a good basic driving routine in testing.”

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