Wurz to retire from motorsport after WEC finale

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Ex-Formula 1 driver and current GPDA chairman Alexander Wurz will retire from motorsport following the final race of the FIA World Endurance Championship season in Bahrain next weekend.

Wurz took part in 69 grands prix over 11 seasons, making his debut in 1997 with Benetton before spending much of his time in F1 as a reserve driver with McLaren and Williams.

The Austrian switched his focus to sportscars from 2008, winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans with Peugeot the following year.

Wurz joined Toyota in 2012 upon its entry to the FIA WEC, balancing his racing duties with heading up the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association from 2014.

In a statement issued on Monday, Wurz confirmed that he would be hanging up his helmet after 20 years of racing following the final WEC race in eight days’ time.

“After 12 years as a race and third driver in F1, I was lucky to indulge a passion for Le Mans Prototype racing for a further 8 seasons,” Wurz wrote.

“That means I’ve enjoyed half of my lifetime competing at the top of motorsport and another quarter of it working my way up there, so I feel the time is right to call it a day and bring my career as a professional racing driver to a close.

“I’ve a lot to be grateful for and a lot I’m proud of. My two Le Mans wins will always be the most special and unforgettable, along with the Silverstone podium in my 3rd Formula 1 race.

“In F1, I feel hugely privileged to have driven for top F1 teams like Benetton, McLaren and Williams, and added a bit of silverware to their trophy cabinets. I loved the testing and development work, collaborating with the engineers to find ever more performance.

“LMP1 brought some epic battles and crushing retirements. Nothing beats the Le Mans podiums, but the Sebring 12h, Petit Le Mans and securing Toyota’s first WEC victory were pretty special too.

“Endurance racing, especially Le Mans, has to be one of the harshest sports. I’ve lead most of the Le Mans 24h races I have raced in. But it was our 15 hour lead in last year’s race that ended with retirement that had to be the hardest. I’d put so much effort into 2014 and into the race preparation that I found it very difficult to move on after the DNF.

“In previous years, such a defeat made me come back stronger, ready to launch into the fight again, but not that time. This was the moment I knew that my time at the sharp end was coming to a natural end. The WEC Bahrain 6 Hours will mark this end.

“So a big thanks to the racing community for the challenges, the battles and the victories, and to the fans, the teams, the competitors, the organisers, the volunteers and especially to my family!

“My future will still evolve around racing, it’s in my blood after all. Anyone who knows me, knows that I always have lots of projects on the go which includes growing my road safety and race track design business.

“You will still see me around, just without the overalls.”

AJ Foyt Racing promotes Benjamin Pedersen from Indy Lights to IndyCar for 2023 season

Benjamin Pedersen AJ Foyt
AJ Foyt Racing
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Benjamin Pedersen is the first driver to land a promotion from Indy Lights into IndyCar for next season as AJ Foyt Racing confirmed Wednesday he’ll be part of its 2023 lineup.

Pedersen, a 23-year-old dual citizen of Denmark and the United States, spent last season running the full Indy Lights schedule for HMD Motorsports. Linus Lundqvist, his teammate, won the Lights title, and Pedersen finished fifth in the final standings. Pedersen earned his only win earlier this month when he led every lap from the pole at Portland.

Pedersen also ran four races for HMD in 2021 with back-to-back runner-up finishes in his debut. Pedersen landed on AJ Foyt Racing team president Larry Foyt’s radar through a “trusted colleague” and Pedersen spent most of last season shadowing the IndyCar team.

His promotion to IndyCar comes ahead of all four drivers who finished ahead of him in the Indy Lights standings, including champion Lundqvist.

“We are really looking forward to having Benjamin as part of the team,” Larry Foyt said. “His enthusiasm is infectious, and he is 100 percent committed to IndyCar, AJ Foyt Racing, and doing the best he can to win races.

“It’s been great to have him embedded with the team this past season, and everyone is excited to hit the ground running when testing begins. It is also great to have a multi-year program in place, which will help him and the team grow together.”

Foyt did not announce a car number for Pedersen. Kyle Kirkwood spent his rookie season driving AJ Foyt’s flagship No. 14 but Kirkwood is moving to Andretti Autosport. The team has not yet announced if Dalton Kellett will return for a fourth season, and a third car for Tatiana Calderon was pulled from competition after seven races because of sponsorship non-payment. Shutting down Calderon’s team removed the only semi-regular female driver from the IndyCar field.

Pedersen, however, was signed to an agreement Foyt said “spans multiple seasons as the team plans to develop the young rookie and is aligned to a longer-term plan for AJ Foyt Racing.”

Pedersen was born in Copenhagen but raised in Seattle and currently lives in Indianapolis. He said his time shadowing the IndyCar team has given him a jump on his rookie preparations.

“I’ve spent a lot of time this season with AJ Foyt Racing learning the ins and outs of making the jump to IndyCar and it’s been really nice to do that in conjunction with my Indy Lights season,” Pedersen said. “IndyCar has been my target goal since I started open wheel racing in 2016. The racing, atmosphere, fans, events, tracks, etc. are all awesome.”