Rosenqvist will test for Belardi’s Indy Lights team

Photo: Belardi Auto Racing

Felix Rosenqvist will join previously confirmed Zach Veach for Belardi Auto Racing at next week’s Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires test at Homestead-Miami Speedway, on the road course. It’s the series’ first official test of the new year.

It’ll be a busy week for the 24-year-old Swede, who will test Tuesday and Wednesday at Homestead, then head north to Daytona to compete in his first Rolex 24 at Daytona with Starworks Motorsport in one of Peter Baron’s Oreca FLM09s.

This will mark his second Indy Lights test, following on from a successful private test at Palm Beach International Raceway with Team Pelfrey.

“We’re thrilled to have Felix in our second car alongside Zach for the Homestead test and we’re very keen on his running in Belardi red and white this season,” team principal Brian Belardi said in a release. “They both have race-winning pedigrees. Zach has in-depth knowledge of the Mazda Road to Indy venues, and he knows how to win.  I know that first-hand, as we had to fight him all year to take the title in 2014.

“Felix is equally as talented and has a well-developed understanding of the sport and the racecar itself.  His resume speaks for it. If we can firm up this team, we’ll be gunning to bring the title back to Brownsburg at the end of 2016.”

Veach is projected if not outright confirmed for a full season and the team still has its second seat to fill. Felix Serralles has signed with Carlin and Juan Piedrahita has been linked, incidentally, to Pelfrey.

Hunter and Jett Lawrence walk a delicate balance between winning races and favoring the fans

Hunter Jett Lawrence fans
Align Media

ANAHEIM, California – Hunter and Jett Lawrence are two of the most popular riders on the Monster Energy Supercross circuit, with fan bases that established and grew immediately when they came to America to ride for HRC Honda. Connecting with those fans came naturally for the charming Australian brothers, but it has not come without cost.

“It’s cool they’re there and it’s one of the things we try to do is give the fan that interaction,” Hunter told NBC Sports during Supercross Media Sessions ahead of the 2023 season. “It’s why we do ride days, meet-and-greets, press conferences  – all that stuff, because it’s exciting for them. We are trying to bridge the gap so they get personal interaction. Because that’s all they’re after. It’s all about getting that fan to think, ‘I know that guy. I didn’t meet him, but I get him. I get his humor.’ ”

There is no artifice in either brother. Their fan appeal is directly attributable to who they are at their core. And it’s that very genuineness that has throngs of fans standing outside their hauler, waiting for just a moment of their time.

“It’s about being yourself – talking to people,” Hunter said. “It’s not like I turn it on or turn it off; it’s just about being yourself. This is who we are, this is who you get and this is how it will be. You can’t portray something you’re not. If you keep saying you’re an orange, but apples keep popping out, it’s only a matter of time [until they figure it out].”

The key word is ‘throngs’, however. One person wanting just a few moments of time is incidental. Dozens are an entirely different matter.

“It’s tough in Supercross because it’s such a long day,” Hunter said. “The recovery side of it’s tough to do everything. We get stuck outside the grid; we can’t be there for like 10 minutes. We’re stuck there for like an hour. It gets overwhelming at times.

“You feel bad because you want to sign everything, but you’re still here for a job. Every race day is like that. We do the best we can, but there are so many people who wait out front. They’re screaming for you. Even when we’re coming off the sessions, they’re already yelling before you put your bike on the stands. You don’t even get time to take you helmet off.”

It can be a double-edged sword. Personality is only one part of the equation. A much bigger part of the brothers’ fan appeal comes because of their success. Hunter finished second in the last two Supercross 250 West title battles and third in the past two Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championships.

Jett won the last three titles he competed for, including last year’s 250 East Supercross Championship and the last two Motocross contests.

“I think they expect me to have nothing else to do on a Saturday and that I have unlimited energy,” Jett said. “But, I’m trying to recover for the next race.”

It’s a matter of timing. Jett has gained a reputation last year for handing out hundreds of donuts before the races during Red Bull fan appreciation sessions. And after the race, once the business at hand has been settled, Jett is equally available to the fans.

“After the race it’s fine; I’ll stay behind.” Jett said. “My job is done on the racing side of things, but until that last moto is done, my main thing is dirt bikes. The fans come along with it. The fans are part of the job, but main job at hand is the racing side of things. After the race, I’ll stay there for an hour or so. It’s a lot calmer.”