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Philip Island secures new long-term MotoGP contract

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Philip Island will continue to host the MotoGP Australian Grand Prix until 2026 after a new long-term contract was announced by the Victoria State Government this weekend.

The Philip Island Grand Prix Circuit first hosted the Australian Grand Prix back in 1989 before the race moved to Eastern Creek in 1991.

The race returned to Philip Island in 1997 and has remained there ever since, traditionally being held towards the end of the MotoGP season.

On Sunday, Australian minister for tourism and major events John Eren announced that a deal had been struck to keep the MotoGP race and the World Superbike rounds at Philip Island for the foreseeable future.

“Our motorsports events at Phillip Island are flagship dates on our calendar, and they’re going nowhere. Phillip Island will remain at the centre of world motorsport for many years to come,” Eren said.

“These events create a unique buzz around Phillip Island, attract visitors to Victoria from all over the globe, and show the world we have the best of everything.”

Carmelo Ezpeleta, CEO of MotoGP commercial rights’ holder Dorna, added: “The Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix and the FIM Superbike World Championship have a strong history at Phillip Island, and have become part of the Island’s fabric.

“I am delighted the Victorian Government has decided to continue this longstanding, mutually beneficial relationship.”

Zach Veach splits with Andretti Autosport for rest of IndyCar season

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Zach Veach will be leaving his Andretti Autosport ride with three races remaining in the season, choosing to explore options after the decision was made he wouldn’t return for 2021.

In a Wednesday release, Andretti Autosport said a replacement driver for the No. 26 Dallara-Honda would be named in the coming days. The NTT IndyCar Series will race Oct. 2-3 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and then conclude the season Oct. 25 on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida.

Veach was ranked 11th in the points standings through 11 races of his third season with Andretti. Since a fourth in the June 6 season opener at Texas Motor Speedway, he hadn’t finished higher than 14th.

“The decision was made that I will not be returning in 2021 with Andretti Autosport in the No. 26 Gainbridge car,” Veach said in the Andretti release. “This, along with knowing that limited testing exists for teams due to COVID, have led me to the decision to step out of the car for the remainder of the 2020 IndyCar season. I am doing this to allow the team to have time with other drivers as they prepare for 2021, and so that I can also explore my own 2021 options.

“This is the hardest decision I have ever made, but to me, racing is about family, and it is my belief that you take care of your family. Andretti Autosport is my family and I feel this is what is best to help us all reach the next step. I will forever be grateful to Michael and the team for all of their support over the years. I would not be where I am today if it wasn’t for a relationship that started many years ago with Road to Indy. I will also be forever grateful to Dan Towriss for his friendship and for the opportunity he and Gainbridge have given me.

“My love for this sport and the people involved is unmeasurable, and I look forward to continuing to be amongst the racing world and fans in 2021.”

Said team owner Michael Andretti: “We first welcomed Zach to the Andretti team back in his USF2000 days and have enjoyed watching him grow and evolve as a racer, and a person. His decision to allow us to use the last few races to explore our 2021 options shows the measure of his character.

“Zach has always placed team and family first, and we’re very happy to have had him as part of ours for so many years. We wish him the best in whatever 2021 may bring and will always consider him a friend.”

Andretti fields five full-time cars for Veach, Alexander Rossi, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Marco Andretti and Colton Herta.

It also has fielded James Hinchcliffe in three races this season.