Photo: Dreyer & Reinbold Racing

Red Bull GRC: Tanner Whitten joins DRR GRC Lites effort

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One of the top GRC Lites competitors in the Red Bull Global Rallycross series, Tanner Whitten, will return to the division for another season in 2016. He’ll join the previously announced Cabot Bigham at Dreyer & Reinbold Racing.

The full release is below:

Dreyer & Reinbold Racing (DRR) welcomes Tanner Whitten, 2015 Red Bull Global Rallycross feature winner, to its team for the 2016 Red Bull Global Rallycross (GRC) season. Whitten will drive select races in the No. 24 DRR Red Bull GRC Lites car and showcase DRR partner WIX® Filters primary livery at the legendary Daytona International Speedway June 17-19.

Whitten, 23, battled for the GRC Lites point championship in 2015 after recording a main event win at Belle Isle in Detroit and placing second at Daytona International Speedway in June. Whitten also recorded three podium finishes last year, five qualifying heat wins and one qualifying pole position. Whitten scored a fifth place finishing position in the 2015 GRC Lites Championship as a rookie.

The former late model stock car racer is scheduled to campaign in numerous 2016 GRC Lites events beginning in Dallas on June 4, Washington State on Sept. 17 and the Port of Los Angeles Oct. 8-9.

“Tanner Whitten is a remarkable young driver, and we’re excited to be partnering with him and the DRR team this race season,” said Jennifer Gibson, brand manager of WIX. “It’s this kind of passion and energy that WIX loves to be a part of each year. These opportunities allow us to continue our longtime support of racing and reach new fans. It’s a win-win.”

WIX products include oil, air and fuel filters that have been track-tested and proven in all levels of stock car, dirt track, off-road and drag racing. WIX uses motorsports as a grueling testing ground for scenarios involving high temperatures, fluctuations in pressure and rapid breakdown of engine oil.

“It’s exciting to be joining a very strong and proven operation with the Dreyer & Reinbold Racing team in 2016,” said Whitten, who was 2010 Rookie of the Year in the NASCAR Whelen stock car series. “I enjoyed a good rookie season last year with the Detroit win and several podium finishes. The DRR team has proven to field very competitive cars in both GRC SuperCar and Lites divisions. I saw their machines last year in action, and I’m anxious to race with DRR in 2016. I can’t wait for my first race at Dallas next month.”

DRR will field two Red Bull GRC Lites machines in 2016, including the No. 2 DRR Red Bull GRC Lites entry with newcomer Cabot Bigham and Paratek Pharmaceuticals. Coming off a 2015 season with four race wins and eight podium finishes, DRR is poised for continued success in 2016. The DRR organization has been a successful team in the Verizon IndyCar Series since 2000 and continues to expand its effort within both Red Bull GRC SuperCar and Lites series.

“We’re very excited to add Tanner to our 2016 driver lineup for the DRR Red Bull GRC team. Tanner is a team player and has quickly become a part of our racing family. It’s an honor to continue our partnership with WIX within the Lites series, and we’re thrilled to announce additional news about this partnership very soon so stay tuned,” said Dennis Reinbold, team owner of Dreyer & Reinbold Racing.

Former Indy 500 champion Buddy Rice again will serve as a driver consultant and program manager for DRR’s GRC Lites program. DRR will continue to utilize many of his personnel from its IndyCar team, including engineering, mechanical, shock and damper, and management staff.

F1 tests: Mercedes innovates with wheel adjustment system

Photo by Charles Coates/Getty Images
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MONTMELÓ, Spain — Veteran Kimi Raikkonen set the fastest time on the second day of Formula One preseason testing on Thursday, but Mercedes still garnered more attention by introducing an innovative wheel adjustment system.

On-board footage showed defending champion Lewis Hamilton pulling the steering wheel back and forth on the front straight to apparently change the angle of the front wheels on his Mercedes car.

The team stayed tight-lipped about the car’s new feature but guaranteed it was “safe” and “legal.”

“I probably won’t shed a great deal more light than what you saw on the TV but yeah we have a system in the car, it’s a novel idea,” team technical director James Allison told F1 TV. ”We’ve got a name for it, it’s called DAS, if you’re interested, and it just introduces an extra dimension for the steering, for the driver, which we hope will be useful during the year. But precisely how we use it and why we use it, that’s something we will keep to ourselves.”

Allison said governing body FIA knew in advance that the team was introducing the new system.

“It’s something we’ve been talking to them (about) for some time,” he said. “The rules are pretty clear about what’s permitted on steering systems and we’re pretty confident that it matches those requirements. I’m pleased we got it on the car, it seems to be useful, and we’ll see over the coming days how it benefits us.”

Hamilton said he was still trying to get used to the system, but praised the team for coming up with the innovation.

“I’ve only had one morning on (it, so) I don’t really have a lot to talk about with it. We’re trying to get on top of it, understand it, but safety-wise no problem today and the FIA are OK with the project.

“For me it’s really encouraging to see that my team is continuing to innovate and stay ahead of the game, and I think that’s down to the great minds in the team and so hopefully that’ll work to our benefit.”

Hamilton led the time charts on Wednesday but was only ninth-fastest on Thursday.

MORE: Lewis Hamilton, Valtteri Bottas fastest in Day 1 of F1 practice
MORE: Sergio Perez fastest early on Day 2 of F1 Practice

The 40-year-old Raikkonen, who has a chance this season to break the record for most race starts in F1, was fastest with a time of 1 minute, 17.091 seconds in his Alfa Romea. He was 0.2 seconds quicker than Sergio Pérez with Racing Point. Daniel Ricciardo of Renault was third.

Raikkonen caused a red flag near the end of the afternoon session when his car stopped on the track with an apparent mechanical issue. The Finnish driver had spun earlier in the session, as did Valtteri Bottas of Mercedes, Romain Grosjean of Haas and Pierre Gasly of Alpha Tauri, formerly known as Toro Rosso.

Grosjean had the most laps among the 13 drivers who went to the track on Thursday, with 158.

Bottas was the slowest driver of the day, while Sebastian Vettel was sixth-fastest with Ferrari.

Pérez had set the quickest time in the morning session. The Mexican driver had been third fastest on Wednesday, behind Hamilton and Bottas.

Drivers will be back on the track on Friday to close out the first week of testing. Teams will have another three days to test next week.

Preseason testing has been reduced from eight to six days to help compensate for the record 22 races on the calendar, including a new Vietnam Grand Prix and the return of the Dutch GP. Midseason testing also has been eliminated.

The season opens on March 15 at the Australian GP.

The Barcelona-Catalunya track will host the Spanish GP on May 10.