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Honda readies for Red Bull GRC debut

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This weekend, the new Honda Civic Coupe debuts in the Red Bull Global Rallycross series with the Olsbergs MSE team.

Here’s its event preview along with a couple social clips:

The Honda Civic, 2016 North American Car of the Year, will be making its Red Bull Global Rallycross Championship debut in the first and second rounds at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in Phoenix, Arizona, May 20-22.

Developed from a production-model 2016 Honda Civic Coupe, the Red Bull Civics will make their way around the 12 turn, .929-mile asphalt and dirt circuit, prepared by championship-winning team Olsbergs MSE with technical assistance from Honda Performance Development. Behind the wheel, experienced drivers Joni Wiman and Sebastian Eriksson will give fans and Civic enthusiasts a neoteric look at motorsports.

Honda’s commitment to the Supercar category will showcase the 600 horsepower Civic Coupe’s acceleration from 0-60 mph in less than two seconds, as well as its aggression, airing table-top jumps in excess of 70 feet, all while battling competitors in door-to-door, heat-style racing targeted at young, performance-minded audiences.

Honda’s entry into Red Bull GRC is the latest in a diverse portfolio of North American professional and grassroots auto racing programs supported by Honda that include the Verizon IndyCar Series, WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, Pirelli World Challenge, United States F4 Championship, Formula Lites and multiple Touring car and Rally Car series.

The first and second rounds of the 2016 season kick off on Friday, with practice and qualifications. On Saturday, heat races for the first round will commence at 11:50 a.m. (EST, are we sure of the time?) with the finals taking place at 4:25 p.m. On Sunday, the finals of the second race take place at 3:05 p.m., with live coverage beginning at 2 p.m. on the NBC Sports Network.

QUOTES:

Joni Wiman (No. 31 Honda Red Bull OMSE): “I think Phoenix will be an interesting track, with the joker lap being a longer way around the track. There are some good passing opportunities, as well. Racing in the Civic will be great, too. I know the guys at the shop have been really working hard getting the car dialed in, and it’s been a lot of fun testing this offseason. We’ll be looking for some redemption in 2016.”

Sebastian Eriksson (No. 93 Honda Red Bull OMSE): “There is a lot of momentum for the team and me going into this season. Coming off a consistent season last year, I think I understand how to race in the series now, with the points championship in mind. With this being a doubleheader weekend, it’s going to be crucial to have consistency and pace early on. Debuting a new manufacturer in the series will be awesome, too. I know everyone from Red Bull to the OMSE guys and Honda are stoked to see the Civic on track against competition.”

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.