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Red Bull GRC: Whitten set for Supercars debut in LA

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Tanner Whitten will step up from Red Bull Global Rallycross’ GRC Lites division into Supercars for the season finale at the Port of LA this week.

See the release below for more information.

SH Rallycross/DRR announced today that Red Bull Global Rallycross Lites driver Tanner Whitten will be promoted to drive in the RBGRC Supercar division this weekend for both season-ending events at the Port of Los Angeles in San Pedro, CA.

Whitten, 23, will fill-in for Nelson Piquet Jr. and pilot the #07 WIX Filters Ford Fiesta ST for SH Rallycross/DRR on October 8, and the #07 MetRX Ford Fiesta ST on October 9. A native of Illinois, Whitten will become the first GRC Lites driver to be promoted to a full-time Supercar team in the same season that he ran in Lites.

“We are pleased to announce that Tanner will be driving the SH Rallycross/DRR car in Los Angeles,” said Dennis Reinbold, co-owner of SH Rallycross/DRR. “The opportunity presented itself with Nelson having a Formula E conflict, and we felt this was the perfect opportunity to promote a young, deserving driver up to Super Cars. We look forward to a successful weekend for both the team and our sponsors, WIX Filters and MET-Rx.”

One of the inaugural Red Bull Global Rallycross Lites test drivers in 2012, Whitten has had an impressive Lites career. He made his RBGRC Lites debut in 2015 making 12 starts finishing on the podium three times with one win and five heat race victories and a top-five spot in the standings. For 2016, he responded by earning three more podiums including a win, seven heat race victories and three straight poles. During his Lites career, Whitten has made a total of 16 starts with six podium performances including two finals wins and 12 heat victories.

“I want to thank everyone in the SH Rallycross/DRR organization for this opportunity,” said Whitten. “It is an honor to be working with the team for the season finale. Los Angeles is an amazing location to make my Supercar debut and I feel humbled to be competing at the highest level of the sport.”

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.