Piquet pushing for KVSH IndyCar appearances as part of possible GRC deal

Photo: NextEV NIO/LAT
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HONG KONG – Nelson Piquet Jr. hopes that he can secure some one-off appearances in the Verizon IndyCar Series with KVSH Racing in 2017 to sweeten a possible deal to race for James “Sulli” Sullivan’s team in Red Bull Global Rallycross.

Season one FIA Formula E champion Piquet expressed his desire to get a seat in IndyCar to NBC Sports in July, having previously tested with Team Penske in September 2015.

The Brazilian raced the full 2014 and 2015 Red Bull GRC seasons for SH Rallycross/DRR, headed up by Sullivan, and most recently returned for a three-race stint this year from Washington, D.C. through Seattle.

With Piquet’s FE commitments taking precedence this weekend, SH Rallycross fielded Tanner Whitten for his Supercars debut in Los Angeles, and the GRC Lites graduate banked two top-10 results.

Sebastien Bourdais has raced for KVSH’s IndyCar program since 2o14, but looks destined to join Dale Coyne Racing for 2017, and is set to test for Coyne at Gateway Motorsports Park later this week.

KVSH Racing is in the process of determining its 2017 ownership and driver plans as a result. Sullivan and team co-owner Jimmy Vasser were on site in Los Angeles this weekend for the Red Bull GRC finale.

Piquet explained in Hong Kong at last weekend’s Formula E season-opener that although a full-time seat would not be possible due to clashes with other commitments, he would like to secure some occasional run-outs as part of a new GRC deal.

“A little bit,” Piquet told NBC Sports when asked if there had been any progress on his IndyCar hopes.

“The team that I race for in rallycross, KVSH, they have IndyCar, so I’ve been pushing them to get something done because they want me to go back to do rallycross.

“I said ‘well look, try to sneak in a bit of IndyCar for me and the deal will happen even easier.’

“Not a full season, because there are clashes, but for sure to do a race here, a race there, Indy 500 – I’m gonna try and do some stuff.”

Piquet took his first Formula E pole in Hong Kong, heading up a front-row lock-out for the NextEV NIO team just 12 months after its cars occupied the final two positions on the grid.

Piquet’s hopes of victory were dashed when he was forced to take to the run-off area to avoid a crashed car, with a poor strategy call deepening the Brazilian’s plight. He eventually finished the race 11th.

“The team did an amazing job, stepping forward from where we were last year, but if we want to win races, we need to up our game even more,” Piquet explained.

“Everyone’s taking this so seriously, we have to really really push as much as we can. All I can say is that it’s frustrating, mistakes like today, and I hope the team learns.

“We need to do a better job overall because if we’re not going ot have the most efficient car and make mistakes, it’s going to hurt us even more.

“I think we need to be the best at strategies, have good qualifying and then we can salvage some good points, a few podiums here and there.”

X44 Racing win 2022 Extreme E championship as Abt Cupra score first race victory

2022 Extreme E Uruguay
Extreme E
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Abt Cupra Racing’s Nasser Al-Attiyah and Klara Andersson scored their first win in the Extreme E Energy X Prix in the 2022 finale in Uruguay as Lewis Hamilton’s X44 Vida Carbon Racing drivers Sebastien Loeb and Cristina Gutierrez survived a chaotic finale to edge the 2021 champion Rosberg X Prix team of Johan Kristoffersson and Mikhaela Ahlin-Kottulinsky, by two points.

“There are so many emotions,” Andersson said in Extreme E’s coverage. “I’ve been waiting for this for so long. In my second race, first full weekend to be at the top of the podium: it’s big.”

Andersson was behind the wheel at the finish.

Rosberg Racing entered the event with a 17-point advantage over X44, but the standings were close enough that four teams remained in contention in Round 5.

“It’s a crucial weekend for us,” Loeb said in Extreme E’s coverage prior to the race. “We are not in the best position to win the championship, but the only thing we can do is try to win the race and score as many points as possible.”

The top two title contenders each crashed in qualification and were relegated to the Crazy Race, Extreme E’s version of the Last Chance Qualifier (LCQ). For the moment, they had the steepest hill to climb, but then the other two championship contending teams, Chip Ganassi Racing and Acciona Sainz Racing failed to advance from their heats.

Only one team advances from the Crazy Race, so the X44 drivers were in a must-win situation to simply keep hope alive.

More: Extreme E 2023 schedule

Ahlin-Kottulinsky and Gutierrez ran wheel to wheel into the first turn at the start of the LCQ.

The Rosberg racer experienced crash damage in that turn that damaged her front steering, but managed to limp back to the pits at the end of her two-lap stint. The team attempted to fix the steering, but incurred a penalty for having too many mechanics in the pit area.

Meanwhile, Gutierrez took the early lead, but knew she would need to sit through a five-second penalty for an incident earlier in the weekend. The female half of the gender equal pair erased the penalty by entering the Switch Zone with a five-second lead before turning the car over to Loeb.

That was all the nine-time World Rally Championship titlist needed to give him the advantage needed to win the Crazy Race.

But the championship was not over yet. X44 Racing needed to finish third or better in the five-car finale to earn enough points for the title and after advancing from the LCQ, they were forced to take the worst grid position.

A chaotic start to the Finale saw Loeb run as high the lead and low as fourth after getting pushed off course during his first lap. And that is how he entered to Switch Zone.

On her first lap, Gutierrez slammed into Molly Taylor. With one lap remaining, X44 and Gutierrez were still in fourth and the title hope was quickly evaporating, but it was announced halfway through the lap that the third-running Andretti United team would suffer a penalty for a Switch Zone infraction. The seven-second deduction for Timmy Hansen braking too late in the zone made the difference in the title.

Coming off a disappointing Copper X Prix when Tanner Foust and Emma Gilmour crossed under the checkers first, but were relegated to fifth by penalty, the McLaren pair scored their first podium of the season in second.