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Nicolas Dapero steps up to Indy Lights with Juncos Racing

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Juncos Racing has announced its first driver for the 2017 Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires season, with Nicolas Dapero set to step up from the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires series.

The young Argentine, who will turn 18 on December 31, has enjoyed a couple successful tests with Ricardo Juncos’ team this offseason. He was part of Juncos’ driver development program in 2015 before advancing into Pro Mazda this past season from karting.

Dapero was one of only two drivers – Nico Jamin the other for Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing – who stopped the Team Pelfrey juggernaut in its tracks this season. He won his first race at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in September, and finished fifth in points after showing steady improvement throughout the year.

“I am so excited to move up to the Indy Lights series,” said Dapero. “I’m really excited to keep my career going with Juncos Racing! They are more than a team for me, they are like family. We will work harder than ever to be as competitive in each event. I don’t have a doubt that we will be really strong next year. I am really looking forward to a great season and I want to thank all of the people who have made this possible. I especially want to thank my family, Marcos Tenaglia, Marcelo La Manna, and the whole Juncos Racing crew for their great support they have for me!”

Juncos added, “I am extremely happy to announce Nico (Dapero) will be back for another season with Juncos Racing. He proved to be a top driver in the 2016 Pro Mazda Championship finishing on the podium multiple times, and even earning his first win at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Nico has shown great consistency and always finds a way to improve his skills behind the wheel. I am confident he will have a great rookie season in the Indy Lights series and I look forward to helping him improve into the next level of his racing career. I want to thank Nico for his commitment to the team, along with his family and sponsors who have been a big part of Nico’s successful career.”

Juncos Racing will continue at least as a two-car team into 2017, with the possibility of a third car added. Andre Negrao tested for the team at the Chris Griffis Memorial Mazda Road to Indy Test in October, and the Brazilian would need a new landing spot after the Schmidt Peterson Motorsports team ceased operations earlier this month. It remains to be seen whether Kyle Kaiser will return for a third season. Either of these two would be a good veteran driver for Dapero to learn from next season.

Valtteri Bottas fastest in Friday F1 practices for Russian Grand Prix

F1 Sochi Valtteri Bottas
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SOCHI, Russia — Valtteri Bottas paced both F1 practices Friday for the Russian Grand Prix on Friday as Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton was slowed by damaged tires in the first session.

Bottas turned a fast lap of 1 minute, 33.519 seconds in the second session that bettered Hamilton’s 1:33.786.

Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo was more than a second behind Bottas in third at 1:34.577, followed by the McLaren Racing duo of Carlos Sainz Jr. (1:34.723) and Lando Norris (1:34.847).

In the first F1 session at Sochi, Valtteri Bottas set the pace with a time of 1 minute, 34.923 seconds, beating Ricciardo by half a second. Max Verstappen was third quickest in his Red Bull, a further 0.147 back.

Hamilton could only manage 19th fastest after locking up his tires and leaving them with a flat spot. Ferrari again struggled to find pace with Sebastian Vettel ninth and Charles Leclerc 11th.

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The first session was briefly red-flagged when Nicholas Latifi crashed his Williams. Carlos Sainz Jr. spun his McLaren backward into a barrier and broke off his rear wing.

Verstappen spun during the second session but avoided damage to his car.