Alex Lynn relishing IMSA chance with WTR, also chasing Le Mans drive

© GP2 Series
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BUENOS AIRES, Argentina – British youngster Alex Lynn is relishing the opportunity to race for Wayne Taylor Racing at the 12 Hours of Sebring and Petit Le Mans, saying he wants to repay the team for taking a chance on hiring him for the races.

Lynn, 23, moved away from GP2 at the end of last year to switch his focus to sports cars, racing in the final three rounds of the FIA World Endurance Championship for Manor.

The Briton was confirmed as Max Angelelli’s replacement in the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R for the upcoming IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship races at Sebring and Road Atlanta following the veteran racer’s retirement after the Rolex 24 at Daytona last month.

“The deal with Wayne was a really, really cool one. I really wanted to get that, I’m so excited about it,” Lynn told NBC Sports.

“A big credit to him and Max for giving me the chance. It came around when I met them at Austin last year for the WEC race. I was there scouting out the WEC paddock and obviously IMSA were there as well. We had a good chat and the deal came together.

“I’m really happy to join Ricky and Jordan. We’re going testing next weekend at Sebring, it should be good. It’s an amazing car, and it’s got great winning potential as Ricky, Jordan, Max and Jeff showed. [We’ll] try and carry on that form and if we can get a good result at Sebring I’ll be really happy.

“I know that one thing Max and Wayne really wanted for the replacement was someone who had good sports car experience and loads of Sebring experience. I’ve got none!

“I feel really proud they took a chance on me and hopefully I can repay them with some good results.”

Lynn has a variety of racing commitments coming up through 2017, with a works BMW drive in the Nürburgring 24 Hours and a reserve role in Formula E with DS Virgin Racing also on his plate.

However, the 2014 GP3 Series champion still has one more event in his sights for the forthcoming year.

“I hope there is one thing to add. That would then by the cherry on the cake for a really nice 2017,” Lynn teased.

“The plan is I would like to be on the grid at Le Mans. Hopefully something can come to fruition.”

When asked if this may see him return to Manor, Lynn said: “I’m looking elsewhere outside of the LMP2 category.”

Lessons learned in three rounds of Extreme E pay huge dividends in the Copper X Prix for Tanner Foust

Foust Copper X Prix
McLaren Racing
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To paraphrase the Grateful Dead, what a long, unique trip it’s been for Tanner Foust in his first season with the Extreme E series as he took his early season lessons to Chile to compete in the Copper X Prix. And he’s learned his lessons well.

In February, McLaren announced they would expand their motorsports program with an Extreme E entry. They signed two talented rally drivers in Foust and Emma Gilmour – and paired them for the opening round in Neom, Saudi Arabia with just a few days of testing under their belts. Baked by the Arabian desert sun, it was trial by fire.

The duo performed well in their debut, advancing into the final round and finishing fifth. As Extreme E headed to another desert halfway across the globe for Round 4, it was a good time to catch up with Foust and ask about McLaren’s progress. The Copper X Prix was held this past weekend in one of the most extreme regions in the world: the Atacama Desert.

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“The shock going into the first race was the speed,” Foust told NBC Sports. “It was much higher than we had tested. We spent a lot of time around 100 miles per hour [in race trim] and our testing speeds were more in the 60 to 70-mile range. Then, once we sort of got around that, the car got updated so you can drive it even faster.”

In rally racing, some incidents are out of a driver’s control. Even peeking around another car can be dangerous because of potholes that have recently been gouged in the ground or large bushes that seem to sprout up between laps. A couple of rollovers brought Foust back to earth – but the pace was there and that was important.

“We had some challenges this season,” Foust said prior to the Copper X Prix. “We had a good start; made the final, which is a difficult thing to do in this series. I had two rolls in the first three events, but I have improved each time. Now we come into Round 4 in Chile in a pretty strong position. We have competitive times as a team. We are communicating really well and have our heads around this Odyssey vehicle.”

Foust’s words proved to be prophetic.

He won the Crazy Race – Extreme E’s version of a Last Chance Qualifier – and did so after passing the field. It was the same manner in which he qualified for Saudi Arabia’s finale, but this time things would be better. There were those hard-earned lessons on which to lean – and Foust had reps under his belt. He was not going to be caught off guard by any random obstacles.

Tanner Foust passed Sebastien Loeb heading to the Switch Zone in the Copper X Prix. (Photo by Sam Bagnall / LAT Images)

In the Copper X Prix finale, he pressured one of the best rally drivers in the history of the sport.

Pitching sideways through a tight left-hander late in his stint, Foust put his McLaren Extreme E Odyssey at the head of the pack in front of Sebastien Loeb as they headed to the Switch Zone. There, he would turn the car over to his co-driver Gilmour.

The Extreme E series pairs male and female drivers with both taking a turn behind the wheel.

After the driver change, Gilmour lost the lead momentarily to Loeb’s teammate Cristina Gutierrez, but as they charged toward the finish line, she surged ahead and crossed under the checkers first.

“What an improvement for the team over this year,” Foust said after the race. “We have struggled through some of the events, being in our first year in competition. We showed true pace this weekend; overtaking Sebastien Loeb was a highlight.

“Emma put in a great run in the Final. I was fortunate to go from last to first in the Crazy Race and then first in the Final but with some flag penalties, we had 20 seconds added to our time, which put us into fifth. It was a great feeling crossing the line first, I love this wide style track and the NEOM McLaren Odyssey was fantastic here.

“Hopefully we can continue that momentum into Uruguay.”

Loeb and Gutierrez were elevated to the top of the podium, but no one can take away the feeling of crossing under the checkers first.


Racing Responsibly

Since cars were first invented, racing has played a socially responsible role by improving safety. As Earth reaches a tipping point with climate change, racing needs to adapt to these new needs and requirements, which is where Extreme E’s unique strategy becomes increasingly important.

The Extreme E experience is more than simple racing. Each race is accompanied by a legacy program designed to offset damage done by climate change and to erase the footprint caused by the events.

Foust, a biology major from the University of Colorado, was given the chance to rekindle his interest and give back to the environment ahead of the Copper X Prix.

The Atacama is the oldest desert in the world at 150 million years. It is the driest place on earth and has the highest degree of ultraviolet light. And yet somehow life perseveres through underground rivers with oases dating back to Incan times. Foust participated in preparing a local habitat for the reintroduction of a critically endangered water frog to Chile’s longest river, the Loa, which snakes its way through the desert.

“I’m loving the experience,” Foust said. “I’m putting on a lot of Chapstick, a lot of sunscreen. What a fascinating part of the world. I never would have come here otherwise.

“I honestly am very honored to be a part of this sport. I am a huge believer in the fact that motorsports has done us good in the last 100 years. I think we benefit every single time we put our seatbelts on and drive down the road to the lessons learned in racing since the turn of the century. And I really hope motorsports continues that tradition.

“I think that motorsports like [Extreme E] does it in a responsible way, a gender-neutral way and a carbon-neutral way.”