Antonio Felix da Costa ‘unlikely’ to make Super Formula move

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BUENOS AIRES, Argentina – Andretti Formula E driver Antonio Felix da Costa says a move into the Japanese Super Formula series for 2017 is looking unlikely despite talks being held.

Da Costa balances his Andretti Formula E commitments with a role at BMW, having previously raced for the German marque’s DTM team.

Reports last month linked da Costa with a move into Super Formula for 2017, the series being a favorite for many drivers including McLaren Formula 1 racer Stoffel Vandoorne and endurance star Andre Lotterer.

Despite being subject to approaches from multiple teams and having a strong interest in the series himself, da Costa said that a move for 2017 is now looking unlikely.

“Things started in Macau actually before the final race on Saturday night, a couple of talks started to come up,” da Costa told NBC Sports.

“Basically Honda and Toyota, they found out they were both interested in myself. That kind of projected things a bit which was great, and I ended up winning on Sunday which helped me in that market.

“Again, it’s a really quick car with a lot of good drivers and nice tracks, a very good culture that I would like to try.

“But at the end of the day, it’s just getting in a really quick car and driving fast cars on fast laps. It’s a little bit more unlikely now if I’m honest.”

Were da Costa to race in Super Formula full-time this year, it would have to be with the Toyota-backed Sunoco Team LeMans as all other seats are taken.

“I think they’re exploring their options. They’re keeping me in the loop and we’re staying in contact,” da Costa said.

“But if I’m honest it’s a little bit unlikely.”

Even without Super Formula, da Costa is poised to enjoy a busy 2017, having recently been named as one of BMW’s development drivers for its new GTE car that will race in the FIA World Endurance Championship from 2018.

“We’re going to go testing very soon. That’s an exciting thing, being on a new project and starting from zero,” da Costa said.

“You get to decide where you want the seat, where you want the buttons, where you want the screens.

“And that’s really cool for me at 25 to be with a manufacturer that is known all over the world and involved in something like that.

“So I’ll be busy, that’s for sure.”

Hunter and Jett Lawrence walk a delicate balance between winning races and favoring the fans

Hunter Jett Lawrence fans
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ANAHEIM, California – Hunter and Jett Lawrence are two of the most popular riders on the Monster Energy Supercross circuit, with fan bases that established and grew immediately when they came to America to ride for HRC Honda. Connecting with those fans came naturally for the charming Australian brothers, but it has not come without cost.

“It’s cool they’re there and it’s one of the things we try to do is give the fan that interaction,” Hunter told NBC Sports during Supercross Media Sessions ahead of the 2023 season. “It’s why we do ride days, meet-and-greets, press conferences  – all that stuff, because it’s exciting for them. We are trying to bridge the gap so they get personal interaction. Because that’s all they’re after. It’s all about getting that fan to think, ‘I know that guy. I didn’t meet him, but I get him. I get his humor.’ ”

There is no artifice in either brother. Their fan appeal is directly attributable to who they are at their core. And it’s that very genuineness that has throngs of fans standing outside their hauler, waiting for just a moment of their time.

“It’s about being yourself – talking to people,” Hunter said. “It’s not like I turn it on or turn it off; it’s just about being yourself. This is who we are, this is who you get and this is how it will be. You can’t portray something you’re not. If you keep saying you’re an orange, but apples keep popping out, it’s only a matter of time [until they figure it out].”

The key word is ‘throngs’, however. One person wanting just a few moments of time is incidental. Dozens are an entirely different matter.

“It’s tough in Supercross because it’s such a long day,” Hunter said. “The recovery side of it’s tough to do everything. We get stuck outside the grid; we can’t be there for like 10 minutes. We’re stuck there for like an hour. It gets overwhelming at times.

“You feel bad because you want to sign everything, but you’re still here for a job. Every race day is like that. We do the best we can, but there are so many people who wait out front. They’re screaming for you. Even when we’re coming off the sessions, they’re already yelling before you put your bike on the stands. You don’t even get time to take you helmet off.”

It can be a double-edged sword. Personality is only one part of the equation. A much bigger part of the brothers’ fan appeal comes because of their success. Hunter finished second in the last two Supercross 250 West title battles and third in the past two Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championships.

Jett won the last three titles he competed for, including last year’s 250 East Supercross Championship and the last two Motocross contests.

“I think they expect me to have nothing else to do on a Saturday and that I have unlimited energy,” Jett said. “But, I’m trying to recover for the next race.”

It’s a matter of timing. Jett has gained a reputation last year for handing out hundreds of donuts before the races during Red Bull fan appreciation sessions. And after the race, once the business at hand has been settled, Jett is equally available to the fans.

“After the race it’s fine; I’ll stay behind.” Jett said. “My job is done on the racing side of things, but until that last moto is done, my main thing is dirt bikes. The fans come along with it. The fans are part of the job, but main job at hand is the racing side of things. After the race, I’ll stay there for an hour or so. It’s a lot calmer.”