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Red Bull GRC: Thompson kicks off doubleheader portion of 2017

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Red Bull Global Rallycross heads to Thompson Speedway in Connecticut this weekend where the points could shift significantly for the first time, as the first of four doubleheader weekends in the 2017 season.

Both Saturday and Sunday races will air at 5 p.m. ET on NBC.

Thus far Scott Speed (Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross) and Sebastian Eriksson (Honda Red Bull Olsbergs MSE) have split the two wins at Memphis and Louisville.

Speed leads the championship by 10 points over teammate Tanner Foust (150-140), but the top seven in points are only separated by 45 in total, from 150 for Speed to 105 for seventh-placed Cabot Bigham of Bryan Herta Rallysport.

Steve Arpin, who sits third in points, has a pair of podiums in the privateer Loenbro Ford and was unlucky to get edged out by just 0.071 of a second last time out in Louisville. He’s on 133 points with Eriksson fourth on 129.

In the doubleheader races last year, Foust swept in Phoenix, Arpin and Foust split in Daytona, and Speed and Brian Deegan split in Los Angeles. The MCAS New River weekend was meant to be a doubleheader before the second race of the weekend was washed out, and not rescheduled.

Going back to 2015, the Daytona and Detroit doubleheaders also saw split winners before Speed (Los Angeles) and Foust (Barbados) won the final four races of doubleheaders that season.

All told, that means there’s been nine Volkswagen Andretti final round wins as part of doubleheader weekends in the last two years (five in eight 2015 races, four in six 2016 races). The last weekend Andretti did not win at least one race in a doubleheader came at Detroit in 2015, when Ken Block (Hoonigan Ford) and Patrik Sandell (Herta Ford) split that weekend.

At 0.895 of a mile, the Thompson track this weekend is a bit longer than Louisville last race, with just over 35 percent dirt.

Speed and Foust will look to uphold the Volkswagen Andretti honor in doubleheaders, while Arpin, the Hondas, Subarus or Bigham or Austin Dyne will look to play spoiler.

Points Entering:

1-41-Scott Speed, Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross, 150
2-34-Tanner Foust, Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross, 140
3-00-Steve Arpin, Loenbro Motorsports, 133
4-93-Sebastian Eriksson, Honda Red Bull OMSE, 129
5-24-Mitchell deJong, Honda Red Bull OMSE, 123
6-16-Oliver Eriksson, Honda Red Bull OMSE, 110
7-2-Cabot Bigham, Bryan Herta Rallysport, 105
8-55-Chris Atkinson, Subaru Rally Team USA, 57
9-14-Austin Dyne, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, 54
10-18-Patrik Sandell, Subaru Rally Team USA, 53

Daniel Ricciardo to decide soon about moving from Red Bull to another F1 team

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LE CASTELLET, France (AP) Daniel Ricciardo says over the next six weeks he wants to decide between staying at Red Bull or joining another Formula One team for next year.

Ricciardo said on Thursday at the French Grand Prix, “It would be nice to go on the summer break knowing what I am doing.”

F1 is working its way toward its three-week break in August with speculation mounting that Mercedes, Ferrari, and McLaren are interested in luring Ricciardo away from Red Bull for 2019.

“I will be honest, everyone is talking about Mercedes and Ferrari as potential places for me to go, and I am aware that there will be interest from other teams,” he said.

The Australian driver has won seven races in his four-plus seasons with Red Bull. He is fourth in the standings behind leader Sebastian Vettel heading into the race at the Paul Ricard Circuit near Marseille.

Ricciardo’s stock has risen in recent months after his victories in Shanghai and Monaco. His Monaco win was particularly impressive because Ricciardo had to deploy some masterful defensive driving to protect his lead after losing an estimated 25 percent of his engine power.

Ricciardo said he had not directly spoken to rivals Ferrari and Mercedes, but he hedged when asked if his manager had.

“People talk, have coffees, I will leave that one open-ended,” he said with a laugh.

Ricciardo called the decision on whether to go or stay with Red Bull the biggest choice of his career following his decision to leave his native Australia and continue his racing career in Europe over a decade ago.

“For sure the priority is to get a car to win the world title because I really believe I can,” he said. “I am slightly careful because it is easy to think the grass is greener and maybe it is, but I also have it pretty good where I am.

“People do like a change but just to make change for the sake of making a change is not enough for me. I need to find some substance behind it to jump ship.”

Red Bull announced recently it would be ending its 12-year partnership with engine-maker Renault and switching to Honda motors for next year.

Ricciardo was hesitant to endorse or criticize the change, saying he was going to “try to keep putting the pieces together if it is a good move.”

But with the question of the engine manufacturer out of the way, Ricciardo said Red Bull would likely be looking to resolve its drivers’ lineup for next year.

“I haven’t been pushed yet, but I would say that there will be some movement in the next week,” he said. “Whether that is something that gets put down on paper (or not), for sure the discussions will start to ramp up in the next few days.”