Gregory Lenormand / DPPI

Norris joins United Autosports’ 2018 Rolex 24 line-up

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McLaren Formula 1 youngster Lando Norris will make his endurance racing debut at next January’s Rolex 24 at Daytona with United Autosports.

Norris, 17, has stood out as one of Britain’s brightest racing talents for a number of years, and is currently racing in the FIA European Formula 3 Championship with Carlin.

Norris was picked up by McLaren to join its prestigious junior program earlier this year, with graduates including Lewis Hamilton, Kevin Magnussen and Stoffel Vandoorne.

While his 2018 racing plans remain far from confirmed, Norris can put at least one date in his diary after United Autosports announced on Thursday he would be joining Will Owen in its Ligier JS P217 for the Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway on January 27-28.

“I’m really excited to be racing for United Autosports and at Daytona. The team have proved themselves to be front runners in prototype racing and they had a great performance at the Le Mans 24 Hours last month so I’m hoping I can add to their LMP2 success,” Norris said.

“To race at Daytona will be fantastic. It will be my first 24-hour event but I can’t wait to get out in the car round such an iconic track.”

Zak Brown, co-owner of United Autosports and executive director at McLaren, added: “Lando is a great talent and I’m thrilled we have worked out a deal to have him drive for United Autosports at Daytona.

“Although he doesn’t know the car, I’m sure he will pick it up and learn from his now relatively experienced team mate Will. I’m excited to see how he gets on.”

NHRA: Dodge/Mopar unveils new Charger SRT Hellcat Funny Car in Denver

Photos/video courtesy Dodge/Mopar
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If you’re a fan of NHRA Funny Car racing and Dodge/Mopar, you may notice something different at this weekend’s Dodge Mile-High NHRA Nationals at Bandimere Speedway in suburban Denver, Colorado.

Two-time (2011 and 2014) NHRA Funny Car champ Matt Hagan – who has won the last two NHRA national events in the last four weeks – will be piloting a newly-designed 2019 Mopar Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat, a 10,000-horsepower Funny Car that was unveiled this morning ahead of Dodge/Mopar’s premier NHRA national event.

The new Charger SRT Hellcat succeeds the former Mopar Dodge Charger R/T, which had been in use since 2015.

“We improved on the body design,” Hagan said of the new Charger Hellcat. “It was already a great design, a great body. But now, we’re going to have a little more downforce, a little more traction on these racetracks and it will be a huge performance advantage.”

The new Hellcat includes a number of innovations, including a new front splitter to increase downforce. Just like its predecessor, the R/T, the Hellcat will go head-to-head with Chevrolet’s Camaro in the NHRA Funny Car ranks.

“We will be able to press harder with more downforce on the nose, which translates into huge amounts of downforce on the run,” Hagan said.

According to a media release, the new Hellcat features major design changes in three key areas: the front end, bodysides and burst panel placement:

* “At the front, the shape of the nose has been tweaked and a new splitter (photo), built of carbon fiber and Kevlar like the rest of the Funny Car body, has been added. The splitter substantially mimics the look and shape of the production vehicle’s splitter while generating greater downforce to help plant the Funny Car to the track.

* “Bodyside scallops have been redesigned to more closely identify with the production Hellcat while also enhancing on-track function and performance. The deeper character lines provide greater visual ties to the street version of the Hellcat, while also helping to mitigate the “body burn” common on all Funny Cars due to the close positioning of the exhaust headers.

* “The location of the burst panel on the hood has also been reworked. The panel is now centered over the top of the engine to more efficiently release energy and pressure in the event of engine issues, a common occurrence in race cars that are pushed to the razor’s edge of performance.”

Since the R/T was first introduced into the Don Schumacher Racing corps, it has gone on to 50 wins, 42 runner-up finishes and 40 No. 1 qualifiers in NHRA national events and one NHRA Funny Car World Championship (Ron Capps, 2016).

The new Charger SRT Hellcat, which can exceed 330-plus mph and covers 1,000 feet in under four seconds, is the drag strip version of the supercharged, 707-horsepower production Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat, the quickest, fastest and most powerful sedan in the world.

While Hagan will drive the first Hellcat, his other three Dodge-powered DSR teammates – Capps, Jack Beckman and Tommy Johnson Jr. – will soon take delivery of their own versions of the car over the remaining 11 races of the 2018 season.

One day after winning two weeks ago at Norwalk, Ohio, Hagan and crew chief Dickie Venables put the new Hellcat through its paces with several test runs. The results were so strong that it was decided to debut the car at Denver and run all qualifying and elimination rounds with it.

“We made four good, solid runs in testing at Norwalk,” said Hagan. “We put the body through a lot of different things and were really, really pleased with it.

“I really think it’s going to translate over to performance on the race track, and hopefully more win lights in the future.”

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