Lally comes ‘home’ to Magnus Racing for 2018

Photo courtesy of IMSA
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Andy Lally’s one-year move to the Michael Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3 program produced the new GT3 car’s first two wins and several podiums, but he’ll be back with Magnus Racing in 2018.

Lally was a Magnus regular from 2012 through 2016, with a number of accolades achieved including: its first win in the 50th running of the Rolex 24 at Daytona, a Brickyard win, Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup titles and 2014 Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring and 2016 Daytona wins.

“I couldn’t be happier to return to my family at Magnus,” Lally said. “Some of my best memories in my career are with the team, and it’s great to return with them in 2018. I would really like to express my gratitude to Michael Shank Racing and HPD for a tremendous 2017, and it was not an easy decision to return to John Potter and everyone at Magnus, but it felt like the right move. There’s a lot in motion right now, but I believe we’ll immediately be in a position to contend, and I’m excited to get the season going.”

Lally is the second Shank driver to have found another slot next year, Jeff Segal having been confirmed as a fourth driver for the Rolex 24 at Daytona with Scuderia Corsa alongside that car’s new full-season pairing of Alessandro Balzan and Cooper MacNeil, and third driver Gunnar Jeannette. Katherine Legge may return to the Shank Acura program and Ozz Negri, a Shank lifer, is sorting out his 2018 plans at the moment as well.

Magnus hasn’t formally confirmed which series it will compete in next year, but it’s anticipated to move back to IMSA competition after a one-year sojourn to Pirelli World Challenge per Sportscar365 and other sources to NBC Sports. If the California 8 Hours was Magnus’ PWC swan song, it was a good one, as the Audi Sport Team Magnus lineup won it with Pierre Kaffer, Markus Winkelhock and Kelvin van der Linde.

“It’s great to have Andy back with the team,” stated Magnus Racing team owner John Potter. “The relationship between Andy and our team has always been strong, and we’re thrilled to see him return for 2018. The extent of our program is still a work in progress, but it’s a great testament to our organization that Andy is willing to return after having a strong 2017, and we’re thrilled to have him. The specifics of next year are still a work in progress, but we’re excited to secure a major piece of the puzzle.”

Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez and Formula One embrace the United States

Verstappen Perez United States
Jared C. Tilton / Getty Images
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Last week, Red Bull Racing revealed their new car, the RB19, and a new relationship with US-based Ford Motors in a press event in New York City complete with drivers Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez and Team Principle Christian Horner. They are the only Formula 1 team to launch in the United States, but even that small move of the needle reflects a major shift in the attitude of both F1’s management and their teams – and the extent to which the American audience has fully embraced the sport.

“It’s something fantastic and unique, for the sport to be able to break it into the U.S,” Perez told NBC Sports. “The market is huge and it’s a huge opportunity for everyone involved, for the drivers, for the team. It’s always a huge market.”

Verstappen Perez United States
Sergio Perez finished fourth in the Unites States Grand Prix, but he was first with the fans.  – Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

In 2023, Formula 1 will race three times in the United States and five times in North America. The Circuit of the Americas will host their 11th consecutive race in October before heading south to Mexico City. Miami returns for a second time in May on a temporary street course around the Hard Rock cafe and the third addition is in downtown Las Vegas in November.

With the Canadian Grand Prix on the schedule for June and the Brazilian Grand Prix in November, American fans are now in the ballpark of Europeans, who have eight events on the continent and one in England.

In 2022, Verstappen won every race in North America. He was kept from sweeping the hemisphere only by George Russell, who won in Brazil. That fact is less remarkable when one considers that Verstappen won 15 times in the season – nearly two-thirds of the races on the schedule.

By the time Formula arrived in Austin for Round 20 of 23, Verstappen had already wrapped up his second consecutive championship.

“Sometimes it can be hard to replicate the season, but I think it’s the same as with the car, right? You always try to improve it,” Verstappen told NBC Sports. “And I always look at the little details that even when you have had a good race, you could have done better. And then of course you also learn from the bad races. So we always try to look for these little improvements and general experience you gain year after year.

“You try to do better, but of course it also depends a lot on the package you have.”

Verstappen Perez United States
Max Verstappen United States Grand Prix win was one of 15 for the drivers and 17 for Red Bull.
(Gongora / NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Now Verstappen’s thoughts will inevitably turn to establishing a dynasty – and America will again play a pivotal role.

“I just enjoy what I’m doing,” Verstappen said.  “After the years in Formula One, when you have to be on top of your game and you gain a lot on your experience – in that sense nothing really can get to you anymore. Every year you just try to do the best you can. But a lot depends on the material around you. It’s always a bit of a guess. Start the season as fit as you can be and be well prepared. But if you don’t have the car, you’re not going to win the championship.”

Perez added two wins to Red Bull’s total, at Monaco and the Marina Bay Street course. With two of the US 2023 races on street courses, Perez hopes to close the gap on Verstappen and potentially be his principle rival for the championship.

“The strategy is clear; it is to maximize the potential of the car – and we believe we have a good car, but how good?,” Perez said “We don’t know what the competition is doing. We just give our best in building this car and we hope that it’s good enough to get us to win races.

“I think we have to work together as a team. At the same time. We both want to win the championship. It’s just having good compromise. The competition will be really strong out there, so we really need everything we possibly can get from each other.”

Formula One returns to the United States for Round 6 and the Miami Grand Prix on May 7.