Carlin among new entrants to Formula 2 for 2018 season

FIA Formula 2
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Carlin will expand its racing duties to encompass FIA Formula 2 from the 2018 season, with signs pointing to a link up with McLaren-backed youngster Lando Norris for a title bid next year.

Carlin raced in GP2 between 2011 and 2016 before stepping away from the category ahead of its rebranding as F2 for 2017, allowing it to focus more on its racing interests in series such as Indy Lights, where it won the title last year with Ed Jones.

The team has worked with Norris since 2015 when he won the British Formula 4 title, with their relationship yielding a maiden crown in the FIA European Formula 3 series this year.

Norris is set to move into either Super Formula or F2 for 2018, making his debut in the latter next weekend in Abu Dhabi, but looks set to line up in Carlin colors next year after its return to the category was confirmed.

In an official release issued by F2 on Thursday, it was confirmed that Carlin, Fortec Motorsports and Charouz Racing System will all join the series next year, with Russian Time and Rapax departing.

A slot has also been left ‘TBC’ amid significant interest for a 12th entry to F2 for the 2018 season.

“We’re happy to announce our line-up for next season. We have decided to remain loyal to the majority of our existing teams who know the Championship well and are strong assets to nurture young drivers,” F2 CEO Bruno Michel said.

“We are pleased to welcome Carlin, Fortec and Charouz to the grid. They will get their first taste of F2 early 2018 at the new car shakedown which date will be announced in the coming weeks.

“We have received high-quality requests from many teams who wish to join our championship. Therefore, we keep open the possibility to add a 12th team to our line-up before the end of this year.”

Carlin is also poised to expand to the Verizon IndyCar Series as well in 2018, although the team has not confirmed those intentions or rumors that have percolated over the last several months.

2018 FIA Formula 2 – Entry List

Arden International (GBR)
ART Grand Prix (FRA)
Campos Racing (ESP)
Carlin (GBR)
Charouz Racing System (CZE)
DAMS (FRA)
Fortec Motorsports (GBR)
MP Motorsport (NLD)
PREMA Racing (ITA)
Racing Engineering (ESP)
Trident (ITA)
TBC

Meyer Shank Racing wins Petit Le Mans to take final DPi championship in dramatic finale

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Meyer Shank Racing outdueled Wayne Taylor Racing to win the Petit Le Mans and clinch the championship in a thrilling final race for the DPi division.

Tom Blomqvist, who started from the pole position, drove the No. 60 Acura ARX-05 to a 4.369-second victory over Pipo Derani in the No. 31 Action Express Cadillac.

“That was incredible,” Blomqvist told NBC Sports’ Matt Yocum. “I’ve never dug so deep in my life. The adrenaline. I did that for the guys. I was so motivated to win this thing this weekend. But I’ve got to thank everyone on the whole team.”

With co-drivers Oliver Jarvis and Helio Castroneves, Blomqvist helped MSR bookend its season-opening victory in the Rolex 24 at Daytona by winning Saturday’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season finale at Michelin Road Atlanta.

In between those two victories, the No. 60 earned five runner-up finishes to stay in the thick of the championship hunt and trail WTR’s No. 10 Acura by 14 points entering Saturday’s race.

WTR’s Filipe Albuquerque had a lead of more than 10 seconds over Blomqvist with less than 50 minutes remaining in the 10-hour race.

But a Turn 1 crash between the Chip Ganassi Racing Cadillacs brought out a yellow that sent both Acuras into the pits from the top two positions.

Though he entered in second, Blomqvist barely beat Albuquerque out of the pits, and he held the lead for the final 45 minutes.

Blomqvist said he gained the lead because of a shorter fuel fill after he had worked on being efficient in the second-to-last stint.

“The team asked a big job of me with the fuel; I had a big fuel number to hit,” Blomqvist said. “We knew that was probably our only chance. The yellow came at the right time and obviously we had a bit less fuel to fill up, so I was able to jump him and then it was just a matter of going gung-ho and not leaving anything on the line. And obviously, the opposition had to try too hard to make it work. I’m so thankful.”

Albuquerque closed within a few car lengths of Blomqvist with 14 minutes remaining, but he damaged his suspension because of contact with a GT car in Turn 1.

It’s the first prototype championship for Meyer Shank Racing, which also won the 2021 Indy 500 with Castroneves.

“We’ve had in the last four years, three championships for Acura, the Indy 500 win and the Rolex 24, it doesn’t get any better,” team co-owner Mike Shank told NBC Sports’ Kevin Lee.

It’s the third consecutive runner-up finish in the points standings for Wayne Taylor Racing, which won the first Daytona Prototype international championship in 2017. The premier category will be rebranded as the Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) class with the LMDh cars that will establish a bridge to racing in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Kamui Kobayashi finished third in the No. 48 Cadillac of Action Express that also includes Jimmie Johnson and Mike Rockenfeller.

The podium showing marked Johnson’s last scheduled race in IMSA’s top prototype division. The seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion has raced in the No. 48 Ally Cadillac lineup as the Action Express entry has run the Endurance Cup races.

Johnson said a lack of inventory will preclude him having a 2023 ride in the top category. But he still is hopeful of racing the Garage 56 Next Gen Camaro in next year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans and possibly running in a lower class for the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

“I’d love to be at Le Mans next year,” Johnson told NBC Sports’ Dillon Welch after his final stint Saturday. “I’d love to be at the Rolex 24. The series is going through a shake-up with the reconfiguration of the rules and classes, so I don’t have anything locked down yet, but I’m so thankful for this experience with Action. The support Ally has given us, Mr. Hendrick, Chad Knaus, all of Hendrick Motorsports. It’s been a fun two years, and I certainly hope I’m on the grid again next year.”