Katherine Legge. Photo courtesy Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing

Katherine Legge joins Rahal team for 2018-19 Formula E support series effort

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As the 2017-18 ABB FIA Formula E Series season comes to an end this weekend in New York City, things are quickly ratcheting up for a new support series that will debut later this fall in conjunction with and when the 2018-19 Formula E season kicks off.

One of those leading the charge will be Rahal Letterman Lanigan, which announced Friday that one of its two drivers in the Jaguar I-Pace eTrophy Series next season will be noted female racer Katherine Legge.

Legge will team with a still-unnamed second driver for the RLL entry in the all-electric racing series. The livery Legge will drive will be unveiled during this weekend’s New York E-Prix season-ending activities.

“I am very proud to be driving in the Jaguar I-Pace eTrophy Formula E series for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing,” Legge said in a media release. “I have followed Formula E since its inception and have been very impressed with the growth in the electric car market and electric racing as a whole.

“I have also wanted to drive for Bobby (team co-owner Bobby Rahal) for the past 10 years or more, so this for me is the realization of a dream. Driving for a British brand like Jaguar on a global stage and ‘racing to innovate’ sounds like the best kind of challenge to me. I’m excited!”

It’s been roughly nine months since RLL announced that it would take part in the I-Pace eTrophy series – the world’s first production-based, street-legal electric vehicle racing series – last November.

“This program has been a year in the making and this weekend is a big milestone for us,” added Rahal.  “I’m very impressed with the communication we have had with Jaguar and how things are progressing in England.

“To a person, we are all excited to get going and go racing. We are also very proud to unveil the livery of our two-car team. Being an American-based team now racing around the world, we all felt it would be important to compete under our national colors and we think the I-Pace eTrophy really looks great in red, white and blue. It will be obvious where we are from when people see our cars.”

Now with the 38-year-old Legge – a native of Guildford, United Kingdom – on board, the RLL team is expected to announce its second driver during the series’ first test session in September in the United Kingdom.

“I have known Katherine for a number of years and have always been impressed with her capabilities and how she handles herself,” Rahal said. “She did a great job in Formula Atlantic, IndyCar and now in sports car racing and I think she will do very well for us in the Jaguar I-Pace eTrophy series.

“We have spoken about working together for a number of years and I’m pleased to finally be able to put a program together.”

The I-Pace eTrophy series will feature as many as 20 Jaguar race cars and races will take place on the same weekends and on the same city street courses as Formula E will race upon.

“We’re really proud to welcome Katherine to the Jaguar I-Pace eTrophy series,” Jaguar Racing Team Director James Barclay said. “She is a passionate and experienced driver, and of course as Jaguar is a British brand, we’re really excited that the first driver to be announced to join the grid is British and someone of Katherine’s pedigree.

“We have always said that having Bobby on board brings great credibility to the series and cements its place in the motorsport calendar. I have no doubt that with Katherine as part of the team, they’ll do great things in the championship.”

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Don’t know the Rolex 24? You should. Here’s why.

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Hello, America. It’s time to go racing again.

Yes, Supercross is now three weeks into its season, and the Chili Bowl Nationals is now effectively the Christopher Bell Invitational after the young NASCAR star won his 3rd consecutive Golden Driller last weekend.

But the Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway is the first marquee event on the American racing calendar – an event that just happens to have international prestige.

It’s also the start of Daytona Speedweeks, which culminates with NASCAR’s Daytona 500 on Feb. 17. But this is no mere opening act just warming up the crowd for the headliner.

In case you’re new to this event, here are a few reasons why it stands out:

Twice around the clock: Are you the kind of person that appreciates a challenge? Well, challenges don’t get much bigger in motorsports than a 24-hour endurance race where drivers, crews, machines, and strategies must work together flawlessly. For those behind the wheel in the Rolex 24, the obstacles are numerous: Punishing G-forces, extreme mental focus, lack of sleep, and staying on top of hydration and nutrition.

Star power: Speaking of those behind the wheel, the Rolex 24 traditionally draws top drivers from other disciplines such as IndyCar, Formula 1 and NASCAR to join sports car regulars from North America and around the world. As a result, the winners’ list is a Who’s Who of Motorsports.

This year’s field includes a clutch of NTT IndyCar Series drivers, highlighted by 5-time series champion and past Rolex 24 winner Scott Dixon. But pre-race buzz has centered on two particular interlopers: Alex Zanardi, the former CART champion making his first North American start since losing his legs in a 2001 crash, and Fernando Alonso, the two-time F1 champion looking to add another endurance triumph alongside his win with Toyota in last year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Cool cars: If you’re a gearhead, the Rolex 24 is a 200-mile-per-hour candy store. Across the four separate classes of competition, 13 of the world’s premier car manufacturers are represented.

The majority of those manufacturers are found in the Grand Touring classes that feature vehicles based on road-going production models. Chevy and Ford’s eternal rivalry rages on in the factory-backed GT Le Mans, but the class also boasts efforts from BMW, Porsche, and Ferrari. It’s even more diverse in the pro-am GT Daytona, where Porsche is joined by Audi, Lamborghini, Lexus and Mercedes.

As for the exotic, purpose-built Daytona Prototypes, they are powered by engines from Cadillac, Acura, Mazda and Nissan.

Nifty fifty: This year’s Rolex 24 begins the 50th anniversary season for IMSA, the sanctioning body for North American sports car racing. A select group of teams will mark the occasion at the Rolex 24 by running historic IMSA paint schemes on their machines. You may not be familiar with these looks, but it’s worth discovering the history behind them.

Here’s an example. The Starworks Motorsports team (GT Daytona) will carry a scheme based on Audi of America’s 90 Quattro from the 1989 IMSA GTO season. Boasting sports car legends Hurley Haywood and Hans-Joachim Stuck in the driver lineup, the 90 Quattro captured 7 GTO wins that season.

Audi’s performance led one competitor to create a “no passing” sticker with Stuck’s face on it. Stuck’s response: A doll fixed to his car’s rear window that dropped its pants to moon anyone Stuck put behind him.

Status symbol: Last but not least, the Rolex 24 has a unique prize – a trophy you can wear.

Winners get a standard cup, but what they’re really after are the Rolex Oyster Perpetual Cosmograph Daytona watches, which include a special engraving to commemorate their victory. A standard version of this watch retails for tens of thousands of dollars, but you can’t put a price on the ones awarded at the Rolex 24.

This year’s grand marshal, 5-time Rolex 24 winner Scott Pruett, sums it up as “the ultimate reward.”

“To be presented a watch engraved with the word ‘Winner’ after 24 hours of intense racing is a moment that lives with you forever,” he added. “Your Rolex is a constant reminder of the perseverance and hard work that goes into succeeding at the highest level.”