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

Katherine Legge. Photo courtesy Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
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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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Jimmie Johnson won’t race full time in 2023; leaves open possibility of returning at Ganassi

Jimmie Johnson race 2023
Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images
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Though he remains uncertain of his plans for next year, Jimmie Johnson won’t race full time in 2023, scaling back his schedule after running a full 17-race NTT IndyCar Series season.

“This was a difficult choice for me, but in my heart, I know it’s the right one,” Johnson said in a statement Monday morning. “I’m not exactly sure what the next chapter holds, but if an opportunity comes along that makes sense, I will consider it. I still have a bucket list of racing events I would like to take part in. Competing at this level in IndyCar has been such a great experience.

“I couldn’t have asked for a better team to race for than Chip Ganassi and Chip Ganassi Racing. Everyone worked extremely hard for the last two seasons, pushing to get the best performances out of me every single week. The support from my crew and teammates Dario (Franchitti), Scott (Dixon), Tony (Kanaan), Marcus (Ericsson) and Alex (Palou) went above and beyond anything I could have ever asked for.”

WHAT’S NEXT FOR JIMMIE JOHNSON: An analysis of his racing options for the 2023 season

Driving the No. 48 Dallara-Honda for Chip Ganassi Racing, Johnson ranked 21st in the 2022 points standings with a career-best fifth place July 24 at Iowa Speedway.

After running only road and street courses for Ganassi in 2021, the seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion added ovals this year. In his Indy 500 debut, he qualified 12th and finished 28th after a late crash.

“I do have a desire to go back (to IndyCar), it’s just at this point, I know what’s required to do a full schedule, and I don’t have that in me,” Johnson told AP. “I don’t have that passion that I need for myself to commit myself to a full season.”

That leaves open the concept of Johnson returning part time with Ganassi, perhaps exclusively on ovals.

“We are fully supportive of Jimmie,” team owner Chip Ganassi said in a statement. “He has been a valued member of our team and if we can find a way to continue working together, we would like to do so.”

During IndyCar’s season finale race weekend, Johnson told reporters Sept. 9 that he planned to explore his options with wife Chandra and daughters Evie and Lydia. Johnson told the Associated Press that his family is considering living abroad for a year or two, and he has toyed with the idea of running in the World Endurance Championship sports car series because of its international locales.

Johnson hasn’t ruled out IndyCar, IMSA sports cars or even a cameo in NASCAR next year. Since retiring from full-time NASCAR after the 2020 season, he has entered the endurance races of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship in the No. 48 Ally Cadillac (including Saturday’s Petit Le Mans season finale). Johnson also wants to race in the 24 Hours of Le Mans and is a prime candidate for the Garage 56 entry (a joint project of NASCAR and Hendrick Motorsports).

Johnson told the AP he is interested in becoming the latest driver to try “The Double” and run both the Coca-Cola 600 and Indy 500 on the same day (the most recent was Kurt Busch in 2014).

“You know me and endurance sports, and ‘The Double’ sounds awesome,” Johnson, a four-time Coke 600 winner, told AP. “I’ve always had this respect for the guys who have done ‘The Double.’ I would say it is more of a respect thing than a bucket-list item, and I’d love to put some energy into that idea and see if I can pull it off.”

It is less likely that he would return to IMSA’s endurance events because its top prototype series is being overhauled, limiting the amount of inventory available for the new LMDh cars in the rebranded GTP division.

Johnson has confirmed that he would retain primary sponsor Carvana, which has backed him in IndyCar the past two years. He revealed his decision Monday during the last episode of “Reinventing the Wheel,” Carvana Racing’s eight-part docuseries about his 2023 season.

“I’m thankful for the partnership with a company like Carvana for allowing me to take this journey in IndyCar, for seeing the value in our partnership and being open to future opportunities together,” Johnson said. “They have truly showed me that there are no finish lines in life. Along with Carvana, The American Legion, Ally, cbdMD and Frank August were there every step of the way, and I couldn’t have done it without all of them. Most importantly — and the true rockstars in all of this –my family, Chani, Evie and Lydia. They have always allowed me to chase my dreams, and we are all just really excited about what the future holds for all of us. I have enjoyed every minute of these last two years.”

Said Carvana co-founder Ryan Keeton: “During the past two years, Jimmie Johnson has been so amazing to collaborate with. Our team admires his passion, hard work and commitment to continuous improvement while also having fun, and we look forward to continuing to support him next year in this new chapter.”