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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Sebastien Ogier in driver’s seat for sixth straight World Rally Championship title

Sebastien Ogier leads the way in the WRC title chase. Photo: Getty Images
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COFFS HARBOUR, Australia (AP) — Thierry Neuville finished the sixth stage of Rally Australia on Friday without a rear left tire, damaging his chances of catching five-time defending champion Sebastien Ogier for the World Rally Championship title.

The Belgian driver entered the rally just three points behind Ogier in the closest title fight in 15 years.

He held the upper hand on his French rival, building a near-10 second gap through the first five stages at Coffs Harbour before hitting a chicane and finishing the stage with only three tires on his Hyundai.

Neuville was fortunate the puncture occurred late enough in the day to finish all six forestry stages and avoid a retirement. But the mistake cost him 40 seconds and gave Ogier, who is 33 seconds ahead of him, a clear run at his sixth straight championship.

In his last start with Ford before a move to Citroen next year, Ogier struggled as the first to drive the dusty, slippery forest routes.

“I pushed like crazy, I was on the limit over the jump and everywhere, I can’t do (any) more,” Ogier said. “I was on the limit.”

With Ogier on sweeping duties the back markers flourished, and Mads Ostberg took the lead in his return to the series.

Ostberg was forced to miss the previous round in Spain to make way for rally winner and nine-time world champion Sebastien Loeb, who was making the last of his three guest appearances for Citroen.

Now back in the seat, Ostberg leads Jari-Matti Latvala by 6.8 seconds in the Australian rally, with sixth-stage winner Craig Breen in third.

Ogier was seventh, 38.2 seconds off the pace, but only needs to finish ahead of Neuville to claim the championship title. Neuville is in 10th place after six stages.

Roles will reverse on Saturday, with Ogier to start further back in the field and do his best on cleaner roads to make up the day-one deficit before Sunday’s final stages.

Andreas Mikkelsen, the 2016 Rally Australia champion, was an early dropout after rolling into a ditch in his Hyundai. Mikkelsen had only just avoided a tractor that had found its way onto the course.

Former winner Molly Taylor and co-driver Malcolm Read were also forced out of their event when their Subaru hit a hay bale at high speed on the morning’s second stage. Both reported soreness but suffered no serious injuries.

The 24-stage rally totals 319 kilometers (197 miles). Ten stages are scheduled Saturday with the final six on Sunday, most of them through forests on the New South Wales state’s north coast about 530 kilometers (325 miles) north of Sydney.