Photo courtesy Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing

Former SPM GM Piers Phillips joins Rahal, Letterman, Lanigan as first president

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Former Schmidt Peterson Motorsports general manager Piers Phillips was named Thursday as the first-ever president of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing.

After three years, Phillips stepped down from his post with SPM on October 24. The British native has enjoyed a long and successful career of more than 25 years in several forms of motorsports, particularly open-wheel and sports car racing.

“To be involved at this level with not only the Indy car program, but also the sports car program and eTROPHY was a very easy decision for me and one that I know I will thoroughly enjoy,” Phillips said in a RLL media release.

In his new role, Phillips will oversee RLL’s IndyCar Series operation, as well as its programs in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship series and the new Jaguar I-PACE eTROPHY Series.

“(Co-owners Michael Lanigan, David Letterman) and I are pleased that Piers is joining the team as its first-ever president,” team co-owner Bobby Rahal said in a statement. “His past successes speak volumes of his ability in all facets of racing and I look forward to working closely with Piers to take the team to the next level.”

Phillips’ hiring is the latest in a series of upward moves by RLL:

* For the first time since 2013, it expanded to two full-time cars in the IndyCar Series in 2018.

* Its partnership with BMW led to two wins, five podium finishes and three poles in the IMSA WeatherTech Sports Car Championship series.

* On December 15, RLL will debut its two-car program in the Jaguar I-PACE eTROPHY Series at the Ad Diriyah E Prix.

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Red Bull’s Max Verstappen takes pole at Brazilian GP

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Red Bull’s Max Verstappen has taken pole position for Sunday’s Brazilian Grand Prix.

It’s the second career pole for the Dutch driver, who beat Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel by just 0.123 seconds.

Verstappen’s first pole was earlier this season at the Hungarian GP in August.

Six-time champion Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes will start from third position. The 2018 winner at Interlagos finished 0.191 seconds back.

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas and Red Bull’s Alexander Albon finished in fourth, fifth and sixth, respectively.

Hamilton was fastest in final practice earlier Saturday, 0.026 quicker than Verstappen.

The Brazilian GP on Sunday is the penultimate race of the season. Hamilton secured the season title, his sixth, in the previous race in the U.S.