Photo of the 1999 IndyCar race in Rio de Janeiro. Photo: Getty Images

IndyCar downplays Brazil’s announcement of Rio race in 2020

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Rio de Janeiro Mayor Marcelo Crivella excitedly announced Thursday that the Brazilian city will host an IndyCar race in 2020.

Crivella revealed the street race would pass through Rio’s iconic sambadrome, which is where the majority of 120,000 spectators and floats pass through during Brazil’s annual Carnival festivities.

There’s only one problem: no one from Brazil seemed to tell IndyCar about the race.

Perhaps looking to steal some of the thunder from Sao Paulo’s Brazilian Grand Prix Formula One race this weekend, Crivella’s announcement was made without any input from IndyCar.

When NBC Sports reached out to IndyCar regarding Crivella’s announcement, the sanctioning body released the following statement from Stephen Starks, IndyCar Vice President, Promoter and Media Partner Relations:

“We are always exploring first-class cities to host our events, and the sport has had exceptional races and racers from Brazil.

“However, at this point we are only exploring the possibilities that might exist in that country.”

IndyCar first raced in Brazil in 1996 at the Jacarapegua racetrack, where the Rio Olympic Park was later built upon.

IndyCar’s last Brazilian race was 2013 in Sao Paulo.

The city of Brasilia was slated to host an IndyCar race in 2015, but the event was cancelled shortly before it was to be held.

Still, it’s no secret that Brazil wants IndyCar back racing within its borders, particularly since three drivers of Brazilian heritage are currently competing in the series: Tony Kanaan, Matheus Leist and Pietro Fittipaldi.

Also, Helio Castroneves, who switched from a long career in IndyCar to IMSA for the 2018 season, is also a Brazilian native and major fan favorite.

It’s unclear where Brazil and IndyCar go from here.

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F1’s Valtteri Bottas to compete in first-ever rally race in his native Finland

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Formula One’s “Flying Finn” is going back home for the first time.

More precisely, Valtteri Bottas is returning to his Finland homeland to compete in his first career rally race in the Finnish Rally Championship season opener.

Bottas, teammates on the F1 Mercedes team with five-time champ Lewis Hamilton, will compete in the World Rally Championships’ Arctic Lapland Rally from January 24-26.

He’ll team with two-time World Rally champion Timo Rautiainen in a M-Sport Ford Fiesta RS WRC on rally roads of the Finnish Arctic Circle.

“This is a unique opportunity to take a peek into the world of rallying,” Bottas told Finnish rallying website Rallism.f1. “I would like to thank everyone who has made it possible.

“It’s totally new territory for me too, as I have no prior experience of a World Rally Car. Still, being the race car driver that I am, you always go flat out whatever the vehicle you’re driving in.”

Added Rautiainen, “In my life, I’ve sat in a rally car with only three drivers, but this is such an interesting mission that I just had to accept the challenge. I believe that for a talented wheelman like Valtteri, we’ll be able to establish a good basic driving routine in testing.”

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