Andretti Autosport joins new racing series

INDYCAR Photo by Joe Skibinski
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Andretti Autosport has one of the most diverse racing platforms of any team in international racing. From the NTT IndyCar Series to Formula E and many racing series in-between, team owner Michael Andretti is always looking for new worlds to conquer.

His latest venture is Extreme E, an electric SUV off-road racing series designed to bring attention and sustainability and impact of climate change.

Andretti Autosport becomes the first American team to commit to the international racing series. It is the sixth team overall.

“We remain dedicated to expanding and diversifying our team effort, in both traditional motorsport and with new, revolutionary racing concepts,” Andretti said. “I think that Extreme E is an exciting opportunity for the team as we continue to grow globally.

“The current COVID-19 crisis is bringing attention to a changing world, and our traditional mindsets have to adapt with that. We feel that announcing now can help bring hope for the future of motorsport and a new focus to the sustainability message. I believe the entire motorsport industry is going to emerge from this time stronger than ever, and I look forward to seeing our team join Extreme E to do our part in leaving an impactful legacy in each race location.”

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The Extreme E championship includes five rounds of competition, each featuring two days of head to head, knockout racing. It is designed to increase awareness on the impact of climate change, driving sustainability and inspire action.

The 10-kilometer circuits will be staged in some of the most remarkable, remote and severely damaged locations on the planet. Those include Kangerlussuaq in Greenland, the Amazon Rainforest in Brazil, Al-‘Ula in Saudi Arabia, the Nepalese Himalayas and Lac Rose near Dakar, Senegal. Each venue has been impacted by climate issues. Those include carbon emissions, global heating and melting arctic ice, rising sea levels, droughts and desertification, deforestation, plastic pollution and more.

“I am absolutely delighted to welcome Andretti Autosport, a true powerhouse in racing, as the latest team to join Extreme E,” founder and CEO of Extreme E, Alejandro Agag said. “Andretti Autosporthas achieved across multiple disciplines at the highest level of our sport over many years. The team has a real passion for motorsport, both as a driver of change and in promoting sustainable practices and technologies, making its decision to join Extreme E at this early stage, a natural one.

“Extreme E is an ambitious new project born out of a concern for the future of our planet, and now more than ever, as motorsport adapts its behaviors and values to stay relevant in these changing times, that concern is critical for us all to consider.

“Andretti Autosport has been fine tuning its expertise in electric racing as a founding Formula E outfit, and off-road as multiple rallycross title-winners. These experiences will be invaluable in making the jump into Extreme E. That said, the series is a unique prospect all of its own. The sporting challenge will be intense and the scope for innovation is far-reaching, and I for one am eager to see how the Andretti Autosport team adapts to its new test.”

Each team will take delivery of ODYSSEY 21 E-SUV’s in late October 2020. A group test of the vehicles will take place afterwards.

“The proposed format of Extreme E is unique, not only from the competition perspective but also fromwhat it means to the planet, the impact to it and our contribution to improving it,” said Roger Griffiths, team principal, Andretti Autosport. “Motorsport has always spoken of racing in harsh environments and now with Extreme E we really will be putting this to the test and showcasing the abilities of an all-electric racing platform.

“It is an exciting opportunity to combine our knowledge and experience of electric racing with that of short circuit off road competition. We have proven to be successful in both arenas in the past so hopefully we carry this over into the new venture.”

Andretti Autosport is one of the top teams in the NTT IndyCar Series. It features 100th Indianapolis 500 winning driver Alexander Rossi, 2014 Indianapolis 500 winner and 2012 IndyCar Series champion Ryan Hunter-Reay, two-time race winner Marco Andretti, young Zach Veach and budding star 20-year-old Colton Herta.

Follow Bruce Martin on Twitter at @BruceMartin_500 

Jack Miller wins the MotoGP Japanese Grand Prix as Fabio Quartararo stops his downward points’ slide

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Jack Miller ran away with the MotoGP Japanese Grand Prix at Motegi as Fabio Quartararo stopped his downward slide in the championship when a last-lap accident from his closest rival in the standings caused Francesco Bagnaia to score zero points.

Starting seventh, Miller quickly made his way forward. He was second at the end of two laps. One lap later, he grabbed the lead from Jorge Martin. Once in the lead, Miller posted three consecutive fastest laps and was never seriously challenged. It was Australian native Miller’s first race win of the season and his sixth podium finish.

The proximity to his home turf was not lost.

“I can ride a motorcycle sometimes,” Miller said in NBC Sports’ post-race coverage. “I felt amazing all weekend since I rolled out on the first practice. It feels so awesome to be racing on this side of the world.

“What an amazing day. It’s awesome; we have the home Grand Prix coming up shortly. Wedding coming up in a couple of weeks. I’m over the moon; can’t thank everyone enough.”

Miller beat Brad Binder to the line by 3.4 seconds with third-place Jorge Martin finishing about one second behind.

But the center of the storm was located just inside the top 10 as both Quartararo and Bagnaia started deep in the field.

Quartararo was on the outside of row three in ninth with Bagnaia one row behind in 12th. Neither rider moved up significantly, but the championship continued to be of primary importance as Bagnaia put in a patented late-race charge to settle onto Quartararo’s back tire, which would have allowed the championship leader to gain only a single point.

On the final lap, Bagnaia charged just a little too hard and crashed under heavy braking, throwing away the seven points he would have earned for a ninth-place finish.

The day was even more dramatic for the rider who entered the MotoGP Japanese Grand Prix third in the standings. On the sighting lap, Aleix Espargaro had an alarm sound, so he peeled off into the pits, dropped his primary bike and jumped aboard the backup. Starting from pit lane, he trailed the field and was never able to climb into the points. An undisclosed electronic problem was the culprit.

For Quartararo, gaining eight points on the competition was more than a moral victory. This was a track on which he expected to run moderately, and he did, but the problems for his rivals gives him renewed focus with four rounds remaining.

Next week, the series heads to Thailand and then Miller’s home track of Phillip Island in Australia. They will close out the Pacific Rim portion of the schedule before heading to Spain for the finale in early November.

It would appear team orders are not in play among the Ducati riders. Last week’s winner Enea Bastianini made an aggressive early move on Bagnaia for position before the championship contender wrestled the spot back.

In his second race back following arm surgery, Marc Marquez won the pole. His last pole was more than 1,000 days ago on this same track in 2019, the last time the series competed at Motegi. Marquez slipped to fifth in the middle stages of the race, before regaining a position to finish just off the podium.

In Moto2 competition, Ai Ogura beat Augusto Fernandez to close the gap in that championship to two points. Fernandez holds the scant lead. Alonso Lopez rounded out the podium.

Both American riders, Cameron Beaubier and Joe Roberts finished just outside the top 10 in 11th and 12th respectively.