Chip Ganassi Racing names Kyle LeDuc as second Extreme E driver

Chip Ganassi Racing
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Chip Ganassi Racing completed its Extreme E driver lineup, hiring off-road champion Kyle LeDuc to its team.

Ganassi hired Sara Price last month as the first driver in the environmentally conscious series, which will race 550-horsepower electric SUVs next year around the world in five locations threatened by climate change.

LeDuc, 38, has won multiple titles in short course off-road series.

EXTREME DIRECTIONWhy Extreme E interested Chip Ganassi Racing

The series will consist of eight teams (including Ganassi and Andretti Autosport), and each will have a male and female driver who will trade  stints in the events.

Here’s the release on Ganassi hiring Extreme E driver Kyle LeDuc:

14 July, London: Extreme E is delighted to announce Chip Ganassi Racing is the first team to complete its driver lineup for the series with the signing of Prolite World Champion and six-time Pro-4 Short Course Off-Road Champion Kyle LeDuc, who will race alongside Sara Price.

LeDuc, 38, started his career racing downhill mountain bikes with his brother. He later followed in his father’s footsteps in building his own off-road cars, is a true champion with an astonishing record of 101 victories and six Pro-4 Championship wins.

At the age of 20, LeDuc, nicknamed “The Kid”, was the youngest active driver in off-road racing. He the 2003 Prolite World Champion at Crandon International Raceway then Prolite Champion the following year. LeDuc’s successes quickly moved him up from 2-wheel drive to 4-wheel drive as he entered the Pro-4 category in 2008 and took his first win in his first year.

Since 2008, LeDuc has won six Pro-4 Championships in the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series (LOORRS), with his first in 2012 and completing the 2019 season with his most recent championship win. These titles became the norm for LeDuc as he continued to achieve a career-total of three LOORRS Challenge Cup wins, two Pro-4 World Championships, and two LOORRS Driver of the Year titles.

LeDuc has also competed in several Trophy Truck races with great success. He won the 2016 Baja 1000 where he qualified first and started first on the road and finished fifth in his first ever attempted Trophy Truck race. LeDuc has the mind of an engineer and builds his own race vehicles from the ground up.

LeDuc and Off road Truck Champion and X Games Medallist Price will team up to race the ODESSEY 21, a 550-horsepower electric SUV, in extreme environments around the world that have been damaged or affected by climate and environmental issues. This partnership highlights a world first in motorsport. Extreme E is the only championship to stipulate teams have to field both a male and female driver promoting gender equality and a level playing field amongst competitors.

Extreme E’s five-race global voyage, spanning four continents, will highlight the impact of climate change and human activity on some of the world’s most remote locations. It also will promote sustainability and the adoption of electric vehicles to help protect the planet.

Kyle LeDuc, Driver, Chip Ganassi Racing said: “I am beyond excited to announce that I will be driving in the Extreme E series for Chip Ganassi Racing. Not only do I get to drive these fully electric 4-wheel drive cars around the world, but I get to do it for the man himself, the biggest team in motorsports, Chip Ganassi Racing.

“I was born and raised around racing with my family and to see the desire and determination in Chip and the entire team to be successful and win in this newly developed form of motorsports has given me the drive to bring victories to this program. The 2021 Extreme E series is going to be groundbreaking and we are going in with the goal of victory!

“I’m looking forward to working with my teammate, Sara Price. Some of the unprecedented features of this new series will be splitting these races 50/50 and racing worldwide in climate-affected areas. This is a huge opportunity for all involved and we cannot wait to get this thing started!”

Alejandro Agag, Founder and CEO at Extreme E commented: “Congratulations to all at Chip Ganassi Racing for completing their driver line-up and a big welcome to the Extreme E family Kyle.

“I’m really looking forward to seeing both Sara and Kyle race, they’re both super successful in their motorsport endeavours and have already achieved so much. I’m sure they’ll be bringing this determination and skill to the Extreme E paddock.”

Mike Hull, Managing Director, Chip Ganassi Racing added: “We are really excited about Kyle joining our team and being a teammate to Sara in Extreme E. Kyle is a really quality off-road all-terrain driver. Presently, Kyle has 101 victories in off-road racing. He is a true champion, a race winner, and understands how to drive in all terrains. He will have a positive effect, not only behind the wheel but also with our team with his experience. We are looking forward to him joining Chip Ganassi Racing!”

Robert Wickens in the Indy 500? Bryan Herta making plans to field a car for next year

Robert Wickens Indy 500
Brett Farmer/LAT Images/IMSA
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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Bryan Herta wants to enter Robert Wickens in the Indy 500 as early as 2024 – a year longer than preferred as work continues on the hand controls needed for the paralyzed driver.

Wickens suffered a spinal cord injury in a crash at Pocono Raceway in his 2018 IndyCar rookie season. He’s worked as a driver coach for the Arrow McLaren IndyCar team since, but last year with Bryan Herta Autosport and Hyundai returned to racing in the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge.

The 33-year-old Canadian won a pair of races (including the season opener at Daytona) driving a Hyundai Elantra N-TCR that is fitted for Wickens to race strictly through hand controls. Herta said Thursday that perfecting that technology for an Indy car in the biggest race in the world has slowed the project he’s determined to do with Wickens.

‘I’M AS HUNGRY AS EVER’: Robert Wickens’ return to racing

“I’d love to take Robbie back to Indy because I know he could do that, and I think that would be a next step for him in his journey,” Herta told The Associated Press. “We’ve spent a lot of time looking at the logistical side of things, hand controls, and I think we have solutions for that.”

Herta said Honda has been supportive of the process, which Herta called “one of the most important things we’ve done in racing” last year.

“We actually looked at doing it this year, but the logistics of it, the timing, it just wasn’t enough,” Herta said. “That’s not something you can rush. There’s some things that we have to work very closely with IndyCar on, and things we just have to get right. It’s a process, but I can see a path to it.”

Wickens, when told his boss was openly discussing the Indy 500, grinned widely. Herta as a team owner won the Indianapolis 500 with Dan Wheldon and Alexander Rossi.

“That’d be fun,” he said of running the Indy 500.

But like Herta, Wickens said the effort has to be both done correctly and be competitive.

“We’d like to do it right. If we started right now, can we get a car ready for the open test in April? Probably,” Wickens told The AP. “But I don’t know where the systems would be and I want to get on proper simulators to make sure its correct.

“We all want to do a proper, professional effort,” he added. “I don’t want to do it for a marketing campaign. I want to do it for a chance to win.”

Wickens later tweeted about the possibility of racing the Indy 500 and said his goal was “always to get back to the top level of motorsport” whether it’s IndyCar or IMSA.

Wickens in 2021 did a demonstration in Canada that marketed advancements for paralyzed drivers and gave him a chance to again drive. His entire life had been upended 14 races into his rookie IndyCar season, just three months after winning top rookie honors at the Indianapolis 500.

Wickens has since married, returned to racing last year and welcomed the birth of his first child, an son named Wesley whom is infatuated with both race cars and the trip to Disney he took this week during the off days at Daytona International Speedway.

Wickens, who uses a wheelchair but can stand with some support, marks a full year back racing on Friday in the season-opening IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge race. Despite success last season, Herta made changes to his lineups and Wickens this year will be teamed with Harry Gottsacker.