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Pierre Gasly Kept his Emotions out of Decision to Leave AlphaTauri for Alpine

Pierre Gasly has revealed he needed to leave emotion out of his decision to switch from Scuderia AlphaTauri to the BWT Alpine F1 Team ahead of the 2023 FIA Formula 1 World Championship season.

For the first time in his career, Gasly will not be part of a Red Bull-backed team in Formula 1, with the Frenchman having joined Scuderia Toro Rosso in 2017 before a twelve-race stint with Red Bull Racing in 2019.  He returned to Toro Rosso in the second half of 2019 and earned his first podium finish in the Brazilian Grand Prix before the team morphed into AlphaTauri the following season.

Gasly went on to take a memorable victory in the 2020 Italian Grand Prix and helped AlphaTauri score their biggest points haul in their history in 2021 that included a podium finish in Azerbaijan, although 2022 was a year of disappointment with a car that was not as strong as the team would have liked as he scored only six top ten finishes.

For 2023, Gasly will join countryman Esteban Ocon at Alpine in place of the Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant Formula 1 Team bound Fernando Alonso, and although he has a lot of great memories with AlphaTauri, he needed to keep his emotions out of the decision to join a team that could potentially help further his career.

“Looking at a career, you need to be quite pragmatic,” said Gasly to Motorsport.com.  “I know where I want to go, I know what I want to achieve in Formula 1.

Ryan Vargas joins CHK Racing as driver/consultant

Ryan Vargas and Gary Keller both departed JD Motorsports at the end of the 2022 NASCAR Xfinity Series season, and the two have once again teamed up at Mike Harmon‘s re-organised CHK Racing. Vargas will race the #74 Chevrolet Camaro for the team while also serving as a consultant.

As part of Vargas’ non-driving duties, he will oversee internal business operations, marketing, and media, among other responsibilities.

“I’m really excited to be joining CHK Racing this season,” Vargas said. “This undeniably is going to be a big year for this organisation, and I look forward to serving a role that goes beyond driving the car. I’m excited to assist with helping the team in our reorganization and hopefully leading them into a new, competitive era. With the newfound support from Gary Keller and Mike Clayton along with Mike’s old-school racer mindset, I fully anticipate a swing for the better both on and off the track.

“The work done internally already has been great to see, and I’m excited to be a part of helping this team make the steps necessary to build into competitive form. This is more than an opportunity behind the wheel for me, it’s an opportunity to play a personal role in a project that everyone involved cares about. That is special.”

Vargas has raced in the Xfinity Series since 2019, mainly for JD Motorsports before announcing his exit in October. He ended his four-year JDM stint with two top tens and a best finish of sixth at Daytona. Keller, a partner in JDM who dubbed them “JD Motorsports with Gary Keller”, also parted ways a month later to link up with Harmon. Clayton joined the group in mid-January to create CHK Racing.

Mercedes Would Allow Mick Schumacher to Leave for another F1 Race Chance – Toto Wolff

The Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team would allow Mick Schumacher to leave his role as reserve driver should an opportunity to further his career within the FIA Formula 1 World Championship presents itself, says Team Principal Toto Wolff.

Schumacher joined Mercedes at the end of 2022 after being released from his seat with the Haas F1 Team, and he will play back-up to Lewis Hamilton and George Russell this year whilst also working behind the scenes to improve the W14 car.

Wolff says Schumacher has already proven himself to be a ‘well-educated, intelligent and talented’ driver within Formula 1, and he likens the German to Nyck de Vries, who has finally found a seat on the grid with Scuderia AlphaTauri after a couple of years acting as a test driver for Mercedes.

“In the same way as we have let Nyck de Vries go in order for him to achieve a career, that could be something that could happen to Mick,” Wolff is quoted as saying by GPFans.com.  “Whether it is in our team or letting him go somewhere else, we don’t know.

“The most important factor is his personality. He’s a well-educated, intelligent and talented young man.

PREVIEW: 2022 Nitro Rallycross Round 7 GP3R

Following Nitro Rallycross’ last appearance at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in November of 2022, the series will land in Canada for its first foray into ice and snow racing. Trois-Rivieres in Quebec, Canada will host the first of two ice and snow rounds scheduled for Nitro Rallycross in the latter half of the season. Trois-Rivieres has been the site of rallycross rounds in previous years namely to the World Rallycross Championship and America’s Rallycross both in 2019. 

The transfer from dirt to ice and snow only holds a few advantages to those that have driven stage rallies or tested the car on ice at last years Race of Champions showing, so drivers like Kevin and Oliver Eriksson, Andreas Bakkerud, and Oliver Bennett lead tomorrows racing with a slight edge. Elsewhere the rest of the competitors will have to learn the skill and come to grips with the track as they go. 

Points leader and RX Cartel driver Robin Larsson comes into this round fresh off his last win in Phoenix as he looks to remain atop the standings for the Group E class. The Swede has managed to only miss out on the podium once all season and given the opportunity would like to keep that going. Teammate Andreas Bakkerud will be eager to step back into the car after another terrible incident. His last time out in Phoenix left him with a totaled car after contact over the jump sent him rolling off the side of the track. The driver was deemed OK but the car was totaled. Bakkerud will be looking to attack hard this weekend as he finds his place back on track. Fraser McConnell will be primed to fight for his spot in the standings as he remains third heading into the weekend.

At OMSE Oliver and Kevin Eriksson are primed and ready to take on the weekend after having tested the FC1-X last winter at the Race of Champions where they got the full experience of using the new studded tires required for this weekend’s race. Oli took home second place in his last outing after additionally getting his first top qualifier award of the season. Kevin Eriksson strives to continue his progress to getting an award medal. Oli sits at fourth and Kevin remains at ninth in the standings.

Kris Meeke returns at XITE Energy Racing with Oliver Bennett. Meeke’s last outing resulted in some tough battles with Travis Pastrana but he fought his way through into the final. Meeke remains a fast driver bringing his skills from the World Rally Championship as he acclimates to rallycross while Oli Bennett seems to get faster with each round making his first in round 6. Bennett managed to get into a few scrapes that would put him in front of the stewards but the driver looked faster no less. Bennett stands in seventh and Meeke holds eighth in the standings. 

Full-time Kaulig stint ends for Landon Cassill

Landon Cassill got one of the best rides of his NASCAR career in 2022 when he ran the full Xfinity Series schedule for Kaulig Racing. However, a lack of funding for 2023 means his time in the team’s #10 Chevrolet Camaro has come to a close. He did not specify if he would return to the team on a part-time basis.

“Unfortunately, I won’t be driving the 10 car full time this year,” tweeted Cassill on Wednesday. “However, my quest to win in NASCAR continues.

“Sponsorships drive my business, and my sponsors over the last two years have been through a lot. Rebuilding will be my top priority.

“During this period, I’ll be training and preparing for the opportunity to win.

“Thanks to @C_Rice1 (Chris Rice) and @MattKaulig (Matt Kaulig) for the shot in 2022, and for being a great team.”

Kelvin van der Linde to replace Robin Frijns for foreseeable future

Following Robin Frijns‘ nasty crash at the season-opening race of the 2022/23 ABB FIA Formula E World Championship, the ABT CUPRA Formula E Team have confirmed that South African sports car driver Kelvin van der Linde will replace the Dutchman at next weekend’s double-header in Diriyah, Saudi Arabia.

Frijns was taken straight to hospital in Mexico City after slamming into the back of Norman Nato on the opening lap, effectively destroying his left hand in the process. The collision fractured Frijns’ hand and wrist, resulting in a five-hour surgery. From the sounds of things, Frijns did a real number on his hand, with The Race reporting that the Dutch driver will be absent from the majority of this season as a result. It marks a miserable start to Gen3 for both Frijns and ABT Cupra, given the experience the driver offers.

Frijns has actually given another update on social media about his progress, with the Dutch driver having been given the all clear to travel home to start would could be a lengthy recovery period.

In the social media post in question, Frijns thanked the hospital and the staff who treated him so well, hailing them as having saved “my career”.

Frijns wrote: “Finally going home! Can’t thank everyone enough for their amazing support I received. Especially to Dr. Max who operated me on my hand and wrist. The whole team at the Hospital Angeles Acoxpa was there for me from the very start till the very end when I was leaving. It’s these people that are the real hero’s of this world. Always ready to help people, trying to safe people’s lives or in my case: my career. Thank you!”

2023 Dakar Rally: Janus van Kasteren wins first T5 title for IVECO since 2016

The Dakar Rally‘s T5 category had long been a glorified test ground for KAMAZ-master, who had won the event nineteen times including every edition but two since 2009 with the exceptions being a pair of IVECO wins in 2012 and 2016. With KAMAZ out of the picture for 2023, IVECO was once again on top.

KAMAZ, along with perennial frontrunner MAZ-SPORTauto, were barred from entering the 2023 Rally as they refused to sign the FIA’s policy condemning the Russian invasion of Ukraine, to perhaps little surprise as KAMAZ’s parent company is partly owned by the Russian government and has provided vehicles for the military in said conflict, while MAZ is overseen by ally Belarus. Without the Russians or Belarusians, other European brands became the main contenders as the top teams raced with the Italian IVECO or Czech Tatra. The 2007 Rally remains the last in which the Truck winner was not a KAMAZ or IVECO, when Hans Stacey won in a MAN.

IVECO enjoyed a top four sweep as Janus van Kasteren defeated 2022 World Rally-Raid runner-up Martin Macík Jr. and father/son duo Martin and Mitchel van den Brink. All but Macík raced for Team de Rooy, whose owner Gerard delivered IVECO’s two victories during KAMAZ’s reign; van Kasteren competed with Boss Machinery title sponsor while the van den Brinks were under the Eurol Rally Sport banner. Van Kasteren was the highest-finishing non-KAMAZ in 2022 in fifth, and finally sealed the deal when he inherited the lead in Stage #10 and never relinquished it.

Macík, driving for his own team, led the category in stage wins with five but lost the top spot after Stage #2 when his brakes failed. Close competition from Team de Rooy and Aleš Loprais meant the slightest slip-up was costly, and said failure resulted in him falling behind by over an hour. Despite his efforts to recover, Macík finished 1:14:34 back of van Kasteren.

“I went [to Dakar] really wanting to win,” Macík told Jan Červenka of Garáž.cz. “Every competitor should go there, we were ready for it with everything. Unfortunately, luck was not with us. […]

Daytona International Speedway to use fully electric fire truck

REV Fire Group has partnered with Daytona International Speedway to provide four firefighting trucks to the track ahead of the 2023 Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona and Daytona 500. While these include standard pumpers, one will be an electric model called the Vector.

“We are excited to provide the all-electric Vector for our Florida neighbor, Daytona International Speedway, to protect its employees, NASCAR drivers, and the many fans and spectators who attend The Great American Race and other events,” commented REV Fire Group Vice President Mike Virnig. “Vector also protects the environment, making this a perfect collaboration with DIS and NASCAR and their many green initiatives designed to reduce the track and sport’s carbon footprint and promote sustainability.”

The Vector is stylised as the “first North American-style fully electric fire truck”, with 327-kWh batteries that can both drive the truck and power the water pumps. The battery is placed at a low centre of gravity, which is intended to reduce the likelihood of the vehicle tilting while turning and is further away from the cabin. It also has a diesel range extender engine that automatically recharges the batteries with 120 kW if necessary, but is otherwise not needed when fighting a fire. Each truck has variations to accommodate its customer’s needs.

It was developed in partnership with Emergency One Group, a Scottish fire engine manufacturer and sister company; both E-One and REV Fire Group are owned by emergency vehicle maker REV Group. REV Fire Group built the chassis with the diesel range extender before shipping them to Scotland where E-One applied its innards, then sent back to the United States for the exterior.

The Vector was formally unveiled at the FDIC (Fire Department Instructors Conference) International convention in April 2022, and the Mesa Fire and Medical Department in Mesa, Arizona, became its first buyer. Toronto Fire Services in Canada also ordered a pair of Vectors. Charlotte, North Carolina, where many NASCAR teams are headquartered, commissioned a Vector from REV Group subsidiary Spartan Emergency Response in conjunction with plans of opening an electric fire station, which is set to begin construction in early 2024.

Ryan Vargas joins On Point for limited 2023 Truck slate

Three months after leaving JD Motorsports, Ryan Vargas has landed on his feet in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series at On Point Motorsports, with whom he will run at least seven races for 2023. It will be his first time racing in the Trucks.

His first race in the #30 Toyota Tundra TRD Pro will be at Atlanta Motor Speedway on 18 March. Two months later, he will enter Darlington Raceway on 20 May, followed by Nashville Superspeedway (23 June), Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course (8 July), Richmond Raceway (29 July), Talladega Superspeedway (30 September), and Homestead-Miami Speedway (22 October).

“I’m beyond thrilled to join On Point Motorsports for the 2023 season,” said Vargas. “I told myself heading into this offseason that it was time for a change. I knew that I was ready to take on a new challenge. Having never made a truck series start, I really felt that this year was the perfect time for me to make the move into a competitive Truck Series entry. There’s no denying what Bones (owner Steven Lane) and his team have done are nothing short of impressive. With a bunch of top-ten finishes and opportunities to make it to Victory Lane, I knew I had found myself a fantastic new home.

“Although I won’t be running the full schedule, I’m excited to engrain myself within the organisation and work hands on with the development of my teammates and the truck’s on-track performance. Thank you to all my fans and followers for continuing to believe in me. I’m truly blessed and I really look forward to competing in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series in 2023.”

Vargas raced in the Xfinity Series from 2019 to 2022, mainly for JDM. He was supposed to race full-time in 2021 and 2022 before struggling performances and sponsorship woes led to those plans being dropped. He departed the team in October, ending his tenure with two top tens and a best finish of sixth at Daytona in 2022.

NASCAR makes changes to competition team for 2023

With the 2023 season looming, NASCAR has made various changes to its competition department. Most notably, former driver Elton Sawyer will assume the role of Senior Vice President of Competition, which entails overseeing all on-track activities, inspection, and officiating across the Cup, Xfinity, and Craftsman Truck Series.

Sawyer was a longtime veteran of the Xfinity Series, racing from 1983 to 2002 with two wins and multiple top-five points finishes. After ending his driving career, he remained involved in racing as the competition director of Team Red Bull and Evernham Motorsports. He was hired by NASCAR in 2015 as the Truck Series’ managing director before taking over as the head of technical inspection.

“I have been a proud member of this extraordinary team for eight years, and I look forward to continuing to help grow the outstanding competition we’ve seen over the last several seasons,” Sawyer stated. “NASCAR racing has been my life for decades. I have a deep passion for the sport, and am honored to be in a position to help shepherd the competition team during these exciting times.”

Sawyer replaces Scott Miller, who has worked for NASCAR since 2015. Miller will remain involved as Competition Strategist, focusing on developing major events.

NASCAR also promoted John Probst to Chief Racing Development Officer and a trio of Eric Jacuzzi, John Patalak, and Brandon Thomas to Vice President roles within the competition team. Jacuzzi will be the Vice President of Vehicle Performance, while Patalak and Thomas are the VP of Safety Engineering and VP of Vehicle Design, respectively.

Chandler Smith to make Cup debut for Kaulig with 5-race schedule

Chandler Smith is still preparing for his rookie year in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, but his Kaulig Racing team wants him to get some action in NASCAR’s highest level too. On Wednesday, the team announced he will attempt to make his Cup Series début in the season-opening Daytona 500, driving a newly opened #13 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 with sponsorship from Quick Tie.

He will also enter the Cup race at Richmond Raceway (2 April), the NASCAR All-Star Race at North Wilkesboro Speedway (21 May), the fall Talladega Superspeedway event (1 October), and the season finale at Phoenix Raceway (5 November). As the #13 does not have a charter, he will need to make every race on qualifying if the entry list exceeds forty, while he can also lock himself into the 500 grid via Duel performance.

“This is a dream come true for me,” said Smith. “As a kid, you always have the goal of one day racing in the Cup Series. I’m hoping that comes true in this year’s Daytona 500. I’m thankful for Harvel Crumley and Quick Tie for the opportunity to run in multiple Cup races this year, and I’m beyond appreciative in the belief that Matt Kaulig and Chris Rice have in me.”

A former Toyota development driver, Smith moved to Kaulig for 2023 after two strong seasons in the Truck Series for Kyle Busch Motorsports, who has also switched to Chevrolet. After winning two races and Rookie of the Year in 2021, he scored three victories and qualified for the 2022 Championship Round where he placed third in points. He also won the 2022 regular season championship.

“Chris and I knew who we had in Chandler when we brought him into our team fold at the end of last year,” commented Kaulig. “He made such an splash on the Craftsman Truck Series in the last couple years. We have the utmost confidence in his full-time Xfinity Series run this year, and with Quick Tie, we think he will turn some heads in his Cup Series starts.”

Clint Bowyer, Kyle Busch join SRX, Helio Castroneves returns

A day after Kevin Harvick committed to the Superstar Racing Experience, the series announced a pair of his NASCAR Cup Series peers will also make their débuts. Clint Bowyer will race against him at Stafford Motor Speedway on 13 July, followed by separate starts at Motor Mile Speedway on 27 July and Lucas Oil Speedway on 17 August. Kyle Busch will also run Motor Mile before taking on Harvick at Berlin Raceway on 3 August.

Bowyer and Harvick were team-mates at Stewart-Haas Racing, co-owned by SRX founder Tony Stewart, from 2017 to 2020. While Bowyer has not raced at a major level since, he remained involved with the Cup Series as a commentator for FOX Sports.

Busch, the 2015 and 2019 Cup champion, departed Joe Gibbs Racing after a decorated tenure for Richard Childress Racing, incidentally the same team with whom Harvick began his Cup career. He and Harvick will run the Berlin round three days before the Cup race at Michigan International Speedway. Motor Mile is the same weekend as the Cup Series at Richmond Raceway, both located in Virginia.

“I’ve been working with everyone at SRX trying to get one of their races on my schedule the last couple seasons and things didn’t work out, so when they announced they were having weeknight races in close proximity to a couple races on the Cup schedule, SRX and I immediately got together to plan something for this year,” Busch told the Associated Press.

The series also announced Wednesday the return of Hélio Castroneves, who finished fifth in the 2021 standings and won the 2022 season opener at Five Flags. Castroneves, a four-time Indianapolis 500 winner, is placing most of his emphasis on the 2023 NTT IndyCar Series.

Szafnauer Reveals Herta Talks over Possible F1 Move in bid to get AlphaTauri to Release Gasly

Otmar Szafnauer has revealed that he talked with Colton Herta about a potential move to the FIA Formula 1 World Championship in a bid to get Scuderia AlphaTauri to release Pierre Gasly from his contract.

When Fernando Alonso opted to leave the BWT Alpine F1 Team to replace the retiring Sebastian Vettel at the Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant Formula 1 Team, Oscar Piastri was expected to join Esteban Ocon at the Enstone-based squad.  However, the Australian decided to join the McLaren F1 Team instead, leaving a vacancy at Alpine for the 2023 season.

After being pushed back by AlphaTauri Team Principal Franz Tost, talks with Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko opened Szafnauer’s eyes that Gasly was a possibility should they find a suitable replacement for the Frenchman, and he made contact with Herta and his father Bryan about possibly leaving the NTT IndyCar Series.

Herta was heavily linked with a move to Formula 1 for the 2023 season only to be denied by the lack of a Superlicence, with the seat alongside Yuki Tsunoda ultimately going to Nyck de Vries.  But Szafnauer’s talks with Marko eventually led to Gasly joining Alpine.

“I called Franz [Tost] to say can you release him? And Franz said no. And so I said, ‘well, great. I’m glad you said that’,” Szafnauer is quoted as saying by Motorsport.com.  

Fernando Alonso Still Capable of Winning Formula 1 Races ‘in the right car’ – Pat Symonds

Pat Symonds believes Fernando Alonso still has the ability to win races in the FIA Formula 1 World Championship despite the Spaniard going almost ten years without standing on the top step of the podium.

Alonso’s last victory came whilst driving for Scuderia Ferrari in the 2013 Spanish Grand Prix, with his career since then having taken him to a lacklustre McLaren Honda team as well as the BWT Alpine F1 Team, either side of a two-year spell away from Formula 1 where he raced in the FIA World Endurance Championship with Toyota Gazoo Racing.

For 2023, Alonso will make the switch to the Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant Formula 1 Team, but Symonds, the current Chief Technical Officer of Formula 1 and part of the Renault F1 Team that helped the Spaniard win two consecutive Drivers’ Championships in 2005 and 2006, believes he still has what it takes to return to winning ways if given the car to do so.

“Yeah, in the right car, I think he is,” Symonds is quoted as saying by PlanetF1.com at the Autosport International show.  “You know, he is in his early 40s, [but] we’ve got such a spectrum now.

“An 18-year-old could get in the car and drive as [Lance] Stroll did, as indeed [Max] Verstappen did, right through into the 40s.  Because the cars are not terribly physical to drive in terms of upper body strength and things, you still need a reasonable amount, but you know, [there is] power steering. You need to be able to resist the G forces, but if you keep training, you can do that.

2023 Dakar Rally: 18-year-old Eryk Goczal fends off Baciuska for T4 win

The battle for the 2023 Dakar Rally‘s T4 was a tale of two drivers with different backgrounds. In one corner was Rokas Baciuška, the reigning World Rally-Raid Champion now receiving support from SSV powerhouses Red Bull and Can-Am. He faced off against Eryk Goczał, an eighteen-year-old Polish drifting champion with limited cross-country rally experience who just received his driving licence in October. Despite his youth, Goczał proved age matters little as he became the youngest stage and overall winner in Dakar Rally history.

Their duel came down to the fourteenth and final stage, when Baciuška entered with a lead of three minutes and twenty-four seconds over Goczał. However, a broken driveshaft in the closing stretch killed Baciuška’s chances for good as Goczał drove off to win by sixteen minutes.

“I just wanted to be at the finish line in this début start, and we’ve won the rally,” posted Goczał on social media. “It’s been an incredibly difficult rally. Two days ago we’ve made very difficult decision about our strategy. I’m so grateful to my family – to my dad and uncle – about how they helped us. They just put us in the first place and done everything that we could win. And it payed off.”

Baciuška seemed to draw first blood by winning the Prologue and Stage #1, but a fifteen-minute penalty in the latter promoted Goczał to the top spot. Fellow teenager Pau Navarro finished second ahead of Goczał’s uncle Michal Goczał, who is nearly twice his age.

Eryk’s father Marek Goczał, who had the 2022 T4 championship slip away after crashing in the final round in Andalucía, took the second stage. All three family members would win a leg with Eryk notching four, Marek two, and Michal one. By the end, Marek was third behind his son and Baciuška while Michal placed seventh.


RaceScene.com