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SODA names Kelly Kuether VP

The Short-course Off-Road Drivers Association announced Saturday that Kelly Kuether has become the new Vice President. The move comes two weeks after his predecessor Kyle Koehler died in a motorcycle crash.

“I am a proud husband and father that loves doing things with my family. I feel like SODA is a place to make that happen,” said Kuether. “SODA is a place that youth can come out, learn the sport, and actually join in. I hope that I can help SODA continue to grow and introduce more families and kids to the sport. With my experience over many types of racing, it’s to my goal to work with racers, fans, and other SODA officials to make this a series that everyone wants to come out, watch, and participate in.”

Kuether joined the SODA team after connecting with his acquaintance Jimmy Ridderbush, who serves as the technical director. His other responsibilities include being the head of security and coordinator for volunteers.

His interest in off-road racing began when he was in high schooler during the original SODA series’ existence, working as a crewman for Terry Friday in 1994. He eventually shifted to pit crew work in oval stock car racing and competing as a drag racer, but later retired to focus on family after his daughter’s birth. Since 1997, he has run Kuether Services in New London, Wisconsin, a home remodelling and repair business. Kuether also served with the Fox Cities Composite Squadron Civil Air Patrol as a public affairs and supply officer from 2012 to 2015.

The 2022 season ends with the first annual SODA Super Nationals at Gravity Park USA on 23/24 September. Besides the fanfare of the finale, Kuether joins at a time where SODA hopes to expand beyond the Midwestern United States; President Willie Freshour recently expressed hope of sanctioning multiple SODA regional series in 2023 across the country. Freshour told The Checkered Flag in May that he hopes to see SODA become the short course off-road equivalent of the International Motor Contest Association (IMCA) by cultivating a grassroots version across the country as a complement to larger series like Championship Off-Road.

Africa Eco Race threatened by Western Sahara clash

The 2022 Africa Eco Race has endured a tumultuous organisation process that has only grown messier. With a month until it is scheduled to take part, the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic issued an advisory Thursday to organisers requesting for them to avoid running the race through Western Sahara due to political strife in the region.

Since a ceasefire ended a fifteen-year war in 1991, Western Sahara has been disputed between the SADR and Morocco, with the latter occupying 75% of the territory while the SADR holds the rest. Forty-one United Nations members recognise the SADR, a contrast to just the United States doing so in Morocco’s favour to improve Moroccan-Israel relations in 2020. The UN itself consider Western Sahara a “non-self-governing territory” that does not fall under either state’s laws.

The twelve-stage Eco Race begins in Monaco before heading across the Mediterranean to Morocco. Although the first three stages go through Moroccan cities, the fourth sees competitors start in southern Morocco and cross into Western Sahara where they finish in Remz el Quebir. Stage #5 takes place exclusively in Western Sahara, with the former going to Dakhla where a rest day will be held on 23 October. Under Moroccan occupation, Dakhla is the capital of Dakhla-Oued Ed-Dahab. The sixth stage leaves the territory for Mauritania via Guerguerat where the majority of the race’s second half occurs and will end in Dakar, Senegal.

While the ceasefire ended formal military actions for nearly three decades, the SADR’s ruling party Polisario Front declared war on Morocco in November 2020 in response to clashes in Guerguerat. The town was the site of two interference attempts by the Polisario Front on the Eco Race before the UN convinced them to stop: 2018 saw armed militias deployed there to intercept incoming racers heading to Lac Rose, while the 2020 edition began with the border crossing being blocked by protesters but eventually proceeded.

With open conflict restarting, the SADR launched lobbying for the race to be re-routed away from the “war zone”. The government first advised outside parties to “refrain from any activity of any kind” in the territory on 18 November 2020 shortly after the declaration of war.

Italian GP: Leclerc Takes Pole Position, Russell on Front Row after Penalites

Charles Leclerc took pole position for Scuderia Ferrari for the Italian Grand Prix in front of the Tifosi on Saturday, the Monegasque racer edging out Max Verstappen at the end of Q3.

However, the grid will be jumbled up as nine drivers went into the Qualifying hour with grid penalties hanging over them, including four drivers that made it into the top ten shootout, including current championship leader Verstappen.

Q1 – Haas, Aston Martin Fall, de Vries gets through

Verstappen was quickest in the first session for Oracle Red Bull Racing, the Dutchman outpacing the Ferrari duo of Leclerc and Carlos Sainz Jr.

At the other end of the grid, a mistake at the Rettifilo chicane cost Nicholas Latifi a chance to advance into Q2, but his Williams Racing team-mate for this weekend, Nyck de Vries, did advance as he took the place of Alexander Albon on Saturday morning after the Thai driver pulled out with appendicitis.

Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant F1 Team saw their struggles this weekend continued as both Sebastian Vettel and Lance Stroll were eliminated, while the Haas F1 Team also struggled, Kevin Magnussen and Mick Schumacher ending slowest of all in nineteenth and twentieth.

Toyota Lock out Front Row at Fuji, Porsche Takes LMGTE Pole Position

Toyota Gazoo Racing locked out the front row of the grid for the 6 Hours of Fuji on Saturday, with Kamui Kobayashi leading the way in the #7 machine in the penultimate Qualifying session of the 2022 FIA World Endurance Championship season.

Kobayashi set a flying lap of 1:29.234 to take pole position in the Hypercar class, although it was a close-run thing between the #7 and the sister #8 car, with Brendon Hartley putting in two lap times within a tenth of a second of the Japanese racer.

Just 0.020 seconds separated the two Toyota’s at the conclusion of Qualifying, while the #36 Alpine Elf Team took third, just 0.212 seconds down in the hands of Frenchman Matthieu Vaxiviere.

Less than a second down in fourth and fifth were the two Peugeot TotalEnergies 9X8’s, with the #93 of Jean-Éric Vergne ahead of the #94 of Loïc Duval.

In LMP2, Portuguese racer António Félix da Costa took pole position in the championship-leading #38 JOTA Oreca with his first timed lap of 1:31.649, although he was unable to improve on his second run. 

Dilbagh Gill departs Mahindra Racing ahead of Formula E Season Nine

Dilbagh Gill, who led Mahindra Racing‘s charge from the very first race of the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship, has announced that he will be departing the team, therefore relinquishing his roles as Team Principal and CEO.

Gill has been a monumental figure in the team’s Formula E career, with the former boss of the team having overseen all five of the team’s victories, with the last of them coming at the London E-Prix in Season Seven, where Alex Lynn claimed a home victory.

The incredible figure has led the team through all the highs and lows in their one-hundred Formula E races, but the time has now come for him to take on new adventures. He’s left the team in a brilliant position ahead of Season Nine and the brand-new Gen3, with the signing of Lucas Di Grassi to partner Oliver Rowland.

Gill also played a pivotal part in agreeing the deal with the returning ABT Formula E Team, who will be a customer team of Mahindra with the Anglo-Indian team supplying them with powertrains.

The team released the following statement via Twitter, where they thanked Gill for his “contribution, hard work, and loyalty”.

Avalanche Andretti complete Season Nine line-up with André Lotterer

Eight-time ABB FIA Formula E World Championship podium finisher André Lotterer has been announced as Jake Dennis‘ team-mate for Season Nine at the Avalanche Andretti FE Team, as the American team prepares for the all-electric series.

Lotterer joins the team having left the TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team; however, the German driver will remain part of the German manufacturer’s LMDh programme. Lotterer is one of the fiercest and most aggressive driver’s in the championship, and is one who will most likely contest any team orders!

The German driver made his debut in the series back in 2017, and has made sixty-seven starts in the series ever since.

Lotterer is “excited” to be joining one of the strongest teams in the paddock, and is expecting himself and team-mate Dennis to be a “great combination”.

“I’m excited to be joining Avalanche Andretti FE for Season 9 and the start of the Gen3 era. Working together with Jake will be a great combination to continue to push the team to the front of the field in Formula E.”

Ferrari Chairman Elkann Backs Team Principal Binotto but Insists Mistakes Must End

Scuderia Ferrari chairman John Elkann says he is still backing the current Team Principal Mattia Binotto, but he says the team need to remove the mistakes that have blighted their 2022 FIA Formula 1 World Championship season.

Ferrari started the current season with two wins in the opening three races but have seen only two further victories since, while Oracle Red Bull Racing have taken a march on them with victories in each of the remaining eleven races.

Charles Leclerc remains Max Verstappen’s closest rival in the Drivers’ Championship with only seven races remaining, although he is one hundred and nine points behind the Dutchman.

The season has seen a number of reliability problems for both Leclerc and Carlos Sainz Jr., while driver errors and strategical mistakes have seen Ferrari’s season fall apart at the seems and drop away from the front in both championships.

“We have great faith in Mattia Binotto and appreciate everything he and all our engineers have done, but there is no doubt that the work in Maranello, in the garage, on the pit wall and at the wheel needs to improve,” Elkann is quoted as saying to Italian publication Gazzetta dello Sport by

Italian GP: Max Verstappen Tops Final Practice Session as Qualifying Beckons

Oracle Red Bull Racing topped the final Italian Grand Prix Practice Session in round sixteen of the FIA Formula 1 World Championship, with Max Verstappen finishing at the top of the timesheets outpacing Charles Leclerc with team-mate Sérgio Perez having a much better session finishing third.

The biggest news from before the session came from Williams Racing. Alex Albon was replaced by Nyck De Vries in the session and for the rest of the weekend after the former Red Bull driver got diagnosed with appendicitis. The former Formula 2 and Formula E World Champion will make his Formula 1 debut this weekend after racing in multiple free practice sessions.

Verstappen posted a time of 1.21.252 on soft tyres ahead of rival Leclerc by quite a way, with the Scuderia Ferrari driver 0.347s off the pace. Verstappen’s team-mate, Pérez, was a further 0.149s off the lead.

Carlos Sainz Jr. finished the session in fourth, just 0.050s away from Pérez. Fernando Alonso was the best of the rest ahead in his BWT Alpine F1 Team car ahead of the team’s rivals McLaren F1 Team, with Lando Norris in sixth position.

It was a disappointing session for the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team, with George Russell and Lewis Hamilton only able to finish seventh and tenth respectively. Yuki Tsunoda and Esteban Ocon were the other drivers in the top ten at the end of the session.

Venturi officially transition into the Monaco Sports Group for Gen3 arrival

With Season Eight of the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship having concluded recently at the Seoul E-Prix, the ROKIT Venturi Grand Prix team has officially become the Monaco Sports Group (MSG) ahead of Season Nine and Gen3.

There is so much to be excited for at the MSG ahead of the new generation of the all-electric series, with Maserati joining the ranks as the team’s official powertrain partner. The team are yet to announce their driver line-up; however, it is believed that Nyck de Vries will take one of the spots if he is unsuccessful in getting the Formula 1 seat at Williams Racing.

The MSG will continue to be controlled by Venturi Chairman, Scott Swid, and Managing Partner, José M Aznar Botella, and will remain headquartered at the same address in the Principality.

The newly-named team will be targeting instant success in Season Nine, which kicks-off in Mexico City on 14 January.

Swid is excited for the team’s “next chapter” under the new name, and is hopeful that with Maserati onboard the team can “compete at the front of the grid”.

Lance Stroll: “The tow does not appear to be as strong with this generation of cars”

Lance Stroll admitted it was a challenging Friday for the Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant F1 Team at the Autodromo Nazionale Monza, with the Canadian finishing only fifteenth and eighteenth across the two practice sessions.

The Canadian had a busy day as the team used the available track time to get as much data as they could on Friday, but Stroll says they were unable to find the ‘sweet spot’ around the low-downforce Monza circuit with his AMR22.

“It was quite a challenging day trying to dial the car into the sweet spot around this low-downforce set-up,” said Stroll.  “A busy job list and plenty of laps have given us a lot of data to go through tonight, so we will see where we can improve before qualifying. 

“It seems quite a few drivers are facing grid penalties, so that could mix up the grid and open up more opportunities.”

Stroll feels the tow that has been traditionally strong at Monza in the past has not shown itself to be as strong this year with the new-for-2022 FIA Formula 1 World Championship cars, and he feels this could change the way Qualifying goes on Saturday afternoon.

Appendicitis Rules Albon out of Italian Grand Prix, de Vries to make Debut

Nyck de Vries will make his FIA Formula 1 World Championship debut this weekend at the Autodromo Nazionale Monza in place of the unwell Alexander Albon.

Albon has appendicitis and has been forced to step down from his drive at Williams Racing, and the team have called upon the services of de Vries, the winner of the 2020-21 ABB FIA Formula E World Championship, who also acts as Williams’ reserve driver.

It will not be the first time de Vries has driven the FW44, with the Dutchman having participated in free practice for the Spanish Grand Prix in May for the team, but he will have a big learning curve to come this weekend in Italy as he participates in final practice on Saturday morning before his first Qualifying session later in the day.

“Williams Racing can confirm that, after feeling unwell this morning and seeking medical advice from the FIA and local hospital, Alex Albon is now undergoing treatment for appendicitis,” read a statement from Williams.

“Following on from this, we can confirm that the team’s Reserve Driver Nyck de Vries will drive in place of Alex for the remainder of the Italian Grand Prix weekend.

John Hunter Nemechek advances to Round of 8 after Hocevar heartbreak

Just one more lap. That was all Carson Hocevar needed to clinch a spot in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series‘ Round of 8. Unfortunately, his fuel tank had other plans.

Below the cut line entering Friday’s Kansas Lottery 200 at Kansas Speedway, Hocevar need a win to advance to the next round. He led much of the final stage and appeared to be in position, but the exceptionally long green-flag run (fifty-three laps without a caution to the finish, the longest in a Truck race at Kansas since fifty-four in the 2021 WISE Power 200) forced Hocevar to begin driving conservatively to save fuel.

This strategy allowed pole-sitter John Hunter Nemechek, who had dominated the race by sweeping the stages, to catch up before passing him in turn one on the final lap. Hocevar would run out of gas halfway through the lap and settle for second, but would be eliminated as he was three points short. Hocevar later tweeted, “we tried”.

The win is Nemechek’s second of 2022 and first at Kansas. Three of his last four Truck victories have come when he started on the pole, joined by the 2021 220 and 2022 Dead On Tools 200. It is also Kyle Busch Motorsports‘ sixth triumph at Kansas.

“I got nervous there for a couple laps actually with all the lapped traffic in front of me and I kept dirtying myself with the dirty air,” said Nemechek. “I had to play it smarter and I didn’t play it smart there for a couple laps. I got myself a little bit behind, but had huge speed and got a huge run off turn four. I knew that the #42 (Hocevar) was saving fuel too and trying to block there.

Valtteri Bottas: “We’re not too much far off where we want to be”

Alfa Romeo F1 Team ORLEN had a trouble free first day at the Italian Grand Prix, in the FIA Formula 1 World Championship. Before the start of the first session the mood in the paddock was somewhat subdued, following the news on Thursday of the passing of the British monarch. Ten minutes before Free Practice One, the Formula 1 personnel lined-up in the pit-lane, to observe a minutes silence in memory of Queen Elizabeth II as a sign of respect.

Guanyu Zhou and Valtteri Bottas both completed a good number of laps in both sessions and gathered crucial data for the engineers to use in anticipation for tomorrow’s Qualifying session.

Bottas was pleased with the team’s promising progress after ending the day in thirteenth, but admits that the car is capable of being higher up the grid.

“It felt good to be out there, it is a nice track to be driving and it’s even nicer when the car feels good like it did today. Pace-wise, we seem to be doing better than in the last couple of events, so that is promising looking ahead to Sunday.

“There is still some fine-tuning to do, but I feel we’re not too much far off where we want to be, and we will be looking for any small gains we can get tonight.

Charles Leclerc: “The feeling in the car was good”

It was a positive Friday for Scuderia Ferrari at the Italian Grand Prix, in the FIA Formula 1 World Championship. In the first practice session of the day, Carlos Sainz Jr. followed Charles Leclerc in a one-two finish. The second practice followed, and the Spaniard improved his form topping the times at the end of the session.

Ferrari are sporting a limited edition livery this weekend, with some yellow touches to celebrate the origins of the marque with a colour that is very much part of Ferrari’s history. The team will be hoping the livery will change their luck, with only one win in their last five races.

Leclerc was pleased with the team’s start to the weekend, but insisted that their is still work to be done as they look ahead to qualifying later on Saturday.

“The feeling in the car was good. We still haven’t found the sweet spot in terms of balance, but we tried many different things throughout the day and know which direction we want to go in.

“Our race pace looked stronger than our qualifying pace, so if we put it all together there is quite good potential to have a solid weekend.”

Vladimir Chagin: KAMAZ-master “negotiating with” Dakar Rally on 2023 entry

With KAMAZ-master‘s parent KAMAZ being such a major contributor of personnel and materiel transport vehicles to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, it comes with little surprise that not many expect them to be permitted to take part in the 2023 Dakar Rally or any international events for the forseeable future.

However, team head Vladimir Chagin appears to be trying to reverse that. Speaking to Russian state-owned media outlet TASS at the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok on Tuesday, he revealed he is in discussions with race operators to let the organisation compete and continue their stranglehold on the Truck category.

“I am negotiating with the organisers of the Dakar on the participation of our team in the rally,” Chagin told TASS. “They really want to see Russian participants in the race, but they can’t answer anything concrete yet. But we are doing our best to participate in the legendary marathon.”

KAMAZ-master is the top Truck team at the Dakar Rally by a wide margin, having won the class nineteen times including the last six years; Chagin has seven victories to his name. Following the invasion’s launch in February, however, many Russian entrants were limited to domestic competition or had to race under neutral flags internationally under the policies of the FIA, who co-sanctions the rally via the World Rally-Raid Championship.

Outside investors pulled out in the wake of the war such as primary sponsor Red Bull, prompting KAMAZ to up their relationship with state-owned Gazprom, who is responsible for the ongoing European gas crisis. The team also had to sell off old race-winning trucks and begin producing parts locally in their hometown of Naberezhnye Chelny.