IndyCar eyes expansion

Winter races could carry brand outside US

IndyCars could soon be racing in Asia, Latin America and other venues outside the championship’s US heartland during the winter months.

President of operations Derrick Walker has laid out plans for what is being called the “internationalisation of IndyCar”. The winter of 2015-16 has been set as a target.

Walker has laid out a number of different scenarios. These include non-points races, a winter championship or even the possibility of the IndyCar Series starting overseas in January or February. “We have teams that don’t have a lot to do from the end of September or October through to the start of the season in March,” he said. “There is only so much testing you can do. Our teams need income and an international component to their season would help strengthen their financial position. “International events are definitely something IndyCar wants as part of its DNA. We are interested to talk to any country, city or promoter who might be interested in putting on a race. The regions we visit would be defined by the ability for the races to be properly funded. The Americas are important to us and so is Asia, including India and the Gulf states.”

Walker stressed that there was no plan to extend the current schedule with any additional flyaways beyond the existing Sao Paolo street race. “We are not going to tear up our existing calendar,” he explained. “We don’t want our champion crowned at lam in some faraway place.”

Walker suggested that a visit to Europe was unlikely for that reason.

A European-based group, which had been trying to revive the AlGP World Cup of Motorsport, has had contact with IndyCar. It has a series of agreements with cities and promoters in developing motor sport markets and believes IndyCar could take up its events.

The plan to take IndyCar aboard has teams’ backing. Andretti Autosport vice-president J-F Thormann said: “We are very much in favour. The domestic schedule ends so early, but we employ our personnel all year round, so it would be a good use of human resources and assets.”

Facelift for British F3

The British Formula 3 Championship will not disappear while the Stephane Ratel Organisation is in charge.

Ratel made the pledge when he relaunched the ailing series for 2014 and said the series “would not die on my watch”.

“Everyone said we were going to stop it,” he added. “But with 62 years of heritage, we can’t give up.”

The plan for what is now known as the British Formula 3 International Series is to focus on its homeland and include five triple-header rounds in the UK and one at Spa. That contrasts with this year’s reduced schedule of four meetings, including two overseas, implemented in the wake of the FIA European F3 Championship’s launch.

The UK will retain current F3 chassis regulations, but with existing engines rather than a new breed that’s being introduced to Europe next year.

MotorSport Vision boss Jonathan Palmer, British F3 champion in 1981, has put forward his own ideas for saving F3 in Britain. He has suggested more races and more common components, but Ratel feels it is important to maintain the British series as a “proper” F3 championship that serves as a feeder series to Europe.

Muller joins Loeb at Citroën

Multiple Tin-Top champion Yvan Muller will join Sebastien Loeb in the Citroën factory World Touring Car Championship team next year.

The Frenchman, who is on his way to claiming a fourth WTCC title this year with RML Chevrolet, has been signed for the 2014 and 2015 seasons. Muller will race a Citroën C-Elysee built to the new WTCC regulations that come into force next season.

Citroën Racing boss Yves Matton said: “We have set ambitious goals for our new WTCC challenge, and the arrival of a driver as experienced as Yvan will help us make rapid progress.”

The C-Elysee has already been out testing, with both Muller and Loeb behind the wheel.

Citroën could enter a third car in the series, or in selected races, and Matton has made plain his desire to run former grand prix driver Robert Kubica.

Räikkönen tests GP3 car

Lotus Formula 1 driver Kimi Räikkönen had an outing in a GP3 car at the Barcelona circuit in August.

The Finn tested the one-make racer as part of the 2014 development process for the second-generation GP3 chassis, introduced this season. New tyre compounds and methods to improve the racing were under evaluation.

The test came courtesy of Räikkönen’s relationship with fellow countryman Afa Heikkinen, whose Koiranen GP squad competes in GP3.

Bellof honoured at ‘Ring
The corner known as Pflanzgarten II on the Nürburgring’s Nordschleife has been renamed the Stefan Bellof S in honour of the 1984 World Sports Car champion and his 6min 11.13sec qualifying lap for the 1983 Nürburgring 1000Kms aboard a Porsche 956. It has remained the fastest lap of the Nordschleife to this day. His 1983 team-mate Derek Bell was on hand to drive the Rothmans Porsche 956 around the track at the unveiling ceremony in August.

Surtees talent search
The Henry Surtees challenge at Buckmore Park will run for a third time on October 23. The race, founded to unearth the best young motor racing talent, offers a range of prizes from Red Bull Racing, Falcon Motorsport, Hillspeed Racing, Carlin Motorsport, Arai, Teng Tools, Manor Motorsport, Hearing Electronics and Puma. All rewards are geared towards enhancing the successful racers’ careers, and entry costs £500.

Gary Watkins