Indianapolis, Indiana – FIRST Motorsport have announced the driver that will partner Oleksandr Zozulya for the 2018 Formula Virtual season in the lead up to the United States V-Prix. A transcript from the press conference has been attached below.
North Star Racing reserve driver Gabriele García will not be attending the United States V-Prix, as he recuperates from an ankle sprain suffered this morning.
Just over 24 hours removed from their shock victory at the 2017 Canadian V-Prix, North Star Racing have formally announced that a new contract has been signed with engine supplier BMW, which will see the German marque power the British outfit through at least the 2019 season.
Puccio Giodano has claimed his third pole position of the season in style, as the Italian's time was unbeatable all session. The top five drivers remained in close company, under two tenths separating them.
Adrien Simon extended his run of topping practice to four consecutive race weekends, but there was drama behind him as championship challenger Klaas van Snelheid crashed at the Wall of Champions with ten minutes to run in the session, bringing it to an early end.
Ukrainian driver Dmytro Kovalenko has confirmed he will race in Formula Virtual next season, after having his contract purchased by Australian team AMR. However, speculation continues to run rife regarding the team's ability to compete next season, if indications from close sources are anything to go by.
Ocelot Japan Racing have confirmed the promotion of their youth academy driver Royota Yoshida, the Japanese driver marks the first time ever a Japanese driver has driven for a Japanese team in the sport. Yoshida wrapped up the VWRS title last weekend and now looks to have his sights set in Formula Virtual.
Yoshida is also the very first driver to be promoted from CODA (Cerberus-Ocelot Driver Academy.) It shall be very interesting to see how the youngster does in the sport next season and if he can be up to the task. The Japanese fans however will be extremely pleased by the announcement following that Ocelot next season will have a engine supplier that will not be Japanese.
Rai Miyamoto had the following to say in regards to the choice. ''A loss in one area is a gain in another. It is fantastic to be able to have a Japanese driver for us, this has been a long time coming. Ryota is absolute talent and we believe he has what it takes to do well in the sport. The last time we took a risk with a rookie was Judson and he has done some great things at North Star so we have every confidence in Ryota.''
It will be interesting to see what happens to Nowosinki and Van Snelheid in regards to the news, the team has not confirmed if either driver are being considered for the reserve role.
Japanese outfit Ocelot Japan Racing have confirmed that they will separate at the end of the season from Franklin-Honda, who supplied them with an engine this particular season following the team's deal with Downton ending. This comes as a surprise from the Paddock as Ocelot have remained at the back of the grid since their debut in 2015.
Rai Miyamoto had the following to say:
''We have decided the best way to improve is to became a works team although we are grateful for everything Bradley and Jamie have provided us in trying to help us learn and transition from back-marker to midfield. However today marks a new beginning for the team, a step forward. We are currently in talks with 4 different manufacturers who are leading the race to become our engine supplier.
I can't confirm at this time who the leading 4 are but we will have an announcement soon in regards to this, although I can give you a small snip in telling you they aren't Japanese, so it'll be interesting to see what creative rumors you all spring up.
''As for the driver announcement that will be later today. Keep your eyes peeled.''
Ocelot Team Principle Rai Miyamoto has publicly expressed his desire for Franklin F1 to be more communicative with the Japanese outfit. The two teams have a technical partnership and both are powered by Honda for this particular season however Ocelot's engine supplier for next season is still an area of uncertainty around the paddock.
Ocelot have also loaned out Puccio Giodano to Franklin for this particular season as well and while Ocelot did confirm an announcement for their drivers for next season was soon there now seems to be a slight delay.
''Now we are close to making our announcement but we really need Jamie to make a decision on if he is interested in trying to secure the services of Puccio for next season or not. We have contacted Jamie in regards to this a couple of times but have heard no response which is slightly worrying as it is delaying our plans in the drivers market.''
''As for our engine supplier next season lets just say there are plans should things not work out Franklin and Honda.''
Meteor Motorsport has announced that Jules Simon and Sebastien Vocquelin will be one its drivers for the 2018 season. Jamie Gerrard will remain will the team as a test and reserve driver