Section: Motorsport

MotoGP: Marquez takes pole at CoTA after dramatic Q2

Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez claimed his 23rd MotoGP pole position in Austin, after stopping on track with just 3 minutes to go on Austin.

The reigning MotoGP World Champion had to run down the pit lane to retrieve his second bike with only seconds to spare as the clock ticked down on Q2.  Not even this could stop the Spaniard as he went on to set the fastest ever time on two-wheels around CoTA, a 2’02.135, over sixth-tenths quicker than his previous lap record set in Qualifying last year.

Marquez finished ahead of Andrea Dovizioso (+0.339s ) on the Ducati Team GP15, and Movistar Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo (+0.405s) who completed the front row.

Lorenzo’s teammate Valentino Rossi (+0.428s) will start from the front of the second row, with the Brits Cal Crutchlow (+0.478s) and Scott Redding (+0.539s) on their Factory spec Honda’s in 5th and 6th respectively.

The second factory Ducati of Andrea Iannone will start from 7th, with the Team Suzuki Ecstar of Aleix Espargaro (8th) finishing ahead of his brother Pol (Monster Tech 3 Yamaha) in 9th.

Bradley Smith, Danilo Petrucci and Maverick Viñales will form the 4th row of the grid for Sundays race.

Earlier on, it was the Factory Ducati GP15 of Andrea Iannone and Team Suzuki Ecstar’s Maverick Viñales who made it through from Q1.

Sunday’s MotoGP™ race is due to start at 14:00 local time in Austin.

Read more at MotoGP

F1: Lewis Hamilton beats Nico Rosberg to Chinese Grand Prix pole by 0.04s

Lewis Hamilton took his third consecutive pole position of the season as he pipped Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg to the top spot in China by the slimmest of margins.

Hamilton has looked flawless all weekend and carried that form into qualifying, though he was made to sweat in Q3 when Rosberg crossed just 0.042s down on his 1:35.782 benchmark. The Mercedes front-row lock out was expected, with Ferrari having to turn its attention from the Silver Arrows to the Martini-liveried Williams in qualifying. Having had a quiet practice, Williams was back in the hunt for the second row and looked to have secured it behind Mercedes, only for Vettel to snatch third with his last run.

One important consideration was tyres, given Mercedes’ costly decision to use a set of prime tyres in Q1 in Malaysia – a decision which hampered the team in the race. There was no repeat this time around as Mercedes set the Q1 times it needed on medium tyres while all its rivals, including Ferrari, used fresh softs. It means Mercedes has saved a set of soft tyres for the race, something which may be crucial for strategy and nullifying the threat from Ferrari on Sunday.

Having had such a promising weekend on his longer runs, Kimi Raikkonen had to settle for sixth position, meaning the Finn will have to dispatch the Williams early if he wants to take the fight to Mercedes. Behind that, Daniel Ricciardo qualified seventh ahead of Romain Grosjean, while the Sauber’s of Felipe Nasr and Marcus Ericsson rounded off the top ten.

Daniil Kvyat was the biggest-name casualty in Q2 as he dropped out of the session in 12th. Toro Rosso’s Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz also failed to make it through the session, while Sergio Perez did well just to make the top 15 in the Force India.

McLaren had high hopes of making Q2 – and had even finished two tenths off 10th in FP3 – but both Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso dropped out of the first qualifying session. There was only 0.004s between the two former world champions, who finished two tenths off the time required to make it into the next session. It will be a blow for McLaren after talking up the visible progress it has made since the Malaysian Grand Prixm but the gains they have made might be more obvious in Sunday’s race. Nico Hulkenberg was the other man to drop out of Q1 despite having been quicker than team-mate Perez in the morning session.

Unsurprisingly the Manors finished at the foot of the standings, the first time both its drivers have completed a qualifying session. Will Stevens and Roberto Merhi qualified within the 107% mark required to race on Sunday.

Read more at ESPN

MotoGP: Marc Marquez shows he is still the man to beat in Austin

Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez finishes the first day of practice on top, as rain plays its part at the Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas.

The MotoGP™ Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas was already going to be exciting with the field closer than ever this year, but add to that the chance of rain and things could get really unpredictable this weekend in Austin.

Today’s first two MotoGP™ practice sessions took on an extra importance as rain is predicted to play a major part over the weekend at the Red Bull Grand Prix of The Americas. This meant that riders not only had an opportunity to collect vital data in the wet conditions for their teams, but also had one eye on making it through to Q2.

In FP1 it was the Ducati Team GP15 of Dovizioso who had set the fastest time, just beating Marc Marquez into second as the session ended, with the Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Racing Honda of Scott Redding finishing in an impressive 3rd.

It was all change for FP2, with the track drying and the rain holding off it gave riders a chance to head out and attempt to set what could be their fastest lap of the two days of practice. The time’s from FP2 might be very important, as with more rain forecast for tomorrow they could decide who makes it through to the second qualifying session on Saturday.

Read more at MotoGP

F1: Lewis Hamilton sets pace but Ferrari remains in the mix

Lewis Hamilton topped both Friday practice sessions ahead of the Chinese Grand Prix weekend, but Ferrari again showed signs of being able to challenge Mercedes over a race distance.

Following Sebastian Vettel’s victory in Malaysia, the big question heading to China was whether Ferrari could sustain its challenge to Mercedes’ F1 hegemony. The times in first practice suggested the pendulum had swung back in favour of the world champions, but in second practice Kimi Raikkonen offered hope of a genuine battle emerging for the second race in a row.

Raikkonen’s quick lap was within 0.5s of Hamilton’s best, but it was the long-run pace that looked most impressive as his Ferrari proved quick and consistent on the medium tyres. Hamilton said afterwards that his medium tyres “did not feel too good”, but the significantly quicker soft compound looks likely to be the tyre of choice if degradation of the front left is kept under control.

Both Sebastian Vettel and Nico Rosberg failed to impress on their hot laps, with Vettel 0.7s off team-mate Raikkonen and Rosberg running wide at the final corner on his soft tyre attempt. As a result Rosberg was a full second off the pace of Hamilton on a weekend when he needs to reassert himself in the in-team battle at Mercedes.

The laps of Vettel and Rosberg allowed Daniel Ricciardo to go third fastest in the Red Bull, although he was still over a second off Hamilton. Ricciardo was running a low-drag rear wing on the RB11, which helped mask the power deficit of the Renault engine but needs to be balanced against the extra strain the reduced downforce will put on the tyres. He was 0.4s quicker than team-mate Daniil Kvyat running the old rear wing, whose session came to an end in the barriers when his brakes failed at Turn 14.

Valtteri Bottas was seventh fastest for Williams while team-mate Felipe Massa failed to set a representative time after losing his car under braking for Turn 14. Massa was on his quick lap when the rear of the Williams stepped out under braking and grazed the barrier, knocking off the front wing endplate. The accident left Massa 17th by the end of the session and that allowed Jenson Button to creep into the top 10 with a time two seconds off Hamilton’s best. Fernando Alonso was another 0.5s shy of Button in 12th, but the overall performance was positive for McLaren and Honda as they up the performance of the MP4-30 again this weekend.

The session also had a bizarre and unwelcome interruption when a spectator managed to gain access to the pit straight and sprint across the breadth of the track to the pit wall as a Force India exited the final corner. He was quickly apprehended by marshals and passed on to the police, but the intrusion will be a concern for the race organisers.

Read more at ESPN

BTCC: Matt Neal makes it a Honda double at Brands Hatch

Honda’s Matt Neal completed a memorable afternoon and claimed the second victory for the new Civic Type R, following team-mate Gordon Shedden’s thrilling race two win earlier in the day.

The finale got off to a dramatic start when Rob Collard’s BMW was tapped into the gravel at Paddock Hill Bend, whilst a quartet of runners further down the field made contact at Druids. The first safety car of the season was immediately deployed as Josh Cook’s Chevrolet and Warren Scott’s VW were also forced into retirement.

Pole-sitter Rob Austin remained out front in his Exocet AlcoSense Audi but the two-time race winner couldn’t shake off the attentions of Neal and the MG of the impressive Jack Goff. The top three pulled away following the restart as Sam Tordoff’s kept a trail of cars behind him in fourth.

2013 champion Andrew Jordan was busy having his best showing of the day on his MG debut, as he scythed his way by Tom Ingram’s Toyota and Tordoff’s BMW to grab fourth on lap 15. Aron Smith was cutting his own similar ascent through the pack and eventually followed Jordan through and into fifth.

There would be changes aplenty in the top order, however, as race-leader Austin struggled for pace late on. Neal made his move on lap 21, and was immediately followed through by Goff at Paddock, as Austin was unable to withstand the race-long pressure. Jordan was soon upon the Audi too but a mistimed attack on the approach to Clearways led to contact, with both cars scampering across the gravel. Austin recovered and went on to claim fifth while Jordan retired in the pits with a puncture.

Goff kept Neal honest throughout and although they couldn’t match the incredible closeness of the race two finish, the gap across the line of just 0.196s again went to show the ultra competitiveness of the BTCC.

Smith, Tordoff and Austin were next up on the timesheets while Ingram rounded off a solid opening day with a top six result. Adam Morgan’s Mercedes took seventh ahead of the charging Andy Priaulx, who made the most of last corner contact between Dave Newsham’s Chevrolet and Hunter Abbott’s Audi to claim eighth.

Former champions Colin Turkington, Jason Plato and Shedden all endured disappointing results for differing reasons. Turkington spun his VW at Surtees and could only recover to finish 12th while his team-mate Plato had his storm through the field halted by a power steering problem. He was able to finish the race, albeit way down the order, while Shedden’s Honda did not make the final classification after a mid-race pit stop to correct his own mechanical woes.

Read more at BTCC.net

BTCC Brands Hatch FP1: Tom Ingram is fastest

Tom Ingram was the surprise name at the top of the time sheets in the first free practice session of the new season of the BTCC at Brands Hatch this morning.

On a drying track the Speedworks Motorsport driver set a time of 50.665 seconds, more than half a second faster than the next best car, the Honda of Matt Neal
Rookie Josh Cook, runner-up in last year’s Clio Cup, was third frastest ahead of Rob Collard and Dave Newsham.

Reigning champion Colin Turkington could only manage 13th fastest in his first session with Team BMR. All three of his team mates were ahead of him, with Aron Smith seventh, Warren Scott eighth and Jason Plato 11th.

MG pair Jack Goff and Andrew Jordan spent most of the session in the garage, completing just eight laps between them.

The next free practice session is at 12:45pm.
Follow live timing and driver tracker on itv.com/btcc
Qualifying, live on itv.com/btcc at 3.30pm

Read more at ITV Sport

MotoGP: Valentino Rossi wins season opener in Qatar

Italian legend Valentino Rossi won the opening race of the 2015 MotoGP season in a thrilling finish in Qatar.

Yamaha’s Rossi, a seven-time MotoGP champion, claimed his 109th Grand Prix victory after the 36-year-old held off Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso.

Andrea Iannone on the Ducati made it an all-Italian podium, with Spain’s two-time defending champion Marc Marquez back in fifth place.

Britons Cal Crutchlow and Bradley Smith came seventh and eighth respectively.

Marquez won the opening 10 races in 2014 but made a dreadful start to the new season as he was forced off the track and slipped to the back of the field.

The 22-year-old fought his way back up to fifth but could not challenge Rossi, who began the race eighth on the grid but charged to the front.

Rossi, who won the last of his seven titles in 2009, and compatriot Dovizioso enjoyed a dramatic duel in the closing stages, with the former champion defending a small lead over the final two laps.

“This was one of the best victories for me,” said Rossi. “The bike was fantastic, I never gave up but it was a real fight with the Ducatis and the Hondas who were really strong.

“I’m so happy for me, for the team and for Yamaha. The second part of the race was really good and I’m very happy because we had difficulties in testing and practice but my experience helped today.

“This is a great, great victory but I had a good feeling this morning.”

Qatar MotoGP result:
1. Valentino Rossi (Ita) Yamaha
2. Andrea Dovizioso (Ita) Ducati
3. Andrea Iannone (Ita) Ducati
4. Jorge Lorenzo (Spa) Yamaha
5. Marc Marquez (Spa) Honda
6. Dani Pedrosa (Spa) Honda
7. Cal Crutchlow (GB) Honda
8. Bradley Smith (GB) Yamaha
9. Pol Espargaro (Spa) Yamaha
10. Yonny Hernandez (Col) Ducati
11. Aleix Espargaro (Spa) Suzuki
12. Danilo Petrucci (Ita) Ducati
13. Scott Redding (GB) Honda
14. Maverick Vinales (Spa) Suzuki
15. Hector Barbera (Spa) Ducati

Read more at BBC Sport

F1: Vettel beats Mercedes for first Ferrari win

Sebastian Vettel took his first Ferrari victory at the Malaysian Grand Prix and the first for the team in 35 races after beating Mercedes in a battle of tyre degradation and strategy in the heat of Sepang.

Just two weeks after Mercedes dominated the Australian Grand Prix, Vettel made use of two-stop strategy to beat both Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg in a straight fight. The heat and a well-timed safety car played their part, but it should take nothing away from the drive from Vettel or the new-found performance of the Ferrari.

Kimi Raikkonen underlined Ferrari’s impressive pace by taking fourth despite a puncture on the first lap and fighting back through the field. Williams, meanwhile, struggled in the heat as Valtteri Bottas marked his return from a back injury with a fifth place after passing team-mate Felipe Massa on the penultimate lap. Renault-powered cars rounded out the top ten, although it was Toro Rossos ahead of Red Bulls as Sepang succeeded in throwing up yet another surprise in form.

Hamilton led Vettel away from the start as expected but the race was blown wide open by Marucus Ericsson, who spun on lap four. The resulting safety car opened up strategy options and effectively split the field into two separate races, which would eventually converge in the final stint.

Option one was to pit under the safety car, a strategy adopted by Hamilton and Rosberg, who had to stack in the Mercedes pit box as they came in at the same time. It put them on a three stop strategy, but also delivered them into the middle of the pack for the safety car restart. Vettel and Ferrari went a different way, opting to stay out and make the most of clear air at the front of the field before adopting a two-stop strategy.

Key to Vettel’s approach was being able to look after the tyres, but the Ferrari was capable of the task and Vettel built his lead when racing resumed. By the time Hamilton had emerged from the traffic into second on the road, his hard compound tyres were a little worse for wear and the gap to Vettel was 9.9s. Rosberg was in an even worse position behind as he had to pass both Felipe Massa and Daniel Ricciardo, who were on similar strategies but had got the jump on him in the pits stops under the safety car.

Vettel made his first stop on lap 17 and took on another set of medium compound tyres, which had worked so well for him in the first stint. The stop put him behind the two Mercedes, but he was able to use the pace advantage of his fresher and softer tyres to rein in both Mercedes and pass them on track. As Vettel got past Hamilton into the final corner on lap 24, the Mercedes dived into the pits, although by now it was clear there was a race on as both Mercedes were effectively a pit stop down on the Ferrari and behind it on track.

Now it was Hamilton’s turn to go at a quicker pace than the Ferrari, but to stand a chance of winning he would have to maintain it over the course of the stint and the Mercedes’ hunger for tyres was not willing to allow that. Vettel continued to log consistent times and on lap 37 pitted for the second and final time. He exited the pits behind Hamilton and just ahead of Rosberg, but crucially still had a pit stop in hand over both Mercedes.

Hamilton’s only hope was to be quick on his final set of tyres and haul in the Ferrari. It was a surprise, therefore, that at his final stop he took on the slower hard compound rather than the mediums. On his outlap he radioed to say “Wrong tyre, man”, but the decision dated back to Q1 in qualifying when Mercedes opted to send both cars out on mediums in the first session in order to save hard tyres for the race, presumably in the belief the mediums would degrade too quickly in the heat and the hard would be the tyre of choice. But as Vettel proved, that was not the case on Sunday and so Hamilton had to try to haul in a 15-second deficit to Vettel using the same tyres.

In the end it proved too big a deficit and Hamilton finished the race 8.5s behind Vettel. It remains to be seen whether it was a one-off in the heat of Malaysia or a true reflection of Ferrari’s improvement over the winter.

As an aside, 2014 Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso observed the victory from the pit wall after his first race with McLaren-Honda ended with a technical issue on lap 21. Team-mate Jenson Button retired 20 laps later from 14th position, emphasising the task ahead of the team before it joins the fun at the front.

Read more at ESPN

MotoGP: Andrea Dovizioso claimed a sensational pole position in Qatar

Ducati fill 3 of the top 5 positions on the grid for Sunday’s race in Qatar.

Andrea Dovizioso blitzed his way to pole in spectacular fashion as he took advantage of the softer tyre option to set a time two-tenths quicker than the rest of the field, and funnily enough, seemed quite pleased: “I am very happy because the pole today is the result of a group effort: after two years in which we have suffered, we finally managed to achieve a competitive motorbike, and I honestly did not think we would have been so fast right away with the GP15.”

One of the surprises of QP2 was the pace of Dani Pedrosa as he out-qualified his teammate Marc Marquez to finish in 2nd. The Spaniard was delighted to get onto the front row: “It was fantastic, because I think that it was one of my fastest laps at this track. It was vital to set a good lap time today, without making any mistakes, due to the fact that at this track all the times are very close together.”

Andrea Iannone was disappointed to miss out on a front row start on the second Ducati Team GP15, as he finished in 4th.

It was another disappointing day for the Movistar Yamaha’s of Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi, who will start tomorrow’s race in 6th and 8th place respectively

Monster Tech 3 Yamaha’s Bradley Smith, who only just made it through from Q1 with last lap of the session will start from 7th, admits he didn’t make it easy for himself

Cal Crutchlow, who ended the practice sessions 2nd fastest overall, crashed out at turn 14 and will have to start the race from the back of the fourth row: “Thankfully it’s just my pride that is hurt today, but obviously I’m not happy. I made a stupid mistake. The positive is that we were very fast and we had a great chance to get on the front row and my ideal time would have put us there. But hey, that’s racing! The other guys did a better qualifying and we were 12th.”

Read more at MotoGP

F1: Hamilton beats Vettel to pole in the wet

Lewis Hamilton just held onto pole position ahead of Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel by 0.074s at the Malaysian Grand Prix as rain played a factor in a tense qualifying session in Sepang.

Nico Rosberg had to settle for third, 0.465s off Hamilton and 0.391s off Vettel, after failing to improve on either of his two final runs. The wet track opened up a slither of hope for Ferrari and Vettel nearly capitalised on it as the Mercedes got in each other’s way on their second runs.

Hamilton was the first to make the most of fresh intermediate rubber and his initial attempt on a new set of tyres stood as the pole position time by the end of the session. Rosberg’s first attempt was not so good and his second lap was then hampered as a Williams exited the pits in front of him at Turn 1. That caused Rosberg to abandon his lap, but in doing so he hampered Hamilton, who was on an even quicker lap behind him.

For Hamilton it made no difference as his first lap was quick enough for pole, but Rosberg dropped to third behind Vettel, who improved late in the session. Daniel Ricciardo managed to take fourth for Red Bull ahead of team-mate Daniil Kvyat and the Toro Rosso of Max Verstappen, as three of the four Renaultp-powered cars took advantage of the conditions. Williams lost out in the conditions after initially going out on full wet tyres before pitting twice again for intermediates. Felipe Massa was left seventh ahead of Romain Grosjean, who also went out on full wets initially, and Valtteri Bottas. Marcus Ericsson rounded out the top ten as he continued to show impressive pace in the Sauber this weekend.

There was only enough time for one slick tyre run in Q2 before the rain came, meaning it was all about positioning at the pit lane exit to get a clean run and qualify for Q3. Vettel enjoyed a clear track at the front of the queue, but his Ferrari team-mate Kimi Raikkonen did not and was knocked out after losing time in the final corner behind the Sauber of Ericsson. Pastor Maldonado was also knocked out along with the two Force Indias of Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez and the Toro Rosso of Carlos Sainz, which had looked capable of a better performance based on practice times.

Felipe Nasr dropped out in a dry Q1 in the second Sauber along with the two McLarens and two Manors. Jenson Button managed to beat McLaren team-mate Fernando Alonso, but despite positive signs through the weekend the disadvantage of the detuned Honda power unit left him 0.3s shy of Nasr’s Sauber.

Roberto Mehri was the only one of the two Manors to set a time, but it was 0.4s shy of 107% of the fastest time by Lewis Hamilton, meaning his participation will be left down to the discretion of the stewards. Will Stevens, meanwhile, failed to clock a lap due to a fuel pressure problem, but his FP2 time on Friday would have been quick enough to get within 107% and therefore he is likely to be allowed to race.

Read more at ESPN