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Rahal Texas win IMS

Rahal Texas win IMSSchmidt Peterson Motorsports' James Hinchcliffe may have held the lead at Texas for 76 long days after the rain pushed the conclusion of the Firestone 600 from June to August, but the Canadian came up 0.0080 seconds short from sealing the victory as Graham Rahal won by a nose to capture the most thrilling IndyCar race of the year.

Rahal led only the final portion of the final lap as he knocked off Hinchcliffe, who took complete command of the race for all but a matter of inches when a restart with eight laps remaining turned the event into an old-school IRL pack race. Swinging high to fake Hinchcliffe before diving low on the run to the checkered flag made all the difference as Hinchcliffe – who led 188 laps – took a few moments to compose himself after Rahal's shocking move in the No. 15 RLL entry.

Indycar finish

Rahal and Hinchcliffe finished 1-2, earned Honda's second win of the season, and recorded the fifth-closest finish in series history as Tony Kanaan (-0.093) took third and championship leader Simon Pagenaud (-0.4773) took a step back from the insanity to capture fourth and extend his points lead to 28 over Will Power.

"James did a great job tonight; he deserved to win it, honestly," said Rahal, who dedicated the win to the late Bryan Clauson and Justin Wilson. "It was pretty intense. If Texas Motor Speedway didn't love that, they don't love racing. I'm so proud of this team."

The victory marks Honda's first win since the Indianapolis 500.

Rahal's win was his first sine Mid-Ohio in 2015, and prior to the wild finish, Hinchcliffe appeared set to get his first since New Orleans 2015.

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"To lead all day ...," he said as his voice trailed off. "The car was just a rocket ship but those yellows at the end just killed us. Congtrats to Graham; that was a great race. We led 'em all but the one that mattered. Just gutted for everyone."

A decent crowd returned for the conclusion of the Firestone 600, but Kanaan felt bad for all those who skipped the show.

"It was so much fun," he said. "I gotta thank the fans that came back. Whoever didn't come, you missed a hell of a race."

The race was close to being completed caution-free, but all that changed on Lap 213 as second-place Ed Carpenter and Scott Dixon – who was attempting to unlap himself – tangled entering Turn 1. The defending series champion, who held fourth in the championship coming into Texas, was unhurt, but his No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevy was finished after the right side of the car clouted the SAFER barrier.

When the race resumed on Lap 220, the pack racing insanity was back until Carpenter crashed on Lap 224 when the back of his No. 20 ECR Chevy wiggled and rotated. Championship contender Helio Castroneves was following behind Carpenter and incurred damage to his front wing and right-rear wheel pod when he hit the back of the No. 20 and lightly contacted the wall with the back of his car. Stops for repairs under yellow kept the Brazilian in the hunt, but he didn't have the speed to chase and pass down the leaders and settled for fifth.

The restart on Lap 231 saw Hinchcliffe enveloped by the field until teammate Mikhail Aleshin and AJ Foyt Racing's Jack Hawksworth crashed on Lap 232. Aleshin's solo spin took place in front of Hawksworth, who went hard into the wall in avoidance. The Briton received assistance from the Holmatro Safety Team to walk from the car to the ambulance.

Primed for a sprint to the finish line, the choice by Tony Kanaan and all those behind the top three to pit for new tires under yellow and forfeit track position was the big gamble of the race as Hinchcliffe, Rahal and Castroneves stayed out on their used Firestones. The restart with eight laps to go saw Pagenaud and Kanaan motor past Rahal and Castroneves and chase down Hinchcliffe.

The group soon went four-wide down the back straight, Pagenaud wisely backed out and let Rahal, Kanaan and Hinchcliffe take all the risks, and despite the fresh rubber, Kanaan was unable to use the advantage to get by the Honda duo.

Left to chase Hinchcliffe on his own, Rahal had the advantage of using a variety of lines and lanes to search for a way past the SPM driver, and after coming so close to winning in 2012 with Chip Ganassi Racing, redemption was in the air in Victory Lane.

UP NEXT: Watkins Glen – the penultimate round of 2016 – which starts on Friday.

Pos

SP

Car

Driver

C/A/E/T

Lap

Laps Down

Time Down

Pit Stops

Elapsed Time

Avg Speed

Pts

Running/Reason Out

1

13

15

Rahal, Graham

D/H/H/F

248

0

--.----

15

02:29:24.8886

144.901

51

Running

2

10

5

Hinchcliffe, James

D/H/H/F

248

0

0.0080

11

02:29:24.8966

144.901

43

Running

3

8

10

Kanaan, Tony

D/C/C/F

248

0

0.0903

15

02:29:24.9789

144.900

36

Running

4

6

22

Pagenaud, Simon

D/C/C/F

248

0

0.4773

15

02:29:25.3659

144.894

32

Running

5

3

3

Castroneves, Helio

D/C/C/F

248

0

9.3424

17

02:29:34.2310

144.750

31

Running

6

15

83

Kimball, Charlie

D/C/C/F

247

1

-

15

02:29:25.6133

144.305

28

Running

7

1

26

Munoz, Carlos

D/H/H/F

247

1

-

15

02:29:26.1241

144.297

28

Running

8

7

12

Power, Will

D/C/C/F

247

1

-

14

02:29:27.8471

144.269

24

Running

9

17

2

Montoya, Juan Pablo

D/C/C/F

246

2

-

16

02:29:25.2576

143.727

22

Running

10

18

11

Bourdais, Sebastien

D/C/C/F

246

2

-

17

02:29:27.6260

143.689

20

Running

11

9

98

Rossi, Alexander (R)

D/H/H/F

246

2

-

17

02:29:27.6759

143.688

19

Running

12

12

27

Andretti, Marco

D/H/H/F

245

3

-

18

02:29:26.5832

143.121

18

Running

13

11

28

Hunter-Reay, Ryan

D/H/H/F

245

3

-

17

02:29:27.4449

143.108

18

Running

14

22

19

Chaves, Gabby

D/H/H/F

245

3

-

12

02:29:27.9809

143.099

16

Running

15

19

8

Chilton, Max (R)

D/C/C/F

243

5

-

17

02:29:30.2071

141.896

15

Running

16

16

7

Aleshin, Mikhail

D/H/H/F

231

17

-

13

02:16:15.6790

147.997

14

Contact

17

20

41

Hawksworth, Jack

D/H/H/F

227

21

-

18

02:16:16.5416

145.419

13

Contact

18

14

20

Carpenter, Ed

D/C/C/F

223

25

-

11

02:08:41.4871

151.276

13

Contact

19

2

9

Dixon, Scott

D/C/C/F

211

37

-

13

01:58:46.1483

155.093

11

Contact

20

4

14

Sato, Takuma

D/H/H/F

160

88

-

14

01:43:27.0551

135.021

10

Mechanical

21

21

18

Daly, Conor (R)

D/H/H/F

42

206

-

0

00:18:07.1680

202.357

9

Contact

22

5

21

Newgarden, Josef

D/C/C/F

41

207

-

1

00:18:07.0967

197.552

9

Contact

Formula 1 world champions Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button have labeled the tire situation ahead of the Belgian Grand Prix as "ridiculous" and "crazy".

Since the tire blowout incidents at Spa Francorchamps last season involving Nico Rosberg and Sebastian Vettel, Pirelli began to raise mandatory tire pressures. Amid unusually high temperatures for this event of around 86 degrees  weather set to continue for the race  the super-soft tire in particular is rapidly degrading, leaving a number of drivers stunned and frustrated.

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Hamilton, who faces a tough drive from the back row of the grid, said: "With these tires the way they are, which are a bit of a mess, it's going to be tough out there for everyone  it's definitely tough to come through and get on the podium or win.

"The pressures are so high, I've never seen anything like it in my whole racing career. That doesn't help, plus it's very hot, and with those pressures we get blisters. There is not much you can do to save the tires from blistering and overheating."

Button was equally as scathing.

"The pressures are unbelievably high," he said. "You can see that by how slow we drive round on the way to the grid. Most cars are not going full throttle at all on the way to their qualifying laps. They're not braking, they're not pushing the tire at all.

"They start their lap, get to Turn 1 [La Source] and the tires work. It's amazing what we have to do to get these tires in the working window.

"If you push on the out-lap they're done by Turn 3 [Eau Rouge]  blistering and overheating. What we have to do is crazy; I've never had to do this before in my F1 career.

"It's the pressures, obviously not helped by the temperatures. It's a shame we're so high with the pressure because we're in a position at the moment with the tire where you can't push the car. You're just rolling around the whole time with the tire. Hopefully with the new tires for F1 next year that won't be the case because it's not a nice feeling at the moment."

Force India's Sergio Perez is anticipating problems during the grand prix.

"Where the issue will really come is in the race, how you manage the tires, how early the blisters come," he said. "It can really screw you up if you get the blisters in the first sector. It's such a long lap that once you get the blisters the car is just undriveable. It can be really painful."

Felipe Massa had already slammed the tires as "a joke" during Friday practice.

After qualifying 10th, he added: "I have never had a tire pressure so high like that in my life. With this temperature, it is like you're driving with a balloon. You have no idea what the behavior will be like on the tires. They are so sensitive."

 

Originally on Autosport.com

 X4I9294Spa Francorchamps. It doesn't matter if it's bucketing down with rain or if, as looks likely this year, the four miles of organic, snaking asphalt is bathed in golden sunlight. This place is special.

The Belgian Grand Prix has become the back-to-school event of the F1 calendar. As if Spa wasn't already a one-of-a-kind track, its place in the annual timetable provides even more anticipation and excitement, as the mid-season lull comes to an end and life is breathed into the final fight to the championship conclusion.

Walking through the paddock this morning, however, I sensed an even greater awareness of eagerness than normal. In a three-week break usually devoid of news, there was one story that stood out and filled me with an immense feeling of expectation. Rio Haryanto hadn't done a bad job in his half an F1 season, and he's a perfectly lovely chap, but a potential champion he never was, his seat thus represented a wasted opportunity for a driver of greater talent.

 ONY8795Step forward Esteban Ocon. A driver of unquestioned potential. A driver around whom hope and excitement swirls.

I am tremendously excited by the prospect of watching this young man in a Formula 1 car. A Formula 3 and GP3 champion, his pedigree is phenomenal. At just 19 years of age he is part of a burgeoning gang of drivers with incredible levels of skill, who have youth very much on their side.

In the right cars, these are the drivers who could define the next generation of our sport. Ocon, of course, beat Max Verstappen to the F3 title two seasons ago before stepping up to GP3 and putting in one of the most remarkably consistent campaigns in any category this decade.

Mercedes has placed Ocon at Manor to line him up against their other junior Pascal Wehrlein, who didn't exactly demolish Haryanto. Wehrlein is gifted, unquestionably, but Ocon will form a far tougher challenge than the diminutive Indonesian. Mercedes no doubt hopes the increased challenge from the opposite side of the garage will spark the German into raising his game.

While neither driver will be fighting for wins, their battle could be one of the most important in the sport in this second half of the season. Duking it out in equal machinery, their target is the continued favor of Mercedes and a positioning as the future for the factory team once either Hamilton or Rosberg moves on.

Ocon's promotion flies at odds with McLaren's handling of its own protégé. Stoffel Vandoorne has been ready for Formula 1 for two years. It seems that Formula 1 isn't quite ready for him, however. At least not at the black and silver squad. But it is impossible to hold back the sea, as his incredible Bahrain debut proved. The force of the Belgian's talent is so strong that if McLaren doesn't ride that wave, the rip tide will carry him elsewhere next season.

Sources close to the team say it's already a done deal. Stoffel Vandoorne will line up alongside Fernando Alonso in 2017. And about time, too.

Consider then the other young drivers waiting in the wings, and the sport's future line-ups are tantilizing.


 SBB2767Such a statement might cause some consternation. Really, Buxton? Alfonso Celis Jr. and Santino Ferrucci? Tantilizing? Lay off the cool aid, sunshine.

 L4R6707I know what you're saying. I was genuinely staggered to speak to the guys at Force India and hear nothing but positive feedback about "The Fonz." First of all, I'd like to put on the record that I regard with the utmost suspicion anyone who deems it acceptable to provide their own nickname. I was known as "Reggie" for four years at school. To this day I don't know why. If it had been up to me I'd have picked "Nimrod," "Vulcan," or "Geoff." But you don't get to choose your own nickname. That's not how it works, "Fonz." Henry Winkler, you 'aint.

Second, this very positive appraisal of a driver in whom I have never seen anything resembling the sensational, left me in a quandary. Either my talent gauge, which I've always considered fairly locked on, is way off kilter, or there's something else at play here.

Hearing drivers I've never considered as anything above average described in glowing terms is tantamount to discovering that McDonald's has been awarded a Michelin Star for its newest salad. (Don't get me started on McDonald's selling salads.)

The point is, either I'd have been underestimating the quality of food on offer at the Golden Arches, or a Michelin Star wouldn't have been reflective of the quality that once it was.

Could it be that the modern Formula 1 car really is too easy to drive?

 R3I2114Next season can't come quick enough. The new regulations will sort the wheat from the chaff. No matter the size of one's wallet, it won't make up for the performance differential at the wheel of a car that is not child's play to drive. That's the theory, anyway.

While many of the old guard are awaiting the return of these powerful, aggressive, grippy behemoths, it is in the young drivers that my hope holds true. Not the rich kids playing at being F1 drivers in cars which require gentle stroking, but the truly gifted few who will be able to tame the beasts underneath them in 2017.

I don't have a crystal ball, but in five years' time I can see an F1 field filled with the best of today, joined by some truly special drivers. Alongside Verstappen and Ocon, give me Vandoorne and Leclerc. Give me the as yet unaffiliated Lando Norris.

As the Formula 1 World Championship gets back to racing this weekend, there's more than just this season to be eager about. Esteban Ocon's promotion to a race seat is another step towards a future in which we should all be excited.

McLaren Belgium stillMcLaren introduced a batwing underneath the car to direct air flow around the sidepods.

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Red Bull stillRed Bull's changes are visible as the front wing reflects the lower downforce needed for Spa.

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Mercedes F1 director Toto Wolff believes a perfect storm of conditions is hurting his team's hopes of success in the Belgian Grand Prix.

The super-soft tire is not one that works for Mercedes at this track, in particular given the high temperatures and its abrasive nature, with polesitter Nico Rosberg suggesting he will not use it at all in the race.

For Lewis Hamilton, who will start on the back row of the grid after accruing 55 places in penalties for three power unit changes, his hopes of a charge through the field could also be affected.

"We seem to struggle more than other teams with overheating and blistering," said Wolff. "It's odd that it's on particular surfaces and circuits, and as a consequence, the normal one-second gap from the soft to the super-soft doesn't materialize, because the super-softs give up.

"Our performance on the soft would be what we deem as normal, but we are not able to extract more from the softer tire."

Hamilton could miss next Mercedes upgrade

Wolff said Mercedes is finding it difficult to pinpoint the cause of its difficulties.

"There is not one factor that makes it go out of control," he said. "The asphalt is very abrasive, it's very stony, and that uses up the tire much more. But if all odds go against us  a particular tarmac, the heat, high-energy corners, and the super-soft  then the consequence can be like we've seen today."

Given the problems, Wolff suggested on reflection taking Hamilton's penalties at the next race at Monza might have been preferable given the current championship leader faces a tough race from the back.

"In hindsight, if we had known  which we didn't then Monza would have been the better choice," said Wolff.

"I am 100% convinced, given the parameters and information we had before Spa, taking the penalty here and getting a new engine into Lewis' car was the right decision. But if you look at gaps now and if it's hot tomorrow  then it's going to be very difficult for him to recover to a sensible position."

Hamilton won't catch leaders - Ricciardo

Assessing his prospects, Hamilton believes it may be a tough ask to even get into the points.

"With these tires the way they are which are a bit of a mess  it's going to be tough out there for everyone, and it will definitely be tough to come through and get on the podium or win," said Hamilton. "Being in traffic, it's very unlikely I'm going to get to my stop target, or go longer than the guys that are in front of me.

"I envisage tomorrow is going to be hard to even get into the top 10 with the tires the way they are.

"I hope I prove myself wrong, and I am pleasantly surprised."

 

Originally on Autosport.com

DOLE VIR 2016 fri RD2 0077After leading Friday's second practice session and Saturday morning's final practice outing, The No. 3 Corvette Racing C7.R and the No. 48 Paul Miller Racing Lamborghini Huracán GT3 completed the hat trick with pole positions in GT Le Mans and GT Daytona, respectively.

Atop the field, Jan Magnussen won the internecine duel with Tommy Milner in the No. 4 Corvette as he took his first pole since 2014 (1m41.557s) by displacing his teammate (-0.011) by the slimmest of margins. Joey Hand in the No. 66 Ford GT (-0.260) completed the top three in GTLM.

"I'm so happy," Magnussen said. "It's an overall pole; it's even better. I knew we had to get every single one-hundredth to beat the No. 4 car. Can't wait for tomorrow."

lat lepage 160826 vir 826

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In GTD, Snow – one of IMSA's youngest drivers – earned his first WeatherTech SportsCar Championship GT Daytona pole as ambient temperatures crept over the 90-degree mark. The 20-year-old was decidedly faster than his rivals as the V10-powered Lamborghini (1:44.956) cleared Matt Bell in the No. 9 Stevenson Motorsports Audi R8 LMS GT3 (-0.291) and the No. 27 Dream Racing Lamborghini Huracán GT3 piloted by Cedric Sbirrazzuoli (-0.295).

"The track was perfect," Snow said. "We didn't make many changes from the last session. Got it done. It's nice to put it on top; the Paul Miller guys have this car setup and we took it right to the front."

The GTD championship-leading No. 63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 488 driven by Christina Nielsen will have some work to do with teammate Alessandro Balzan after qualifying eighth (-1.041) in the 12-deep class.

Click here for full results.

UP NEXT: Pre-race warm-up, Sunday, 8:05 a.m. ET.

Rosberg

Nico Rosberg claimed pole position for the Belgian Grand Prix, but was pushed hard by Red Bull Formula 1 rival Max Verstappen.

With Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton choosing not to try for pole, on account of a 55-place grid penalty for multiple F1 engine changes so far at Spa, Rosberg looked set to face a relatively unchallenged run to pole.

He was fastest in Q2 on the soft tire with a 1m46.999s lap, which was quicker than Verstappen could manage on the super-soft.

Rosberg bolted on the super-softs for Q3, but couldn't find much more time on them. He improved to a 1m46.744s best on his first run in Q3, which was enough to beat Verstappen to pole by 0.249 seconds when neither driver managed to go faster on their final runs.

Kimi Raikkonen was third fastest for Ferrari, almost two tenths clear of teammate Sebastian Vettel, who lost time to a big oversteer moment at the Bus Stop chicane on his final flying lap. Raikkonen also dropped time at the end of his lap, and felt that cost him a shot at pole.

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Daniel Ricciardo was fifth fastest in the second Red Bull, just over three tenths down on Verstappen. Ricciardo endured a poor first run in Q3, but improved enough on his second to make the top six.

Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg took sixth and seventh places, respectively, for Force India, while fellow Mercedes customer team Williams suffered software problems with both cars in Q3. This meant it couldn't run full qualifying mode on the engines, restricting Valtteri Bottas to eighth and Felipe Massa to 10th.

Massa also locked his brakes heavily at La Source on his single Q3 run, and Jenson Button's McLaren-Honda was able to squeak ahead of him into ninth place. Button's place in Q3 came at the expense of Romain Grosjean's Haas, which ended up missing the cut by 0.265s.

Renault delivered its best qualifying performance of the season so far with Kevin Magnussen 12th fastest and teammate Jolyon Palmer 14th. They were split by the second Haas of Esteban Gutierrez, which faces a five-place grid penalty for impeding Pascal Wehrlein's Manor at Raidillon in final practice.

ocon spaWehrlein made it through to Q2, but wound up last in that segment, after a disappointing run in which he went slower than he did in Q1. Carlos Sainz Jr. was just ahead of him in the first of the Toro Rossos, also unable to improve on his Q1 best.

Felipe Nasr failed to escape Q1 in the heavily revised Sauber by just 0.048s and wound up 17th overall, a tenth ahead of Manor debutant Esteban Ocon (pictured).

Daniil Kvyat endured yet another Q1 exit for Toro Rosso, ending up 19th fastest, fractionally ahead of the second Sauber of Marcus Ericsson.

Reigning world champion Hamilton set the 20th-fastest time in the second Mercedes, completing a leisurely run to simply register on the timesheets, knowing he would start at the back of the grid.

Fernando Alonso's McLaren-Honda broke down before he could complete an out-lap in qualifying, so he failed to set a time. Honda found what it described as a "data anomaly" with Alonso's engine after the final practice session, but elected to send him out without making an engine change.

PROVISIONAL STARTING GRID:

PosDriverCarTimeGap
1 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m46.744ss 1m46.744s
2 Max Verstappen Red Bull/Renault 1m46.893ss 0.149s
3 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1m46.910ss 0.166s
4 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1m47.108ss 0.364s
5 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull/Renault 1m47.216ss 0.472s
6 Sergio Perez Force India/Mercedes 1m47.407ss 0.663s
7 Nico Hulkenberg Force India/Mercedes 1m47.543ss 0.799s
8 Valtteri Bottas Williams/Mercedes 1m47.612ss 0.868s
9 Jenson Button McLaren/Honda 1m48.114ss 1.370s
10 Felipe Massa Williams/Mercedes 1m48.263ss 1.519s
11 Romain Grosjean Haas/Ferrari 1m48.316ss -
12 Kevin Magnussen Renault 1m48.485ss -
13 Jolyon Palmer Renault 1m48.888ss -
14 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso/Ferrari 1m49.038ss -
15 Pascal Wehrlein Manor/Mercedes 1m49.320ss -
16 Felipe Nasr Sauber/Ferrari 1m48.949ss -
17 Esteban Ocon Manor/Mercedes 1m49.050ss -
18 Esteban Gutierrez Haas/Ferrari 1m48.598ss -
19 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso/Ferrari 1m49.058ss -
20 Marcus Ericsson Sauber/Ferrari 1m49.071ss -
21 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m50.033ss -
22 Fernando Alonso McLaren/Honda - -

 

Originally on Autosport.com

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