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John Hunter Nemechek spoils Kligerman’s first win hopes in Texas

Parker Kligerman was hoping to secure his maiden NASCAR Xfinity Series victory when he took the lead with less than ten laps remaining in Saturday’s Andy’s Frozen Custard 300 at Texas Motor Speedway. John Hunter Nemechek ended up with his seventh trip to Victory Lane instead.

Despite fumbling the final restart with ten laps remaining, set up by Kaz Grala and J.J. Yeley‘s wreck, Nemechek chased down on Kligerman before passing him three laps into the run.

“I messed up that final restart. It bounced out of third gear. That one was on me,” said Nemechek. “I knew that I had to push hard and try to recover right there, but hats off to the #20 team, Joe Gibbs Racing. It is absolutely amazing what we’ve been able to accomplish so far this year and I don’t think we are done yet. We set a lot of goals with this #20 team coming into this year and still yet to accomplish all of those, but win number seven.”

Pole winner Justin Allgaier was the race’s top driver but lost out to Kligerman after the two made contact and had to settle for fifth. Kligerman explained he did not “know how much we got squeezed or didn’t. I thought I could clear him easily but I got super loose. Feels like I got choked, he says he gave a lot of room. I’ll gave to look at it.

“I’m really disappointed right now. I could see that one, I could feel it. That was the best restart I’ve ever had in my life, put us in perfect position and had the tyre advantage, just choked. This one will hurt, but we’ll go make up for it next weekend.”

New Ford Mustang Mach-E Rally to debut at Rebelle Rally

As automakers continue to embrace electric power, Ford Motor Company‘s own route has taken it into the off-road realm. The 2024-bound Ford Mustang Mach-E Rally is a new addition to the Mustang Mach-E series that integrates the spirit of Ford’s World Rally Championship challengers, and will race for the first time at the Rebelle Rally on 12–21 October.

The Mustang Mach-E, a crossover SUV that is otherwise a cousin in the Ford Mustang family, went on sale in 2020. The Rally model is a variant of the Mach-E GT Performance Edition, both capable of 480 horsepower though the Rally is intended to be faster and stronger in order to run on non-pavement terrain. By comparison, the standard rear-wheel-drive Mach-E generates about 266 or 290 horsepower (the latter if it has an extended battery pack) whereas the AWD version tops out at 266 or 346 hp.

The car’s battery can run for approximately 250 miles (402.33 km) on a single charge, though Ford has emphasised that the average daily drive is only thirty-seven miles (59.54 km).

As an off-road model, it takes heavy inspiration from the Ford Focus RS that competed in the World Rally Championship in the 2000s and on two constructor’s titles. It has a raised suspension of 20 mm with MagneRide shocks and specialty tuned springs, while the nineteen-inch alloy wheels use 235/55 R19 Michelin CrossClimate2 tyres. Other rally-inspired elements include built-in fog lights in the front fascia, a front hook for towing and recovery, a Focus-based rear spoiler, and underside shield.

Ford tested the car on a new purpose-built rally course at the company’s Michigan Proving Ground, designed by rallycross drivers.

Daniel Ricciardo Predicts “An Exciting Time” for AlphaTauri after Securing 2024 Drive

Daniel Ricciardo says that it’s an exciting time for Scuderia AlphaTauri following the announcement that he would stay with the team in 2024, alongside Yuki Tsunoda.

Ricciardo returned to AlphaTauri this season, replacing Nyck de Vries at the Hungarian Grand Prix. Following a return to action after the summer break at the Dutch Grand Prix, Ricciardo was ruled out of action due to a high speed crash at Zandvoort that saw him sustain a hand injury, which required surgery. Ricciardo has been replaced by Liam Lawson in recent weeks – who has impressed since stepping in – but the Australian has got the nod alongside Tsunoda for the 2024 season.

The former Oracle Red Bull Racing driver has said that the future is exciting for AlphaTauri, despite lots of work to do when he spoke following the confirmation of his commitment to the team, “I’m stoked to be driving with Yuki again next year and continuing the journey with Scuderia AlphaTauri. Following the progress we have already made and the plans for the future, it’s an exciting time for the Team.

“We are building and it is a great feeling. There is a lot of work to do, but we are heading in the right direction and there is a lot to look forward to. Bring on 2024!”

Alongside Ricciardo, it has also been confirmed that the Italian team have retained the services of Tsunoda in the midst of his home Grand Prix. The announcement clearly had a positive effect on him as he secured his first Q3 appearance since the summer break and qualified ninth following the announcement.

AlphaTauri Retain Tsunoda and Ricciardo for 2024

Scuderia AlphaTauri have confirmed that Yuki Tsunoda and Daniel Ricciardo will continue racing for the Italian side for the 2024 FIA Formula 1 World Championship season.

Tsunoda joined the team in 2021, and has improved since joining Oracle Red Bull Racing’s sister team. Following the departure of Pierre Gasly, the Japanese driver was challenged to step up to become the team leader and showed his pace by comfortably beat his first team mate former Formula E and Formula 2 champion Nyck de Vries with the Dutchman failing to score a point and losing his seat before the summer break.

AlphaTauri had scored three points before the break and they all came from Tsunoda, who secured them across three Grand Prix, and missed out on adding to that tally with three eleventh place finishes. This earned Tsunoda many plaudits considering the AlphaTauri was the slowest car on the grid in most races. Even when Ricciardo stepped in to replace De Vries for the final two races before the summer break, Tsunoda didn’t struggle against the eight-time race winner, although we didn’t see the best of the Australian.

AlphaTauri have opted to stick with Ricciardo for the 2024 season, despite the impressive performances of Liam Lawson – who stepped in for the Australian after a hand injury at the Dutch Grand Prix. Ricciardo’s return didn’t see him score any points, but he put in two solid showings at the Hungarian Grand Prix and the Belgium Grand Prix, especially in tough conditions at the latter event in the sprint race.

Ricciardo lost his seat at McLaren F1 Team after a disappointing two years alongside Lando Norris but he’s still got plenty to offer with vast experience and eight Grand Prix victories to his name. The former Renault driver will be crucial in helping AlphaTauri develop the car and move up the grid going into and throughout 2024.

Verstappen Secures Pole as Red Bull Look to Secure Championship

Max Verstappen returned to pole position at the Japanese Grand Prix, as Oscar Piastri became just the fifth Australian driver to start a Formula 1 Grand Prix on the front row.

Q1 – Sargeant Crashes Out, Stroll Exit

Championship leaders Oracle Red Bull Racing resumed normal service as they set the pace in the first part of qualifying for the Singapore Grand Prix. McLaren F1 Team were their nearest challengers, with Lando Norris attempting to push the Dutchman.

Logan Sargeant is yet to secure a seat for next season and a crash in qualifying won’t help the American’s chances in securing a drive in Formula 1 for 2024. The Williams Racing driver lost complete control coming out of the final corner, and his mistake was costly as the red flag was immediately brought out.

The red flag left pressure on Scuderia Ferrari, with neither of Carlos Sainz Jr. or Charles Leclerc setting a lap in the first half of the session. The Ferrari duo were the first drivers out once the session got underway, and they managed to do enough to get themselves through into Q2.

Zhou Guanyu and Valtteri Bottas were noted by race control for not following the director’s instructions but that wasn’t their biggest problem as both drivers found themselves knocked out in Q1, with new Alfa Romeo F1 Team Stake technical director James Key looking on.

Gotland Grand National losing Tofta site amid Swedish Army activity

The Gotland Grand National prides itself in being the largest enduro competition in the world with thousands of bikes taking part, but that status means little as far as national security is concerned. The race’s fortieth edition, scheduled for 27–29 October, is set to be the final one at the Tofta shooting range as the Swedish Armed Forces needs it for their own purposes.

With the Russian invasion of Ukraine raging nearby, Europe’s militaries have ramped up their activity in response, forcing installations to readjust their usual schedules that otherwise had civilian events. In Tofta’s case, the lease for the land that the Swedish Fortifications Agency provided to GGN organiser Nordic Sport Event was not approved by the military beyond 2023. Even the October date was only being reached at the last minute after what NSE’s Conny Bohlin called a “constructive dialogue [through which] we found a solution that works for both parties. However, we must immediately begin the search for a new competition area.”

Sweden long maintained a doctrine of neutrality until the ongoing war in Ukraine prompted an increase in defence spending and applying for NATO membership. Gotland was even demilitarised in 2005 as part of a drawdown before activity resumed a decade later following Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea.

While its NATO accession bid remains in Turkey and Hungary’s court, Sweden has conducted training exercises with NATO members and its Nordic neighbours in the meantime. From April to May, Sweden hosted Aurora 23, its largest military drill in three decades alongside twelve NATO nations and non-alliance states Austria and Ukraine. Last week, the Swedish Amphibious Corps and United States Marine Corps concluded the ten-day Archipelago Endeavor 23 in Berga.

Gotland is a critical military position due to its location in the Baltic Sea. The island was among the sites used for Aurora 23.

Signed Michael Schumacher championship hat up for auction to buy Ukrainian drone

Over two decades after Michael Schumacher won his fifth Formula One World Driver’s Championship, a cap he signed will go towards supporting Ukrainian defence. On Wednesday, Olexandr Petrenko launched a raffle for the hat with the goal of raising money for an Elf reconnaissance drone for the 2nd International Legion of Defence of Ukraine.

The cap was produced for the 2002 F1 World Championship, which Schumacher won in dominant fashion as he finished on the podium in every race with eleven wins. Afterwards, he autographed and gave the hat to Frank Sievers as a personal gift; Sievers, who designed Schumacher’s brand logo, was an assistant of Schumacher’s former manager Willi Weber. The latter’s company Weber Management GmbH provided a certificate of authenticity that will be delivered in tandem with the hat to the winner.

A single ticket in the raffle costs 200 hryvnias (approximately five euros), and more can be purchased with additional donations of the same amount. A winner will be randomly selected once the auction closes on 30 September. It hopes to raise seven million hryvnias (~€178,039), but the deadline can be extended if the goal is not reached in time.

Donations are collected through Monobank. Payments can also be made via PayPal and SWIFT, though those are not eligible for the raffle.

The raffle is overseen by Commonwealth-22, a Ukrainian project partnered with the 2nd International Legion. Since the full-scale invasion of Ukraine began last February, Commonwealth-22 has donated over a thousand tonnes in humanitarian goods like food and medicine and over two hundred generators. Since fall 2022, the project is also partnered with Operational Command North.

Alex Albon Hoping for Successful Japanese Grand Prix

Alex Albon is hoping for a successful weekend in Japan, after missing out on points at last weekends Singapore Grand Prix.

Albon was running in a points position, until he came together with Oracle Red Bull Racing’s Sergio Pérez in an incident, which ended his chance of adding any points to his majorly impressive tally.

Williams Racing will be looking to secure their grip on seventh place in the Constructors Championship this weekend and Albon hopes he can continue his good form at The Suzuka International Racing Course as it’s a circuit that suits the strengths of FW45.

Ahead of the Japanese Grand Prix, Albon said, “I love coming to Japan; Sukuza is one of my favourite tracks of the year and I love the food and culture of Japan, so it’s always a good time. Suzuka should be a good track for us and will be better suited for our car compared to previous tracks like Singapore. Hopefully we can do a good job and have a good weekend.”

Logan Sargeant: “I’m really looking forward to this weekend”

Logan Sargeant heads into the Japanese Grand Prix still as the only driver – to have competed in every race this season – with no points and he will be desperate to change that.

Charlie Herbst to ride GasGas at 2024 Dakar Rally

Charlie Herbst has joined the GasGas family for the 2024 Dakar Rally, where he will race a GasGas RX 450F in the Rally2 category.

“After 7 months of waiting and impatience, it has finally arrived: the 450cc GasGas Rally 2023, a guarantee of reliability for attacking the dunes of Dakar 2024,” wrote Herbst on Thursday. “New bike, new colours, new series of immersive episodes, to bring you closer to us throughout the race! Something is brewing and we’ll tell you more soon…”

Herbst exclusively raced a KTM 450 Rally in his first four Dakar Rallies from 2019 through 2023. After retiring from his debut with a broken foot, he scored top-fifty overall finishes across the next three rounds.

Racing for Team All Tracks, he scored his best career run in the 2023 edition of thirty-third overall and seventeenth in Rally2.

GasGas does not have the same representation as major marques like KTM, Honda, and Husqvarna, but has enjoyed success in rally raid. Sam Sunderland won the 2022 Dakar Rally and inaugural World Rally-Raid Championship on a GasGas RX 450F, while his team-mate Daniel Sanders won the W2RC’s Sonora Rally in April. Michael Jacobi and James Hillier raced GasGas bikes in Rally2 at the 2023 Dakar Rally in January.

Ocon Seeking to Find the Rhythm at ‘One of the Highlights of the Season’ Suzuka

Esteban Ocon is looking to return to the points in this weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix, a year after one of his more impressive outings of this FIA Formula 1 World Championship career.

Ocon was on course for a top six result on his birthday last weekend in Singapore only for a mechanical issue to end his day, and the Frenchman is hoping for better luck this weekend at the Suzuka International Racing Course.

Last year the BWT Alpine F1 Team driver withstood pressure from Lewis Hamilton in a much faster car amid difficult and often treacherous conditions at Suzuka to claim a top four finish, something he would love to emulate this weekend in front of the passionate Japanese fans.

“I absolutely love Suzuka and, for me, it is one of the highlights of the season,” said Ocon.  “This track has such a nice flow to it, and it is such a pleasure driving there.

“In the past, we’ve seen that overtaking is not always easy compared to other tracks, but the racing is always good. Us drivers always need to quickly find a rhythm around there, especially through the Sector 1 Esses.

Nuno Madeira: “It looks like the FIA forgot about the T1 category”

The T1 category for purpose-built race cars is the top level of cross-country rally, but also has subdivisions such as T1+ and T1.1 for upgraded 4×4 vehicles. The former has more freedom in regulations than the latter, making it no surprise that T1+ cars tend to be the best in a given rally, having won every World Rally-Raid Championship round so far in 2023.

While it is to be expected that the top cars receive the most love, T1 driver Nuno Madeira feels his subcategory is neglected as a result. Madeira races a Ford Ranger T1.1, which is naturally inferior to his T1+ counterparts such as the Toyota DKR Hilux T1+ or even the Ford Ranger T1+ developed by M-Sport and Neil Woolridge Motorsport but the disparity between his truck and those seems to only grow with no feasible way for him to narrow it.

This weekend’s Baja TT Sharish Gin, a round of the FIA European Cup for Cross-Country Bajas and part of the Portuguese Cross-Country Championship, only has six T1+ FIA entries to seventeen T1.1 cars, though Madeira feels strength in numbers will not mean much if they can’t keep up with the superior class. In fact, the performance gap has been so glaring that the neighbouring Spanish Cross-Country Rally Championship will spin T1+ off into its own class for the 2024 season.

“We lost competitiveness in our category because we’re in a sort of middle ground between T3 and T1+ categories,” he told Cross-Country Rally News. “It looks like the FIA forgot about the T1 category. I guess the solution is the FIA should give more power to T1 with a bigger restrictor. Otherwise, all T1 cars will stay in the garage.”

The FIA has been keen on championing the T1+ and T1.U categories, the latter intended for electric and hybrid prototype T1 cars like Audi Sport’s RS Q e-tron. With electric power still a developing concept in off-road racing, the petrol-based T1+ has been the star of the rally raid scene, with the Toyota Hilux T1+ having won the last two Dakar Rallies and clinching the 2023 W2RC manufacturer’s title before the final race.

Heartland Motorsports Park to close after completing 2023 schedule

After thirty-four years, Heartland Motorsports Park in Topeka, Kansas, will shut down upon completion of its 2023 racing schedule. The track’s owner Chris Payne has long quarreled with Shawnee County about property taxes, which the former claims has greatly exceeded what his Shelby Development LLC company already pays and is consequently unsustainable.

The matter has been taken to court at various times, only for it to rule in favour of the county each time. Payne also owns I-70 Motorsports Park, a dirt track in Missouri, where he also pays particularly high taxes though he has stated they are fair compared to Heartland’s. He purchased Heartland in 2016.

Amid ongoing litigation, Payne threatened to close the track if the matter remained unresolved before formally announcing on Monday that he will follow through with it.

“Heartland Motorsports Park will be closing its doors and ceasing operations at the end of October, after completing all its 2023 scheduled events,” reads a track statement. “The owner of the properly, Shelby Development LLC, can no longer operate under such an enormous and ever-increasing tax burden. As a result, Shelby Development LLC will be placing the property on the market for sale. Despite the taxes assessed on the property already exceeding what Shelby paid for the entire property, Shawnee County again knowingly increased taxes twice this year.

“Heartland would like to thank its staff, sponsors, spectators, racers, vendors, and all who participated in or visited heartland during one or more of the many events it held annually. Unfortunately, while Heartland and shelby are saddened and upset by the situation, and have done all they could to avoid closing, it is the communities of Topeka, Shawnee County, and the surrounding areas that will suffer the most, losing nationally-recognized events that not only benefit the communities by drawing in tourism and economic development, but also provide quality activities for locals to enjoy. The local community will lose out on these annual events, including the Country Stampede, as they move to different cities and, potentially, different states.”

KAMAZ-master race truck involved in road accident

The Russian Rally-Raid Championship‘s Baja Sibirskiy Trakt does not start until Thursday, but KAMAZ-master already has some work to take care of. On their way to the race in Ulyanovsk, one of their trucks was involved in a road accident that resulted in damage to the grille. Nobody was injured.

The accident occurred on the highway just outside the village of Belaya Gora in Tatarstan leading to Chistopol. In an onboard camera released by the team, the car in front of the truck collided with another truck in the oncoming lane. The KAMAZ truck swerved right to avoid debris from the contact while the car drifted and spun into the grass on the side of the road.

A chunk from the car shot into the KAMAZ’s front radiator grille. The car itself suffered serious damage to its left front.

The team’s other vehicles stopped at the scene to attend to those involved, which included every competing truck.

KAMAZ-master eventually released a statement on Telegram along with the onboard that read, “Dear drivers, please be careful on the road! It was only by sheer luck that there were no injuries in this road incident.”

Samuel Fremy returning to Rallye du Maroc

After a year away, Samuel Fremy is heading back to the Rallye du Maroc in October. He will race a KTM 450 Rally in the Rally2 category.

He finished forty-third overall among Rally2 riders in the 2021 Rallye du Maroc, and his performance, along with his background racing other Moroccan and Algerian cross-country rallies, qualified him for the 2022 Dakar Rally. Competing under Nomade Racing Assistance’s banner, Fremy placed eighty-ninth among all bikes with a best stage run of eighty-fourth in Stage #5.

Fremy grew up on bicycles and was already competing in rallies as a teengaer. After working for Yamaha Motor France for eight years under the tutelage of president Jean-Claude Olivier and Dakar legend Stéphane Peterhansel, he founded EXPLORCOM, a company that sells gear for motorcycle riders.

EXPLORCOM is prominently featured on Fremy’s bike. Other sponsors include KRIEGA and KLIM, both an motorcycle gear makers whose products are carried by EXPLOCOM.

The 2023 Rallye du Maroc is scheduled for 13–18 October. Unlike his last foray at the rally, the 2023 edition is under World Rally-Raid Championship sanction, thereby making it his W2RC début.

Pirelli’s Mario Isola: “Suzuka is as demanding on tyres as it is on drivers”

Pirelli nominated one of the most durable tyre ranges for the Japanese Grand Prix— the C1, C2 and C3—with Pirelli Motorsport Director Mario Isola describing Suzuka International Racing Course as one of the most unique and “demanding” tracks on the calendar.

Isola said that Suzuka places heavy stress on the tyres due to the vertical and lateral loads they must undertake both throughout the lap and while cornering. These traits support the continued use of Pirelli’s second-hardest compound set at Suzuka, which now features the updated C1 tyre that débuted in 2023.

“The Japanese Grand Prix takes place on one of the most fascinating and demanding tracks in Formula 1 history: Suzuka, with its unique figure of eight layout. This historic venue is a drivers’ favourite, being absolutely thrilling to drive in today’s ultra-competitive single-seaters. With its very significant lateral and vertical loads, Suzuka is as demanding on tyres as it is on drivers. These demands are equally distributed across all four wheels, with 10 right-handers and eight left-handers throughout the six-kilometre lap.

“As a result of these challenging characteristics, we bring some of the hardest tyres in the 2023 range to Japan: C1, C2, and C3. This is only nominally the same as last year’s selection on account of the new C1 compound, which was introduced this season to slot in between the C2 and former C1 (now called C0).“

Tyre testing is on the agenda during Friday practice, which will see teams have the opportunity to test out Pirelli’s next iteration of the C2 compound. Isola said that Pirelli is aiming to incorporate the new tyre next season, which would provide drivers more grip than the current version.