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Charles Leclerc: “All in all, we had a good weekend here in Miami”

Charles Leclerc admitted he was disappointed to miss out on victory to Max Verstappen in the inaugural Miami Grand Prix on Sunday, but the Monegasque racer felt he had a good weekend overall in the Florida city.

The Scuderia Ferrari driver started on pole position at the Miami International Autodrome and held onto the lead at the start, but he fell behind Verstappen on lap nine as the Oracle Red Bull Racing driver made better use of his starting medium compound tyres.

Leclerc did not let Verstappen get away from him and challenged him again at the restart following the safety car, but he did not have the straight-line speed necessary to be in with a chance of repassing the Dutchman.

“All in all, we had a good weekend here in Miami, so of course I am disappointed to miss out on first place,” said Leclerc. “While we had good pace on the Hard tyres, it was more tricky for us on the Mediums which our competitors were just faster on today, so we couldn’t close the gap in the first stint.

“I thought we’d have a shot at taking back the lead after the Safety Car, but it just wasn’t enough today.”

Red Bull ‘quite lucky that Ferrari didn’t pit under the safety car’ – Christian Horner

Christian Horner felt Oracle Red Bull Racing were lucky that neither Charles Leclerc nor Carlos Sainz Jr. pitted when the safety car was deployed at the Miami International Autodrome on Sunday, with Max Verstappen going on to claim his third victory of the season.

Verstappen had passed Sainz at the start and then Leclerc on lap nine to take over the lead in the inaugural Miami Grand Prix, but the safety car was deployed late in the race following a crash between Pierre Gasly and Lando Norris that left the latter stranded on the track with damage.

However, neither of the Scuderia Ferrari drivers pitted, allowing Verstappen to be able to defend from Leclerc on used hard tyres rather than fresher medium or soft compound tyres.

“It was a real tactical race today and we threw everything we had at it,” said Horner, the Team Principal at Red Bull.  “We were quite lucky that Ferrari didn’t pit under the safety car.

“Max was under so much pressure from Charles Leclerc but he kept focus and didn’t make any mistakes and was gradually able to break the DRS, which was very powerful today and manage the victory from there.”

Dino Beganovic: “It’s a really good start of the season, I couldn’t have hoped for a better one”

Ferrari Driver Academy racer Dino Beganovic continued his superb start to the 2022 Formula Regional European Championship by Alpine season with a win and second place at the Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari last weekend.

Beganovic, racing for Prema Racing, finished second on the road at Imola in Saturday’s opening race, but he moved up to the race win once the ten-second time penalty for on-track victor Gabriele Minì was applied after the Italian had jumped the start.

The Swede had made the decisive move on ART Grand Prix’s Mari Boya early on to move into second, and he was content thereafter to hold position knowing the leader was carrying the time penalty.

“It’s a really good start of the season, I couldn’t have hoped for a better one,” said Beganovic. “Race 1 with the victory, and Race 2 with P2 brought really good results and we are coming away with the championship lead once again.

“In race 1 I had a great run starting from P3. I got around [Mari] Boya, and after that it was just managing as we got the message quite early that Minì had the time penalty. I’m really really happy with the victory, it’s a great start for the championship.

Gabriele Minì on Imola Victory: “It was a tricky race and winning was not easy”

Gabriele Minì admitted winning race two at the Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari on Sunday was far from straightforward, with the Italian claiming his maiden Formula Regional European Championship by Alpine victory amid changeable weather conditions at Imola.

Having been penalised for a jump start in Saturday’s opening race that prevented him from standing on the top step of the podium, the ART Grand Prix driver fought back superbly on Sunday, taking pole position in the morning before leading all the way in the race.

This was despite a mid-race rain shower and a red flag, and conditions being completely different in the final sector compared to the first two.  He, like most of the field, fitted wet tyres for the final few laps, but the final sector was drier than the rest of the field, making it a tricky conclusion to what appeared to be a dominant display by the Italian.

“It was a tricky race and winning was not easy,” admitted Minì.  “We found very different conditions, starting to race with slicks on a dry track.

“Then it started to rain in some parts of the track and I was the first one to notice these differences as I was in the front. It was not easy because it became wetter and wetter.

Mini Rebounds From Race One Penalty To Take Maiden FRECA Victory in Second Imola Race

Gabriele Mini put the disappointment of losing out on his maiden Formula Regional European Championship by Alpine victory due to a penalty on Saturday to finally stand on the top step of the podium in race two at the Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari on Sunday.

The ART Grand Prix driver was adjudged to have jumped the start on Saturday, with the subsequent ten-second time penalty relegating him from first place on the road to twenty-eighth in the final result.

However, after claiming pole position for Sunday’s race, he did not put a foot wrong despite a race full of disruptions, including a red flag and mid-race downpour.

Rain before the race had seen drivers go to the grid on wet weather tyres, but with the track drying, everyone started on the dry weather tyres, albeit behind the safety car due to the track being wetter on one side of the grid compared to the other.

After two laps behind the safety car, racing finally got underway on lap three, with Mini getting a superb jump on second placed Tim Tramnitz, the Trident driver having impressed in Qualifying earlier in the day to join the Italian on the front row.

“It feels amazing to win in Miami” – Max Verstappen

Oracle Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen took victory at the Miami Grand Prix, overtaking both Scuderia Ferrari cars early in the race and protecting his lead until the checkered flag. He started the race in third and was able to overtake Carlos Sainz Jr just after the start with an assertive move through Turn One. He grabbed the lead off pole-sitter Charles Leclerc on lap nine, overtaking under DRS on the main straight. 

A late-race Safety Car saw Verstappen’s lead come under pressure from Leclerc behind, keen to take back the lead before the race’s end. Leclerc wasn’t able to pass, and Verstappen crossed the line first to bring home his third win of the season– narrowing the gap to Leclerc in the Drivers’ championship.

“It feels amazing to win in Miami, the whole atmosphere this weekend has been incredible and to win in the US is always a nice feeling. It was a physically tough race; I think I must have lost around 3kgs! 

“We had a really good pace on the minimum tire, that for sure helped to make my race. Once we had the pitstop I was just managing my time to Charles, I think we were very closely matched on the hard tire. Then the safety car came out which made it more entertaining for the fans, I had to push hard today but we made it work. I’m super pleased for the Team, we didn’t have a great start to the weekend so we’ve come far, a big thank you to everyone.”

“It is a big disappointment today” – Sergio Pérez

Team-mate Sergio Pérez was disappointed by his result in Miami, after being unable to move up from his starting position of fourth. Attributed to a sensor failure which cost him significant performance, he struggled to challenge Sainz ahead for the podium positions.  

Max Verstappen wins the inaugural Miami Grand Prix

Max Verstappen claimed his third victory of the season, after an impressive display at the inaugural Miami Grand Prix. Verstappen started the race in third position and had to get past both Scuderia Ferrari drivers which he did with ease to win the race. This now means that Verstappen has closed the gap to his rival Charles Leclerc in the Drivers’ championship to just nineteen points, with everything still to play for this season.

Second and third-place was claimed by Ferrari as Leclerc fought back after a safety car to close the gap to Verstappen late on. The Monegasque driver just didn’t have enough to win and had to settle for second place. Carlos Sainz Jr rounded off the podium in third-place with much needed points for the team, after not finishing in the last two races.

Verstappen dominant in Miami

From the get go, Verstappen was eager to take advantage of the two Ferrari drivers. The Dutchman was able to do just that after a great start, he went around the outside of Sainz into Turn One and got the move done on the exit of the corner to move up into second. It only took Verstappen eight laps to make a move on Leclerc for the race lead, which he was able to do on lap nine after Leclerc had complained of left-tyre damage.

The current World Champion led the race from then on and by lap twenty-three, the Dutchman was nearly five-seconds clear of Leclerc. The Monegasque driver pitted two laps later from the medium tyre onto the hard compound, in an attempt to confuse Oracle Red Bull Racing as many expected the race to be a two-stop strategy.

Verstappen pitted two laps after Leclerc on lap twenty-seven and was able to stay ahead of him and his team-mate Sergio Pérez, who was yet to pit.

Chase Elliott returns to SRX for Sharon

Chase Elliott closed out the 2021 Superstar Racing Experience by winning at the Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway. He will once again race a season finale in 2022, though it will be on the dirt at Sharon Speedway this time on 23 July. The news was confirmed on Monday.

The 2020 NASCAR Cup Series champion and current points leader, Elliott entered the 2021 SRX finale at Nashville to join his father Bill, who was running the full schedule. The two battled with series founder Tony Stewart and each other, and the younger Elliott came out on top over Stewart and Bill. For 2022, Bill will only run two races at Five Flags and Stafford.

Sharon, a three-eighth-mile dirt track in Ohio, will also see the SRX débuts of fellow Cup driver Ryan Blaney and his dad Dave. The latter co-owns Sharon Speedway.

“I’m excited to get back in one of the SRX cars this season,” Elliott stated. “Last season was a lot of fun and a cool memory for me competing against my dad. The opportunity to race at Sharon Speedway and compete on dirt against the likes of Ryan and Dave Blaney and some guys I’ve looked up to my entire career is really appealing.”

Although dirt track racing is not Elliott’s strong suit, he has increased his involvement on such courses in recent times such as running the Chili Bowl Nationals and sprint cars. In December, he entered the mixed-surface Nitro Rallycross race at the FIRM, where he qualified for the final and finished eighth.

Cole Williams wins SRX Nashville Fan Vote

Welcome to the Superstar Racing Experience, Cole Williams. SRX announced Saturday that Williams has won the fan vote to compete in the Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway race on 9 July.

While most tracks on the SRX schedule opted to use finishes in marquee events to select a local driver such as the best average finisher in Five Flags Speedway‘s PepperJack Kennels Twins (Bubba Pollard) and the winner of Stafford Motor Speedway‘s Spring Sizzler (Matt Hirschman), Nashville elected to use a vote among six drivers. Williams competed against Pollard, Dylan Fetcho, Michael House, Stephen Nasse, and Brittney Zamora, all of whom have seen success at the Tennessee short track.

Although Zamora, the first woman to win a major race at the Fairgrounds, led the voting for much of its duration from 3 April, Williams leapfrogged her for the top spot on 4 May. He held on for the final three days to clinch the vote.

“Thankful for this opportunity! Can’t thank everyone enough who took time to vote for me. Let the countdown begin,” posted Williams on social media.

Williams is a two-time Pro Late Model champion at the Fairgrounds, winning in 2014 and 2016. A former member of the Alan Kulwicki Driver Development Program and current driver for Rackley WAR (for whom Zamora also races), he has continued to enjoy success in the discipline at other tracks. He won his first race of 2022 at the Fairgrounds on 2 April in PLM.

Joey Logano moves Byron for Goodyear 400 win

Regardless of a Jeff Gordon fan’s opinion on the current #24 driver William Byron, it probably did not feel good seeing a #24 blue/red flames car in the wall while leading with two laps remaining. Byron was battling with Joey Logano before the latter moved him aside and into the wall before pulling away to win Sunday’s Goodyear 400 at Darlington Raceway, as payback for earlier contact.

Logano started on the pole and was stout as he led 108 of 293 total laps, over twice as much as the next driver (Denny Hamlin’s forty-two). Although Kyle Larson was on point early on as he battled with Logano, his race fell apart following a lap 56 spin and engine failure on lap 112. By the end of Stage #1, Logano led Ross Chastain, Christopher Bell, Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr., Byron, Denny Hamlin, Erik Jones, Tyler Reddick, and Bubba Wallace. Chastain won the second stage, with Truex, Logano, Hamlin, Byron, Jones, Bell, Chase Elliott, Aric Almirola, and Daniel Suárez in tow.

Despite getting stage points, Busch, Wallace, and Chastain would not reach the finish. Busch wrecked out on lap 168 after Brad Keselowski hit the wall in front of him, while Chastain spun while racing for the lead on lap 196. Wallace was involved in a nine-car crash that collected him and 23XI Racing team-mate Kurt Busch, Elliott, Hamlin, Jones, Truex, Ryan Blaney, Chase Briscoe, and Cole Custer.

Shortly after the ensuing restart, Byron squeezed Logano into the turn two wall, though Logano kept going. Although Byron had the pace, Logano gradually whittled the margin before catching him on the penultimate lap.

As they entered turn three, Logano hit Byron’s rear bumper, causing him to slide up the wall. With Reddick too far back and Byron dropping out of the top ten entirely, Logano took the white and checkered flags. The win is his first points payer of 2022 after winning the Busch Light Clash at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, and his second at Darlington in a national series after previously taking the now-Xfinity Series victory there in 2012.

Shields takes first car racing win in GB3 at Silverstone

Cian Shields took his first GB3 Championship win in the reverse-grid encounter at Silverstone on Sunday, ahead of Nick Gilkes and Bryce Aron.

Shields got past polesitter David Morales off the line, while half the field went three wide through Maggotts, Becketts and Chapel but somehow survived.

Branden Oxley swept across to defend from Matthew Rees into Abbey on Lap 1 but clipped the JHR Developments car’s front wing and sent the reigning British F4 champion across the run-off area.

Nick Gilkes ran second in the early stages, 1.5 seconds clear of Morales, who in turn led Tommy Smith and Bryce Aron.

Roberto Faria pulled into the pits with a puncture on Lap 2, as Max Esterson managed to defend from Race 2 winner Tom Lebbon into Brooklands.

Vermont SportsCar to field Group E for Pastrana, Martell

Vermont SportsCar, a longtime partner for Subaru‘s rally operations in North America, is the second team to confirm its commitment to the Nitro Rallycross Class E for the 2022/23 season. Series founder Travis Pastrana will drive the #199 FC1-X, while Conner Martell is in the #21.

“This is a big step for our company and team, and shows we are serious about our commitment to the sport and the future,” commented VSC head Lance Smith. “We are proud to have been a seminal force in the rise of rallycross in the USA beginning over a decade ago, but this next step into the electric space, and where Nitro wants to go with it, makes us excited and more optimistic than ever about the future of the sport. This is spectacular racing and amazing entertainment for fans and drivers. All these ingredients make for a very compelling marketing opportunity for the automotive industry and sponsors. We think Nitro RX is perfectly suited to the EV space and vice-versa.”

Pastrana founded Nitro Rallycross in 2021, during which he won two rounds and the inaugural Supercar championship via tiebreaker. The 38-year-old has extensive rallying experience which includes championships in Rally America and the American Rally Association, while rallycross stints have come in Nitro RX’s spiritual predecessors Global Rallycross and Americas Rallycross.

Despite committing to Group E, he will continue driving in the Supercar class for Subaru Motorsports USA.

“I’ve been driving for VSC since my very first rally nearly twenty years ago,” said Pastrana. “I’m confident we will put forward an amazing effort and I’m excited to enter this next chapter with Lance, his team, and Conner. Conner is a great kid and an amazing young American talent.”

Esterson feeling “pretty good” after best GB3 result in Race 2 at Silverstone

Max Esterson has stepped up from the BRSCC Avon Tyres National Formula Ford Championship, finishing third just a few short years after stepping out of virtual racing and into physical cars.

The American took three wins last year, having previously ranked as one of the top five iRacing drivers in the United States before a year of karting in 2019.

He made a positive start to the second round of the season at Silverstone with two strong results; The Checkered Flag spoke to the Red Bull-partnered driver before Race 3.

“Started fourth [in Race 2], finished fourth, so it’s been a good weekend so far,” he said.

“Much better than Oulton Park, I’m just trying to get some points, be consistent and keep improving. It’s been good.

Lebbon: “First win a good result for me and the team”

Tom Lebbon delivered his and Elite Motorsport‘s first win since moving up to the GB3 Championship in Race 2 at Silverstone on Sunday morning.

The Checkered Flag caught up with the 2020 Ginetta Junior champion before Race 3.

“It was a good result for me and the team, getting the team’s first win and my first win in GB3. Overall, a good result for the team and myself.”

He admitted the team expected the first win to come sooner or later, but perhaps not after a disappointing season opener from Lebbon’s side of the garage.

He took one top-ten finish and failed to finish the reverse-grid Race 3 at Oulton Park after contact with Luke Browning.

Jamie Chadwick Takes Victory on the Final Lap in Miami

It was lights out for the first time for W Series in 2022, with Jamie Chadwick taking the victory in the USA for the season’s first double-header at the Miami International Autodrome.

Spanish racing driver Nerea Marti started on pole for the first-time in her career but did not get away well, meaning she fell from the front of the grid, allowing reigning champion Chadwick to take the lead from the starting line.

It was an unfortunate opening lap for Alice Powell, as she brought out a Safety Car after hitting the wall at the exit of Turn 7 resulting in an early retirement from the race. The session was red flagged with the remaining seventeen drivers lining up in the pits, whilst Powell’s car and the debris was cleared from the track.

The second start-up allowed Chadwick to maintain the lead with Emma Kimiläinen close behind for many laps. Battling for third was Fabienne Wohlwend and Marta Garcia, with the Spanish driver managing to come out in front after Wohlwend went wide at Turn 11.

With eight minutes of the race to go, Kimiläinen made her move on Chadwick, managing to take the lead moving herself up into first through Turn 11.