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PREVIEW: Indianapolis 500 (Predictions, Weather, Starting Grid)

As they do every May, the eyes of the racing world fall on Indianapolis this weekend. The Indianapolis 500 is set to go green for the 108th time on Sunday, and it comes at one of the most exciting times for the series in recent memory.

Team Penske’s Scott McLaughlin roared to the fastest-ever pole speed on last weekend, setting the pace around IMS at an average of 234.220 miled per hour over a four-lap run. Teammates Will Power and Josef Newgarden will join the Kiwi on the front row, becoming the first team to lock out the front row at Indy since the Penske squad in 1988. That performance comes after one of the most tumultuous times in team history – a situation which still leaves the team shorthanded for Sunday’s race.

Kyle Larson qualified fifth for the race, and will attempt to run both the Indy 500 and NASCAR’s Coca-Cola 600 in Charlotte later Sunday night. While weather may affect Larson’s timing, Nolan Siegel is the backup option should Larson not be able to compete in part or all of the race at Indianapolis. Siegel’s No. 51 car for Dale Coyne Racing was the sole car that failed to qualify last weekend.

Eight former Indianapolis winners are in the field this week, and five of them are starting on the first four rows. Marcus Ericsson is the lowest qualifying past winner in the field, as he struggled after a crash in practice over a week ago. Helio Castroneves has the chance for a record fifth 500 win after capturing his fourth in 2021.

A Lap around Indianapolis

Indianapolis Motor Speedway was constructed by Carl G. Fisher in 1909. The first Indianapolis 500 was held in 1911, and the rest, they say, is history. Over the years, IMS has built a legacy so strong that it is now known as “The Racing Capital of the World”, making motorsports synonymous with the city of Indianapolis and the state of Indiana. Besides the 500, IMS has hosted NASCAR’s Brickyard 400, Formula 1’s United States Grand Prix, and many other racing and non-racing events over the years.

2024 Monaco Grand Prix: Hamilton Fastest in First Practice

Lewis Hamilton was the fastest driver during the first hour of free practice for the 2024 Monaco Grand Prix.

The session started at lightning fast pace with all the drivers on track getting crucial early running under their belts with the threat of rain looming towards the end of the session. Most teams opted for the hard compound tyres, except Visa Cash App RB and Williams Racing who put their drivers on the mediums. 

The laps came thick and fast when the teams switched their drivers onto the soft compound tyres for the qualifying simulations. As usual around the streets of Monte Carlo, many drivers were forced to do multiple laps on their tyres to get the best possible time without traffic. 

Photo: Getty Images/Red Bull Content Pool

Hamilton ended the session at the top of the times, with a 1:12.169. Oscar Piastri was just behind the 7 time world champion and trailed his time by +0.029. George Russell rounded out the top three and a positive session for Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team a further +0.097s back from Piastri.

Lando Norris ended the hour down in fourth. Charles Leclerc finished fifth, with his best time coming on the medium tyre – Scuderia Ferrari are yet to show their pace on the soft. Fernando Alonso and Lance Stroll’s laps were good enough for sixth and seventh, while the RB duo of Yuki Tsunoda and Daniel Ricciardo finished within half a tenth of each other and inside the top ten. Carlos Sainz Jr. was tenth.

Carlos Sainz in talks with Williams over 2025 drive

Carlos Sainz Jr. is reportedly is advanced talks with Williams Racing as he looks to secure a race seat in 2025.

It was announced that Sainz will leave Scuderia Ferrari in 2025 when Lewis Hamilton’s shock move from Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team was revealed ahead of the 2024 season and rumours of where the Spaniard will be next year have been the talk of the Formula 1 paddock.

Sainz has enjoyed a positive start to the season, winning in Australia to take Ferrari’s one and only victory of 2024 so far. He does trail his teammate, Charles Leclerc, in the drivers standings although he did miss a weekend in Jeddah due to unforeseen circumstances.

The 29-year-old is known to be of big interest to Sauber on a long term deal, which would enable him to become an Audi driver from 2026 when they enter the sport, but there is also been rumours of a potential move to Oracle Red Bull Racing or Mercedes. 

A move to Red Bull looks unlikely though, with Christian Horner’s team likely to renew Sergio Pérez’s contract and even if they didn’t, with Visa Cash App RB drivers Yuki Tsunoda and Daniel Ricciardo waiting for their opportunity, a move to Milton Keynes looks still doesn’t look like an opening for Sainz.

Vincent Biau skipping 2025 Dakar Rally

Vincent Biau‘s Dakar Rally début in January was a struggle unlike any other he had faced in his career, having had to run the entire race with a a slate of injuries and without assistance from a crew. Despite the odds, he managed to reach the finish, though he doesn’t plan on repeating it in 2025 as he has other plans on his list.

Biau was accepted for the 2024 Dakar Rally after being the highest finishing Malle Moto competitor at the 2023 Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, where he was tenth overall in Rally2.

The Dakar started on a sour note when he missed a waypoint in the Prologue, though it paled greatly compared to an especially difficult Stage #1. He dislocated his shoulder and broke his ankle after getting thrown off his bike into a rut shortly after refuelling, then crashed into rocks at the 200-kilometre mark. Another crash the following stage resulted in a broken rib. With so many injuries racking up and having to work on his bike alone as a Malle Moto (Original by Motul) rider, he opted to ride conservatively the rest of the rally. By the end, he finished fifty-eighth in Rally2 and fifteenth in Original by Motul.

“A few days ago, the route for the 2025 Dakar Rally was unveiled. Many of you have asked me if I’m going back to finish on a better note,” wrote Biau on Wednesday. “As a reminder for those who don’t know, on the first day, I had a fall: fractured my malleolus, broke a rib, and had a shoulder subluxation… and I still finished.

“To answer your question: no, unfortunately, I will not be at the start of the next edition, but don’t worry, another big project is in the works!!! Stay tuned!!!”

2024 Monaco Grand Prix: What the Teams are Saying Ahead of the Weekend

Formula 1 heads to Monte Carlo this weekend for the 2024 Monaco Grand Prix and Round 8 of the FIA Formula 1 World Championship.

Max Verstappen and Oracle Red Bull Racing lead the way in both the Drivers’ and Constructors Championships but in the past two rounds in Miami and Imola, we have seen stern challenges from McLaren F1 Team and Scuderia Ferrari. Lando Norris, in particular, has been in good from, winning in Miami and finishing under a second behind Verstappen at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.

Monaco is the jewel in the Formula 1 crown and can be one of the most exciting races on the calendar. Read what the teams have been saying ahead of the weekend, including Ferrari and McLaren.

Fred Vasseur — Scuderia Ferrari

“A few days ago, it was our home race in Imola and this weekend, Charles will be on home turf in Monaco, a race that is unfinished business for him and we’d like to help him put it to bed. 

2024 Monaco Grand Prix: Preview and Predictions

The diamond of the Formula 1 calendar returns this weekend, as the drivers head to the 2024 Monaco Grand Prix.

Max Verstappen will be looking to extend his lead at the top of the World Drivers’ Championship, but with competition from Lando Norris and Charles Leclerc in particular, it will be undoubtedly be a tough battle for the top spot on the podium.

The race weekend comes at arguably the most important time of the season, Verstappen and Oracle Red Bull Racing have been pushed to the limit over the past two race weekends, and if we are to see a battle for either championship, it has to continue around Monaco. If the last two races are used as evidence, the gap between Red Bull and both McLaren F1 Team and Scuderia Ferrari has drastically closed but on a different type of circuit, we’ll see if this trend continues.

Monaco can deliver some freak results. Think back to the 2023 Monaco Grand Prix, which saw Fernando Alonso almost take pole position and the win while Esteban Ocon and BWT Alpine F1 Team claimed a podium and this weekend the battle should be really interesting with at least five different drivers battling it out at the front.

Home hero Leclerc will be looking to end his bad run of the results at Circuit de Monaco – his main aim will be winning around his birthplace and trying to build some momentum for a potential championship challenge. 

Johnny Greaves rolls and wins in wild Mayhem at the Motorplex

John Holtger admitted he was “feeling a little confused” at what unfolded during Sunday’s Pro 4 race at Dirt City Motorplex.

Don’t worry, John. Most of us were.

After a tumultuous offseason, it seemed fitting that the 2024 Championship Off-Road campaign began on an equally chaotic note. The second Pro 4 round of the Mayhem at the Motorplex best exemplified this as Johnny Greaves went from rolling his truck to scoring his 104th career win.

Greaves’ race started inauspiciously when he and Jimmy Henderson made contact, only for the latter to retire with wheel damage after tangling again in the hairpin. At the front, his son and defending Pro 4 champion CJ Greaves had the early advantage only to drop out with a mechanical issue, starting a bizarre trend as every truck to spend time in first suffered some sort of problem.

When the race resumed following a caution for Kyle Chaney catching fire, Saturday winner Adrian Cenni took the lead before his right-rear tyre came apart, which shot Johnny into the lead. The older Greaves battled with Andrew Carlson before the former went over twice after hitting a rut in a corner, seemingly knocking him out of contention for the win until Carlson rolled as well upon colliding with a tyre in the infield, while Pro 4 newcomer Kainan Baker also retired after his right-front wheel came off. Holtger inherited the lead amidst the carnage and seemed poised to escape with the win before a local caution flag flew on the final lap to facilitate cleanup. Cenni noted that “The track looked pretty good, but something’s going on. It’s upsetting the drivetrain or something because we were dropping like flies out there.”

Indy 500 Qualifying viewership up nearly 40% from 2023

Fueled by a NASCAR superstar, record-setting speeds, and a battle between a teenager and a veteran of the sport for the final spot in the race, NBC’s coverage of the second day of Indianapolis 500 qualifying recieved a TAD (Total Audience Delivery) of 1.22 million viewers across the linear broadcast and its streaming service, Peacock. That number is a 38% increase from the same event last year, which clocked a TAD of 842,000 viewers.

Sunday’s broadcast goes down as the most-watched Indy 500 qualifying broadcast since NBC gained exclusive IndyCar rights in 2019. The number comes during negotiations for a new IndyCar broadcast deal, as NBC’s most recent contract with the series expires at the conclusion of the current season.

— NBC Sports PR (@NBCSportsPR) May 21, 2024

Sports Business Journal’s Adam Stern reported last week that the fight for IndyCar broadcast rights has come down to the incumbent NBC and FOX, who currently shares NASCAR Cup Series media rights with NBC and recently agreed to continue that share along with Amazon Prime Video and TNT for the next seven seasons. In an interview with Inside Indiana Business earlier this week, IndyCar CEO Mark Miles said “We’re getting close. We’ve been working at it for months… I think we’re going to know which way we’re going to go in the next couple of weeks.“

With that, the series’ eyes may be on the viewership numbers for Sunday’s Indy 500 broadcast, one that has suffered over the past two years. 2021’s race pulled in over 5.5 million viewers, NBC’s highest, before taking a significant downturn to 4.8 million in 2022 and 4.9 million in 2023. According to Miles, there has also been discussions of lifting the controversial TV blackout of the race in Central Indiana with grandstand seats nearly selling out for the race.

Dakar Rally navigator and adventurer Jean-Luc Leran dies at 75

Jean-Luc Léran, who dedicated his life to the great outdoors to the point where he took on the Dakar Rally in the 1980s and 1990s, died 11 May at the age of 75.

Although an electrician by trade, the Frenchman spent nearly five decades exploring the Sahara Desert, studying and collecting artifacts like fossils and prehistoric objects; one of his proudest discoveries was the centuries-old complete skeleton of a pilot whale, which he and his wife had to bury in the sand to protect from the rainstorm before they could bring it back to France. As his collections are for his personal use rather than profit, authorities in Africa permitted him to bring his findings home to Agon-Coutainville, effectively turning his house into a private museum of sort.

His interest in anthropology and paleontology stemmed from his military service, being stationed in Africa and participating in tours across the Ténéré. He was also a falconer, one of just three in the Lower Normandy region by 2022, who owned birds of prey like goshawks.

In 1988, Léran’s knowledge of the African desert prompted André Dessoude to enlist him as a co-driver for the Paris–Dakar Rally, whose route that year ran through much of the northern and central parts of the continent. Racing a Nissan Terrano, the two finished seventeenth overall. They improved upon this the following year with an eleventh outright and winning the marathon category.

Léran continued to race with Nissan in 1991, albeit working with Jean Bouchet; he scored another marathon overall win with Bouchet as they placed eighth. A year later, they entered the Paris–Moscow–Beijing Rally and finished the gruelling month-long race in tenth. He eventually phased himself out of rally raids as satellite navigation increased in popularity over the decade.

Boost Mobile Super Trucks revived, returning at Adelaide

The last time Stadium Super Trucks were on the streets of Adelaide, COVID-19 had yet to become a pandemic. Four years later, the series is set to head back to Australia when it joins the Adelaide 500 weekend on 14–17 November.

Supporting the Supercars Championship, SST last raced in Australia in 2021 under the Boost Mobile Super Trucks banner. The trucks fell off the calendar after Supercars came under new ownership, and were sent back to the United States in 2022.

Despite their departure, there remained some interest in Supercars’ leadership to bring them back as early as 2023. SST also entertained dates that year in Adelaide or Surfers Paradise though they ultimately had to wait a year before the former manifested.

“The VAILO Adelaide 500 is one of my favourite events and street circuits in the world and I’d like to thank all our supporters in Adelaide and Australia for their continued support to see us race down under again,” said series head Robby Gordon. “Our teams and drivers will be sure to put on a show for fans of all ages once again on the streets of Adelaide, and it’ll be a show you don’t want to miss.”

Adelaide was the first track to welcome SST to Australia when it served as the season opener in 2015, holding this mantle over the next two years. Australian races ended in late 2018 amidst a row with what is now Motorsport Australia before returning at the 2019 Gold Coast 600 after a year-long absence.

Nandu Jubany returning to Dakar Rally in 2025

Seven years after his début, Nandu Jubany will have another go at the Dakar Rally in 2025, albeit on four wheels when he races an MD Optimus for MD Rallye Sport. Marc Solà will serve as his navigator.

Jubany first raced the Dakar Rally in 2018 on a bike, finishing fifty-third overall. A former Spanish Enduro Junior Champion, he was originally supposed to race in 2017 before pushing it back a year due to a broken wrist he sustained while training. The effort checked off a major bucket list item of his, and he initially declared that he had no intention of returning to the Dakar in the future. However, the allure of racing a car was too great to resist.

“When I finished (in 2018), I promised myself that I wouldn’t go through that again, but you say that and three months later you’re already thinking about doing it again,” Jubany told SPORT at the 2025 Dakar Rally presentation on Saturday. “I don’t know what it is about the Dakar, but it gets you hooked. My dream was to do it on a motorcycle because I’m a biker, but I really racing in general and driving a car. When we see images of the Dakar on television, it makes all the fans want to go. We all want to go and be there. […] I don’t know what the Dakar gives you, some kind of pill, but when you’ve done it once, you always want to come back.”

Initially, Jubany considered racing in the SSV category before Dakar veteran and enduro champion Josep Vila i Roca introduced him to MD Sport. Instead, he will race an Optimus in the T1.2 subcategory.

Solà, who also made the jump from bikes to cars, finished eleventh in SSV at the 2024 Dakar as the co-driver for Ricardo Ramilo. Jubany also has the support of friends and Dakar competitors like two-time winner Nani Roma, Roma’s wife Rosa Romero Font, and Gerard Farrés; Roma, who won the 2004 race on a bike, helped Jubany train for the 2018 edition.

Boris Rotenberg elected Russian Automobile Federation president

Boris Rotenberg, one of the most powerful businessmen in Russia and the owner of SMP Racing, was elected president of the Russian Automobile Federation on Saturday. He replaces Viktor Kiryanov, who ran the federation for twenty years.

He has operated SMP Racing since 2013, taking its name from SMP Bank that he and his older brother Arkady founded. Using Rotenberg’s BR Engineering prototype cars, they primarily competed in sports car series like the FIA World Endurance Championship, where they won the 2015 LMGTE Am title, the Blancpain Endurance Series, European Le Mans Series, and GT World Challenge Europe. Rotenberg has also dabbled in driving for the team.

SMP was due to open a Formula 2 programme and had hopes of extending into Formula One, having heavily backed Sergey Sirotkin’s road to the latter and his F1 employer Williams Racing, before the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2022 led to their withdrawal from international motorsport. Since then, the team has mostly focused on domestic championships and driver development.

Shortly after the invasion, Rotenberg was sanctioned by the British government and European Union as a member of President Vladimir Putin‘s inner circle. He and Arkady, both childhood friends of Putin, have been under sanction by the United States since 2014 in response to Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea; the brothers ran Stroygazmontazh, one of the world’s largest oil infrastructure builders which constructed the Crimean Bridge. SMP Racing’s European bank accounts were also blocked following the annexation. Despite the penalties, a 2023 investigation by Le Monde found the Rotenbergs have continued to maintain their wealth, which includes a net worth of over USD$1 billion apiece, through proxies and allies abroad.

As RAF president, Rotenberg stated his intention to focus on building a domestic Formula 4 car with SMP Racing and BR Engineering, promoting youth karting, and organising hybrid events that combine esports and real-life racing. He also drew from the political power he wields as an oligarch, declaring another priority was to “[strengthen] international cooperation with partner countries from Asia and BRICS countries.”

2025 Dakar Classic expands eligible vehicles to 2005

Want to race the Dakar Classic in a Nissan Navara or a Bowler Wildcat? Now you can.

During the 2025 Dakar Rally presentation on Saturday, the Amaury Sport Organisation announced the range of vehicles eligible to compete in the Dakar Classic has been expanded to allow those built between 2000 and 2005. In its first four years of existence, the race only permitted cars and trucks built from the inaugural Paris–Dakar Rally in 1979 to 1999.

Forty-six vehicles have been added to the list of eligible vehicles, increasing the total to 408. These include the Bowler and BMW X5, both of which were among the top cars in the 2000s. OSCar, the first electric vehicle to complete the Dakar in 2012, is also permitted.

Bowler, OScar, Jaguar, GINAF, and SMB will be allowed to make their Classic débuts.

The 2025 Dakar Classic and Rally begin on 3 January and run through 17 January. Carlos Santaolalla and his Toyota Land Cruiser are the defending winners.

Siegel bumped from Indy 500 field – Legge, Ericsson, Rahal make up final row

After a tumultuous month of May, Dale Coyne Racing rookie Nolan Siegel has been bumped from the Indy 500 field. Siegel, who is running four races in the No. 18 for Coyne while running full-time in Indy NXT with HMD Motorsports, spun and hit the Turn 2 wall during his final qualifying attempt and will not take part in next Sunday’s race. The rookie was bested by Katherine Legge, Marcus Ericsson, and Graham Rahal, who will start next Sunday’s Indy 500 31st, 32nd, and 33rd respectively. Rahal had praise for Siegel after locking himself into the field.

“You guys don’t know his name, but you will. He’s won in every class that I’ve watched him in, and I’ve known the kid since he was 10 years old. He was a little little guy then, but you know in the future he’s a winner. And it’ll be winning at this level sometime soon.“

Siegel had been keeping up the pace for the first few days of practice before a violent crash during practice on Fast Friday that sent his No. 18 Honda into the wall before flipping over backwards, landing the 19-year-old driver upside down. The nature of the impact necessitated a complete chassis change. Since DCR is a relatively small operation, the one backup car the team had available was a chassis set up for a road course, and was last used a weekend ago by Jack Harvey on the IMS Road Course.

Credit: Joe Skibinski/Penske Entertainment

Just like Ericsson, who also went to backup road course car after a practice crash, speeds went down in a big way with the new car for Siegel. While the California native was last of the 34 entries on Friday before his crash, he wasn’t too far off from teammate Legge with a top speed of 229.813 mph. However, on the first day of qualifying, Siegel and the No.18 had a difficult time even putting up one lap in the 228 range. After multiple attempts, Siegel eventually mustered a 228.276 average on his final run of the day, which was still over two miles per hour shy of Rahal in 33rd.

On Saturday night, the Coyne driver made a phone call to 2013 Indy 500 winner Tony Kanaan. Siegel received some advice from the 20+ year IndyCar vet, and eventually, Kanaan, who currently serves as the Sporting Director for Arrow McLaren, got permission to serve as a consultant for Siegel on Sunday. In an interview during Sunday morning practice, TK described his role as one of “moral support”, and was not there to give any sort of technical or setup advice.

McLaren powers through multiple issues during Indy 500 qualifying

Kyle Larson was the first Arrow McLaren driver to take to the track for the opening day of Indy 500 qualifying, and for the first two laps, things were going well. The California native’s first lap was ran at a speed of 232.719 miles per hour, with a small amount of speed lost between that and his second lap at 232.318. Then, while entering Turn 2 during the third lap of his initial run, the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series champion slowed down, pulling back into the pits and unexpectedly ending his qualifying attempt two laps early.

The explanation? An unknown issue that Larson said slowed the car down automatically.

“There was some alarm that popped up on the dash and it cut a bunch of power.“

2011 Indy 500 runner-up and IndyCar veteran JR Hildebrand offered an explanation to the issue:

“Engine event” associated with a shift (for Larson) is probably a plenum fire. When you catch a little limiter on a shift it can cause a backfire that ignites fuel in the intake plenum. Lose all power until you fully pedal it. Might not be what happened but kinda sounded like it.