Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama - Day 2

Hunter-Reay scores pole at Barber (VIDEO)

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Ryan Hunter-Reay scored the Verizon P1 award for Sunday’s Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama. The Andretti Autosport driver is the first driver outside of Team Penske to score a pole or win at Barber Motorsports Park in the track’s four-year IndyCar history.

“This team has done so well this weekend, we just kept progressing and we knew where we needed to work on it. I really went to work on my driving as well, and we all did it together here. It’s a great position to start from and now we need to go make it work in warm up and for the race, making these Firestones hang in there for an entire race. That’ll be the challenging part.”

Will Power upheld Team Penske’s honor and admitted he was happy with second. Tristan Vautier ended third after a last-minute promotion into the Firestone Fast Six, ahead of Scott Dixon, Charlie Kimball and Helio Castroneves.

Dixon qualified fourth but set the new Barber track record, a 1:06.7750 in his group of first qualifying, around the 2.3-mile road course.

Vautier entered the Fast Six just before the session after Takuma Sato was issued a penalty for blocking Justin Wilson. Sato’s two fastest laps were deleted, which demoted him to 12th on the grid, and sent Vautier and his Schmidt Peterson Motorsports crew into a mad dash to bring his car back to pit lane from the IndyCar paddock.

AJ Allmendinger made it through his group in qualifying and will line up in the top 10 for his first open-wheel start in seven years.

Kimball’s fifth place is his best career start after making his first Firestone Fast Six. Andretti Autosport’s Marco Andretti and Dragon Racing’s Sebastian Saavedra start where they did in St. Petersburg, seventh and ninth, respectively.

Simon Pagenaud, Simona de Silvestro, Dario Franchitti and St. Petersburg winner James Hinchcliffe were among the big names who failed to advance out of their group in Q1.

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IZOD IndyCar Series – Honda GP of Alabama

Starting Lineup

Row 1

1-Ryan Hunter-Reay
12-Will Power

Row 2

55-Tristan Vautier
9-Scott Dixon

Row 3

83-Charlie Kimball
3-Helio Castroneves

Row 4

25-Marco Andretti
19-Justin Wilson

Row 5

6-Sebastian Saavedra
2-AJ Allmendinger

Row 6

16-James Jakes
14-Takuma Sato

Row 7

77-Simon Pagenaud
78-Simona de Silvestro

Row 8

98-Alex Tagliani
5-E.J. Viso

Row 9

10-Dario Franchitti
22-Oriol Servia

Row 10

11-Tony Kanaan
27-James Hinchcliffe

Row 11

15-Graham Rahal
67-Josef Newgarden

Row 12

7-Sebastien Bourdais
4-JR Hildebrand

Row 13

18-Ana Beatriz
20-Ed Carpenter

Folger to make MotoGP debut with Tech3 in 2017

JEREZ DE LA FRONTERA, SPAIN - APRIL 22: Jonas Folger of Germany and Dynavolt Intact GP  rounds the bend during the MotoGp of Spain - Free Practice at Circuito de Jerez on April 22, 2016 in Jerez de la Frontera, Spain.  (Photo by Mirco Lazzari gp/Getty Images)
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Yamaha Tech3 has confirmed that rising German talent Jonas Folger will make his MotoGP debut with the team in 2017, stepping up from Moto2.

Folger, 22, finished sixth in last year’s Moto2 riders’ championship, and already has one pole position and two podiums to his name after four races in 2016.

The Kalex rider will make the jump up to MotoGP for 2017, joining the Yamaha satellite team on a one-year deal with an option for a second.

“I am super excited about the news and I still can’t believe this is happening,” Folger said.

“I have been racing for years in the motorcycling world championship and to make the move up to the premier class is a dream come true plus I’d like to thank all my sponsors that have stuck by me all these years.

“Furthermore, it’s an honor to make this step with Yamaha, Hervé Poncharal and Tech3 team who have such a long and deep history in the paddock. I will try my absolute best to repay the faith the team has put in me, and I’m really looking forward to the new adventure.

“However, I will remain completely focused for the rest of the year in the intermediate class but I can’t wait for Valencia where I will sample the Yamaha YZR-M1 for the first time.”

Folger will get his first taste of the Tech3-run Yamaha bike at the traditional end of season MotoGP test in Spain this November.

Hamilton asks fans to trust and respect Mercedes team

SOCHI, RUSSIA - MAY 01:  Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes GP leaves the paddock after the Formula One Grand Prix of Russia at Sochi Autodrom on May 1, 2016 in Sochi, Russia.  (Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images)
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Three-time Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton has called on his fans to trust and respect the Mercedes team amid unfounded allegations of sabotage in the past two races.

Hamilton suffered an issue on his power unit in qualifying for both the Chinese and Russian Grands Prix, helping teammate Nico Rosberg on his way to a streak of four successive victories to start the season.

Mercedes F1 boss Toto Wolff responded to claims on social media that the team was deliberately hindering Hamilton’s efforts by calling the accusers “lunatics”, before Mercedes itself wrote an open letter to its fans in response to the claims.

Hamilton has now issued a message of his own via his Facebook page on Friday:

Dear All,

I want you to know how grateful I am for all of your support. I’d like to ask that you please trust in my team, as I do. This is my family. These guys have been the greatest, hardest working people for me, and that is why I am now 3x World Champion.

Please don’t put any more thought into my team doing anything unjust towards me, and understand that it would be in no ones best interest for that to be the case. We’ve had the best 3 years together, and whilst it’s not going to plan right now, all will unfold in its own time.

I trust these guys 1000% and my mechanics are incredible, the best in the business. I respect them so please do the same. They are the guys that are going to make winning this championship possible.

Thank you once again.

Hamilton will bid to end Rosberg’s winning streak and get back into the title hunt when F1 arrives in Europe next weekend for the Spanish Grand Prix.

Button confused by Red Bull’s decision to drop Kvyat

SOCHI, RUSSIA - APRIL 30: Jenson Button of Great Britain and McLaren Honda in the garage during final practice ahead of the Formula One Grand Prix of Russia at Sochi Autodrom on April 30, 2016 in Sochi, Russia.  (Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images)
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2009 Formula 1 world champion Jenson Button questioned Red Bull’s decision to drop Daniil Kvyat for Max Verstappen as of the Spanish Grand Prix, saying the team has “short memories”.

Red Bull announced on Thursday that Kvyat would be returning to Toro Rosso, its B-team, as of the next race in Barcelona, with Verstappen moving in the opposite direction.

The decision sparked mixed reactions on social media, with many pointing out that Kvyat had been on the podium just three weeks ago in China.

Button made the exact same point in a couple of tweets sent from his Twitter account on Thursday.

IMS confirms 100th Indy 500 reserved seats are sold out

Indianapolis 500
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Indianapolis Motor Speedway officials have confirmed Friday that the 100th Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil will have a sellout crowd, with confirmation all reserved seats have been sold.

“Every Indianapolis 500 is special, but the buzz surrounding the 100th Running has been building for nearly a year, ever since the checkered flag fell on the 99th,” IMS President J. Douglas Boles said in a release. “Our fans are the best in sports and their incredible support of this year’s race will make it a truly historic day for ‘The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.’”

Further information is linked here, via the IMS website.