Pirelli World Challenge: Boston-based team motivated to win

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With the world anxiously watching the tense situation in Boston, one Pirelli World Challenge team is out to win this weekend for its stricken hometown.

Black Swan Racing, which fields the No. 54 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 in the series’ GT category, is based within the city. While the team is set to race Sunday on the streets of Long Beach, California (TV: Sun., May 5, 2 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Network), their thoughts are obviously back in Boston, which showed resiliency after Monday’s Marathon bombings before last night’s chaotic events unfolded in the city’s suburbs.

“There is a palpable tone to the city right now, it’s indescribable,” said Black Swan team manager/driver Tim Pappas in a statement released yesterday. “Our group wasn’t sure how best to address the situation, and at the end of the day, we just want to get on with the business of racing, and that’s what we’ll do this weekend.”

“Having grown up in the city of Boston, it’s tough to describe the emotions that many of us feel right now, but what I can say is how grateful I am that our city has some of the best emergency personnel and hospitals in the business. The Boston Fire Department, EMS, and Police Department are simply the best anywhere, and I personally couldn’t be more grateful for that.”

This weekend at Long Beach, the Black Swan No. 54 will feature a black stripe containing the “Boston Strong” or “B Strong” logo recently introduced by the Boston Red Sox.

Pappas is a former winner at Long Beach, taking the GTC class victory in the 2011 American Le Mans Series race at the legendary street course.

Ferrari teammates Vettel and Raikkonen fastest in rainy final practice at Australian GP

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MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Ferrari drivers Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen went one-two in the final practice session ahead of qualifying at the water-logged Australian Grand Prix on Saturday.

Vettel set a best-lap time of 1 minute, 26.067 seconds, more than 2.4 seconds faster than his teammate in second.

Both Ferrari drivers switched from their intermediate tires to the super-fast, ultra-soft tires for the final few laps of the session, testing conditions on the track after a day-long downpour left it slick and filled with small puddles.

Mercedes drivers Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton did not opt to try out their soft tires, sticking to the intermediates for the entire session. They had the seventh- and eighth-fastest times, after topping the leaderboard in practice in dry conditions on Friday.

The heavy rains subsided by early afternoon, allowing the track to rapidly dry during the third practice session and making conditions safe for drivers to test their soft tires.

Still, only a few drivers completed a timed lap with the softer compounds, with Mercedes, Red Bull and most of the others staying with their intermediates.

Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson had the third-fastest time of the session on ultrasoft tires, followed by Red Bull’s Max Verstappen on intermediates.

Hamilton remains the favorite to capture his fifth straight pole position at the Australian Grand Prix in qualifying later Saturday. He had the fastest laps on ultrasoft tires in the two practice sessions on Friday, though Verstappen was right behind him.

Verstappen and Vettel both slid on the slick track early in the third practice session, but maintained control and completed their runs without incident.

Verstappen’s teammate, Daniel Ricciardo, had the sixth-fastest time of the session. The Australian’s chances of winning his fifth career Grand Prix on his home track in Melbourne took a hit late Friday when he was assessed a three-place grid penalty for Sunday’s race.

The Australian driver was penalized for driving too fast under red-flag conditions during Friday’s second practice session because of debris on the track.