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NBC Sports to feature 19.5 hours of Monaco coverage, with race live on NBC

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For the first time, Formula One’s famed Monaco Grand Prix will air live on network television Sunday, May 26 at 7:30 a.m. ET on NBC. NBC Sports Group will present a total of 19.5 hours of Monaco coverage from Thursday to Sunday, May 23-26, across NBC, NBC Sports Network and NBC Sports Live Extra. Race day, Sunday May 26, will begin with a live pre-race show at 7 a.m. ET on NBC Sports Network, “Mimosas from Monaco,” and conclude with F1 Extra, NBC Sports Network’s half-hour post-race show, live from Monaco after the race.

Coverage from Monaco also includes live practice, qualifying and GP2 races on NBC Sports Network. Practice will air live on Thursday, May 23, at 8 a.m. ET. Qualifying will air live on Saturday, May 25, at 8 a.m. ET. In addition, NBC Sports Network will air two GP2 races, F1’s developmental series, at 12 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. ET on Sunday, May 26.

NBC Sports Group’s Monaco Grand Prix Coverage (subject to change):

Date Coverage Network Time (ET)
Thurs., May 23 Practice NBCSN 8 a.m.
Fri., May 24 Practice Encore NBCSN 1:30 a.m.
Fri., May 24 Practice Encore NBCSN 11:30 p.m.
Sat., May 25 Qualifying NBCSN 8 a.m.
Sat., May 25 Qualifying Encore NBCSN 10:30 p.m.
Sun., May 26 GP2 Race 1 NBCSN 12 a.m.
Sun., May 26 Pre-Race Show NBCSN 7 a.m.
Sun., May 26 Monaco Grand Prix NBC 7:30 a.m.
Sun., May 26 F1 Extra NBCSN 10 a.m.
Sun., May 26 Monaco Grand Prix Encore NBCSN 10:30 a.m.
Sun., May 26 F1 Extra Encore NBCSN 1 p.m.
Sun., May 26 GP2 Race 2 NBCSN 1:30 p.m.
Sun., May 26 Monaco Grand Prix Encore NBCSN 10:30 p.m.

COMMENTATORS ON SITE: NBC Sports Group’s F1 announce booth will be on site to capture the unique glitz-and-glamour atmosphere of the Monaco Grand Prix. Leigh Diffey will serve as lead race announcer alongside veteran analyst and former racecar driver David Hobbs, analyst and former race mechanic for the Benetton F1 team Steve Matchett, and F1 insider and journalist Will Buxton.

ON MONACO:

Diffey: “Monaco is so special because people want to see something they can’t believe they are seeing, and that is the Monaco Grand Prix in a nutshell. It is an unbelievable spectacle. Cars that are way too fast for the track they are racing on, a track way too narrow for the speed of the cars. The element of danger is way too high for the modern day sport. But that is why Monaco is Monaco.”

Hobbs: “Monaco is one of the older races on the calendar and the circuit has changed very little over the nearly 90 years of running. Monaco is built around a fabulous natural harbor filled with the world’s most expensive yachts and a backdrop of gorgeous mountains. Throw in 20 or so multimillionaire drivers, team owners and top technicians in the most glamorous spot in the world, spiced with high danger content, and you end up with the most unique weekend of any sporting event in the world.”

ON THE RACE:

Diffey: “The form guide over the past three years screams Infiniti Red Bull Racing, but if you base it on the last Grand Prix everything points at Ferrari. With that being said, the Mercedes AMG Petronas team has shown incredible qualifying speed this year and qualifying well at Monaco is paramount.”

Hobbs: “This is the race all drivers and teams want to win. It has that extra something driven by its vintage location and crowd. It is a difficult race between very unforgiving walls, miles of guardrail, tightness of the turns and the narrow width of the road. It’s a tiring event for drivers and controlled aggression is key for a driver. Go fast, but keep off the walls.”

ON THE DRIVERS:

Diffey: “Over the last seven years there are only two drivers who have won more than once. Mark Webber has won two of the last three years and Fernando Alonso won back to back in 2006-07. Drivers who like Monaco always do well there and those guys are definitely in that group.”

Hobbs: “This year is proving to be very competitive. Team Ferrari is on a roll and Fernando Alonso, previous winner in Monaco, always goes well here. Red Bull and Mark Webber, two-time Monaco winner will go well – their car is suited to most tracks. Kimi Raikkonen in his Lotus should shine here, and Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes is fast every time he comes here.

NBC SPORTS DIGITAL & SOCIAL COVERAGE

F1 ON NBC SPORTS LIVE EXTRA: NBC Sports Live Extra — NBC Sports Group’s live streaming product for desktops, mobile devices, and tablets — will live stream the Monaco Grand Prix on Sunday, May 26, as well as qualifying on Saturday, May 25, and practice on Thursday, May 23. A vast majority of coverage will be streamed via “TV Everywhere,” the media industry’s effort to make quality content available to authenticated customers both in and out of the home and on multiple platforms.

For desktops, NBC Sports Live Extra can be accessed at NBCSports.com/liveextra. The NBC Sports Live Extra app for mobile devices and tablets is available at the App Store for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch, and on select Android handset and tablet devices within Google Play.

Coverage airing on:

  • NBC will live stream to PCs, mobile devices and tablets through NBC Sports Live Extra;
  • NBC Sports Network will live stream to PCs, mobile devices and tablets through NBC Sports Live Extra, and to the digital platforms of participating cable, satellite, and telco services, via “TV Everywhere,” which is available on an authenticated basis to subscribers of participating MVPDs.

F1 ON MOTORSPORTSTALK: MotorSportsTalk (@MotorSportsTalk) on NBCSports.com brings racing fans up-to-the-minute news, video and information on Formula One™, IZOD IndyCar Series, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, and all other motorsports racing from around the world. The site also serves as the destination for all news, analysis and video from NBC and NBC Sports Network productions of F1 and IndyCar, including contributions from on-air commentators.

MotorSportsTalk’s content is provided by top racing journalists and expert analysts, including:

  • Keith Collantine (@KeithCollantine), editor and creator of the F1Fanatic blog;
  • Luke Smith (@LukeSmithF1) creator of the F1 site RichlandF1.com.

To explore the site, please visit MotorSportsTalk.com.nbcsports.com or www.NBCSports.com.

SOCIAL: Follow @MotorsportsTalk@F1onNBCSports and @NBCSN on Twitter and “like” Facebook.com/NBC Sports for the most up-to-date news, videos and commentary about Formula One on NBC Sports and NBC Sports Network.

Commentator Twitter Chats – During the week of the Monaco race, F1 on NBC Sports commentators including @leighdiffey@mrstevematchett@mrdavidhobbs and @willbuxton will take part in various Twitter Chats allowing fans to get their questions answered from our very own experts.

CJ Wilson completes first test in Porsche GT3 Cup car

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Photo courtesy of CJ Wilson Racing
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CJ Wilson’s new career is officially underway, following his retirement from professional baseball and now having completed his first test last week at Texas World Speedway in his new 2017 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car.

Wilson, who formally announced the news he’d be transitioning into racing full-time during Rolex 24 at Daytona race week, did a two-day test at the still active oval/road course combo track in College Station, Texas. Wilson tested one of the team’s Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsports (the team runs two in IMSA’s Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge) and then advanced into the Cup car.

Wilson got fairly close to teammate Marc Miller’s times during the test as he acclimated to both the Cup car and the Yokohama tires.

“It’s great to take another step towards my goals,” Wilson said. “We had a chance to burn through two sets of tires today and I made a lot of progress. Having Marc as my coach was incredibly helpful because we have a lot of faith in each other and communicate using the same terms. Having sat in driver debriefings for the past six years with the race team, I was able to take all the input logically and make progress each session.

“The only odd thing about the test is that nobody else was here, which was the first time I have ever been on a track completely alone, so when we did a race simulation I had to use my imagination. TWS is a really fast and bumpy track. Looking forward to getting back in the car in ten days and pick up where I left off.”

Miller added, “CJ did great job, but I expected as much. He is logical and methodical which makes him easy to help and that translated into a very quick progression along the learning curve. Like any professional athlete though he is never truly satisfied because he wants to be perfect. He took quickly to the new Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car. It is confidence inspiring and such a capable platform so that suited him well in getting up to speed. Overall, it was a successful first outing and I look forward to working with CJ this season. I expect he will have a solid debut at Sebring. He better or I’m likely fired.”

A teaser of on-board footage is below, along with a couple other social posts from the test:

Danny Watts: ‘Staying hidden was nothing but torture and pain’

LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 22:  (l to r) Strakka Racing drivers Danny Watts, Nick Leventis and Jonny Kane pose during the 2013 FIA World Endurance Championship Photo Call on March 22, 2013 at Potters Fields in London, England.  (Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)
Watts (left) with Leventis and Kane in 2013. Photo: Getty Images
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Sports car veteran driver Danny Watts has announced his retirement from active competition, but is in the news for an entirely different reason on Monday.

The 37-year-old Brit has announced he’s gay, penning a first-person piece for the Huffington Post and also doing interviews with both Daily Sportscar and Autosport. The latter article features a well-written op-ed from author Matt Beer.

In the Huffington Post piece, Watts, an eight-time starter and 2010 LMP2 class winner at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, wrote that hiding his sexuality in the heavily white male heterosexual world of motorsport was simply becoming too much to keep under wraps.

“There isn’t any one moment that stands out in my mind as the moment I realized I would need to live in the closet if I wanted my motorsport career to go anywhere; it was just a general feeling I got,” Watts wrote.

“All the other guys in the paddock had girlfriends, so I got one to blend in. When that relationship ended, I got another one, and so I continued pretending to be straight for seventeen years.

“Staying hidden was nothing but torture and pain.

“I hope that there are a few people who are supportive. If the response I’ve had from the queer motorsport community thus far is any gauge, I feel hopeful that I’ll find a supportive group to start driving change for my queer siblings in the sport I love.”

Within the motorsports world, Watts’ name is best known to the sports car paddock, and he was a regular with the Strakka Racing team alongside co-drivers Jonny Kane and Nick Leventis. But he isn’t particularly known to the racing world at large.

This announcement comes as Watts has opted to call time on his full-time driving career and instead will focus on coaching for the future. It also represents one of the higher profile names in racing announcing his sexual orientation, which makes it newsworthy.

Despite some detractors (as you might expect), a number of other drivers and key motorsports figures have revealed their support for Watts, and why this news matters, on social media today:

Marino Franchitti returns to Mazda at Sebring

SEBRING, FL - MARCH 15:  Left to right, Marino Franchitti, Memo Rojas and Scott Pruett celebrate after winning the 12 Hours of Sebring at Sebring International Raceway on March 15, 2014 in Sebring, Florida.  (Photo by Brian Cleary/Getty Images)
Franchitti (left) won at Sebring in 2014. Photo: Getty Images
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Marino Franchitti will make his return to a Mazda entry for next month’s Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, to be run March 18, as third driver in the team’s No. 70 Mazda RT24-P with Joel Miller and Tom Long.

The Scotsman competed in the team’s RX-8 and 6 models in the GT ranks but has been out of a drive since his role with Ford Chip Ganassi Racing last season in one of the team’s Ford GTs in the FIA World Endurance Championship.

Franchitti replaces James Hinchcliffe, who was the third driver in the No. 70 car at the Rolex 24 at Daytona. He’ll test for the team later this week at Sebring prior to the race run in the second IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship race of the year.

“A big part of those results are being with great teams and having great teammates. I’ve been fortunate in that regard,” said Franchitti, who co-drove to win overall at Sebring in 2014. “I love driving there, I always have since the first laps I did. It’s a proper old-school track. If you go over the limit, you crash, simple as that, rather than going onto some tarmac run-off like many tracks. I love the challenge of walking that tightrope. Of course, there’s the challenge of the bumps too, trying to get the car to handle over them and the beating the car and driver takes. There’s a reason people come from all over the world to endurance test their cars here, it’s the ultimate test of a vehicle and its durability.

No. 70 Mazda RT24-P. Photo courtesy of IMSA
No. 70 Mazda RT24-P. Photo courtesy of IMSA

“It’s so cool to be coming back into the Mazda family,” said Franchitti. “Like everyone else, I was blown away when I saw the first shots of the RT24-P and how incredible it looks, so there’s a lot of excitement at getting to drive it. I’m relieved I get a chance to test the car, as many times I’ve just jumped in and raced, so this is a bit of a luxury! Being a part of the development process of a car is something I’ve been lucky enough to do several times and it’s something I really love.”

Mazda Motorsports director John Doonan added, “He’s a proven winner there, and he’s been a part of the Mazda family for years. Just look at his record at Sebring! He has the experience that can really help our team. Because he’s driven with Mazda before, we know his personality is a great fit. That’s important to us, and it goes a long way in helping the team chemistry remain strong. He’s a great fit with Tom [Long] and Joel [Miller], just as Spencer Pigot has been great with Nunez and Bomarito.”

Pipo Derani set for IndyCar test with SPM at Sebring

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Photo courtesy of IMSA
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Pipo Derani has become a star in the sports car world the last couple years, courtesy of his drives primarily with Tequila Patron ESM.

Meanwhile for at least a day, the 23-year-old Brazilian will be returning to his open-wheel roots in a big way.

NBC Sports has learned Derani will test for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports on March 1 in a rookie test for the Verizon IndyCar Series. Derani joins Mexican driver Luis Michael Dorrbecker, who will also make his test debut that day at that test at Sebring International Raceway’s 1.5-mile short course.

Derani raced a partial season in the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires series in 2014 with Team Pelfrey, before shifting to sports cars later that fall, starting with Murphy Prototypes.

Derani excelled with G-Drive in 2015 before his star turn with ESM last year. This year, his schedule grows even greater, as he’s been confirmed with Ford Chip Ganassi Racing for the first three races of the FIA World Endurance Championship season, including the 24 Hours of Le Mans, sharing the No. 67 Ford GT with Andy Priaulx and Harry Tincknell.

It’ll be interesting to see what Derani does on the Sebring short course in one of SPM’s Honda-powered entries. He’ll be back at Sebring a couple weeks after his IndyCar test, as he prepares to defend his win in the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring with ESM.