Rosberg leads Mercedes 1-2 in Monaco second free practice

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Nico Rosberg completed a sweep of Thursday’s two practice sessions for the Monaco Grand Prix. With a little more than an hour remaining in the second 90-minute free practice session, Rosberg dropped in the weekend’s first 1:14 lap with a lap of 1:14.759 around the streets of Monte Carlo.

Lewis Hamilton made it a Mercedes 1-2 for the W04s, albeit some three tenths of a second in arrears of Rosberg. Fernando Alonso was third ahead of his Ferrari teammate Felipe Massa and Mark Webber’s Red Bull.

Rosberg set his fastest time on Pirelli’s supersoft compounds. During the broadcast, NBC Sports Network Formula One pit reporter Will Buxton noted Rosberg was using up his rear supersofts too much, and they were “heavily fried” at one point. On the softs, Rosberg appeared to have an even greater gap to Hamilton. If the Mercedes don’t get into tire degradation trouble as they have tended to do this year, they should emerge as favorites for the rest of the weekend.

Behind the top five, the Lotus pair of Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean were next, each still within one second of Rosberg with Jenson Button, Sebastian Vettel and Paul di Resta in the top 10. Vettel, though, set his fastest lap of the day on the soft tire, so he hasn’t yet shown his full hand.

Grosjean’s session was truncated after 30 minutes following a heavy shunt on the exit of Sainte Devote, Turn 1 at Monaco. He locked up his right front supersoft tire on entry, bounded over the kerbs and into the barriers. His car was airlifted out of the spot by crane, quite high above the track, giving onlookers a good view at the floor of the Lotus E21.

The session was red flagged shortly thereafter, but not due to Grosjean’s accident. Kerb damage at Turn 13 caused a four-minute session interruption.

Down at the rear of the grid, Jules Bianchi brought Marussia back ahead of Caterham, and in the process, was close to both Toro Rossos and Valtteri Bottas’ Williams. Bianchi, in 19th, was within eight tenths of the Toro Rosso pair of Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne, and six tenths adrift of Bottas’ Williams.

Watch coverage of the Monaco Grand Prix throughout the weekend on NBC (Sunday, 7:30 a.m. ET), NBC Sports Network and live streamed on NBC Sports Live Extra.

The Callaway Corvette GT3 is coming to America, in PWC

Photo: Callaway Competition USA
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Pirelli World Challenge has been in need of some good news from a car count standpoint early into this offseason, and receives it Monday with confirmation Callaway Competition will bring its GT3-spec homologated Corvette C7 GT3-R Stateside next season.

The withdrawal of the factory Cadillac Racing program after PWC’s season finale in Sonoma in September has opened the door for the factory-blessed Corvette C7 GT3-R to run in North America, because Cadillac’s ATS-V.R has been the lone GT3-spec car under the General Motors awning for the last three seasons, while the Callaway Corvette has raced only internationally.

Reeves Callaway has been on site at the tail end of the PWC season to survey the opportunity and now a deal has been struck for a factory effort to run next year, before the Callaway Corvette program becomes a customer effort in 2019. This follows the same timeline as Acura did with its new NSX GT3 this year to run it as a factory program in 2017 before shifting to customer efforts in 2018.

“Joining the Pirelli World Challenge has been a long term objective for Callaway Competition,” Callaway said in a release. “Now the field is a roll-call of the most capable sports cars from every country. To do well here, you must beat the best in the world. What better way to showcase our iconic American car?

“For 2018, we will run a Callaway factory team to give us the best chance of continuing the championship record the Corvette has achieved in international competition. For 2019, we will not race against our customers, but provide high-quality support to them in the tradition of other manufacturer customer racing support programs.”

“For several years fans have asked when they would see the Callaway Corvette GT3 run in the Pirelli World Challenge,” added Greg Gill, President and CEO of Pirelli World Challenge. “The wait is over and we are very pleased to announce the arrival of the Callaway Corvette GT3 for the 2018 season.”

The Callaway Competition USA Corvette C7 GT3-R will be unveiled and both full season drivers announced at the Performance Racing Industry show in Indianapolis on December 7 at the Pirelli World Challenge booth. Following the unveiling event, the car will be on display for the remainder of the trade show. Details of the presentation will be announced in the coming weeks.

Callaway’s confirmation comes amidst the likely drawdown of potentially nine or 10 cars that raced in PWC’s GT and GTA ranks either all season or most of it in 2017, among at least five manufacturers. That’s not to say those losses can’t be recouped elsewhere on the grid, over the next several months before the St. Petersburg season opener in March.

PWC will hold its annual state of the series and competitor meeting to finalize the next year’s plans at the PRI show as well.