Indianapolis Motor Speedway - Day 1

Continental Tire deal the latest detail to emerge from USCR merger process

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Continental Tire will play a major role in “#TheFuture,” of both United SportsCar Racing and the aptly named Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge.

The tire manufacturer was confirmed Wednesday as exclusive supplier to three of the four USCR classes, Prototype (P), Prototype Challenge (PC) and GT Daytona (GTD). The GT Le Mans category (GTLM) will remain as an open-tire specification to allow for open competition. Additionally, Continental’s exclusive supply to the supporting CTSCC ranks as both tire partner and title sponsor was confirmed.

This isn’t a huge surprise but it means a couple things. First, the existing American Le Mans Series P1 and P2 teams, who run on either Michelin or Bridgestone tires, would need to be able to adapt Continental Tires to whatever car they choose to run in USCR. The P1 class has been eliminated for 2014, and some tests have been performed with P2 cars on Continental rubber.

Secondly, it will likely prevent any European P2 teams, who run on either Dunlop or Michelin rubber, from racing in any USCR endurance events.

Continental currently supplies tires to ALMS PC and all of GRAND-AM’s classes in both the Rolex and CTSCC championships.

The specifications for the merged USCR championship, which will fuse the ALMS and GRAND-AM Rolex Series for 2014, have begun to emerge this month. Driver ratings, pit/paddock regulations and procedures were revealed on July 12. On July 19, further information about class specifications and available cars was announced.

The next major hurdle for the series is a 2014 schedule reveal. Several dates have been leaked by tracks expected to join the calendar (Daytona, Sebring, Petit Le Mans and most recently, Indianapolis).

From conversations, some series insiders are rather anxious about the number of races given the timeline for finalizing 2014 budgets is happening now. Meanwhile, USCR officials have continually stressed the nature of what a long process it is to pare down 22 races at 17 tracks from 2013 into either 10 or 11 races for 2014.

Ideally, a schedule needs to be revealed in August, if not by Labor Day weekend at Baltimore for the ALMS at the absolute latest.

Bottas confident after strong qualifying in Sochi

SOCHI, RUSSIA - OCTOBER 10:  Valtteri Bottas of Finland and Williams drives during qualifying for the Formula One Grand Prix of Russia at Sochi Autodrom on October 10, 2015 in Sochi, Russia.  (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
© Getty Images
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Valtteri Bottas is confident of scoring a good result in tomorrow’s Russian Grand Prix after qualifying third at the Sochi Autodrom on Saturday.

Bottas finished as the ‘best of the rest’ in Q3 behind the leading Mercedes duo of Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton, beating the Ferrari drivers to secure P3 for the start of tomorrow’s race.

After a difficult run of form, Bottas believes that he can capitalize on this good qualifying result and make the most of the Williams car’s suitability to the track in Sochi.

“It was a strong job by the team today,” Bottas said. “We managed to set-up the car well and maximize our performance.

“I felt very good in the car all day and managed to get in a rhythm quickly and put in consistent lap times despite the limited number of laps we had completed in practice.

“Tomorrow is where it really matters but I have put myself in a very good position to capitalize.”

Bottas’ teammate, Felipe Massa, was less impressive in qualifying as a mistake and traffic caused him to drop out in Q2, finishing P15.

“I made a mistake at turn eight in my first timed lap in Q2, and then in my final two attempts I came up against a lot of traffic which lost me a lot of time,” Massa explained.

“On my final run my tires were gone at the rear and that was the end of my chances. It’s a shame and I’m very disappointed, but I have a quick car around here so we need to have a good strategy and use our pace to move up into the points tomorrow.”

The Russian Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and Live Extra from 6:30am ET on Sunday.

GP2: Rossi victorious again in shortened Sochi opener

2015 GP2 Series Round 9. Sochi Autodrom, Sochi, Russia. 
Saturday 10 October 2015. 
Alexander Rossi (USA, Racing Engineering) celebrates his win on the podium.
Photo: Sam Bloxham/GP2 Series Media Service. 
ref: Digital Image _SBL3610
© GP2 Series
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Alexander Rossi claimed his third win in as many GP2 Series rounds in Saturday’s feature race at the Sochi Autodrom.

Since winning the last feature race at Monza in Italy, Rossi has made his Formula 1 debut with Manor and also raced for the team at the iconic Suzuka Circuit in Japan.

As part of his deal with Manor, Rossi has returned to GP2 for this weekend’s round in Russia as he bids to finish as runner-up to impending series champion Stoffel Vandoorne.

Vandoorne was expected to be crowned champion on Saturday, but Rossi managed to delay the Belgian’s celebrations by storming to victory as darkness forced officials to shorten the race.

Carnage on the first lap saw four drivers retire from the race, with damage caused to the barrier at turn 3 by Jordan King resulted in a 30 minute red flag delay.

Once the race restarted, a shortened distance of 15 laps was confirmed, but full points were still to be awarded.

Pole-sitter Alex Lynn managed to pull clear through the first stint, and after falling behind Rossi in the first round of pit stops, the DAMS driver regained the advantage soon after.

However, when Lynn crashed out, Rossi was able to pull clear of the chasing Pierre Gasly and Vandoorne just behind to record his third win in as many race weekends by three seconds.

Rossi will start tomorrow’s sprint race from eighth place on the grid which is reversed, handing pole to Frenchman Arthur Pic who finished P8 on Saturday.

You will be able to read all about Alexander’s success in his exclusive NBC Sports blog on Wednesday. To read his pre-Sochi thoughts, click here.