Vettel quickest once again in final Singapore practice

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Sebastian Vettel has continued to dominate practice for the Singapore Grand Prix after finishing the final session quickest ahead of qualifying later today.

The German driver posted a best lap time of 1:44.173, finishing just under two-tenths ahead of Lotus’ Romain Grosjean and over one second clear of his closest championship rival Fernando Alonso.

However, Red Bull could not repeat the one-two finish from FP2 yesterday as Mark Webber made a mistake on his final run to finish fourth and almost three-quarters of a second slower than his teammate.

Final practice got underway in the diminishing light of the early evening, with qualifying set to take place in complete darkness. Most drivers chose to venture out on the harder tire for their first runs, with Caterham drivers Giedo van der Garde and Charles Pic being the first to emerge from the pits. They were soon joined out on track by Adrian Sutil, who at one point had set an identical time to Pic before going quicker on his second run. Teammate Paul di Resta sent his car into a spin in pursuit of a faster lap time, whilst Esteban Gutierrez ran wide under braking and was very lucky to not put his Sauber into the wall. Ahead of the front-runners’ first times, Daniel Ricciardo was the fastest man on the circuit, closely followed by teammate Jean-Eric Vergne.

However, the Australian’s dominance was not going to last long. Nico Rosberg soon moved to the head of the field, only for an impressive lap time from Romain Grosjean to overthrow the Mercedes driver as Lewis Hamilton split the pair in P2. Red Bull soon resumed normal service following their domination of FP2, with Mark Webber going three-tenths faster than Hamilton half way through the session. Having topped second practice yesterday, Vettel could not initially beat his teammate, falling just 0.079 seconds short on the medium tire to sit P2 whilst Fernando Alonso’s struggles continued down in P6, eight-tenths off the pace.

With ten minutes to go, the teams undertook their final simulations for qualifying, lightly-fuelling the cars and putting on the super-soft tires. Grosjean was the first driver to venture out on the red-ringed rubber, immediately going fastest. Alonso could not match the Frenchman’s pace, lagging eight-tenths behind after his first flying lap. A mistake from Webber saw him fall short and only manage P4 behind Rosberg, with Hamilton trailing in fifth. A slight scrape with the wall was van der Garde’s only mistake in an otherwise good session for Caterham as they once again outpaced closest-rivals Marussia. Inevitably, Vettel pulled out a fine lap on the option tire to go quickest by 0.191 seconds.

Grosjean’s good showing suggests that Lotus could spring an upset in qualifying later today, but, given the nature of Vettel’s dominance so far this weekend, it will be an uphill task for any driver to overthrow the defending world champion at the top of the timesheets.

Get your motor running: American Flat Track’s new season premieres Sunday on NBCSN

Photos courtesy American Flat Track
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If you like racing two-wheel style, make sure you catch the debut of a new multi-year TV broadcast deal featuring the American Flat Track motorcycle racing series on NBCSN.

The 18-round series debuts this Sunday at 2 p.m. ET on NBCSN with the season-opening race that was held at Daytona International Speedway on March 15.

Going forward, all 18 rounds of the series will be televised on NBCSN in highly-coveted weekend afternoon programming slots without two weeks of each event.

Last season, AFT drew nearly two million viewers on NBCSN with regular primetime coverage on Thursday nights.

This season, the one-hour, tape-delayed telecasts will be part of NBCSN’s regular weekend programing, following or preceding coverage of NASCAR, INDYCAR and Pro Motocross.

AFT is now in its 65th season, with two distinct classes: powerful, twin-cylinder rides in the AFT Twins presented by Vance & Hines division, and the competition in the 450cc AFT Singles division.

“We are very excited to kick-off our second season of AFT on NBCSN,” NBC Sports Group Senior Director of Programming Jeff Macaluso. “The 2017 season provided us with some incredible racing and showed us how passionate the riders and fans are of this historic sport.

“The move to weekends this year, around other marquis motorsports properties, is sure to raise the level even higher.”

Here’s the 2018 AFT schedule on NBCSN:

Round Track, Location Track Type Premiere Time (ET) Time (PT)
1 Daytona International Speedway, Daytona Beach, FL TT Sun, 3/25 2:00 PM 11:00 AM
2 Dixie Speedway, Woodstock, GA Short Track Sat, 4/14 5:30 PM 2:30 PM
3 Texas Motor Speedway, Fort Worth, TX Half-Mile Sun, 5/06 4:00 PM 1:00 PM
4 Calistoga Speedway, Calistoga, CA Half-Mile Sun, 5/20 12:00 PM 9:00 AM
5 Turf Paradise, Phoenix, AZ Mile Sat, 5/26 3:00 PM 12:00 PM
6 Cal Expo, Sacramento, CA Mile Sun, 6/03 2:00 PM 11:00 AM
7 Illinois State Fairgrounds, Springfield, IL Mile Sat, 6/09 5:00 PM 2:00 PM
8 Red Mile, Lexington, KY Mile Sat, 6/16 12:00 PM 9:00 AM
9 Remington Park, Oklahoma City, OK Mile Sat, 6/23 5:00 PM 2:00 PM
10 Allen County Fairgrounds, Lima, OH Half-Mile Sat, 7/07 2:30 PM 11:30 AM
11 Weedsport Speedway, Weedsport, NY Short Track Sun, 7/15 6:00 PM 3:00 PM
12 Buffalo Chip Campgrounds, Sturgis, SD TT Sat, 8/11 12:30 PM 9:30 AM
13 Black Hills Speedway, Rapid City, SD Half-Mile Sat, 8/18 2:00 PM 11:00 AM
14 Peoria Motorcycle Club, Peoria, IL TT Sat, 9/01 3:00 PM 12:00 PM
15 Illinois State Fairgrounds, Springfield, IL Mile Sat, 9/22 2:30 PM 11:30 AM
16 Williams Grove Speedway, Mechanicsburg, PA Half-Mile Sun, 9/23 5:00 PM 2:00 PM
17 Canterbury Park, Shakopee, MN Mile Sun, 10/14 5:00 PM 2:00 PM
18 Meadowlands Racetrack, East Rutherford, NJ Mile Sun, 10/21 2:00 PM 11:00 AM


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