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Champions crowned at 50th SCCA Runoffs over the weekend

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Here’s a few news, notes and tidbits on the National Champions crowned at this past weekend’s 50th running of the SCCA Runoffs, the last for now held at Elkhart Lake’s Road America:

  • In GTL, Chris Bovis edged Bobby Lentz by 0.007 of a second, for the closest ever margin of victory at the Runoffs in the transponder era. Not to be outdone, Tim Kautz beat Reid Hazelton by 0.1 of a second in FF.
  • Andrew Aquilante (GT2, T1) and Lawrence Loshak (F1000, HP) took titles in two classes. Loshak’s titles gave him National Championships in four different classes (EP, DSR) for his career, only the fourth driver in history to do so.
  • John Heinricy captured his 12th National Championship at the Runoffs when the top three in front of him, Tom Sloe, Michael Lavigne, and Jeff Werth, were disqualified from AS. Greg Ira took the EP crown when Matt Reynolds was penalized for contact.
  • A tip of the hat to Peter Portante, the 17-year-old regular in USF2000 who took home the FC title in his Runoffs debut.
  • Charlie James took the inaugural B-Spec title, while Mark Mercer captured the 34th and final S2000 crown.
  • This year’s Runoffs had 701 drivers total, second-most all time trailing only Mid-Ohio in 2004 with 709.
  • The Spec Miata class had a Runoffs record field of 69 cars, beating its old mark of 60 in class in 2010.
  • All 28 class poles were set on Tuesday, with rain Wednesday and Thursday negating improvements.

Here’s a full rundown of class champions:

Class            Champion, Hometown
Formula Atlantic    Sedat Yelkin, Canfield, OH
Formula 1000        Lawrence Loshak, Grafton, WI
Formula Continental Peter Portante, Plainville, CT
Formula Enterprises Scott Rettich, Camden, OH 
Formula Vee         Michael Varacins, Burlington, WI
Formula F           Tim Kautz, Geneva, IL
Formula 500         James Weida, West Lafayette, IN
Formula Mazda       Darryl Wills, Houston
GT-1		    Cliff Ebben, Appleton, WI
GT-2		    Andrew Aquilante, Chester Springs, PA
GT-3		    Rob Warkocki, Frankfort, IL
GT-Lite		    Chris Bovis, Lawrence, KS
E Production	    Greg Ira, Plantation, FL
F Production	    Mark Carpenter, Charlotte, NC
H Production	    Lawrence Loshak, Grafton, WI
American Sedan	    John Heinricy, Clarkston, MI
Spec Miata	    Jim Drago, Memphis, TN
C Sports Racing	    Lee Alexander, Las Vegas
D Sports Racing	    Chris Farrell, Salt Lake City
Sports 2000	    Mark Mercer, Aurora, CO
Spec Racer Ford     Brian Schofield, Lakeland, FL
Touring 1	    Andrew Aquilante, Chester Springs, PA
Touring 2	    Andy Wolverton, Papillion, NE
Touring 3	    Chad Gilsinger, Marysville, OH
Touring 4	    Michael Scornavacchi, Matthews, NC
B-Spec		    Charlie James, Joplin, MO
STU		    Elivan Goulart, Shelton, CT
STL		    Rob Huffmaster, Clarkston, MI

Formula V8 3.5 to race at COTA next year, supporting WEC round

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The Formula V8 3.5 Series will race at the Circuit of The Americas in Austin, Texas the first time next year in support of the FIA World Endurance Championship weekend in September.

Formula V8 3.5 is currently embarking on its inaugural campaign, emerging from the ashes of the Formula Renault 3.5 series in 2015 after it lost manufacturer backing.

Earlier this year, it was announced that the single-seater series would be linking up with the WEC in 2017 as a support championship, appearing on the undercard at six rounds.

On Saturday, series officials confirmed that as well as racing at Silverstone, Spa and the Nürburgring alongside WEC, Formula V8 3.5 would also be visiting Austin, Mexico City and Bahrain in 2017.

Fuji Speedway in Japan had originally been slated to host a round of the 3.5-litre series, only for the race to be moved to Austin on grounds of costs.

During its Formula Renault 3.5 days, the championship produced a number of current Formula 1 drivers including Sebastian Vettel, Daniel Ricciardo, Kevin Magnussen and Carlos Sainz Jr. Its final champion was Oliver Rowland, who now races in GP2.

The addition of Formula V8 3.5 to the WEC weekend at COTA ensures that the endurance series will not race alone following the break-up of the Lone Star Le Mans double-header with IMSA for 2017.

Rosberg rues Q3 mistakes after missing out on Malaysia pole

KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA - SEPTEMBER 30: Nico Rosberg of Germany driving the (6) Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team Mercedes F1 WO7 Mercedes PU106C Hybrid turbo on track during practice for the Malaysia Formula One Grand Prix at Sepang Circuit on September 30, 2016 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.  (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
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Nico Rosberg was left ruing two mistakes during the final part of Formula 1 qualifying for the Malaysian Grand Prix on Saturday after missing out on pole position at Sepang.

Rosberg arrived in Malaysia leading the F1 drivers’ championship for the first time since the middle of July following a string of victories in Belgium, Italy and Singapore.

Rosberg led the opening practice session on Friday, but struggled to match the pace of Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton through FP2 and FP3 before falling behind once again in qualifying.

An error on his first Q3 lap left Rosberg fifth on the provisional grid before rallying with his second effort to lift himself onto the front row, albeit with another mistake at the final corner to finish four-tenths of a second behind Hamilton.

“Lewis’ lap was very quick so it was always going to be difficult. I would have come close but unfortunately I had a mistake in the last corner,” Rosberg said.

“Something just wasn’t going right there in that last corner, I just couldn’t get the settings right, I was always getting an oversteer moment into there.

“But anyway, second place, we’ll live with that now. As we know from this year, second place does not mean that victory is not possible tomorrow. We’ve seen that so many times. Still very optimistic for tomorrow.”

The Malaysian Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and the NBC Sports app from 2am ET on Sunday.

Hamilton: Emphatic Malaysia pole lap ‘could have been faster’

KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA - OCTOBER 01:  Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes GP celebrates qualifying on pole position in parc ferme during qualifying for the Malaysia Formula One Grand Prix at Sepang Circuit on October 1, 2016 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.  (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
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Lewis Hamilton believes that his emphatic Q3 lap that secured him pole position for Sunday’s Malaysian Grand Prix “could have been faster”.

Hamilton stormed to his fourth Formula 1 pole in Malaysia in the past five years on Saturday at the Sepang International Circuit, recording a fastest lap time of 1:32.850 to beat Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg by four-tenths of a second.

“Just a huge thank you to the team who continue through the whole year to improve,” Hamilton said after the session.

“To come here, this year it’s the best the car has been here, and of course this year the tires are obviously better.

“Great work done coming into this weekend and over the past few weeks with Nico’s wins, but today the car felt fantastic. I really enjoyed the lap.”

The lap was the fastest at Sepang since qualifying for the 2005 race, but when asked about it, Hamilton wryly said it “could have been faster.”

The Briton locked up on his second flying lap towards the end of Q3, forcing him to abort his run early and settle for his first effort in the session.

“Of course I’m very happy and grateful for my lap but you always want to finish the last lap. I think there’s more time there,” Hamilton said, before expressing his wariness over Red Bull and Ferrari’s race pace.

“I think tomorrow, provided the conditions are like this, the track is generally better. It’s a lot smoother and seems to work better with the tires than it has in recent years.

“It will be a close race for sure because I think they had very good long runs, but I think we were looking quite strong also.”

The Malaysian Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and the NBC Sports app from 2am ET on Sunday.

Hamilton sizzles in Sepang qualifying for Malaysian GP pole

KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA - SEPTEMBER 30: Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain driving the (44) Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team Mercedes F1 WO7 Mercedes PU106C Hybrid turbo on track during practice for the Malaysia Formula One Grand Prix at Sepang Circuit on September 30, 2016 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.  (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
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Lewis Hamilton stormed to his fourth pole position in five years at the Sepang International Circuit after dominating proceedings in Formula 1 qualifying for the Malaysian Grand Prix on Saturday.

Hamilton entered the race weekend trailing Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg by eight points in the drivers’ championship, having not won a race since the end of July.

After leading the second and third practice sessions, Hamilton made good on this pace in qualifying by topping two of the three stages in an emphatic display.

Hamilton’s display culminated in a lap of 1:32.850, the fastest at Sepang since 2005, to record his seventh pole of the season and fourth in Malaysia.

A mistake on Rosberg’s opening run saw him provisionally qualify fifth before hoisting himself up to P2 on his final lap, four-tenths down on his teammate’s time.

Max Verstappen led Red Bull’s charge in P3 ahead of teammate Daniel Ricciardo, while Sebastian Vettel finished as the fastest Ferrari in fifth. Kimi Raikkonen will start alongside his teammate in sixth place.

Sergio Perez finished seventh for Force India, 0.7 seconds off Raikkonen ahead, with teammate Nico Hulkenberg finishing eighth. Jenson Button was McLaren’s sole representative in Q3 en route to P9 with Williams’ Felipe Massa in P10. Late improvements from Hulkenberg and Button in Q2 denied Valtteri Bottas a place in the top-1o shoot-out, resigning the Finn to 11th on the grid.

Haas continued its streak of getting both cars through to Q2 as Romain Grosjean and Esteban Gutierrez qualified 12th and 13th respectively, while Kevin Magnussen led Renault’s charge in 14th ahead of the Toro Rosso pair of Daniil Kvyat and Carlos Sainz Jr.

Sauber failed to repeat is charge to Q2 from Singapore as Marcus Ericsson and Felipe Nasr fell short in Q1, finishing P17 and P18 respectively. Jolyon Palmer’s Saturday struggles continued as a mistake at the re-cambered final corner cost him time, leaving him 19th on the grid, while Manor’s Esteban Ocon outqualified teammate Pascal Wehrlein for the first time, finishing P20.

As expected, Fernando Alonso cut his qualifying session short in a bid to save his tires and car for the race after being handed a grid penalty earlier in the weekend. The Spaniard set a time good enough to finish within the 107% required to qualify before jumping out of his McLaren, ending up P22 in the final classification.

The Malaysian Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and the NBC Sports app from 2am ET on Sunday.