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Pagenaud primed for more Sebring success with ESM P2

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Among the IndyCar drivers in action at this weekend’s Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, Simon Pagenaud is one with some great experience at the central Florida circuit.

He’s competed here since 2009 with de Ferran Motorsports, Highcroft Racing, Muscle Milk Pickett Racing and Level 5 Motorsports, all in various iterations of Acura/HPD LMP1 or LMP2-spec chassis. He has finished second in class (2010-2012 LMP1, 2013 LMP2) each of the last four years.

Now for 2014, he’ll again be in an HPD prototype, in the same spec HPD ARX-03b as he raced with for Level 5 in 2013.

The difference is, this HPD is fielded by Extreme Speed Motorsports, and will be on Continental tires as opposed to Michelins.

Pagenaud was among the No. 2 car’s lineup in the Rolex 24 at Daytona, and together with ESM full season co-drivers Ed Brown and Johannes van Overbeek and fourth driver addition Anthony Lazzaro, finished seventh there, second best LMP2 car.

The Frenchman was part of an ESM private test at Sebring, after the series’ test Feb. 20-21. He compared the updated car favorably to last year’s.

“Yeah it’s a lot better than Daytona; this track suits the car much better,” Pagenaud told MotorSportsTalk in an interview last week. “We did a lot of laps with no mechanical issues. The team did great, and we’re in good shape.”

The ESM cars – along with other P2-spec cars in the race – will be able to revert to high downforce bodywork as opposed to the low downforce, Le Mans-spec bodywork ran at Daytona. That should also aid the team’s progress.

“I think the Continental tire will be a little better tire,” he said. “We have a little bit more downforce now because we had to go away from the Le Mans kit. There’s more downforce but also more drag. The HPD product is very used to Sebring.”

Lazzaro won’t be in action this weekend so it will just be the three of them in the striking black-and-green Patron HPD car.

Pagenaud is in the midst of a busy stretch, where he won a rally in France in an S2000 class Peugeot, and will head to Barber right after Sebring for IndyCar’s final two-day preseason test with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports.

Marc Marquez dislocates shoulder during private Honda MotoGP test

PHILLIP ISLAND, AUSTRALIA - FEBRUARY 15:  Marc Marquez of Spain and the Repsol Honda Team rides during 2017 MotoGP pre-season testing at Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit on February 15, 2017 in Phillip Island, Australia.  (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)
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Reigning MotoGP world champion Marc Marquez suffered a dislocated shoulder during a private test earlier this week, the Repsol Honda team has confirmed.

Marquez, 24, was testing with Honda at the Jerez circuit in Spain when he suffered a crash on the second day of running.

The Spaniard sustained a dislocated shoulder, but Honda confirmed that it does not expect him to miss the next private test in Qatar prior to the start of the season.

“Medical checks show neither further damage nor any other injuries, and the rider from Cervera should be fit to finish preseason testing ahead of the first race of the season,” a statement reads.

“Today was a productive day, as we were able to do many laps and to work on our bike well. We did most of the work we had planned, which is good,” Marquez said of his test day.

“I crashed in the afternoon and dislocated my shoulder, but luckily it was nothing serious. Now I’ll have some rest back at home and get ready for the next test, in Qatar.”

The new MotoGP season gets underway on March 26 with the Qatar Grand Prix.

Fernando Alonso confirms contact from Mercedes following Nico Rosberg’s retirement

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - NOVEMBER 24:  Fernando Alonso of Spain and McLaren Honda walks in the Paddock  during previews for the Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix at Yas Marina Circuit on November 24, 2016 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.  (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
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Fernando Alonso has confirmed that he was contacted by Mercedes following Nico Rosberg’s decision to retire from Formula 1 last December.

Just five days after winning his maiden F1 drivers’ championship in Abu Dhabi, Rosberg sent shockwaves through the driver market by announcing his immediate retirement from racing.

The majority of drivers racing in F1 were linked with the vacant Mercedes seat, including Alonso, who has not won a world title since 2006.

Alonso stressed at the time that he had no interest in leaving McLaren as he prepared to enter the third and final year of his contract with the British team.

Speaking earlier this week at the launch of McLaren’s new F1 car, the MCL32, Alonso confirmed that he was contacted by Mercedes, but that conversations never gained traction.

“Mercedes, after the surprise of Rosberg, had to check with everyone. It is understandable,” Alonso said.

“It was nothing really strange, nothing really deep to the conversations, but they did with everyone.

“They wanted to hear my situation, which was very clear. I had this year at McLaren and I was happy here.

“There was no point in talking anymore.”

Reflecting on Rosberg’s decision to retire, Alonso said that he would never be able to make a similar decision and would continue racing.

“In my case I cannot stop, [racing] is like a drug,” Alonso said.

“For Rosberg he was very brave to step away, I wish him the best.

“I will be 80 years old and I will be in a go-kart on a circuit racing and pushing the kids off the track in front of me.”

Haas reveals VF-17 ahead of sophomore Formula 1 season

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The Haas Formula 1 team has officially revealed its new car, the VF-17, ahead of its sophomore season on the grid.

NASCAR team co-owner Gene Haas took his eponymous operation into F1 last year, enjoying an impressive first campaign during which it exceeded all expectations.

The VF-16 carried Romain Grosjean to 29 points, including a fifth-place finish in Bahrain and an impressive charge to sixth on debut in Australia.

Its successor, the VF-17, hit the track for the first time on Saturday in Barcelona, with images being leaked on Twitter ahead of its official unveil on Sunday.

The new car retains a similar livery to the VF-16, with the Haas Automation company colors of grey, red and black all featuring, but the chassis itself sports an aggressive new look following an overhaul of the technical regulations.

“I think the pedal box is the same, but all the rest is very different from last year’s car,” Haas team principal Guenther Steiner said.

“You always try to make a faster car, which is normally a lighter car. Now we can put on more ballast and get better weight distribution. The aero is completely new, as are the tires, so we needed to have some built-in adjustability.

“Aesthetically, the car has a more aggressive look. It’s lighter and more aerodynamically efficient. Everything we learned from our first car has been applied to our new car.”

Grosjean will be joined at Haas this year by Kevin Magnussen, who has previously raced for McLaren and Renault and has signed a multi-year deal with the American team.

McLaren MCL32 F1 car gets first track test in Barcelona

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McLaren Formula 1 drivers Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne both got their first taste of the new MCL32 car in Barcelona on Sunday ahead of pre-season testing.

McLaren unveiled the MCL32 on Friday, with the biggest talking point being its striking new orange livery that harks back to the team’s racing roots.

Prior to the start of collective testing on Monday at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, McLaren took advantage of its filming day allowance to turn in some laps on Sunday.

Alonso got the first run in the Honda-powered MCL32 before handing over to Vandoorne in the afternoon.