Signs of life from Romain Grosjean and Lotus?

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At this point, small victories are important for Lotus. Luckily for them, they got one on Sunday in the Malaysian Grand Prix.

While the team were unable to accumulate any points at Sepang and had another engine issue doom Pastor Maldonado’s day at Lap 7, Romain Grosjean was able to turn in a solid run to 11th, just one place outside of the points.

“Eleventh place is good for all the guys at Enstone and at the track, and it’s good for me too,” said the Frenchman.

“Finishing the race was our first objective and then we wanted to see where we were with our car. It’s not perfect yet but it’s good to be where we are at this stage.”

And if not for damage to his rear diffuser in the closing laps, he might have been able to give Toro Rosso rookie Daniil Kvyat a fight for 10th and the last World Championship point up for grabs.

Instead, he was left to turn back former Lotus teammate and current Ferrari man Kimi Raikkonen, which he was able to accomplish.

“I had a big loss of downforce around eight laps to the end especially in the rear of the car which made things difficult, especially when I had to defend,” Grosjean said.

“Without that issue, I’m sure we could have finished higher. It’s good to be back and close to the points so it’s a positive for all of us. It was a good battle at the end. I kept remembering our past battles to make sure Kimi couldn’t go through!”

As RoGro mentioned, seeing the checkered flag was the top priority for the Renault-powered team, which suffered through a trying winter of testing and then saw both Grosjean and Maldonado retire early at the season opener in Australia.

Malaysia was looking to be a lost cause as well, as more problems with the E22 made for limited practice laps on Friday.

But with Grosjean’s effort on Sunday, Lotus has at least shown that a return to regular appearances in the points may not be too far away with continued development.

Red Bull Air Race: Yoshi Muroya joins Sato as Japanese champs at Indy

Photo: Joerg Mitter/Red Bull Content Pool
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Takuma Sato isn’t the only major Japanese athlete to take home top honors at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway this year. Countryman Yoshihide Muroya joined him in that on Sunday after winning Red Bull Air Race at IMS, and the Red Bull Air Race World Championship in the process.

Fittingly, the 101st Indianapolis 500 champion was there on site to join him in the celebration.

Muroya flew with a track-record run in the final and erased the four-point deficit to points leader Martin Sonka. The record run came after a disappointing qualifying effort of 11th in the 14-pilot field in the Master Class.

A day after the win, Muroya joined Sato in heading to Sato’s new Verizon IndyCar Series team, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s, Indianapolis-based shop.

A few social posts from Muroya’s victory and the subsequent celebration are below.

CHECKING OUT EACH OTHER’S RIDES

ASTLES BREAKS THOUGH AS WELL

Muroya wasn’t alone among big winners at the Speedway. In the Challenger Class, Melanie Astles of France became the first woman to win a major race at IMS, and is the first female winner in the Red Bull Air Race World Championship.

Nine women have competed in the Indianapolis 500 (Janet Guthrie, Lyn St. James, Sarah Fisher, Danica Patrick, Milka Duno, Simona de Silvestro, Pippa Mann, Ana Beatriz, Katherine Legge) and Mann is the first woman to have been on the pole position at IMS, having done so for the Freedom 100 in 2010 in Indy Lights.

Photo: Joerg Mitter/Red Bull Content Pool