F1 Grand Prix of Bahrain - Race

Hamilton holds on to claim remarkable Bahrain GP victory

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Lewis Hamilton has won a tense Bahrain Grand Prix after fending off teammate Nico Rosberg in an incredible battle for victory on Sunday night in Bahrain, with the two drivers going wheel-to-wheel in the closest finish to a race so far this season.

Following a late safety car, the two drivers went head-to-head in a remarkable race to the flag that saw Hamilton somehow keep his quicker teammate at bay to clinch his second win of the season.

After a close battle with Williams and Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo, Sergio Perez won the battle to finish third for Force India and claim the team’s first podium finish in five years. After starting P13, Ricciardo fought brilliantly to finish fourth ahead of Nico Hulkenberg and Sebastian Vettel.

The start saw both Mercedes drivers make a good getaway, but Hamilton managed to squeeze past his teammate into the first corner to take the lead of the race. The British driver had to defend from Rosberg for the rest of the first lap, causing the German driver to run wide, but both managed to keep it clean and continue to hold onto the lead. Felipe Massa made a great start to jump up into third place ahead of teammate Valtteri Bottas, and Sergio Perez split the two Williams drivers. Kimi Raikkonen’s podium aspirations were damaged by a bad start as he dropped back down to ninth place, but it was Jean-Eric Vergne who lost the most after suffering a puncture following contact with Pastor Maldonado on the first lap.

Hamilton and Rosberg quickly set about dropping the rest of the field in pursuit of a second straight one-two finish, and both drivers were told to keep an eye on their tire usage. Rosberg’s engineer informed him that he was on an “alternative strategy”, suggesting that there was a split in the Mercedes garage between two and three stops. Fighting back from his grid penalty, Daniel Ricciardo tried to pass Kevin Magnussen for 11th place, only to lock up and fall back from the McLaren. Two laps later, the Australian driver managed to regroup and pull off a good overtake on the Dane.

Bottas was passed by Jenson Button on lap nine, and the Briton was followed through by Nico Hulkenberg just two corners later as the Finn pitted for a fresh set of tires. His teammate, Felipe Massa, was also under pressure and lost out to Sergio Perez in the battle for third place, giving his faithful following something to shout about. After pitting, Massa fell further down the order and behind Bottas, handing the advantage to Force India.

After starting on the harder tire, Vettel was able to go further into the race than the rest of the field, but he reported that his DRS was not working as he came under pressure from Ricciardo. Red Bull ordered the German driver to let his teammate past so as not to hinder his strategy, and it got worse for Vettel when he was forced to pit early due to aggressive degradation on his medium tires.

Despite enjoying a lead of almost half a minute, the two Mercedes drivers entered battle as Rosberg had DRS on his teammate. Hamilton made an aggressive move to force his teammate wide, perturbing Rosberg who collected himself and tried again one lap later. Once again, Hamilton was resilient and managed to regain the lead through the second sector, but was called into the pits to release Rosberg into the lead.

The German driver dipped into the pits two laps later for medium compound tires, and came out behind his teammate who was on softs. Valtteri Bottas ran in P3, but was coming under considerable pressure from teammate Massa and the Force Indias of Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez. Struggling on his tires, the Finn requested to pit early and released his teammate into third place, but Perez was keen on gaining positions as he pulled off a brave pass on his teammate to take fourth and move behind Massa. Both Force Indias fought bravely to pass the Brazilian driver a few laps later, putting them up into P3 and P4 as the team went in search of its second ever podium in Formula 1.

At the front, Hamilton quickly set about increasing the gap to Rosberg who was on the slower tire, and enjoyed an eight second lead. After pitting, Massa came out behind Bottas in the inter-team battle at Williams, but the Finn was forced to go off track when Raikkonen braked early heading into turn one. He eventually found a way past his compatriot after Ricciardo had also passed the Ferrari ahead of the second round of stops.

Sergio Perez exited the pits just behind Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso, but made light work of the two-time world champion. Hulkenberg dived into the pits just one lap later, but remained behind his teammate. However, both Bottas and Massa had got the undercut by pitting earlier, and were therefore sitting in P3 and P4 ahead of their close rivals, but as both were a three stop strategy, the advantage was handed to the Force India drivers.

With sixteen laps to go, the safety car was deployed following a huge crash between Esteban Gutierrez and Pastor Maldonado. The Sauber driver was flipped, and despite landing heavily on its roll cage, the car came to rest the right way up and the Mexican driver walked away unharmed. The safety car did eradicate Mercedes’ advantage, and gave Rosberg a fighting chance of the win as he was on the quicker tire when the racing resumed. The three stopping drivers were also given a chance of making up ground on their two stopping rivals, as the gap between them had been reduced.

Ahead of the restart, both Hamilton and Rosberg were told to ensure that they brought both cars home and secured a second successive one-two finish for the team. With the German driver on the quicker tire, he was immediately on Hamilton’s tail on the restart, with the Briton having to force his teammate wide at turn four to ensure that he stayed in the lead. Hulkenberg tried to pass Perez for position as Ricciardo and Vettel both found a way past Button for P5 and P6.

Ricciardo looked to go one better and made a great pass on his teammate to move up into fifth place, and both drivers closed on Hulkenberg who sat in fourth place. At the front, Rosberg once again closed on his teammate, but Hamilton once again defended brilliantly to keep the German driver at bay and stay in the lead. As the laps ticked down, the Briton managed to just stay ahead and eventually cross the line one second ahead of his teammate.

Having passed Hulkenberg, Ricciardo set his sights on Perez, but could not quite find a way past to give Force India its first podium finish since the 2009 Belgian Grand Prix. However, it did mark Ricciardo’s first points as a Red Bull driver and his best result in Formula 1. Hulkenberg managed to hang onto fifth place ahead of Vettel and Massa, whilst Bottas led home the Ferraris of Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen who rounded out the points.

In one of the finest races we have seen in recent years, it certainly went a long way to silencing those who claimed that there were problems with Formula 1 at many summit meetings in Bahrain today.

Following the race, Rosberg and Hamilton shared an embrace after a tough but fair battle. Once again, it was glory for Mercedes in Bahrain, but the team will have been on tenterhooks for the entire race as the drivers went toe-to-toe.

Meet Harrison Newey, motorsport’s latest rising second-generation star

20 Harrison Newey (GBR, Van Amersfoort Racing, Dallara F312 - Mercedes-Benz), FIA Formula 3 European Championship, round 5, Norisring (DEU), 24. - 26. June 2016
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Formula 1 has a rich history of ‘like father, like son’ stories. Whether it be Graham and Damon Hill, Gilles and Jacques Villeneuve, Mario and Michael Andretti, Keke and Nico Rosberg, Jan and Kevin Magnussen or – most recently – Jos and Max Verstappen, many a young racer has gone on to emulate his father by competing at the pinnacle of motorsport.

One of F1’s future second-generation stars would be following his father’s footsteps in a slightly different fashion, though.

Adrian Newey has been one of the sport’s most influential figures as an aerodynamicist and engineer over the past 30 years, most recently masterminding Red Bull’s run of four straight drivers’ and constructors’ championships between 2010 and 2013.

Now, his son Harrison is aiming to make it to F1, currently racing in F3 as one of Britain’s young talents forging a path up the junior ladder.

Newey Jr., 18, followed the normal path for aspiring racers, plying his trade in go-karts before making the step up to single-seaters full-time in 2015. A successful campaign in the British BRDC F4 series that saw him finish second in the championship led to a move into the highly competitive FIA Formula 3 European Championship for 2016, a series that has produced many of F1’s recent newcomers including Verstappen, Esteban Ocon and Roberto Merhi, as well as other notable names including Raffaele Marciello, Felix Rosenqvist and current leader Lance Stroll.

Newey scored points on debut at Paul Ricard earlier in the year, and has a best finish of sixth place from Spa to his name so far in his maiden season in the series with Van Amersfoort Racing. The young Briton is back out on-track this weekend at Imola for the penultimate round of the season.

Between his busy schedule, we managed to catch up with Newey to discuss his season and career so far, his hopes for the future and the battle to become a racer in his own right, not just ‘Adrian Newey’s son’.

Harrison, looking back on your season so far and the step up to F3 from F4, how have you found it? Happy with how things have gone so far this season?

Harrison Newey: Yeah. We were reasonably well-prepared coming into the season with testing and everything and working with the team. I knew them from F4 last year so I’d settled in already. Then I think from the first round it kind of went very well, and then it kind of went downhill a bit, and then started to get better again. So it’s just been a bit of an up-down season so far. But I’ve been reasonably happy with how it’s gone. Would like for it to have gone slightly better in the middle of the season, but Spa was quite good. Nice to get back up there, so relatively happy again.

So is this season mainly about adjusting to F3 after stepping up from F4?

HN: Yes for sure. I think not only is it the car getting faster and stepping up there, but it’s a huge step up in the competitiveness and the drivers that you’re racing against.

Looking through the rest of the season, what hopes do you have? I’m guessing more points finishes, a top five, a podium if possible?

HN: I’d just like to get some solid points, solid top 10s, and be quite consistent with that to be honest.

Newey (left) on the rookie podium at the Red Bull Ring earlier this year (© FIA F3)
Newey (left) on the rookie podium at the Red Bull Ring earlier this year (© FIA F3)

Has the step up from F4 to F3 gone as you expected? We know the FIA has done a lot to re-rung the junior ladder and get young drivers on this path towards F1. Is it working for you? Have you noticed a natural progression and a comfortable step up?

HN: I’d say it was a very big step. I think that F4 to F3 is a very big step. I think that’s why a lot of people go and do Formula Renault 2.0, because it’s more of a sensible step to go to Renault and from Renault to F3, not only in the cars but also the competitiveness of the drivers because some of the people have done F3 for three years, and I’m only in my second season of racing overall. So if you go into your first season and do well in F4, which thankfully I did and finished my first championship in BRDC F4, then for me the logical option was to go to F3 because we’ve done very well here. We’re not going to do another year of F4 and I’ve never really wanted to do Renault, I was never that interested in doing Renault, so from that point of view, I thought I’ve got to do F3. But in some cases I think I was underprepared coming into the season, and it was a big step. But at the same time I think the big step meant that I’ve learned a huge amount and if you can get over the fact that the performance hasn’t been amazing but hasn’t been bad, then the amount I’ve learned has been huge compared to if I did Renault or another season of F4.

So do you think you’ll feel ready to fight for race wins, maybe even a championship next season?

HN: Yeah I think so. I think I’ll be fighting for podiums or race wins next year.

Will you be looking to remain in F3 next year or maybe make a move into GP3?

HN: No, I think I’ll remain in F3.

And then presuming that the FIA does get F2 sorted in the next two-to-three years, would you maybe look at that as being the natural progression, and then hopefully F1?

HN: Yeah I think I would do it. Obviously it depends on how I perform in the next couple of years and next year in F3, and then looking at where to go from there. But I think yeah, if the performances are good and F2 gets running well and the grid is strong, then it’s definitely an option.

Are superlicense points something that is already on your mind? The FIA changed the system a couple of years ago, but is it something you consider even at an early stage when picking which championship to race in?

HN: I don’t really think so to be honest, it hasn’t really come into it that much. I think the top three in the GP2 championship, you get enough points for a superlicense. At that stage if you’re outside of the top three in GP2, the chances of getting a Formula 1 drive anyway are so slim, so you don’t really have to be concerned about it. Then because of that it hasn’t really come into my mind. The chances are tiny if you win the championship.

Newey (centre) talks to Van Amersfoort teammates Anthoine Hubert and Callum Ilott (© FIA F3)
Newey (centre) talks to Van Amersfoort teammates Anthoine Hubert and Callum Ilott (© FIA F3)

So would a championship like Formula E be made attractive by the extra superlicense points on offer? It’s now equivalent in weighting to IndyCar and WEC.

HN: I don’t really think so. I don’t think it comes in that much. If you’ve gone down that route of doing Formula E and you win the championship, if you look at the age of most of the drivers, at that stage, I don’t think it’s going to make so much difference because the difference between a Formula E car and a Formula 1 car are unbelievable. A Formula E car is about as slow as an F4 car, so winning that championship doesn’t then boost you into Formula 1 I don’t think. It doesn’t make it more attractive. I think what’s attractive about Formula E is the new technology, they’re quite interesting cars to drive. That’s more the future. I think some people who are interested in the future are interested in driving in Formula E.

Is it something that might interest you down the line?

HN: Yeah it could do I think. If I got an interesting proposal, then obviously I’d be open to anything. At the moment I think Formula 1 is still my focus, so I’ll focus on that, but I wouldn’t discount Formula E.

You said how F1 is the focus and where you want to end up, but what other career goals do you have? Would doing sportscars and Le Mans something you want to do one day?

HN: Yeah Le Mans is something I would definitely like to do someday, for sure. No matter where I am, I think it’s such a good race. From my point of view it’s just one of those things that is part of racing.

Going back to working your way up the ladder: do you think there is any extra pressure now on young drivers after how Max Verstappen made this huge step up from F3 to F1?

HN: From my point of view, I don’t think there is. I think some people do view it as huge pressure that they’ve got to get to Formula 1 very young. I think he’s just obviously hugely talented and worked very hard at it. He’s been doing so much testing that although he jumped straight up, he was so well prepared compared to 99% of the other drivers. I think for me it’s not applied extra pressure, but I think some people do feel that it’s extra pressure.

Obviously your dad has played such a huge role in the past 30 years of Formula 1. What kind of influence has that had on you and getting involved in racing? I’m guessing you’ve grown up being surrounded by racing and in this world already.

HN: I was always in the world, and I think if you look at people watching football, they always want to be footballers when they’re younger. From my point of view it was always watching Formula 1. In my mind I always wanted to be a Formula 1 driver. And then it kind of went from there. My dad knew what to do with that, and if I really wanted to do it then he would help me. It came to a point where I really wanted to do it and he stepped forward and helped me. But beyond that, I don’t think it’s been too much of an influence because it’s very different. Although it’s in the same sport, it’s a very different discipline: he’s an engineer and an aerodynamicist, not a driver.

Adrian Newey, Harrison's father, in the FIA F3 paddock at Zandvoort in July (© FIA F3)
Adrian Newey, Harrison’s father, in the FIA F3 paddock at Zandvoort in July (© FIA F3)

Was racing something your dad encouraged, or did he leave the decisions down to you?

HN: He’s always been supportive in whatever I’ve wanted to do, and I just said ‘I want to be a racing driver’. He’s never pushed me at all. It’s always been what I’ve wanted to do and not at all what he wanted to do.

How much has he been able to help you making the step up to single-seaters? He’s done a little bit of racing here and there alongside his technical work, so has he been able to give you any tips?

HN: He’s only helped in the state of I think looking in and saying ‘this looks like quite a good series’, but no different to how any other dad would have helped to be honest. In terms of driving, he doesn’t really put much in because although yeah he has done a bit of racing himself, for me to be able to do my thing, it’s not him – he just leaves me to it. If I’m good enough, then I’m good enough. If I’m not, I’m not. He’ll help me like any other dad would, but nothing extraordinary.

Has having a dad so involved in racing helped in terms of getting sponsors and backers on board?

HN: It has its disadvantages and its advantages. I think straight away it puts a target on your back as people know your name straight away, which is not always a good thing. But yeah, in other areas having someone who is well-known and having a name that is well-known can help with sponsors. But it’s one of those things, it’s got advantages and disadvantages.

With the target on your back, is there then a battle to prove to people that you’re not just Adrian Newey’s son, you’re a racer in your own right?

HN: Yeah that’s exactly it. Straight away, people say, even the commentary still says ‘Harri Newey, son of F1 designer Adrian Newey’ or whatever. Trying to break away from just being his son and be your own person is definitely hard, and it’s something I definitely want to do.

Track limits have been a huge, huge talking point in F3 for the past couple of years. What’s your view on track limits and their policing this year?

HN: I just think the root of the problem has come from the FIA to be honest. Now they’re just being very strict on a problem that they’ve created and I think that’s a bit ridiculous, personally. They’ve put in all these safe tarmac run-off areas, and they say don’t run off track limits. I don’t understand. They had astro which worked quite well, and then they took that away and put these big curbs in that were breaking suspensions all over the place like at the Red Bull Ring. That’s obviously not working, but they insist that’s going to work despite the fact we said when we had a DTM round that this wasn’t working. The fact they put those curbs over a car-width over so you can run off with four wheels and not touch the curbs, and then you get to them and clip them and you break your suspension, it hasn’t actually helped anything because you can still go past track limits even with them there. What’s the point of them being there? The width of an F1 car and F3 car is the same, and the width between the white line and the big sausage curbs is over the width of an F3 car and F1 car. We constantly see people going over white lines, but there is no indicator. Going over a white line when you’re sitting as low as you are in a single-seater, you can’t see that well. You can’t see the bottom of the wheel. You can only see 20-30 metres in front of the wheel. So to then be able to judge whether you’re over the white line or not while still being on the edge of what the car can do and using all the track is hard. They could have sections of grass, stop people from running over, just a little bit that’s not quite a car’s width. At the end of the curb, they could fill it in with grass, and then have the tarmac afterwards. No-one’s going to use the grass because it’s clearly going to be slower. The problem with the astroturf is that there was an element of ‘oh it can be quicker’. The grass, it’s definitely not going to be quicker, and no-one’s going to run over it. I think they have got ways they could cover themselves but they’re just not using their options properly, and I think they’ve kind of shot themselves in the foot to be honest.

Do you think the way it has been handled in F1 doesn’t set a good example down to you guys? We saw in Hungary they had the electronic system and the stewards said they were going to be strict, only to relax things after qualifying. The Strategy Group is talking about getting rid of track limits altogether. That really doesn’t set a good example for you guys, does it?

HN: No it doesn’t. At the end of the day, us in F3, we’re junior drivers who are trying to learn. We’re all still learning and we’re learning where to push the limit. To then set an example of ‘actually you can’t even make a mistake’, we all know you can make a mistake, get a bit of oversteer and get off the track slightly. They put these tarmacked areas in so you don’t lose time, and then you saw it all the time where people drop wheels off on the grass where they didn’t have these tarmacked areas when I was karting. They would come back on but had lost time, clearly. We’ve now got tarmacked areas, we make a mistake and we get punished with a time penalty or a drive-through. Now a drive-through is so severe for just a small mistake when before you’d just run off, two wheels on the grass, come back on and lose a bit of time but not that much. Even if you backed off at the Red Bull Ring. They were saying it was a zero-tolerance argument. They weren’t looking if you backed off or not, it was a clear-cut ‘did you go off or didn’t you?’ Sometimes you did go off, but you didn’t actually gain time. So it’s unfair to then punish because you haven’t gained time, and it’s also saying to young drivers that you can’t push and you’ve got to drive under the limit. You can’t learn at that speed. I think the way they’re handling it is just ridiculous.

How have you found working with a team like Van Amersfoort? They’ve got a really good track record in recent years of getting drivers up the junior ladder and have drivers in contention for the championship. Has it been good working with them?

HN: Yeah, they’ve been really good to work with to be honest, a really good team. They’re obviously set up slightly different this year and have advanced everything forwards, but at the end of the day it’s still the same team that it was when Verstappen and [Charles] Leclerc drove for them. They’ve been really good to work with. The engineers have been really good, the car has been very good. Just as a whole team, it’s been excellent.

Are you looking at doing Macau later in the year?

HN: I’m not sure whether we’re going to do Macau or not at the moment.

How do you find having a life outside of racing? You’re 18 years old, you’ve got your racing commitments but you’ll want to have parts of life typical of any teenager I guess. How do you strike a balance between them?

HN: Obviously you have to make a sacrifice if racing’s what you want to do. I’m still at school, go to school as much as I can, pretty much every day of the week apart from when I’m racing. All that’s still a normal life. I’ve got friends who I see outside of school, but I’m either at school or racing most of the time. ‘Normal weekends’ don’t happen quite often but I’m not bothered by that. Focusing on racing for me is much more fun and much more important.

Where do you see yourself in say 10 years’ time? Where do you want to be?

HN: I’d like to be in Formula 1. That’s a tough question and 10 years’ time is a long way down the line, but I’ve never thought that far ahead too much.

Force India confident of retaining Sergio Perez

KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA - SEPTEMBER 30: Sergio Perez of Mexico and Force India in the garage 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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SEPANG, Malaysia (AP) Force India remains “very confident” of extending the contract of Sergio Perez despite the Mexican driver’s threat that he will be forced to consider changing teams if a deal is not reached this month.

The deal was being held up by negotiations over the commercial terms of the sponsorship between team, driver and the Mexican telecommunications companies Telmex, Telcel and Claro.

“The driver contract has been completed for some time,” Force India deputy team principal Bob Fernley said Friday at the Malaysian Grand Prix. “We are literally dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s on the commercial side and if it takes a week, that is fine, if it takes a couple of weeks, so be it – it will happen.

“We are very confident ‘Checo’ will be with us next year, and we have never deviated from that.”

Perez had expected the deal to be finalized before the current Asian swing of the season in Singapore-Malaysia-Japan, and said he was losing patience with negotiations.

“At the moment I’m just concentrating on one team,” said Perez, who is eighth in the drivers’ standings with two podium finishes this season. “There are some other options on the table, quite interesting options.

“I hope that it works out with one team, and if it doesn’t, then by next week obviously we will have to look at something else.”

Perez has been linked with moves to Renault – which is in the market for an experienced driver and is yet to finalize either race seat for next season – and Haas, which has close links with Ferrari, which would be the Mexican’s dream move.

“I want to keep my career in F1 going. I cannot wait much longer,” Perez said. “I expect everything should be done by next week.

“Thankfully there is a lot of interest out there, makes you feel in a good position. If things don’t work out as you want, you have to look at somewhere else.”

Hamilton hits back to lead second F1 practice in Malaysia

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 Clive Rose/Getty Images)
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Lewis Hamilton responded to the pace shown by Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg during opening practice in Malaysia on Friday morning by topping the afternoon session at Sepang.

Hamilton arrived in Malaysia trailing Rosberg for the first time in the Formula 1 drivers’ championship since the middle of July, the German’s run of three straight wins giving him an eight-point advantage in the standings.

Hamilton finished almost half a second off Rosberg in FP1, but managed to up his pace in second practice to record a fastest time of 1:34.944, enough to finish two-tenths of a second clear of the field.

Rosberg followed his teammate home in second place as Mercedes once again gapped the rest of the pack, pointing towards a significant advantage over one lap in qualifying.

Sebastian Vettel led Ferrari’s charge in third place, finishing 0.6 seconds off Hamilton’s fastest time, but was able to run the Mercedes duo closer during the long-run stints on the soft tire.

Kimi Raikkonen underpinned Vettel’s pace in the second Ferrari, finishing fourth ahead of Red Bull’s Max Verstappen in P5.

Sergio Perez followed in sixth place for Force India ahead of Fernando Alonso, who is set to start from the back of the grid this weekend after making changes to his power unit to accommodate new upgrades from Honda.

Daniel Ricciardo ended the session eighth for Red Bull, while Nico Hulkenberg and Jenson Button rounded out the top 10 positions.

The session saw Kevin Magnussen head back out on track following his firey exit from FP1, the Renault crew producing a rapid turnaround to get the singed R.S.16 car ready to head out midway through FP2. The Dane eventually finished 19th in the classification.

Pla powers to unofficial lap record at Petit Le Mans night practice

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BRASELTON, Ga. – Cooler conditions produced the fastest lap times yet this weekend for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season finale in night practice, and Olivier Pla kept the No. 60 Michael Shank Racing Ligier JS P2 Honda at the top of the charts.

A 1:13.541 is an unofficial lap record for IMSA (note times were quicker in the American Le Mans Series, but we’re talking post-mergification in 2014 when ALMS and GRAND-AM came under one roof) as Pla dropped the hammer Thursday night in the car he shares with Ozz Negri and John Pew, in Shank’s 250th and last scheduled prototype start. It also gave Shank a Thursday three-practice sweep of the top of the timesheets.

“I’m very happy with the performance today. I love this track, Road Atlanta, and the car has been great from the beginning. We just kept improving the car during each session. All of the changes we made were very positive so thank you to the team for that. I think it’s looking good for the race,” Pla told IMSA Radio.

Other class leaders at night included 2015 IndyCar driver Stefano Coletti, in the third Starworks Motorsport entry in Prototype Challenge, Dirk Mueller in GT Le Mans in the No. 66 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT and Marco Seefried in GT Daytona in the No. 44 Magnus Racing Audi R8 LMS.

Night practice, like the two day sessions that preceded it, was largely uneventful – a welcome departure from last year’s nightmarish day of crashes and rain on Thursday.

A final pre-qualifying practice occurs on Friday before qualifying later Friday afternoon.

Session three times are linked here.