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Long Beach weekend atmosphere thrills Roger Daltrey, as he promotes Teen Cancer America

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As founding member and lead singer of The Who, Roger Daltrey knows a thing or two about teamwork – working with a band and a stage crew to put together an off-the-hook show.

So when he saw Justin Wilson’s Verizon IndyCar Series Dale Coyne Racing team up close and personal this weekend, as a guest of Honda to promote the Teen Cancer America organization, he took notice of the similarities.

“It’s quite similar, really. I don’t think people – unless you’re a true race fan – they don’t give enough credit to the teamwork,” Daltrey told MotorSportsTalk in a Sunday interview at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. “Most of the races are won because the team works well. It’s a complete effort. How these guys change a wheel in seven seconds or so, I haven’t got a clue!”

Roger Daltrey flanked by Justin Wilson and Dale Coyne.

The Teenage Cancer Trust organization began in the U.K. and Teen Cancer America, co-founded by Daltrey and The Who bandmate Pete Townshend in 1990, works to raise both awareness and funding for teens (starting age 13) through to age 24 who suffer from cancer.

The logo appeared on Justin Wilson’s car during the race. Wilson has had other charitable organizations (Dempsey Challenge, Clarky’s Corner in 2013, among others) in the past, and this continued the story.

The Teen Cancer America logo and crew.

Daltrey headed to Long Beach this past weekend where besides the charity promotion and a Sunday morning press conference, he took up residence in a two-seater IndyCar with Mario Andretti for the race start.

“He is such a legend, and what a great looking guy for his age,” Daltrey, 70 himself, said of the 74-year-old Andretti before taking the lap. “I’m sure he hasn’t slowed down. I know for sure, being a passenger is not as easy as being a driver. You don’t feel the balance of the car and get thrown about it.”

Daltrey with Mario Andretti and Hernan Berangan.

But back to the charity: Daltrey explained a bit more about the gap for teens and where Teen Cancer America fits into the equation.

“By isolating the group to have them (teenagers) as a separate group, you will be able to focus the medicine better,” he said.

“We’ve had some things in Britain … for instance we had a 19-year-old diagnosed with a specific leukemia. Because he was in one of our units, they thought they’d try a pediatric therapy on him, and they’re now getting a 25 percent improvement on curing that leukemia.

“There’s all those benefits associated with isolating. A big one is there’s less burnout for the nurses. They burn out quite a lot. Training them can be very expensive. If we can cut the burnout rate by about 3 percent, that’s huge savings. Huge.”

For Daltrey, this was also a chance to re-introduce Hernan Berangan’s story. A two-time cancer survivor, Hernan begins a tour through all 50 states as part of a Road to Rebellion tour.

“It’s amazing that anybody is listening to us and that you guys are listening to us,” Berangan said. “When I was 15 and knew that something was wrong with the system, all I could translate that to was anger. What I do is I should video profiles of teen cancer patients and I sit and I listen to them for a few hours and turn that story into something digestible for them and us.”

Hernan Berangan with Teen Cancer America teens.

Daltrey concurred: “For a start he’s a great filmmaker. There’s a film within a film here. Every state he goes to, he makes the media know he’s there. There’s a lot of mileage in this. It’s a very interesting piece of work.”

Beyond the organization, Daltrey discussed what he enjoyed about racing and the event of Long Beach himself.

He had attended one past British Grand Prix, spending the day with Sir Jackie Stewart. “Those were a different class of driver!” he said. He added that he had a chance to spend a day at the Lotus test track in England earlier in his life.

Daltrey said he’d love to try a modern Formula One car, noting its high levels of technology.

Asked how he’d compare a race weekend to a concert, Daltrey said it’s not dissimilar.

“It’s pretty much the same actually… really a bit of the human condition,” he said. “It’s kids, getting on with each other. Festivals are a big thing. But I’ll tell you this band here is a lot louder here!”

He said both the music business and race teams operated with military-level precision.

“The truth is, now the way the music business is, we do run like a military operation,” he said. “It’s incredibly detailed and specific. If they’d have sent the ‘roadies’ into Iraq, the war would have been over in about a week! They would have been having parties instead of fighting each other!”

Lastly, he spoke very highly of the Long Beach weekend itself.

“I’m amazed at how far Long Beach has pulled itself up. Coming here in the early days, it was a pretty rough area. It feels fantastic.”

It was also fantastic to see a rock legend/Hall-of-Famer with eyes wide open, thrilled by one of North America’s greatest racing events, and be as down to earth as he was.

New Audi R18 e-tron quattro unveiled; two cars only for Le Mans

Photo: Audi
Photo: Audi
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Audi Sport has revealed its new Audi R18 e-tron quattro, the latest generation of diesel-powered TDI which now will run with a 6 mJ battery hybrid.

The new LMP1 car was unveiled at the annual Audi Sport Finale in Munich, among several other key announcements of note.

Audi will retain its same driver lineup, the lead trio of Andre Lotterer, Benoit Treluyer and Marcel Fassler in one car with Lucas di Grassi, Loic Duval and Oliver Jarvis back as well. After the successive retirements of Tom Kristensen, Allan McNish and Dindo Capello the last three years, Audi now has the same lineup for consecutive years, for the first time in years.

However, and while the third car trio of Filipe Albuquerque, Marco Bonanomi and Rene Rast was on stage with the six others, Audi confirmed both it and sister brand Porsche will run two cars only at next year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans, rather than three as each did this year.

It was a jointly agreed upon decision; both operate under the VW Group parent company. It effectively rules out the same trio of Nick Tandy, Earl Bamber and Nico Hulkenberg repeating as a trio, although Porsche will announce the program for its own drivers next month.

“We stay with the TDI, 50 percent more hybrid power,” said Chris Reinke, Head of Audi LMP1. “Battery storage and high focus on aero as you can see. We are on our way to challenge for WEC and Le Mans wins.”

Here’s a few photos from the reveal, below:

Ferrari error leaves Vettel 16th on grid for Abu Dhabi GP

Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel of Germany steers his car during the second practice second at the Yas Marina racetrack in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Friday, Nov. 27, 2015. The Emirates Formula One Grand Prix will take place on Sunday. (AP Photo/Kamran Jerbeili)
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Sebastian Vettel will start tomorrow’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix from 16th place on the grid after a miscalculation on the Ferrari pit wall caused the German to back off during his final Q1 lap.

Vettel aborted his last lap in Q1 after being informed by Ferrari that his time looked good enough to take him into Q2, allowing him to save some life in his super-soft tires.

However, late improvements from Jenson Button and Romain Grosjean caught Ferrari by surprise, leaving Vettel in the dropzone after the checkered flag had fallen.

Having already slowed on his final lap, Vettel was unable to improve his time, making him a shock casualty in Q1 alongside usual suspects Fernando Alonso, Marcus Ericsson, Will Stevens and Roberto Merhi.

“Nothing wrong with the car, we thought that the lap I had on the soft tires was quick enough, but in the end it was not,” Vettel admitted after qualifying.

“There was also a car in front which shouldn’t have been there. So we misjudged the situation, a small mistake with big consequence, but the race is tomorrow and lots can happen.”

Ferrari’s blushes were saved by Kimi Raikkonen, who managed to qualify third behind the two Mercedes drivers, and Vettel is hopeful that he can join his teammate up the order on Sunday.

“It is good that Kimi is in the front, we have a quick car and it is possible to overtake here, even if only tomorrow we’ll be able to tell how much it is,” Vettel said.

“You can spend a lot of time speaking about what we did wrong, but in the end we know, so now we need to move forward.”

The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and Live Extra from 7am ET on Sunday.

Alonso cools talk of taking sabbatical from F1

xxxx during final practice for the Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix at Yas Marina Circuit on November 28, 2015 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
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Fernando Alonso has cooled speculation suggesting he could take a sabbatical from Formula 1, remaining adamant that he will be on the grid with McLaren in 2016.

Alonso rejoined McLaren for 2015 after a hostile exit from Ferrari, but has struggled to find any kind of form thanks to numerous issues with the Honda power unit used by the team.

After just two top-ten finishes and just 11 points in 2015, speculation has been rife about an early split between Alonso and McLaren as the Spaniard’s frustrations grow.

Time and time again, Alonso has insisted that he will see out his three-year deal with McLaren, but team CEO Ron Dennis hinted on Saturday that a sabbatical could be taken.

“He will definitely finish his career at McLaren,” Dennis said. “I have an open mind to anything, and some of the ideas involved those sorts of considerations: sabbaticals etc.

“When we have to take the decision, we will take it together, and at this moment of time, our drivers for next season are Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button.”

When asked if he intended to compete in F1 next year, Alonso said: “I will, I will.”

The Spaniard went on to say that he did not feel under pressure following Dennis’ comments, and that the team boss should be instead focusing on Honda.

“If he wants to put pressure on someone, I’m sure it’s not me,” Alonso said.

“If it’s someone, it has to be on Honda so they do a good job all winter.”

Alonso’s miserable campaign continued in qualifying for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Saturday as he finished 17th thanks to a puncture in Q1.

“Our car has performed better in every session than we initially anticipated,” Alonso said. “So it was cruel luck to get a puncture at possibly the most critical point of the whole weekend, the final run of Q1.

“That was unfortunate, because we’d been looking very competitive, and our car seems to be performing quite well around here.

“The race will be difficult owing to our straight-line speed deficit, but I’ll be aiming to make a good start, run a good strategy, and make up some positions. We’ll see what we can do tomorrow.”

The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and Live Extra from 7am ET on Sunday.

Perez charges to best F1 qualifying result in Abu Dhabi

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - NOVEMBER 28:  Sergio Perez of Mexico and Force India drives during final practice for the Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix at Yas Marina Circuit on November 28, 2015 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.  (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
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Nico Rosberg may have taken his sixth pole position of the year in Abu Dhabi, but it was Force India’s Sergio Perez who received most of the plaudits after recording his best Formula 1 qualifying result on Saturday.

Perez displayed a good pace throughout the first two stages of qualifying, finishing third behind the two Mercedes drivers in both Q1 and Q2.

At one point in Q3, the Mexican even briefly threatened to challenge the Silver Arrows for a place on the front row after lapping within one-tenth of a second of Lewis Hamilton on his first run.

Perez could not match their pace on the final laps in Q3, while Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen was also able to edge him out by 0.133 seconds to leave the Force India driver fourth.

The result still marks Perez’s best-ever qualifying result, having previously only finished as high as fifth on a Saturday.

Although the Mexican started from P4 in Belgium 2012, Bahrain 2014 and Belgium 2015, he had qualified fifth for all three sessions before gaining a position by virtue of other drivers receiving penalties.

“Fourth place on the grid is a great result for us and I’m very pleased with our strong performance all the way through qualifying,” Perez said.

“We’ve made some good decisions this weekend with the changes we have made to the car and it’s taken us in a very positive direction. I think the analysis we carried out after the weekend in Sao Paulo has really paid off and we’ve learned a huge amount.

“All of my laps this evening were very clean and tidy, and we managed to get the maximum from the car. The challenge tomorrow will be keeping some very quick cars behind me, but I also think we have a good chance to make up some positions at the start.

“I have the confidence in the car to really push and there is definitely the potential to come away with a great result this weekend.

“In many ways it’s a shame that tomorrow is the final race of the season because the car is working very well at the moment and I’m enjoying the racing so much.”

Underpinning Perez’s good pace was teammate Nico Hulkenberg, who qualified seventh in the sister Force India car.

“It was a good qualifying session for the team, although I feel I could have been higher up the grid,” Hulkenberg admitted. “I was pretty happy with my laps, especially the one in Q3, so to find myself in seventh actually feels a little bit disappointing.

“We need to look at the data and figure out where we lost time and what we can do to recover it. Looking ahead to the race, we’ve been working hard to improve our race pace and hopefully the changes we have made will pay off tomorrow.

“The car is quick on the straights and the balance has felt good from the start of the weekend. Starting from the fourth row, we have every opportunity to score a good result tomorrow.”

Force India secured fifth place in the constructors’ championship last time out in Brazil, but will still be gunning to end the year on a high with a strong performance on Sunday in Abu Dhabi.

The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and Live Extra from 7am ET on Sunday.