Jeremy Martin, Cooper Webb highlight riders to watch for today’s Motocross race at Hangtown

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The opening round of the 2014 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship raised a lot of questions last weekend. The second round today at Hangtown should hopefully answer at least a few of them.

The most intriguing question of all: After their 1-2 sweep at Glen Helen, can Jeremy Martin and Cooper Webb continue their success in the 250 Class?

The Yamalube/Star Racing/Yamaha teammates were far and away the best riders on the track last week. The fact that Martin is winning races should come as no surprise – he was one of the strongest riders throughout the second half of the 2013 season. What was unexpected though was how dominant he was in winning those races. Martin finished 15 seconds ahead of the second-place rider in Moto 1, then 21 seconds ahead in Moto 2.

The second-place finisher in both those motos was his teammate Webb. The 18-year-old from North Carolina faced his share of ups and downs last season, but showed flashes of excellence amidst bouts of inconsistency.

Both riders are entering their second full seasons of pro racing and have clearly taken a big step forward this year. Hangtown will provide a true barometer though – can the rest of the field catch up to the sophomore sensations, or will this become their championship to lose?

Beyond Martin and Webb, here’s a few other stories to keep an eye on throughout today’s motos.

250 Class

Blake Baggett: With teammate and fellow 250MX title contender Dean Wilson now out indefinitely with a leg injury, Baggett’s championship hopes get a boost. He finished a disappointing eighth in Moto 1 at Glen Helen, and although he rebounded for third-place in Moto 2, he needs to show that he can run with Martin and Webb.

Cole Seely: The AMA Supercross specialist is starting to make a mark in Lucas Oil Pro Motocross. Fresh off a third-place overall finish in the 250 Class at Glen Helen, another trip to the podium today would prove that he’s become even more well-rounded as a racer.

450 Class

Josh Grant: Grant won the first 450 Class moto last week, leading from start to finish. He crashed on the first lap of Moto 2 though, making it hard to assess what tier he belongs in, relative to the rest of the field. Could top-five finishes become the new norm for him?

James Stewart: Widely expected to contend for the 450MX championship, Stewart underwhelmed at Glen Helen with sixth-place finishes in both motos. He’s won before at Hangtown, so this presents a good opportunity for him to finish on the podium. Otherwise, his title hopes could start to slip away.

Ryan Dungey vs. Ken Roczen, Round 2: Dungey enters Hangtown with the lead in the championship standings but holds just a one-point edge over his teammate Roczen. After last week’s incredible battle – which featured Dungey making a last-lap pass for the win – what’s in store for an encore?

Live coverage from Hangtown begins today at 1:30pm E.T. on ProMotocross.com and NBC Sports Live Extra with the second practice session of the day. Coverage resumes with an online-only pre-show airing at 3:15pm E.T., followed by four motos of live racing from 4-8pm E.T. Click here to access the Live Extra stream.

NBCSN will also televise live coverage of the second motos in the 450 and 250 Classes from 6-8pm E.T.

Formula One: Recapping the past week’s news

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While the FIA Formula 1 World Championship is still two months away from beginning its 2018 season, this past week did bring about news items that filled out the 2018 grid and shed some light on individual team and car launches as the season-opening Australian Grand Prix draws closer.

Below is a recap of F1 news from this past week:

Williams Signs Sirotkin for 2018 Drive, Names Kubica as Reserve Driver

The saga of the second seat at Williams Martini Racing was finally resolved early on in the week, with former Renault Sport F1 Team test driver Sergey Sirotkin officially confirmed as a teammate to the incumbent Lance Stroll in 2018.

The announcement concluded months of speculation that saw multiple drivers test for the team in an auditioning capacity. Most notably, Robert Kubica looked to be a main contender for the seat before Sirotkin emerged as the favorite.

However, Kubica, who has not raced in Formula 1 since a devastating rally accident in 2011 left him with brutal injuries to his right arm, was named as a reserve and development driver for the team.

This announcement also completes the 2018 Formula 1 driver lineup, with all 11 teams having their seats now filled. Among those who were left without F1 drives are Paul Di Resta, who drove for Williams at the Hungarian Grand Prix in relief of Felipe Massa and even tested with them during the Winter months, and Antonio Giovinazzi, who filled in for Pascal Wehrlein at the Australian and Chinese Grands Prix.

Former Red Bull Racing and Scuderia Toro Rosso driver Daniil Kvyat is also without a race seat for 2018, but did sign on with Scuderia Ferrari as a development driver.

Mercedes, McLaren Reveal Dates for Their 2018 Car Launches

While most teams have not yet released dates for when their 2018 cars will be publicly launched, three notables have.

Mercedes AMG Petronas will introduce its 2018 challenger on February 22nd, the same day Ferrari is doing so, while McLaren will unveil its car one day later on the 23rd.

Testing will commence on February 26th at Circuit de Catalunya.

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