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James Stewart ‘free to compete’ in upcoming Motocross races despite failed drug test, FIM suspension

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While the specter of a failed drug test still looms large for James Stewart, his immediate future came a bit more into focus today when MX Sports Pro Racing, organizers of the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship, issued a statement confirming that he is “free to compete without restrictions” at this weekend’s race in Tennessee and until further notice.

One of the most popular riders in the history of motocross, Stewart came under heavy fire last week when it was revealed that he tested positive for a banned substance more than two months ago after the Seattle round of the AMA Supercross series. Just a few days prior to the news, Stewart had his most dominant Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship race in years, sweeping both of the day’s motos.

The banned substance was confirmed to be a type of amphetamine, which Stewart claims was legitimately prescribed to him by a doctor to treat a long-term medical condition.

As a result of the failed test, Stewart has been provisionally suspended by the FIM – one of the sanctioning bodies of the AMA Supercross series. The resulting controversy around Stewart’s future stems from the fact that the Supercross season ended more than a month ago, and all of the riders are now racing the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship – an entirely separate series governed by completely different organizations which have no affiliation with the FIM or the World Anti-Doping Agency.

MX Sports Pro Racing released the following statement today:

The provisional suspension of James Stewart by the FIM as a result of an alleged anti-doping violation on April 12, 2014, does not at this time involve MX Sports Pro Racing or the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship. At this stage in the results management process, the decision to compete at a National level remains with the athlete, FIM and WADA, as MX Sports Pro Racing is not a Signatory to the WADA Code and does not have the authority to impose a provisional suspension. Our sanctioning body, AMA Pro Racing, has indicated that it will not restrict Stewart from competing in the upcoming Tennessee National and will reevaluate its position pending the final decision of the FIM International Disciplinary Court (CDI). If this position changes we will be notified accordingly. Until then, Mr. Stewart is free to compete without restriction.

In other words, because the infraction occurred while Stewart was racing a different series, the organizers of the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship – which does have a drug-testing partnership with the USADA – don’t have the option of levying sanctions against him at the moment. It’s certainly an unprecedented case which has already evoked strong emotions.

Sure to be faced with mixed reactions from the fans in attendance on Saturday, Stewart now must try to shift his focus back to the track as the riders prepare to visit Muddy Creek Raceway. The Yoshimura Suzuki rider is currently third in 450 Class points and holds the momentum after his 1-1 sweep at High Point.

Saturday’s race, the Red Bull Tennessee National, will feature live coverage of the day’s final 450 Class moto on NBC at 3PM E.T. All 450 Class and 250 Class motos will stream live online on and NBC Sports Live Extra beginning at 1PM E.T.

Formula E: Team Aguri confirms da Costa for second season

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Antonio Felix da Costa has been confirmed for a second season with Team Aguri for the 2015-2016 FIA Formula E Championship, which begins later this month in Beijing.

He won once this past year at Buenos Aires and finished eighth in the points despite missing both the season opener and season finale due to clashes with his DTM schedule.

Said the 24-year-old Portuguese driver, “I am really happy to continue with Team Aguri and Formula E for season two. This championship is earning its respect in the world of motorsport and I am honoured to be involved. Regarding the season, I am really looking forward to getting started.”

Team Aguri team principal Mark Preston added, “It is a great pleasure to have Antonio continuing with the team for season two of Formula E. Antonio brought us our maiden win in Buenos Aires and helped to develop the team from scratch, he will continue to build on that success for season two and beyond.”

The team that bares the name of ex-Formula 1 driver and team owner Aguri Suzuki has not yet confirmed its second driver, which is the last outstanding seat to be filled on the Formula E grid.

Amlin, which had partnered with Aguri last year, is now present with the Andretti Formula E team and its drivers, Robin Frijns and Simona de Silvestro.

Hulkenberg leads shorter than normal FP1 in Russia

Nico Hulkenberg
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Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg posted a 1:44.355 lap of the of the Sochi Autodrom to lead a fairly abnormal, and shorter than usual, first free practice for the Russian Grand Prix.

Hulkenberg posted the time to conclude the usual 90-minute session, to pip Nico Rosberg at 1:44.407 on his final lap. The usual 90-minute session was shortened due to a track delay for cleanup of diesel fuel on course.

Sebastian Vettel, Sergio Perez and Daniel Ricciardo completed the top five.

While the clock started on time for the full 90-minute session, track activity was halted for the opening 30 minutes to clean up diesel spillage on the track at Turn 8.

It left teams and drivers with just a 60-minute first free practice to tackle the Sochi Autodrom, but did not push the session later or affect the timetable for the rest of the day. However, with a damp if not entirely wet track, it made things difficult in FP1.

The delay also meant that teams weren’t able to use an extra set of Pirellis handed out at the start of FP1. Supersofts can be used for the first time in FP2.

During the delay, it did offer a chance for sarcasm, and Manor seized the opportunity following a comment from McLaren Honda’s Fernando Alonso noting that even with Mercedes engines next year, Manor wouldn’t move ahead of them.

NBC’s Will Buxton explained the track surface dilemma drivers would face in this session.

With just under one hour to go in the session, Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson was the first to head out on course, leading several others. Ericsson made the first laps of the weekend at the track where he made his final start for Caterham a year ago.

Both Williams drivers went on course on Pirelli’s wet weather tires for their installation laps. Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg tried the intermediates, and Alonso was first on course in slicks.

No official times were registered until there were less than 40 minutes remaining in the session, with Alonso registering a 2:00.736 time, while putting down a bevy of sparks. He quickly lowered the mark to 1:56.327, and 1:53.854 after that. Ericsson was next in at a 1:58.926, although dropped into the 1:54 range not long after.

Alonso’s teammate Jenson Button clocked in at 1:50.920 with just under 20 minutes remaining and for the first time this year, we could say we had a McLaren Honda 1-2 on track, albeit under abnormal circumstances.

The trsck got busy in the final 15 minutes, with Toro Rosso’s Max Verstappen posting a 1:50.870 to lead before Alonso clocked in a 1:49.240.

A 1:47.959 from Williams’ Valtteri Bottas, then a 1:45.987 from Hulkenberg followed in the final 10 minutes as times firmly began to drop. Vettel got down to a 1:45.491 shortly thereafter, and Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton came up two tenths shy of the mark at a 1:45.691.

Ericsson reported a power cut near the end of the session down at Sauber but otherwise there were no issues through the field, other than a handful of spins, including one from Hamilton on his final flier at the second-to-last corner.

FP2 begins from 7 a.m. ET on NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra.