Photo credit: ProMotocross.com/George Crosland

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

Leave a comment

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 ProMotocross.com and NBC Sports Live Extra beginning at 1PM E.T.

Russian Grand Prix extended through 2025

during practice for the Formula One Grand Prix of Russia at Sochi Autodrom on April 29, 2016 in Sochi, Russia.
Getty Images
Leave a comment

The Russian Grand Prix at Sochi will continue to feature on future Formula 1 calendars, with event organizers confirming a long-term extension.

With the race already secure through 2020 following a past deal between then-Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and then-F1 chief Bernie Ecclestone, that end date has now been extended by five years through to 2025, according to Russia’s deputy prime minister Dimitry Kozak.

“We held negotiations and the contract for holding FIA Formula One racing Grand Prix in Russia has been extended till 2025,” Kozak told Russian news outlet TASS.

Sochi first appeared on the F1 calendar in 2014 and will hold its fourth race this year from April 28 to 30.

Hamilton fastest midway through day two of F1 testing

during day two of Formula One winter testing at Circuit de Catalunya on February 28, 2017 in Montmelo, Spain.
Getty Images
Leave a comment

MONTMELO, Spain (AP) Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton recorded the fastest time and the most laps through Tuesday’s morning session of preseason testing.

Hamilton’s lap of 1 minute, 20.983 seconds was 0.782 seconds faster than the leading time he set during the opening day of Formula One testing at the Circuit Barcelona-Catalunya on Monday.

As expected from the new regulations intended to boost speeds, Hamilton’s pace through two days is more than a second faster than the top time set on the same track through eight days of preseason testing in 2016.

The three-time world champion will hand over the wheel of the Mercedes to new teammate Valtteri Bottas for the afternoon session.

Just like Ferrari teammate Sebastian Vettel from Day 1, Kimi Raikkonen was the nearest challenger to Hamilton’s top speed, albeit almost two seconds slower.

Hamilton and Raikkonen also got in the most laps with 66 and 47, respectively, as Mercedes or Ferrari have yet to report any mechanical problems so far.

Red Bull driver Max Verstappen could only muster the fifth fastest time.

While world champion Mercedes and Ferrari continue to outperform rival Red Bull, a pair of the more modest teams struggled to get their cars rolling.

Antonio Giovinazzi, who has substituted for Pascal Wehrlein while he recovers from a back injury, spent most of the morning waiting for Sauber to replace his car’s engine. Jolyon Palmer’s Renault, meanwhile, only emerged from the garage in the final minutes of the four-hour morning session.

The opening test will run through Thursday.

The track near Barcelona will host a second round of testing from March 7-10 before the season starts at the Australian Grand Prix on March 26.

Sauber confirms Tatiana Calderon as development driver

tatiana-calderon
Photo: Sauber F1 Team
1 Comment

Colombian driver Tatiana Calderon, who’s worked to further her racing career since moving from to Europe prior to 2012, has been named a development driver for Sauber F1 Team.

Calderon turns 24 in March. Her best result thus far is second in the MRF Challenge Formula 2000 and she’s also raced in GP3 and Formula 3 over the last five years. Her results haven’t necessarily matched her ability level, as she’s shown some promise enough to be scouted out by Sauber for this F1 role.

With Sauber, she’ll be heavily involved in simulator work and also attend some Grands Prix on site, but there’s been no timetable yet for her on-track debut.

“I am extremely happy to join the Sauber F1 Team as a development driver,” Calderon said. “I want to thank Monisha Kaltenborn and the whole team for giving me this opportunity, and also Escuderia Telmex for their support. I am grateful to be working with such an established Formula 1 team and to benefit from its long experience. I look forward to working with the team and learning as much as I can. It is a step closer to my dream – one day competing in Formula 1!”

Team principal Kaltenborn added, “We are very pleased to welcome Tatiana onboard to the Sauber family. We have the opportunities and facilities to provide Tatiana a professional platform on which she can further develop her knowledge and skills in racing. I am convinced that we can provide her lots of in-depth motorsport know-how for her future career in racing.”

Calderon’s been confirmed for her race program in GP3 this year with the DAMS team, alongside fellow F1 development driver, American Santino Ferrucci of Haas, and 19-year-old Bruno Baptista.

She’s not the first female driver Sauber has had – Simona de Silvestro was on board for a similar development plan three years ago – but it didn’t end well, so here’s hoping the F1 future is brighter for Calderon.

Longtime Knoxville Raceway promoter, Ralph Capitani, dies

c5toam5vaaaneyv
Photo via @KnoxvilleRaces Twitter
1 Comment

Knoxville Raceway likely wouldn’t be what it is as one of the country’s most renowned short tracks without the work of Ralph Capitani.

Capitani has died following a battle of cancer (according to Speed Sport), news of which was announced Monday by the track. The longtime promoter at the track was born in 1932.

Capitani, better known as “Cappy,” oversaw a huge rise in the stature and popularity of the track’s premier event – the Knoxville Nationals – after taking the reins as the track’s new race director and promoter in 1978.

Some of the elements Capitani worked to implement were improved facilities, purses, safety standards, car counts and audience, the latter of which saw the Knoxville Nationals eventually make it to TV. He also established the Knoxville Raceway Hall of Fame.

In his 40th year at Knoxville in 2007, Capitani said the prestige of the Knoxville Nationals remained incredible.

“I think the Knoxville Nationals is the best sprint car race of the year, bar none,” he said in 2007, via InLappedTraffic. “It is the only time you see ALL of the best sprint car drivers competing on the same playing field. It is a United States and Internationally wide event.”

He retired from the track at the end of 2011.

Knoxville Raceway released a statement confirming Capitani’s passing, and thanking him for all he did to put the track and race on the map.

A portion of the statement reads: “A visionary in the sport, Cappy aimed to make sprint car racing at Knoxville Raceway grander, the purses bigger and the grandstands fuller. He achieved them all with a smile on his face and a hearty handshake for every team owner, driver, crew member and fan that ever crossed his path.”