Photo credit: ProMotocross.com/Matt Rice

Weston Peick enjoying dream season after transitioning from privateer to factory Motocross rider

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Five rounds into the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship, the alliance between Weston Peick and the RCH Racing team has already been paying dividends for both sides.

Peick was signed by the team after RCH Racing was forced to rebuild their stable of riders at the end of the Supercross season – one rider, Broc Tickle, suffered a back injury, and the other, Josh Hill, parted ways with the team. A privateer in the truest sense of the term, Peick was the obvious selection based on his stellar results in limited action last season.

Privateers are the lifeblood of motocross. There are a limited number of factory rides available each year, and the rest of the field is comprised of riders who completely fund their own entry, possibly with the help of a few smaller sponsors. Privateers typically travel across the country in a van, which doubles as their pit setup on race days, buy their own equipment, and serve as their own mechanic.

Last season, Peick lived the privateer life. Only able to race five rounds due to lack of funding, when Peick did show up to a race, he would be pitting out of his van and working on his own bike. Incredibly, against all odds, he turned in numerous top-ten moto finishes.

As a privateer, the cards are stacked against you, and being able to produce like that made many people in the industry take notice, including the factory-backed RCH Racing squad co-owned by Carey Hart and motocross legend Ricky Carmichael.

“I’ve been working really hard the last few years to get to where I am today, and I think everything just fell in place,” Peick said of the deal.

In contrast to privateers, riders on factory teams backed by the leading bike manufacturers have access to world-class training facilities and equipment, their own mechanic and crew, and large trailers that they can cool off in on race day. They also rarely have to pay their own expenses, an important difference that explains why many privateers have such short careers – they just can’t afford to run their own operation.

Having factory support for all 12 rounds this year has not only boosted Peick’s performance, it has also changed his demeanor and his attitude towards racing.

“There’s so many little things that add up, and it just makes it so much easier and you start to actually have fun again when you’re on a factory team,” Peick said during an interview this week at RedBud. “You show up and everything’s ready to go instead of showing up in a van and having to still do everything. It definitely takes a lot of weight off your shoulders and just makes life so much easier.”

The payoff for Peick has been the best results of his career. He had shown flashes of being an upper-tier rider in the past, but now that he’s backed by factory equipment, he’s been able to consistently make it a reality, with three top-five finishes to his credit through the first ten motos of the season. He also has finished inside the top-ten in every moto except for one. For RCH Racing, Peick is the most successful rider the team has had in their short history.

That consistency has elevated Peick to sixth overall in 450 Class points – just ten points back of Brett Metcalfe for fifth. Before the season’s finished, Peick wants to take that position.

What does Peick think he’ll need to do in order to end the season in the top-five? “I think just keep working my way towards the front and start getting into that podium position,” he said. “I think it’ll pay off by the end of the year.”

If there’s been one knock on Peick this season, it has been his starts. He seems to always be working his way through the field from outside the top-ten. It remains to be seen what he’d be capable of with stronger starts, but he’s hopeful that he can snap the streak Saturday at RedBud.

“This weekend I think my goal is to hopefully get better starts and get up in the top-five sooner and try to run with the top four guys [Roczen, Dungey, Stewart, Canard] and just run that pace and get used to it and move up from there,” he said.

Among the riders impressed by Peick’s tenacity has been his RCH Racing teammate, Ivan Tedesco. “Weston’s been riding awesome,” Tedesco said. “He’s been consistent, he’s a bulldog. He hasn’t been getting the greatest starts, and he just powers through. Good shape, rides good, and he’s a good all-around dude. A good teammate.”

Peick continues his quest for the top-five Saturday at RedBud. Watch live coverage of the Red Bull RedBud National starting at 10:30 AM E.T. with the second practice session and pre-race show, exclusively on ProMotocross.com and NBC Sports Live Extra. All four motos stream live online starting at 1 PM E.T.

NBC will also carry live television coverage of the final 450 Class moto at 3 PM E.T. NBCSN will then pick up the action at 4 PM E.T. with the final 250 Class moto.

Steiner: Haas being 11th ‘starting to get old’

BUDAPEST, HUNGARY - JULY 23: Romain Grosjean of France driving the (8) Haas F1 Team Haas-Ferrari VF-16 Ferrari 059/5 turbo on track during qualifying for the Formula One Grand Prix of Hungary at Hungaroring on July 23, 2016 in Budapest, Hungary.  (Photo by Charles Coates/Getty Images)
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Haas Formula 1 chief Guenther Steiner joked that being 11th is “starting to get old” after seeing Romain Grosjean narrowly miss out on the team’s first Q3 appearance in Hungary.

Grosjean and teammate Esteban Gutierrez were well inside the top 10 after completing their final lap times, only for a flurry of improvements on a rapidly-drying track to bump them down to 11th and 15th respectively.

Grosjean believed that Q3 was within Haas’ reach in Hungary, but instead suffered his ninth straight Q2 exit.

“It was close. We were only one-tenth off of Lewis [Hamilton’s] P10 time,” Grosjean said.

“All things considered, to be that close, it’s a good thing. We successfully made all the right decisions at the right time in qualifying, including tire choices.

“It was a very difficult qualifying session, but we showed how much we’ve improved as a team from day one through today. We were perfect today in our execution. We were fast on both the extreme wet and intermediate tires. We weren’t too bad on slicks.

“I know that tenth-of-a-second that denied us today is somewhere in there. I’m pretty happy with everything.

“If it doesn’t rain tomorrow it’s going to be boiling hot, and that always makes for a good race.”

Like Grosjean, Steiner looked on the bright side of the result, but joked he was tired of Haas narrowly missing out on the top 10.

“It was quite an exciting qualifying session with a lot of action out there,” Steiner said.

“To keep cool in this situation is very difficult, but I think the team did a good job. We managed everything very well, so we’ve no regrets.

“We ended up 11th and 15th. Being 11th is starting to get old, but at least by being there Romain can start on new tires, so that will be an advantage.

“Esteban can make his way up. He’s in good company, with Kimi [Raikkonen] just ahead. We’re almost there, but still not in Q3, which is where we want to be.

“But 11th is a good starting position. Tomorrow we’re confident we can move up. We’ll be trying hard to get points.”

The Hungarian Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and the NBC Sports App from 7am ET on Sunday.

Pierre Gasly takes second GP2 win in Hungary feature race

Pierre Gasly (FRA, PREMA, Racing) leads the field.
2016 GP2 Series Round 6
Hungaroring, Budapest, Hungary
Saturday 23 July 2016

Photo: /GP2 Series Media Service
ref: Digital Image _ONY3476
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Red Bull junior driver Pierre Gasly swept to his second GP2 Series victory in the space of two weeks with a dominant display at the Hungaroring on Saturday afternoon.

Victory in the feature race at Silverstone saw Gasly end a win drought dating back almost three years to his Formula Renault 2.0 days and move back into contention for the championship.

The Frenchman would have to wait just 14 days for his second GP2 win to come about as he fended off charges from Antonio Giovinazzi, Sergey Sirotkin and Raffaele Marciello to win in Budapest.

A good start allowed Gasly to control the early part of the race before pitting to the hard tire, at which point he was left to battle with cars running an alternate strategy.

Ex-Ferrari academy member Marciello looked to extend his prime stint before making the switch to the soft compound late on. The Italian put his fresh rubber to good use, cutting the gap to Gasly, Giovinazzi and Sirotkin after emerging from the pits behind the trio.

Arden’s Jimmy Eriksson rolled the dice on an ambitious strategy, pitting from the lead with just two laps remaining. The Swede came back out in eighth place, but retired after running out of fuel just half a lap from the finish.

Gasly had kept his cool, regaining the lead when Eriksson finally pitted with Giovinazzi and Sirotkin two seconds further back before crossing the line to claim his second victory in the space of two weeks.

Giovinazzi held Sirotkin off to complete a one-two finish for Prema, leaving the Russian to settle for P3. Marciello finished fourth ahead of Arthur Pic and Nobuharu Matsushita, while Norman Nato was seventh. Jordan King finished eighth for the third feature race in a row, giving him pole for Sunday’s sprint race in Hungary.

Victory gives Gasly a seven-point lead in the drivers’ standings ahead of Giovinazzi, with Marciello a further 12 points behind.

Audi locks out front row for WEC 6 Hours of Nurburgring

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© FIA WEC
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Audi made the most of damp conditions in qualifying to lock out the front row for Sunday’s FIA World Endurance Championship round at the Nurburgring.

Running with its new high downforce aero kit for this weekend’s race, Audi ran 2015 Nurburgring winners Porsche close in practice on Friday.

A damp but drying track left Audi and Porsche to scrap for pole with Toyota lurking just behind, making the timing of laps and tire strategy crucial.

The no. 7 Audi R18 may be a man light this weekend after Benoit Treluyer was ruled out through injury, but Marcel Fassler and Andre Lotterer were still able to produce two emphatic laps to clinch pole on home soil for the German marque.

A two-lap average of 1:39.444 between the pair was enough to secure their second pole of the season, heading up a one-two finish for Audi.

Lucas di Grassi posted the fastest time of the session in the no. 8 Audi R18, going half a second quicker than Lotterer’s best lap, but a slower effort from Oliver Jarvis meant they fell two-tenths of a second shy of pole.

Porsche was left to settle for P3 and P4 on the grid, the no. 1 919 Hybrid shared by Mark Webber and Timo Bernhard in qualifying finishing four-tenths off Audi’s pole time. The sister no. 2 car was just three-hundredths of a second further back in P4.

Toyota ailed to fifth and sixth in LMP1, finishing over a second behind Audi at the top, but as witnessed at Le Mans, the race pace of the TS050 Hybrid car is to be reckoned with.

LMP2 qualifying followed the form from practice as G-Drive Racing continued its perfect pole record in 2016. A rapid final lap from Rene Rast was almost a second quicker than any other driver in class, giving G-Drive a buffer of 0.7 seconds over the no. 36 Signatech Alpine crew in second place. British squad Strakka Racing qualified third, less than a tenth away from a place on the front row.

Aston Martin Racing picked up its maiden GTE Pro pole as Nicki Thiim and Marco Sørensen set the pace, recording a two-lap average of 2:01.712 in the Vantage V8. The no. 66 Ford GT shared by Stefan Mucke and Olivier Pla finished two-tenths further back in P2, with the second AMR entry qualifying third in class.

It proved to be a good day for Porsche entries in GTE Am was Abu Dhabi Proton Racing and KCMG locked out the front row in class, both running Porsche 911 RSRs. The former took pole by less than two-tenths of a second, with a rapidly drying track handing the initiative to those running later in the session.

The FIA WEC 6 Hours of Nurburgring kicks off at 1pm local time in Germany on Sunday.

Late yellow in Hungary Q3 leaves Ricciardo ‘pretty angry’

BUDAPEST, HUNGARY - JULY 23:  Daniel Ricciardo of Australia and Red Bull Racing in the post qualifying press conference during qualifying for the Formula One Grand Prix of Hungary at Hungaroring on July 23, 2016 in Budapest, Hungary.  (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
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Daniel Ricciardo felt “pretty angry” after his final lap in qualifying for the Hungarian Grand Prix was ruined by a yellow flag.

Ricciardo spent the entirety of qualifying running towards the top of the timesheets as wet conditions prompted drivers to think on their feet with tire choice and the risks they took.

The track was dry enough for slicks by Q3, where Ricciardo sat third after his first run despite running wide at the final corner and nearly spinning.

The Australian geared up for a final run just before the checkered flag fell, only for a yellow flag shown following a spin for Fernando Alonso to force him to back off.

Ricciardo was left to settle for third on the grid, but thinks he could have been in the mix on the front row had he been able to finish his lap.

“I don’t know. We got hurt by the yellow as well,” Ricciardo said.

“I was pretty angry on that last lap because I was up a bit and I think it would have put me closer to pole.

“It would have been interesting without the yellow. I’m a little disappointed because it’s a ‘what could have been’.

“But at the same time I think the session went really well. I think in all conditions we were competitive.”

Qualifying ran for twice its usual length due to a mix of rain and red flags, with parts of the track remaining damp in Q3.

“It was crazy, you had to adapt quickly, when to go on to slicks in Q2,” Ricciardo said.

“Even just the little things like getting out of pit lane in Q2 on slick tires when it was so wet, sideways coming into Trun 1. It was fun. It was challenging.

“On the last corner in Q3, there was still a wet patch just next to the curb, it sort of sucked me in as I opened DRS as well.

“I was in for a little bit of a ride, but in the end, survived.”

The Hungarian Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and the NBC Sports App from 7am ET on Sunday.