MotoGP: Marc Marquez fastest overall in Friday practice at Indy

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Marc Marquez is seeking to hit a Perfect 10 this weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and he got off to a good start in this afternoon’s practices around the IMS road course.

Marquez, who has followed up his 2013 MotoGP title by winning all nine events so far in the 2014 season, threw down the fastest lap of the day at 1:32.882 on his Repsol Honda.

“It was not so bad, we came back from the holidays and had a slow start with the rain,” Marquez told the MotoGP website. “I’m happy because in the afternoon we could do a lot more work.

“The track grip changes each time we go out so we have to change the set up a lot. Hopefully, we get more dry track time tomorrow.”

Andrea Iannone of Italy was second behind Marquez in practice with a 1:33.104 on his Pramac Racing Ducati. Yamaha rider Jorge Lorenzo (1:33.424), Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso (1:33.432), and Marquez’s teammate, Dani Pedrosa (1:33.493) completed the Top 5 speeds from the combined sessions.

Today marked the first day of action for the MotoGP riders on their “new” IMS road course layout. Five of the 16 turns in the MotoGP layout were reconfigured as part of the course’s modifications over the winter.

So far, initial impressions among the riders appear to be solid.

“It was not one of the best tracks of the season, more for the quality of the asphalt [and the infield] bumps, not the [circuit],” seven-time MotoGP champion Valentino Rossi told the Indianapolis Star. “It looks like they make a very good result [with changes] to some corners, especially with the new surface.”

As for Marquez, he called the repaved infield section of the course “an improvement” with about the same grip as their old layout at IMS but with less bumps.

“With the layout, maybe for Honda, the older one was better, but now it’s more like a normal circuit and I think Yamaha will be a little bit closer to us,” he said. “But if we get our set-up right, we can be there to fight for the victory.”

Saturday will see two more practice sessions (9:55-10:40 a.m., 1:30-2 p.m. ET) and then qualifying (2:10 p.m.) for Sunday’s 27-lap race.

Audi bids farewell to Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich upon retirement

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Audi bid farewell to its iconic head of motorsport, Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich, at its end-of-season ‘Race Night’ event in Germany on Friday upon his retirement.

Ullrich took over the reins as Audi’s head of motorsport in 1993 and stayed in the role for 23 years, overseeing its arrival in the prototype class of sports car racing and domination of the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Ullrich stepped down from the position at the end of 2016, handing the reins over to ex-Audi DTM chief Dieter Gass, and attended his final racing event with the German marque at its first works Formula E outing in Hong Kong earlier this month.

Ullrich was honored at the Race Night event on Friday and thanked for his efforts in developing Audi into a force within global motorsport.

“In 566 factory-backed commitments during this period he celebrated 209 victories, 13 of them in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, eleven in the 12-hour race at Sebring and nine in the ‘Petit Le Mans’ at Road Atlanta,” a piece on Ullrich’s tenure for Audi’s website reads.

“31 driver titles in super touring car racing, in the DTM and in the sports prototype category are credited to him. 57 campaigners were Audi factory drivers during Wolfgang Ullrich’s era and he was responsible for 18 new developments of racing cars – an impressive tally.”