Bourdais crushes field at Milwaukee for second win of year (VIDEO)

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MILWAUKEE – Sebastien Bourdais partied like it was the old Champ Car days at the oldest continuously operating race track in North America.

The Frenchman won his second race of the Verizon IndyCar Series season at the Milwaukee Mile, controlling the second half of the 250-lap race, the ABC Supply Co. Wisconsin 250 at Milwaukee IndyFest presented by the Metro Milwaukee Honda Dealers. He also won at the track in 2006.

WATCH: Full replay of ABC Supply Co. Wisconsin 250

The driver of the No. 11 Hydroxycut KVSH Racing Chevrolet drove an utterly dynamic middle stint of the race after the halfway mark, gapping the field by anywhere from three to four mph per lap and stretching his lead on the one-mile oval to a full lap, in running a “rabbit” strategy on pure pace.

Bourdais needed a final stop on Lap 212 to ensure he made the finish, but his lead was almost never in doubt after his prior 90 laps.

A late caution on Lap 222 when Justin Wilson stopped in Turn 1 with a mechanical issue nearly sabotaged Bourdais’ race.

Most of the field pitted for fresh tires, Bourdais had a two-car gap between he and the rest of the field, as Juan Pablo Montoya and Ed Carpenter stayed out.

Bourdais held off Helio Castroneves, who made a great drive from last in the field up to second, and Graham Rahal, who followed up his Auto Club Speedway win with another podium.

Montoya and polesitter Josef Newgarden completed the top five.

Montoya held on on the older tires, and in the process extended his points lead. He is now up by 54 points over Scott Dixon, who finished seventh after a late fallback.

Newgarden led three times for 109 laps, including all but six of the first 100 laps, but was caught out on strategy. He made it home fifth and said he could afford to be disappointed with his first top-five of the year that wasn’t a win.

Tony Kanaan was sixth ahead of Dixon. Marco Andretti, Simon Pagenaud and Ed Carpenter completed the top 10 finishers.

Will Power crashed out just past the halfway mark, caught up with nowhere to go when Ryan Briscoe lost control through Turns 3 and 4.

Montoya now leads Dixon by 54, Castroneves and Rahal by 69 and Power by 70 heading to Iowa Speedway next week.

RESULTS

WEST ALLIS, Wis. — Results Sunday of the ABC Supply Co. Inc. Wisconsin 250 Verizon IndyCar Series event on the 1.015-mile Milwaukee Mile, with order of finish, starting position in parentheses, driver, aero kit-engine, laps completed and reason out (if any):

1.  (11) Sebastien Bourdais, Chevrolet, 250, Running
2.  (24) Helio Castroneves, Chevrolet, 250, Running
3.  (6) Graham Rahal, Honda, 250, Running
4.  (8) Juan Pablo Montoya, Chevrolet, 250, Running
5.  (1) Josef Newgarden, Chevrolet, 250, Running
6.  (4) Tony Kanaan, Chevrolet, 250, Running
7.  (10) Scott Dixon, Chevrolet, 250, Running
8.  (9) Marco Andretti, Honda, 250, Running
9.  (17) Simon Pagenaud, Chevrolet, 250, Running
10.  (22) Ed Carpenter, Chevrolet, 250, Running
11.  (12) Gabby Chaves, Honda, 250, Running
12.  (7) Charlie Kimball, Chevrolet, 250, Running
13.  (16) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Honda, 250, Running
14.  (13) Takuma Sato, Honda, 250, Running
15.  (18) Carlos Munoz, Honda, 250, Running
16.  (20) Tristan Vautier, Honda, 248, Running
17.  (21) Jack Hawksworth, Honda, 221, Running
18.  (15) Justin Wilson, Honda, 219, Mechanical
19.  (3) Sage Karam, Chevrolet, 183, Contact
20.  (19) Stefano Coletti, Chevrolet, 156, Mechanical
21.  (2) Ryan Briscoe, Honda, 130, Contact
22.  (14) Will Power, Chevrolet, 130, Contact
23.  (5) James Jakes, Honda, 113, Mechanical
24.  (23) Pippa Mann, Honda, 27, Handling

Race Statistics
Winners average speed:  130.373
Time of Race: 01:56:46.8264
Margin of victory: 2.2366
Cautions: 3 for 36 laps
Lead changes: 9 among 6 drivers

Lap Leaders:
Newgarden 1 – 54
Rahal 55 – 59
Newgarden 60 – 100
Bourdais 101
Wilson 102
Dixon 103 – 116
Bourdais 117 – 170
Newgarden 171 -184
Kanaan 185 – 187
Bourdais 188 – 250

Verizon IndyCar Point Standings: Montoya 439, Dixon 385, Rahal 370, Castroneves 370, Power 369, Bourdais 343, Andretti 332, Kanaan 314, Newgarden 309, Pagenaud 278.

Ricky Brabec wins 2017 Sonora Rally (PHOTOS, VIDEO)

Ricky Brabec wins Sonora Rally. Photo: Sonora Rally
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Honda rider Ricky Brabec, who won a stage at this year’s Dakar Rally, has captured the victory in last week’s Sonora Rally, held March 21-24 in Sonora, Mexico.

He led all four of the special stages in a start-to-finish romp for victory.

Despite Joan Barreda and Steve Hengeveld’s injuries that ruled them out of the rally, Brabec still had to focus on the job at hand.

“You are really racing against yourself out here, against the terrain,” he said in a release.  “I’m much more familiar now with open up a course than I was back in January at Dakar when I had to do it for the first time.”

Fellow Honda riders Mark Samuels and Andrew Short completed the podium. Samuels won the Sonora Rally’s Dakar Challenge, which presents a free opportunity for a rider to enter the 2018 Dakar Rally.

“The hard work of getting to Dakar is still ahead of me, but I will do everything in my power to make America proud,” Samuels said.

Polaris ATR rider Dave Sykes won the UTV class, with Eric Pucelik and Mike Shirley winning the Cars class.

On background, the Sonora Rally is the only event of its kind in North America. The rally raid format requires street legal vehicles to transit along untimed “liaison” sections and timed “special stages” over multiple days, with the lowest combined time winning the event. Now in its third year, the Sonora Rally realizes the vision of founders Scott Whitney and Darren Skilton to bring a world class rally raid event to these shores (2016 recap).

Brabec’s winning ride is captured in the below video, via Race-Dezert.

Meanwhile, because photos do this event more justice than words do, those are below (All Photos: Sonora Rally)

Webber: Alonso may not see out the season with McLaren

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Mark Webber never had the easiest time in Formula 1, particularly his latter years as the number two driver at Red Bull Racing to Sebastian Vettel.

That being said, he was never on the verge of leaving it directly until he announced his plans to move to Porsche’s LMP1 Team, where he raced for three years from 2014 to 2016 before retiring at the end of last season.

But the Australian pondered whether Fernando Alonso might not be able to see out the season with McLaren Honda, if the team and manufacturer’s woes continue.

“Alonso may not stay with the team,” Webber told Belgian outlet Sporza. “Maybe Stoffel (Vandoorne) soon will have a new teammate.”

“I could see it happen that Alonso does not drive out the season. He is very frustrated. Fernando doesn’t start for a sixth or seventh place; he wants to fight for the podium.”

Webber added that for Vandoorne’s sake, starting in a team with lower expectations might not be the worst thing for him. It may allow the Belgian rookie to learn without extra pressure, since the onus is focused on the team.

For Alonso though, time is of the essence for what’s left of his career in F1. This is his last season under contract with McLaren Honda and he made no secret of his frustration for how well he drove at Melbourne, yet the car wasn’t up for it.

“Well the race was good, one of my best races driving like that,” Alonso told NBCSN post-race. “The car’s uncompetitive and to be close for a point was a nice surprise. It was good fuel saving as well. I was surprised to keep it in the points. A suspension (issue) stopped us from getting this point.

“I feel very well prepared, driving at the best of my career, and I’m fighting for one point. That’s disappointing and frustrating. But so long as I’m driving at my best, it’s a problem for the team… not me.”

Rosberg, Button soak up their first weekends out of F1 (PHOTOS)

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Since 2008, Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel have won seven World Championships. The two drivers that won titles in that period not named Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel – Nico Rosberg (2016) and Jenson Button (2009) – were both enjoying their first weekends not on a Formula 1 grid as full-time drivers for the first time in more than a decade this weekend as the 2017 season commenced at Melbourne’s Albert Park.

Rosberg made a visit to preseason testing in Barcelona a few weeks ago for his first appearance as spectator since winning the World Championship. But he watched from home this weekend with his family and posted a few thoughts during both qualifying and the race:

We’re now quite familiar with Rosberg’s home TV set and coffee table. This is the first time Rosberg has been out of an F1 race since 2005, the year he won the first GP2 championship.

Button meanwhile paid a visit to California for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series weekend at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana… once he got off his couch. He checked in with seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson at Fontana.

Do you guys know if there's anything good to watch on tele this weekend? @storm_and_rogue_pomskies

A post shared by Jenson Button (@jensonbutton_22) on

Given McLaren Honda’s struggles, Button is probably smart to have got out when he did. He’d been on the grid since 2000, save for a couple races out in 2005 when BAR-Honda was barred from competing after being disqualified from the San Marino Grand Prix.

Meanwhile for Rosberg, he watched as Mercedes was unable to win the season opener for the first time since 2013.

DJR Team Penske wins three of four Supercars races at Melbourne

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DJR Team Penske has won its first Virgin Australia Supercars Championship races over the weekend during the Australian Grand Prix, with Scott McLaughlin and Fabian Coulthard taking the first three wins in the four-race, non-championship race weekend.

While Penske’s teams have long succeeded in North America and have had some international success, notably a Formula 1 win at the 1976 Austrian Grand Prix with John Watson, success has thus far eluded them since arriving in Supercars two years ago as majority shareholders of Dick Johnson Racing.

McLaughlin had the honor of beating Coulthard to the first win in race one of the weekend, before Coulthard doubled up with wins in races two and three. The first two races were one-two finishes, though, and McLaughlin said he’d received a text from Roger Penske in the wake of the victory.

“I got a text from Roger straight away and they’re all pretty happy,” McLaughlin told Supercars.com.

“They’re thanking me but I should be thanking them for giving me the opportunity.”

The first race was marred by this incident between Nick Percat and Lee Holdsworth, Percat having lost his brakes entering Turn 1 and crashing into Holdsworth, who was an innocent bystander.

But once the race resumed, McLaughlin held off Coulthard for the victory.

Coulthard led from start-to-finish in race two after his second straight pole position. He did the same in race three, albeit not in a Penske 1-2 as Jamie Whincup came second for Red Bull Holden Racing Team Commodore. McLaughlin was third.

A left-front puncture stopped Coulthard making it three in a row in the fourth race, and with steering damage, McLaughlin was resigned to 17th. Chaz Mostert took the win his Supercheap Ford, ending his own winless spell that dated to August of 2015.

Also of note from the weekend, ex-IndyCar driver Simona de Silvestro in her Team Harvey Norman Nissan Altima finished 13th in race one, her best finish yet in her first full season in the series.

The Supercars series is back in action at Symmons Plains Raceway on April 7-9.  Coulthard sits second in the series championship, 51 points back of Whincup’s teammate, Shane van Gisbergen.