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Kvyat relishing home GP in Russia, one year after Vettel clash

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Daniil Kvyat is relishing his fourth home appearance in Formula 1 at next weekend’s Russian Grand Prix, one year on from the clash with Sebastian Vettel that changed his career trajectory.

Kvyat hit Vettel twice in the opening three corners of last year’s grand prix in Sochi, with the incident leading to his demotion from Red Bull to its B-team, Toro Rosso, for the next race in Spain. Max Verstappen moved in the opposite direction and became F1’s youngest ever winner just two weeks later.

The incident had a profound effect on Kvyat, who took a long time to bounce back to form, eventually finding his feet in the closing stages of the season.

“The first thing that comes to my mind when I think about Russia is Sebastian – as in Sebastian Vettel. I like to torpedo Sebastian, it’s my hobby!” Kvyat joked in Toro Rosso’s Russian Grand Prix preview.

“Okay, come on, you all know I’m joking! Let’s get serious now… Maybe the first word that comes to mind should be ‘braking’ into Turn 1!

“This is always a special weekend for me as it’s my home race. I’ve had very good qualifyings there but I’ve never actually been able to put the perfect race together in Russia, so I’d like to achieve it this year.

“It’s so cool to race here, I always feel the strong support of the Russian fans and I want to make the most out of this backing and thank everyone with a strong performance.”

Russia joined the calendar back in 2014, and Kvyat – the nation’s second F1 driver after Vitaly Petrov – said the increase in awareness of the sport and rise in popularity has been noticeable.

“Since the first Russian GP back in 2014, Formula 1 in Russia has definitely grown a lot,” Kvyat said.

“To have our own race was a big step for the country and more and more fans attend every year, so you can see that the interest in the sport is much bigger!

“In 2015 I qualified in P5, which was my best qualifying result with Toro Rosso. It was quite a nice moment and I have very good memories from that day.

“The race wasn’t great, but then the following year the situation was the opposite, with not the strongest of qualis but with a decent race. This time I’m looking to be strong on both Saturday and Sunday.”

IndyCar star Scott Dixon to test skills on ‘American Ninja Warrior’

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Scott Dixon will be the latest IndyCar driver to enter the realm of reality TV when he auditions in Indianapolis next week for “American Ninja Warrior.”

The four-time IndyCar champion, nicknamed “The Iceman,” thought it sounded fun when he was approached with the idea of trying out. As the competition has drawn near, Dixon is wondering what he got himself into.

“I feel a lot of pressure on this one,” Dixon told The Associated Press before heading to this weekend’s Honda Grand Prix of Alabama IndyCar race at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama. “When it got to be about a month away, I figured I should start training for it, and it’s pretty hard stuff.”

IndyCar drivers Helio Castroneves, Josef Newgarden and Tony Kanaan all auditioned for the show, which follows competitors as they tackle a series of obstacle courses in qualifying rounds across the country. None of IndyCar’s contestants advanced out of the first round and neither did NASCAR driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

Dixon’s appearance comes about the same time the Game Show Network has Sebastien Bourdais as a guest host for “Daily Draw” for the entire week leading into the month of May at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Most recently, Alexander Rossi and Conor Daly teamed to finish fourth on “The Amazing Race,” and James Hinchcliffe was a runner-up last year on “Dancing With The Stars.” Castroneves is a former “DWTS” winner.

Dixon, the 2008 winner of the Indianapolis 500 who ranks fourth on IndyCar’s all-time wins list, is accustomed to success. But the New Zealander not so sure he’s going to become the next great ninja. Most of his fitness work focuses on endurance training, and preparing for the obstacle course has taken Dixon out of his element.

“It’s not my wheelhouse,” he said. “This is agility kind of stuff and I’m looking forward to the process. I’m not looking forward so much to the failure, because it’s going to happen at some point, so I guess I just have to make the most of it and enjoy the experience.”

Dixon was famously robbed at gunpoint in the drive-thru of a Taco Bell last year hours after he won the pole for the Indy 500. Asked if his ninja training will have him better prepared should that happen again, he did not think so.

“I suppose if I run away it would help,” Dixon said. “But I don’t exactly have a ninja toolkit to get me through that situation.”