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Sainz joins Renault from USGP onwards; Kvyat, Gasly to finish season for Toro Rosso

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Renault has confirmed that Carlos Sainz Jr. will make his Formula 1 debut with the team at the United States Grand Prix later this month, completing his move from Toro Rosso four races early.

Daniil Kvyat will return to Toro Rosso after two races out and partner Pierre Gasly, who will not contest the Super Formula finale as a result.

Minutes after Jolyon Palmer announced via Instagram he would be leaving Renault after this weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix, the French marque issued a statement confirming Sainz from the Austin race until the end of the season.

Sainz had been due to join Renault for the 2018 season, with the team making efforts to sign him as early as Malaysia, but only reached an agreement with Palmer to terminate the contract after Suzuka.

“First of all I would like to thank Toro Rosso and Red Bull for allowing me the possibility of finishing this season with Renault Sport Racing,” Sainz said.

“More specifically, I really want to thank all my engineers and mechanics for their support and tremendous work throughout these years. Toro Rosso is made up of a fantastic group of people and I wish them only the best for the future.

“On my side, I will definitely do my very best in tomorrow’s race – this would be the best possible send-off! Additionally, competing in these last four races with Renault gives me a good opportunity to get to know the team and the car earlier than expected. I am looking forward to start working with them.”

Kvyat was dropped by Toro Rosso due to poor form after the Singapore Grand Prix, making way for 2016 GP2 champion Gasly, but will be drafted back in to replace Sainz.

The announcement from Toro Rosso also confirmed Gasly for the USGP, meaning he will not fight for the Super Formula title in Japan despite sitting just half a point behind the leader heading into the season finale.

More to follow…

NHRA: John Force-like motor explosions get contagious during Sunday’s Gatornationals

Photo and video courtesy NHRA
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John Force is rubbing off on others – but probably not the way they or he would like.

The 16-time NHRA Funny Car champion has had spectacular motor explosions in each of the first three races of the new NHRA season, including during Friday’s qualifying for this weekend’s Gatornationals.

During Sunday’s quarterfinals of eliminations, Force’s teammate (and son-in-law and president of John Force Racing) Robert Hight squared off with fellow Funny Car driver Matt Hagan.

As the duo closed in on the finish line, both cars experienced spectacular motor explosions of their own – virtually side-by-side and nearly at the same time.

Hight’s car was the first to explode, tossing its body high in the air. A split-second later, Hagan’s car exploded, also sending the body flying.

Check out the NHRA video:

Hight wound up losing the race.

Hagan, meanwhile, and his crack pit crew rolled their backup car off the hauler, put in a new motor and went on to race through the semifinals and into the finals, losing to race winner “Fast Jack” Beckman.

“We had a pretty great race day, to be honest,” Hagan said. “I’ve never been to the finals in Gainesville.

“We obviously had a huge blow up in the second round, then to watch these guys pull the other car back out and put it together in the amount of time they had, then turn a win light on against Capps (Don Schumacher Racing teammate Ron Capps in the semifinals), then to be able to go to a final, it was huge and it speaks for itself.”

As for Hight, here’s his take on what happened with the motor explosion:

“I couldn’t see (Hagan) over there and it wasn’t like it was hazing the tires or anything else. As it turns out it wasn’t spinning at all. It kicked two rods out when it blacked the bearings in the crank then it hit the valves and blew up.

“The thing gave me no indication at all before that. What really scared me was once I got it under control and I look over and see his body is off his car. I am thinking ‘Oh man, he got gathered up in me.’ Then I stood up and looked and his injector was sideways so I realized he had an explosion as well. We are just lucky we didn’t get into each other.”

As for the guy who has had so much trouble in the motor department, John Force, he lost in the first round of Sunday’s eliminations to daughter Courtney Force.

John Force planned on shutting the motor off on his car at around the 700-foot mark of the 1,000-foot dragstrip, not wanting to risk another motor explosion – even though it meant a likely loss to his daughter.

Now John Force and his entire four-car team, including Courtney Force, Robert Hight and daughter and Top Fuel driver Brittany Force, will be off for extensive testing to try and determine what’s been causing the motor explosions.

“We have to evaluate it and go test,” Force said. “We’ll figure it out.”

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