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COTA interested in IndyCar, ‘stars need to align’ for right date

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The Circuit of The Americas in Austin, Texas, would be interested in hosting a Verizon IndyCar Series race in the future so long as it could negotiate a number of calendar limitations, according to track president Bobby Epstein.

COTA opened its doors in 2012 as a new-build facility to host the revived United States Grand Prix, welcoming Formula 1 back to American soil after five years away.

Besides F1, COTA has also hosted MotoGP, FIA World Endurance Championship and IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship events and the X Games, quickly establishing itself as one of North America’s premier racing facilities.

Speaking to NBC Sports, Epstein explained COTA has not chased an IndyCar deal thus far in order to focus on its current events, but would be open to hosting the series so long as the right date could be found.

“Our system was to focus on getting an open-wheel race built up and done successfully, and a motorcycle race going successfully. I think after five years, we’ve shown that we can build those,” Epstein said.

“We didn’t want to have conflicting messages to the fans of competing products, I would say. I think we didn’t want to have competing products, and we still don’t.

“But if the calendar works out to where you could do perhaps IndyCar in the spring and F1 in the fall, then we should certainly look at the calendar and see if we can make it work out.”

Epstein conceded that finding a suitable date to host IndyCar would be difficult given the pressures of other series’ dates and the Texan climate, but the circuit boss is keen to work on it in the future.

“We’re somewhat limited,” Epstein said. “We’re not going to run a race in the middle of the summer. We’re not going to run an IndyCar race close to F1, which leaves really the spring.

“Our biggest opportunities are probably in May when they have their ‘500, and we’re rock solid with MotoGP on the calendar in April. There are some stars that need to align.

“I hope to work on it in the future. I think it’s something we could work on in the future.”

One long understood and proverbial hold-up to a COTA IndyCar race has been the presence of Texas Motor Speedway on the calendar in June, as that track has been an IndyCar stalwart since 1997. Texas is the second longest active oval race on the schedule, only behind the Indianapolis 500.

As it is, COTA may need to find racing events to fill its 2018 calendar as a couple drop off after this year. Pirelli World Challenge switches from a September to a March 2018 date, and the track will not host IMSA nor FIA WEC races from 2018.

Eriksson snatches Macau Formula 3 pole from Norris

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Joel Eriksson snatched pole position for Saturday’s qualifying race ahead of the Macau Grand Prix after a thrilling fight with McLaren youngster Lando Norris and Ferrari junior Callum Ilott.

Norris headed into the second stage of qualifying on provisional pole after lapping almost a second faster than any other driver in Thursday’s first opening session, and remained in contention early in Q2.

Norris was the first driver to dip into the 2:10s with a time of 2:10.744, only for Eriksson to go 0.024 seconds faster minutes later and snatch pole away.

Despite a later effort to try and reclaim pole, Norris was unable to improve his time, and opted to remain in the pits for the final five minutes of the session after using up his allocated tires.

Ilott was the final driver to put in a serious bid for pole position, falling 0.09 seconds short with his final qualifying lap to sit third on the grid for the qualifying race.

Maximilian Gunther claimed fourth place for Prema Powerteam ahead of Ferdinand Habsburg and Dan Ticktum, with Mick Schumacher taking P7.

Yuhi Sekiguchi wound up eighth despite a late crash that brought out a red flag, while Sergio Sette Camara and Guanyu Zhou completed the top 10 positions in qualifying.

Saturday’s qualifying race will help form the grid for Sunday’s main event, the 64th Macau Grand Prix.