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NHRA’s Antron Brown and Steve Torrence are hooked after their first off-road race

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If NHRA Top Fuel drivers Antron Brown and Steve Torrence are still a little bit sore in the saddle going into this weekend’s NHRA Gatornationals, there’s a good reason.

Brown and Torrence – they competed under the “Chocolate and Creme Race Team” moniker devised by Brown – took part in last Saturday’s Mint 400 off-road race in Primm, Nevada.

There’s good news and bad news on how their maiden off-road racing effort went.

NHRA Top Fuel drivers Steve Torrence, left, and Antron Brown are ready to go off-road racing again.

The good news: Brown completed the whole 117-mile first lap of the three-lap event with no problem.

“Woo, that was a rough one,” Brown said after completing his lap. “A to the B made it, though. I’m praying for Steve, he doesn’t know what’s ahead of him. That’s some rough stuff out there.”

Now the bad news: as it turned out, Torrence had problems when he took his turn behind the wheel of the Polaris RZR off-road buggy. Torrence got 13 miles into his 117-mile lap when the steering broke.

Steve and his co-driver were able to limp the car 16 miles into Pit B where they fixed the steering and sent Torrence back on his way.

Unfortunately, the steering broke again – and gave up the ghost for the remainder of the event – at the 58 mile marker.

“What an awesome experience,” Torrence said afterward. “It was a damn good time.”

While it was the first time either Brown or Torrence competed in an off-road race, it won’t be the last. Both drivers are ready to do it again later this year.

“Round 2 is going to happen this year,” Torrence said. “I’m hooked. The meat hooks are in me for off-road racing.”

Said Brown, “It beats you down, way down. But, I’m coming back. I’m going to get meaner and leaner. We’re going to do some more testing. We had good speed. I need to work on my corners a little bit better. They were way better at the end, for sure. I know what to expect now.”

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Mercedes: F1 teams need to work together to avoid split

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MELBOURNE, Australia — Mercedes boss Toto Wolff said Friday that Formula One teams have a responsibility to try to overcome their differences over the future of the sport in the face of a threat by Ferrari to quit because of a number of proposed changes.

Bernie Ecclestone, who ran F1 for 40 years before being replaced by new owners Liberty Media last year, has raised the possibility that Ferrari chairman Sergio Marchionne could walk away from F1 and form a breakaway series over Liberty’s future vision for the sport.

Ferrari is unhappy with Liberty’s proposal to simplify engines and redistribute prize money among F1 teams after the current contract with teams expires at the end of 2020.

Ferrari team boss Maurizio Arrivabene would not comment on the specifics of Marchionne’s previous comments at the season-opening Australian Grand Prix on Friday, but said: “My only suggestion, please take him seriously.”

Wolff is also taking the possibility of Ferrari walking away seriously. He told Britain’s Press Association before the Australian GP that he agreed with Marchionne’s concerns and that Formula One can’t afford to alienate Ferrari or lose the team.

“Don’t mess with Sergio Marchionne,” he said. “Formula One needs Ferrari much more than Ferrari needs Formula One.”

Wolff was more diplomatic on Friday, saying he hopes all sides could come together for the good of the sport.

“I think this as much a battle on track as much as it is a fight off track for an advantage,” he said. “It is clear the current governance and how the rules are being made is not very functional. There’s too much different opinions and agendas on the table and we need to sort it for 2021 for the best interest of the sport.”

Red Bull boss Christian Horner agreed there are too many competing agendas, suggesting that the FIA-Formula One’s governing body-and Liberty Media come together to decide on a set of regulations and financial framework for the next contract and the teams can then decide if they want to accept it or not.

“Trying to get a consensus between teams that have varying objectives, different set-ups, is going to be impossible,” he said. “It’s history repeating itself. It happens every five or six years, every time the Concorde Agreement comes up for renewal.”

Tempers also flared during Friday’s media conference over another issue of contention between the teams – Ferrari’s recent hiring of FIA’s ex-safety director, Laurent Mekies.

Horner believes Ferrari broke an agreement among teams at a recent meeting to institute a 12-month waiting period for any former employee of FIA or FOM (Formula One Management) to be able to start working for one of F1’s teams. The concern is that former FIA staff who go to work for a specific team could share secrets from other teams.

“Certain teams were pushing for that period to be three years, but in the end it was agreed upon being 12 months,” he said. “It almost makes those meetings pointless if we can’t agree on something and action it.”

Arrivabene defended Ferrari’s move, saying Mekies would not join its team until after a six-month “gardening leave” period.

“There is nothing wrong with that because we were absolutely respecting the local law, the Swiss local law where Laurent was hired,” he said.