F1 flashback: Hunt makes his debut as Stewart wins in Monaco (VIDEO)

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The battle for the 1973 world championship moved to Monaco 40 years ago today. Reigning champion Emerson Fittipaldi and two-time title winner Jackie Stewart had won the five preceding races, and the contest on the streets of the principality was all about those two drivers.

Stewart took pole position in his Tyrrell 006. This was Monaco’s first race after the harbor front swimming pool had been built, which the cars dodged their way around via four new corners. That plus further changes elsewhere around the track added six seconds to the lap times.

It was the world champions’ team mates who led at the start. Stewart got away slowly when the lights changed and Francois Cevert in the other Tyrrell rocketed ahead from fourth, leading the field through Sainte Devote.

But Cevert picked up a puncture on the second lap, handing the lead to Fittipaldi’s team mate Ronnie Peterson. Nor did Peterson stay ahead for long: Stewart passed Regazzoni to take up second and by lap eight he had demoted Peterson to claim the lead.

Fittipaldi moved up to second and over the rest of the 78 laps he cut Stewart’s lead to just 1.3 seconds. The rest were lapped.

It was at the most glamorous event on the Formula One calendar that the Hesketh team chose to make its appearance with a March chassis entered for James Hunt. But the team headed by eccentric owner Lord Hesketh and driver with a reputation for being crash-prone was regarded as something of a punchline.

Hunt qualified the March in 18th place. Vomiting with nerves and suffering severe headaches, few would have suspected they were watching the Grand Prix debut of the man who would win the world championship just three years later, in a story which is the subject of a new movie by Ron Howard.

But Hunt mastered his Monaco jitters and had the car running inside the top six points scoring places until the engine died five laps from home. Monaco was the track where his F1 adventure began and, six years later, was also where it came to an end when he climbed from the cockpit for the last time.

Supercross: Haiden Deegan debuts in 250s at Houston, Justin Cooper graduates to 450 class for Star Yamaha

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Rising star Haiden Deegan will make his Monster Energy Supercross debut in Houston, Texas with Yamaha Star Racing while the 2021 250 West champion Justin Cooper graduates to 450s.

Deegan, the son of motocross and off-road legend Brian Deegan and brother of NASCAR Truck Series driver Hailie Deegan, made two starts in the Pro Motocross outdoors season last year. He finished 31st overall at the Ironman Nationals in Crawfordsville, Indiana and was 13th at Fox Raceway in the season-ender at Fox Raceway in Pala, California, but the overall results did not necessarily reflect how well he ran. In both events, he challenged for top-10s during portions of the week and actually finished 10th in one of the Pala motos.

Last week, Haiden finished fifth in the Supercross 250 Futures in Anaheim 2.

“We’re really excited to get the season on the East Coast started,” said Monster Energy Team Manager Jensen Hendler in a press release. “It’s also exciting to have Haiden move up to join our pro program this season and to have Justin make his debut on the 450. The guys have been working hard and are looking forward to seeing what they can do this weekend in Houston.”

After scoring a 250SX Futures podium, Talon Hawkins gets 250 East ride.

Deegan will join Nate Thrasher and Jordon Smith in the 250 East division this week.

Cooper moves into the 450 class this weekend. According to Supercross rules, after winning the 2021 championship, he had one season to defend his title and then would be required to move up a class. Cooper missed all of last year to injury.

Cooper was healthy when the outdoor season started and he earned five podiums and nine top-fives in 12 rounds. Three of these races ended in runners-up finishes, at Hangtown, in Rancho Cordova, California, Washougal, Washington and Unadilla, New York.

Cooper joins Eli Tomac and Dylan Ferrandis in the 450 class and will race select events.

Justin Cooper learned to temper aggression with speed

Cooper’s Houston attempt will be the first of an undisclosed number of races he will compete in during the 2023 season.

“It’s been about two years since I’ve lined up for a supercross, and now it’s in a new class with the best guys, so I’m excited to just get out there,” Cooper said. “I’m looking to get back under the lights and learn what I can. Overall, I’m just really excited to be in the position to be out there, so I’m going to make the most of it and enjoy it!”

Deegan and Cooper will be part of a seven-rider Supercross lineup for Yamaha Star Racing. Nick Romano will debut in the 250 East division later this year.