Starworks’ Hartley, Mayer win GRAND-AM at Road America

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Although their Rolex Series championship-leading duo of Ryan Dalziel and Alex Popow failed to finish due to a loss of engine power, Starworks Motorsport was still victorious this evening at Road America as Brendon Hartley took their No. 8 BMW/Riley to the checkered flag in the GRAND-AM VisitFlorida.com Sports Car 250.

As the race stretched into its final hour, it appeared that the No. 42 Team Sahlen entry of Dane Cameron would be set for a win in Wisconsin. Unfortunately for Cameron, his car suffered a terminal gearbox problem with 42 minutes remaining to end his run. Shortly afterwards, Sahlen’s sister car, the No. 43, went into the tire barrier at Turn 3 to bring out a full-course yellow.

That brought the leaders to pit road for fuel-only stops, but Hartley stayed out to assume the lead for the final restart with 24 minutes left. He managed to keep the point and go on to the win for both himself and co-driver Scott Mayer.

Action Express Racing collected the other spots on the podium, with Joao Barbosa and Christian Fittipaldi taking second in the No. 5 AXR Corvette and Brian and Burt Frisselle taking third in the No. 9 AXR Corvette.

“The car was really, really good today,” Hartley said to SPEED in Victory Lane. “This is quite an emotional win. We lost a win back in [March at Austin], so this one really meant a lot to me. It’s been a while since I’ve won a race, and it means so much.”

Hartley was referring to a potential win at the Circuit of the Americas in Texas that went away because of suspension damage following late contact with a GT car.

As for Starworks’ Dalziel/Popow combo, they were still able to maintain the Rolex Series Daytona Prototype championship lead despite finishing 28th on Saturday. Their lead, however, is down to four points on the No. 99 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing duo of Jon Fogarty and Alex Gurney, who finished eighth.

In GT, Bill Auberlen was able to stretch out the fuel load on the No. 94 Turner Motorsport BMW M3 and hang on for a narrow class win over Patrick Long in the No. 73 Park Place Motorsports Porsche GT3. Auberlen took the lead from Long in Turn 5 with 17 minutes left in the race, but still needed every last drop in the tank to pick up the win for himself and co-driver Paul Dalla Lana.

Joel Miller and Tristan Nunez earned top honors in GX with a win in the No. 00 SpeedSource Mazda 6.

Jack Miller wins MotoGP Japanese Grand Prix as Fabio Quartararo stops his points slide

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Jack Miller ran away with the MotoGP Japanese Grand Prix at Motegi as Fabio Quartararo stopped his downward slide in the championship when a last-lap accident from his closest rival in the standings caused Francesco Bagnaia to score zero points.

Starting seventh, Miller quickly made his way forward. He was second at the end of two laps. One lap later, he grabbed the lead from Jorge Martin. Once in the lead, Miller posted three consecutive fastest laps and was never seriously challenged. It was Australian native Miller’s first race win of the season and his sixth podium finish.

The proximity to his home turf was not lost.

“I can ride a motorcycle sometimes,” Miller said in NBC Sports’ post-race coverage. “I felt amazing all weekend since I rolled out on the first practice. It feels so awesome to be racing on this side of the world.

“What an amazing day. It’s awesome; we have the home Grand Prix coming up shortly. Wedding coming up in a couple of weeks. I’m over the moon; can’t thank everyone enough.”

Miller beat Brad Binder to the line by 3.4 seconds with third-place Jorge Martin finishing about one second behind.

But the center of the storm was located just inside the top 10 as both Quartararo and Bagnaia started deep in the field.

Quartararo was on the outside of row three in ninth with Bagnaia one row behind in 12th. Neither rider moved up significantly, but the championship continued to be of primary importance as Bagnaia put in a patented late-race charge to settle onto Quartararo’s back tire, which would have allowed the championship leader to gain only a single point.

On the final lap, Bagnaia charged just a little too hard and crashed under heavy braking, throwing away the seven points he would have earned for a ninth-place finish.

The day was even more dramatic for the rider who entered the MotoGP Japanese Grand Prix third in the standings. On the sighting lap, Aleix Espargaro had an alarm sound, so he peeled off into the pits, dropped his primary bike and jumped aboard the backup. Starting from pit lane, he trailed the field and was never able to climb into the points. An undisclosed electronic problem was the culprit.

For Quartararo, gaining eight points on the competition was more than a moral victory. This was a track on which he expected to run moderately, and he did, but the problems for his rivals gives him renewed focus with four rounds remaining.

Next week, the series heads to Thailand and then Miller’s home track of Phillip Island in Australia. They will close out the Pacific Rim portion of the schedule before heading to Spain for the finale in early November.

It would appear team orders are not in play among the Ducati riders. Last week’s winner Enea Bastianini made an aggressive early move on Bagnaia for position before the championship contender wrestled the spot back.

In his second race back following arm surgery, Marc Marquez won the pole. His last pole was more than 1,000 days ago on this same track in 2019, the last time the series competed at Motegi. Marquez slipped to fifth in the middle stages of the race, before regaining a position to finish just off the podium.

In Moto2 competition, Ai Ogura beat Augusto Fernandez to close the gap in that championship to two points. Fernandez holds the scant lead. Alonso Lopez rounded out the podium.

Both American riders, Cameron Beaubier and Joe Roberts finished just outside the top 10 in 11th and 12th respectively.