Strong performance by Ferrari on home soil

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Despite losing ground to Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull in both championships, Ferrari will be celebrating tonight following the team’s best performance since the Spanish Grand Prix back in May.

After qualifying fourth and fifth on Saturday, Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso made good starts to lie second and fourth respectively at the end of the first lap. Alonso pulled off a gutsy move on Mark Webber through the second chicane to move up to P3. Predictably, the Spaniard then passed Massa with relative ease, but he was unable to catch Vettel at the front. In fact, Alonso’s greatest challenge came from Webber who, after leapfrogging Massa in the pits, remained within a second of the two-time world champion for the rest of the race, only to be slowed down by a problematic gearbox.

Nevertheless, the result marks a return to form for Ferrari after a troublesome spell that has seen Red Bull pull away in the constructors’ championship and Alonso lose ground on Vettel. However, the Italian marque has now overtaken Mercedes to move up to second place in the constructors’, trailing Red Bull by 104 points.

Unsurprisingly, Alonso was welcomed onto the podium by a rapturous support of scarlet-clad fans who had made their way onto the track after the checkered flag. The Spanish driver even took a second to take a picture of himself and the fans, uploading it to Twitter soon after the race.

Meyer Shank Racing wins Petit Le Mans to take final DPi championship in dramatic finale

Petit Le Mans championship
IMSA
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Meyer Shank Racing outdueled Wayne Taylor Racing to win the Petit Le Mans and clinch the championship in the final race for the DPi division.

Tom Blomqvist, who started from the pole position, drove the No. 60 Acura ARX-05 to a victory over Pipo Derani in the the No. 31 Action Express Cadillac.

With co-drivers Oliver Jarvis and Helio Castroneves, Blomqvist helped MSR bookend its victory in the Rolex 24 at Daytona by winning the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season finale at Michelin Road Atlanta.

In between those two victories, the No. 60 earned five runner-up finishes to stay in the thick of the championship hunt and trail WTR’s No. 10 Acura by 14 points entering Saturday’s race.

WTR’s Filipe Albuquerque had a lead of more than 10 seconds over Blomqvist with less than 50 minutes remaining in the 10-hour race.

But a Turn 1 crash between the Chip Ganassi Racing Cadillacs brought out a yellow that sent both Acuras into the pits from the top two positions.

Though he entered in second, Blomqvist barely beat Albuquerque out of the pits, and he held the lead for the final 45 minutes.

Albuquerque closed within a few car lengths of Blomqvist with 14 minutes remaining, but he damaged his suspension because of contact with a GT car in Turn 1.

It’s the third consecutive runner-up finish in the points standings for Wayne Taylor Racing.

Kamui Kobayashi finished third in the No. 48 Cadillac of Action Express that also includes Jimmie Johnson and Mike Rockenfeller.

The podium showing marked Johnson’s last scheduled race in IMSA’s top prototype division. The seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion has raced in the No. 48 Ally Cadillac lineup as the Action Express entry has run the Endurance Cup races.

With the rebranding of DPi to GTP for the new LMDh cars, Johnson said a lack of inventory will preclude him having a 2023 ride in the top category. But he still is hopeful of racing the Garage 56 Next Gen Camaro in next year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans and possibly running in a lower class for the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

“I’d love to be at Le Mans next year,” Johnson told NBC Sports’ Dillon Welch after his final stint Saturday. “I’d love to be at the Rolex 24. The series is going through a shake-up with the reconfiguration of the rules and classes, so I don’t have anything locked down yet, but I’m so thankful for this experience with Action. The support Ally has given us, Mr. Hendrick, Chad Knaus, all of Hendrick Motorsports. It’s been a fun two years, and I certainly hope I’m on the grid again next year.”