Rosberg comes close to beating complacent Vettel

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Nico Rosberg has said that he is delighted with his performance in qualifying for the Singapore Grand Prix after finishing P2 on Saturday, yet he will undoubtedly know that pole position was within his reach.

Mercedes have been on the pace all weekend, being Red Bull’s closest challengers throughout practice. In qualifying, the defending world champions appeared to lay down a pace that was unbeatable, so much so that Sebastian Vettel opted not to run for a second time in Q3 despite the track improving and his competitors all going out. This move very nearly back-fired, with the gap of almost six-tenths of a second diminishing to just 0.091 seconds when Rosberg took the checkered flag, nearly gifting Mercedes their ninth pole position of the season. However, the Mercedes driver is not thinking about “what might have been”, instead choosing to look at the positives.

“It was so close to beating Sebastian to pole this evening but I’m still really happy to have achieved second place,” Rosberg said. “It’s so important to start from the front here so we are in a very good position for the race.”

Rosberg professed his confidence in the race pace of the W04 car, but he conceded that beating Vettel and Red Bull may not be possible under the lights in Singapore.

“Our race pace was strong on Friday so I’m feeling quite confident for tomorrow evening. I doubt if we have enough performance to beat Sebastian but I’ll do my best to have a good start and then we’ll see how it goes from there.”

Having won twice so far this season, Rosberg will be keen on adding to this figure before the end of the year. His win in Monaco does suggest that he will run strongly at another high downforce circuit such as Singapore, but quite whether he can challenge Vettel – a two-time winner in Singapore – remains to be seen.

Meyer Shank Racing wins second consecutive Rolex 24 at Daytona to begin GTP era

Rolex 24 Meyer Shank
James Gilbert/Getty Images
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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The Grand Touring Prototype era began just as the previous one ended as Meyer Shank Racing’s Acura captured its second consecutive Rolex 24 at Daytona with star Tom Blomqvist emphatically starting and finishing the race.

The No. 60 ARX-06 won the 24-hour endurance classic at Daytona International Speedway by 4.190 seconds over Filipe Albuquerque of Wayne Taylor Racing with Andretti Autosport, giving Acura a sweep of the top two spots.

The Chip Ganassi Racing Cadillac V-LMDh cars took the next two spots with Renger van der Zande (the No. 01) and Earl Bamber (No. 02) as four of the nine new GTP cars finished on the lead lap within 12 seconds of each other – quashing the prerace hand-wringing of mass failures for the highly technical cars in the debut of the hybrid prototype premier category.

There were major problems for the manufacturer newcomers Porsche Penske Motorsport and BMW M Team RLL, whose two pairs of cars all finished at least a dozen laps down or more because of major mechanical problems in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season opener.

But there were no such failures for Acura despite the manufacturer skipping any endurance testing with the new LMDh car.

It’s the third Rolex 24 at Daytona victory for co-owner Mike Shank, who won his first in 2012.

Just as he capped the 2022 season by winning the Petit Le Mans season finale in the No. 60 Acura to clinch the final championship of the DPi division for MSR, Blomqvist was behind the wheel again for his third overall victory in IMSA.

“That was crazy,” Blomqvist told NBC Sports’ Kevin Lee. “I knew we had a fantastic car. I’ve been working hard. Unbelievable. Massive, well done, everyone being part of this project and worked together on this project. What a car we’ve built.

“I was just a bit nervous. The 10 was definitely second fastest car, but we held them off.”

It was the second consecutive Rolex 24 victory for MSR’s trio of Blomqvist, Simon Pagenaud and Helio Castroneves, who were joined this year by Colin Braun (winning his first Rolex 24 overall).

Castroneves joined select company in winning the Rolex 24 in three consecutive years (his first win was with Wayne Taylor Racing in 2021). Castroneves and Pagenaud are entering their second consecutive year as teammates for Meyer Shank Racing’s Dallara-Hondas in the NTT IndyCar Series.

“Can you believe that?” Castroneves told Lee. “Big props to everyone. Everyone did an amazing job. Everybody worked so hard together. We got it! Another one. I can’t believe it. This is absolutely a dream come true.”

The four-time Indy 500 winner led the team in his signature fence-climbing celebration afterward — just as he had when he finished MSR’s victory in last year’s Rolex 24 and when he won the 2021 Indy 500 for the team.

“It’s always fun to climb the fence with Helio,” said Pagenaud, who drove the second-to-last stint before Blomqvist closed it out: “The competition as amazing. It was tough out there. So much fun. Hope you had as much fun as we had. I’m going to savor this one.”

Winners in other classes were the No. 55 ORECA 07 of Proton Competition (which triumphed on a last-lap pass by James Allen on Ben Hanley), WeatherTech Racing’s No. 79 Mercedes in GTD Pro, Heart of Racing’s No. 27 Aston Martin in GTD and AWA’s No. 17 in LMP3.