Rebellion reigns again at Petit Le Mans (UPDATED)

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With their main rivals from Muscle Milk Pickett Racing sidelined midway through with an overheating issue, Rebellion Racing claimed its second consecutive victory at the Petit Le Mans this evening at Road Atlanta, bringing the American Le Mans Series era to a close.

Neel Jani, who was part of Rebellion’s 2012 Petit-winning team, brought home the team’s No. 12 Lola B12/60 Toyota (co-drivers Nicolas Prost and Nick Heidfeld) for a six-lap win over the No. 551 Level 5 Motorsports P2 entry of Scott Tucker, Marino Franchitti and Ryan Briscoe.

“In some sense, it’s frustrating because [us and Muscle Milk] had a good race going,” Prost told Fox Sports. “I mean, I think it would’ve been really tight. But in the end, you’re happy to win and we’re happy to have back-to-back [Petit] wins in the final race of the ALMS. It’s fantastic.”

In P2, the class win from the No. 551 Level 5 team enabled Tucker to claim the 2013 P2 driver’s championship. Tucker, Franchitti and Briscoe bested the No. 01 Extreme Speed Motorsports machine of Scott Sharp, Anthony Lazzaro and David Brabham for top honors.

“These guys are the best,” Tucker said of his teammates Franchitti and Briscoe. “They did a great performance today. I couldn’t be more proud of the whole team. The [Extreme Speed Motorsports] guys put on a hell of a fight for us, and we’re lucky that we got here. But these guys did a great job.”

The narrow battle in GT went to the No. 17 Falken Tire Porsche squad of Nick Tandy, Bryan Sellers, and Wolf Henzler. Shortly after a restart with 11 laps to go, Tandy had a brief off-course excursion at the downhill esses while leading the race but was still able to keep the point over the No. 56 BMW Team RLL entry of Dirk Muller.

After that heart-stopping moment, Tandy settled down and hung on by .74 of a second over Muller, who also fell short in the GT driver’s championship as the No. 3 Corvette Racing duo of Jan Magnussen and Antonio Garcia claimed that crown with a sixth-place finish alongside Jordan Taylor.

“I couldn’t have wished for a better year to do it – the last year of the ALMS,” Magnussen said. “Who would’ve thought after Sebring [retirement due to gearbox problems] that we’d be here celebrating a championship…It just couldn’t be better.”

The No. 8 BAR1 Motorsports trio of Chris Cumming, Kyle Marcelli and Stefan Johansson were triumphant in Prototype Challenge for its third consecutive ALMS victory.

Even better for BAR1, Cumming was able to overtake PC points leader Mike Gausch and win the driver’s championship in that class. Or so we thought.

As it was later revealed, the second-place car in the PC class – the No. 25 8Star Motorsports entry of Ozz Negri and Sean Rayhall – was not a full-season entry and thus, they do not receive points and the teams behind them move up.

That meant Gausch, who had finished fifth, received a fourth-place points finish, enabling him to claim the driver’s championship by one point over Cumming.

In GTC, the No. 45 Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsche of Nelson Canache, Spencer Pumpelly and Madison Snow won, while a fourth-place finish enabled the No. 22 Alex Job Racing Porsche of Jeroen Bleekemolen and Cooper MacNeil to wrap up the driver’s championship there.

Jack Miller wins the MotoGP Japanese Grand Prix as Fabio Quartararo stops his downward 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.