Hamilton misses three-peat, but happy with fourth in Austin (VIDEO)

0 Comments

Unless Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton managed a cracking start from fifth place, his shot at a third straight United States Grand Prix victory was always a long one.

Still, the Englishman gave it everything he had with a jump of two spots into third at the first turn. The safety car period that immediately followed negated a further charge, and Hamilton eventually fell behind Mark Webber’s Red Bull for third.

Hamilton ended fourth after a race where he was clearly ahead of the rest of the pack and behind the podium finishers of the two Red Bulls and Romain Grosjean’s Lotus.

It was a needed run with a new chassis, after his one at Abu Dhabi was found to be cracked. The difference, he said, was “night and day.”

“It felt great. I am really so happy that I couldn’t keep my feet on the ground,” Hamilton told NBC’s Will Buxton after the race. “Great to have a real race. Naturally when you have bad races like the last one (a relatively lonely seventh place result in Abu Dhabi), I couldn’t concentrate on anything else.”

Hamilton has adopted the U.S. as something of a second home. With residences in the States and the two prior victories at Indianapolis and in the inaugural Austin race last year, this is a country Hamilton has embraced and he felt like he wanted to achieve more this afternoon.

“It’s been great,” he told Buxton. “I also really love the Silverstone Grand Prix, my home grand prix obviously. But I have to say this city is so vibrant during the weekend, and the track is really nice to drive.”

Hamilton’s result consolidated Mercedes’ grip on second in the Constructor’s Championship. With Hamilton’s fourth and Nico Rosberg finishing ninth after a dismal qualifying session, Mercedes now has 348 points and 15 clear of Ferrari heading to Brazil next week.

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

0 Comments

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.