Ryan Hunter-Reay may race Rolex 24, with what team is TBD

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It appears that the 2012 IndyCar champion, Ryan Hunter-Reay, will be racing in this year’s Rolex 24 at Daytona, the opening race to the new TUDOR United SportsCar Championship. The question is in what car.

He tweeted out this this morning: “Daytona bound. Time to get to work.”

Hunter-Reay has 17 prior starts in the GRAND-AM Rolex Series, including seven straight in the Rolex 24 (2007-2013).

Last year, Hunter-Reay raced alongside Max Angelelli and Jordan Taylor in Wayne Taylor’s No. 10 Corvette Daytona Prototype, and the team finished second overall. In 2012, he was a last-minute add to Starworks Motorsport’s second-generation Ford Riley DP as that team sorted through various combinations. In 2010 and 2011, he raced with Scott Tucker’s Level 5 Motorsports team, when they ran DPs.

Level 5 has three confirmed entries for this year’s Rolex 24, with two cars in the PC class and a Ferrari 458 Italia in GT Daytona to be driven at this weekend’s Roar Before the 24 test by Tucker and the team’s three confirmed GT class drivers, Townsend Bell, Bill Sweedler and Jeff Segal. Starworks also has two PC class cars entered, with three confirmed drivers (Isaac Tutumlu, Sam Bird, Rob Huff). Both Level 5 (Ferrari GTD) and Starworks (Riley DP) have second alternate cars as well.

The WTR Corvette is out with Angelelli and three Taylors – Jordan, Ricky and father Wayne – in the No. 10 car this time around.

Hunter-Reay, we should also note, is now a Honda driver in IndyCar for Andretti Autosport, and has some HPD prototype experience. But the only HPDs in the field, at Extreme Speed Motorsports, have already confirmed their full Rolex 24 lineups.

The six Corvette DP lineups for this year’s Rolex 24 – save for Marsh Racing – are currently at their projected capacities of either three, four or five drivers depending on the team’s preference. The two Corvette Racing GTLM cars are also booked up.

Another possible landing spot is at SRT Motorsports, in one of the team’s GTLM class Viper GTS-Rs. Hunter-Reay has a past history with Riley Motorsports and Bill Riley, and drove an SRT Viper in the 2012 Petit Le Mans. His IndyCar team, Andretti Autosport, has a prior relationship with SRT as well as SRT was presenting sponsor of the Andretti Sports Marketing-promoted Grand Prix of Baltimore in 2012 and 2013. The team has a spot open with Ryan Dalziel moving onto Extreme Speed Motorsports in 2014; Dalziel was an endurance race driver at SRT in 2013.

Confirmed IndyCar drivers at the Rolex 24 thus far are Simon Pagenaud at Extreme Speed Motorsports (No. 2 HPD ARX-03b, P), Sebastien Bourdais at Action Express (No. 5 Corvette DP, P) and Ryan Briscoe at Corvette Racing (No. 3 Corvette C7.R, GTLM). Upwards of at least a half dozen more are expected to find rides for the race.

Let the speculation begin. At least until either “RHR” or the team announces.

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.