IMSA: Muscle Milk Pickett Racing to skip Long Beach, Monterey races

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Muscle Milk Pickett Racing has withdrawn from the next two rounds of the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship at Long Beach and Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, citing a need “to focus on reliability and performance testing with its ORECA Nissan.”

The team said between receiving its car late and not having the necessary amount of time to test, it needed to go through a thorough analysis of the new car (ORECA 03 Nissan), tires (Continental P2-spec, as opposed to Michelin P1-spec) and class (the combined P2/DP Prototype class of the TUDOR Championship). Only the driver lineup of Klaus Graf and Lucas Luhr carried over.

These two lines also stuck out from the team release:

With all of this in mind, the team decided that it was in their best long-term interest to spend the time testing and gathering more knowledge of its new prototype while missing two races before coming back at Detroit at the end of May.

Furthermore, Pickett Racing also wants to study how the balance of performance between the Daytona Prototypes and the P2 cars pans out over the next couple of races.

Team owner Greg Pickett expanded on the decision to sit these two out.

“It’s never an easy decision to make when deciding to miss a race, let alone two. We had an issue at Sebring with the power steering that could have been a safety concern, fortunately it didn’t get to that but we want to make sure that we don’t have such problems again.

“It was a very short off-season for us, we received our car at the end of December and we were racing at the end of January. The team worked hard so we could be at Daytona and Sebring but we feel that we need to take a step back in order to continue moving forward the way we want.

“Additionally, while we did lead some laps at Sebring, the speed differential between the DP cars and the P2s is still quite big and I want to see what the series does with that over the course of the next couple of races, as these will take place at tracks that should favor the P2 cars.

“We came here to be competitive and we know that we have the drivers and the car to do so, but a big part of that competitiveness comes from the balance of performance and you can’t be fighting for wins if you’re not on a level playing field.”

The Long Beach race was always going to be a reduced grid anyway with only the P and GTLM classes, and this drops the projected field of 23 down by 1 to 22.

Pickett’s team has won the last three Long Beach races in the American Le Mans Series.

Sergio Perez wins rain-delayed race in Singapore over Leclerc; Verstappen seventh

Sergio Perez Singapore
Clive Rose/Getty Images,
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SINGAPORE — Max Verstappen’s Formula One title celebrations were put on hold after the Red Bull driver placed seventh at a chaotic Singapore Grand Prix, won by his teammate Sergio Perez on Sunday.

Perez’s second win of the season saw him finish 7.6 seconds ahead of Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, with Leclerc’s teammate Carlos Sainz Jr. in third place.

Perez was investigated for a potential safety car infringement but still kept the win after a 5-second time penalty for dropping too far back after being warned.

Verstappen had won the past five races but needed to win here and finish 22 points ahead of Leclerc to be crowned champion for a second straight season. That could happen next weekend at the Japanese GP.

Verstappen made a mistake after the second safety car restart, following AlphaTauri driver Yuki Tsunoda’s crash on Lap 36. When Verstappen tried to overtake Lando Norris’ McLaren, he locked his tires and needed to pit again.

Leclerc started from pole position with Verstappen going from eighth after a team blunder in qualifying.

The race start was delayed by more than an hour to clear water off the Marina Bay Circuit track following heavy rainfall. Drivers had to finish the 61-lap race within a two-hour window; 59 laps were completed.

Tricky conditions saw the virtual safety car deployed three times and DRS was allowed with about 30 minutes remaining.

Perez made a good start and jumped past Leclerc while Verstappen dropped several places. The first safety car was on Lap 8 when Zhou Guanyu’s Alfa Romeo was cut off by Nicholas Latifi’s Williams.

Perez got away cleanly at the restart, while Verstappen climbed into seventh behind Fernando Alonso – whose 350th F1 race ended disappointingly when his engine failed on Lap 21, bringing out the first VSC.

With the track still damp, drivers decided against changing to quicker tires – apart from Mercedes’ George Russell, who struggled for grip.

Hamilton made a rare mistake on Lap 33 and thudded into the crash barrier. Soon after, the leading drivers changed tires in a flurry of stops. They did so just before the safety car was deployed again following Tsunoda’s error.

Verstappen overtook Sebastian Vettel’s Aston Martin right at the end for seventh place.