Chilton quietly goes about his business to lead backmarkers

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Max Chilton may not be the highest profile driver in Formula 1 this season, nor the most talented. However, the Marussia racer has proven himself to be one of the most consistent, and as a result currently leads the battle of the backmarkers in 2014.

The Briton has the remarkable record of having finished every single grand prix that he has started, having debuted at the 2013 Australian Grand Prix. Last season, he was overshadowed by Ferrari driver academy teammate Jules Bianchi, but has so far this year had the edge on his teammate.

Chilton has already bettered his best result from 2013 twice this season, finishing 13th in Australia and Bahrain. These results have given Marussia 10th place in the constructors’ championship for the time being as Kamui Kobayashi has just a single 13th place finish for Caterham.

Bianchi – who is widely acknowledged as a future star – has not had much luck so far this year. In Australia, he was forced to sit out the first six laps of the race because of a problem on his car, and despite getting out on track, he was too far behind to be classified. A brake problem forced him to retire in Malaysia, and the safety car in Bahrain worked against him.

In China, Bianchi bounced back to finish as the leading driver from the bottom two teams. Although he did get overtaken by Kobayashi on the final lap of the race, a problem with the checkered flag meant that the result was taken at lap 54.

Despite these results, there is a certain question mark still hanging over Chilton’s capability as a Formula 1 driver. Ferrari is thought to be keen on promoting another junior driver, Raffaele Marciello, into a race seat at some point in the future. That said, having not raced in a car besides the Marussia, Chilton’s ability may have been masked somewhat by the pace of the car.

Time will tell just what Chilton can do in Formula 1. However, so long as he keeps seeing the checkered flag, he will be an asset to Marussia.

Starting lineup grid for IMSA Petit Le Mans: Tom Blomqvist puts MSR on pole position

Petit Le Mans lineup
IMSA
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IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar championship contender Tom Blomqvist put the Meyer Shank Racing Acura at the front of the starting lineup for the Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Road Atlanta.

Blomqvist turned a 1-minute, 8.55-second lap on the 2.54-mile circuit Friday to capture his third pole position for MSR this season. Earl Bamber qualified second in the No. 02 Cadillac for Chip Ganassi Racing.

Ricky Taylor was third in the No. 10 Acura of Wayne Taylor Racing, which enters Saturday’s season finale with a 19-point lead over the No. 60 of Blomqvist and Oliver Jarvis (who will be joined by Helio Castroneves) for the 10-hour race.

PETIT LE MANS STARTING GRID: Click here for the starting lineup l Lineup by car number

PETIT LE MANS: Info on how to watch

With the pole, MSR sliced the deficit to 14 points behind WTR, which will field the trio of Taylor, Filipe Albuquerque and Brendon Hartley in Saturday’s race.

“We really needed to put the car in this kind of position,” Blomqvist said. “It makes our life a little less stressful tomorrow. It would have given the No. 10 a bit more breathing space. It’s going to be a proper dogfight tomorrow. The guys gave me such a great car. It’s been fantastic this week so far, and it really came alive. I’m hugely thankful to the boys and girls at MSR for giving me the wagon today to execute my job.

“That was a big effort from me. I knew how important it was. It’s just awesome for the guys to give them some sort of reward as well. It’s always nice to be quick. If you do the pole, you know you’ve got a quick car.”

Though WTR has a series-leading four victories with the No. 10, MSR won the Rolex 24 at Daytona and has five runner-up finishes along with its three poles.

The strong performances of the ARX-05s ensure that an Acura will win the final championship in IMSA’s premier Daytona Prototype international (DPi) division, which is being rebranded as Grand Touring Prototype in the move to LMDh cars next season.

Taylor qualified third despite sliding into the Turn 5 gravel during the closing minutes of qualifying while pushing to gain points.

“Qualifying was important for points,” Taylor said. “Going into it, if we outqualified the No. 60 Meyer Shank Acura, they had a lot to lose in terms of championship points. So, we were trying to increase the gap over 20 points which would’ve made a big difference for tomorrow. We would have loved to get the pole and qualify ahead of the No. 60, but in the scheme of the points, it didn’t change a whole lot. I’m feeling good since it’s such a long race, and the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura team does such a good job strategizing and putting us in a good position.

“I’m very confident in our lineup and our team compared to them over the course of 10 hours. I’d put my two teammates up against those guys any day. I think we are all feeling optimistic and strong for tomorrow.”

In other divisions, PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports (LMP2), Riley Motorsports (LMP3), VasserSullivan (GTD Pro) and Paul Miller Racing (GTD) captured pole positions.

The broadcast of the 10-hour race will begin Saturday at 12:10 p.m. ET on NBC, moving at 3 p.m. to USA Network.


QUALIFYING

Results

Results by class

Fastest lap by driver

Fastest lap by driver after qualifying

Fastest lap by driver and class after qualifying

Fastest lap sequence in qualifying

Best sector times in qualifying

Time cards in qualifying

PRACTICE RESULTS: Session I l Session II l Session III