F1: Briatore hypes up Baku, while Bernie shoots down Magny-Cours

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Former Benetton and Renault team boss Flavio Briatore (pictured, left, with his wife at last weekend’s Monaco Grand Prix) was a driving force in bringing Formula One to Azerbaijan in 2015, and the Italian is keen to push the country’s capital of Baku as a tremendous setting for a Grand Prix.

“It’s very close to Europe, the city is amazing – it’s like a little Dubai,” Briatore told Reuters in Monte Carlo. “And more importantly, everything is new.

“The heart of the town is renovated completely so you have the flavor of the old days and of the oil money. The hotels are amazing, the facilities for your guys is super. It’s very nice.”

F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone confirmed earlier this month that a deal has been signed with officials in Azerbaijan. The street race in Baku will be a direct replacement for the Korean Grand Prix, which has been dropped from the calendar along with the Indian Grand Prix.

Meanwhile, it appears that those hoping for a return of the French Grand Prix will be disappointed.

The country currently boasts three F1 drivers in Romain Grosjean, Jean-Eric Vergne, and Jules Bianchi, but has not had its own Grand Prix since 2008.

The French round had run at Magny-Cours, and recent French media reports have said that the track’s head was in negotiations with Formula One Management about reviving the race next year.

But Ecclestone has coolly shot down that prospect. When asked about going back to France, he replied: “No.”

“They’ll knock at the door but I don’t think we can do anything,” he added to Reuters.

Supercross: Talon Hawkins to debut in Houston in relief of Jalek Swoll

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Talon Hawkins, 19, will make his Monster Energy Supercross debut on a 250 this week in Houston, Texas as a fill-in rider for Jalek Swoll.

During the Anaheim 2 weekend, the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna team announced Swoll underwent successful surgery to repair a broken arm suffered in a practice crash.

That same weekend, Hawkins made some noise. He took the lead from teammate Casey Cohran on Lap 2 of the 250 SX Futures Main and led for three laps before he was overtaken by eventual winner Daxton Bennick. Cochran also got around him to push Hawkins to third.

This will not be Hawkins SuperMotocross professional debut, however; he made three Lucas Oil Pro Motocross starts last year with results of 19th at Spring Creek in Millville, Minnesota, 27th at Ironman in Crawfordsville, Indiana and a best finish of 17th in the season finale at Fox Raceway in Pala, California.

Hawkins also has a top-10 finish in the 125 All-Star division at Pala in 2019 riding a Husqvarna.

Speaking with RacerXOnline.com before the Loretta Lynn Amateur Nationals, Hawkins predicted his future with Husqvarna would come down to how he performed in that race.

“It all just comes down to how I perform at Loretta’s,” Hawkins said. “Say I do really well, I get a top three in both classes and do a pretty solid job, I would like to go pro and just kind of finish out the rest of the series. But there’s also the option of waiting a little bit longer, going back out to [Aldon] Baker’s [Factory] or going anywhere and training, and just being prepared. I’m also open to that too. Honestly, it’s whatever the team wants. Whatever we think is the best option is what we’re going to go with. So, I don’t really have a plan right now, just looking into the future.”

Hawkins finished third overall in the 125 B/C and Schoolboy divisions at the Loretta Lynn Amateur Nationals.