Canadian GP Paddock Notebook – Saturday

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Who would have thought it? Nico Rosberg snatching pole position away from Lewis Hamilton at the Briton’s favorite circuit? Ouch. How will that go down in the Mercedes garage?

Given that things are apparently okay between the two now, it will probably be alright. Just as Lewis said in the post-qualifying press conference, “Nico just did a better job today so I need to work hard to make sure I do better tomorrow”. That’s the kind of attitude we like to see in our racing drivers.

It was certainly a busy day at the circuit, so here’s the latest paddock notebook from the Canadian Grand Prix.

SESSION REPORTS

  • The final say in practice did in fact go to Hamilton, and the margin by which he gapped the rest of the field on the slower tire was phenomenal. It didn’t seem like he could be beaten…
  • …but then Nico did exactly that. The German driver produced a fine final lap in Q3 to snatch pole position away from the Briton. Williams and Red Bull both put in an impressive display, while Ferrari and McLaren struggled.

NEWS FROM THE PADDOCK

THOUGHTS FROM THE TRACK

Nico beating Lewis? Who would have thought it? In the media centre, it was a common assumption that Hamilton would bag his fifth pole position of the season. After all, this is his circuit; he always goes well around here. However, a mistake heading down to the hairpin meant that he lost a fraction of time. Unfortunately for him, said fraction was enough to cost him pole to Rosberg. Thankfully, we had none of the theatrics of Monaco. Lewis simply held his hands up and said that Nico was quicker.

What we do have is a cracking fight for the win tomorrow, though. The run into the first corner will be massive for the result of the race, and even though he might start from second, the smart money will still be on Lewis Hamilton. As Nico proved today, though, he is not to be discounted.

The battle further back is a little more complex. Williams turned out to be the dark horse of qualifying, with Valtteri Bottas finishing fourth ahead of Felipe Massa. The two drivers both will be hoping to convert this into a strong double score tomorrow, whereas Red Bull will want the Martini-liveried cars to have as much trouble as possible. Daniel Ricciardo was his smiley self after qualifying, but he made no secret of his annoyance after having missed out on P3 by less than half a tenth of a second.

At Ferrari, Kimi Raikkonen was once again anonymous in the final session, and Fernando Alonso once again dragged the car to just seventh on the grid. Fighting with Red Bull and Williams might be a bit of a long shot for the prancing horses tomorrow.

Finally, a few thoughts on Gene Haas’ comments to NBCSN about his F1 team. It’s fantastic that we will have an American team on the grid in 2016, and if there’s an American driver (not mentioning any names… Alexander Rossi), that would be awesome. That’s why I find his comments about Danica Patrick being a candidate confusing.

Sure, Danica would be very marketable, and yes, she does have open wheel experience. However, she would be 34 by the time the team makes its debut. A 34-year-old rookie in F1? It goes against the idea of nurturing the next generation of drivers, one of whom has to be Rossi. Of course, this debate will rumble on until Gene signs a deal with his drivers, which probably would’t be for another 12 to 18 months yet.

Race day tomorrow promises to be a fascinating one. Be sure to watch the Canadian Grand Prix live on NBC from 2pm ET, with build-up starting on NBCSN from 1:30pm ET.

Houston Supercross by the numbers: Five riders begin to gap the field

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Chase Sexton stumbled in San Diego and Eli Tomac had a hard fall in Anaheim 2, but the Monster Energy Supercross numbers for Houston suggest they will continue to be the ones to beat in Houston. To do so, they will have to turn back challenges from another pair of riders who have swept the top five in the first three rounds and another with a worst finish of sixth.

Houston Supercross numbers
Cooper Webb’s ability to close races makes him a Houston favorite. – Feld Motor Sports

Despite an accident in his heat in San Diego that sent him to the Last Chance Qualifier (LCQ), Sexton recovered to score a top-five that weekend. His podium finish in Anaheim 1 and overall win last week in Anaheim 2 makes him one of the three riders with a perfect top-five record. He is joined by Cooper Webb, who finished second in the first two rounds and fourth last week, and Ken Roczen, whose consistency in the first three races contributed to him grabbing the top spot in this week’s NBC Supercross Power Rankings.

There are reasons to believe Webb and Roczen can keep those streaks alive.

Webb is the only multiple winner at Supercross’ current Houston stadium. His pair of wins came in 2019 and 2021, the same year he won his two 450 championships.

Clinton Fowler points out this week, that Webb has carried that strength into 2023. Webb had a late surge in Anaheim 1, advancing from fifth to second in the final six laps. In San Diego, he set his ninth fastest lap with two to go and his eighth fastest on the final lap. He posted his fastest lap of Anaheim 2 on Lap 12 while the rest of the field did so on Lap 6 on average.

By comparison, Tomac set his 14th fastest lap on the final circuit in route to winning the Main at San Diego while he was trying to keep Webb at bay.

With a sixth at San Diego, Dylan Ferrandis barely missed sweeping the top five in his first three races as did Tomac with a sixth last week at Anaheim 2.

This will be the 46th year Supercross has visited Houston and with 55 races the city is tied for the second-most with Detroit.

Jim Pomeroy won the first race in the Astrodome during the inaugural season of 1974 on a 250, which was the premiere class at the time. Houston was one of three races held that year along with events at Daytona International Speedway and the Los Angeles Coliseum. All three venues return in 2023 with the first SuperMotocross championship finale returning to the famed LA Coliseum in September.

Webb won most recently in 2021 in the final race of three held there that year as the series executed a strategy of racing in residencies to limit travel during height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Tomac and Justin Barcia also won in Houston in 2021.

Two privateers have started the season on a high note.

Joshua Cartwright and Joshua Varize have each made the last two Mains. Cartwright finished 18th in San Diego and 21st last week in Anaheim 2 – all while working fulltime as a Business Intelligence Analyst at the University of Texas, Dallas. Varize earned a top-15 (12th) in San Diego and was 21st in Anaheim 2 in his third season on a 450.

Michael Mosiman scored his first 250 win last year in San Diego. – Feld Motor Sports

The numbers show none of the active 250 Supercross East riders have won in Houston, so no matter who steps on top of the box, there is going to be a fresh face. That is not surprising since most of the top competitors have not raced at this venue yet.

Michael Mosiman has a pair of top-fives there, however. His best finish was a second in the second 2021 race. Garrett Marchbanks scored a top-10 in his rookie season of 2019 in Houston.

In the 250 East division, Hunter Lawrence is one of the favorites to win the title now that Christian Craig has moved to 450s. Last year he had four wins and nine podiums, but failed to set a fast lap in a race.

The other 250 riders with 2022 wins this week are Mosiman, who earned his first Supercross win last year in San Diego, and Nate Thrasher, who became the fifth new class winner at Daytona.

Jeremy Martin will attempt to extend a record this week in Houston. His division leading SuperMotocross podiums number 65. He has 26 wins in the combined sessions, which ranks fourth all time.

Last Five Houston Winners

450s
2022, no race
2021, Race 3: Cooper Webb
2021, Race 2: Eli Tomac
2021, Race 1: Justin Barcia
2020, no race
2019, Cooper Webb
2018, Jason Anderson

250s
2022, no race
2021, Race 3: Colt Nichols
2021, Race 2: Jett Lawrence
2021, Race 1: Christian Craig
2020, no race
2019, Dylan Ferrandis
2018, Aaron Plessinger

By the Numbers

Anaheim 2
San Diego

More SuperMotocross coverage

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Power Rankings after week 3
Malcom Stewart out for “extended duration” after knee surgery
Haiden Deegan makes Supercross debut in Houston, Justin Cooper to 450s
Talon Hawkins set to relieve injured Jalek Swoll in Houston
Jalek Swoll out for an indefinite period with broken arm
Ken Roczen urgently needed a change
Chris Blose joins Pro Circuit Kawasaki in 250 East opener
Seth Hammaker to miss Houston with wrist injury
Jo Shimoda joins Seth Hammaker, Austin Forkner on injured list
Injury sidelines Austin Forkner for remainder of 2023 SX
Chase Sexton wins Anaheim 2 in 450s; Levi Kitchen takes 250s
Results and points from Anaheim 2