Can anyone trouble the Mercedes drivers in Canada?

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Another Saturday, another pole position and front row lockout for Mercedes. Business as usual. Nico Rosberg snatched pole position away from Lewis Hamilton by just 0.079 seconds when the checkered flag fell, with Sebastian Vettel finishing as the ‘best of the rest’ – some six-tenths of a second further back.

Surely, once again in Canada, we look set for a Mercedes runaway? The added gusto of the German marque’s power unit is particularly crucial here with the long back straight at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, so maybe its advantage will be even greater? Williams – also powered by Mercedes – proved in qualifying that it could make it a clean sweep for the engine supplier on the podium this weekend, relying that Valtteri Bottas or Felipe Massa can beat the Red Bulls from fourth and fifth on the grid.

Pole man Nico Rosberg certainly believes that the fight for the race win will once again be between himself and Lewis Hamilton.

“I expect that it’s going to be between the two of us for now, yes,” he said after qualifying. “But of course there can be surprises so we need to still make sure we push, but I think we have enough of a gap at the moment on race pace.”

Hamilton, on the other hand, remains wary of the likes of Red Bull and Williams.

“I don’t think it’s just between the two of us,” the Briton began. “Obviously in qualifying Sebastian wasn’t as close as perhaps he would like to be but the race pace was great in the last race so I anticipate tomorrow they [Red Bull] should be quite strong.

“We definitely cannot disregard Sebastian or Red Bull. I think we need to be very cautious still, and make sure that we keep pushing.”

Mercedes’ race pace in practice was consistently quicker than that of both Red Bull drivers, so Hamilton’s comments may be more about him erring on the side of caution and not wishing to get too complacent. In reality, though, the fight for the race win in Montreal – and with it, the championship lead – will be an all-Mercedes affair.

Travis Pastrana leads flag-to-flag in Nitro Rallycross as the series returns to America

Pastrana Nitro Rallycross
Barry Chin / Getty Images
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Travis Pastrana waited until the final trip around ERX Motor Park to take his Joker Lap – a longer way around the course that all drivers must do at least once in a race – and came out cleanly to win his first Nitro Rallycross race of 2022. With this win, Pastrana is the third driver to visit Victory Lane in the first three rounds of the 2022-23 season.

“This is the closest to a motocross track,” Pastrana told Katie Osborne on Peacock. “Thank you so much for a beautiful facility. It’s been a rough start to the season and I’m so thankful to be back out here. We had a good run in the side-by-side and now for this. This is much needed.”

Another thing needed was the sense of improvement. And Pastrana earned that affirmation each time he completed a lap around the course.

“I get my lap times read out and they said ‘fastest time of the week,’ ‘fastest time of the week’ (each time around) ” Pastrana said. “This is really special. We’re a long way behind in the championship, but welcome to America.”

In a pre-race press conference, Pastrana said that as Nitro Rallycross heads back to America, it was time for an American to win and he made good on his promise. Pastrana took the early lead over Robin Larsson and let the back of his Subaru hang out, taking risks he might not otherwise take if not for his need to win.

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Larsson’s second-place finish completed a perfect sweep of the podium in three rounds. In fact, he has not yet finished worse than second after winning the opening round at Lydden Hill in the United Kingdom and finishing second at Strangnas in Sweeden.

Fraser McConnel rounded out the podium for his best result of the season. He finished fourth in each of the first two rounds.

Last year, Pastrana finished second in this race to Scott Speed before narrowly edging his teammate for the championship.

Andreas Bakkerud crashed in prelims, but rebounded to finish just off the block in fourth. Bakkerud won the second round ahead of his teammate Larsson.

Oliver Bennett completed the top five.

Minneapolis is the first of three rounds scheduled in the United States. Next on the schedule is Glen Helen, Calif. on Octo 30 and then Phoenix at Wild Horse Pass on November 12th. Nitro Rallycross will then head to Saudi Arabia in December to continue their 2022-23 season.