Rosberg delighted with “awesome” pole position at Spa

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Nico Rosberg spoke of his happiness following his charge to pole position in the wet conditions at Spa today in qualifying for tomorrow’s Belgian Grand Prix.

The German driver edged out Mercedes teammate and championship rival Lewis Hamilton in the wet conditions on Saturday afternoon, finishing two-tenths of a second ahead at the top of the timesheets.

Speaking in the post-session press conference, Rosberg spoke of the challenge that the weather posed throughout the session, with rain falling at various stages, warranting intermediate tires to be used throughout the session.

“It’s awesome, definitely,” Rosberg said. “At this track, it’s one of the most special tracks of the year. To be in front here is great.

“Not quite as difficult out there as on some other occasions, because the conditions were pretty much always intermediates, just varying slightly so that made it a little bit easier today.

“But still, it’s always difficult at this track in the wet. I’m really really happy. The car was handling well. Together with my engineers, we really fine tuned everything and got there in the end. So yeah, I was really feeling comfortable and was able to push, so fantastic, but it’s only qualifying… a long race tomorrow.”

Rosberg and Hamilton locked out the front row of the grid for the first time since the Canadian Grand Prix back in June, and the gap to the rest of the field was over two seconds, with Sebastian Vettel finishing as the best of the rest in third place.

“It’s amazing to see that, how quick our car is,” Rosberg said. “It was really great. Just Lewis and I to focus on, which is a bit easier too. A really impressive car.”

As the two drivers duel for the 2014 world title, the result of tomorrow’s race at Spa could be important in swinging momentum one way or another after the summer break. For now though, it is Rosberg who can revel in the glory of pole position at the most classic of F1’s classic circuits.

You can watch the Belgian Grand Prix live on NBCSN and Live Extra from 7.30am ET tomorrow.

NHRA: Dodge/Mopar to unveil new Charger SRT Hellcat Funny Car today in Denver

Photos/video courtesy Dodge/Mopar
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If you’re a fan of NHRA Funny Car racing and Dodge/Mopar, you may notice something different at this weekend’s Dodge Mile-High NHRA Nationals at Bandimere Speedway in suburban Denver, Colorado.

Two-time (2011 and 2014) NHRA Funny Car champ Matt Hagan – who has won the last two NHRA national events in the last four weeks – will be piloting a newly-designed 2019 Mopar Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat, a 10,000-horsepower Funny Car that makes its debut today at Dodge/Mopar’s premier NHRA national event.

The new Charger SRT Hellcat succeeds the former Mopar Dodge Charger R/T, which had been in use since 2015.

“We improved on the body design,” Hagan said of the new Charger Hellcat. “It was already a great design, a great body. But now, we’re going to have a little more downforce, a little more traction on these racetracks and it will be a huge performance advantage.”

The new Hellcat includes a number of innovations, including a new front splitter to increase downforce. Just like its predecessor, the R/T, the Hellcat will go head-to-head with Chevrolet’s Camaro in the NHRA Funny Car ranks.

“We will be able to press harder with more downforce on the nose, which translates into huge amounts of downforce on the run,” Hagan said.

According to a media release, the new Hellcat features major design changes in three key areas: the front end, bodysides and burst panel placement:

* “At the front, the shape of the nose has been tweaked and a new splitter (photo), built of carbon fiber and Kevlar like the rest of the Funny Car body, has been added. The splitter substantially mimics the look and shape of the production vehicle’s splitter while generating greater downforce to help plant the Funny Car to the track.

* “Bodyside scallops have been redesigned to more closely identify with the production Hellcat while also enhancing on-track function and performance. The deeper character lines provide greater visual ties to the street version of the Hellcat, while also helping to mitigate the “body burn” common on all Funny Cars due to the close positioning of the exhaust headers.

* “The location of the burst panel on the hood has also been reworked. The panel is now centered over the top of the engine to more efficiently release energy and pressure in the event of engine issues, a common occurrence in race cars that are pushed to the razor’s edge of performance.”

Since the R/T was first introduced into the Don Schumacher Racing corps, it has gone on to 50 wins, 42 runner-up finishes and 40 No. 1 qualifiers in NHRA national events and one NHRA Funny Car World Championship (Ron Capps, 2016).

The new Charger SRT Hellcat, which can exceed 330-plus mph and covers 1,000 feet in under four seconds, is the drag strip version of the supercharged, 707-horsepower production Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat, the quickest, fastest and most powerful sedan in the world.

While Hagan will drive the first Hellcat, his other three Dodge-powered DSR teammates – Capps, Jack Beckman and Tommy Johnson Jr. – will soon take delivery of their own versions of the car over the remaining 11 races of the 2018 season.

One day after winning two weeks ago at Norwalk, Ohio, Hagan and crew chief Dickie Venables put the new Hellcat through its paces with several test runs. The results were so strong that it was decided to debut the car at Denver and run all qualifying and elimination rounds with it.

“We made four good, solid runs in testing at Norwalk,” said Hagan. “We put the body through a lot of different things and were really, really pleased with it.

“I really think it’s going to translate over to performance on the race track, and hopefully more win lights in the future.”

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