Taylor wins Petit Le Mans as TUDOR champions are crowned

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10:00 p.m. ET: Petit Le Mans powered by Mazda is in the books.

Easiest way to breakout the end of this race, for now, is just by listing the respective winners and champions:

  • Race winners: P, Wayne Taylor Racing (Jordan and Ricky Taylor, Max Angelelli; No. 10 Corvette DP); PC, Starworks Motorsport (Renger van der Zande, Mirco Schultis, Alex Popow; No. 8 Oreca FLM09); GTLM, Team Falken Tire (Bryan Sellers, Wolf Henzler, Marco Holzer, No. 17 Porsche 911 RSR); GTD, Paul Miller Racing (Bryce Miller, Christopher Haase, Matt Bell, UK, No. 48 Audi R8 LMS)
  • Driver champions: P, Joao Barbosa and Christian Fittipaldi (No. 5 Action Express Racing Corvette DP); PC, Colin Braun and Jon Bennett (No. 54 CORE autosport Oreca FLM09); GTLM, Kuno Wittmer (No. 91/93 SRT Motorsports Dodge Viper SRT GTS-R); GTD, Dane Cameron (No. 94 Turner Motorsport BMW Z4 GT3)

Sean Rayhall was released from the medical center following an accident with 20 minutes to go. Rayhall, who was leading in PC, was contacted by Tracy Krohn in his Ferrari F458 GT. It put the race under its 13th and final full course caution, which took up nearly three hours of the race.

7:10 p.m. ET: Two hours to go. The biggest shift since the last update was a major accident for Spencer Pumpelly in the No. 45 Flying Lizard Audi R8 LMS, capping a miserable day at the office for driver and team.

Christian Fittipaldi (P), Tom Kimber-Smith (PC), Wolf Henzler (GTLM) and Christopher Haase (GTD) lead the race as we head toward the finish.

P and PC season titles have been decided while the GTLM and GTD champs are still to be determined.

4:45 p.m. ET: We were now past the halfway mark. The WTR Corvette in the hands of the Taylor brothers and now Max Angelelli continues to lead, with Sebastien Bourdais and Scott Dixon, a pair of IndyCar champions, giving chase.

The herd has been thinned in PC, with PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports and RSR Racing in win contention. The second Porsche (No. 912) and Corvette (No. 4) have emerged ahead of the chaos in GTLM while in GTD, the Turner BMW is battling the pair of Alex Job Racing Porsches.

The latter battle is not only one for the race, but for the GTD class championship.

Thus far there have been 10 full-course yellows, one off the mark set at Sebring earlier this year.

2:40 p.m. ET: Since I last wrote, we’ve gone yellow. And we’ve gone yellow again. And we’ve gone yellow some more.

Past the three hour and 20 minute mark, we’ve had seven full-course yellows. It’s hard to keep track of all of them.

Jordan Taylor still leads overall with RSR Racing 1-2 in PC. Patrick Long lead GT Le Mans with Ben Barker leading in GT Daytona.

Perhaps the most interesting development has come in GT Le Mans. There was a three-way moment of contact in the pits that took the GTLM-championship contending No. 3 Corvette C7.R out of contention. The No. 911 Porsche 911 RSR and No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari F458 Italia also suffered damage, and Risi’s Ferrari was retired.

12:30 p.m. ET: The first hour is in the books at the 17th Petit Le Mans powered by Mazda. Ricky Taylor led in the No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing Corvette DP overall.

Two yellow flags flew, the first for a spin by the 8Star Motorsports PC car at Turn 7 and the second for a stopped No. 73 Park Place Motorsports Porsche 911 GT America on the exit of Turn 10.

Briefly, the DeltaWing led overall in its home race by virtue of running a longer first stint. Meanwhile the other non-DP of note in the Prototype field, the No. 42 OAK Racing Ligier JS P2 Honda, made a charge from 47th to sixth by Alex Brundle but lost three laps on the first pit stop with its engine cover off. It’s been a troubled weekend for the team, which has had to make two engine changes.

Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez and Formula One embrace the United States

Verstappen Perez United States
Fatih Aktas/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
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Last week, Red Bull Racing revealed its new car, the RB19, and a new relationship with Ford Motor Co. in an event in New York City complete with drivers Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez and team principal Christian Horner.

It’s the first Formula 1 team to launch in the United States for 2023, but even that small move of the needle reflects a major shift in the attitude of both F1’s management and their teams – and the extent to which the American audience has fully embraced the sport.

“It’s something fantastic and unique, for the sport to be able to break it into the U.S,” Perez told NBC Sports. “The market is huge and it’s a huge opportunity for everyone involved, for the drivers, for the team. It’s always a huge market.”

Verstappen Perez United States
Sergio Perez finished fourth in the Unites States Grand Prix, but he was first with the fans.  – Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

In 2023, Formula 1 will race three times in the United States and five times in North America. The Circuit of the Americas will host their 11th consecutive race in October before heading south to Mexico City. Miami returns for a second time in May on a temporary street course around the Hard Rock cafe and the third addition is in downtown Las Vegas in November.

With the Canadian Grand Prix on the schedule for June and the Brazilian Grand Prix in November, American fans are now in the ballpark of Europeans, who have eight events on the continent and one in England.

In 2022, Verstappen won every race in North America. He was kept from sweeping the hemisphere only by George Russell, who won in Brazil. That fact is less remarkable when one considers that Verstappen won 15 times in the season – nearly two-thirds of the races on the schedule.

By the time Formula arrived in Austin, Texas, for Round 20 of 23, Verstappen already had wrapped up his second consecutive championship.

“Sometimes it can be hard to replicate the season, but I think it’s the same as with the car, right? You always try to improve it,” Verstappen told NBC Sports. “And I always look at the little details that even when you have had a good race, you could have done better. And then of course you also learn from the bad races. So we always try to look for these little improvements and general experience you gain year after year.

“You try to do better, but of course it also depends a lot on the package you have.”

Verstappen Perez United States
Max Verstappen United States Grand Prix win was one of 15 for the drivers and 17 for Red Bull.
(Gongora / NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Now Verstappen’s thoughts inevitably will turn to establishing a dynasty, and America will again play a pivotal role.

“I just enjoy what I’m doing,” Verstappen said.  “After the years in Formula One, when you have to be on top of your game and you gain a lot on your experience – in that sense nothing really can get to you anymore. Every year you just try to do the best you can. But a lot depends on the material around you. It’s always a bit of a guess. Start the season as fit as you can be and be well prepared. But if you don’t have the car, you’re not going to win the championship.”

Perez added two wins to Red Bull’s total, at Monaco and the Marina Bay Street course. With two of the US 2023 races on street courses, Perez hopes to close the gap on Verstappen and potentially be his chief rival for the championship.

“The strategy is clear; it is to maximize the potential of the car – and we believe we have a good car, but how good?,” Perez said “We don’t know what the competition is doing. We just give our best in building this car and we hope that it’s good enough to get us to win races.

“I think we have to work together as a team. At the same time. We both want to win the championship. It’s just having good compromise. The competition will be really strong out there, so we really need everything we possibly can get from each other.”

Formula One returns to the United States for Round 6 and the Miami Grand Prix on May 7.