Kvyat the big winner in F1’s latest silly season drama

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Daniil Kvyat has become the surprise winner of silly season’s latest plot twist as the 2015 Formula 1 driver market begins to take shape.

It was confirmed this morning that four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel would be leaving Red Bull after six seasons with the team and over 15 years with links to the brand.

The German driver is widely expected to join Ferrari, replacing Fernando Alonso at Maranello as he goes in search of a new challenge.

Despite only being informed of Vettel’s decision last night, Red Bull was quick to put its contingency plan in place, confirming that Kvyat – who only made his debut at the beginning of 2014 – would be drafted in from Toro Rosso as a replacement.

Kvyat’s rookie season has not yielded a huge number of points, but the Russian has put in some very impressive displays. He boasts an attitude that reaches beyond his 20 years, and is the ‘next big thing’ in Red Bull’s young driver programme.

Few would have expected him to enjoy such a swift promotion, but Kvyat feels that he is ready to race at the highest level in F1.

“Yes, I’m confident I am [ready],” he said. “Obviously Red Bull rely on me. They show certain trust by making this decision, which I really appreciate.

“This kind of decision is taken because they know what kind of driver I am, and I will do my best to prove them right.”

Kvyat had been due to enjoy a second season with Toro Rosso alongside 17-year-old Max Verstappen, but has now freed up a seat at Red Bull’s B-team that looks set to be taken by Carlos Sainz Jr.

Meyer Shank Racing wins Petit Le Mans to take final DPi championship in dramatic finale

Petit Le Mans championship
IMSA
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Meyer Shank Racing outdueled Wayne Taylor Racing to win the Petit Le Mans and clinch the championship in the final race for the DPi division.

Tom Blomqvist, who started from the pole position, drove the No. 60 Acura ARX-05 to a victory over Pipo Derani in the the No. 31 Action Express Cadillac.

With co-drivers Oliver Jarvis and Helio Castroneves, Blomqvist helped MSR bookend its victory in the Rolex 24 at Daytona by winning the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season finale at Michelin Road Atlanta.

In between those two victories, the No. 60 earned five runner-up finishes to stay in the thick of the championship hunt and trail WTR’s No. 10 Acura by 14 points entering Saturday’s race.

WTR’s Filipe Albuquerque had a lead of more than 10 seconds over Blomqvist with less than 50 minutes remaining in the 10-hour race.

But a Turn 1 crash between the Chip Ganassi Racing Cadillacs brought out a yellow that sent both Acuras into the pits from the top two positions.

Though he entered in second, Blomqvist barely beat Albuquerque out of the pits, and he held the lead for the final 45 minutes.

Albuquerque closed within a few car lengths of Blomqvist with 14 minutes remaining, but he damaged his suspension because of contact with a GT car in Turn 1.

It’s the third consecutive runner-up finish in the points standings for Wayne Taylor Racing.

Kamui Kobayashi finished third in the No. 48 Cadillac of Action Express that also includes Jimmie Johnson and Mike Rockenfeller.

The podium showing marked Johnson’s last scheduled race in IMSA’s top prototype division. The seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion has raced in the No. 48 Ally Cadillac lineup as the Action Express entry has run the Endurance Cup races.

With the rebranding of DPi to GTP for the new LMDh cars, Johnson said a lack of inventory will preclude him having a 2023 ride in the top category. But he still is hopeful of racing the Garage 56 Next Gen Camaro in next year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans and possibly running in a lower class for the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

“I’d love to be at Le Mans next year,” Johnson told NBC Sports’ Dillon Welch after his final stint Saturday. “I’d love to be at the Rolex 24. The series is going through a shake-up with the reconfiguration of the rules and classes, so I don’t have anything locked down yet, but I’m so thankful for this experience with Action. The support Ally has given us, Mr. Hendrick, Chad Knaus, all of Hendrick Motorsports. It’s been a fun two years, and I certainly hope I’m on the grid again next year.”