Massa: Japanese GP was “the worst race of my life”

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Felipe Massa has called last weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix the worst race of his life following Jules Bianchi’s accident in the final few laps at Suzuka.

Bianchi crashed into a recovery vehicle being used to remove Adrian Sutil’s stricken Sauber, suffering severe head injuries and a diffuse axonal injury that has left him in a critical condition in hospital.

The Formula 1 paddock has arrived in Sochi for this weekend’s Russian Grand Prix under a cloud, with all thoughts lying with Bianchi and his family at this difficult time.

Speaking in today’s FIA press conference, Massa, who himself suffered a severe head injury at the 2009 Hungarian Grand Prix, spoke about his feelings following the accident.

“I think it was the worst race of my life,” the Williams driver said. “It’s a really bad race, worse than the race of my accident – because I didn’t remember. It was the worst race of my life.

“It’s so difficult because I can just be thinking about him, thinking about Jules. It’s a very difficult weekend for all of us.

“Maybe tomorrow it will get a little bit better because at least you are working, at least you have something to think about, some issue put inside your brain. Try to race and do the best we can for him, for his family. But anyway, it was the worse race of my life.”

However, Massa said that incidents such as this do not make him reconsider racing in Formula 1 despite the inherent risks.

“Well, for sure you think about it, but it doesn’t mean that’s the right thing to do,” Massa said. “What I love to do is to race. What I love to do is to be competing. That’s where I feel happiness. That’s where I feel pleasure.

“We know that in what we’re doing we have a risk in this sport, but I think it’s what I like to do. It’s where I really feel happy, it gives me motivations and give me some happiness.

“Sometimes you think about it but then you’re thinking more and you understand that this is my world, this is what I like to do.”

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

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

Tom Blomqvist, who started from the pole position, drove the No. 60 Acura ARX-05 to a 4.369-second victory over Pipo Derani in the No. 31 Action Express Cadillac.

“That was incredible,” Blomqvist told NBC Sports’ Matt Yocum. “I’ve never dug so deep in my life. The adrenaline. I did that for the guys. I was so motivated to win this thing this weekend. But I’ve got to thank everyone on the whole team.”

With co-drivers Oliver Jarvis and Helio Castroneves, Blomqvist helped MSR bookend its season-opening victory in the Rolex 24 at Daytona by winning Saturday’s 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.

Blomqvist said he gained the lead because of a shorter fuel fill after he had worked on being efficient in the second-to-last stint.

“The team asked a big job of me with the fuel; I had a big fuel number to hit,” Blomqvist said. “We knew that was probably our only chance. The yellow came at the right time and obviously we had a bit less fuel to fill up, so I was able to jump him and then it was just a matter of going gung-ho and not leaving anything on the line. And obviously, the opposition had to try too hard to make it work. I’m so thankful.”

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 first prototype championship for Meyer Shank Racing, which also won the 2021 Indy 500 with Castroneves.

“We’ve had in the last four years, three championships for Acura, the Indy 500 win and the Rolex 24, it doesn’t get any better,” team co-owner Mike Shank told NBC Sports’ Kevin Lee.

It’s the third consecutive runner-up finish in the points standings for Wayne Taylor Racing, which won the first Daytona Prototype international championship in 2017. The premier category will be rebranded as the Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) class with the LMDh cars that will establish a bridge to racing in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

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.

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.”