From GP3 to F1, it’s been quite a year for Daniil Kvyat

Leave a comment

It’s been an incredible 12 months for Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat. The 20-year-old Russian has gone from racing in GP3, generally regarded as the third tier on the ladder to F1, to securing a drive with Red Bull Racing, the team that had won the last four world championships until 2014.

Kvyat’s debut season in F1 has been an impressive one, even if it hasn’t yielded a huge number of points. His performances have been good enough to secure him a drive at Red Bull for 2015 after Sebastian Vettel exercised his option to walk away from the team at the end of the season.

In fact, it was only at last year’s United States Grand Prix that Kvyat first took part in an F1 weekend session, running in FP1 for Toro Rosso in Austin. So how have things changed for him?

“It’s only one year since my debut here,” Kvyat said on Thursday in Austin. “It seems like not such a long period but many things have happened. Everything is happening fast, but I think it’s better than it happening slow.

“F1 teaches you everything in the fast and hard way. After a lot of races this year, I think I did mature in some way.”

Kvyat feels that, as with any racing series, he has been learning right the way through his debut Formula 1 season.

“Of course, in any category you have something to learn – in F1 as well,” he said. “In every category things like tires, fuel consumption, just driving the car more on the limit because it’s a different car.

“The same happened for me in F1. I just had to come here and learn all the details of this championship and do my best job. It’s looking quite okay.”

The Circuit of the Americas is a favorite track for many drivers, and Kvyat also likes the layout in Austin despite the immense challenge being posed.

“It’s cool. The first section is very flowing, very interesting, lots of high-speed corners,” he said. “Then there is a bit more of a twisty last sector where you have to be careful and not good too hard on everything.

“It’s very easy to overdrive. It’s an interesting track with an interesting layout. I enjoyed driving here last year and I will this year as well.”

NBC/NBCSN SCHEDULE FROM UNITED STATES GRAND PRIX

Eli Tomac, Ken Roczen’s two-man battle in Motocross provides surprises

Rich Shepherd, ProMotocross
Leave a comment

The 2019 Motocross season is one-third in the books and the title battle may have already come down to a two-man contest, while the pair of contenders might just be a little surprising in their own way.

Strictly by the numbers, no one can count Eli Tomac’s early season charge of first- and second-place finishes shocking, but threepeating in Motocross is such an incredibly difficult feat that no one would have been surprised to see him struggle out of the gates either. And in fact, that is precisely what happened.

Tomac came out of the gates slow in Round 1 and was seventh by the end of Lap 1 of Moto 1 – hardly the auspicious start he hoped for. He rebounded only as far as fourth and that ultimately cost him a chance to win the overall. Tomac won Moto 2 to claim second overall.

In Round 2, Tomac found his rhythm and won both Motos and grabbed the red plate. For the moment, he had the momentum with three consecutive Moto wins.

Tomac stumbled again in Round 3 – this time finishing only fifth in Moto 1 and earning only 16 points to dig a deep hole that eventually surrendered the red plate to Ken Roczen.

It was at Thunder Valley in Round 3 that a pattern emerged. Tomac would not make it easy on himself early in the day, but was more than capable of winning the second Motos to overcome his deficit.

That Roczen has won this season is also not a surprise in itself. Many believed his ascent to the top step of the podium was way overdue.

That he has run so well, however, was not entirely expected at the start of the season. Since injuring both arms in a pair of accidents, Roczen came tantalizingly close to snapping his winless streak a dozen times. He won heat races during the Supercross season and finished second at Anaheim I, Minneapolis, Dallas, and Seattle earlier this year.

He just couldn’t secure the overall win.

Roczen’s Moto 1 victory at Hangtown might have been the precursor to another disappointing weekend, but once Tomac got into the lead, Roczen zeroed in on the Kawasaki’s back tire and finished second in route to the overall victory.

Roczen lost the overall and the red plate to Tomac in Round 2 at Pala, but he stood on the podium in both Motos. Roczen podiumed twice again in Round 3 while taking that overall victory to regain the red plate in what has become a seesaw affair in the early part of the 2019 season.

Last week, Roczen looked more like Tomac with his desperate struggle in Moto 1 and sixth-place finish. That was the first (and so far only) time this season that he failed to stand on the podium.

Roczen’s Moto 2 win last week was just enough to put him second overall with barely enough points to force a tie at the top of the leaderboard with 176 points apiece.

Meanwhile, Tomac failed to win either Moto with a third in the first race and runner-up finish in the second.

The moral victory and advantage may shift to Roczen this week.

As they have swapped the victory in the first four rounds with Roczen winning the odd-numbered events, he sees this weekend’s Round 5 as an opportunity.

“I’m looking forward to next weekend’s race,” Roczen said in a team press release. “The track is sandy. It’s very similar—actually almost identical—to what I ride on a regular basis at home.”

Tomac and Roczen enter Round 5 with a 32-point advantage over two riders tied for third in the standings.

So far Zach Osborne and Jason Anderson have not been in the same league as the leaders, but it only takes one slip of the wheel to fall out of the points in in a race and allow these racers to close the gap.

Season passes can be purchased at NBC Sports Gold.

Follow Dan Beaver on Twitter