Alonso pleased with P6 given engine power deficit

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Fernando Alonso has said that he is pleased to have qualified in sixth place for tomorrow’s United States Grand Prix given that the engine in his Ferrari F14 T is down on power this weekend.

Alonso is using an older engine so he can avoid taking a penalty and ensure that he has a fresh power unit saved for the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, which is worth double points.

Despite the power deficit, Alonso said that qualifying sixth was normal for him and Ferrari, so he was pleased with the result.

“We have been around fifth and sixth all year long in qualifying,” Alonso said. “Nothing will change probably now. I think maybe challenging [Daniel] Ricciardo.

“We were a couple of tenths down on the engine. We had some communications there after the Monza engine failure. At the factory we were discussing last week if we should use the sixth engine and start from the pit lane like Red Bull did.

“We’re using a very old engine, with a little bit less power and at least we don’t need to recover places. We chose the second option, so we are missing a bit of performance. Anyway, fifth and sixth is the way it is and I’m quite pleased with that.”

This way, Alonso will not need to follow Sebastian Vettel’s example and start the race from the pit lane.

“We are doing all of these things to avoid taking the sixth [engine],” Alonso said. “Of course, Abu Dhabi we must have no penalty because it’s double points, so if we manage here and we manage in Brazil, in Abu Dhabi we have no penalty plus a good engine. We have a better engine available. Here I can manage the races this weekend.”

Alonso does not think that he can finish on the podium in Austin, believing that Mercedes and Williams are too far ahead at the front of the field.

“I think Ricciardo and Vettel, who was doing competitive long-runs, I think he will be around us tomorrow. The McLarens, they are around us as well. We’ll see. The first four cars, Mercedes and Williams, are a little bit too fast for us if we are realistic. We just need to concentrate on that second race.”

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

Rich Shepherd, ProMotocross
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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.

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