Maldonado charges to best F1 qualifying result of 2014

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Pastor Maldonado has his best chance of the year to score some points in tomorrow’s United States Grand Prix after qualifying in 11th place on Saturday at the Circuit of The Americas.

The Lotus driver produced an impressive pace in the first session to ease through to Q2, and fell less than one-tenth of a second shy of making it into the top ten.

He will however start the race from 10th place due to Jenson Button’s five-place grid penalty.

“It wasn’t too bad, much better than usual,” Maldonado said when asked about his qualifying performance by MotorSportsTalk. “We did our best. It seems like the car is much better here. This is positive, especially looking forward to the next season.

“Maybe it’s a step forwards, maybe we are learning more about the car, maybe the track is better for our car. I think we worked quite well. The car as you know is not the most competitive one in the paddock. I tried to pull that altogether. Today in FP3 we were quite competitive, so not too bad. I’m quite happy.”

However, Maldonado refused to say with certainty that he will be in the race for points tomorrow given that he has failed to score any points so far this year, but he feels that he is in a strong position to break this duck in Austin.

“Let’s do our best,” he said. “Races are never down to one side. We need to value what is going on around with other people, the other teams’ strategies are very important now. It seems like it’s going to be more than one stop not as usual. We’ll see tomorrow.

“The track is getting better and better, which is better strategy-wise. We are in a good position for tires, which is quite positive, so we’ll see.”

Maldonado’s teammate, Romain Grosjean, will start the race from P16 after failing to make it out of Q1 in Austin.

NBC/NBCSN SCHEDULE FROM UNITED STATES GRAND PRIX

Eli Tomac’s near-perfect season ended perfectly

ProMotocross.com
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From the start, Eli Tomac wanted to go into the season-ending race at Ironman Raceway with the 2020 red plate already in his possession. That final race has been know to devolve into muddy conditions and it is best not to leave things to chance.

For a rider with an almost perfect record of overall podium finishes, one would not have thought there would be much drama at the end of Round 11 at Budds Creek, but it took until the last lap of the final moto for Tomac to achieve his goal.

One reason was that Tomac’s near-perfect season was not so perfect. From the very beginning at Hangtown, Tomac struggled with poor starts to his events. Getting a bad jump out of the gate and finishing fourth in Moto 1 that weekend was not the auspicious beginning he wanted in search of his third consecutive 450 outdoor championship.

The hallmark of Tomac’s season has been overcoming bad starts. He rode through the field at Hangtown and nearly stood on the podium. Then he won Moto 2 and finished second overall. It was his first of nine consecutive overall podiums. Tomac came back the following week for a perfect sweep at Pala.

In Round 3, Tomac once again got off to a bad start. He finished fifth in Moto 1 at Thunder Valley – and then won Moto 2 in a duplication of his opening round.

In Round 5, Tomac had his worst performance until that time. He finished seventh in Moto 1. Nearly halfway through the season, a pattern was firmly established with his Moto 2 win.

Vanessa O’Brien, Kawasaki USA

One should recall that the hallmark of Tomac’s season was strong finishes. Four the next four weeks Tomac failed to podium only one time in a moto. On that occasion, he would stumble in Moto 2 at Spring Creek in Round 8 before scoring his second perfect race at Washougal.

And that is where it got interesting. Tomac left Washougal with a 50-point advantage over Marvin Musquin. It was just the scenario Tomac had seesawed his way through the season to achieve. But it was too good to be true.

In most of his previous bad performances, there was an extenuating circumstance for Tomac’s bad start: a fall or an off course excursion. This time, he simply rode an uninspired race and finished seventh again to match his worst single moto performance. He could not fully rebound in Moto 2 and finished third.

For the first time in 2019, Tomac failed to stand on the overall podium in fourth. Worse still, he lost 10 points to Musquin and no longer had his one-race cushion.

But this is a season of recovery for Tomac. At Budds Creek last week it was reported that Tomac’s lackluster performance in Washington was due to his overdoing his chores on his Colorado ranch. Rested and restored, Tomac scored his third perfect race with Moto 1 & 2 wins. And this time, he looked sharper than he had in any previous race.

Tomac did all the could do by winning both motos, but in the closing laps at Budds Creek he needed a little help to clinch the title. As it turned out, Tomac needed the perfect performance to clinch his third consecutive championship.

In Moto 1, he narrowly edged Ken Roczen and Musquin, to give the three championship contenders a sweep of the top three spots; that was not enough to regain his cushion.

Roczen was close enough to force Tomac into The Ironman needing to score points to permanently affix the red plate on his Kawasaki in 2020, but just as Tomac’s season has been marked by second half improvements, Roczen’s has been marred by a lack of performance in the second motos.

Musquin passed Roczen late in Moto 2 last week and could have extended the drama one more week if he could have caught second-place Jason Anderson. Musquin could not erase an 11-second deficit to the runner-up and now Tomac’s almost perfect season has a distinctly perfect feel to it.

Vanessa O’Brien, Kawasaki USA

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