MotorSportsTalk 2015 Rolex 24 at Daytona Sunday blog

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12:20 p.m. ET – We’re set up for the final sprint.

In P, the showdown is between the No. 02 Ganassi Riley-Ford, and No. 10 Taylor and No. 5 Action Express Corvette DPs. Ganassi expects Scott Dixon to finish; Jordan Taylor is due to finish in the No. 10 and either Sebastien Bourdais or Joao Barbosa will finish the No. 5.

CORE leads PC with BMW (GTLM) and Riley Viper (GTD) the other class leaders.

Unfortunately for Sage Karam, one of the star drivers of the race, the No. 01 Ganassi car’s win chances have ended due to a reported slipping clutch.

“Right when I left the pits for my third stint of that outing, and right away I just knew,” Karam said. “At first I thought it was just wheelspin on cold tires, but then after that I thought no way this is cold tires anymore. I’ve actually done the same thing in my street car with my clutch, so I knew what it was. I was like, that’s got to be the clutch. So I radioed in and told the guys, and sure enough, that was it. We tried to do different maps to help it out, but ultimately, you couldn’t hang with anybody. We were just too slow, so we had to bring it in and diagnose it.”

10:00 a.m. ET – The Taylor No. 10 has taken the lead on a pit stop sequence, and Andy Lally has hit a possum.

You read that last bit correctly.

See Lally’s tweets below for something that could seemingly only happen to the luckless Magnus Racing.

9:00 a.m. ET – The drama has intensified as the sun has risen in Daytona.

First off the Action Express No. 5 is back on the lead lap and now into the lead after spending less time over the pits in the last couple hours.

Meanwhile in GTLM, the promising Daytona debut for the No. 17 Team Falken Tire Porsche 911 RSR ended in the 18th hour with engine failure. Oliver Gavin in the No. 4 Corvette had contact with a  PC car and then the No. 25 BMW had an off course excursion.

The GTD-contending No. 33 Viper has also had a garage trip and lost more than a dozen laps, to fall out of contention. The sister No. 93 in the hands of race debutante Cameron Lawrence now leads.

CORE’s No. 54 and Corvette’s No. 3 are the PC and GTLM leaders as the race nears the 19-hour mark.

The No. 64 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 458 Italia GT3, another GTD class contender, has had a major incident and is now out of the running as well.

6:15 a.m. ET – Good morning from Sunday at Daytona International Speedway, and no, I have not yet been to sleep… but not too much has happened in the overnight hours (perhaps mercifully) since filing the last update on Saturday.

Basically here’s how things are setting up. It’s a likely three and possible four-horse race in the overall and Prototype class honors between the pair of Chip Ganassi Racing Riley-Fords and No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing. Defending champions Action Express Racing can reenter the fray if they get back on the lead lap, and the No. 5 Corvette DP has already got back two of the three laps it lost in the ninth hour for a connector issue.

In Prototype Challenge, right now, it’s CORE autosport’s to lose. Thus far the 2014 winners have driven a flawless race and nearly all their rivals have either had issues, been to the garage, or lacked the pace.

GT Le Mans could be any of Corvette, BMW or Porsche. The surprise here though is the No. 17 Team Falken Tire Porsche 911 RSR entry being Porsche’s sole win contender after the factory pair took each other out overnight in an odd and strange accident. Ferrari and Aston Martin, too, have seen their three entries out of the race as well.

And the battle could intensify in GT Daytona, too, with both Vipers, both Scuderia Corsa Ferraris, the No. 22 Alex Job Racing Porsche 911 GT America and No. 48 Paul Miller Racing Audi R8 LMS all on the lead lap with six hours to go.

Stay tuned for more here.

SATURDAY RACE BLOG

Miguel Oliveira wins MotoGP Thai Grand Prix, Bagnaia closes to two points in championship

MotoGP Thai Grand Prix
Mirco Lazzari / Getty Images
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Miguel Oliveira mastered mixed conditions on the Chang International Circuit in Buriram, Thailand to win the MotoGP Thai Grand Prix. Oliveira showed the adaptability as he navigated a race that began in wet conditions and turned dry over the course of the race. Oliveira won the Indonesian GP in similar conditions.

“It was a long race, but I can’t complain,” Oliveira said on CNBC. “Every time we get to ride in the wet, I’m always super-fast. When it started raining, I had flashbacks of Indonesia. I tried to keep my feet on the ground, make a good start and not make mistakes and carry the bike to the end.”

All eyes were on the championship, however. Francesco Bagnaia got a great start to slot into second in Turn 1.

Meanwhile Fabio Quartararo had a disastrous first lap. He lost five positions in the first couple of turns and then rode over the rumble strips and fell back to 17th. At the end of the first lap, Bagnaia had the points’ lead by two. A win would have added to the gain and for a moment, it appeared Bagnaia might assume the lead.

Early leader Marco Bezzecchi was penalized for exceeding track limits, but before that happened, Jack Miller got around Bagnaia and pushed him back to third. Oliveira was not far behind.

After throwing away ninth-place and seven points on the last lap of the Japanese GP last week, Bagnaia did not allow the competition to press him into a mistake. He fell back as far as fourth before retaking the final position on the podium.

“It’s like a win for me, this podium,” Bagnaia. “My first podium in the wet and then there was a mix of conditions, so I’m very happy. I want to thank Jack Miller. Before the race, he gave me a motivational chat.”

Miller led the first half of the Thai Grand Prix before giving up the top spot to Oliveira and then held on to finish second. Coupled with his Japanese GP win, Miller is now fully in the MotoGP championship battle with a 40-point deficit, but he will need a string of results like Bagnaia has put together in recent weeks – and he needs Bagnaia to lose momentum.

Miller’s home Grand Prix in Australia is next up on the calendar in two weeks.

Bagnaia entered the race 18 points behind Quartararo after he failed to score any in Japan. The balance of power has rapidly shifted, however, with Quartararo now failing to earn points in two of the last three rounds. Bagnaia won four consecutive races and finished second in the five races leading up to Japan. His third-place finish in Thailand is now his sixth MotoGP podium in the last seven rounds.

Aleix Espargaro entered the race third in the standings with a 25-point deficit to Quartararo, but was able to close the gap by only five after getting hit with a long-lap penalty for aggressive riding when he pushed Darryn Binder off course during a pass for position. Espargaro finished 11th.

Rain mixed up the Moto2 running order in the MotoGP Thai Grand Prix as well. Starting on a wet track, Somkiat Chantra led the opening lap in his home Grand Prix. He could not hold onto it and crashed one circuit later, but still gave his countrymen a moment of pride by winning the pole.

Half points were awarded as the race went only eight laps before Tony Arbolino crossed under the checkers first with Filip Salac and Aron Canet rounding out the podium.

American Joe Roberts earned another top-10 in eighth with Sean Dylan Kelly finishing just outside the top 10 in 11th.