Perez “extremely motivated” for new F1 season

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Following a solid first season with Force India in 2014, Sergio Perez is feeling extremely motivated for the new Formula 1 season and believes that the team’s hunger can take it further up the grid.

Perez was dropped by McLaren after just one season at the end of 2013, but found refuge at Force India in a move that he told MotorSportsTalk was a “blessing in disguise”.

The Mexican driver finished on the podium in just his third race for the team in Bahrain, and eventually finished tenth in the championship ahead of his McLaren replacement Kevin Magnussen.

For 2015, Perez says that he feels rejuvenated after taking the winter off, telling the team’s website that he is raring to go for the new season.

“It’s always important for me to take a break from my normal routine and return to Mexico to recover from the season,” Perez said. “I have been doing some training, but the main priority is always to relax a bit and have some quiet days with my family.

“It’s good to have a holiday, but I have missed sitting in my Formula 1 car. It is the best feeling in the world and I can’t wait to try my new car. My motivation is extremely high.”

Despite not matching the points haul of teammate Nico Hulkenberg in 2014, Perez feels that he embedded himself within the team and has forged a good relationship with his crew, boding well for the new year.

“I learned how to work in a different environment and to make the most of every resource available to me,” Perez said when asked to reflect on 2014. “As soon as I arrived I could see huge potential and I knew we could achieve great things if we continued working with the same approach.

“Everybody knows their job and all the energy is focused on taking the team forward,” he added. “I saw the emotion in Bahrain when we finished on the podium.

“It gave everybody a taste of success, and we want to experience it again and again. I believe the hunger here is as strong as in any other team.”

Perez will get his first taste of the new Force India car, the VJM08, at the second pre-season test in Barcelona next month.

Starting lineup grid for IMSA Petit Le Mans: Tom Blomqvist puts MSR on pole position

Petit Le Mans lineup
IMSA
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IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar championship contender Tom Blomqvist put the Meyer Shank Racing Acura at the front of the starting lineup for the Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Road Atlanta.

Blomqvist turned a 1-minute, 8.55-second lap on the 2.54-mile circuit Friday to capture his third pole position for MSR this season. Earl Bamber qualified second in the No. 02 Cadillac for Chip Ganassi Racing.

Ricky Taylor was third in the No. 10 Acura of Wayne Taylor Racing, which enters Saturday’s season finale with a 19-point lead over the No. 60 of Blomqvist and Oliver Jarvis (who will be joined by Helio Castroneves) for the 10-hour race.

PETIT LE MANS STARTING GRID: Click here for the starting lineup l Lineup by car number

PETIT LE MANS: Info on how to watch

With the pole, MSR sliced the deficit to 14 points behind WTR, which will field the trio of Taylor, Filipe Albuquerque and Brendon Hartley in Saturday’s race.

“We really needed to put the car in this kind of position,” Blomqvist said. “It makes our life a little less stressful tomorrow. It would have given the No. 10 a bit more breathing space. It’s going to be a proper dogfight tomorrow. The guys gave me such a great car. It’s been fantastic this week so far, and it really came alive. I’m hugely thankful to the boys and girls at MSR for giving me the wagon today to execute my job.

“That was a big effort from me. I knew how important it was. It’s just awesome for the guys to give them some sort of reward as well. It’s always nice to be quick. If you do the pole, you know you’ve got a quick car.”

Though WTR has a series-leading four victories with the No. 10, MSR won the Rolex 24 at Daytona and has five runner-up finishes along with its three poles.

The strong performances of the ARX-05s ensure that an Acura will win the final championship in IMSA’s premier Daytona Prototype international (DPi) division, which is being rebranded as Grand Touring Prototype in the move to LMDh cars next season.

Taylor qualified third despite sliding into the Turn 5 gravel during the closing minutes of qualifying while pushing to gain points.

“Qualifying was important for points,” Taylor said. “Going into it, if we outqualified the No. 60 Meyer Shank Acura, they had a lot to lose in terms of championship points. So, we were trying to increase the gap over 20 points which would’ve made a big difference for tomorrow. We would have loved to get the pole and qualify ahead of the No. 60, but in the scheme of the points, it didn’t change a whole lot. I’m feeling good since it’s such a long race, and the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura team does such a good job strategizing and putting us in a good position.

“I’m very confident in our lineup and our team compared to them over the course of 10 hours. I’d put my two teammates up against those guys any day. I think we are all feeling optimistic and strong for tomorrow.”

In other divisions, PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports (LMP2), Riley Motorsports (LMP3), VasserSullivan (GTD Pro) and Paul Miller Racing (GTD) captured pole positions.

The broadcast of the 10-hour race will begin Saturday at 12:10-3 p.m. ET on NBC, moving at 7 p.m. to USA Network. Peacock will have flag-to-flag coverage.


QUALIFYING

Results

Results by class

Fastest lap by driver

Fastest lap by driver after qualifying

Fastest lap by driver and class after qualifying

Fastest lap sequence in qualifying

Best sector times in qualifying

Time cards in qualifying

PRACTICE RESULTS: Session I l Session II l Session III