Preparation key for all-rookie Toro Rosso line-up in 2015

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Following today’s launch of the new STR10 car, Toro Rosso drivers Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz Jr. have spoken about the preparations for their debut seasons in Formula 1.

Verstappen, 17, and Sainz, 20, combine to form the youngest driver line-up in the history of Formula 1, but both have cut their teeth in junior formulae and met some success.

Sainz won last year’s Formula Renault 3.5 championship, following in Kevin Magnussen’s footsteps, but he has undertaken an intensive training regime over the winter to embed himself with the team at Faenza.

“I am very happy to be making my first official appearance as a Formula 1 driver here in Spain and I am looking forward to trying the car for the first time tomorrow,” Sainz said. “I have worked very hard over the winter on my personal fitness, as well as spending time in Faenza to familiarise myself with the team, having also done some days in the simulator.

“Now we have just 12 days to prepare for Melbourne, so going through all the race weekend procedures will be a priority for me, as well as putting in as many miles as possible behind the wheel.”

Verstappen’s rise to Formula 1 has been a controversial one. At the age of 17, he has just one full year of single seater racing under his belt, taking part in last year’s FIA F3 European Championship.

Concerns about his inexperience have led to a raft of new rules for obtaining an FIA super licence required to race in F1, yet Verstappen says that he feels well prepared to make his full F1 debut.

“I can’t wait for the season to start and tomorrow will seem like a very long day, watching Carlos in the car!” Verstappen said. “With two days in the 2014 car at the Abu Dhabi test and the Friday mornings I did last season, combined with time spent in the simulator, I feel well prepared and I’m really up for this challenge, which is very exciting.

“Six days on track here in Spain and then it will be time to head for Australia and my first Grand Prix, something I have been looking forward to ever since I started karting.”

Sainz will conduct the first public run of the new Toro Rosso car in Jerez tomorrow before handing the reins over to Verstappen on Monday.

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