Recurring engine issue sidelines Button again in Barcelona

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After having its Thursday running cut short by a problem with the seal on its MGU-K component, McLaren was sidelined yet again on Saturday as the issue reared its head for a second time.

Jenson Button could manage just 11 laps on Thursday as a result of the problem, but was sidelined again today as his car ground to a halt after just 80 minutes of running, warranting a red flag.

The 2009 world champion was brought back to his garage where the team found that a repeat problem with the MGU-K had caused the stoppage.

“After the morning session, we found similar issues to Thursday,” a tweet from the team read. “We will now resume testing this afternoon with limited power to the MGU-K.

“A new re-engineered seal is scheduled to arrive and will be applied later this evening.”

Button eventually got back out on track with 90 minutes remaining in the day, finishing with 24 laps down in ninth place on the timesheets, and explained to the media after the running that he was disappointed to have lost more track time.

“I’d be very happy to do 59 laps,” Button said, referring to Fernando Alonso’s tally on Friday. “Today wasn’t my day to do 59 laps. A tough day. I haven’t really driven this car in anger yet. I did one new tire run this morning that was cut short and did one on Thursday, and that’s it. It’s been a tough test for me personally.

“In terms of information, yesterday was good. We gained a lot of information in terms of direction of the car and the setup which was great.

“There were some positives in terms of moving forward for Melbourne, but not so positive for me in terms of putting laps under my belt and seeing what this car can do.”

Button will get his next chance to drive the MP4-30 in anger next week in Barcelona, with Alonso closing out the second test at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya tomorrow.

Travis Pastrana leads flag-to-flag in Nitro Rallycross as the series returns to America

Pastrana Nitro Rallycross
Barry Chin / Getty Images
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Travis Pastrana waited until the final trip around ERX Motor Park to take his Joker Lap – a longer way around the course that all drivers must do at least once in a race – and came out cleanly to win his first Nitro Rallycross race of 2022. With this win, Pastrana is the third driver to visit Victory Lane in the first three rounds of the 2022-23 season.

“This is the closest to a motocross track,” Pastrana told Katie Osborne on Peacock. “Thank you so much for a beautiful facility. It’s been a rough start to the season and I’m so thankful to be back out here. We had a good run in the side-by-side and now for this. This is much needed.”

Another thing needed was the sense of improvement. And Pastrana earned that affirmation each time he completed a lap around the course.

“I get my lap times read out and they said ‘fastest time of the week,’ ‘fastest time of the week’ (each time around) ” Pastrana said. “This is really special. We’re a long way behind in the championship, but welcome to America.”

In a pre-race press conference, Pastrana said that as Nitro Rallycross heads back to America, it was time for an American to win and he made good on his promise. Pastrana took the early lead over Robin Larsson and let the back of his Subaru hang out, taking risks he might not otherwise take if not for his need to win.

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Larsson’s second-place finish completed a perfect sweep of the podium in three rounds. In fact, he has not yet finished worse than second after winning the opening round at Lydden Hill in the United Kingdom and finishing second at Strangnas in Sweeden.

Fraser McConnel rounded out the podium for his best result of the season. He finished fourth in each of the first two rounds.

Last year, Pastrana finished second in this race to Scott Speed before narrowly edging his teammate for the championship.

Andreas Bakkerud crashed in prelims, but rebounded to finish just off the block in fourth. Bakkerud won the second round ahead of his teammate Larsson.

Oliver Bennett completed the top five.

Minneapolis is the first of three rounds scheduled in the United States. Next on the schedule is Glen Helen, Calif. on Octo 30 and then Phoenix at Wild Horse Pass on November 12th. Nitro Rallycross will then head to Saudi Arabia in December to continue their 2022-23 season.