Rosberg closes out Malaysian GP practice fastest

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Nico Rosberg has responded to the pace shown on Friday by Mercedes teammate and championship rival Lewis Hamilton by finishing fastest in the final free practice session ahead of qualifying later today.

The German driver posted a fastest lap time of 1:39.690 in the latter stages of FP3 on Saturday morning in Malaysia, giving him an advantage of 0.184 seconds over Hamilton in the final classification.

With track temperatures at Sepang hitting 60ºC, all of the drivers and teams faced a challenge to keep their cool in FP3 as the final preparations for qualifying were made.

As usual, most of the teams opted to conduct a number of one-lap simulations in the final one-hour session before going for an optimal time just before the flag fell.

On the prime tire, Rosberg held the edge once again ahead of the two Ferrari drivers as the Italian marque continued its strong start to the race weekend in Malaysia.

The German then followed this up by posting the fastest time on the medium compound tire, edging Hamilton out by less than two-tenths of a second.

Ferrari continued to impress on the quicker tire, though, finishing third and fourth as Kimi Raikkonen led home Sebastian Vettel. Both cars finished within six-tenths of Rosberg’s time, suggesting that Ferrari has indeed made progress since Australia and cut the gap to Mercedes.

Williams will once again be hoping to challenge the Italian team in Malaysia, finishing fifth and sixth with Felipe Massa ahead of Valtteri Bottas.

Daniel Ricciardo enjoyed a less stressful session on Saturday to finish seventh as the leading Renault-powered driver in his Red Bull. He was followed by Carlos Sainz Jr. and Max Verstappen in eighth and ninth, whilst Marcus Ericsson put in an impressive display to finish tenth for Sauber.

Qualifying promises to be a close affair in Malaysia, with Rosberg and Hamilton appearing to have more than each other to contend with at the front of the field.

You can watch qualifying for the Malaysian Grand Prix live on NBCSN and Live Extra from 5a ET today.

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 p.m. ET on NBC, moving at 3 p.m. to USA Network.


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