Alonso: Updates drawing McLaren closer to mid-pack

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Fernando Alonso’s hopes of scoring his first points since re-joining McLaren for the 2015 season took a boost during practice for the Chinese Grand Prix on Friday as the team finished on the fringes of the top ten.

Since switching to Honda power units for the 2015 season, McLaren has struggled to complete much extensive running due to teething problems with the new MP4-30 car.

From the two races so far in 2015, the team has suffered three retirements and recorded just one finish as Jenson Button finished as the last classified driver in Australia.

Coming to China for this weekend’s race, both Button and Alonso were upbeat about the progress being made by McLaren, and this was justified in FP2 at the Shanghai International Circuit as they finished P10 and P12 respectively.

“It’s been a very positive Friday for us,” Alonso said. “I enjoyed both sessions. We completed our aero programme during the morning, and then focused on set-up work this afternoon.

“All the updates we brought here seem to be working as we’d expected, and they’ve put us closer to the mid-pack. It’s very encouraging to see that we’re moving firmly in the right direction. It’s a question of time as to when we’ll become competitive.

“While it’s been great today to run in the middle of the pack – and I want to be able to maintain that sort of progress – we need to keep our feet on the ground. We saw in the first two races that the others tend to take a step forward in qualifying, so we’ll see what happens tomorrow.”

McLaren racing director Eric Boullier urged caution upon seeing the team’s Friday results, but was pleased with the progress that has been made since the last race in Malaysia.

“While we won’t get carried away with seeing both cars finish this afternoon’s session in respectable positions, it’s always encouraging to see signs of positive progress,” Boullier said.

“As we witnessed in Malaysia a fortnight ago, we’re continuing intensively to develop and improve MP4-30, and today’s sessions proved to be no exception. Indeed, both Fernando and Jenson were reasonably happy with their cars’ balance, and our engineers will look to refine that tonight.

“Tomorrow, we’ll acquire a much clearer read of our rivals’ respective performance once we get into qualifying. But, for the moment, it’s nice to see that we’re continuing to take some good steps forward with both the chassis and the power unit.”

Qualifying for the Chinese Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and Live Extra from 3a ET on Saturday.

Beta Motorcycles joins SuperMotocross in 2024, Benny Bloss named first factory rider

Beta Motorcycles 2024 Bloss
Beta Motorcycles
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Benny Bloss will race for the factory Beta Motorcycles team in 2024 as that manufacturer joins SuperMotocross as the ninth brand to compete in the series. Beta Motorcycles will make their debut in the Monster Energy Supercross opener at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, California in January.

Benny Bloss finished among the top 10 twice in Pro Motocross, in 2016 and 2018. – Beta Motorcycles

“The wait is over and we can finally share everything we have been working towards,” said Carlen Gardner, Race Team Manager in a press release. “It has been a great experience being a part of this development and seeing the progression. The only missing part was finding a rider that would mesh well with our Beta Family.

“After a one phone call with Benny, we knew it would be a good fit for him, and for us. We are happy to have him on board for the next two years and can’t wait to see everyone at Anaheim in January.”

Bloss debuted in the 450 class in 2015 with a 15th-place finish overall at Ironman Raceway in Crawfordsville, Indiana.

Bloss has a pair of top-10 rankings in the division with a sixth-place finish in the Pro Motocross Championship in 2016 and a seventh in 2018. His best Supercross season ended 15th in the standings in 2018.

“I’m extremely excited to join the Beta Factory Racing team,” Bloss said. “It’s cool to see a brand with such a rich history in off-road racing to come into the US Supercross and Motocross space. I know this team will be capable of great things as we build and go racing in 2024.”

Bloss is currently 22nd in the SuperMotocross rankings and has not raced in the first two rounds of the Motocross season.

Testing for Beta Motorcycles is scheduled to begin in August and the team expects to announce a second rider at that time.

The family-owned brand adds to the international flare of the sport. The company was founded in Florence, Italy in 1905 as Società Giuseppe Bianchi as they built handmade bicycles, The transition to motorcycle production in the late 1940s.

Beta Motorcycles competed and won in motocross competition in the late 1970s and early 1980s with Jim Pomeroy and other riders.

Beta will join Triumph Motorcycles as a second historic brand to join the sport in 2024. First established in 1902, Triumph has won in nearly every division they have competed in, dating back to their first victory in the 1908 Isle of Man TT. Triumph will debut in the 250 class in 2024 and plans to expand into 450s in 2025.