Stevens: Manor making big strides in China

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Will Stevens is poised to make his first start for Manor Marussia F1 Team in tomorrow’s Chinese Grand Prix after comfortably qualifying for the race on what proved to be a trouble-free Saturday for the Briton.

After Manor failed to get either of its cars out on track in Australia, Stevens was unable to start the Malaysian Grand Prix due to a fuel system issue that limited the team to running just one car.

However, the Briton outqualified teammate Roberto Merhi by eight-tenths of a second in China on Saturday, and is hoping to see the flag in the race tomorrow.

“It’s always good to feel progress being made and we’ve been making big strides from session to session here,” Stevens said. “There’s still a long way to go but the progress over the past three weekends is clear for everyone to see.

“The trouble-free practice sessions have really helped us to find a rhythm that has enabled us to make the right set-up changes. The car felt good and I was pretty happy with my lap, so we go into tomorrow in a comfortable position.

“I’m eager for my first race distance in the car and plenty more data to help the team develop, so fingers crossed we can have a good race.”

Team principal John Booth is looking forward to seeing both of the Manor cars racing on track together tomorrow, in what will be another landmark achievement for the revived Marussia operation.

“Today’s qualifying represents another good step for us, with both Will and Roberto posting times well within 107% and edging closer towards our real targets,” Booth said. “It has been a bonus for us to enjoy trouble-free sessions, enabling us to develop the set-up of the cars, extract more of the performance and translate this into a clear improvement in pace.

“Both drivers are doing an excellent job, pushing themselves hard at a time when they are effectively still learning. We’re looking forward to seeing them racing together tomorrow.”

The Chinese Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and Live Extra from 1:30a ET on Sunday.

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