Perez entering Bahrain GP weekend with low expectations

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Sergio Perez may have finished on the podium at last year’s Bahrain Grand Prix for Force India, but the Mexican has very low expectations entering this weekend’s race after a difficult start of the season for the team.

After encountering financial difficulties that delayed the debut of the new VJM08 car until the final winter test, Force India has scored just seven points in the opening three races of the year.

By this point in 2014, it had 44 points under its belt, with Perez scoring just the second podium finish in the history of the team at the Bahrain Grand Prix after finishing behind the duelling Mercedes duo of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg.

However, Perez knows that a repeat is not on the cards in 2015. Instead, he is hoping to simply run a good race and get his car up into the points.

“Obviously it was great to remember that day,” Perez said, reflecting on last year’s race. “It was a fantastic day, a fantastic race for me.

“It was really difficult to make it onto the podium, as it was a very intense race all the way through. Generally, I have been doing well [here]. The year before I did quite well at this track, so I think I get on with the track quite nicely.

“Unfortunately we are not in a similar position to dream about a podium for this weekend but I think, hopefully, we can score some points and make a great improvement.

“I think we managed to do a good step in China, we just finished out of the points, so I hope that here we can score some points.”

Force India is expected to introduce a raft of upgrades part way through the European season, but Perez is unsure where this will put the team in the pecking order.

“Everyone is improving all the time and everyone is bringing upgrades,” Perez said. “We are not the only ones who are going to bring them but we really have identified our issues with the car, our weaknesses, so in that respect it should put us a lot better.

“I think if we can solve the general issue of the car, the main weakness of the car, then it can be a really good step that can put us in a really good position to be a constant points scorer.”

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.