WEC: Hulkenberg impresses on debut, finishing sixth

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Nico Hulkenberg enjoyed a successful debut in the FIA World Endurance Championship on Saturday at Spa-Francorchamps by fighting back to finish sixth in the no. 19 Porsche alongside Earl Bamber and Nick Tandy.

Hulkenberg has decided to combine his duties in Formula 1 with two races in the WEC for Porsche in 2015, taking part in the 6 Hours of Spa and the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

After months of testing, the German enjoyed his first endurance start at Spa on Saturday after qualifying in second place on the grid as part of a Porsche 1-2-3 at the front of the grid.

Tandy took the start in the no. 19, but dropped down the order following a crash with Porsche Team Manthey GT driver Kevin Estre in the first hour of the race.

Hulkenberg took over after 34 laps, and remained in the car for over an hour as Porsche looked to bring its car back up the order. The German doubled stinted his tires before handing the 919 Hybrid car over to Earl Bamber, who managed to lift the car up into sixth position after both Audi and Toyota hit trouble.

At the front of the field, Porsche’s no. 18 crew once again fought for the win with the no. 7 Audi, but was unable to catch up in the closing stages of the race, eventually crossing the line 13.4 seconds behind in second place.

Capping off a good weekend at Spa for Porsche was the no. 17 car of Mark Webber, Brendon Hartley and Timo Bernhard in third place. Hartley had been leading for the team in the early stages of the race, but an electrical problem and time penalty dropped the car down the order before fighting back to P3 at the flag.

“That was an extremely exciting and turbulent race for us,” Fritz Enzinger, Porsche’s LMP1 vice-president said. “At the beginning we had a one-two-three lead before an unlucky accident, but with the two podium finishes and sixth we have achieved our target to finish the race with all three cars.

“We were absolutely up to speed. The result speaks for itself when first and the second are separated by only a few seconds after a six-hour race. We also once again made progress in terms of reliability. We are on the right path for Le Mans and look forward to the great challenge.

“I take my hat off to the entire team – especially to the third crew and our three new drivers. They integrated themselves into the team very well and were competitive right from the beginning.”

Hulkenberg will now return to action in Formula 1 with Force India at next weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix.

Supercross: Husqvarna’s Jalek Swoll and Malcolm Stewart out with injury

Swoll Stewart injury
Feld Motor Sports/MX Sports Pro Racing/Align Media
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Jalek Swoll and Rockstar Energy Husqvarna teammate Malcolm Stewart sustained injury in separate crashes late last week. Stewart missed Anaheim 2 and Swoll will not mount up for the 250 East season opener in Houston on February 4.

“Spent all of yesterday in the ER and today getting surgery so haven’t been able to make an update post,” Swoll posted on Instagram. “Spiral fractured my humorous yesterday and was lucky enough to get into surgery today. Absolutely heartbroken that I couldn’t show all the hard work me, [Mike Brown], [Aldon Baker], and [Joel Perez] were working on truly felt like this year was going to a big one with massive improvements we made but I guess it just wasn’t my time.”

The team announced on Instagram that Swoll underwent successful surgery to repair a broken bone in his arm, sustained in a practice crash on Friday. After missing the division opener, no further timeline has been given for his return.

Swoll made eight starts in the 250 West division last season with a best finish of fifth. In 2021, he scored his first SuperMotocross win in the outdoor Pro Motocross season at High Point Raceway in Mount Morris, Pennsylvania.

Stewart missed Anaheim 2 due to a practice injury. Likewise, the team did not announce a timetable for Stewart’s return.

He showed a lot of speed in the first two rounds before accidents eliminated him from contention in both rounds. He finished 16th at Anaheim 1 and 15th in San Diego, putting him in a points’ deficit that was already going to be difficult to overcome.

Stewart entered the 2023 season with a ton of confidence and believed all he needed was to stack his chips the right way to get this year’s championship.

Husqvarna is now represented by RJ Hampshire in the 250 West division and Christian Craig in 450s.

Hampshire had a rough weekend in Anaheim 2 and finished 11th in the overall standings after scoring a last place result in Race 2 with a bike sidelined by crash damage and a 13th in Race 3 after another fall.

Craig has not yet scored a top-10 on his 450 with a best of 11th at San Diego and Anaheim 2.

The news of these two injuries comes on the heels of the Pro Circuit Kawasaki team losing three of their four 250 riders.

Last week, Pro Circuit Kawasaki announced Seth Hammaker would miss the season opener with a wrist injury. Almost immediately, it was announced Jo Shimoda would also miss the 250 East opener with a shoulder injury.

Chris Blose will serve as a replacement rider in the 250 East division with Carson Mumford scheduled to replace the injured Austin Forkner in the West.