NBC F1 announcers, producer revel in Monaco GP history, storylines

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Being in the right place at the right time couldn’t have been more appropriate when NBC Sports Group announcers Leigh Diffey and David Hobbs took part in a Wednesday morning teleconference from Monaco.

Let’s let Diffey, who will handle play-by-play duties on Sunday’s telecast, tell the story of a very busy Wednesday morning in preparation for Sunday’s Formula One Monaco Grand Prix:

“(There’s been an) amazing buzz here today. We’ve been waiting for it for a very long time. The now two-time World Champion Lewis Hamilton has finally signed a contract to stay at Mercedes Benz AMG. He’s done a three-year deal in excess of $100 million. Literally, the call just came from the drivers press conference.

“Lewis, in kind of Hollywood style, walked in with a big gold necklace and gold sunglasses. I guess (he) looked like somebody who signed a more than $100 million contract. It was so fitting to have that announcement here in the place where he lives, just the pizazz that surrounds Lewis Hamilton now. That’s one of the many story lines we’ll be bringing you this weekend.

“Obviously the overwhelming one is his rivalry with his teammate Nico Rosberg who happens to live in the same building as he does here in Monaco. Of course, Nico has his own story going with three wins. Without going on too long, there’s a lot of excitement that’s so fitting for it all to be happening here in Monaco.”

This is the third year that NBC will televise the Monaco Grand Prix live. Viewership of NBC Sports Group’s coverage of F1 is up nearly 10 percent thus far this season.

NBC Sports Group motorsports producer Rich O’Connor spoke about how special both televising the event – as well as its unique location – has been for both the network and himself.

“I’ve been involved with various forms of motorsports for over 15 years now,” O’Connor said. “(I) have worked the Daytona 500, the Indianapolis 500. This is my third Monaco Grand Prix.

“I remember walking away from the first one we did a couple of years ago. It’s just one of those events that truly lives up to all the hype that goes into it. It’s an amazing scene over here.

“It goes on for four plus days. It’s just an incredible event. We’re pleased to be a part of it. What we try and do is we try and give as much sense of place to the telecast, tell the story of the race, because it truly is a very special event.

“When you walk around the streets here, walk a lap, it’s pretty incredible what this sport has done on the streets of this small city for a very long time.  The history goes on and we’re proud to be a part of it.”

Sunday is the biggest day in racing in the world each year. It starts with the Grand Prix, then the Indianapolis 500 and ends with NASCAR’s Coca-Cola 600.

NBC Sports Group F1 Analyst and David Hobbs truly particularly appreciates the history of the Grand Prix.

“Obviously the racing itself here is quite extraordinary,” Hobbs said. “This track was first raced on in 1929, then after the war in 1950 when the modern day Grand Prix started, they started here, and they’ve had one ever since.

“The track is pretty much (the) identical layout to what it was back in 1929. They modified it a bit 20 years ago to go around the new swimming pool. But other than that it’s exactly the same.”

This race also brings out not just the average F1 fan, but the well-heeled as well.

“I went to a luncheon at the new yacht club today,” Hobbs said. “British Racing Drivers Club had a luncheon there. As I walked back, there’s a row of boats, every one of which must be worth at least $50 million. Just seeing the supplies delivered to those boats for the weekend is quite extraordinary.

“Boxes and boxes of Moet Chandon champagne, all the best drink in the world you can buy. This is one of the few tracks, all these people, they can sit on their boat. And if they’re on the tail end of their boat, they are literally 30 feet from the track, one of the fastest parts of the track. … The big question on everyone’s lips is can Nico Rosberg be one of the drivers to win this race three times in a row.”

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Houston Supercross by the numbers: Five riders begin to gap the field


Chase Sexton stumbled in San Diego and Eli Tomac had a hard fall in Anaheim 2, but the Monster Energy Supercross numbers for Houston suggest they will continue to be the ones to beat in Houston. To do so, they will have to turn back challenges from another pair of riders who have swept the top five in the first three rounds and another with a worst finish of sixth.

Houston Supercross numbers
Cooper Webb’s ability to close races makes him a Houston favorite. – Feld Motor Sports

Despite an accident in his heat in San Diego that sent him to the Last Chance Qualifier (LCQ), Sexton recovered to score a top-five that weekend. His podium finish in Anaheim 1 and overall win last week in Anaheim 2 makes him one of the three riders with a perfect top-five record. He is joined by Cooper Webb, who finished second in the first two rounds and fourth last week, and Ken Roczen, whose consistency in the first three races contributed to him grabbing the top spot in this week’s NBC Supercross Power Rankings.

There are reasons to believe Webb and Roczen can keep those streaks alive.

Webb is the only multiple winner at Supercross’ current Houston stadium. His pair of wins came in 2019 and 2021, the same year he won his two 450 championships.

Clinton Fowler points out this week, that Webb has carried that strength into 2023. Webb had a late surge in Anaheim 1, advancing from fifth to second in the final six laps. In San Diego, he set his ninth fastest lap with two to go and his eighth fastest on the final lap. He posted his fastest lap of Anaheim 2 on Lap 12 while the rest of the field did so on Lap 6 on average.

By comparison, Tomac set his 14th fastest lap on the final circuit in route to winning the Main at San Diego while he was trying to keep Webb at bay.

With a sixth at San Diego, Dylan Ferrandis barely missed sweeping the top five in his first three races as did Tomac with a sixth last week at Anaheim 2.

This will be the 46th year Supercross has visited Houston and with 55 races the city is tied for the second-most with Detroit.

Jim Pomeroy won the first race in the Astrodome during the inaugural season of 1974 on a 250, which was the premiere class at the time. Houston was one of three races held that year along with events at Daytona International Speedway and the Los Angeles Coliseum. All three venues return in 2023 with the first SuperMotocross championship finale returning to the famed LA Coliseum in September.

Webb won most recently in 2021 in the final race of three held there that year as the series executed a strategy of racing in residencies to limit travel during height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Tomac and Justin Barcia also won in Houston in 2021.

Two privateers have started the season on a high note.

Joshua Cartwright and Joshua Varize have each made the last two Mains. Cartwright finished 18th in San Diego and 21st last week in Anaheim 2 – all while working fulltime as a Business Intelligence Analyst at the University of Texas, Dallas. Varize earned a top-15 (12th) in San Diego and was 21st in Anaheim 2 in his third season on a 450.

Michael Mosiman scored his first 250 win last year in San Diego. – Feld Motor Sports

The numbers show none of the active 250 Supercross East riders have won in Houston, so no matter who steps on top of the box, there is going to be a fresh face. That is not surprising since most of the top competitors have not raced at this venue yet.

Michael Mosiman has a pair of top-fives there, however. His best finish was a second in the second 2021 race. Garrett Marchbanks scored a top-10 in his rookie season of 2019 in Houston.

In the 250 East division, Hunter Lawrence is one of the favorites to win the title now that Christian Craig has moved to 450s. Last year he had four wins and nine podiums, but failed to set a fast lap in a race.

The other 250 riders with 2022 wins this week are Mosiman, who earned his first Supercross win last year in San Diego, and Nate Thrasher, who became the fifth new class winner at Daytona.

Jeremy Martin will attempt to extend a record this week in Houston. His division leading SuperMotocross podiums number 65. He has 26 wins in the combined sessions, which ranks fourth all time.

Last Five Houston Winners

2022, no race
2021, Race 3: Cooper Webb
2021, Race 2: Eli Tomac
2021, Race 1: Justin Barcia
2020, no race
2019, Cooper Webb
2018, Jason Anderson

2022, no race
2021, Race 3: Colt Nichols
2021, Race 2: Jett Lawrence
2021, Race 1: Christian Craig
2020, no race
2019, Dylan Ferrandis
2018, Aaron Plessinger

By the Numbers

Anaheim 2
San Diego

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