GP2: Rossi storms to pole position in Monaco qualifying

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American driver Alexander Rossi claimed the second pole position of his GP2 Series career in qualifying for the Monaco feature race on Thursday with a supreme display of wet-weather driving.

The Racing Engineering driver posted a fastest lap time of 1:37.019 to claim pole position by six-tenths of a second over Arthur Pic, having set the pace throughout the second part of qualifying in Monaco on Thursday afternoon.

In order to avoid congestion out on track, the GP2 qualifying session was split into two groups of 13 drivers. Group A had the worst of the weather conditions following heavy rainfall during Formula 1 practice, but Ferrari junior Raffaele Marciello made the most of it to top the timesheets by seven-tenths of a second.

With the track drying out for Group B, the advantage was given to the later runners, but it was Rossi who dominated from start to finish. The American driver produced personal best after personal best, continually making the pole position time harder and harder to beat as he tamed the damp track perfectly.

“I think to say I was stressed when I went out is a bit of an understatement,” Rossi said after the session. “Obviously everyone is on the same boat. We were quite pleased with our pace in free practice, but that kind of becomes irrelevant.

“The rain was not what I was hoping for, but from the out-lap, the car felt quite good in spite of the little mistake I made on turn five. It was a very smooth session. It just kept coming better and better.

“I think the track was drying. That was helping me out as well. The session went by quite quick, but towards the end when I knew we were in a good position, I wanted it to finish quickly!”

To avoid putting the Group A runners at too much of a disadvantage, the 13 drivers in this group will take the even-numbered grid slots of the feature race on Friday. As a result, Marciello will start alongside Rossi on the front row of the grid despite his time being only good enough for P12 in Group B.

Starting behind Rossi will be Campos driver Arthur Pic, whilst championship leader Stoffel Vandoorne saw his streak of consecutive poles end at six in Monaco. He will start tomorrow’s feature race from fourth place on the grid.

Meyer Shank Racing wins Petit Le Mans to take final DPi championship in dramatic finale

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Meyer Shank Racing outdueled Wayne Taylor Racing to win the Petit Le Mans and clinch the championship in a thrilling final race for the DPi division.

Tom Blomqvist, who started from the pole position, drove the No. 60 Acura ARX-05 to a 4.369-second victory over Pipo Derani in the No. 31 Action Express Cadillac.

“That was incredible,” Blomqvist told NBC Sports’ Matt Yocum. “I’ve never dug so deep in my life. The adrenaline. I did that for the guys. I was so motivated to win this thing this weekend. But I’ve got to thank everyone on the whole team.”

With co-drivers Oliver Jarvis and Helio Castroneves, Blomqvist helped MSR bookend its season-opening victory in the Rolex 24 at Daytona by winning Saturday’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season finale at Michelin Road Atlanta.

In between those two victories, the No. 60 earned five runner-up finishes to stay in the thick of the championship hunt and trail WTR’s No. 10 Acura by 14 points entering Saturday’s race.

WTR’s Filipe Albuquerque had a lead of more than 10 seconds over Blomqvist with less than 50 minutes remaining in the 10-hour race.

But a Turn 1 crash between the Chip Ganassi Racing Cadillacs brought out a yellow that sent both Acuras into the pits from the top two positions.

Though he entered in second, Blomqvist barely beat Albuquerque out of the pits, and he held the lead for the final 45 minutes.

Blomqvist said he gained the lead because of a shorter fuel fill after he had worked on being efficient in the second-to-last stint.

“The team asked a big job of me with the fuel; I had a big fuel number to hit,” Blomqvist said. “We knew that was probably our only chance. The yellow came at the right time and obviously we had a bit less fuel to fill up, so I was able to jump him and then it was just a matter of going gung-ho and not leaving anything on the line. And obviously, the opposition had to try too hard to make it work. I’m so thankful.”

Albuquerque closed within a few car lengths of Blomqvist with 14 minutes remaining, but he damaged his suspension because of contact with a GT car in Turn 1.

It’s the first prototype championship for Meyer Shank Racing, which also won the 2021 Indy 500 with Castroneves.

“We’ve had in the last four years, three championships for Acura, the Indy 500 win and the Rolex 24, it doesn’t get any better,” team co-owner Mike Shank told NBC Sports’ Kevin Lee.

It’s the third consecutive runner-up finish in the points standings for Wayne Taylor Racing, which won the first Daytona Prototype international championship in 2017. The premier category will be rebranded as the Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) class with the LMDh cars that will establish a bridge to racing in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Kamui Kobayashi finished third in the No. 48 Cadillac of Action Express that also includes Jimmie Johnson and Mike Rockenfeller.

The podium showing marked Johnson’s last scheduled race in IMSA’s top prototype division. The seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion has raced in the No. 48 Ally Cadillac lineup as the Action Express entry has run the Endurance Cup races.

Johnson said a lack of inventory will preclude him having a 2023 ride in the top category. But he still is hopeful of racing the Garage 56 Next Gen Camaro in next year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans and possibly running in a lower class for the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

“I’d love to be at Le Mans next year,” Johnson told NBC Sports’ Dillon Welch after his final stint Saturday. “I’d love to be at the Rolex 24. The series is going through a shake-up with the reconfiguration of the rules and classes, so I don’t have anything locked down yet, but I’m so thankful for this experience with Action. The support Ally has given us, Mr. Hendrick, Chad Knaus, all of Hendrick Motorsports. It’s been a fun two years, and I certainly hope I’m on the grid again next year.”