Toro Rosso drivers expecting challenging Canadian GP

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Toro Rosso drivers Carlos Sainz Jr and Max Verstappen are both expecting to face a number of challenges at next weekend’s Canadian Grand Prix due to the unique nature of the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal.

The rookie drivers have made an impressive start to life in F1, proving that they are deserving of a place in the sport with a string of stand-out performances.

At just 17 years old, Verstappen has been particularly impressive at the start of his F1 career, but the Dutchman suffered his first major accident in Monaco last weekend after crashing into the back of Romain Grosjean.

“I’m feeling fine now after the unfortunate end to the Monaco Grand Prix and there are no after affects from the crash,” Verstappen said. “I even spent a day karting afterwards so everything is fine on the physical side.

“Canada will be a challenging race for us with its long straights, but I think we can have another strong weekend anyway. It will be the first time for me in Canada and I’ve heard a lot of great things about the circuit, the city and the country so I’m looking forward to it.”

Sainz managed to finish tenth in Monaco, but the tire allocation of soft and super-soft did harm Toro Rosso and force the team into two-stopping both of its drivers.

With the same allocation set to be brought to Canada for next weekend’s race, Sainz is expecting the team to face a challenge once again, but is excited about spending more time in Montreal.

“Canada will be another completely new track for me,” Sainz said. “It’s a semi-street circuit and like the last venue in Monaco, you can get very close to the walls at the side of the track.

“I was in Montreal last year, as I went to watch the Grand Prix, and I really enjoyed spending time in the city, which I liked a lot and the track itself looks very interesting. I’m looking forward to my first experience of driving the track, which looks as though it provides some good overtaking opportunities.

“We will again have the soft and super-soft tires and we can expect high degradation, so it could be a challenging weekend on that front.”

Supercross points leader Eli Tomac finds silver linings in interruption

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Though his Monster Energy AMA Supercross championship charge was put on hold, the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic had a silver lining for Eli Tomac.

Off the road while the season was postponed for nearly three months, the points leader was able to be present as his girlfriend, Jessica, gave birth to their daughter, Lev, on April 26

“A huge blessing for us there,” Tomac told host Mike Tirico during a “Lunch Talk Live” interview (click on the video above) in which he also joked about becoming a pro at busting off diaper changes. “That was one good blessing for us as we had our daughter on a Sunday, that would have been on a travel day coming back from the race in Las Vegas.

NBCSN

“That was probably the only positive out of all this mess was being able to be there for the birth.”

But there also could be more good fortune for Tomac as the series resumes Sunday at Salt Lake City, Utah (3-4 p.m. ET on NBCSN, 4-6 p.m. on NBC).

The final seven events will be held over 22 days in Rice-Eccles Stadium, which sits at just over 4,000 feet.

The elevation could favor Tomac, who was born and lives in Colorado and is accustomed to riding and training at altitude, which is a departure for many Supercross riders (many of whom hail from California and Florida).

COVID-19 TESTING REQUIRED: Supercross outlines protocols for last seven races

“That’s going to be the test for us,” said the Kawasaki rider, who five of the first 10 races this season. “We’re at elevation in Salt Lake, so when you’re on a motorcycle, you have a little bit of a loss of power. That’s just what happens when you come up in elevation. And a lot of guys train at sea level, and we’re at 4,000 to 5,000 feet, so cardio-wise, we’ll be pushed to the limit.

“Most of our races are Saturday nights and back to back weeks, but this go around it’s Sunday and Wednesday, so recovery is going to be key.”

Supercross will race Sunday and Wednesday for the next three weeks, capping the season with the June 21 finale, which also will be shown on NBCSN from 3-4:30 p.m. ET and NBC from 4:30-6 p.m. ET.

Tomac, who holds a three-point lead over Ken Roczen (who also recently visited “Lunch Talk Live”), told Tirico he had been riding for 90 minutes Thursday morning on a track outside Salt Lake City.

“Most of us we can rely on our past riding pretty well,” Tomac said. “The question is if you can go the distance. That’s what a lot of guys have to train on is going the distance. We go 20 minutes plus a lap. That’s what you’ve got to keep sharp is your general muscles. Within two to three days, your brain starts warming up more if you take a few weeks off the motorcycle.”

Here is the schedule and TV information for the rest of the season:

  • Sunday, May 31 (3-4 p.m. ET, NBCSN; 4-6 p.m. ET, NBC);
  • Wednesday, June 3 ( 10:00 pm – 1:00 am ET, NBCSN);
  • Sunday, June 7 (5-8:00 p.m. ET, NBCSN);
  • Wednesday, June 10 (7–10 p.m. ET, NBCSN);
  • Sunday, June 14 (7-10 p.m. ET, NBCSN);
  • Wednesday, June 17 (7-10 p.m. ET, NBCSN);
  • Sunday, June 21 (3-4:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN; 4:30 – 6:00 p.m. ET, NBC).
Eli Tomac rides his No. 3 Kawasaki in the Feb. 29 race at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia (Charles Mitchell/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images).