Rossi: GP2 victory in Belgium “perfect timing”

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Alexander Rossi believes that his victory in last Sunday’s GP2 race at the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps came at a perfect time as he heads into the final stages of the 2015 season.

Rossi dominated the GP2 sprint race in support of the Belgian Grand Prix, taking the lead on the first lap before leading all the way to the checkered flag, leading home teammate Jordan King for a Racing Engineering one-two.

The result saw Rossi return to second place in the drivers’ championship, and has given the American great hope ahead of the final four double-header rounds of the 2015 season.

“This win was the perfect timing for myself and gives momentum for the team leading into the last eight races,” Rossi said.

“We had a good start which enabled me to challenge for the lead into turn one in both races. Today I could see the fight for the lead was going to be turn five and not turn one; Jordan and I fought hard under braking, but I had the better line into the chicane and was able to overtake.

“From there it was about not only managing the tires and the gap to the car behind, but also being aware of the pressure on me from the other competitors with use of DRS. Jordan would close on me in sector one, which meant I needed to open up a bit of gap each lap in sector two, which in turn took a bit more from my tires.

“It gives us that additional confidence going into Monza and final eight races. We just need to win more races and keep focused on scoring as many points as possible in the remaining rounds.

“I am very proud of the team. We had a bit of a slow start to the weekend, but everyone bounced back perfectly to the situation around us.”

The gap to championship leader Stoffel Vandoorne remains a daunting 105 points, giving Rossi little hope of mounting a serious challenge for the title.

However, this victory will undoubtedly have been brought to the attention of NASCAR team co-owner Gene Haas, who is set to join the F1 grid with Haas F1 Team in 2016.

Rossi is known to be a candidate for one of the two available seats, but does lack the prior F1 experience that the team is craving for its debut next April.

In an interview with AUTOSPORT after his victory, Rossi confirmed he was still in talks with the team, but that he is also looking at other options for 2016.

“We’re talking, but I wouldn’t say advanced talks yet,” he said.

“Obviously I have my hopes, but at the same time I’m not putting all my eggs in one basket because we are talking to other teams and looking at different options, with Formula 1 still being the main objective.”

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.”