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MotoGP: Marquez wins tactical San Marino GP at Misano

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Marc Marquez did his faint hopes of winning the 2015 MotoGP world championship some good by winning the San Marino Grand Prix at Misano on Sunday thanks to a perfect tactical call from his Honda team.

Starting second, Marquez spent the opening stages of the race duelling with Yamaha riders Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi before rain forced all three to dive into the pits and switch bikes.

A mistake caused Marquez to slip behind Rossi and Lorenzo, who slowly pulled away from the Honda rider as the race passed half distance.

However, as conditions improved once again and a drying line began to appear, teams turned their attention to Tech 3 rider Bradley Smith, who had stayed out on slick tires in the rain.

Once his lap times became the benchmark, a number of teams opted to pit their riders and move back onto their dry compound tires. Marquez pitted from third at the end of lap 17.

Yamaha opted to stick it out at the front with Rossi leading from Lorenzo, but as the track continued to dry, the decision backfired spectacularly. By the time Lorenzo pitted, Marquez had already jumped ahead, whilst Rossi fell back one lap later when he stopped for a change.

With Marquez now alone at the front, Yamaha’s focus turned to damage limitation as Lorenzo led from Rossi. However, the Spaniard pushed too hard on his cold tires and slid off the track at turn four, leaving him in the gravel and out of the race.

Marquez eased his bike home to claim his fourth win of the season by 7.2 seconds from Bradley Smith, whose brave strategy call allowed him to soar all the way from the back of the field to second place.

The Briton was joined on the podium by compatriot Scott Redding, who made the most of the changeable conditions to edge out Loris Baz in the closing stages of the race and finish third. Baz was left to finish fourth as the leading ‘open’ rider.

Rossi recovered from Yamaha’s strategy faux pas to finish fifth and extend his championship lead over Lorenzo to 23 points with five rounds of the season remaining. Silverstone hero Danilo Petrucci starred again to finish sixth ahead of Ducati riders Andrea Iannone and Andrea Dovizioso.

The 2015 MotoGP season resumes in two weeks’ time at Motorland Aragon in Spain.

Alex Palou fastest as several go off course during IndyCar practice at IMS

IndyCar Harvest GP practice
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Alex Palou paced the opening practice Thursday for the IndyCar Harvest GP at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.

The Dale Coyne Racing rookie turned a 1-minute, 10.177-second lap around the 2.439-mile, 14-turn road course in his No. 55 Dallara-Honda.

Jack Harvey was second, followed by Colton Herta, points leader Scott Dixon and Max Chilton.

PRACTICE CHART: Click here to see the speed rundown from Thursday’s session

FRIDAY AT IMS: Details for watching Race 1 of the Harvest GP

Qualifying for Friday’s race will be at 6:20 p.m. ET Thursday on NBC Sports Gold.

Will Power, who won the pole position for the July 4 race at the track, spun off course with just more than a minute left in the session after the left rear of his No. 12 Dallara-Chevrolet made slight contact with the right front of Alexander Rossi’s No. 28 Dallara-Honda.

Power was among several drivers who went off track, but there were no damaged cars during the session. Marcus Ericsson missed the final 5 minutes of the practice after being penalized for causing a red flag with a Turn 8 spin.

Arrow McLaren SP drivers Pato O’Ward and Helio Castroneves, who is driving for Oliver Askew (who is recovering from concussion-like symptoms), also veered off course as did rookie Rinus VeeKay and Santino Ferrucci.

Seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson was in attendance at the session before racing Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway. Johnson will be driving a partial schedule of road and street courses in IndyCar next season for Chip Ganassi Racing.

“Literally, the smallest of details, I can pick up on,” Johnson told NBC Sports pit reporter Kevin Lee. “It’s been really nice today just to see how a session starts and obviously to jump on the radio and listen to how the systems work and then obviously you get into the car and the setup and such. I’m at ground zero right now, a 45-year-old rookie trying to learn my way into a new sport essentially.”

Johnson told Lee his sponsorship hunt to run a Ganassi car “has gone really well. The fact that I’m here today and ingrained so deeply in the team is a great sign of where things are going. Looking forward to getting behind the wheel of a car soon and hopefully having some announcements for the world to see soon, too.”

Fans were in attendance Thursday for the first time this season at IMS, which is allowed a limited crowd of 10,000 for its races this weekend.