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.

Cadillac, Acura battle for top speed as cars back on track for Rolex 24 at Daytona practice


DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The new hybrid prototypes of Cadillac and Acura battled atop the speed chart as practice resumed Thursday for the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

Chip Ganassi Racing driver Richard Westbrook was fastest Thursday afternoon in the No. 02 Cadillac V-LMDh with a 1-minute, 35.185-second lap around the 12-turn, 3.56-mile road course at Daytona International Speedway.

That pace topped Ricky Taylor’s 1:35.366 lap that topped the Thursday morning session that marked the first time the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship was back on track since qualifying Sunday afternoon that concluded the four-day Roar Before The Rolex 24 test.

In a final session Thursday night, Matt Campbell was fastest (1:35.802) in the No. 7 Porsche Penske Motorsports Porsche 963 but still was off the times set by Westbrook and Taylor.

Punctuated by Tom Blomqvist’s pole position for defending race winner Meyer Shank Racing, the Acura ARX-06s had been fastest for much of the Roar and led four consecutive practice sessions.

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But the times have been extremely tight in the new Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) category that has brought hybrid engines to IMSA’s premier class. Only 0.9 seconds separated the nine LMDh cars in GTP in qualifying, and though the spread slightly widened to 1.378 seconds in Thursday’s practices with teams on varying strategies and preparation, Westbrook still pooh-poohed the importance of speeds.

“It’s always nice to be at the top, but I don’t think it means too much or read too much into it” Westbrook said. “Big fuel tanks in the GTP class this year, so you have no idea what fuel levels people are running. We had a good run, and the car is really enjoyable to drive now. I definitely wasn’t saying that a month ago.

“It really does feel good now. We are working on performance and definitely unlocking some potential, and it just gives us more confidence going into the race. It’s going to be super tight. Everyone’s got the same power, everyone has the same downforce, everyone has the same drag levels and let’s just go race.”

Because teams have put such a premium on reliability, handling mostly has suffered in the GTPs, but Westbrook said the tide had turned Thursday.

“These cars are so competitive, and you were just running it for the sake of running it in the beginning, and there’s so much going on, you don’t really have time to work on performance,” he said. “A lot of emphasis was on durability in the beginning, and rightly so, but now finally we can work on performance, and that’s the same for other manufacturers as well. But we’re worrying about ourselves and improving every run, and I think everybody’s pretty happy with their Cadillac right now.”

Mike Shank, co-owner of Blomqvist’s No. 60 on the pole, said his team still was facing reliability problems despite its speed.

“We address them literally every hour,” Shank said. “We’re addressing some little thing we’re doing better to try to make it last. And also we’re talking about how we race the race, which will be different from years past.

“Just think about every system in the car, I’m not going to say which ones we’re working on, but there are systems in the car that ORECA and HPD are continually trying to improve. By the way, sometimes we put them on the car and take them off before it even goes out on the track because something didn’t work with electronics. There’s so much programming. So many departments have to talk to each other. That bridge gets broken from a code not being totally correct, and the car won’t run. Or the power steering turns off.”

Former Rolex 24 winner Renger van der Zande of Ganassi said it still is a waiting game until the 24-hour race begins Saturday shortly after 1:30 p.m.

“I think the performance of the car is good,” van der Zande said. “No drama. We’re chipping away on setup step by step and the team is in control. It’s crazy out there what people do on the track at the moment. It’s about staying cool and peak at the right moment, and it’s not the right moment yet for that. We’ll keep digging.”


Click here for Session I (by class)

Click here for Session II (by class)

Click here for Session III (by class)

Combined speeds