Rosberg pleased to lead Mercedes’ fightback at Suzuka

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Nico Rosberg was pleased to have led Mercedes’ comeback at Suzuka as he banished the team’s Singapore struggles to claim his second pole position for the 2015 Formula 1 season.

Rosberg edged out teammate Lewis Hamilton by just 0.076 seconds in the final stage of qualifying for the Japanese Grand Prix on Saturday as Mercedes locked out the front row of the grid.

The result marked a turnaround in fortunes following the Singapore Grand Prix seven days ago where Hamilton and Rosberg could only qualify fifth and sixth respectively, lagging behind Ferrari and Red Bull.

Valtteri Bottas finished as the best of the rest for Williams at Suzuka on Saturday, four-tenths of a second down on Rosberg’s time, giving the German a boost heading into the race on Sunday.

“First of all, very happy. Great day today,” Rosberg said after qualifying. “A good comeback also for the team. It’s fantastic after such a difficult weekend in Singapore, to be back to our usual strength today, strong performance today from the team, great car, so very thankful for that.

“Really turned things around, optimized everything for this track, and for me, I pretty much nailed my laps today so really pleased with the way it went. A great position to be in for tomorrow.”

The drivers entered qualifying at Suzuka having completed just one hour’s worth of dry running after practice after FP1 and FP2 on Friday were washed out by rain.

Nevertheless, Rosberg feels confident about his chances in tomorrow’s race as he bids to cut the gap to Hamilton at the top of the drivers’ championship.

“Well I’m confident that the car is going to be good, but as for everybody, we didn’t have the perfect preparation,” Rosberg said.

“So there might be a few surprises tomorrow, but I’m confident that I found a good balance. I did do some high fuel running this morning and the balance was good, so we should be fine.”

The Japanese Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and Live Extra from 12:30am ET on Sunday.

Jo Shimoda joins Seth Hammaker, Austin Forkner on injured list; Musquin remains out

Shimoda injured
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Bad news continues to come out of the Monster Energy / Pro Circuit Kawasaki team as they announced Jo Shimoda injured his shoulder in a practice session and will not mount up when the Monster Energy Supercross 250 East division opens in Houston, Texas on February 4. A timetable has not been given for Shimoda’s return, but a press release from the team references multiple weeks.

“I’m doing my best to focus forward on my return to racing,” said Shimoda in the release. “Our goal was to compete for the 250 Supercross Eastern Regional Championship and I know we had been doing the right work to make that happen. Unfortunately, this crash will cause me to miss the start of the season, but I still aim to be back on the track racing for wins before the end of Supercross.”

Shimoda is joined on the sidelines by teammates Seth Hammaker and Austin Forkner, who also suffered injuries in recent weeks.

The news of Hammaker’s sidelining came just two days ago. His wrist injury is sufficient to require surgery, so he too will miss multiple weeks. Hammaker was scheduled to compete in the 250 East division alongside Shimoda.

Forkner was involved in a Lap 1 crash in the 250 West season opener at Anaheim. Multiple injuries, including an ACL tear, will sideline him for the remainder of the season. He described the injury and its aftermath on Instagram.

Forkner will be relieved by Carson Mumford, but not before that rider’s wrist has healed sufficiently. He is scheduled to debut with Kawasaki in Oakland for the rescheduled Round 2 Supercross race on February 18.

Shimoda finished fourth in the 2022 Supercross 250 West division and was second in 2021 points in 250 East. In 2021, Shimoda won his first Supercross race at Salt Lake City. Last year, he scored one podium and six top-fives in nine starts.

Shimoda finished second in last year’s outdoor Lucas Oil Pro Motocross season, where he added two more SuperMotocross wins including the Unadilla Nationals that kicked off a four-race streak of first- or second-place results.

Kawasaki is not the only team facing injury. Red Bull KTM initially reported Marvin Musquin would be out for the San Diego round with a wrist injury and “maybe more”. This week it was announced he will miss this week’s Triple Crown race in Anaheim and “at least the next several rounds.”