He may trail Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton by 48 points at the top of the drivers’ championship, but Nico Rosberg showed few signs of giving up on Saturday in Russia as he stormed to his third pole position of the season.
A near-perfect first run in Q3 allowed the German to take P1 by three-tenths of a second, leaving Hamilton to settle for second place on the grid at the Sochi Autodrom.
Rosberg has not won since the Austrian Grand Prix back in June, and knows that if he is to stand any real chance of denying his teammate a third world title in 2015, victory in Russia on Sunday is a must.
With memories of their side by side battle on the first lap of last year’s Russian Grand Prix still fresh in the memory, Rosberg and Hamilton are poised to duke it out again in the shadow of the Winter Olympics city.
Should Hamilton beat Rosberg on Sunday, the Briton will head to the next race in Austin, Texas just one win away from the championship, leaving his teammate with a mountain to climb.
Rosberg’s closest competitor in the title race is in fact Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, who is breathing down the Mercedes driver’s neck in the battle for the runner-up spot. From fourth, Vettel will be hoping to make up yet more ground, but a race against the Williams of Valtteri Bottas (starting third) is perhaps more likely in Sochi.
Elsewhere, Carlos Sainz Jr. looks poised to start the race in spite of his terrifying practice crash on Saturday. The Spaniard was taken to hospital after the shunt, but scans showed that he had suffered not a scratch. He will start today’s race from P20.
Adam Cianciarulo (450) and Dylan Ferrandis (250) swept both motos of their divisions Saturday in the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship event at Spring Creek MX Park in Millville, Minnesota, significantly impacting the points standings.
“Man, what a dream come true,” Cianciarulo said. “I really wanted to go 1-1 last round at RedBud and had that silly mistake. Today, we got the job done and made it happen. Two consecutive victories in the 450 Class just feels really good. I just want to keep the ball rolling.”
With three rounds remaining, Cianciarulo is ranked second in the standings at a 15-point deficit to Zach Osborne, who won three of the first five rounds.
In the 250 standings, Dylan Ferrandis jumped ahead of Jeremy Martin (who won three consecutive events earlier in the season) by three points (257-254).
Ferrandis beat third-ranked RJ Hampshire in the first moto and nipping Martin by 0.4 seconds in the second.
“That was a difficult race in the second moto and the pressure was on,” Ferrandis said. “It was really good for me to have that battle and come out on top in the second moto. The championship is really close and I think that we were able to put on a good show for everyone today. Jeremy [Martin] and I have a good relationship I think and we congratulated each other and talked about the battle after the race.”
NEXT: The Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship will hold its seventh round Sept. 26 with the Geico Motorcycle WW Ranch National at Jacksonville, Florida.
Thor Spring Creek National (Spring Creek MX Park, Millville, Minnesota)
450 Class Overall Results (Moto Finish)
Adam Cianciarulo, Port Orange, Fla., Kawasaki (1-1)
Blake Baggett, Grand Terrace, Calif., KTM (2-2)
Justin Barcia, Monroe, N.Y., Yamaha (5-4)
Chase Sexton, La Moille, Ill., Honda (8-3)
Eli Tomac, Cortez, Colo., Kawasaki (6-5)
Marvin Musquin, France, KTM (3-10)
Christian Craig, El Cajon, Calif., Honda (7-6)
Joey Savatgy, , Suzuki (9-7)
Max Anstie, United Kingdom, Suzuki (10-8)
Zach Osborne, Abingdon, Va., Husqvarna (4-16)
450 Class Championship Standings
Zach Osborne, Abingdon, Va., Husqvarna – 235
Adam Cianciarulo, Port Orange, Fla., Kawasaki – 220
Marvin Musquin, France, KTM – 215
Eli Tomac, Cortez, Colo., Kawasaki – 196
Justin Barcia, Monroe, N.Y., Yamaha – 194
Blake Baggett, Grand Terrace, Calif., KTM – 190
Chase Sexton, La Moille, Ill., Honda – 173
Christian Craig, El Cajon, Calif., Honda – 141
Broc Tickle, Holly, Mich., Yamaha – 134
Joey Savatgy, Tallahassee, Fla., Suzuki – 122
250 Class Overall Results (Moto Finish)
Dylan Ferrandis, France, Yamaha (1-1)
Jeremy Martin, Millville, Minn., Honda (5-2)
Alex Martin, Millville, Minn., Suzuki (4-4)
Jett Lawrence, Australia, Honda (3-6)
Justin Cooper, Cold Spring Harbor, N.Y., Yamaha (9-3)