Dennis: No shame in Magnussen’s McLaren exit

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McLaren CEO Ron Dennis believes that there is no shame in Kevin Magnussen’s exit from the team, claiming that he could not stand in the way of the Dane’s racing ambitions.

Magnussen rose through the junior ranks at McLaren before making his Formula 1 debut with the team in 2014, finishing second in his very first race.

However, after a difficult season working with the MP4-29 car, and when Fernando Alonso became a free agent from Ferrari, Magnussen was left on the sidelines for 2015.

Magnussen opted to remain with the team in a reserve role to try and reclaim his seat for 2016, but McLaren has retained both Alonso and Jenson Button for next season, leaving the Dane out in the cold.

Not wishing to stand in the way of Magnussen’s ambitions to race full-time in F1, McLaren informed him on his birthday that his contract would not be renewed for 2016.

“Kevin has always done a very impressive and professional job for McLaren in the five years since he joined our Young Driver Programme in 2010,” Dennis said.

“In 2014 he raced very well alongside Jenson, who is a hugely experienced and very quick world champion. Kevin’s grand prix debut in Melbourne last year was rewarded with a podium that day that he, and we, can be justifiably proud of.

“Kevin has continued to work hard for us in 2015, supporting Fernando and Jenson, although he was understandably frustrated not to be racing.

“He is extremely keen to return to racing next year, and, in keeping with our tradition with our young drivers, we will not stand in the way of his ability to fulfil his ambition and potential.

“He is a very talented racing driver, and he deserves to have a Formula 1 career, as Jenson has publicly said.

“Evidently, we have no space for him at McLaren-Honda as a race driver next year, but there is no shame in being edged out by two world champions, Fernando and Jenson.

“We wish Kevin well, and will do all we can to help him successfully embark on the next chapter of his racing career.”

Magnussen is thought to be in the running for the vacant seat at Lotus/Renault in 2016, although a move into IndyCar or sportscars has also been mooted.

Starting lineup grid for IMSA Petit Le Mans: Tom Blomqvist puts MSR on pole position

Petit Le Mans lineup
IMSA
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IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar championship contender Tom Blomqvist put the Meyer Shank Racing Acura at the front of the starting lineup for the Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Road Atlanta.

Blomqvist turned a 1-minute, 8.55-second lap on the 2.54-mile circuit Friday to capture his third pole position for MSR this season. Earl Bamber qualified second in the No. 02 Cadillac for Chip Ganassi Racing.

Ricky Taylor was third in the No. 10 Acura of Wayne Taylor Racing, which enters Saturday’s season finale with a 19-point lead over the No. 60 of Blomqvist and Oliver Jarvis (who will be joined by Helio Castroneves) for the 10-hour race.

PETIT LE MANS STARTING GRID: Click here for the starting lineup l Lineup by car number

PETIT LE MANS: Info on how to watch

With the pole, MSR sliced the deficit to 14 points behind WTR, which will field the trio of Taylor, Filipe Albuquerque and Brendon Hartley in Saturday’s race.

“We really needed to put the car in this kind of position,” Blomqvist said. “It makes our life a little less stressful tomorrow. It would have given the No. 10 a bit more breathing space. It’s going to be a proper dogfight tomorrow. The guys gave me such a great car. It’s been fantastic this week so far, and it really came alive. I’m hugely thankful to the boys and girls at MSR for giving me the wagon today to execute my job.

“That was a big effort from me. I knew how important it was. It’s just awesome for the guys to give them some sort of reward as well. It’s always nice to be quick. If you do the pole, you know you’ve got a quick car.”

Though WTR has a series-leading four victories with the No. 10, MSR won the Rolex 24 at Daytona and has five runner-up finishes along with its three poles.

The strong performances of the ARX-05s ensure that an Acura will win the final championship in IMSA’s premier Daytona Prototype international (DPi) division, which is being rebranded as Grand Touring Prototype in the move to LMDh cars next season.

Taylor qualified third despite sliding into the Turn 5 gravel during the closing minutes of qualifying while pushing to gain points.

“Qualifying was important for points,” Taylor said. “Going into it, if we outqualified the No. 60 Meyer Shank Acura, they had a lot to lose in terms of championship points. So, we were trying to increase the gap over 20 points which would’ve made a big difference for tomorrow. We would have loved to get the pole and qualify ahead of the No. 60, but in the scheme of the points, it didn’t change a whole lot. I’m feeling good since it’s such a long race, and the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura team does such a good job strategizing and putting us in a good position.

“I’m very confident in our lineup and our team compared to them over the course of 10 hours. I’d put my two teammates up against those guys any day. I think we are all feeling optimistic and strong for tomorrow.”

In other divisions, PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports (LMP2), Riley Motorsports (LMP3), VasserSullivan (GTD Pro) and Paul Miller Racing (GTD) captured pole positions.

The broadcast of the 10-hour race will begin Saturday at 12:10-3 p.m. ET on NBC, moving at 7 p.m. to USA Network. Peacock will have flag-to-flag coverage.


QUALIFYING

Results

Results by class

Fastest lap by driver

Fastest lap by driver after qualifying

Fastest lap by driver and class after qualifying

Fastest lap sequence in qualifying

Best sector times in qualifying

Time cards in qualifying

PRACTICE RESULTS: Session I l Session II l Session III