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Honda linked with Red Bull engine supply for 2016

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Red Bull’s search for an engine supplier ahead of the 2016 Formula 1 season has taken another turn after Honda emerged as a serious option on the Friday of the United States Grand Prix weekend.

Despite being just five months away from the first race of the 2016 season, Red Bull is without a firm power unit supplier after expressing a desire to cut ties with current partner Renault following a lacklustre campaign.

Red Bull believed that it could either secure an engine deal with Mercedes or Ferrari for 2016, but neither is comfortable with supplying one of its fiercest rivals a power unit comparable to that of its works teams.

As a result, both of the Red Bull owned teams – Red Bull Racing and Scuderia Toro Rosso – have been left scrambling for an engine supplier for 2016.

Mercedes has ruled out supplying either team, while NBC Sports understands that although a deal for Ferrari to power Toro Rosso is close, negotiations with Red Bull have stalled.

Conducting a massive u-turn and continuing with Renault power units for 2016 remains an option, but the French manufacturer has previously said that it is not looking to have any customer teams next season, so it can instead focus on its works return after taking over Lotus.

As such, the fourth and final F1 engine supplier – Honda – has now emerged as a serious option for Red Bull in 2016.

When asked about a possible deal by NBCSN pit reporter Will Buxton on Friday, Red Bull team principal Christian Horner remained coy, but admitted that a swift decision is required.

“Of course there’s a lot of speculation,” Horner said. “This week it’s Honda. It was Ferrari last week. Renault before that. There’s a lot of conversation in the background. When we have something concrete you’ll be the first to know.

“Time is pressing on. We do need to come to some decision in the near future. It’s an intense period. All the guys and girls are up for it and up for the challenge.”

Honda returned to the sport in 2015 in partnership with McLaren, but difficulties with its power unit have resigned the British team to one of its worst ever season in F1 with just 19 points to its name.

Given that Red Bull’s split with Renault has come about due to the team’s disappointment with the quality of the power unit, a move to a supplier that has fared even worse in 2015 may appear illogical.

What it will do is offer Red Bull a stop-gap to avoid breaching its commercial contract with F1 while also giving Honda the chance to increase the development of its power unit, given that it will have double the cars to work with.

Regardless of who the engine supplier is, a decision is required in the next week or two as the countdown to the 2016 season continues. There are already doubts about Red Bull’s chances of making the first pre-season test in Barcelona next February, and further delays would only underscore these.

Eli Tomac, Ken Roczen finish 1-2 at High Point, tie for points lead

Rich Shepherd, ProMotocross
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Time was running off the clock and Eli Tomac was going to give up the overall win to Ken Roczen, until the Colorado native dug deep and made the pass for second in Moto 2 at High Point Raceway at Mount Morris, Penn. Roczen would win his third Moto of the season, but Tomac won the war.

With a third-place finish in Moto 1 and his second in Moto 2, Tomac grabbed the overall victory for the second time this season in Round 4 of the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross championship.

For Tomac, it was another difficult start to the race. He tipped his bike over in Moto 1 and fell back to fifth while battling two seconds behind the leader Blake Baggett. Tomac had to battle his way back toward the front again after barely cracking the top five in the first Motos in two of the first three rounds.

Roczen fared even worse in Moto 1. He finished sixth in that race – more than 34 seconds behind the leader Baggett. Determined to make up for his bad start, Roczen charged through the field in Moto 2 and took the lead from Cooper Webb on Lap 9.

“I was just going to charge,” Roczen told NBC Sports after his Moto win. “Do the best I can. I went back to my Colorado (last week) settings because the first race was awful; I couldn’t even ride.”

Tomac entered the round two points behind Roczen and was able to make up only those two points. The battle continues onto Florida next week with a tie for the top spot.

With a 2-5, Jason Anderson grabbed third overall.

Battling back from injury, Anderson faded in the closing laps of Moto 2, but is regaining strength each week.

Webb (third) and Zach Osborne (fourth) rounded out the top five in Moto 2 and finished fourth and fifth respectively overall.

Moto 1 featured a rider searching for his first Moto win in two years. Baggett earned the holeshot and held off an early advantage by Tomac. When Tomac fell, it handed second to Anderson, who finished nearly 10 seconds behind the leader.

“Every time I get out front here, I have that weird sensation of trying to keep it on two wheels,” Baggett said on NBC Sports Gold following his win.

Tomac was not the only rider to go down in Moto 1. Webb lost his pegs on Lap 9 and became the cape to his KTM motorcycle as he flew along holding tight to the handlebars. He recovered in that race to finish seventh.

450 Moto 1 Results
450 Moto 2 Results
450 Overall Results
Points Standings

Adam Cianciarulo remains perfect in the 250 class. Winning Moto 2 in each round so far this season, Cianciarulo has capitalized on his late event surges to sweep Victory Lane in the first four weeks.

It wasn’t an easy run for Cianciarulo, nonetheless. He was only fifth at the end of Lap 1 in Moto 1 and was forced to slice through the field to get to second at the checkers of that race.

“Just coming to the races now – coming to outdoor nationals now – compared to the past, it’s just an entirely different vibe,” Cianciarulo said on NBCSN after the race. “It’s like I’m experiencing it for the first time because for the first time in my whole pro career I believe in myself.

“It’s a process when you hit rock bottom and start coming back.”

Hunter Lawrence stole the show in Moto 1. Earning his first career win handily, he came out in Moto 2 and proved it was not a fluke by finishing third in the race and taking second overall.

“It’s awesome,” Lawrence said on NBC Sports Gold following his Moto 1 victory. “It’s just a Moto win, but it’s a big milestone in our trip and campaign.”

Chase Sexton earned the holeshot in Moto 1, but faded to fourth at the end. Sexton kept Cianciarulo in sight in the back half of Moto 2 to finish second in the race and third overall.

With a 3-4, Dylan Ferrandis finished fourth overall with Colt Nichols (5-5) finishing fifth.

After losing the overall at Thunder Valley amidst controversy, Justin Cooper wanted to make a statement. He barely raised his voice with a sixth in Moto 1 and a ninth in Moto 2 to finish ninth overall.  He lost another 20 points to the points leader as Cianciarulo starts to edge away from the pack. Cooper remains second in the points, but is now 26 back.

Garrett Marchbanks went down hard on Lap 4 of Moto 1 and had the bike land on his head. He did not start Moto 2, but there have been no report of injury yet.

250 Moto 1 Results
250 Moto 2 Results
250 Overall Results
Points Standings

Moto Wins

450MX
[4] Eli Tomac (Hangtown II, Pala I & Pala II, Thunder Valley II)
[3] Ken Roczen (Hangtown I, Thunder Valley I, High Point II)
[1] Blake Baggett (High Point I)

250MX
[4] Adam Cianciarulo (Hangtown II, Pala II, Thunder Valley I, High Point II)
[3] Justin Cooper (Hangtown I, Pala I, Thunder Valley I)
[1] Hunter Lawrence (High Point I)

Next race: WW Ranch Motocross Park, Jacksonville, Fla. June 22

Season passes can be purchased at NBC Sports Gold.

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