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Rosberg takes US GP pole in shortened qualifying session

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Nico Rosberg will start today’s United States Grand Prix from pole position after topping the timesheets during the postponed qualifying session on Sunday morning.

After rain washed out the planned session on Saturday afternoon, qualifying eventually got underway at 9am local time, albeit in conditions similar to the wet FP3 session earlier in the weekend.

Drivers took to the track for the beginning of Q1 as heavy rain continued to fall, with Romain Grosjean saying that conditions were “on the limit” for the session to take place.

Carlos Sainz Jr. was the first to fall foul of the slippery track, taking too much kerb in the first sector before sliding off the circuit and into the wall to leave Toro Rosso with a big repair job ahead of the race. His shunt also prompted the stewards to bring out the red flag.

The session resumed with Hamilton setting the early pace in the wet conditions. As more and more cars circulated and dried the track, times began to tumble, but the Briton remained in P1 until the end of Q1.

Sebastian Vettel made a rare mistake at turn ten to leave his car with minor damage, forcing him to sit out the remainder of the session. The four-time world champion narrowly made it through to Q2, with Marcus Ericsson, Felipe Nasr, Alexander Rossi and Will Stevens joining Sainz in the dropzone.

With heavier rain incoming, the teams opted to send their drivers out early at the beginning of Q2, and it was Mercedes who once again set the pace. Nico Rosberg produced a fine lap to take P1 early on, edging out Hamilton by one-tenth of a second to end Q2 at the top of the order.

The worsening rain prevented the drivers from improving in the final five minutes of the session, resigning the McLaren drivers to their regular Q2 exit. Fernando Alonso finished 11th, marking his best qualifying result of the season so far, while teammate Jenson Button finished down in 14th.

Williams’ Valtteri Bottas was arguably the most surprising dropout in Q2, finishing 12th ahead of Romain Grosjean. Pastor Maldonado propped up the order, ending the session 15th in the sister Lotus.

As the checkered flag was waved in Q2, Vettel, Button and Red Bull’s Daniil Kvyat took to their team radios to call for the session to be red flagged, believing the conditions to have become too dangerous for more running.

The start of Q3 was delayed by ten minutes before race control decided to call the result, believing conditions to be unsafe for any further running in qualifying.

As a result, the grid is formed from the Q2 result with Rosberg taking pole position in Austin for the second year in a row. Hamilton will start alongside him on the front row of the grid. Red Bull drivers Daniel Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat lock out the second row for P3 and P4, while Sebastian Vettel drops from fifth to 15th by virtue of his grid penalty.

Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg move up to fifth and sixth for Force India ahead of Felipe Massa and Max Verstappen, with Kimi Raikkonen also falling down ten places from P8 to P18 due to his grid penalty.

After claiming his third straight pole position, Rosberg will now be hoping to end his winless streak that dates back to the Austrian Grand Prix in June and delay Hamilton’s title celebrations.

However, should Hamilton outscore Rosberg by two points and Vettel by nine, he will be crowned F1 world champion for the third time on Sunday.

You can watch the United States Grand Prix live on NBC from 2:30pm ET today.

Eli Tomac’s near-perfect season ended perfectly

ProMotocross.com
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From the start, Eli Tomac wanted to go into the season-ending race at Ironman Raceway with the 2020 red plate already in his possession. That final race has been know to devolve into muddy conditions and it is best not to leave things to chance.

For a rider with an almost perfect record of overall podium finishes, one would not have thought there would be much drama at the end of Round 11 at Budds Creek, but it took until the last lap of the final moto for Tomac to achieve his goal.

One reason was that Tomac’s near-perfect season was not so perfect. From the very beginning at Hangtown, Tomac struggled with poor starts to his events. Getting a bad jump out of the gate and finishing fourth in Moto 1 that weekend was not the auspicious beginning he wanted in search of his third consecutive 450 outdoor championship.

The hallmark of Tomac’s season has been overcoming bad starts. He rode through the field at Hangtown and nearly stood on the podium. Then he won Moto 2 and finished second overall. It was his first of nine consecutive overall podiums. Tomac came back the following week for a perfect sweep at Pala.

In Round 3, Tomac once again got off to a bad start. He finished fifth in Moto 1 at Thunder Valley – and then won Moto 2 in a duplication of his opening round.

In Round 5, Tomac had his worst performance until that time. He finished seventh in Moto 1. Nearly halfway through the season, a pattern was firmly established with his Moto 2 win.

Vanessa O’Brien, Kawasaki USA

One should recall that the hallmark of Tomac’s season was strong finishes. Four the next four weeks Tomac failed to podium only one time in a moto. On that occasion, he would stumble in Moto 2 at Spring Creek in Round 8 before scoring his second perfect race at Washougal.

And that is where it got interesting. Tomac left Washougal with a 50-point advantage over Marvin Musquin. It was just the scenario Tomac had seesawed his way through the season to achieve. But it was too good to be true.

In most of his previous bad performances, there was an extenuating circumstance for Tomac’s bad start: a fall or an off course excursion. This time, he simply rode an uninspired race and finished seventh again to match his worst single moto performance. He could not fully rebound in Moto 2 and finished third.

For the first time in 2019, Tomac failed to stand on the overall podium in fourth. Worse still, he lost 10 points to Musquin and no longer had his one-race cushion.

But this is a season of recovery for Tomac. At Budds Creek last week it was reported that Tomac’s lackluster performance in Washington was due to his overdoing his chores on his Colorado ranch. Rested and restored, Tomac scored his third perfect race with Moto 1 & 2 wins. And this time, he looked sharper than he had in any previous race.

Tomac did all the could do by winning both motos, but in the closing laps at Budds Creek he needed a little help to clinch the title. As it turned out, Tomac needed the perfect performance to clinch his third consecutive championship.

In Moto 1, he narrowly edged Ken Roczen and Musquin, to give the three championship contenders a sweep of the top three spots; that was not enough to regain his cushion.

Roczen was close enough to force Tomac into The Ironman needing to score points to permanently affix the red plate on his Kawasaki in 2020, but just as Tomac’s season has been marked by second half improvements, Roczen’s has been marred by a lack of performance in the second motos.

Musquin passed Roczen late in Moto 2 last week and could have extended the drama one more week if he could have caught second-place Jason Anderson. Musquin could not erase an 11-second deficit to the runner-up and now Tomac’s almost perfect season has a distinctly perfect feel to it.

Vanessa O’Brien, Kawasaki USA

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