Verstappen impresses again to finish fourth in Austin

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Max Verstappen’s sensational rookie season in Formula 1 continued in Sunday’s United States Grand Prix as he matched his best race result, finishing fourth at the Circuit of The Americas in Austin, Texas.

Verstappen, 18, made his F1 debut at the beginning of the year after just one year in single seater racing, but has proven his ability with a series of impressive performances in 2015 that show an ability beyond his years.

The Dutchman qualified well at COTA on Sunday morning before spending his race battling well up the order, pitting under the first safety car to give himself fresh tires and track position.

Although he was unable to hold off the charging Sebastian Vettel and claim his maiden podium finish, Verstappen crossed the line in fourth place to match his best result from the Hungarian Grand Prix in July.

“It was a bit of a crazy race,” Verstappen told NBCSN after the race. “The start, [I] didn’t have the best getaway. Then I just dived up the inside and I think I took three guys or something, was very good.

“he pace wasn’t too bad. Struggled the first lap but then we could keep up with the Ferraris, but was stuck behind the Force India because the straight line speed they had was quite impressive.

“From there on I had a lot of enjoyable battles, especially with Raikkonen. I enjoyed that one a lot, maybe he didn’t but surely I did. From there I didn’t make any mistakes. We did right call to switch to slick tires. The team did a very good strategy.

“It was very difficult because you didn’t want to go too early. Then you lose a lot of time. Wait and see when someone else goes. Someone else was, it was not too bad, and I said now we go.”

Verstappen admitted that he did not fight with Vettel for third at the end due to his fading tires, but was delighted with another fourth place finish.

“For sure, I was not fighting Sebastian,” he said. “I was just trying to save the tires. It was quite a risky move to go with the softs for so long. But we managed it.

“The points we’ve scored is quite impressive for the moment. I’m very happy with that and hopefully score some more in upcoming races.”

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

Shimoda injured
Feld Motor Sports/MX Sports Pro Racing/Align Media
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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.”