Rossi: Preparing for Brazil, Abu Dhabi and 2016

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The life of a Formula One racing driver has its perks, but underpinning everything is hard work and huge amounts of effort both on and off track. This largely goes unseen by the fans, but this is true with most major athletes that have worked their whole lives to reach the next goal.

One thing I’ve learned in life and also in sport is that ‘You Never Arrive’. There is always more to learn, achieve and accomplish, especially when it’s an ultra-competitive environment.

Look at Mexico! We’ve just finished the Grand Prix there on a track that was fantastic to race on, and which looked incredible on TV, all with the atmosphere of a massive rock concert. The fans were amazing and the organizers did a truly world class job. From the moment we arrived, we were welcomed like Mexico’s favorite sons. It was very special feeling!

The amount of hard work that goes into promoting and hosting a Grand Prix is just astonishing. I know quite a few of people who put on the Mexican race, and they’ve been working flat out for many months to make sure they staged a memorable event. Thanks to them and the hundreds of thousands of fans that attended the race, F1 was brought back to Mexico in style and no doubt for many years to come.

For me the Mexico weekend went very well. We did have some up and downs, losing some track time in FP3, but we made up for it in qualifying and then on Sunday I put in my fourth race finish ahead of my teammate since my F1 debut in Singapore. With the package we have now that’s my main target; to continue to finish in front of my teammate. In F1 there are individual races going on throughout the overall Grand Prix and ours at Manor is a good one. In Mexico I put in my fastest time on the final lap and again achieved my main race goal – that’s a pretty good way to end the back-to-backs in Austin and Mexico.

Before talking more about what lies ahead this month, I want to mention again the people at COTA in Austin. They did a great job putting on a race that’s already being talked about as probably the race of the year, and when you think about the weather conditions they had to cope with, and over 100,000 people through the gates on Sunday, it is amazing what they achieved. For me there is pride and responsibility as America’s F1 driver, particularly when I hear that so many fans came out to watch the race despite the unpredictable weather. This tells me that F1 is becoming firmly established in the US which is what we have been and will continue to work towards.

I understand that after we’d all left for Mexico, Austin was hit again by even worse weather than we’d experienced during the Grand Prix week, and that someone who’d been working at COTA died in the flooding that hit Austin this past week. My thoughts and prayers go out to him and his family, and everyone affected by the latest cruel floods.

From Mexico, it was home to London for one day and then to Spain the rest of this week for GP2 simulator work and preparations for Bahrain and Abu Dhabi with Racing Engineering. Even with how well F1 is going, I look forward to racing my GP2 car again and locking up second place in this year’s championship.

Switching from F1 to GP2 is something I am really enjoying! GP2 is ultra-competitive and I have a great team and race car. It’s a fantastic championship and combined with my F1 ambitions for 2015 going along as anticipated is an awesome feeling. For 2016, our F1 plans with Manor F1 Team are progressing as we expected and I anticipate some great news very soon.

For now the next stop is Brazil, for the Brazilian Grand Prix and the penultimate round of the 2015 Formula 1 World Championship. Interlagos is a circuit I am seriously excited about! I have fantastic memories of racing there – in 2008 I won there twice in the Formula BMW of Americas Championship and now I’m back racing there in F1. Brazil is an important race on the F1 calendar and Interlagos is a historic track and I will be doing my part to deliver for Manor F1 Team and Formula 1 as a whole.

My 2015 racing campaign finishes after Brazil in Bahrain and Abu Dhabi. I want to secure second in the championship at the upcoming round in Bahrain, and fight for more GP2 wins at both races. It is my goal to leave the GP2 series with at least five wins, so I need two more before we’re done.

To most it might seem a bit strange to travel from Mexico to Spain and then back across the Atlantic to go to Brazil, all to spend time in a simulator preparing for GP2, but this is the sort of hard work I am talking about. This is the work that goes on everyday away from the cameras and the live audiences that helps drivers and teams succeed at the highest level. These details are vital as we prepare to push from the very first laps we run in Bahrain and in Abu Dhabi. That’s where all the hard work pays off.

Even with the workload I have ahead of me in Spain, I will still make sure to relax and rest a bit before Brazil! My trainer Carlos is also based in Spain and he’ll have a good eye on me with respect to diet, hydrations and training programs prior to Brazil. The relationship between driver and trainer is another one the fans don’t really have a lot of insight into, but it’s very important and critical to success on track.

The engineers look after the ones and zeros that make the cars operate at their optimum levels, the mechanics put in the hours to ensure everything works at the highest reliability rates and there are numerous others in a motor racing team who work flat out to make sure the “show” runs to plan, with the highest success levels possible. The trainer makes sure the driver is operating at peak performance at all times, including a driver’s sleep pattern and I’m very fortunate to work with one of the best in the business, even though he won’t let me eat what I might really want!

Have a great week everyone and thank you for your support, now on to Brazil!

Meyer Shank Racing wins Petit Le Mans to take final DPi championship in dramatic finale

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Meyer Shank Racing outdueled Wayne Taylor Racing to win the Petit Le Mans and clinch the championship in a thrilling final race for the DPi division.

Tom Blomqvist, who started from the pole position, drove the No. 60 Acura ARX-05 to a 4.369-second victory over Pipo Derani in the No. 31 Action Express Cadillac.

“That was incredible,” Blomqvist told NBC Sports’ Matt Yocum. “I’ve never dug so deep in my life. The adrenaline. I did that for the guys. I was so motivated to win this thing this weekend. But I’ve got to thank everyone on the whole team.”

With co-drivers Oliver Jarvis and Helio Castroneves, Blomqvist helped MSR bookend its season-opening victory in the Rolex 24 at Daytona by winning Saturday’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season finale at Michelin Road Atlanta.

In between those two victories, the No. 60 earned five runner-up finishes to stay in the thick of the championship hunt and trail WTR’s No. 10 Acura by 14 points entering Saturday’s race.

WTR’s Filipe Albuquerque had a lead of more than 10 seconds over Blomqvist with less than 50 minutes remaining in the 10-hour race.

But a Turn 1 crash between the Chip Ganassi Racing Cadillacs brought out a yellow that sent both Acuras into the pits from the top two positions.

Though he entered in second, Blomqvist barely beat Albuquerque out of the pits, and he held the lead for the final 45 minutes.

Blomqvist said he gained the lead because of a shorter fuel fill after he had worked on being efficient in the second-to-last stint.

“The team asked a big job of me with the fuel; I had a big fuel number to hit,” Blomqvist said. “We knew that was probably our only chance. The yellow came at the right time and obviously we had a bit less fuel to fill up, so I was able to jump him and then it was just a matter of going gung-ho and not leaving anything on the line. And obviously, the opposition had to try too hard to make it work. I’m so thankful.”

Albuquerque closed within a few car lengths of Blomqvist with 14 minutes remaining, but he damaged his suspension because of contact with a GT car in Turn 1.

It’s the first prototype championship for Meyer Shank Racing, which also won the 2021 Indy 500 with Castroneves.

“We’ve had in the last four years, three championships for Acura, the Indy 500 win and the Rolex 24, it doesn’t get any better,” team co-owner Mike Shank told NBC Sports’ Kevin Lee.

It’s the third consecutive runner-up finish in the points standings for Wayne Taylor Racing, which won the first Daytona Prototype international championship in 2017. The premier category will be rebranded as the Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) class with the LMDh cars that will establish a bridge to racing in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Kamui Kobayashi finished third in the No. 48 Cadillac of Action Express that also includes Jimmie Johnson and Mike Rockenfeller.

The podium showing marked Johnson’s last scheduled race in IMSA’s top prototype division. The seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion has raced in the No. 48 Ally Cadillac lineup as the Action Express entry has run the Endurance Cup races.

Johnson said a lack of inventory will preclude him having a 2023 ride in the top category. But he still is hopeful of racing the Garage 56 Next Gen Camaro in next year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans and possibly running in a lower class for the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

“I’d love to be at Le Mans next year,” Johnson told NBC Sports’ Dillon Welch after his final stint Saturday. “I’d love to be at the Rolex 24. The series is going through a shake-up with the reconfiguration of the rules and classes, so I don’t have anything locked down yet, but I’m so thankful for this experience with Action. The support Ally has given us, Mr. Hendrick, Chad Knaus, all of Hendrick Motorsports. It’s been a fun two years, and I certainly hope I’m on the grid again next year.”