GP3: Ghiotto, Ocon set for title showdown in Abu Dhabi

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Luca Ghiotto and Esteban Ocon will fight for the GP3 Series title at the final round in Abu Dhabi next weekend after leaving Bahrain separated by just two points at the top of the championship standings.

Ghiotto, 20, and Ocon, 19, have been the two dominant drivers in GP3 this year, enjoying an advantage of more than 50 points over the rest of the field.

Ghiotto turned his focus to GP3 for 2015 after doing just four races last year as he also took part in the Formula Renault 3.5 series.

The Italian driver has claimed five pole positions and five wins so far this year, with the latest victory coming on Saturday in Bahrain ahead of Ocon.

Ocon has won just one race – the opening round in Spain – but has finished off the podium on just three occasions in 2015.

The Frenchman enjoyed a streak of nine consecutive second-place finishes between Silverstone and Russia before ending the run on Friday in Bahrain when he finished third. Predictably, he ended Saturday’s race in P2.

Ghiotto and Ocon have been so well-matched in 2015 that they head into the final round of the year separated by just two points, having both left Bahrain with a haul of 31 to add to their tallies.

“I just need to think about the two races and not the championship,” Ghiotto said ahead of the finale in Abu Dhabi. “I spent all weekend thinking about the championship and I said to myself today that maybe I have been a bit scared as I don’t want to crash.

“That’s maybe I was not so quick yesterday. So today I just went back to my previous mind-set from the other races. I just need to be calm and drive as I can do.”

“It’s going to be a close end until the last race,” Ocon said. “We have to keep pushing and see what will happen in the last race.”

Travis Pastrana leads flag-to-flag in Nitro Rallycross as the series returns to America

Pastrana Nitro Rallycross
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Travis Pastrana waited until the final trip around ERX Motor Park to take his Joker Lap – a longer way around the course that all drivers must do at least once in a race – and came out cleanly to win his first Nitro Rallycross race of 2022. With this win, Pastrana is the third driver to visit Victory Lane in the first three rounds of the 2022-23 season.

“This is the closest to a motocross track,” Pastrana told Katie Osborne on Peacock. “Thank you so much for a beautiful facility. It’s been a rough start to the season and I’m so thankful to be back out here. We had a good run in the side-by-side and now for this. This is much needed.”

Another thing needed was the sense of improvement. And Pastrana earned that affirmation each time he completed a lap around the course.

“I get my lap times read out and they said ‘fastest time of the week,’ ‘fastest time of the week’ (each time around) ” Pastrana said. “This is really special. We’re a long way behind in the championship, but welcome to America.”

In a pre-race press conference, Pastrana said that as Nitro Rallycross heads back to America, it was time for an American to win and he made good on his promise. Pastrana took the early lead over Robin Larsson and let the back of his Subaru hang out, taking risks he might not otherwise take if not for his need to win.

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Larsson’s second-place finish completed a perfect sweep of the podium in three rounds. In fact, he has not yet finished worse than second after winning the opening round at Lydden Hill in the United Kingdom and finishing second at Strangnas in Sweeden.

Fraser McConnel rounded out the podium for his best result of the season. He finished fourth in each of the first two rounds.

Last year, Pastrana finished second in this race to Scott Speed before narrowly edging his teammate for the championship.

Andreas Bakkerud crashed in prelims, but rebounded to finish just off the block in fourth. Bakkerud won the second round ahead of his teammate Larsson.

Oliver Bennett completed the top five.

Minneapolis is the first of three rounds scheduled in the United States. Next on the schedule is Glen Helen, Calif. on Octo 30 and then Phoenix at Wild Horse Pass on November 12th. Nitro Rallycross will then head to Saudi Arabia in December to continue their 2022-23 season.