© AP

Dennis: Great years lie ahead of Alonso at McLaren

1 Comment

McLaren CEO Ron Dennis is confident that great years lie ahead of two-time Formula 1 world champion Fernando Alonso at the team despite enduring a difficult year in 2015.

Alonso returned to McLaren at the end of 2014 following a five-year stint with Ferrari, but toiled to his worst season since debuting with Minardi back in 2001 due to a myriad of problems with the new Honda power unit.

Alonso scored points in just two races – Britain and Hungary – and finished 17th in the drivers’ championship, prompting suggestions that he could take a sabbatical from F1 in 2016 unless McLaren improved its car for the new season.

In an interview quoted by the official F1 website, McLaren boss Dennis made clear that Alonso has a three year deal with the team that he will see out, and also said that the Spaniard knew that 2015 may be a year of turmoil upon joining the team.

“Fernando’s contract is of three years’ duration – no performance clauses, no nothing,” Dennis said. “He always knew that 2015 would be a learning year.

“He knows equally well that, together with Honda, we’ll make big improvements. So he joined us with open eyes.

“Together with the expertise and experience he’s cultivated over the past 15 years spent racing in Formula 1, he still bristles with energy and enthusiasm.

“He’s had better years than 2015, obviously, but he knows that great years lie ahead of him, with McLaren-Honda.”

Arguably, Alonso’s finest hour came in Brazil when he began sunbathing on a deck chair after being sidelined by an issue on his car in qualifying, sparking the #PlacesAlonsoWouldRatherBe meme on Twitter.

Dennis, renowned for his corporate and official nature, admitted that Alonso’s actions did amuse him before praising the Spaniard.

“I chuckled to myself, to be honest,” Dennis admitted. “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. There’s nothing wrong with a bit of humour.

“And Fernando is as hard-working as he is talented, be in no doubt of that. He’s matured enormously since he last drove for us, eight years ago, and he’s now one of the most complete drivers I’ve ever had the privilege of working with.

“He has what I often refer to as the four e’s that all racing drivers should aspire to cultivate: energy, enthusiasm, expertise and experience.”

Supercross points leader Eli Tomac finds silver linings in interruption

Leave a comment

Though his Monster Energy AMA Supercross championship charge was put on hold, the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic had a silver lining for Eli Tomac.

Off the road while the season was postponed for nearly three months, the points leader was able to be present as his girlfriend, Jessica, gave birth to their daughter, Lev, on April 26

“A huge blessing for us there,” Tomac told host Mike Tirico during a “Lunch Talk Live” interview (click on the video above) in which he also joked about becoming a pro at busting off diaper changes. “That was one good blessing for us as we had our daughter on a Sunday, that would have been on a travel day coming back from the race in Las Vegas.

NBCSN

“That was probably the only positive out of all this mess was being able to be there for the birth.”

But there also could be more good fortune for Tomac as the series resumes Sunday at Salt Lake City, Utah (3-4 p.m. ET on NBCSN, 4-6 p.m. on NBC).

The final seven events will be held over 22 days in Rice-Eccles Stadium, which sits at just over 4,000 feet.

The elevation could favor Tomac, who was born and lives in Colorado and is accustomed to riding and training at altitude, which is a departure for many Supercross riders (many of whom hail from California and Florida).

COVID-19 TESTING REQUIRED: Supercross outlines protocols for last seven races

“That’s going to be the test for us,” said the Kawasaki rider, who five of the first 10 races this season. “We’re at elevation in Salt Lake, so when you’re on a motorcycle, you have a little bit of a loss of power. That’s just what happens when you come up in elevation. And a lot of guys train at sea level, and we’re at 4,000 to 5,000 feet, so cardio-wise, we’ll be pushed to the limit.

“Most of our races are Saturday nights and back to back weeks, but this go around it’s Sunday and Wednesday, so recovery is going to be key.”

Supercross will race Sunday and Wednesday for the next three weeks, capping the season with the June 21 finale, which also will be shown on NBCSN from 3-4:30 p.m. ET and NBC from 4:30-6 p.m. ET.

Tomac, who holds a three-point lead over Ken Roczen (who also recently visited “Lunch Talk Live”), told Tirico he had been riding for 90 minutes Thursday morning on a track outside Salt Lake City.

“Most of us we can rely on our past riding pretty well,” Tomac said. “The question is if you can go the distance. That’s what a lot of guys have to train on is going the distance. We go 20 minutes plus a lap. That’s what you’ve got to keep sharp is your general muscles. Within two to three days, your brain starts warming up more if you take a few weeks off the motorcycle.”

Here is the schedule and TV information for the rest of the season:

  • Sunday, May 31 (3-4 p.m. ET, NBCSN; 4-6 p.m. ET, NBC);
  • Wednesday, June 3 ( 10:00 pm – 1:00 am ET, NBCSN);
  • Sunday, June 7 (5-8:00 p.m. ET, NBCSN);
  • Wednesday, June 10 (7–10 p.m. ET, NBCSN);
  • Sunday, June 14 (7-10 p.m. ET, NBCSN);
  • Wednesday, June 17 (7-10 p.m. ET, NBCSN);
  • Sunday, June 21 (3-4:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN; 4:30 – 6:00 p.m. ET, NBC).
Eli Tomac rides his No. 3 Kawasaki in the Feb. 29 race at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia (Charles Mitchell/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images).