Canadian F3 winner Lance Stroll, 17, to race for Ganassi in Rolex 24

(Provided photos)

When you’re 17 years old, getting your driver’s license is typically the end all and be all of your young life.

Not so for Canadian driver Lance Stroll. Instead of asking mom or dad to borrow the family car, he’ll be driving a multi-million dollar sports car in the upcoming Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway.

Of course, it helps that Stroll is a Formula Three winner as he makes his sports car debut and endurance racing debut driving a Ford EcoBoost Prototype for Ford Chip Ganassi Racing in the Rolex 24 at Daytona on Jan. 30-31.

Stroll will team with New Zealander Brendon Hartley, Australian Alex Wurz and Great Britain’s Andy Priaulx.

“When an opportunity comes along to compete in one of the world’s greatest and definitely North America’s most famous sports car race, with one of America’s most successful teams in Ford Chip Ganassi Racing, and racing at the legendary Daytona International Speedway, it was too great an offer to turn down,” Stroll said in a media release.

Target 24 hour car

Stroll gets a head start on the action with the three-day (Jan. 8-10) “Roar Before the 24” test to allow himself to get acquainted with the 3.56-mile DIS road course.

Ford Chip Ganassi Racing is seeking its seventh win in the annual 24-hour race, having taken the checkered flag in 2006 through 2008, 2011, 2013 and is the reigning champ from 2015.

Stroll began racing go-karts in 2008 and won the 2014 Italian Formula 4 Championship and 2015 Toyota Racing Series in New Zealand. He won a race and registered 17 top-six finishes in FIA Formula 3 European Championship Series. He will return to the Euro F3 Series for his third straight season with the Italian Prema Powerteam in 2016.

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Jack Miller wins the MotoGP Japanese Grand Prix as Fabio Quartararo stops his downward points’ slide


Jack Miller ran away with the MotoGP Japanese Grand Prix at Motegi as Fabio Quartararo stopped his downward slide in the championship when a last-lap accident from his closest rival in the standings caused Francesco Bagnaia to score zero points.

Starting seventh, Miller quickly made his way forward. He was second at the end of two laps. One lap later, he grabbed the lead from Jorge Martin. Once in the lead, Miller posted three consecutive fastest laps and was never seriously challenged. It was Australian native Miller’s first race win of the season and his sixth podium finish.

The proximity to his home turf was not lost.

“I can ride a motorcycle sometimes,” Miller said in NBC Sports’ post-race coverage. “I felt amazing all weekend since I rolled out on the first practice. It feels so awesome to be racing on this side of the world.

“What an amazing day. It’s awesome; we have the home Grand Prix coming up shortly. Wedding coming up in a couple of weeks. I’m over the moon; can’t thank everyone enough.”

Miller beat Brad Binder to the line by 3.4 seconds with third-place Jorge Martin finishing about one second behind.

But the center of the storm was located just inside the top 10 as both Quartararo and Bagnaia started deep in the field.

Quartararo was on the outside of row three in ninth with Bagnaia one row behind in 12th. Neither rider moved up significantly, but the championship continued to be of primary importance as Bagnaia put in a patented late-race charge to settle onto Quartararo’s back tire, which would have allowed the championship leader to gain only a single point.

On the final lap, Bagnaia charged just a little too hard and crashed under heavy braking, throwing away the seven points he would have earned for a ninth-place finish.

The day was even more dramatic for the rider who entered the MotoGP Japanese Grand Prix third in the standings. On the sighting lap, Aleix Espargaro had an alarm sound, so he peeled off into the pits, dropped his primary bike and jumped aboard the backup. Starting from pit lane, he trailed the field and was never able to climb into the points. An undisclosed electronic problem was the culprit.

For Quartararo, gaining eight points on the competition was more than a moral victory. This was a track on which he expected to run moderately, and he did, but the problems for his rivals gives him renewed focus with four rounds remaining.

Next week, the series heads to Thailand and then Miller’s home track of Phillip Island in Australia. They will close out the Pacific Rim portion of the schedule before heading to Spain for the finale in early November.

It would appear team orders are not in play among the Ducati riders. Last week’s winner Enea Bastianini made an aggressive early move on Bagnaia for position before the championship contender wrestled the spot back.

In his second race back following arm surgery, Marc Marquez won the pole. His last pole was more than 1,000 days ago on this same track in 2019, the last time the series competed at Motegi. Marquez slipped to fifth in the middle stages of the race, before regaining a position to finish just off the podium.

In Moto2 competition, Ai Ogura beat Augusto Fernandez to close the gap in that championship to two points. Fernandez holds the scant lead. Alonso Lopez rounded out the podium.

Both American riders, Cameron Beaubier and Joe Roberts finished just outside the top 10 in 11th and 12th respectively.