MotorSportsTalk’s 2016 New Year’s Wish List

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Happy New Year, 2016. With 2015 in the books, here’s some of the things we look forward to seeing next season across the motorsports landscape, or some additional questions we have, in the non-NASCAR ranks:

Formula 1

  • An end to Mercedes AMG Petronas domination. It’s not because it’s bad. We admire all the work and the effort put in by the entirety of the Brackley-based crew. But it would be great to see Mercedes win a third championship in a year where they don’t wipe the floors with the competition. It’s why Sebastian Vettel’s 2010 and 2012 titles stand out versus his 2011 and 2013 romps; the same applies for some, but not all, of Michael Schumacher’s titles. Mercedes, feel free to win again in 2016… but let’s not have it be a runaway.
  • A proper Hamilton vs. Vettel title showdown. Combined, these two have won seven of the last eight World Championships dating to 2008, but in none of those years has it shaped up as a one-on-one showdown solely between these two protagonists. Vettel won his primarily against Fernando Alonso, Hamilton’s against Felipe Massa and his teammate, Nico Rosberg. For as great as these two have been, they haven’t had a Schumacher-Hakkinen, Prost-Senna or Hunt-Lauda type of iconic war between just them.
  • McLaren Honda to recover. Things couldn’t have gone much worse for McLaren Honda in their first season reunited after 20-plus years apart, thanks to myriad technical woes. Things should be better next year, although to what degree remains to be seen.
  • Positive American presence for Haas, Rossi and COTA. We know at least one of the three listed to the left – Haas F1 Team – will be on the grid at Melbourne. The hope is that the other two are also solidified; Alexander Rossi for a first full season with the Manor team, and Circuit of The Americas after its financial travails since this year’s fourth edition of the United States Grand Prix in Austin.

IndyCar 

  • A dramatic, but safe, 100th Indianapolis 500. Even more than the season at large, the standout race in the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series season is the 100th Indianapolis 500. Preparations and buzz will likely be bigger for the series’ marquee event than the season as a whole, at least initially, with the winner set to be serenaded for the rest of the year and beyond.
  • Closer Honda vs. Chevrolet battle. Honda was never entirely out of it in 2015 but was never the foremost front runner until the later stages of the season, at best. Put simply, Chevrolet had their measure on the qualifying front and in most of the races, and secured a deserved fourth straight Manufacturer’s Championship.
  • A return to winning for Hinch, Castroneves, TK, Pagenaud and more. Although IndyCar boasted nine winners during the 2015 season, these four didn’t really figure in it. Yes, Hinchcliffe won at NOLA, but even he’d admit it was a flukey, rather than standard type of drive to win. The other three were surprise non-winners in 2015. Pagenaud, in particular, must be the early contender with Hinchcliffe to win the unofficial “comeback driver of the year” award, while 40-somethings Castroneves and Kanaan keep on grinding.
  • An Andretti Autosport comeback. In a tough 2015, and although combined between Ryan Hunter-Reay and Carlos Munoz they still won three races, Andretti Autosport was not really a factor on outright pace most of the year. They’re due for a spring-back next season, with those two and Marco Andretti likely to be better. Andretti made the most of a tough aero package earlier in the year and is a good bet for the 100th 500.
  • Standout drives from the youngsters. IndyCar has a good group of younger drivers – the 2014 rookie class survivors, Carlos Munoz and Jack Hawksworth, returnee Mikhail Aleshin, and Conor Daly and Gabby Chaves – are the “next wave” of drivers due for success. You hope one or more of them will make the leap we saw Josef Newgarden make this past season.

Elsewhere

  • A dynamic Chevrolet vs. Ford battle in IMSA. BoP aside, who will have the upper hand in GT Le Mans? The salivating battle to watch in next year’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship is going to be Corvette vs. Ford, although Porsche, BMW and Ferrari may have something to say about that.
  • Who emerges best among GT3 cars? GT3 cars will have a major role to play in the North American sports car scene in 2016. With GT3 cars introduced into IMSA’s GT Daytona class, and with GT3 cars headlining in the Pirelli World Challenge GT class, the amount and sheer variety of manufacturer GT3 goodness is going to be something to savor next year.
  • LMP1 in WEC tightens up. Porsche dominated 2015; the question is whether Audi and notably, Toyota, can close the deficit next year.
  • Can Red Bull GRC continue its growth spurt? A bigger 2015 Red Bull Global Rallycross season followed a good 2014 one. A “racing entitlement program” has been announced and a schedule is yet to be revealed for 2016, but things are interesting here.
  • How will NHRA’s new world go? With new president Peter Clifford at the helm, a new TV partner in FOX Sports and several driver and team changes on the horizon, things are-a-changin’ in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series.
  • Peace in the open-wheel ladder system. The Mazda Road to Indy is in full prep for its 2016 campaigns for Indy Lights, Pro Mazda and USF2000 – Mazda and Cooper Tire have made the Andersen Promotions-operated three series possible and chugging along. The debut of the new U.S. F4 Championship, which features Honda, Pirelli and SCCA sanctioning, in late May at Lime Rock Park will be one to watch. Politically speaking, this is something to monitor in 2016, and the hope is both junior open-wheel formulas in North America can coexist peacefully without either inadvertently treading on each other’s turf.

Supercross 2023: Results and points after Houston

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Eli Tomac led all 23 laps of the Monster Energy Supercross race at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas and the results show he now has three wins in the season and is one shy of tying Ricky Carmichael’s 48 for third on the all-time list. With this win, he takes a seven point lead in the standings with 12 rounds remaining.

For Tomac at Houston, it was literally a tale of two races. Both his heat and the main started the same with Tomac grabbing the holeshot, but he was passed quickly by Chase Sexton in the heat. Tomac faded quickly after getting passed and was trailing by almost eight seconds at the checkered flag, which caused him to retreat to the hauler and reassess his lines. Without making any adjustments to the bike, Tomac entered the Main with a new attitude, and simply rode better.

Supercross Results Houston
Chase Sexton played it safe in the sand, but he was aggressive in every other turn. – Feld Motor Sports

Sexton had so great a lead in his heat that one could not even use the cliche that he left Tomac in his dust. By the time the rider with the No. 1 plate crossed the same real estate as the No. 23, the dust was well settled. Sexton had a modest start on the initial gate drop and ended Lap 1 in fourth. He worked his way past Aaron Plessinger on Lap 3 and got around Jason Anderson three laps later. Sexton was able to catch Tomac and pressure him, but he picked a safe, i.e. slow line through the sand section and could never get alongside his rival.

RESULTS: Click here for 450 Results; Click here for full 250 East Main Results

After starting the season with back-to-back seventh-place finishes, Anderson now has a pair of podiums. He won his heat and was easily one of the top three riders in the field, ultimately finishing behind the riders who finished 1-2 in the other preliminary. Anderson was subdued on the podium – happy he was there, but disappointed he has not yet found a way around the riders he is chasing in the points.

In the early stages of the race, Plessinger appeared to have a bike capable of winning. He pressured Tomac on the first two laps and was setting up the pass just as a red flag waved for an injury to Dylan Ferrandis that brought out a red flag. He lost second to Anderson on the restart and eventually slipped to fourth to score his first top-five of the season.

Click here for 450 Heat 1 | Heat 2 | Last Chance Qualifier

Cooper Webb rounded out the top five. Along with Sexton, he is now one of just two riders with a sweep of that mark in 2023, but with Tomac’s three wins, he is beginning to slip in the points. Webb sits third in the standings, 12 points behind the leader.

Ken Roczen entered the race as the third rider with a sweep of the top five and progressively better results in the first three races of 2023. Had the pattern held, he would have finished at least second, but he struggled for most of the night, finishing fifth in his heat and eighth in the Main. There may have been extenuating circumstances, however. Ferrandis’ injury was suffered when he landed on the back of Roczen’s bike and potentially damaged the No. 94 Suzuki.

Click here for 450 Main results | Rider Points | Manufacturer Points | Lap Chart


The 250 East division made their 2023 debut in Houston, but the name atop the board was familiar. Hunter Lawrence joined his brother Jett Lawrence as the early points’ leader in their respective divisions, but it didn’t come without a little anxiety.

Riding behind Supercross newbie Tom Vialle on the second lap, Lawrence was forced to take evasive action when the leader pitched his bike sideways to scrub speed over a jump. Lawrence veered left and landed off course, but he cleared the Tuff Blox and kept his bike straight. Lawrence made the pass for the lead on Lap 18 and never relinquished it.

Click here for 250 Heat 1 | Heat 2 | Last Chance Qualifier

In his first attempt on a 250, Max Anstie ascended to the podium. – Feld Motor Sports

England’s Max Anstie made the move from 450s to 250s this year after scoring a best result of 11th on the big bike at Anaheim 2 last year. It didn’t take anytime at all to find the front for Anstie, who finished second in both his heat and main.

It has been a while since Jordon Smith stood on the podium: February 23, 2019 to be exact when he finished that well in Detroit. A series of injuries kept him off the bike for much of 2020 and 2021, but he’s proving to be a factor when he’s healthy.

Click here for 250 Main results | 250 East Rider Points | Combined Rider Points | Lap Chart

There was a lot of hype surrounding the debut of Haiden Deegan in the 250 class and he proved it was merited. He finished fourth in his heat and main. He was as far down as ninth at one point in the feature before slowly picking off riders on his way to the front.

Jeremy Martin finished fifth and now has a streak of three consecutive top-fives to his credit stretching back to last year. Unfortunately, his pair of strong runs in 2022 were interrupted by injury.

Making impressive debuts in the 250 division, Vialle recovered from a fall to finish seventh, Chance Hymas finished eighth, and Talon Hawkins just missed the top 10 with an 11th.

2023 Results

Race 3: Chase Sexton, Levi Kitchen win
Race 2: Eli Tomac, Jett Lawrence win
Round 1: Tomac, Lawrence win

2023 SuperMotocross Power Rankings

Week 3: Ken Roczen takes the top spot
Week 2: Roczen moves up; Chase Sexton falls
Week 1: Eli Tomac tops 450s; Jett Lawrence 250s