DAMS confirms line-up for debut GP3 season

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French team DAMS has confirmed its line-up for its debut season in the GP3 Series.

It was confirmed last October that DAMS would be expanding its Formula E and GP2 operations to also include GP3, fielding three cars in the series from 2016.

DAMS will race with an all-rookie line-up for its debut GP3 season, including American youngster Santino Ferrucci, who steps up from the FIA F3 championship.

Ferrucci, 17, of Woodbury, CT, tested with Status Grand Prix in Abu Dhabi last year, and is relishing the opportunity to race in GP3 this season.

“I’m really looking forward to working with DAMS, who have always been front-runners in everything they’ve done,” Ferrucci said.

“It was really fun to test the car in Abu Dhabi last year ahead of what is both of our rookie years in GP3. The strategy looks like it could take some getting used to, but the team are really professional and I can’t wait to see what we can achieve together.”

Ferrucci is joined at DAMS by British youngster Jake Hughes and Swiss racer Kevin Jörg.

Hughes won the BRDC Formula 4 in Britain two years ago before finishing second in last year’s Formula Renault 2.0 ALPS, as well as racing in the Eurocup series where he ended the season sixth in the final standings.

“It’s an honor to be working with a team as fantastic as DAMS, who have a track record of doing well with new challenges,” Hughes said.

“I tested a GP3 car for the first time in Abu Dhabi last year and I immediately got on with both the tires – which I know can be a challenge – and the car as a whole, so that makes me confident of a good year.”

Jörg moves into GP3 from Formula Renault 2.0 NEC, where he finishes second in the 2015 championship.

“Obviously we’re all new to GP3, and there are always a lot of strong drivers in this series, but I’m confident that with DAMS we can achieve some good results,” Jörg said.

“I was quick in the Abu Dhabi test last year – twice coming second fastest – and adapted to the car pretty quickly. Tire management is key in GP3, and I’m sure we’ll focus on this during pre-season testing.”

Miguel Oliveira wins MotoGP Thai Grand Prix, Bagnaia closes to two points in championship

MotoGP Thai Grand Prix
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Miguel Oliveira mastered mixed conditions on the Chang International Circuit in Buriram, Thailand to win the MotoGP Thai Grand Prix. Oliveira showed the adaptability as he navigated a race that began in wet conditions and turned dry over the course of the race. Oliveira won the Indonesian GP in similar conditions.

“It was a long race, but I can’t complain,” Oliveira said on CNBC. “Every time we get to ride in the wet, I’m always super-fast. When it started raining, I had flashbacks of Indonesia. I tried to keep my feet on the ground, make a good start and not make mistakes and carry the bike to the end.”

All eyes were on the championship, however. Francesco Bagnaia got a great start to slot into second in Turn 1.

Meanwhile Fabio Quartararo had a disastrous first lap. He lost five positions in the first couple of turns and then rode over the rumble strips and fell back to 17th. At the end of the first lap, Bagnaia had the points’ lead by two. A win would have added to the gain and for a moment, it appeared Bagnaia might assume the lead.

Early leader Marco Bezzecchi was penalized for exceeding track limits, but before that happened, Jack Miller got around Bagnaia and pushed him back to third. Oliveira was not far behind.

After throwing away ninth-place and seven points on the last lap of the Japanese GP last week, Bagnaia did not allow the competition to press him into a mistake. He fell back as far as fourth before retaking the final position on the podium.

“It’s like a win for me, this podium,” Bagnaia. “My first podium in the wet and then there was a mix of conditions, so I’m very happy. I want to thank Jack Miller. Before the race, he gave me a motivational chat.”

Miller led the first half of the Thai Grand Prix before giving up the top spot to Oliveira and then held on to finish second. Coupled with his Japanese GP win, Miller is now fully in the MotoGP championship battle with a 40-point deficit, but he will need a string of results like Bagnaia has put together in recent weeks – and he needs Bagnaia to lose momentum.

Miller’s home Grand Prix in Australia is next up on the calendar in two weeks.

Bagnaia entered the race 18 points behind Quartararo after he failed to score any in Japan. The balance of power has rapidly shifted, however, with Quartararo now failing to earn points in two of the last three rounds. Bagnaia won four consecutive races and finished second in the five races leading up to Japan. His third-place finish in Thailand is now his sixth MotoGP podium in the last seven rounds.

Aleix Espargaro entered the race third in the standings with a 25-point deficit to Quartararo, but was able to close the gap by only five after getting hit with a long-lap penalty for aggressive riding when he pushed Darryn Binder off course during a pass for position. Espargaro finished 11th.

Rain mixed up the Moto2 running order in the MotoGP Thai Grand Prix as well. Starting on a wet track, Somkiat Chantra led the opening lap in his home Grand Prix. He could not hold onto it and crashed one circuit later, but still gave his countrymen a moment of pride by winning the pole.

Half points were awarded as the race went only eight laps before Tony Arbolino crossed under the checkers first with Filip Salac and Aron Canet rounding out the podium.

American Joe Roberts earned another top-10 in eighth with Sean Dylan Kelly finishing just outside the top 10 in 11th.