Maldonado confirms exit from Renault

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Pastor Maldonado has confirmed his exit from the Renault F1 Team ahead of the 2016 season.

Maldonado posted the news on Twitter this morning.

It’s in Spanish, but is translated below, via Google Translate:

“My dear fans, I address you with respect.

“As everyone knows in recent days there have been a number of rumors about my immediate future in Formula One.

“It has been 23 years in the most exciting sports, I started at an early age, with the help of my family, we grew up and went to form as a professional, I met the taste of victory, that always leaves you with more and more will to fight.

“A few years I became a teenager, I went in search of my dreams to unknown lands, without the warmth of my people, of my roots, my Venezuela.

“At that time, I became a man, and I realized that there were many things that I could get away from my goal, yet always succeeded.

“World Karting, Formula Renault 2000, Formula 3000, Word Series and GP2 championship unforgettable. I got used to winning, we received over 200 trophies, of all sizes, shapes, shine, well, my lifetime of accomplishment in an incredibly wonderful and great pride for my own space.

“He arrived as expected, the dream, the end that justified all my means, Formula One, a category that gave me even the most anticipated of my victories, this Grand Prix of Spain in 2012. All this thanks to the continued support of my family, international fans and especially my great country, that it was heard with our glorious anthem and traveled the world, because I carry my flag not only in my car but in my soul and so to the very top of the podium.

“Today with the utmost humility I inform you that I will not be present at the starting grid for the 2016 F1 season, thanks for all your messages of support, passion and concern for my future. I feel very honored with the support of all of you and proud of my professional performance.

“Affirm my sense of gratitude to God, my family, my sponsors, my friends, my fans and all those who have helped realize this dream of being able to represent Venezuela to the pinnacle of motorsport. See you soon!”

This news all but confirms Kevin Magnussen, who will be set to replace Maldonado at Renault in due course.

I asked Magnussen’s father Jan, who drives for Corvette Racing, at this weekend’s Rolex 24 at Daytona whether he’d be expecting any good news from Kevin to come in the coming days.

Jan’s response? “I always expect good news for Kevin,” he said with a wink and a smile.

Houston Supercross by the numbers: Five riders begin to gap the field

Feld Motor Sports/MX Sports Pro Racing/Align Media
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Chase Sexton stumbled in San Diego and Eli Tomac had a hard fall in Anaheim 2, but the Monster Energy Supercross numbers for Houston suggest they will continue to be the ones to beat in Houston. To do so, they will have to turn back challenges from another pair of riders who have swept the top five in the first three rounds and another with a worst finish of sixth.

Houston Supercross numbers
Cooper Webb’s ability to close races makes him a Houston favorite. – Feld Motor Sports

Despite an accident in his heat in San Diego that sent him to the Last Chance Qualifier (LCQ), Sexton recovered to score a top-five that weekend. His podium finish in Anaheim 1 and overall win last week in Anaheim 2 makes him one of the three riders with a perfect top-five record. He is joined by Cooper Webb, who finished second in the first two rounds and fourth last week, and Ken Roczen, whose consistency in the first three races contributed to him grabbing the top spot in this week’s NBC Supercross Power Rankings.

There are reasons to believe Webb and Roczen can keep those streaks alive.

Webb is the only multiple winner at Supercross’ current Houston stadium. His pair of wins came in 2019 and 2021, the same year he won his two 450 championships.

Clinton Fowler points out this week, that Webb has carried that strength into 2023. Webb had a late surge in Anaheim 1, advancing from fifth to second in the final six laps. In San Diego, he set his ninth fastest lap with two to go and his eighth fastest on the final lap. He posted his fastest lap of Anaheim 2 on Lap 12 while the rest of the field did so on Lap 6 on average.

By comparison, Tomac set his 14th fastest lap on the final circuit in route to winning the Main at San Diego while he was trying to keep Webb at bay.

With a sixth at San Diego, Dylan Ferrandis barely missed sweeping the top five in his first three races as did Tomac with a sixth last week at Anaheim 2.

This will be the 46th year Supercross has visited Houston and with 55 races the city is tied for the second-most with Detroit. Jim Pomeroy won the first race in the Astrodome in 1974. Webb won most recently in 2021 in the final race of three held there that year as the series executed a strategy of racing in residencies to limit travel during height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Tomac and Justin Barcia also won in Houston in 2021.

Two privateers have started the season on a high note.

Joshua Cartwright and Joshua Varize have each made the last two Mains. Cartwright finished 18th in San Diego and 21st last week in Anaheim 2 – all while working fulltime as a Business Intelligence Analyst at the University of Texas, Dallas. Varize earned a top-15 (12th) in San Diego and was 21st in Anaheim 2 in his third season on a 450.

Michael Mosiman scored his first 250 win last year in San Diego. – Feld Motor Sports

The numbers show none of the active 250 Supercross East riders have won in Houston, so no matter who steps on top of the box, there is going to be a fresh face. That is not surprising since most of the top competitors have not raced at this venue yet.

Michael Mosiman has a pair of top-fives there, however. His best finish was a second in the second 2021 race. Garrett Marchbanks scored a top-10 in his rookie season of 2019 in Houston.

In the 250 East division, Hunter Lawrence is one of the favorites to win the title now that Christian Craig has moved to 450s. Last year he had four wins and nine podiums, but failed to set a fast lap in a race.

The other 250 riders with 2022 wins this week are Mosiman, who earned his first Supercross win last year in San Diego, and Nate Thrasher, who became the fifth new class winner at Daytona.

Jeremy Martin will attempt to extend a record this week in Houston. His division leading SuperMotocross podiums number 65. He has 26 wins in the combined sessions, which ranks fourth all time.

Last Five Houston Winners

450s
2022, no race
2021, Race 3: Cooper Webb
2021, Race 2: Eli Tomac
2021, Race 1: Justin Barcia
2020, no race
2019, Cooper Webb
2018, Jason Anderson

250s
2022, no race
2021, Race 3: Colt Nichols
2021, Race 2: Jett Lawrence
2021, Race 1: Christian Craig
2020, no race
2019, Dylan Ferrandis
2018, Aaron Plessinger

By the Numbers

Anaheim 2
San Diego

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Haiden Deegan makes Supercross debut in Houston, Justin Cooper to 450s
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Jalek Swoll out for an indefinite period with broken arm
Ken Roczen urgently needed a change
Chris Blose joins Pro Circuit Kawasaki in 250 East opener
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Jo Shimoda joins Seth Hammaker, Austin Forkner on injured list
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Chase Sexton wins Anaheim 2 in 450s; Levi Kitchen takes 250s
Results and points from Anaheim 2