Hamilton quickest in damp opening Australian GP practice


Defending Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton started as he will hope to go on in 2016 by setting the pace in the first free practice session of the season in Australia on Friday.

FP1 for the Australian Grand Prix proved to be a damp affair, with rain coming and going throughout the session to limit the drivers to short windows of meaningful on-track running.

Overnight rain left the track wet to begin with until a short break in the weather allowed Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo to rise to P1 with a dry-tire lap.

Rain soon returned before easing again with just under 20 minutes to go in the session, sparking a flurry of lap times from the drivers, many of whom had bided their time in the pits for much of FP1.

Hamilton took full advantage of the dry window to topple Ricciardo, only for a final dry front to come through in the dying moments of the session and give drivers a late chance to improve.

The Briton found a further six-tenths of a second to end the session P1 with a best lap of 1:29.725, leaving him 0.4 seconds clear of Red Bull’s Daniil Kvyat in second place.

Ricciardo ended the session in third place, although his running did come to an early end when he beached his Red Bull in the gravel at the end of the session when more rain hit the track.

A number of drivers struggled with the changeable conditions throughout the session, including Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen and Manor’s Rio Haryanto who spun. Max Verstappen also lost control of his Toro Rosso at one point, but was able to recover to fifth place behind Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg.

Nico Rosberg finished sixth in the second Mercedes ahead of the McLaren duo of Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button, while Sergio Perez and Kevin Magnussen rounded out the top 10.

FP1 saw Haas F1 Team make its grand prix weekend debut as both Esteban Gutierrez and Romain Grosjean got out to complete some laps in the VF-16 car, finishing 18th and 20th respectively.

Sebastian Vettel and Carlos Sainz Jr. were the only drivers not to post a time, with the latter coming to a stop in the pit lane 30 minutes in to FP1.

Second practice for the Australian Grand Prix is live on NBCSN from 1:30am ET on Friday.

Supercross reveals 2023 Daytona track designed by Ricky Carmichael for 16th time


For the 16th consecutive year, Ricky Carmichael has designed a signature course for the Daytona Supercross race, which will be March 4, 2023.

Eli Tomac took advantage of a last lap mistake by Cooper Webb last year to win a record setting sixth Daytona race – and with that win, he broke out of a tie Carmichael.

Construction on the course will begin two days after the completion of the 65th running of NASCAR’s Daytona 500 when haulers start to unload 7,200 tons of dirt onto the grassy infield in order to create a course 3,300 feet long.

“Ricky has designed yet another incredible course for this year’s Daytona Supercross,” said Daytona International Speedway President Frank Kelleher in a press release. “We’re thrilled to unveil it to the fans, and we can’t wait for them to come out to the track and see it in person.”

MORE: Designs for SuperMotocross finals at zMax Raceway and Chicagoland Speedway

Carmichael’s Daytona course will take center stage for Round 8 of the 17-race Supercross season and the 31-race SuperMotocross season.

The Supercross race coincides with Daytona’s Bike Week, which runs from March 3-12 and includes races from the American Flat Track series and the legendary Daytona 200 speedway race that is contested on the infield road course.

Last year’s course was reported to have 57 obstacles including the return of an over-under bridge. For 2023 the number of obstacles listed in 42, but that will not keep this from being one of the toughest tracks on which the Monster Energy Supercross series will race.

Many of the same elements from last year will be present including sharp turns, vaulted jumps, sand sections and a finish line that aligns with the oval tracks’ start/finish line.

“This year’s Daytona Supercross design is one of the best,” Carmichael said. “It races great for the riders – it’s safe yet challenging and it’s very similar to last year with the split lanes. Daytona is the toughest, gnarliest race on the Supercross circuit, but it’s the most special to win.

“This track is going to produce great racing and I think the riders are going to put on a fantastic display for all our fans.”

While Tomac has dominated this race during his career, Daytona has also been the site of some other dramatic victories. In 2021 Aaron Plessinger scored his first career Supercross podium in 35 starts with a win there and reversed a three-year streak of bad luck on the track.

The Daytona Supercross race is the first of two the series will contest on speedway infield courses. A little more than one month later, Atlanta Motor Speedway will enter their third season as a supercross venue. These two courses will serve as an early test for the SuperMotocross three-race finale that begins September 9, 2023 at zMax Dragway in Charlotte, North Carolina. The three playoff races will each be held on courses that contain elements of Supercross and Motocross, much like Daytona and Atlanta.