Rosberg fastest again in second Bahrain GP practice

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Nico Rosberg continued to lead the way for Mercedes in practice for the Bahrain Grand Prix on Friday as night fell at Sakhir.

Rosberg beat Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton by half a second in FP1 on Friday afternoon, and continued to dominate under the floodlights at the Bahrain International Circuit.

Rosberg set a fastest time of 1:31.001 on the super-soft tire to edge out Hamilton once again, leaving the Briton to settle for second place two-tenths of a second further back.

With conditions being more representative of qualifying and the race than they were in FP1, the majority of teams pushed to complete as much running as possible in second practice.

FP2 saw the super-soft compound tire break cover for the first time in Bahrain, allowing McLaren’s Jenson Button to shoot up to third place at the end of the session.

Toro Rosso’s Max Verstappen followed in fourth place, with the Ferrari duo of Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel following in fifth and sixth position.

Vettel had been just four-tenths behind Rosberg after their soft tire runs, but two mistakes on his flying super-soft lap meant he could not improve his time, leaving him 1.6 seconds off the leader.

The German’s session was brought to an early end when his car lost drive with 15 minutes remaining. “Something is not right, I’ll stop the car,” he reported to Ferrari, before noting that his left-rear tire was loose as the car was lifted onto a recovery vehicle.

Daniil Kvyat followed Vettel in seventh place for Red Bull ahead of Williams’ Valtteri Bottas, with their respective teammates Daniel Ricciardo and Felipe Massa rounding out the top 10.

Stoffel Vandoorne impressed in his second Formula 1 practice session by finishing 11th, less than two seconds off Rosberg at the top, while Esteban Gutierrez ended FP2 12th as the leading Haas driver.

Teammate Romain Grosjean ended the session 14th, but suffered a front wing failure towards the end of the running that left debris on the track.

At the front though, there was no doubting Mercedes’ edge over the field once again in Bahrain heading into final practice and qualifying on Saturday.

You can watch qualifying for the Bahrain Grand Prix live on CNBC from 11am ET on Saturday. For full broadcasting details, click here.

Meyer Shank Racing wins Petit Le Mans to take final DPi championship in dramatic finale

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Meyer Shank Racing outdueled Wayne Taylor Racing to win the Petit Le Mans and clinch the championship in a thrilling final race for the DPi division.

Tom Blomqvist, who started from the pole position, drove the No. 60 Acura ARX-05 to a 4.369-second victory over Pipo Derani in the No. 31 Action Express Cadillac.

“That was incredible,” Blomqvist told NBC Sports’ Matt Yocum. “I’ve never dug so deep in my life. The adrenaline. I did that for the guys. I was so motivated to win this thing this weekend. But I’ve got to thank everyone on the whole team.”

With co-drivers Oliver Jarvis and Helio Castroneves, Blomqvist helped MSR bookend its season-opening victory in the Rolex 24 at Daytona by winning Saturday’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season finale at Michelin Road Atlanta.

In between those two victories, the No. 60 earned five runner-up finishes to stay in the thick of the championship hunt and trail WTR’s No. 10 Acura by 14 points entering Saturday’s race.

WTR’s Filipe Albuquerque had a lead of more than 10 seconds over Blomqvist with less than 50 minutes remaining in the 10-hour race.

But a Turn 1 crash between the Chip Ganassi Racing Cadillacs brought out a yellow that sent both Acuras into the pits from the top two positions.

Though he entered in second, Blomqvist barely beat Albuquerque out of the pits, and he held the lead for the final 45 minutes.

Blomqvist said he gained the lead because of a shorter fuel fill after he had worked on being efficient in the second-to-last stint.

“The team asked a big job of me with the fuel; I had a big fuel number to hit,” Blomqvist said. “We knew that was probably our only chance. The yellow came at the right time and obviously we had a bit less fuel to fill up, so I was able to jump him and then it was just a matter of going gung-ho and not leaving anything on the line. And obviously, the opposition had to try too hard to make it work. I’m so thankful.”

Albuquerque closed within a few car lengths of Blomqvist with 14 minutes remaining, but he damaged his suspension because of contact with a GT car in Turn 1.

It’s the first prototype championship for Meyer Shank Racing, which also won the 2021 Indy 500 with Castroneves.

“We’ve had in the last four years, three championships for Acura, the Indy 500 win and the Rolex 24, it doesn’t get any better,” team co-owner Mike Shank told NBC Sports’ Kevin Lee.

It’s the third consecutive runner-up finish in the points standings for Wayne Taylor Racing, which won the first Daytona Prototype international championship in 2017. The premier category will be rebranded as the Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) class with the LMDh cars that will establish a bridge to racing in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Kamui Kobayashi finished third in the No. 48 Cadillac of Action Express that also includes Jimmie Johnson and Mike Rockenfeller.

The podium showing marked Johnson’s last scheduled race in IMSA’s top prototype division. The seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion has raced in the No. 48 Ally Cadillac lineup as the Action Express entry has run the Endurance Cup races.

Johnson said a lack of inventory will preclude him having a 2023 ride in the top category. But he still is hopeful of racing the Garage 56 Next Gen Camaro in next year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans and possibly running in a lower class for the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

“I’d love to be at Le Mans next year,” Johnson told NBC Sports’ Dillon Welch after his final stint Saturday. “I’d love to be at the Rolex 24. The series is going through a shake-up with the reconfiguration of the rules and classes, so I don’t have anything locked down yet, but I’m so thankful for this experience with Action. The support Ally has given us, Mr. Hendrick, Chad Knaus, all of Hendrick Motorsports. It’s been a fun two years, and I certainly hope I’m on the grid again next year.”