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Marquez quickest but crashes in second COTA MotoGP practice

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Marc Marquez continued his excellent record at the Circuit of The Americas by topping second practice for the MotoGP Grand Prix of the Americas on Friday afternoon.

Marquez is a three-time winner at the circuit in Austin, Texas, and followed his impressive victory in Argentina last weekend by topping first practice on Friday afternoon.

Marquez followed this up with another charge to P1 in FP2, setting a fastest lap time of 2:04.034 with five minutes remaining in the session.

Despite finishing seven-tenths clear at the top of the timesheets, Marquez suffered a crash with 25 minutes remaining in the session when on a fast lap time, sliding off the track at the final corner.

Marquez got up quickly and recovered his bike before pushing it back into the pit lane on foot, which may attract the interest of the MotoGP race stewards later today.

Ducati rider Andrea Iannone finished the session in second place ahead of Suzuki rider Maverick Vinales as both of the youngsters put in impressive displays. British rider Scott Redding jumped up to fourth place late on despite battling illness ahead of the weekend.

Yamaha riders Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi struggled to match the pace of Marquez, both having off-track excursions during the session.

Rossi had been poised to improve his time on his final lap, only for a mistake in the third sector to leave him sixth-fastest behind teammate Lorenzo.

Loris Baz ended the session seventh ahead of Dani Pedrosa and Andrea Dovizioso, while Cal Crutchlow rounded out the top 10 for LCR Honda.

Final practice and qualifying in Austin takes place on Saturday ahead of Sunday’s race.

Helio Castroneves ‘hustling’ for IndyCar, IMSA rides; talking with four to five teams

Helio Castroneves IMSA IndyCar
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As his season gathers steam, Helio Castroneves said his prospects for finding new rides for 2021 in IMSA and IndyCar also are gaining momentum.

The three-time Indianapolis 500 winner said Monday he is optimistic about landing in either or perhaps a combination of both series when Team Penske and Acura end their DPi partnership after this season.

“A lot of people I spoke with, four to five teams, are interested,” Castroneves said. “Whether it’s doing Indy 500 only, whether it’s pushing to do full time or do the sports cars as well. It’s been a very nice conversation.

LOOKING AHEADTeam Penske drivers seeking new rides for 2021

“I have a lot of respect for all the teams that have been talking, and I feel the same feedback. We just have to wait for their (sponsor) connections, and I’m also looking for some connections on my side as well, so hopefully we’ll be able to put this together and get something very soon.”

Given two decades of success with Penske in IndyCar and IMSA, Castroneves’ resume hardly needs burnishing. But the Brazilian has combined with co-driver Ricky Taylor in the No. 7 Acura DPi to win the past two overall victories at Road America and Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.

But Castroneves, who doesn’t have a manager, said he has been working the phones hard rather than wait for the strong results to bring in the calls.

“At this point, I feel like I’m the one who needs to be talking to them because people need to know I want to continue racing and understand my desire,” Castroneves, 45, said. “There is opportunity, no question, in both (IndyCar and IMSA), which I’m really happy about it. However, because of the COVID-19, a lot of things sometimes have to be a little delayed. But I’m excited. Whatever the opportunity and whatever destiny guides me, whether IndyCar or sports cars, trust me I’ll be as happy as it could be and doing my 100 percent like I always did.

“It’s like politics, you need to be out there, good news or bad news. People have to make notice of your presence. I’m hustling. I want to continue to keep it going. Hopefully, we’ll have good news very soon.”

The news has been all good lately on track for Castroneves and Taylor, who hope to continue their run Sunday at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

The No. 6 duo has surged to sixth in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship standings, 10 points out of the lead with four races remaining. After thinking there was “no hope” to be competitive after opening the season with three consecutive poor finishes, Taylor now sees an opportunity for a happy ending.

“With the program going away, Helio has won all the big races and given so much back to the team and left such a mark, he’s really part of Penske history,” Taylor said. “For me, it’s been an opportunity of a lifetime to be a part of it. I’d like to leave my little mark as well. Helio has won everything except for a championship.

“Obviously, we’ve won races already together, but we can win a championship now. I think if both of us can do that together and both win our first championship for ‘The Captain,’ that would be an absolute dream come true, and we can tie a bow on it and be happy.”