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Nelson Piquet Jr. returns to roots, will run Pau F3 with Carlin

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Nelson Piquet Jr. has made waves for his diversity in recent years – the 2014-2015 FIA Formula E champion has also made waves in Red Bull Global Rallycross, NASCAR, Indy Lights and now in the FIA World Endurance Championship with Rebellion Racing in the intervening time period since his year and a half in Formula 1.

Now though, at least for one weekend, he’s returning to his roots – Formula 3 in a one-off with Carlin.

Piquet is going to be in one of Carlin’s four F3 cars at the FIA Formula 3 European Championship round at Pau to provide expert feedback and advice to the team’s three regulars, Ryan Tveter, Alessio Lorandi and Peter Li.  If schedules and his entry is permitted, he’ll also run the legendary Macau Grand Prix with Carlin later this year.

He also deputized for Max Chilton at last year’s Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires races in Toronto with Carlin, while Chilton was at the 24 Hours of Le Mans with Nissan.

Piquet won the 2004 British Formula 3 championship with Piquet Sports and was an F3 star before heading to GP2 and then into F1.

“I’m really excited to get back behind the wheel of a Formula 3 car, which holds so many great memories for me,” Piquet said in a release.

“I had a great time working with Carlin in the Indy Lights car in Toronto last year, and I’m happy to help the team again this weekend in Pau.   Any experience gained on street circuits is beneficial for my Formula E campaign and I relish the challenge of adapting to another category this season.”

Team principal Trevor Carlin added, “Nelson is a real racer. He’s unafraid of competition at any level and is reminiscent of the era of drivers like Jim Clark who would take part in races from various categories, just for the love of racing.

“Nelson really impressed the team last season when he jumped into an unfamiliar Indy Lights car and put the car on pole on a track he had never visited before. His championship winning credentials in Formula E perfectly reflect his talent on street circuits. We believe he will be a great asset to the team and our young drivers this weekend and we look forward to working with him in Pau and hopefully again in Macau later this year.”

Supercross points leader Eli Tomac finds silver linings in interruption

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Though his Monster Energy AMA Supercross championship charge was put on hold, the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic had a silver lining for Eli Tomac.

Off the road while the season was postponed for nearly three months, the points leader was able to be present as his girlfriend, Jessica, gave birth to their daughter, Lev, on April 26

“A huge blessing for us there,” Tomac told host Mike Tirico during a “Lunch Talk Live” interview (click on the video above) in which he also joked about becoming a pro at busting off diaper changes. “That was one good blessing for us as we had our daughter on a Sunday, that would have been on a travel day coming back from the race in Las Vegas.

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“That was probably the only positive out of all this mess was being able to be there for the birth.”

But there also could be more good fortune for Tomac as the series resumes Sunday at Salt Lake City, Utah (3-4 p.m. ET on NBCSN, 4-6 p.m. on NBC).

The final seven events will be held over 22 days in Rice-Eccles Stadium, which sits at just over 4,000 feet.

The elevation could favor Tomac, who was born and lives in Colorado and is accustomed to riding and training at altitude, which is a departure for many Supercross riders (many of whom hail from California and Florida).

COVID-19 TESTING REQUIRED: Supercross outlines protocols for last seven races

“That’s going to be the test for us,” said the Kawasaki rider, who five of the first 10 races this season. “We’re at elevation in Salt Lake, so when you’re on a motorcycle, you have a little bit of a loss of power. That’s just what happens when you come up in elevation. And a lot of guys train at sea level, and we’re at 4,000 to 5,000 feet, so cardio-wise, we’ll be pushed to the limit.

“Most of our races are Saturday nights and back to back weeks, but this go around it’s Sunday and Wednesday, so recovery is going to be key.”

Supercross will race Sunday and Wednesday for the next three weeks, capping the season with the June 21 finale, which also will be shown on NBCSN from 3-4:30 p.m. ET and NBC from 4:30-6 p.m. ET.

Tomac, who holds a three-point lead over Ken Roczen (who also recently visited “Lunch Talk Live”), told Tirico he had been riding for 90 minutes Thursday morning on a track outside Salt Lake City.

“Most of us we can rely on our past riding pretty well,” Tomac said. “The question is if you can go the distance. That’s what a lot of guys have to train on is going the distance. We go 20 minutes plus a lap. That’s what you’ve got to keep sharp is your general muscles. Within two to three days, your brain starts warming up more if you take a few weeks off the motorcycle.”

Here is the schedule and TV information for the rest of the season:

  • Sunday, May 31 (3-4 p.m. ET, NBCSN; 4-6 p.m. ET, NBC);
  • Wednesday, June 3 ( 10:00 pm – 1:00 am ET, NBCSN);
  • Sunday, June 7 (5-8:00 p.m. ET, NBCSN);
  • Wednesday, June 10 (7–10 p.m. ET, NBCSN);
  • Sunday, June 14 (7-10 p.m. ET, NBCSN);
  • Wednesday, June 17 (7-10 p.m. ET, NBCSN);
  • Sunday, June 21 (3-4:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN; 4:30 – 6:00 p.m. ET, NBC).
Eli Tomac rides his No. 3 Kawasaki in the Feb. 29 race at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia (Charles Mitchell/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images).