What to watch for: Monaco Grand Prix (NBC, Live Extra from 7:30am ET, NBCSN from 7am)

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Given he has been one of Formula 1’s most outstanding talents in the past couple of years, it seemed odd that Daniel Ricciardo’s pole in Monaco on Saturday was in fact the first of his grand prix racing career.

The Australian’s stunning lap at the end of Q3 had been foreshadowed during practice when he led the way for Red Bull, yet to see the Mercedes duo of Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton soundly beaten still came as a surprise.

At a track where qualifying is arguably more important than anywhere else, the result was a welcome one for Ricciardo, particularly after his bitter defeat to teammate Max Verstappen in Spain two weeks ago.

Ricciardo was asked after the session what his pole position was down to: “The engine update, the chassis itself or the big Australian balls?”

If you know anything about Daniel Ricciardo, you’ll know what his answer was.

With a surprise qualifying in the bag, might we get an equally as surprising race? Here are a few things to watch for in today’s Monaco Grand Prix (live on NBC from 7:30am ET, F1 Countdown on NBCSN from 7am).

2016 Monaco Grand Prix – What to watch for

Strategy options aplenty for Ricciardo

Not only was Ricciardo’s charge to pole position a surprise, but the fact he will start the race on the super-soft tire is all the more impressive. Red Bull sent him out for a run on the middle-compound tire in Monaco at the end of Q2, and he duly posted his fastest time of the session, making it his starting rubber.

With the rest of the field on the ultra-softs, Ricciardo has the chance to go deep into the race before making his first pit stop. Although he will be at a pace disadvantage early on, with overtaking around Monaco being so difficult, relying he can hold onto the lead off the line, it may be his race to lose.

That said, the longer Ricciardo goes before stopping, the more time there is for a safety car or incident to scupper his plans – and that’s before we even factor in the weather.

Rain at Monaco – what dreams are made of?

Earlier this week, F1’s official weather forecasters UBIMET put out its regular pre-race update confirming that a wet race was on the cards in Monaco. Throughout the weekend, the percentages have not subsided, and with rain falling during the morning in the lead-up to the race, we look set for a damp affair today.

It will be fascinating to see how the top teams cut it in the wet, particularly given the lack of rain-hit grands prix in recent years. Red Bull will fancy its chances given the aerodynamic strength of the RB12, yet Mercedes cannot be written off as a threat.

Legends have been made in the rain at Monaco. Could another come to the fore today?

Hamilton looks to get his title race back on track

With his record reading 0-4 against Mercedes teammate Rosberg so far this season, Hamilton enters Sunday’s Monaco Grand Prix with a point to prove. He trails by 43 points in the drivers’ championship, and is fortunate to be starting even third after another engine scare in qualifying.

Hamilton’s record in Monaco won’t instill him with confidence either. His only victory came in 2008 and only thanks to a fortuitous safety car after he hit the barrier – but with rain on the cards today, he could come into his own once again.

Lewis needs to kick-start his season today. If the gap to Rosberg grows to over 50 points today, will there be any way back for him?

Mad Max set for a fight from the back

Max Verstappen suffered a big come down on Saturday. 13 days since becoming F1’s youngest ever winner at the Spanish Grand Prix, the Dutchman made a rookie error by crashing out at the Swimming Pool chicane, resigning himself to a pit lane start.

Verstappen has done a lot of good in his short time on the grid, but today might just be his biggest challenge yet. He does have a penchant for street circuits, and with arguably the quickest car this weekend, he could fight his way back up the order.

Keep an eye on Max today. It might be a race to remember for him.

Banking on a race of attrition

“If you line up between 10th and 16th, anything can happen, and providing we don’t get involved in any incidents, anything is possible,” Haas team principal Guenther Steiner said on Saturday after seeing his drivers qualify 12th and 15th.

It may seem a bit optimistic and upbeat, but he’s not wrong. Overtaking comes at a premium, but when mistakes are punished as brutally as they are at Monaco, it creates opportunities. The weather will only further them.

So keep an eye on the likes of Haas, Sauber, Renault and – why not – even Manor today. This will likely be their best chance of the season to spring a surprise.

Pirelli strategy prediction

A two-stopper is actually theoretically fastest in Monaco, but this doesn’t take into account the problems of traffic and overtaking: two of the biggest challenges in the principality.

So in actual fact, a one-stopper could be more likely for the race. The ideal one-stopper is: start on ultrasoft, change to soft on lap 18. The fastest two-stopper is: start on ultrasoft, change to ultrasoft again on lap 14, then soft on lap 28.

2016 Monaco Grand Prix – Starting Grid

1. Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull
2. Nico Rosberg Mercedes
3. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes
4. Sebastian Vettel Ferrari
5. Nico Hulkenberg Force India
6. Carlos Sainz Jr. Toro Rosso
7. Sergio Perez Force India
8. Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso
9. Fernando Alonso McLaren
10. Valtteri Bottas Williams
11. Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari
12. Esteban Gutierrez Haas
13. Jenson Button McLaren
14. Felipe Massa Williams
15. Romain Grosjean Haas
16. Kevin Magnussen Renault
17. Marcus Ericsson Sauber
18. Jolyon Palmer Renault
19. Rio Haryanto Manor
20. Pascal Wehrlein Manor
PL. Max Verstappen Red Bull
PL. Felipe Nasr Sauber

The Monaco Grand Prix is live on NBC from 7:30am ET on Sunday, with F1 Countdown beginning on NBCSN at 7am.

IMSA Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta: How to watch, start times, schedule, entry list

AUTO: NOV 13 IMSA - Motul Petit Le Mans
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Start times, TV schedule: The IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship will conclude the 2022 season this weekend with the Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Road Atlanta, which also will mark the end of the line for the DPi class.

The premier Daytona Prototype international category, which started in 2017, will be replaced by the new Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) class with its LMDh cars that will establish a bridge to Le Mans.

For the third time in four years, an Acura will be crowned the champion in DPi as the No. 10 of Wayne Taylor Racing holds a 19-point edge over the No. 60 of Meyer Shank Racing.

Last year, WTR’s No. 10 entered the season finale with a 19-point lead but lost the title to the No. 31 Cadillac of Action Express.

Full-time WTR drivers Filipe Albuquerque and Ricky Taylor (who will be joined by Brendon Hartley in the No. 10 this weekend) have a series-leading four victories this season. The MSR duo of Tom Blomqvist and Oliver Jarvis (who will be joined by Helio Castroneves this weekend) won the Rolex 24 at Daytona and have five runner-up finishes this year.

Championship scenarios in the other four categories:

GTD Pro: Points leaders Matt Campbell and Mathieu Jaminet will clinch the title by starting in their No. 9 Pfaff Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R.

–GTD: There are 140 points separating the top four teams with Roman De Angelis and the No. 27 Heart of Racing Aston Martin Vantage GT3 leading by 45 points.

–LMP2: John Farano is first in the driver standings by 33 points over Dwight Merriman and Ryan Dalziel. In the team standings, the No. 52 PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports leads by 19 points over the No. 8 Tower Motorsport (Farano’s team).

–LMP3: No. 54 CORE autosport drivers Jon Bennett and Colin Braun lead by 83 points over the No. 74 Riley Motorsports of Gar Robinson.

With the 10-hour race requiring an extra driver, several stars from other racing series have been added. In addition to Castroneves, Scott Dixon and Ryan Hunter-Reay will serve as third drivers in Chip Ganassi Racing’s pair of Cadillacs.

Jimmie Johnson also will be making his last DPi start in the No. 48 Ally Cadillac with Mike Rockenfeller and Kamui Kobayashi. Petit Le Mans could mark the last start in an IMSA prototype for Johnson, who has said limited inventory likely will keep him out of the GTP category in the Rolex 24 next year.

Here are the start times, starting lineup, schedule and TV info for the IMSA Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta (all times are ET):

Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta start times, schedule, TV info

When: Saturday, 12:10 p.m. ET

Race distance: Ten hours on the 12-turn, 2.54-mile road course

TV: Noon-3 p.m., NBC; 3-10:30 p.m., USA Network. Peacock, the NBC Sports App,and NBCSports.com will have streaming coverage of the event from flag to flag beginning at noon. Leigh Diffey and Dave Burns are the play by play announcers with analysts Calvin Fish, Townsend Bell, James Hinchcliffe and Brian Till. The pit reporters are Kevin Lee, Hannah Newhouse, Dillon Welch and Matt Yocum.

IMSA.com live TV qualifying stream: Friday, 3:35 p.m. ET.

IMSA Radio: All sessions are live on IMSA.com and RadioLeMans.com; SiriusXM live race coverage will begin Saturday at noon (XM 207, Internet/App 992).

Forecast: According to Wunderground.com, it’s expected to be 63 degrees with an 85% chance of rain at the green flag.

Entry list: Click here to see the 48-car field for the IMSA Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta

Daily schedule IMSA Petit Le Mans

Here’s a rundown of the Petit Le Mans at Michelin Road Atlanta in Braselton, Georgia:

Wednesday, Sept. 28

9:30 a.m.: Mazda MX-5 practice

10:25 a.m.: Porsche Carrera Cup

12:30 p.m.: Prototype Challenge practice

1:15 p.m.: Mazda MX-5 practcice

2 p.m.: Porsche Carrera Cup practice

3:30 p.m.: Michelin Challenge practice

Thursday, Sept. 29

8 a.m.: Prototype Challenge practice

9 a.m.: Porsche Carrera Cup qualifying

9:50 a.m.: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship practice

11:40 a.m.: Prototype Challenge qualifying

12:10 p.m.: Michelin Challenge practice

1:50 p.m.: Mazda MX-5, Race 1

2:55 p.m.: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship practice

5 p.m.: Porsche Carrera Cup, Race 1

6 p.m.: Michelin Challenge qualifying

7:30 p.m.: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship practice

Friday, Sept. 30

8 a.m.: Prototype Challenge race

9:50 a.m.: Mazda MX-5, Race 2

10:55 a.m.: Porsche Carrera Cup, Race 2

1:10 p.m.: IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge race

3:40 p.m.: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship qualifying

Saturday, Oct. 1

9:15 a.m.: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship practice

12:10 p.m.: Petit Le Mans