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Marquez surges to home MotoGP pole for Catalan GP

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Marc Marquez stormed to pole position for the Catalan Grand Prix on Saturday in Barcelona, marking his first at his home MotoGP race.

Marquez laid down the early pace in the final battle for pole position with a lap that was not challenged until late in the session when Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo and Honda teammate Dani Pedrosa ran him close.

However, the two-time MotoGP world champion dug deep to produce a stunning final lap of 1m43.589s for his third pole position of the season.

The result came less than 24 hours after the death of Moto2 rider Luis Salom in practice in Barcelona, to whom Marquez dedicated the pole position.

Lorenzo finished as Marquez’s nearest challenger in second place, four-tenths of a second behind, while Pedrosa rounded out the all-Spanish front row of the grid.

Hector Barbera finished fourth on his Avintia Racing Ducati, making Valentino Rossi the top overseas rider in P5 for Yamaha, seven-tenths of a second off the pole lap time.

Suzuki’s Maverick Vinales ended the session sixth ahead of LCR Honda’s Cal Crutchlow and Ducati’s Andrea Iannone, while Danilo Petrucci and Andrea Dovizioso rounded out the top 10.

The Catalan Grand Prix takes place at 2pm local time on Sunday.

Zach Veach splits with Andretti Autosport for rest of IndyCar season

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Zach Veach will be leaving his Andretti Autosport ride with three races remaining in the season, choosing to explore options after the decision was made he wouldn’t return for 2021.

In a Wednesday release, Andretti Autosport said a replacement driver for the No. 26 Dallara-Honda would be named in the coming days. The NTT IndyCar Series will race Oct. 2-3 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and then conclude the season Oct. 25 on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida.

Veach was ranked 11th in the points standings through 11 races of his third season with Andretti. Since a fourth in the June 6 season opener at Texas Motor Speedway, he hadn’t finished higher than 14th.

“The decision was made that I will not be returning in 2021 with Andretti Autosport in the No. 26 Gainbridge car,” Veach said in the Andretti release. “This, along with knowing that limited testing exists for teams due to COVID, have led me to the decision to step out of the car for the remainder of the 2020 IndyCar season. I am doing this to allow the team to have time with other drivers as they prepare for 2021, and so that I can also explore my own 2021 options.

“This is the hardest decision I have ever made, but to me, racing is about family, and it is my belief that you take care of your family. Andretti Autosport is my family and I feel this is what is best to help us all reach the next step. I will forever be grateful to Michael and the team for all of their support over the years. I would not be where I am today if it wasn’t for a relationship that started many years ago with Road to Indy. I will also be forever grateful to Dan Towriss for his friendship and for the opportunity he and Gainbridge have given me.

“My love for this sport and the people involved is unmeasurable, and I look forward to continuing to be amongst the racing world and fans in 2021.”

Said team owner Michael Andretti: “We first welcomed Zach to the Andretti team back in his USF2000 days and have enjoyed watching him grow and evolve as a racer, and a person. His decision to allow us to use the last few races to explore our 2021 options shows the measure of his character.

“Zach has always placed team and family first, and we’re very happy to have had him as part of ours for so many years. We wish him the best in whatever 2021 may bring and will always consider him a friend.”

Andretti fields five full-time cars for Veach, Alexander Rossi, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Marco Andretti and Colton Herta.

It also has fielded James Hinchcliffe in three races this season.