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Marquez leads Friday MotoGP practice for Czech GP

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MotoGP championship leader Marc Marquez kicked off the Czech Grand Prix weekend at Brno by topping Friday practice for Honda, but still has reservations about his chances in Sunday’s race.

Marquez arrived in the Czech Republic well-rested after dislocating his shoulder during practice for the Austrian Grand Prix last weekend, confident that the injury would not affect his performance.

The two-time world champion showed few signs of letting it bother him, topping FP2 for Honda with a fastest lap of 1:55.840 ahead of Ducati’s Andrea Iannone.

Iannone claimed his maiden MotoGP victory in Austria last weekend, and appears to be in the mix at the front once again at Brno after leading FP1 before finishing second to Marquez in the afternoon. Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo finished third in both sessions.

Despite posting the fastest time of the day, Marquez struggled for pace during his long runs, leaving him with work to do on Saturday morning ahead of qualifying.

“Today wasn’t an easy day, especially in the morning when we started and the feeling wasn’t so good,” Marquez said.

“Then for the afternoon we changed and we made some changes in the electronics and the setup and it was working slightly better.

“We still have to improve. OK, we were first and have the fastest time but with the used tire we must improve a lot.

“It looks like both Yamaha riders are strong here, which is what we already expected – and we’ll see if we can improve our rhythm because especially Iannone on the Ducati is fast, too.”

Qualifying for the Czech Grand Prix takes place on Saturday at Brno.

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.