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Crutchlow becomes first British MotoGP winner in 35 years with Brno victory

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Cal Crutchlow became the first British rider to win a race in the premier class of motorcycle racing in 35 years after claiming a stunning victory in Sunday’s Czech Grand Prix.

Crutchlow started 10th on the grid at Brno, but dropped back to 15th in the early stages after making a poor getaway.

The track had been left damp following a rain shower in the lead-up to the start of the race, bringing many of the satellite riders into contention as the typically-dominant factory runners struggled.

Pole-sitter Marc Marquez dropped back early on, handing control of the race to Ducati’s Andrea Iannone. The Italian was eaged to follow up his maiden MotoGP victory last Sunday in Austria with a second victory, but as the race wore on, his soft tires started to fade.

Running with hard front and rear tires, Crutchlow began to light up the timing sheets as he swept through the field, rising from 15th at the start of lap four to find himself leading on lap 15.

The LCR Honda rider remained cool at the front of the pack in the closing stages to cross the line and record a famous victory, finishing seven seconds clear of nine-time world champion Valentino Rossi in second place.

“It’s the best day of my racing career, but I’m really really pleased for my team,” Crutchlow said after the race.

“We worked hard for this and I took the gamble. Not many other people did and as far as I’m concerned they’re all wimps! I don’t know why if you choose one harder option you don’t choose the other. But anyway, we did the best job today and I’m so pleased for the team.

“I smashed a bike yesterday and they didn’t leave the circuit last night until midnight – so this was a good way to repay them today. I almost crashed at Turn 10 when I changed into sixth instead of fifth, but once I knew Valentino wasn’t coming – no one was coming for me – I just rode around and didn’t take risks.”

Marquez rounded out the podium for Honda, ensuring that he extended his championship lead as nearest rival Jorge Lorenzo finished a lap down in P17.

The weather shook up the pecking order enough to allow Loris Baz to finish fourth ahead of Hector Barbera and Eugene Laverty, with Danilo Petrucci in seventh. Iannone faded to eighth at the checkered flag, while Maverick Vinales and Tito Rabat rounded out the top 10.

Crutchlow’s victory was the first for a British rider in the premier class of motorcycle racing since Barry Sheene in 1981, capping off a memorable couple of sporting weeks for the UK.

Alex Palou fastest as several go off course during IndyCar practice at IMS

IndyCar Harvest GP practice
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Alex Palou paced the opening practice Thursday for the IndyCar Harvest GP at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.

The Dale Coyne Racing rookie turned a 1-minute, 10.177-second lap around the 2.439-mile, 14-turn road course in his No. 55 Dallara-Honda.

Jack Harvey was second, followed by Colton Herta, points leader Scott Dixon and Max Chilton.

PRACTICE CHART: Click here to see the speed rundown from Thursday’s session

FRIDAY AT IMS: Details for watching Race 1 of the Harvest GP

Qualifying for Friday’s race will be at 6:20 p.m. ET Thursday on NBC Sports Gold.

Will Power, who won the pole position for the July 4 race at the track, spun off course with just more than a minute left in the session after the left rear of his No. 12 Dallara-Chevrolet made slight contact with the right front of Alexander Rossi’s No. 28 Dallara-Honda.

Power was among several drivers who went off track, but there were no damaged cars during the session. Marcus Ericsson missed the final 5 minutes of the practice after being penalized for causing a red flag with a Turn 8 spin.

Arrow McLaren SP drivers Pato O’Ward and Helio Castroneves, who is driving for Oliver Askew (who is recovering from concussion-like symptoms), also veered off course as did rookie Rinus VeeKay and Santino Ferrucci.

Seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson was in attendance at the session before racing Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway. Johnson will be driving a partial schedule of road and street courses in IndyCar next season for Chip Ganassi Racing.

“Literally, the smallest of details, I can pick up on,” Johnson told NBC Sports pit reporter Kevin Lee. “It’s been really nice today just to see how a session starts and obviously to jump on the radio and listen to how the systems work and then obviously you get into the car and the setup and such. I’m at ground zero right now, a 45-year-old rookie trying to learn my way into a new sport essentially.”

Johnson told Lee his sponsorship hunt to run a Ganassi car “has gone really well. The fact that I’m here today and ingrained so deeply in the team is a great sign of where things are going. Looking forward to getting behind the wheel of a car soon and hopefully having some announcements for the world to see soon, too.”

Fans were in attendance Thursday for the first time this season at IMS, which is allowed a limited crowd of 10,000 for its races this weekend.