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Lorenzo bounces back to form with MotoGP pole at Misano

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Jorge Lorenzo put an end to his recent slump in form by storming to pole position for this weekend’s MotoGP race at Misano.

Three-time MotoGP champion Lorenzo entered the San Marino Grand Prix weekend having scored just one podium finish in the past six races, a run of form that has seen him slip 64 points behind championship leader Marc Marquez.

Lorenzo produced a storming lap of 1:31.868 towards the end of Q2 at Misano to finish three-tenths of a second clear of the field and pick up his first pole since the French Grand Prix in May.

Lorenzo’s lap saw him beat teammate and nine-time world champion Valentino Rossi, who completed an impressive run for Yamaha in qualifying by finishing second.

The two Yamaha riders will be joined on the front row by Suzuki’s Maverick Vinales, who just six days after his maiden MotoGP victory qualified third on the grid, half a second off Lorenzo’s time.

Series leader Marquez struggled to match the pace of his rivals on Saturday at Misano, fading to P4 in qualifying and over half a second off the pole-man.

Ducati wildcard-turned-replacement entry Michele Pirro impressed to finish fifth-fastest, deputizing for the injured Andrea Iannone. Teammate Andrea Dovizioso qualified sixth ahead of LCR Honda’s Cal Crutchlow.

Dani Pedrosa’s recent struggles continued as he finished eighth-fastest for Honda, while brothers Aleix Espargaro and Pol Espargaro rounded out the top 10 for Suzuki and Yamaha Tech3 respectively.

IndyCar’s season finale at St. Pete approved to have 20,000 fans

IndyCar St. Pete fans
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The NTT IndyCar Series’ season finale will be permitted up to 20,000 fans, making the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg possibly the circuit’s most well-attended race of 2020. The race originally was scheduled as the season opener before being moved to Oct. 25 because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

IndyCar has enjoyed limited crowds at Road America, Iowa Speedway, Gateway, Mid-Ohio and this weekend’s doubleheader races at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course, which could have up to 10,000 fans in attendance. That had been the largest maximum grandstand crowd for an IndyCar race this season.

At a St. Petersburg city council meeting Thursday, Mayor Rick Kriseman approved plans by race organizers Green Savoree Racing Promotions to hold the Oct. 23-25 weekend for the IndyCar Grand Prix of St. Pete with 20,000 fans who would follow health and safety protocols that include mandatory temperature checks and masks.

 “My thanks to Green Savoree Racing Promotions and IndyCar for their flexibility and resilience during this challenging time,” Kriseman said in a release. “I know that everyone is excited to get back on the track in St. Pete. I can’t wait for Oct. 23rd. I know everyone will embrace this race the St. Pete way, adhering to the COVID-19 health and safety protocols. Let’s have some great racing in the Sunshine City.”

Paddock and the pit lane will remain closed to spectators, and social distancing of at least 6 feet will be observed on site.

“Our entire team greatly appreciates the patience and understanding of our ticket holders as we worked through this process with Mayor Kriseman, City Council and local health officials,” Kim Green, co-owner, chairman and CEO of Green Savoree Promotions. “It’s important for everyone who attends to read and follow all the COVID-19 protocols to contribute to a fun, safe and successful event for us all.”

“The ongoing guidance and support of Mayor Kriseman, City Council, and the City of St. Petersburg’s event team have been phenomenal,” said Kevin Savoree, co-owner, president and COO of Green Savoree Promotions. “We also would not be in this position to move this spring tradition to fall without Firestone’s unwavering commitment and dedication. It’s going to be a terrific weekend again in downtown St. Pete in three weeks featuring world-class racing from INDYCAR.”