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Bold strategy hands Nasr, Sauber first F1 points of 2016 in Brazil

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Sauber picked up its first points of the 2016 Formula 1 season on Sunday as Felipe Nasr finished the Brazilian Grand Prix in ninth place.

In a year blighted by financial difficulties, Sauber has found itself sitting bottom of the constructors’ championship since the Austrian Grand Prix when fellow backmarkers Manor managed to get Pascal Wehrlein across the line in P10.

Nasr started 21st in Brazil, but a bold strategy call from the Sauber pit wall allowed him to make up positions as others opted to switch tires on numerous occasions.

Nasr ran as high as sixth in the closing stages, but was powerless to keep the likes of Max Verstappen, Nico Hulkenberg and Daniel Ricciardo behind.

The Brazilian managed to hold on to ninth place at the checkered flag, picking up two points for Sauber and lifting the team above Manor in the standings.

“I have no words to describe now. But it feels amazing, the way it all happened,” Nasr told NBCSN after the race.

“I never really gave up even though the year has been difficult. Here could be the opportunity. Sunday will be an important day to keep the car on the track.

“When it came I was here and ready for every single part of the race. The track conditions were nuts. I couldn’t have hoped for better. To do it here in Brazil was great. An incredible feeling.”

Nasr admitted that the result eased some of the pressure on the team after a difficult year, with the difference between 10th and 11th in the constructors’ standings equating to tens of millions of dollars in prize money.

“A difficult year. But I never lost confidence in the team,” Nasr said.

“It was a matter of putting things together. I saw it and I said I’m going to give everything today. Hard to keep [Fernando] Alonso behind. But that’s racing. I really enjoyed it today.”

Former 5-time ALMS and Le Mans-winning team owner Dave Maraj killed in accident

Photo courtesy Dave Maraj Facebook page
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Well-known sports car team owner and automobile dealership owner Dave Maraj was killed Saturday night in a boating accident in Florida, according to SportsCar365.com.

Maraj’s Champion Racing teams won five consecutive American Le Mans Series championships from 2004 through 2008, and also captured the overall win in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2005, the last American team to do so in the iconic sports car race.

IMSA President Scott Atherton released the following statement mourning Maraj’s passing:

Dave Maraj. Photo courtesy IMSA.

“All of us at IMSA are shocked and saddened by the news of Dave Maraj’s passing. As a team owner in the American Le Mans Series, Dave and his Champion Racing organization were the epitome of professionalism and excellence, as their five series championships and 24 Hours of Le Mans victory will attest.

“Dave was a tremendous competitor and a great friend to all in the paddock throughout his time in our sport. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Dave’s family and friends and to all of his associates at Champion Motors.”

Maraj was a very successful automobile dealership owner, most notably Champion Motors and Champion Porsche in Pompano Beach, Florida, the latter considered the No. 1 Porsche dealer in the U.S.

Details of how Maraj died have not been released.

Maraj sold his racing operation after the 2008 season and devoted himself to his Porsche and Audi auto dealerships, as well as competitive sailing.