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Leclerc clinches GP3 title despite crashing out in Abu Dhabi opener

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Charles Leclerc has won the GP3 Series title with one race to spare despite crashing out of the weekend opener in Abu Dhabi on Saturday.

Leclerc entered the final round of the year at the Yas Marina Circuit with a 29-point lead over ART Grand Prix teammate Alexander Albon. Albon took pole on Friday to cut Leclerc’s advantage to 25, with the series leader only qualifying fifth.

Albon retained his advantage through the early part of the race, opening up a lead of around four seconds before a safety car period wiped away his advantage.

On the restart, Albon came under pressure from British youngster Jack Aitken, with the two going wheel-to-wheel in a tight battle for the lead.

Albon rode over the curbs trying to fend off Aitken, only to lose control and end up hitting the Arden driver, sending both off the track.

Aitken was able to continue in fifth place, but Albon was forced to retire, ending his title hopes and making Leclerc champion on the spot.

McLaren junior Nyck de Vries took over the lead of the race ahead of Jake Dennis, while American racer Santino Ferrucci found himself coming under pressure from Leclerc for the final podium position.

Knowing that the title was already won, Leclerc decided to try and pass Ferrucci with an opportunistic move, but proceeded to make contact and sustain damage that forced him to retire.

“They told me that I was champion no matter what so I was allowed to take risks to try and finish on the podium,” Leclerc said after the race.

“I would have never taken that risk had Alex still been in the race. But since I knew I was already champion I decided to go for it.”

Ferrucci ultimately lost out in the race for the podium to the recovering Aitken, receiving a 10-second time penalty in the process for forcing the Briton off-track at one point. The Haas development driver was eventually classified ninth.

For Leclerc, the disappointment of failing to finish the race was overshadowed by his title victory, coming at the end of a big year for the Ferrari junior driver that also saw him enjoy his first F1 tests.

“It sounds really nice. It feels so good,” Leclerc said.

“It’s such a relief for me and the team. We’ve worked so hard for this result. They’ve done an amazing job all season to provide me and my teammates with the best car.

“It has been a great year. They made me grow a lot as a driver as well. That helped me to win the Series. It feels so good!”

MotoGP champion Marc Marquez has second surgery on fractured arm

MotoGP Marc Marquez second surgery
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Defending MotoGP series champion Marc Marquez underwent a second surgery Monday after a titanium plate inserted in his fractured right arm sustained damage. The Repsol Honda Team said in a statement that it’ll be two days before the recovery period is determined.

Marquez was injured during a crash in the July 19 season opener. He underwent an initial surgery July 21 in Barcelona, and doctors said there was no nerve damage.

The eight-time champion was cleared to race in the season’s second event Jerez. But Marquez decided to skip the July 26 race after experiencing discomfort while riding the No. 93 bike in a July 25 practice.

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He had planned to race in Sunday’s grand prix at the Automotodrom Brno in the Czech Republic in hopes of returning to defend his title. His status for Sunday apparently will be unclear until at least Wednesday.

In a statement Monday, the team said the titanium plate in Marquez’s right arm successfully was replaced after stress accumulation. Marquez will stay in the hospital for two days recovering.

Dr Xavier Mir, who performed the surgery at the Hospital Universitari Dexeus, said in the release that “Marc Marquez underwent surgery 13 days ago and today he returned to the operating room. The first operation was successful, what was not expected was that the plate was insufficient. An accumulation of stress in the operated area has caused the plate to suffer some damage, so today the titanium plate has been removed and replaced by a new fixation.

“The rider has not felt pain during this period. He has always followed the medical advice given and the feeling from his body. Unfortunately, an overstress has caused this issue. Now we have to wait 48 hours to understand the recovery time.”