Lopez ruled out of Spa WEC race through injury after Silverstone crash

Toyota Gazoo Racing
0 Comments

SPA, Belgium – Jose Maria Lopez will miss this weekend’s FIA World Endurance Championship round at Spa-Francorchamps after failing a pre-race medical check.

Lopez crashed heavily in damp conditions during the season-opener at Silverstone two weeks ago, resulting in a visit to the local hospital in Northampton, England before being released the same day.

The Argentine was required to undergo a medical check ahead of this weekend’s 6 Hours of Spa before being given permission to race, leading to a decision to withdraw from the round.

“Toyota Gazoo Racing regrets to announce that José María López will not compete in the 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps, the second round of the 2017 FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC),” a statement from the team reads.

“José María suffered minor damage to two vertebrae during an accident at Silverstone on 16 April. Both team and driver hoped that a period of rest would complete the natural healing process before this week’s event.

“However, after consultation with FIA Medical Delegate Dr. Jacques Tropenat and the team’s own doctor, it has been decided José María should not compete at Spa in order to ensure he returns fully fit at Le Mans.

“José María will return to the TS050 Hybrid cockpit for a test session towards the end of the month prior to participating in the official Le Mans test on 4 June.”

“I’m extremely disappointed to miss this weekend’s race as I was really looking forward to driving the TS050 Hybrid at Spa,” Lopez said.

“I feel basically fine but we all agree that we should take no chances. The priority is to be absolutely fit for Le Mans.

“Probably I could race if we were at a different track but a driver’s body experiences extreme forces through Eau Rouge so, after discussions with the FIA Medical Delegate and our team doctor, we decided I should not drive this weekend.”

With Lopez missing the race, the No. 7 Toyota TS050 Hybrid will be shared by Mike Conway and Kamui Kobayashi at Spa this weekend.

Miguel Oliveira wins MotoGP Thai Grand Prix, Bagnaia closes to two points in championship

MotoGP Thai Grand Prix
Mirco Lazzari / Getty Images
0 Comments

Miguel Oliveira mastered mixed conditions on the Chang International Circuit in Buriram, Thailand to win the MotoGP Thai Grand Prix. Oliveira showed the adaptability as he navigated a race that began in wet conditions and turned dry over the course of the race. Oliveira won the Indonesian GP in similar conditions.

“It was a long race, but I can’t complain,” Oliveira said on CNBC. “Every time we get to ride in the wet, I’m always super-fast. When it started raining, I had flashbacks of Indonesia. I tried to keep my feet on the ground, make a good start and not make mistakes and carry the bike to the end.”

All eyes were on the championship, however. Francesco Bagnaia got a great start to slot into second in Turn 1.

Meanwhile Fabio Quartararo had a disastrous first lap. He lost five positions in the first couple of turns and then rode over the rumble strips and fell back to 17th. At the end of the first lap, Bagnaia had the points’ lead by two. A win would have added to the gain and for a moment, it appeared Bagnaia might assume the lead.

Early leader Marco Bezzecchi was penalized for exceeding track limits, but before that happened, Jack Miller got around Bagnaia and pushed him back to third. Oliveira was not far behind.

After throwing away ninth-place and seven points on the last lap of the Japanese GP last week, Bagnaia did not allow the competition to press him into a mistake. He fell back as far as fourth before retaking the final position on the podium.

“It’s like a win for me, this podium,” Bagnaia. “My first podium in the wet and then there was a mix of conditions, so I’m very happy. I want to thank Jack Miller. Before the race, he gave me a motivational chat.”

Miller led the first half of the Thai Grand Prix before giving up the top spot to Oliveira and then held on to finish second. Coupled with his Japanese GP win, Miller is now fully in the MotoGP championship battle with a 40-point deficit, but he will need a string of results like Bagnaia has put together in recent weeks – and he needs Bagnaia to lose momentum.

Miller’s home Grand Prix in Australia is next up on the calendar in two weeks.

Bagnaia entered the race 18 points behind Quartararo after he failed to score any in Japan. The balance of power has rapidly shifted, however, with Quartararo now failing to earn points in two of the last three rounds. Bagnaia won four consecutive races and finished second in the five races leading up to Japan. His third-place finish in Thailand is now his sixth MotoGP podium in the last seven rounds.

Aleix Espargaro entered the race third in the standings with a 25-point deficit to Quartararo, but was able to close the gap by only five after getting hit with a long-lap penalty for aggressive riding when he pushed Darryn Binder off course during a pass for position. Espargaro finished 11th.

Rain mixed up the Moto2 running order in the MotoGP Thai Grand Prix as well. Starting on a wet track, Somkiat Chantra led the opening lap in his home Grand Prix. He could not hold onto it and crashed one circuit later, but still gave his countrymen a moment of pride by winning the pole.

Half points were awarded as the race went only eight laps before Tony Arbolino crossed under the checkers first with Filip Salac and Aron Canet rounding out the podium.

American Joe Roberts earned another top-10 in eighth with Sean Dylan Kelly finishing just outside the top 10 in 11th.