Getty Images

Vinales heads up Yamaha MotoGP front-row sweep at Le Mans

Leave a comment

Maverick Viñales’ impressive start to life with Yamaha in MotoGP continued on Saturday as he swept to pole position for the French Grand Prix at Le Mans’ Circuit de la Sarthe.

Viñales stepped up to a factory seat with Yamaha for 2017 after three-time world champion Jorge Lorenzo’s move to Ducati, and made a splash by winning his first two races for the team.

Viñales arrived at Le Mans trailing teammate Valentino Rossi by two points at the top of the riders’ championship, and took a step towards overhauling the Italian racing icon by taking pole position on Saturday.

The Spanish rider outqualified Rossi by just one-tenth of a second in the final stage of Q2, with Johann Zarco taking P3 for Tech3, Yamaha’s satellite team, giving the Italian manufacturer a front-row lock-out.

Cal Crutchlow led Honda’s charge in fourth place, beating factory rider Marc Marquez in P5. Andrea Dovizioso took sixth for Ducati, having made it through Q1 at the expense of a number of big names.

Marquez’s teammate, Dani Pedrosa, fell by the wayside in Q1, leaving him 13th on the grid. Lorenzo’s early struggles with Ducati continued as he too dropped out, finishing a lowly 16th.

Gabby Chaves to sub for Joao Barbosa at Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen

Photo: IndyCar
Leave a comment

Gabby Chaves is set to return to the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship at Watkins Glen International later this month.

The Columbian-American driver, who last competed in IMSA in 2016 – with the DeltaWing outfit – will sub for the injured Joao Barbosa – he hurt his wrist in a cycling accident earlier in June – in the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R in the Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen.

Chaves will partner Filipe Albuquerque and Christian Fittipaldi in the No. 5 Cadillac.

Chaves expressed gratitude for being asked to fill in, but kept his enthusiasm muted, noting that he is getting the opportunity ultimately because another driver got hurt.

“The first thing is of course that you never want to have an opportunity because someone got hurt, so this is an unfortunate circumstance with Joao having his injury,”said Chaves. “But I appreciate the opportunity to join the championship-leading team. Mustang Sampling Racing has had a strong start this year and hopefully I can help the team continue to have those kinds of results.”

Chaves added, “I love Watkins Glen, it is a great track and I am looking forward to racing the Cadillac Prototype there. I’m excited to be going back to endurance racing. With different classes all racing at the same time, there is a lot for the driver to deal with as you work through traffic. So I am looking forward to racing at the Glen again, and I really appreciate this opportunity with Mustang Sampling Racing.”

Chaves’ most recent IMSA event was the 2016 Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen, when he finished seventh in the Prototype class.

The No. 5 Action Express Cadillac currently sits tied with the sister No. 31 Whelen Engineer Racing Cadillac of Eric Curran and Felipe Nasr atop the IMSA standings, though Barbosa’s hopes of a driver’s championship are set to take an enormous hit with him missing Watkins Glen.

Follow@KyleMLavigne