Renault delays major engine upgrade until 2018

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Renault expects to roll out a series of gradual enhancements to its power unit over the course of this year, rather than a major upgrade as was introduced last year, according to Renault Sport Racing Managing Director Cyril Abiteboul.

Abiteboul told the official Formula 1 website during this weekend’s Canadian Grand Prix that no major step in performance upgrade would be rolled out in 2017.

Instead, he said Red Bull Racing was the one that had suggested a major upgrade would come at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix in Baku next race.

“Last year we created a huge expectation and we came with an upgrade that had a big impact. But we can’t repeat that every year,” Abiteboul told the F1 website.

“Frankly the next big upgrade will be next year. Then we will have a completely new concept. That will make a difference – but as I said 2018.”

In spite of the power gap to the Mercedes and Ferrari units, Renault has made it onto the podium each of the last three races with Daniel Ricciardo at Red Bull – albeit aided a bit by some key retirements at both Spain and Canada and with both Mercedes (Monaco) and Ferrari (Canada) having relative off weekends.

The Renault factory team has improved this season, with Nico Hulkenberg’s fourth score of the season Sunday in Canada already moving the team ahead of its entire number of races scored last year. Between Kevin Magnussen and Jolyon Palmer, that pairing scored in only three races for a total of eight points.

Hulkenberg now has four scores, and all 18 of Renault’s points for the season. Rumors surfaced over the weekend and were relayed during the NBCSN broadcast that Palmer’s place in the team may be under threat before the end of the year. The Englishman’s endured a difficult sophomore season and is yet to score in seven races.

Travis Pastrana leads flag-to-flag in Nitro Rallycross as the series returns to America

Pastrana Nitro Rallycross
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Travis Pastrana waited until the final trip around ERX Motor Park to take his Joker Lap – a longer way around the course that all drivers must do at least once in a race – and came out cleanly to win his first Nitro Rallycross race of 2022. With this win, Pastrana is the third driver to visit Victory Lane in the first three rounds of the 2022-23 season.

“This is the closest to a motocross track,” Pastrana told Katie Osborne on Peacock. “Thank you so much for a beautiful facility. It’s been a rough start to the season and I’m so thankful to be back out here. We had a good run in the side-by-side and now for this. This is much needed.”

Another thing needed was the sense of improvement. And Pastrana earned that affirmation each time he completed a lap around the course.

“I get my lap times read out and they said ‘fastest time of the week,’ ‘fastest time of the week’ (each time around) ” Pastrana said. “This is really special. We’re a long way behind in the championship, but welcome to America.”

In a pre-race press conference, Pastrana said that as Nitro Rallycross heads back to America, it was time for an American to win and he made good on his promise. Pastrana took the early lead over Robin Larsson and let the back of his Subaru hang out, taking risks he might not otherwise take if not for his need to win.

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Larsson’s second-place finish completed a perfect sweep of the podium in three rounds. In fact, he has not yet finished worse than second after winning the opening round at Lydden Hill in the United Kingdom and finishing second at Strangnas in Sweeden.

Fraser McConnel rounded out the podium for his best result of the season. He finished fourth in each of the first two rounds.

Last year, Pastrana finished second in this race to Scott Speed before narrowly edging his teammate for the championship.

Andreas Bakkerud crashed in prelims, but rebounded to finish just off the block in fourth. Bakkerud won the second round ahead of his teammate Larsson.

Oliver Bennett completed the top five.

Minneapolis is the first of three rounds scheduled in the United States. Next on the schedule is Glen Helen, Calif. on Octo 30 and then Phoenix at Wild Horse Pass on November 12th. Nitro Rallycross will then head to Saudi Arabia in December to continue their 2022-23 season.