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Gasly takes second straight Super Formula win at Autopolis

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Pierre Gasly continued to strengthen his bid for a Formula 1 race seat by taking his second straight win in the Japanese Super Formula series on Sunday at Autopolis.

Gasly, 21, was placed in Super Formula for 2017 by Red Bull after winning the GP2 title last year, and took his maiden victory in the series at Motegi last month.

Gasly qualified fifth for Sunday’s race at Autopolis, but managed to jump up to second at the start before closing on early leader Tomoki Nojiri on the softer compound tire.

Gasly made his sole pit stop earlier than Nojiri, who by not reacting immediately handed the Frenchman the undercut and the chance to jump ahead.

A series of fast laps on fresher tires saw Gasly move into the lead once Nojiri pitted, with the Japanese racer then tangling with Kamui Kobayashi and dropping down the order.

Despite Formula E racer Felix Rosenqvist being within striking distance towards the end, Gasly was able to hold on and secure his second straight win, thrusting himself into the thick of the title fight.

Gasly sits 5.5 points shy of Hiroaki Ishiura at the top of the standings with three races to go, with Rosenqvist sitting just half a point further back after taking three consecutive podium finishes.

The result is well-timed for Gasly following reports that Carlos Sainz Jr. is poised to move to Renault as part of the deal that will see Toro Rosso take on Honda power units in Formula 1 next year.

Autosport notes in its report regarding the deal that Sainz could move across to Renault as early as the Malaysian Grand Prix should the team cut ties with Jolyon Palmer early, perhaps paving the way for Gasly to make his F1 debut at Sepang.

The Super Formula season continues in two weeks’ time at Sportsland SUGO, with the final double-header round being held at Suzuka on October 22, clashing with the United States Grand Prix weekend.

Michelin appoints new North American motorsports director

Michelin
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Michelin North America has named Tony Ménard as director of motorsports, effective Jan. 1, 2020.

Ménard is succeeding Chris Baker, who has held the role for the past eight years. Baker is scheduled to retire in March of 2020, ending a lengthy career that began with Michelin in 1982.

“Chris has played a vital role in the growth and success of our motorsports program, both for BFGoodrich and Michelin in North America,” said Matthieu Bonardel, global director for Michelin Group’s motorsports business entity. “His passion and understanding for motorsport fueled growth in the organization and established credibility in the market. Chris’s leadership propelled the Group, which experienced tremendous success with race wins, and advanced the way the brands leveraged our motorsports participation to benefit the overall business.”

A native of Le Mans, France, Ménard has served in several positions during his 30-year career with Michelin, most recently serving global business leader for Michelin brand in the passenger-vehicle category. Ménard has worked closely with the North American motorsports team since early July in preparation for the transition.

Baker oversaw the development of the motorsports function for Michelin and BFGoodrich Tires brands as a single business unit in North America. He also directed the expansion of Michelin’s involvement in IMSA sports-car racing as the “Official Tire of IMSA” and BFGoodrich Tires partnership with SCORE International Racing as the “Official Tire of SCORE.”

During Baker’s tenure, BFGoodrich achieved an unprecedented 650 off-road class wins, including five overall victories in the Baja 1000. The brand also demonstrated performance in the Battery Tender Global Mazda MX5 Cup presented by BFGoodrich Tires, Lucas Oil Off Road Racing, Ultra4 King of Hammers, and provided strong support of grass roots racing across North America with the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA), National Auto Sport Association (NASA), and Super Production Challenge in Canada.

“I am incredibly grateful to Michelin for the opportunities and support throughout my career, and to all the folks that I have worked with and continue to work with,” Baker said. “I want to thank all the teams, partners, officials and fans who have made our relationships so successful and are essential to the brands’ successes. I look forward to witnessing the continued success of our motorsports programs under Tony’s leadership, as well as the contributions of the Michelin Motorsport North America staff and volunteers, who are completely dedicated and invested in representing our brands in competition.”