Vettel surprised, pumped up after charge to Singapore GP pole

Getty Images
0 Comments

Sebastian Vettel was left running high on adrenaline after producing a stunning final lap in Formula 1 qualifying to take pole position for the Singapore Grand Prix on Saturday night.

After finishing 11th in practice on Friday, Vettel’s chances of extending his impressive record in Singapore appeared to be fading, only for the Ferrari driver to burst back into life in qualifying.

Vettel trailed Red Bull’s Max Verstappen in both Q1 and Q2, but turned things around when it mattered in Q3 to beat the Dutchman to pole position by three-tenths of a second.

Vettel let his emotions go with a long series of shouts and cheers over team radio after his pole lap, and admitted after the session he was surprised by the time he found.

“I don’t know, I struggled also this afternoon. I shouted as loud as [the crowd], it was unbelievable,” Vettel said.

“I’m still full of adrenaline so maybe whatever I say doesn’t make any sense but I love this track.

“The car was tricky but it came alive and it got better and better as the night progressed, so really happy we got it done.”

Despite being the 49th pole of an illustrious F1 career, the lap was widely regarded as being one of the finest for Vettel, coming at a time when the title fight with Lewis Hamilton (who qualified P5) is on a knife-edge.

When asked by NBCSN pit reporter Will Buxton where the pole lap ranked for Vettel among his best, he said: “I don’t know. I think I need to calm down first.

“I’m very, very happy. That was amazing. It’s an amazing track if you feel the car is coming alive and you can do what you want to.

“I knew we had it in us, it was a bit of a struggle to get there but now I’m just happy.”

With Red Bull drivers Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo both running Vettel close in qualifying, the Ferrari driver is braced for a tough fight in the race.

“I’m happy we got the car where it needed to be and we take it from there. Tomorrow is a long race but these guys are very, very quick,” Vettel said.

“We had a difficult night yesterday but a better night today and I’m sure the car will be like today tomorrow.

“So it will be better but for sure it will be a close race.”

The Singapore Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and the NBC Sports app from 7am ET on Sunday.

Meyer Shank Racing wins Petit Le Mans to take final DPi championship in dramatic finale

Petit Le Mans championship
IMSA
0 Comments

Meyer Shank Racing outdueled Wayne Taylor Racing to win the Petit Le Mans and clinch the championship in a thrilling final race for the DPi division.

Tom Blomqvist, who started from the pole position, drove the No. 60 Acura ARX-05 to a 4.369-second victory over Pipo Derani in the No. 31 Action Express Cadillac.

“That was incredible,” Blomqvist told NBC Sports’ Matt Yocum. “I’ve never dug so deep in my life. The adrenaline. I did that for the guys. I was so motivated to win this thing this weekend. But I’ve got to thank everyone on the whole team.”

With co-drivers Oliver Jarvis and Helio Castroneves, Blomqvist helped MSR bookend its season-opening victory in the Rolex 24 at Daytona by winning Saturday’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season finale at Michelin Road Atlanta.

In between those two victories, the No. 60 earned five runner-up finishes to stay in the thick of the championship hunt and trail WTR’s No. 10 Acura by 14 points entering Saturday’s race.

WTR’s Filipe Albuquerque had a lead of more than 10 seconds over Blomqvist with less than 50 minutes remaining in the 10-hour race.

But a Turn 1 crash between the Chip Ganassi Racing Cadillacs brought out a yellow that sent both Acuras into the pits from the top two positions.

Though he entered in second, Blomqvist barely beat Albuquerque out of the pits, and he held the lead for the final 45 minutes.

Blomqvist said he gained the lead because of a shorter fuel fill after he had worked on being efficient in the second-to-last stint.

“The team asked a big job of me with the fuel; I had a big fuel number to hit,” Blomqvist said. “We knew that was probably our only chance. The yellow came at the right time and obviously we had a bit less fuel to fill up, so I was able to jump him and then it was just a matter of going gung-ho and not leaving anything on the line. And obviously, the opposition had to try too hard to make it work. I’m so thankful.”

Albuquerque closed within a few car lengths of Blomqvist with 14 minutes remaining, but he damaged his suspension because of contact with a GT car in Turn 1.

It’s the first prototype championship for Meyer Shank Racing, which also won the 2021 Indy 500 with Castroneves.

“We’ve had in the last four years, three championships for Acura, the Indy 500 win and the Rolex 24, it doesn’t get any better,” team co-owner Mike Shank told NBC Sports’ Kevin Lee.

It’s the third consecutive runner-up finish in the points standings for Wayne Taylor Racing, which won the first Daytona Prototype international championship in 2017. The premier category will be rebranded as the Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) class with the LMDh cars that will establish a bridge to racing in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Kamui Kobayashi finished third in the No. 48 Cadillac of Action Express that also includes Jimmie Johnson and Mike Rockenfeller.

The podium showing marked Johnson’s last scheduled race in IMSA’s top prototype division. The seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion has raced in the No. 48 Ally Cadillac lineup as the Action Express entry has run the Endurance Cup races.

Johnson said a lack of inventory will preclude him having a 2023 ride in the top category. But he still is hopeful of racing the Garage 56 Next Gen Camaro in next year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans and possibly running in a lower class for the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

“I’d love to be at Le Mans next year,” Johnson told NBC Sports’ Dillon Welch after his final stint Saturday. “I’d love to be at the Rolex 24. The series is going through a shake-up with the reconfiguration of the rules and classes, so I don’t have anything locked down yet, but I’m so thankful for this experience with Action. The support Ally has given us, Mr. Hendrick, Chad Knaus, all of Hendrick Motorsports. It’s been a fun two years, and I certainly hope I’m on the grid again next year.”