F1: Mercedes drivers Bottas, Hamilton pace 1st practice session in Spain

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Mercedes drivers Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton have set the pace in the first practice session for this weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix.

Bottas was fastest with a lap of 1:18.148 seconds at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, nearly a second quicker than Hamilton.

Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, who trails Hamilton by four points in the drivers’ standings after four races, was third fastest.

Daniel Ricciardo, who crashed with Red Bull teammate Max Verstappen in Azerbaijan, had a tough start to his weekend in Barcelona by going off the track and hitting a tire barrier midway through the session. He had to retire and lost a lot of track time.

Ricciardo still finished with the seventh-fastest time, while Verstappen was fourth-quickest.

Kimi Raikkonen was fifth with Ferrari, just ahead of crowd favorite Fernando Alonso with McLaren.

Robert Kubica, Williams’ reserve driver, was back in an official F1 session for the first time since almost losing his hand in a rally crash in 2011. He participated in preseason testing this year, but his last race had been in the Abu Dhabi season finale in 2010.

The team had to make some modifications to Kubica’s car because the Polish driver doesn’t have full movement of his right hand.

Kubica, who had a spin toward the end of the session, finished with the second-to-last time – in front of teammate Lance Stroll.

Stroll nearly hit the tire barriers after going off the track with about a half-hour left in the session.

Drivers will return to the track for another 90-minute session in the afternoon.

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

Petit Le Mans championship
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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.

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.

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 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.”