Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography

MRTI: Norman, Askew top Chris Griffis test in Indy Lights

Leave a comment

The eighth annual Chris Griffis Memorial Mazda Road to Indy Open Test was held over the weekend at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course. And the two-day test saw a pair of Andretti Autosport drivers, one veteran and one newcomer, end each day on top in the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires sessions.

Saturday saw incumbent Ryan Norman turn the quick lap of the day at 1:14.9283, which also was the fastest lap of the weekend, in relatively cool conditions. Sunday, the warmer of the two days, saw Oliver Askew, who joined the Andretti camp to test their No. 27 Dallara IL-15, lead the way with a time of 1:15.0008 – Norman and Askew went 1-2 in the combined times for the weekend.

Oliver Askew piloted the No. 27 Indy Lights entry for Andretti Autosport, the same one Patricio O’Ward carried to the 2018 Indy Lights title, at the Chris Griffis test. Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography

Nine drivers participated in the Indy Lights session, and like Askew, it was the first time in an Indy Lights car for many of them. In fact, the entire top five from the 2018 Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires – Rinus VeeKay (Juncos Racing), Parker Thompson (Team Pelfrey), Askew (Andretti Autosport), David Malukas (Belardi Auto Racing), and Robert Megennis (Andretti Autosport) – all got to sample Indy Lights machinery over the weekend.

Behind Norman and Askew, Victor Franzoni, running with Belardi at the test, was third fastest at the end of the weekend, followed by Megennis and VeeKay. Malukas was sixth, followed by Thompson in seventh.

Lucas Kohl, who competed in the 2018 Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda , also got to sample an Indy Lights car as he ran with the Belardi squad, ending up eighth quickest of the nine drivers. Heamin Choi, with Juncos Racing, was ninth quickest.

Along with Indy Lights, Pro Mazda and USF2000 took to the IMS Road Course as well. Pro Mazda saw Darren Keane (RP Motorsport) better Danial Frost (Juncos Racing) to turn the best lap of the weekend. Rasmus Lindh (Juncos Racing) and Julian Van der Watt (BN Racing) were third and fourth.

Franzoni, meanwhile, pulled double duty and piloted the No. 92 Tatuus PM-18 for Turn 3 Racing – Franzoni works as a mechanic, driver coach, and test driver for the team. Franzoni was fifth on the Pro Mazda speed chart.

In USF2000, Hunter McElrea led the way with Pabst Racing, ahead of Keane – Keane also pulled double duty, in Pro Mazda and USF2000 – in a Cape Motorsports entry.

Alex Baron (Legacy Autosport), James Raven (DEForce Racing), and Yuven Sundaramoorthy (Pabst) rounded out the top five.

Results for all three series are below.


Dakar Stage 8 Highlights: Ricky Brabec blows engine, retires

1 Comment

The motorcycle class of the Dakar Rally has been a seesaw affair through seven stages, but Ricky Brabec seemed poised to win the class for the USA. Until he blew an engine in Stage 8 that is – and gave up a more-than seven second lead. He was the second rider to retire after starting the stage as the leader. Joan Barreda retired in Stage 3.

Brabec was looking to become the first American rider to win in 27 years, but his fate was eerily similar to last year. Three days from the end of the stage, he retired about 50 kilometers into the stage, which is precisely when and where he retired in 2018.

With Brabec’s trouble, Toby Price leapfrogged from third to second in class despite riding with a metal pin in his wrist. In the world’s most grueling endurance event, it has never been more obvious that it isn’t over till it’s over.

Meanwhile, Nasser Al-Attiyah continues to run a consistent rally. With a 46 minute advantage over Nani Roma and Sebastien Loeb, all he needs to do is stay error free for the final two stages to win his third Dakar.

Here are some of the other highlights:

In the cars class, Sebastien Loeb scored his fifth stage win of the Rally by seven minutes over Nasser Al-Attiyah, but problems in Stage 3 have kept him from being competitive for the overall lead. … Jakub Przygonski earned his third podium of the Rally. All of these have been third-place finishes.

Class Leaders: Al-Attiyah holds an advantage of 46:29 over Roma and 46:45 over Loeb.

In motorcycles, Ricky Brabec’s blown engine opened up the class once more. … Matthias Walkner narrowly edged Pablo Quintanilla by 45 seconds. … But it was Toby Price’s third-place finish that helped elevate him to the class lead. … Sam Sunderland was supposed to blaze the path for the riders, but a malfunctioning navigation system kept him from rolling off first. Blazing the trail is a disadvantage and officials adjudged him to have tampered with his system to avoid that fate. Sunderland was penalized an hour to finish 35th on the stage. He dropped to ninth in class.

Class Leaders: Price inherited the lead over Quintanilla by 1:03 and 6:35 over Walkner

In side by sides, Francisco Lopez Contardo scored the victory over Cristian Baumgart by 4:47. … Gerard Farres Guell rounded out the top three.

Class Leaders: Contardo holds an advantage 0f 54:10 over Rodrigo Piazolli and one hour, 08:09 over Guell

In quads, there was no surprise in Nicolas Cavigliasso winning his seventh stage of the season. … He padded his overall advantage over Gustavo Gallego by more than nine minutes. … Jeremias Gonzalez Ferioli finished third.

Class Leaders: Cavigliasso holds and advantage of one hour, 24:52 over Ferioli and one hour, 44:04 over Gallego

In trucks, Dmitry Sotnikov won the stage to take over the class lead. He beat Ton Van Genugten by 22:01. … Siarhei Viazovich rounded out the top three. … Eduard Nikolaev lost the class lead by finishing eighth – nearly one hour behind Sotnikov.

Class Leaders: Sotnikov holds an advantage of 26:49 over and one hour, 7:43 over Gerard de Rooy

Stage Wins

Sam Sunderland [2] (Stage 5 and 7), Matthias Walkner [2] (Stage 2 and 8), Joan Barreda [1] (Stage 1), Xavier de Soultrait [1] (Stage 3), Ricky Brabec [1] (Stage 4) and Pablo Quintanilla [1] (Stage 6)

Nicolas Cavigliasso [7] (Stage 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8) and Jeremias Gonzalez Ferioli [1] (Stage 3)

Sebastien Loeb [4] (Stage 2, 5, 6 and 8), Nasser Al-Attiyah [2] (Stage 1 and 4) and Stephane Peterhansel [2] (Stage 3 and 7)

Francisco Lopez Contardo [4] (Stage 2, 6, 7 and 8), Reinaldo Varela [1] (Stage 1), Gerard Farres Guell [1] (Stage 3), Sergei Kariakin [1] (Stage 4) and Rodrigo Piazzoli [1] (Stage 5)

Eduard Nikolaev [3] (Stage 1, 2 and 5), Andrey Karginov [2] (Stage 3 and 4), Dmitry Sotnikov [2] (Stage 6 and 8) and Gerard de Rooy [1] (Stage 7)

For more watch the daily highlight show on NBCSN. Click here for the complete schedule.

Or check out the streaming show at 6:30-7 p.m. by clicking this link.