Will Taylor-Medhurst/Getty Images

Vettel grabs pole at Japanese GP

1 Comment

SUZUKA, Japan – Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel grabbed pole position at the Japanese Grand Prix on Sunday in a windy qualifying session that was moved to race day because of the powerful typhoon that hit Japan on Saturday.

Vettel secured his first pole position since the Canadian GP in June with a lap of 1 minute, 27.064 seconds, 0.189 seconds ahead of teammate Charles Leclerc.

“It was not easy, the conditions were very different from Friday and we didn’t expect to be on the front row,” Vettel said. “What we had was unbelievable, the car felt light and there was a headwind which is what you like.”

Mercedes drivers Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton were third and fourth, respectively, followed by the Red Bulls of Max Verstappen in fifth and Alexander Albon in sixth.

“We seemed quite strong, but we always knew Ferrari might have something in reserve,” Bottas said. “In Q3 they looked untouchable.”

Organizers canceled Saturday’s qualifying session with Typhoon Hagibis set to hit Japan’s main island. At least seven people have died while 15 are missing after the massive typhoon lashed a wide area of the country.

Qualifying at Suzuka was also moved to Sunday morning as a result of bad weather in 2004 and 2010.

While the track was dry Sunday morning, lingering winds from the typhoon resulted in several crashes early in the morning session.

The Williams of Robert Kubica crashed into the wall just two minutes into qualifying bringing out the red flag.

Haas driver Kevin Magnussen also crashed early in the session.

Hamilton, who has a commanding 73-point lead over Bottas with five races left, has won here in four of the last five races.

If Hamilton is able to win here, he will equal Michael Schumacher’s record for the highest number of wins at the Japanese GP with six. Hamilton won with McLaren in 2007 and with Mercedes in 2014, 2015, 2017 and last year.

Vettel has also had success here, winning four times between 2009 and 2013.

McLaren driver Carlos Sainz Jr. was seventh followed by teammate Lando Norris. Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly was ninth while Haas driver Romain Grosjean rounded out the top ten.

Supercross: Tomac, Roczen square off in Arlington; Webb gives chase

Feld Entertainment Inc.
Leave a comment

The Monster Energy Supercross championship battle remains tight after Eli Tomac took the lead from Ken Roczen just last week at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. Now the series heads to Arlington, Texas, and the AT&T Stadium for Round 8. (Watch on NBCSN or stream live.)

Tomac’s third win of the 2020 season and Roczen’s third-place finish at Tampa gives Tomac a four-point advantage in what is essentially a wide-open title fight with three races on tap in Arlington.

And while it is still much too early to call this a two-man battle, Cooper Webb is 11 points back with Justin Barcia 20 points out and Adam Cianciarulo 27 points in arrears – and all three cannot afford to lose any ground this week.

Tomac has the momentum. He allowed the field to get a jump after finishing seventh at Anaheim in the season opener, but finished fourth or better in the remaining events.

Roczen also got off to a slow start in Anaheim 1 with a sixth-place finish. He seemed to have a firm grasp on the red plate with four consecutive podium finishes until he slipped to sixth for a second time at San Diego.

Webb is coming into his own with three consecutive podiums in the last three events. If not for a 12th at St. Louis, he would be in immediate contention for the red plate.

This week is the second Triple Crown race of the season and Roczen hopes he has the same success as he did at Glendale. He won all three Mains that weekend and easily walked away with the overall victory. Tomac finished 2-2-3 for second overall. It is going to be imperative that a rider takes the early lead.

Blake Baggett qualified for last week’s Main, but chose to sit it out after experiencing sever muscle spasms. He will ride in Arlington.

Henry Miller will return to riding at Arlington after breaking a scapula in Australia.

Subscribe to the Supercross Pass for complete qualification and race coverage of the 2020 season.

For the third time in his career, Shane McElrath started the season with a victory. He won the season-opener in 2017 and 2018 in the West division at Anaheim, but failed to lock down a 250 title. His seventh career win moved him to 25th on the chart, however, with Travis Pastrana, Trey Canard, and a host of others.

Chase Sexton got his title hunt off to a strong start last week as well. He finished second to earn his 10th podium in 19 starts, but he will be hungry for a win. Despite the fact that he won last year’s 250 West championship, he has only one race victory to his credit.

Last week, Jeremy Martin looked like he had not been off his bike for more than a year. Returning from a 2018 injury, Martin snagged a podium finish in his first race back.

Schedule:

Qualifying: 1 p.m. on NBC Sports Gold
Race: 8:30 p.m. on NBC Sports Gold and NBCSN

Last Week:

Eli Tomac beat Cooper Webb and Ken Roczen in the 450 class.
Shane McElrath beat Chase Sexton and Jeremy Martin in the 250 class.

Last Dallas race (February, 2019):

Cooper Webb beat Ken Roczen and Marvin Musquin in the 450 class.
Austin Forkner beat Justin Cooper and Chase Sexton in the 250 class.

Points Leaders

450s:
Eli Tomac (155)
Ken Roczen (151)
Cooper Webb (144)
Justin Barcia (135)
Adam Cianciarulo (128)

250 West:
Dylan Ferrandis (135)
Justin Cooper (128)
Austin Forkner (122)
Brandon Hartranft (110)
Alex Martin (98)

250 East:
Shane McElrath (26)
Chase Sexton (23)
Jeremy Martin (21)
Garrett Marchbanks (19)
Jordon Smith (18)

Wins

450

(3) Eli Tomac (Anaheim 2, Oakland and Tampa)
(2) Ken Roczen (St. Louis and Glendale)
(1) Justin Barcia (Anaheim 1)
(1) Cooper Webb (San Diego)

250 West

(3) Dylan Ferrandis (Anaheim 2, Oakland, and San Diego)
(2) Austin Forkner (St. Louis and Glendale)
(1) Justin Cooper (Anaheim 1)

250 East

(1) Shane McElrath (Tampa)

Top-5s

450

(6) Eli Tomac
(6) Cooper Webb
(5) Jason Anderson
(5) Ken Roczen
(5) Justin Barcia
(3) Adam Cianciarulo
(2) Zach Osborne
(2) Blake Baggett
(1) Justin Hill

250 West

(5) Dylan Ferrandis
(5) Austin Forkner
(5) Justin Cooper
(4) Michael Mosiman
(4) Brandon Hartranft
(3) Alex Martin
(1) Christian Craig
(1) Jett Lawrence
(1) Jacob Hayes
(1) Luke Clout

250 East

(1) Shane McElrath
(1) Chase Sexton
(1) Jeremy Martin
(1) Garrett Marchbanks
(1) Jordon Smith

Follow Dan Beaver on Twitter