Scott Dixon to make Bathurst 12 Hour debut with R-Motorsport

Joe Skibinski / IndyCar
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Scott Dixon will compete in Australia’s Bathurst 12 Hour endurance race next year, joining co-drivers Rick Kelly and Jake Dennis in the No. 76 R-Motorsport entry.

The trio will share a Castrol-sponsored Aston Martin Vantage GT3 in the International GT Challenge opener, which takes place on February 2. Drivers for the team’s second entry will be announced at a later date.

A five-time NTT IndyCar Series champion, Dixon’s most recent sports car experience came earlier this year, when he competed in three IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship events for Chip Ganassi Racing.

Dixon previously won the 2006 and 2015 editions of the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona with Ganassi, and took the GTLM class honors with the team in 2018.

But despite competing in many of the world’s prestigious endurance races, such as the 24 Hours of Le Mans and Petit Le Mans, racing at the iconic Mount Panorama Circuit is something Dixon has yet to cross off his “to do” list.

“I have never raced at Bathurst before, but I’ve watched races at the Mount Panorama Circuit back when I was a teenager,” Dixon said in a statement released on the official Bathurst 12 Hour website. “What I like most about the circuit is the high commitment, especially across the top, the high-speed passages and then down the chase and all the way to the last corner. It’s much like a street course with the concrete walls and the very confined spots. You need an extremely good flow.”

R-Motorsport will enter the 2020 running of the Bathurst 12 Hours looking to collect their first victory at Mount Panorama. The team finished a close second in the 2019 edition of the race.

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Miguel Oliveira wins MotoGP Thai Grand Prix, Bagnaia closes to two points in championship

MotoGP Thai Grand Prix
Mirco Lazzari / Getty Images
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Miguel Oliveira mastered mixed conditions on the Chang International Circuit in Buriram, Thailand to win the MotoGP Thai Grand Prix. Oliveira showed the adaptability as he navigated a race that began in wet conditions and turned dry over the course of the race. Oliveira won the Indonesian GP in similar conditions.

“It was a long race, but I can’t complain,” Oliveira said on CNBC. “Every time we get to ride in the wet, I’m always super-fast. When it started raining, I had flashbacks of Indonesia. I tried to keep my feet on the ground, make a good start and not make mistakes and carry the bike to the end.”

All eyes were on the championship, however. Francesco Bagnaia got a great start to slot into second in Turn 1.

Meanwhile Fabio Quartararo had a disastrous first lap. He lost five positions in the first couple of turns and then rode over the rumble strips and fell back to 17th. At the end of the first lap, Bagnaia had the points’ lead by two. A win would have added to the gain and for a moment, it appeared Bagnaia might assume the lead.

Early leader Marco Bezzecchi was penalized for exceeding track limits, but before that happened, Jack Miller got around Bagnaia and pushed him back to third. Oliveira was not far behind.

After throwing away ninth-place and seven points on the last lap of the Japanese GP last week, Bagnaia did not allow the competition to press him into a mistake. He fell back as far as fourth before retaking the final position on the podium.

“It’s like a win for me, this podium,” Bagnaia. “My first podium in the wet and then there was a mix of conditions, so I’m very happy. I want to thank Jack Miller. Before the race, he gave me a motivational chat.”

Miller led the first half of the Thai Grand Prix before giving up the top spot to Oliveira and then held on to finish second. Coupled with his Japanese GP win, Miller is now fully in the MotoGP championship battle with a 40-point deficit, but he will need a string of results like Bagnaia has put together in recent weeks – and he needs Bagnaia to lose momentum.

Miller’s home Grand Prix in Australia is next up on the calendar in two weeks.

Bagnaia entered the race 18 points behind Quartararo after he failed to score any in Japan. The balance of power has rapidly shifted, however, with Quartararo now failing to earn points in two of the last three rounds. Bagnaia won four consecutive races and finished second in the five races leading up to Japan. His third-place finish in Thailand is now his sixth MotoGP podium in the last seven rounds.

Aleix Espargaro entered the race third in the standings with a 25-point deficit to Quartararo, but was able to close the gap by only five after getting hit with a long-lap penalty for aggressive riding when he pushed Darryn Binder off course during a pass for position. Espargaro finished 11th.

Rain mixed up the Moto2 running order in the MotoGP Thai Grand Prix as well. Starting on a wet track, Somkiat Chantra led the opening lap in his home Grand Prix. He could not hold onto it and crashed one circuit later, but still gave his countrymen a moment of pride by winning the pole.

Half points were awarded as the race went only eight laps before Tony Arbolino crossed under the checkers first with Filip Salac and Aron Canet rounding out the podium.

American Joe Roberts earned another top-10 in eighth with Sean Dylan Kelly finishing just outside the top 10 in 11th.