Joe Roberts becomes Moto2’s first American pole-sitter in 10 years

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Joe Roberts’ record-breaking Moto2 run continued Saturday in the Grand Prix of Qatar.

The 22-year-old from Malibu, California, became the first American in nearly a decade to win a pole position in MotoGP’s intermediate class (Kenny Noyes was the most recent in 2010 at the French Grand Prix).

“It’s awesome,” said Roberts, who had qualified in the top 15 only once in 41 previous Moto2 starts (10th in Argentina 2018). “It’s a dream for me to bring Americans to the world stage and especially do it in a great way and be really fast. To be back on pole position for America, it’s awesome.”

CAREER BEST: Roberts leads, finishes fourth from pole position

Roberts did it with a lap of 1 minute, 58.136 seconds on his No. 16 Kalex bike around the Losail International Circuit near Doha, Qatar. The American Racing rider narrowly edged Luca Marini, who set the same time. Roberts won the pole because his second-fastest lap was better Marini’s.

WATCH: Moto2 season opener, Sunday, 12:30 p.m., NBCSN

Roberts’ pole lap broke the track record he set a day earlier in practice on the 16-turn, 3.34-mile course.

“It’s crazy; I wasn’t sleeping too much last night because I was thinking about this lap (Saturday),” said Roberts,  who won the MotoAmerica Superstock 600 championship in 2015 before moving full time to Europe in ’17. “Just trying to imagine myself doing the perfect lap and making everything exactly how I wanted to, and honestly, it’s so amazing to have my first pole. This weekend is filled with firsts, and I still have my lap record.”

The Grand Prix of Qatar will continue with Moto2 and Moto3 season openers Sunday. The Moto2 race from Qatar will air Sunday at 12:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN (and also will stream on NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports App).

Joe Roberts (Mirco Lazzari gp/Getty Images)

Roberts, who has been riding since 3 and started in flat track before moving to road racing, said he likes his chances starting first.

“It’s one thing to do a lap, and it’s another racing for 20 laps,” he said. “I’m going to try to get the best start I can and just try to stay with these guys. Who knows, maybe I’ll have the pace to pull away. I know Luca is going real fast and obviously other riders as well.

“It’s going to be a fight, and I’m looking forward to a fight because I love racing it’s actually my favorite part of the weekend is racing.”

The premier MotoGP class canceled its season opener at Qatar because of coronavirus-related travel restrictions. The season’s second race in Thailand also has been postponed.

Andretti United team names drivers for inaugural Extreme E season

Extreme E drivers Andretti
Extreme E
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The Extreme E team formed by Andretti Autosport and United Autosports named Catie Munnings and Timmy Hansen as its drivers Monday for the series’ inaugural 2021 season.

Munnings is a successful veteran of rally series. Hansen is a past winner and champion in the World Rallycross Championship.

They both will race in the environmentally conscious electric SUV series that will hold events in five areas around the world that are threatened by climate change. Chip Ganassi Racing and six-time Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton also are fielding cars in Extreme E, which will feature male and female co-drivers on every team.

Catie Munnings

“I’m so excited to join Andretti United Extreme E,” Munnings said in a release. ““I was really intrigued when I first heard about Extreme E, I just knew I had to be involved. The male / female racing partnership is a fantastic and exciting new concept. The season has incredible locations and the racing will be very exciting. It will be a new challenge for the teams and drivers, and I’m so thrilled to be working with such a strong team.

“The championship is a really innovative concept, it’s combining motorsport and science and will produce an important legacy in each race location. Bringing the platform that motorsport has in line with the awareness that the planet needs right now is awesome and a really important message.”

Timmy Hansen

Said Hansen: “Going into the Extreme E will be a new chapter in my career, one that I am extremely excited about. It is something brand new, not only for me, but the whole of motorsport. The format is something

we’ve never seen before. I’m also delighted to be able to carry the message of something bigger – talking about the environment and doing something good for the world – that’s something that really drives me. It’s going to be a big adventure in life to see these locations and I’m going to do my best in carrying this responsibility and hopefully making people aware of the challenges we have in the world, together with our passion for racing.”