Joe Roberts wins second Moto2 pole of the season for American Racing

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Joe Roberts rediscovered his season-opening speed in MotoGP Moto2 qualifying Saturday at Automotodrom Brno, scoring his second pole position of the season.

With a lap of 2 minutes, 1.692 seconds on his No. 16 Kalex bike, the American edged Sam Lowes by 0.13 seconds to take the top starting spot in the Czech Republic Grand Prix. Enea Bastianini will start third

After finishing fourth from the pole position in the March 8 opener at Qatar, Roberts had struggled with consecutive 17th-place finishes in the past two rounds at Jerez since the series returned from the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

AMERICAN LEGACY: Roberts seeks to become the next great U.S. rider

“Yeah, it was quite difficult for me to come back from the long break,” the Malibu, California, native said. “I think it was kind of extreme conditions, new front tire, a long break. It’s still quite a new team. I think it was a difficult start, but as soon as got here, I like these type of tracks where they’re very flowing, and I always said coming here I was going to do something amazing.

“I have a lot of confidence coming here, but if I’m honest, I didn’t expect that lap time. The whole weekend, we’re missing a little bit of something with the front, and then that last session, the guys gave me something with the bike that I really felt comfortable with, and I really just tried to put a perfect lap together, and I guess it was enough. Almost more happy about this one than in Qatar.”

After becoming the first American in 10 years to win a Moto2 pole in March, Joe Roberts is on the pole again for Sunday’s race at Brno (Mirco Lazzari gp/Getty Images).

With the Qatar pole, Roberts, 23, became Moto2’s first American pole-sitter in 10 years and said he also learned some racecraft while leading 15 of 20 laps in the opener that he plans on applying Sunday at the Brno circuit.

“I actually felt in qualifying even more confident with my race pace,” he said. “It’s really hard to know. The conditions here are really quite tricky. It’s hot and the grip is really down. Until you get there, you’re not really going to do know. Just have to give it everything you can, but in the practices, we’ve been quite strong with our pace. I’m looking forward to it, it’s going to be a great race.”

In the premier MotoGP division, Johann Zarco took the pole over Fabio Quartararo, making it the first 1-2 Frenchman lockout of qualifying in series history. Quartararo is aiming for his third consecutive victory to start the season.

Zach Veach splits with Andretti Autosport for rest of IndyCar season

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Zach Veach will be leaving his Andretti Autosport ride with three races remaining in the season, choosing to explore options after the decision was made he wouldn’t return for 2021.

In a Wednesday release, Andretti Autosport said a replacement driver for the No. 26 Dallara-Honda would be named in the coming days. The NTT IndyCar Series will race Oct. 2-3 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and then conclude the season Oct. 25 on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida.

Veach was ranked 11th in the points standings through 11 races of his third season with Andretti. Since a fourth in the June 6 season opener at Texas Motor Speedway, he hadn’t finished higher than 14th.

“The decision was made that I will not be returning in 2021 with Andretti Autosport in the No. 26 Gainbridge car,” Veach said in the Andretti release. “This, along with knowing that limited testing exists for teams due to COVID, have led me to the decision to step out of the car for the remainder of the 2020 IndyCar season. I am doing this to allow the team to have time with other drivers as they prepare for 2021, and so that I can also explore my own 2021 options.

“This is the hardest decision I have ever made, but to me, racing is about family, and it is my belief that you take care of your family. Andretti Autosport is my family and I feel this is what is best to help us all reach the next step. I will forever be grateful to Michael and the team for all of their support over the years. I would not be where I am today if it wasn’t for a relationship that started many years ago with Road to Indy. I will also be forever grateful to Dan Towriss for his friendship and for the opportunity he and Gainbridge have given me.

“My love for this sport and the people involved is unmeasurable, and I look forward to continuing to be amongst the racing world and fans in 2021.”

Said team owner Michael Andretti: “We first welcomed Zach to the Andretti team back in his USF2000 days and have enjoyed watching him grow and evolve as a racer, and a person. His decision to allow us to use the last few races to explore our 2021 options shows the measure of his character.

“Zach has always placed team and family first, and we’re very happy to have had him as part of ours for so many years. We wish him the best in whatever 2021 may bring and will always consider him a friend.”

Andretti fields five full-time cars for Veach, Alexander Rossi, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Marco Andretti and Colton Herta.

It also has fielded James Hinchcliffe in three races this season.