With his first MotoGP victory, Joan Mir opens big points lead for championship

MotoGP Joan Mir victory
JOSE JORDAN/AFP via Getty Images
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CHESTE, Spain — Joan Mir won the Grand Prix of Europe for his first MotoGP victory Sunday, extending his points lead with two races to go in the championship.

Mir, who started fifth on the grid, earned his maiden victory after making a pass for the lead over Suzuki teammate Álex Rins with 11 laps to go at the Ricardo Tormo Circuit.

“I’m super happy,” Mir said after becoming the fifth first-time winner this season. “This is what I was missing. I think that this came at the perfect moment.”

The win, which brings the number of victorious MotoGP riders to nine this season, allowed the Spaniard to open a 37-point gap to Rins and Fabio Quartararo, who finished 14th after crashing on the first lap.

Maverick Vinales, who started from the pits after being penalized for changing an engine, finished 13th. He is fourth in the standings, 41 points behind Mir.

The series will return to the Ricardo Tormo track again next weekend, and the season finale will take place Nov. 8 in Portugal.

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Rins said a mistake changing gears forced him to run long at a corner, allowing Mir to make the pass for the lead.

Pole-sitter Pol Espargaró fell off the pace early and finished third. Valentino Rossi, who returned after missing two races with the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) did not finish because of a mechanical failure.

Mir, who celebrated by flying the Spanish flag on his victory lap, was the ninth winner in 12 races this season and the fifth first-time winner. Six-time series champion Marc Márquez has been out since being injured in a crash at the season opener.

Final 2023 Rolex 24 at Daytona results, stats

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — The 2023 Rolex 24 at Daytona overall results were all streaks: two consecutive victories in the endurance classic for Meyer Shank Racing and three in a row for Acura.

And Helio Castroneves became the second driver to win three consecutive Rolex 24s and the first to win in three straight years (Peter Gregg won in 1973, ’75 and ’76; the race wasn’t held in ’74 because of a global oil crisis).

Starting from the pole position, Tom Blomqvist took the checkered flag in the No. 60 ARX-06 that led a race-high 365 of 783 laps with co-drivers Castroneves, Simon Pagenaud and Colin Braun.

RESULTS: Click here for the finishing order in the 61st Rolex 24 at Daytona l By class

Meyer Shank Racing now has two Rolex 24 victories and the 2022 championship since entering the premier prototype category of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship in 2021.

“I think what’s so special about this team is we are a small team compared to some of our opponents, but the atmosphere, the way we work, enables people to get the best out of themselves, and I think that’s why we’re such high achievers,” Blomqvist said. “I think there’s no egos. It’s a very open book, and that just enables each and every one of us to reach our potential. I think that’s why we’ve achieved so much success in really a short time at this level of competition.”

It’s the 16th IMSA victory for MSR.

The 61st running of the Rolex 24 at Daytona marked the debut of the Grand Touring Prototype category that brought hybrid engine technology to IMSA’s top level.

In other categories:

LMP2: James Allen passed Ben Hanley on the final lap and delivered a victory in the No. 55 ORECA by 0.016 seconds. It’s the second IMSA victory for Proton Competition, which last won at Sebring in 2012. It was the first Rolex 24 victory for Allen and co-drivers Gianmaria Bruni, Fred Poordad and Francesco Pizzi.

GTD Pro: Cooper MacNeil won in the last start of his IMSA career as the No. 79 Mercedes-AMG GT3 scored the first Rolex 24 at Daytona for WeatherTech Racing and the team’s fourth career victory.

MacNeil, who co-drove with Maro Engel, Jules Gounon and Daniel Juncadella, earned his 12th career victory and first at the Rolex 24.

“Winning by last IMSA race is tremendous,” MacNeil said.

GTD: The No. 27 Heart of Racing Team delivered the first Rolex 24 at Daytona for Aston Martin, which has been competing in endurance races at Daytona International Speedway since 1964. Drivers Marco Sorensen, Roman De Angelis, Darren Turner and Ian James (also the team principal) earned the victory in the English brand’s 13th attempt.

It’s also the first Rolex 24 at Daytona win for Heart of Racing, which has seven IMSA wins.

LMP3: Anthony Mantella, Wayne Boyd, Nico Varrone and Thomas Merrill drove the No. 17 AWA Duqueine D08 to victory by 12 laps for the team’s first class win in IMSA.


STATS PACKAGE FOR ROLEX 24 HOURS OF DAYTONA:

Fastest laps by driver

Fastest laps by driver after race (over the weekend)

Fastest laps by driver and class after race

Fastest lap sequence

Lap chart

Leader sequence

Race analysis by lap

Stint analysis

Time cards

Pit stop time cards

Best sector times

Race distance and speed average

Flag analysis

Weather report

NEXT: The 2023 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season will resume with the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring March 18 with coverage across NBC, USA and Peacock.