Six hours complete at Le Mans

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Racing with heavy hearts after the death of teammate Allan Simonsen in the opening moments of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the Aston Martin Racing team is performing admirably as the race crosses the six-hour mark.

In the GTE-Pro category, the No. 99 Aston of Bruno Senna, Robert Bell and Frederic Makowiecki and the No. 97 Aston of Stefan Mucke, Peter Dumbreck and Darren Turner are running first and second in the class, ahead of the two Porsche AG Team Manthey 911s. The third GTE-Pro Aston, the No. 98 for GRAND-AM vets Bill Auberlen, Paul Della Lana and Pedro Lamy, currently sit seventh in the class.

“It’s not easy conditions out there,” Mucke told SPEED Channel after stepping out of the No. 97 following his stint. “We’ve had a lot of safety cars and a lot of dirt on the track…But so far, everything is running good. The team is doing a good job and I think we can be happy.”

As for the remaining Aston in the GTE-Am category (the class that Simonsen was racing in), the No. 96 of Jamie Campbell-Walter, Roald Goethe and Stuart Hall are eighth in the class.

Back up front, the Audi contingent has control of the proceedings, currently holding the top three positions overall with the No. 1 R18 E-Tron Quattro (pictured) of Benoit Treyuler, Andre Lotterer and Marcel Fassler leading their teammates in the No. 2 (Loic Duval, Tom Kristensen and Allan McNish) and No. 3 (Lucas di Grassi, Marc Gene, and Oliver Jarvis) R18 hybrids. However, the No. 2 camp had a bit of a scare during the fifth hour when the No. 24 Oak Racing LMP2 Morgan-Nissan of David Heinemeier Hansson lost control in front of Duval at the Porsche Curves.

Fortunately for Audi, Duval was able to escape unscathed and continue on; he has since set his fastest lap of the race at 3 minutes, 23.269 seconds on Lap 86 around the massive Circuit de la Sarthe.

In the LMP2 category, the No. 26 G-Drive Racing Oreca-Nissan of John Martin, Roman Rusinov and IndyCar part-timer Mike Conway led the race at the six-hour point, while in GTE-Am, the No. 55 AF Corse Ferrari 458 Italia of Piergiuseppe Perrazini, Darryl O’Young and Lorenzo Case are on top.

NHRA: Brittany Force cleared to race this weekend in Phoenix after bad wreck 2 weeks ago

Photo: John Force Racing
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Drag racing is a Force family tradition. So, too, is not keeping a Force family member down.

Just 12 days after the most serious wreck of her six-year drag racing career, Brittany Force and John Force Racing announced late Thursday afternoon that the defending 2017 NHRA Top Fuel champion has been medically cleared and will indeed race in this weekend’s NHRA Arizona Nationals at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in suburban Phoenix, Arizona.

“I flew into Phoenix early this (Thursday) morning and headed straight out to the race track to meet up with my team,” Force said. “I suited up and got belted back into my car that I ran all last season.

“It honestly felt good to be strapped back in and I was surprised how comfortable I was. I’m looking forward to getting back in my car tomorrow (Friday’s first two rounds of qualifying) and getting back in the swing of things with my guys.”

The 31-year-old Force, one of four daughters of 16-time NHRA Funny Car champ John Force, suffered a concussion and bruising after the hard crash she was involved in on February 11 in the first round of eliminations of the season-opening NHRA Lucas Oil Winternationals in Pomona, California.

Shortly after leaving the starting line in a race vs. Terry Haddock, Force’s dragster crossed from the right to left lanes, impacted the retaining wall with a very hard lateral crash, bounced off, spun, went on its side and briefly caught fire after crossing the finish line wheels-up.

While she is still recovering from the bruising, Force feels strong enough to get back behind the wheel. Getting back in the race car could be the best medicine of all, since she has three runner-up finishes in Phoenix, including back-to-back second-place showings in both the 2016 and 2017 national events.

The three-day event kicks off Friday with qualifying rounds at 4 and 6:30 p.m. ET, the same times as Saturday’s qualifying. Final eliminations begin at 1 p.m. ET Sunday.