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Le Mans updates: Crash delays qualifying; Conway to top; di Grassi out

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A crash for Erik Maris in the No. 33 Eurasia Motorsport Ligier JS P217 Gibson has halted the second of three qualifying sessions for this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans, but not before the overall and LMP2 provisional pole times have improved.

Maris’ crash has required extensive repairs to the ARMCO barrier; it will delay track activity until at least 8:15 p.m. local time at the Circuit de la Sarthe (2:15 p.m. ET). Maris got out of the car under his own power and is going through medical checks.

The session is due to run until 9 p.m. local time although may be extended into the one-hour break between this second session and the third and final qualifying session, which runs from 10 p.m. to midnight. Wednesday’s first qualifying session was delayed 20 minutes at the start and ran for only an hour and 40 minutes.

Before the accident, Mike Conway improved upon teammate Kamui Kobayashi’s best time set Wednesday night in the No. 7 Toyota TS050 Hybrid. The Englishman posted a best time of 3:18.651, a tenth and a half up on the 3:18.793 time, which now stands as the provisional pole in the car these two drivers share with Stephane Sarrazin.

While the No. 7 car improved its time, the No. 8 car has had a precautionary engine change.

The LMP2 mark however was lowered significantly. Thomas Laurent took the No. 38 Jackie Chan DC Racing Oreca 07 Gibson to a blistering lap of 3:26.776 in the car he shares with ex-Audi man and now ‘Bentley Boy’ Oliver Jarvis and Ho-Pin Tung. Wednesday’s provisional pole time was set by fellow Frenchman Mathieu Vaxviere in the No. 28 TDS Racing Oreca of 3:29.333.

Neither of the GTE provisional pole times have changed compared to Wednesday; Aston Martin Racing still holds the top spot in GTE-Pro and GTE-Am.


There is one key GTE change though and it has nothing to do with the timesheets.

Lucas di Grassi is out of this year’s Le Mans with a broken fibula which requires surgery. It will bring Italian veteran Michele Rugolo into the No. 51 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GTE alongside James Calado and Alessandro Pier Guidi.

Di Grassi, who races full-time in the FIA Formula E Championship with ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport, posted a series of tweets for updates.

Marco Andretti to drive throwback scheme to honor 25th anniversary of grandfather Mario’s last win

Photo courtesy Andretti-Herta Autosport
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Marco Andretti wanted to do something really special to honor the 25th anniversary of grandfather Mario Andretti’s final Indy car win in 1993 at Phoenix International Raceway (now known as ISM Raceway).

So the third-generation Andretti, along with his team, Andretti-Herta Autosport, came up with a plan and design that will take longtime race fans back in time when it appears early next month for the Phoenix Grand Prix.

Marco Andretti’s No. 98 Oberto Beef Jerky Circle K/Curb Honda will be decked out in the colors of the car his grandfather won his last race on the one-mile short track 25 years ago.

“When the idea of a throwback livery celebrating my grandfather’s final win was thrown around, Oberto was ready to get to the drawing board,” Marco Andretti said in a media release. “The black, white and red car resembles many of my family’s race cars and was a big part of my life growing up.

“It’s really cool to be able to add one of my cars to that family legacy.”

The car is a virtual double of the legendary Newman-Haas Racing and Texaco/Havoline-sponsored car Mario drove on that celebratory day in the Valley of the Sun 2 ½ decades ago.

Various events and ceremonies during the April 6-7 race weekend will honor the senior Andretti. That includes several of his former competitors who will be on hand to celebrate with Mario, including Emerson Fittipaldi, Bobby Rahal, Jimmy Vasser, Paul Tracy, Arie Luyendyk, and of course, son Michael Andretti and grandson Marco Andretti.

Check out what happened on that day 25 years ago:

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