Lucas Luhr would be interested in full-time INDYCAR switch

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You wouldn’t have to ask American Le Mans Series star Lucas Luhr twice about taking a chance to race full-time in the IZOD IndyCar Series.

In advance of his IndyCar debut on Aug. 25 at the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma, Luhr will strap into a Dallara DW12 for the first time next Tuesday during a test session for Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing at the Northern California road course.

For now, Luhr’s program for Sonoma is a one-off. But should the 34-year-old German get a call about a full-season drive in IndyCar…

“For me, it’s very clear – if I had the opportunity to do a full season in IndyCar, I’d say, ‘Oh yeah, I’m in.'” There’s no question about it,” he told IndyCar.com. “Even if you do a full season in IndyCar racing, you have opportunities to do the long races in sports car racing.

“If that was the case, it would be a dream come true, even in my old age.”

Luhr will get additional prep time in the No. 97 SFHR Honda during an IndyCar Open Test at Sonoma on Aug. 21. That, and having his ALMS engineer Brandon Fry on hand, should prove even more helpful as he prepares to attack Sonoma for the first time in an open-wheel machine.

“I’ve raced there in the past but nothing like this,” said Luhr. “I’ve raced GT cars and with a prototype, which was more like a roll-out and not really pushing it. Brandon has been involved in Champ Car and INDYCAR; he’s there to give me a familiar voice on the radio.

“At least that is a known factor in so many unknowns and new things for me. I have to learn a lot in a very short amount of time. I understand it technically and from the driving point of view, and now I have to get to know how the car reacts.”

Next Tuesday’s test at Sonoma is open to the public.

Toyota No. 8 car wins the 24 Hours of Le Mans for third consecutive year

24 Hours of Le Mans
JEAN-FRANCOIS MONIER/AFP via Getty Images
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LE MANS, France — Toyota Gazoo’s No. 8 car comfortably won the 24 Hours of Le Mans by five laps Sunday to secure a third straight victory in the prestigious endurance race.

It was also a third consecutive win for Swiss driver Sebastien Buemi and Japan’s Kazuki Nakajima driving. Brendon Hartley was the other driver, having replaced two-time Formula One champion Fernando Alonso.

Buemi and Hartley sat on the side of the car as Nakajima drove toward the podium. Hartley won for a second time after tasting success with the Porsche LMP Team in 2017 before an unhappy season in Formula One.

The Swiss team’s Rebellion No. 1 featured American driver Gustavo Menezes and Brazilian Bruno Senna – the nephew of late F1 great Ayrton Senna.

It finished one lap ahead of Toyota Gazoo’s No. 7, with Rebellion’s No. 3 finishing in fourth place.

For much of the race it looked like Toyota’s No. 7 would win after leading comfortably from pole position. But late into the night the car encountered an engine problem and the 30-minute stop in the stands proved costly.

The race was first held in 1923. A total of 252,500 spectators attended in 2019, but there were none this year when the race started three months late because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“We miss the fans,” New Zealander Hartley said. “I look forward to seeing all the fans again.”

In other divisions:

United Autosports won the LMP2 division with the entry of Filipe Albuquerque, Paul Di Resta and Phil Hanson.

–In LMGTE Pro, the victory was claimed by Aston Martin Vantage AMR of Maxime Martin, Alex Lynn and Harry Tincknell (who drives for Mazda in the DPi division of IMSA).

–TF Sport won the LMGTE Am class.

The Toyota No. 7 took pole after former F1 driver Kamui Kobayashi narrowly edged out the Rebellion No. 1 team in qualifying.

In damp and humid conditions Mike Conway got away cleanly from the start, while Senna held off Buemi.

After nearly seven hours, Toyota’s No. 8 fell back after a 10-minute stop in the stands to fix a brake-cooling problem on Kazuki Nakajima’s car. Rebellion’s No. 1, driven by Frenchman Norman Nato, took advantage to move into second place behind Toyota’s No. 7.

Then came the decisive moment at 2:40 a.m. as the No. 7 – also featuring Argentine Jose Maria Lopez – encountered a turbo problem. When the car came back out it was back in fourth.

“We had a few problems early in the race,” Nakajima said. “Later they had a bigger issue than us.”

Rebellion’s No. 1 encountered a problem on the hood at around 9 a.m. and the change took six minutes, allowing the Rebellion No. 3 (Nathanael Berthon-Louis Deletraz-Romain Dumas) to close the gap.

It was becoming a tight battle between the two Rebellion cars behind Toyota’s No. 8.

At 12 p.m. Rebellion No. 3 with Dumas behind the wheel was only one second ahead of No. 1 driven by Menezes. Then both cars came in for a driver change with Deletraz swapping for Dumas on a lengthy stop, and Nato for Menezes as Rebellion No. 1 suddenly moved ahead of its team rival.

Dumas, a winner in 2016 with Porsche, appeared unhappy at the strategy decision to bring his car in first and the length of the stop. There were tense explanations in the team garage.

Colombian Tatiana Calderon, an F1 test driver with Alfa Romeo, was in the Richard Mille Racing Team in the LMP2 category. She was joined by German Sophia Florsch – an F3 driver – and Dutchwoman Beitske Visser. They placed ninth out of 24 in their category.