Aussie GP organizers now threaten lawsuit, switch to IndyCar

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From 1991 to 2008, American open-wheel racing annually made a visit to Australia at the beloved Surfers Paradise Street Circuit. But what if the current Verizon IndyCar Series was able to make its way back Down Under at the home of Formula One’s Australian Grand Prix?

Race organizers are still agitated over the lack of noise from F1’s new V6-powered machines, which they say detracted from the atmosphere during the Grand Prix earlier this month.

Now, after alleging that the quieter cars may have breached their contract with F1 management, the organizers have continued their saber-rattling by not only threatening a lawsuit but also bringing up IndyCar as a possible replacement at Albert Park.

“We may as well go and buy an IndyCar race for $3.5m [AUS]. It would be hugely louder,” Australian Grand Prix Corporation chairman Ron Walker told the UK’s Independent this week.

“It would be a drastic change to switch to IndyCar but we cannot go on like this.”

Walker also added that the new sound of F1 was “a disgrace” and that as a result, promoters will resort to having to “go and get an IndyCar race or something like that to keep the fans.”

As for the matter of the possible lawsuit, Walker says he has written F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone to inform him that F1’s Promoters Association group (of which Walker is the chairman) will meet in two weeks’ time to discuss the matter.

“We can’t just sit back and wait,” he declared. “There’s a strong wind blowing here. Legal action would not be very difficult. Bernie is clearly in breach of his contract because this is not what we bought…”

“I didn’t buy a wimp. Originally, I bought a giant with noise.”

Ecclestone himself has said that he was talking with FIA president Jean Todt about ways to make the cars louder, like their V8-powered predecessors. However, he has told Sky Sports in Malaysia that the noise was louder than he expected and that if it were raised a little bit more, “it will be alright.”

Todt himself appears open to the idea of louder engines, even though he has said he finds the V6 tones “fascinating” from his perspective.

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.