Ex-V8 Supercars champ wants series to race ovals in U.S. (VIDEO)

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The Australian-based V8 Supercars series has won fans around the world for its close-quarter style of touring car racing, but an attempt to break into the U.S. didn’t quite go as planned when its 2013 race at Circuit of the Americas failed to carry over to a second season.

However, 2006 series champion Rick Kelly (pictured) believes that there’s another way for them to crack the American market: Oval racing.

Kelly took a Nissan around the Calder Park “Thunderdome” oval in Melbourne, Australia recently as part of a demo run (see the clip above), and he came away believing the series should give the U.S. another shot with a speedway round.

“A race around an oval in America would be incredible,” Kelly told Australia’s Daily Telegraph last week. “It would make a lot of sense to look at our options when we go back to the US and see if we have an opportunity to race on an oval after the event at [COTA].

“Obviously, it would be very appealing to the American audience.”

While such a prospect could seem strange to those who’ve enjoyed the fender-to-fender action that the V8s consistently produce on road/street circuits, the fact is that American fans – particularly those who follow NASCAR – tend to gravitate more to the ovals.

Kelly noted that it would take some modifications to make the V8 Supercars race-ready for an oval, but feels that the demo at Calder Park was proof that they could handle the challenge.

In the meantime, Kelly noted that he’d like an opportunity to try NASCAR one day and perhaps follow in the tire tracks of fellow Aussie Marcos Ambrose, who jumped to NASCAR in 2006 after a five-year run in V8 Supercars that saw him win back-to-back series titles in 2003 and 2004.

“I went over in 2007 to scope out any opportunities, and it was going to be such a huge step, [so] I decided to stick with V8 Supercars,” Kelly added to the Telegraph. “[Running on an oval] certainly gives you a taste of what itโ€™s like, and itโ€™s something I would like to have a crack at one day.”

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.