TUDOR: Extreme Speed to run new HPD coupe next season

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This year, Extreme Speed Motorsports headed for the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship. Next year, they may be heading for the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

2015 is shaping up to be a big year for the “Patron posse,” as Honda Performance Development has announced the sale of two of its new V-6 powered, ARX-04b coupes to ESM.

Whether or not ESM will make the trip to France next year remains to be determined, but the new HPD coupes are fully compliant with the current LMP2 regulations laid out by the Automobile Club l’Ouest and exceed safety standards of the new enclosed-cockpit configuration.

They’re also eligible for competition in the TUDOR Series, as well as the World Endurance Championship, European Le Mans Series, and Asian Le Mans Series.

“It is hard to believe that the current HPD base race car is now seven years old and still running strong; that is a testament to its excellent design,” ESM co-owner Scott Sharp said in a statement. “The next generation of the ARX chassis has been well thought out with a huge emphasis on performance, safety and aerodynamics.

“We firmly believe this new racing machine will provide ESM with a strong platform to be a leader in sports car racing for many seasons!  We’re looking forward to getting behind the wheel of the ARX-04b and experiencing the latest version of the Honda power and performance.”

Among the attributes of the ARX-04b are “energy-efficient technology” that combines low drag with high fuel efficiency, “quick change” front and rear bodywork, a total fuel capacity of 75 liters, and Honda’s safety interlock refueling system, which is designed to reduce pit road fires triggered by cars leaving their stalls with the fuel hose attached.

“Our association with Scott, [co-owner] Ed [Brown] and Tequila Patrón goes back to 2008 with our ARX-01 chassis,” said HPD vice president and COO Steve Eriksen in his own statement. “We’re looking forward to continuing our successful partnership and assisting ESM when it makes its first run at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, where HPD has twice scored LMP2 class wins in the last four years.”

ESM currently utilizes the open-top HPD ARX-03b in the TUDOR Series.

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.