Razia claims Freedom 100 Indy Lights pole

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Luiz Razia captured his first Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tire win two weeks ago in the second race of the Grand Prix of Indianapolis.

He’s carried the momentum nicely into the pole position for his first oval start in Indy Lights, Friday’s Freedom 100 (noon ET, NBCSN).

Razia, one of four drivers in the Schmidt Peterson Motorsports quartet, went out ninth of 11 drivers and posted a two-lap average of 187.710 mph to claim the pole in the No. 7 car.

Teammate Jack Harvey, who finished on the podium in both GP of Indy races, lines up second in the No. 42 car after his average was 186.573.

The Schmidt pair’s excellent GP of Indy weekend propelled them back into title contention against the dominant pair of Zach Veach and Gabby Chaves, who split the opening four races of the year two wins apiece.

Points leader Veach rolls off fourth, alongside teammate and GP of Indy Race 1 winner Matthew Brabham. Chaves makes it all five in the top five in points starting from the top five positions on Friday.

The remainder of the 11-car grid is Juan Pablo Garcia, Chase Austin, Juan Piedrahita, Alex Baron, Scott Anderson and Zack Meyer. A 12th car, which was set for Emerson Newton-John, was withdrawn at the last minute due to a sponsorship issue.

For Razia, Harvey and Brabham, this will be their first Freedom 100, while Chaves seeks to avenge a narrow runner-up finish in the four-wide affair last year. Veach finished fifth last year, behind the top four.

Entering the weekend, Veach leads the standings with 229 points, with Razia at 224, Chaves on 215, Harvey on 207, and Brabham with 192.

Kevin Lee, Anders Krohn, IndyCar driver Josef Newgarden and Jake Query will call the action on NBCSN tomorrow at noon ET.

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.