MRTI: Indy Lights, USF2000 set for Toronto rounds

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Two of the three rungs on the Mazda Road to Indy ladder will be in action at Toronto this weekend. Here’s a quick state of where the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires and Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda sit heading into the streets around Exhibition Place.

Indy Lights’ single race runs at 10:45 a.m. ET on Sunday; the USF2000 races are 6:15 p.m. ET Saturday night and 9:05 a.m. ET Sunday morning.

INDY LIGHTS (Entry List)

Gabby Chaves took a pivotal victory last time out at Pocono to break the deadlock in points between he and Zach Veach. Entering Toronto this weekend, Chaves (No. 5 Belardi Auto Racing) leads Veach (No. 26 Andretti Autosport) by 11 points, 316-305. A year ago, Chaves finished third and Veach seventh on the streets of Toronto, the latter driving a backup car leased from Schmidt Peterson Motorsports following a qualifying crash.

SPM’s current pair of rookies, Jack Harvey and Luiz Razia, make their Toronto debuts this weekend. Harvey, winless but consistent thus far in the No. 42 car, sits third on points on 272 with Razia fifth on 258 in the No. 7. Sandwiched in-between them is Matthew Brabham, who won both Pro Mazda races at Toronto a year ago; the young American sits fourth on 262 points in the No. 83 Andretti Autosport entry.

A pair of Canadians return to action this weekend with Zack Meyer in the No. 2 Team Moore car after missing Pocono; Matthew Di Leo makes his first start of 2014 in the No. 56 MDL Racing entry. Alex Baron (No. 4 Belardi) also returns after missing Pocono and American Ryan Phinny makes his first series start since 2011, driving the No. 28 Bryan Herta Autosport entry. Those four plus the eight who raced at Pocono will mean Toronto will see the biggest field of the season at 12 cars (these nine plus Juan Pablo Garcia and Juan Piedrahita of SPM, and Scott Anderson of Fan Force United).

USF2000 (Entry List)

It’s been a nearly two-month long break for USF2000 competitors since their last race at the Lucas Oil Raceway oval the Night Before the 500, won by Aaron Telitz of ArmsUp Motorsports.

In seven 2014 races, there have been five different winners. Points leader RC Enerson is the only multiple race winner, but his triumphs came from Round 2 at St. Petersburg through Round 4 at Barber. The other four winners are Telitz, Adrian Starrantino, Will Owen and Victor Franzoni.

Florian Latorre and Jake Eidson, who rank second and third in points, are poised to join the list of first-time winners, and either Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing driver would be a good pick for the weekend. Franzoni, Telitz and Starrantino sit fourth through sixth and need a big weekend to gain in the title chase.

Of note in the 23-car field, Nico Jamin switches from Belardi Auto Racing to Pabst Racing, which leaves Belardi down to just two USF2000 cars (Daniel Burkett, Jeroen Slaghekke) after running as many as four last year. Burkett, the returning James Dayson (ArmsUp) and Nathan Blok (John Cummiskey Racing) fly the flag for Canada this weekend.

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.