IMSA joins NASCAR in strengthening rules about drivers leaving cars after wrecks

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The IMSA-sanctioned TUDOR United SportsCar Championship series is the second major motorsports series to implement new – or strengthen enforcement of existing – rules on drivers leaving their cars after on-track incidents.

TUDOR is following NASCAR’s lead, which reaffirmed and strengthened its existing rules after the Aug. 9 tragic incident that claimed the life of Kevin Ward Jr. in a sprint car race in upstate New York.

Ward had been involved in a wreck with NASCAR star Tony Stewart, exited his car and came down the track, where he was accidentally struck by Stewart’s car and suffered fatal injuries.

The TUDOR series is now mandating that drivers remain in their cars until safety crews arrive on-scene. The only exception to that is if “personal safety is at risk,” such as fire or the threat of additional vehicles piling into the original wreck.

IMSA’s new Rule 48.5.1 officially states:

DISABLED CARS. During an Event, if a Car is involved in an incident and/or is stopped on or near the Racing surface and unable to continue to make forward progress, unless extenuating emergency conditions exist with the Car (i.e. fire, smoke in cockpit, etc.), the Driver should take the following steps as a Full Course Yellow is declared:

  • Communicate the condition of the Driver and Car to Officials where possible;
  • Shut off electrical power;
  • Do not loosen, disconnect or remove any Driver personal safety equipment until directed to do so by Officials;
  • After being directed to exit the Car, Driver should proceed as directed by Officials;
  • A Driver must not approach any portion of the Racing surface; A Driver must not approach another moving vehicle.

48.5.2. DRIVER EGRESS.

A Driver exiting a Car stopped in a location away from the Racing surface should first communicate the condition of the Driver and Car to Officials where possible, shut off electrical power, and only move directly to a protected location behind a wall, other barrier, or as directed, and must not approach the Racing surface or other moving vehicles.

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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.