GP2: Vandoorne wins again as Palmer extends championship lead

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Jolyon Palmer has taken a huge step towards the 2014 GP2 Series championship after battling back from a qualifying exclusion to extend his lead at the top of the standings over nearest rival Felipe Nasr.

The British driver was victorious in the sprint race on Sunday after finishing eighth in the feature to secure reverse grid pole. Nasr, on the other hand, could finish no higher than sixth all weekend, and is now some 43 points adrift of Palmer in the title race.

Palmer’s weekend got off to a disastrous start when he was excluded from qualifying for a fuel infringement. As he did not have enough fuel left in his car at the end of the session, he was not included in the final classification. In seventh, Nasr appeared to have a great chance to cut the gap at the top.

However, it was Stoffel Vandoorne who took the spoils, winning the race from pole position ahead of Arthur Pic. The McLaren junior has been one of the stars of this year’s field, and should be in contention for the championship in 2015.

Palmer managed to produce a champion’s drive to finish the race in eighth place, thus securing himself reverse pole. However, Nasr had missed his chance to inflict maximum damage on the Briton, coming home P6 and making a gain of just two points.

From third on the grid on Sunday, Nasr still appeared to be in contention for the win, only for a bad start to end his chances. He did manage to recover to seventh by the flag, but with Palmer winning ahead of Stefano Coletti and DAMS teammate Stephane Richelmi.

The second race was marred by the disqualification of Spanish racer Sergio Canamasas. The Trident driver caused a number of on-track incidents, with the stewards eventually opting to remove him from the race before it had finished. It is not yet clear whether or not they will look to take any more action against him.

GP2 now enjoys a month’s break before venturing to Sochi in support of the Russian Grand Prix. With just two rounds and four races to go, Nasr faces an almighty task to deny Palmer the GP2 title, and it seems likely that Great Britain will be celebrating its first win in the series since Lewis Hamilton back in 2006.

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.