IndyCar Driver Review: The part-timers

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We take a brief look at the part-time drivers, most of whom only did one or two race weekends, in this final look at our driver-by-driver segment of MotorSportsTalk’s 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series season review.

24. Oriol Servia
25. Kurt Busch
26. JR Hildebrand
27. Sage Karam
28. Luca Filippi
29. James Davison
30. Jacques Villeneuve
31. Alex Tagliani
32. Townsend Bell
33. Pippa Mann
34. Martin Plowman
35. Buddy Lazier
36. Franck Montagny

Compared to 2013, there were very few part-time campaigns to note where drivers shone in limited opportunities.

Only Oriol Servia and Luca Filippi drove more than two, but less than six races this season. Each had four races in Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s second car.

Servia overachieved at Long Beach with seventh, and was a caution away from stealing a win at the Grand Prix of Indianapolis. Filippi got another four-race cameo of his own later in the year but his results didn’t match his speed at Houston or Toronto. Sadly, it remains to be seen if we’ll see either in an IndyCar again.

Of the month of May-only one-offs, NASCAR’s Kurt Busch and Indy Lights champion Sage Karam each drove stellar Indianapolis 500s. It would have been nice to see JR Hildebrand earn further drives with Ed Carpenter Racing; likewise, fellow Californian and NBCSN analyst Townsend Bell nearly stole the show at the Indianapolis 500 in one of his best ‘500 drives.

Back in an IndyCar for the first time in three years, Martin Plowman had a month of May to forget when he launched over fellow one-off driver Franck Montagny at the GPI, then hit Josef Newgarden under caution in the ‘500 two weeks later.

Toyota No. 8 car wins the 24 Hours of Le Mans for third consecutive year

24 Hours of Le Mans

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.