MotorSportsTalk 2015 Rolex 24 at Daytona Sunday blog

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12:20 p.m. ET – We’re set up for the final sprint.

In P, the showdown is between the No. 02 Ganassi Riley-Ford, and No. 10 Taylor and No. 5 Action Express Corvette DPs. Ganassi expects Scott Dixon to finish; Jordan Taylor is due to finish in the No. 10 and either Sebastien Bourdais or Joao Barbosa will finish the No. 5.

CORE leads PC with BMW (GTLM) and Riley Viper (GTD) the other class leaders.

Unfortunately for Sage Karam, one of the star drivers of the race, the No. 01 Ganassi car’s win chances have ended due to a reported slipping clutch.

“Right when I left the pits for my third stint of that outing, and right away I just knew,” Karam said. “At first I thought it was just wheelspin on cold tires, but then after that I thought no way this is cold tires anymore. I’ve actually done the same thing in my street car with my clutch, so I knew what it was. I was like, that’s got to be the clutch. So I radioed in and told the guys, and sure enough, that was it. We tried to do different maps to help it out, but ultimately, you couldn’t hang with anybody. We were just too slow, so we had to bring it in and diagnose it.”

10:00 a.m. ET – The Taylor No. 10 has taken the lead on a pit stop sequence, and Andy Lally has hit a possum.

You read that last bit correctly.

See Lally’s tweets below for something that could seemingly only happen to the luckless Magnus Racing.

9:00 a.m. ET – The drama has intensified as the sun has risen in Daytona.

First off the Action Express No. 5 is back on the lead lap and now into the lead after spending less time over the pits in the last couple hours.

Meanwhile in GTLM, the promising Daytona debut for the No. 17 Team Falken Tire Porsche 911 RSR ended in the 18th hour with engine failure. Oliver Gavin in the No. 4 Corvette had contact with a  PC car and then the No. 25 BMW had an off course excursion.

The GTD-contending No. 33 Viper has also had a garage trip and lost more than a dozen laps, to fall out of contention. The sister No. 93 in the hands of race debutante Cameron Lawrence now leads.

CORE’s No. 54 and Corvette’s No. 3 are the PC and GTLM leaders as the race nears the 19-hour mark.

The No. 64 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 458 Italia GT3, another GTD class contender, has had a major incident and is now out of the running as well.

6:15 a.m. ET – Good morning from Sunday at Daytona International Speedway, and no, I have not yet been to sleep… but not too much has happened in the overnight hours (perhaps mercifully) since filing the last update on Saturday.

Basically here’s how things are setting up. It’s a likely three and possible four-horse race in the overall and Prototype class honors between the pair of Chip Ganassi Racing Riley-Fords and No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing. Defending champions Action Express Racing can reenter the fray if they get back on the lead lap, and the No. 5 Corvette DP has already got back two of the three laps it lost in the ninth hour for a connector issue.

In Prototype Challenge, right now, it’s CORE autosport’s to lose. Thus far the 2014 winners have driven a flawless race and nearly all their rivals have either had issues, been to the garage, or lacked the pace.

GT Le Mans could be any of Corvette, BMW or Porsche. The surprise here though is the No. 17 Team Falken Tire Porsche 911 RSR entry being Porsche’s sole win contender after the factory pair took each other out overnight in an odd and strange accident. Ferrari and Aston Martin, too, have seen their three entries out of the race as well.

And the battle could intensify in GT Daytona, too, with both Vipers, both Scuderia Corsa Ferraris, the No. 22 Alex Job Racing Porsche 911 GT America and No. 48 Paul Miller Racing Audi R8 LMS all on the lead lap with six hours to go.

Stay tuned for more here.

SATURDAY RACE BLOG

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.