Late-race, three-car heavy accident between RHR, Bourdais, Pagenaud ends NOLA race (VIDEO)

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AVONDALE, La. – The sixth and final full-course caution to cap off a chaotic afternoon in the Bayou stirred controversy like an individual stirring gumbo in a restaurant.

A three-car accident occurred on Lap 43 between Simon Pagenaud, Ryan Hunter-Reay and Sebastien Bourdais, when Pagenaud was off course at the exit of Turn 3, careened back into Hunter-Reay and forced Hunter-Reay’s airborne, into Bourdais and forcing all three of them off the road and into the barriers.

It cost each of them likely top-10 finishes and ended the inaugural Indy Grand Prix of Louisiana under yellow.

Unsurprisingly, opinions varied on who was to blame for the accident, although mercifully each driver was OK.
“I’m peddling the car car all the way out, it’s loose and there’s just no more room for him to be out there,” Hunter-Reay told NBCSN’s Kevin Lee. “Bourdais is on my left side, I don’t know where to go at that point.

“Bourdais is right there on my left, Pagenaud is on my right. I’m using my regular racing line, he stuck his nose out there and he’s off the racing line…there’s no more room. I don’t know where he was going with it. Then he cleans us both out. He’s lucky all three of us are not injured at all.”

Pagenaud’s take came next, offered to NBCSN’s Kelli Stavast.

“…..I’m inside of the next corner, but it seems like it’s his track, so he runs me off and look at what happened,” Pagenaud said. “That was really dangerous, really bad for Sebastian, who had a great race, bad for him. he didn’t deserve to be in that crash. To me that’s just not a professional move.”

Hunter-Reay explained his conversation with Pagenaud following the contact.

“Pagenaud and I just talked real quick and he said ‘you ran me out of room,’ and I said there was no room in the first place, so I don’t know where you want me to put the car. Bourdais is right there, it’s a tight fit. He put his car out there and now we’re all sitting on the side of the road.

“I don’t know what to say to that, its certainly a racing incident.”

Bourdais, who was an innocent bystander taken out in the impact, explained his vantage point.

“It was a pretty nasty hit, just at head level,” Bourdais told Lee. “(Hunter-Reay) missed my head by a couple of inches. The tub is actually broken right at my shoulder. He (Pagenaud) was pretty worried, it was a big hit.”

Daniel McFadin contributed to this post 

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.