Manor delighted to get both cars home in China

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Manor Marussia F1 Team reached another landmark achievement during today’s Chinese Grand Prix by getting both of its cars to the end of the race for the first time.

The ex-Marussia operation was revived over the winter by an injection of fresh investment that allowed a shell operation to remain in Formula 1 for 2015.

The team failed to get either of its cars out at the Australian Grand Prix, and was only able to run one car in Malaysia two weeks ago as Roberto Merhi finished the race in 15th place.

Merhi was joined out on track by teammate Will Stevens during Friday practice in China, marking the first time that Manor had both cars running at the same time.

After comfortably qualifying for the race on Saturday, Stevens and Merhi kept out of trouble to finish the Chinese Grand Prix in 15th and 16th place respectively, much to the delight of team principal John Booth.

“The whole team can feel really proud of what we’ve achieved in China this weekend,” Booth said. “Our target was to get both cars to the checkered flag and it’s a great feeling to have achieved that and to see the progress we’ve made in every session.

“The pace is also starting to come now – we were much better off in the race today – so there is a lot to be satisfied with and a lot to look forward to.”

Today was just Stevens’ second race in F1, having made his debut at the 2014 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix for Caterham, and he is pleased by the progress being made at Manor.

“A great race for me and the team and one which shows how far we’ve come in a very short space of time,” Stevens said. “Obviously it feels really good for me to be racing again and to finish the race with both cars is so important for us at this stage of our development.

“We always knew that when we sorted out the challenges we’d have a reliable car. I didn’t get the best of starts but those sorts of issues are easily resolved and I’m sure we’ll see a lot more progress over the next few races.”

The team will be looking for a repeat result at next Sunday’s Bahrain Grand Prix as it continues to find its feet in 2015.

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.