Le Mans: Seven cars handed penalties after qualifying


Seven cars have been hit with penalties following the conclusion of qualifying for the 2015 24 Hours of Le Mans on Friday after failing to record a quick enough lap time.

The regulations at Le Mans state that all drivers must post a time within 110% of that set by the class pole-sitter, or the entry will be relegated to the back of the grid regardless of the efforts by the other drivers in the car.

Four cars in LMP1 and one car from LMP2, GTE Pro and GTE Am apiece were hit with penalties after qualifying as a result, shaking up the order throughout the grid.

Nissan managed to rally towards the end of qualifying to get all three of its GT-R LM Nismo cars into the top 15, but failed to get within the required lap time of 3:36.575 that was 110% of Neel Jani’s pole position lap for Porsche of 3:16.887.

As a result, the trio of Nissans have been relegated to the back of the LMP2 grid, leaving them P30, P31 and P32 for the start of tomorrow’s race. They will start behind the Team ByKolles car, which also fell foul of the 110% rule in LMP1.

The only car in LMP2 to be hit with a penalty was the no. 45 Ibanez Racing car after Pierre Perrett failed to post a lap time within 110% of the class pole, dropping the all-French effort from P32 to P33 on the grid.

In GTE Pro, the no. 71 AF Corse car of James Calado, Davide Rigon and Olivier Baretta was sent to the back of the grid after Baretta failed to record a lap within 120% of the LMP1 pole time. As a result, it will start 54th on the grid ahead only of the no. 68 Team AAI car, which was hit with a penalty for missing the 110% time.

To see the full grid for the 2015 24 Hours of Le Mans, click here. The 83rd edition of the world’s most famous endurance race kicks off at 10am ET on Saturday.

Hunter Lawrence defends Haiden Deegan after controversial block pass at Detroit


Media and fan attention focused on a controversial run-in between Haiden Deegan and his Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing teammate Jordon Smith during Round 10 of the Monster Energy Supercross race at Detroit, after which the 250 East points’ Hunter Lawrence defends the young rider in the postrace news conference.

Deegan took the early lead in Heat 1 of the round, but the mood swiftly changed when he became embroiled in a spirited battle with teammate Smith.

On Lap 3, Smith caught Deegan with a fast pass through the whoops. Smith briefly held the lead heading into a bowl turn but Deegan had the inside line and threw a block pass. In the next few turns, the action heated up until Smith eventually ran into the back of Deegan’s Yamaha and crashed.

One of the highlights of the battle seemed to include a moment when Deegan waited on Smith in order to throw a second block pass, adding fuel to the controversy.

After his initial crash, Smith fell to seventh on the next lap. He would crash twice more during the event, ultimately finishing four laps off the pace in 20th.

The topic was inevitably part of the postrace news conference.

“It was good racing; it was fun,” Deegan said at about the 27-minute mark in the video above. “I just had some fun doing it.”

Smith had more trouble in the Last Chance Qualifier. He stalled his bike in heavy traffic, worked his way into a battle for fourth with the checkers in sight, but crashed a few yards shy of the finish line and was credited with seventh. Smith earned zero points and fell to sixth in the standings.

Lawrence defends Deegan
Jordon Smith failed to make the Detroit Supercross Main and fell to sixth in the points. – Feld Motor Sports

“I think he’s like fifth in points,” Deegan said. “He’s a little out of it. Beside that it was good, I don’t know. I wasn’t really paying attention.”

Deegan jokingly deflected an earlier question with the response that he wasn’t paying attention during the incident.

“He’s my teammate, but he’s a veteran, he’s been in this sport for a while,” Deegan said. “I was up there just battling. I want to win as much as everybody else. It doesn’t matter if it’s a heat race or a main; I just want to win. I was just trying to push that.”

As Deegan and Smith battled, Jeremy Martin took the lead. Deegan finished second in the heat and backed up his performance with a solid third-place showing in the main, which was his second podium finish in a short six-race career. Deegan’s first podium was earned at Daytona, just two rounds ago.

But as Deegan struggled to find something meaningful to say, unsurprisingly for a 17-year-old rider who was not scheduled to run the full 250 schedule this year, it was the championship leader Lawrence who came to his defense.

Lawrence defends Deegan
A block pass by Haiden Deegan led to a series of events that eventually led to Jordon Smith failing to make the Main. – Feld Motor Sports

“I just want to point something out, which kind of amazes me,” Lawrence said during the conference. “So many of the people on social media, where everyone puts their expertise in, are saying the racing back in the ’80s, the early 90s, when me were men. They’re always talking about how gnarly it was and then anytime a block pass or something happens now, everyone cries about it.

“That’s just a little bit interesting. Pick one. You want the gnarly block passes from 10 years ago and then you get it, everyone makes a big song and dance about it.”

Pressed further, Lawrence defended not only the pass but the decision-making process that gets employed lap after lap in a Supercross race.

“It’s easy to point the finger,” Lawrence said. “We’re out there making decisions in a split millisecond. People have all month to pay their phone bill and they still can’t do that on time.

“We’re making decisions at such a fast reaction [time with] adrenaline. … I’m not just saying it for me or Haiden. I speak for all the guys. No one is perfect and we’re under a microscope out there. The media is really quick to point a finger when someone makes a mistake.”

The media is required to hold athletes accountable for their actions. They are also required to tell the complete story.