MotoGP: Rossi beats Marquez in Dutch TT after last lap clash at Assen

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Valentino Rossi extended his lead at the top of the MotoGP championship standings on Saturday after edging out Marc Marquez to win the Dutch TT at Assen.

After scoring his first pole position of the season on Friday in the Netherlands, Rossi retained the lead at the start ahead of Marquez.

The Spaniard had managed to slip into second place ahead of Aleix Espargaro, and remained within one second of Rossi for much of the race.

Marquez moved into the lead of the race on lap 19 when Rossi made an error at the final chicane, but the nine-time world champion managed to get back in front with three laps remaining.

The battle went down to the final lap, and when Marquez made a late lunge on Rossi in the final sector, the two clashed, sending the Italian across the gravel trap.

Rossi remained upright, though, and was able to cross the line to win the race by 1.2 seconds from Marquez, who had kept on track and taken a wide line at the chicane.

“I arrived in the last chicane on the limit, I entered and saw Marc’s bike try but it was too late,” Rossi said after the race.

“We touched so I had to cut the corner and I was lucky to control the bike on the gravel, it’s hard to know how deep the gravel is. I think it was a great battle as the last time we fought he won.”

Marquez admitted after the race that he did not think Rossi would cut the corner as he did, but was still pleased to have returned to the podium after a four-race absence.

“I was quiet and calm during the race and studied Rossi a lot, learning when I could overtake him and attack,” Marquez said. “I made a mistake with three laps to go, but I made it back.

“The whole race I focused on studying the last chicane perfectly, I knew where to put the bike to limit his space but I didn’t think he’d cut the corner.

“In the end I feel we won the race, but five points don’t really matter for me.”

The next MotoGP race takes place in two weeks’ time at the Saschenring in Germany.

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.