Jamin (USF2000), Cooper (PWC GTS) win first two races of weekend at Mid-Ohio

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LEXINGTON, Ohio – There’s 12 races this weekend at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, with 11 additional races between the Mazda Road to Indy and Pirelli World Challenge besides Sunday’s Honda Indy 200 (1:30 p.m. ET, CNBC) for the Verizon IndyCar Series.

The first two of those 12 – race one for the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda and the Pirelli World Challenge GTS class – occurred Friday late afternoon.

USF2000

Points leader Nico Jamin of Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing delivered a dominant, flag-to-flag drive en route to his sixth win of the season, and seventh straight top-two finish in Round 12 of the 16-race season. Never challenged, Jamin won by 5.9558 seconds.

Meanwhile Australian rookie Anthony Martin equaled his season-best result of second, courtesy of a flying start where he made it up from fourth to second by Turn 4, which serves as the opening turn on the course. Aaron Telitz was third ahead of Jake Eidson and Parker Thompson.

The lone incident in the race occurred when Luke Gabin collected his Team Pelfrey teammate Garth Rickards at Turn 12, the carousel. Rickards was out on the spot while Gabin held onto seventh place for the remainder of the race, behind Yufeng Luo.

Jamin entered the race with a 17-point lead over Eidson and will only extend that margin with Eidson ending fourth. Races two and three of the weekend, Rounds 13 and 14, both occur on Saturday.

PWC GTS

Michael Cooper led flag-to-flag in the first of two GTS races of the weekend in the No. 10 Blackdog Speed Shop Chevrolet Camaro Z/28.R, but the win wasn’t as easy as he made it seem.

Jack Baldwin, who first raced at Mid-Ohio in 1973, started on pole in the newly adorned Umphrey’s McGee No. 73 GTSport Racing Porsche Cayman S. But before he even had the chance to get going, his car seized up from the standing start, and his run of four consecutive podiums going into the weekend came to an end. The team got the car back running halfway into the 50-minute race.

Meanwhile the pair of Camaro Z/28.Rs emerged first and second, with Cooper leading Best IT Racing’s Andy Lee in a dogfight for nearly the rest of the race.

Mark Wilkins in a Kia Optima led Dean Martin’s Ford Mustang, Kris Wilson’s Aston Martin and Andrew Aquilante’s Ford in a four-way fight for third. A brief slip-up by Wilkins allowed Martin and Wilson through, and they easily pulled away.

Wilson made it past Martin for third and what would have been the final podium position, and immediately closed on Lee for second.

The reason for the “what would have been” line was contact between Wilson and Lee battling for second into Turn 4, which knocked them both back. Wilson spun out as Lee was on the inside.

With Lee and Wilson’s contact, up front, Cooper held on second win of the year (Round 2 at Circuit of the Americas).

Lee’s first podium and top-five finish of the year eluded him once again, as Martin leapt to second, with Andrew Aquilante third.

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.