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Rosberg quickest in opening Singapore practice

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Nico Rosberg kicked off his Singapore Grand Prix weekend in the best possible fashion by finishing as the fastest driver in the opening practice session on Friday evening.

Rosberg has suffered a series of defeats to Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton in the past few races, but managed to edge out the Briton by four-tenths of a second in FP1.

A fastest lap of 1:47.995 saw Rosberg top the timesheets ahead of Hamilton as the drivers got to grips with their first night-time running since the Bahrain Grand Prix back in April.

FP1 started at 6pm local time in Singapore, two hours earlier than the planned race start on Sunday, meaning that the times were not wholly representative due to the lower temperatures.

Nevertheless, Red Bull made a strong start to the weekend as Daniel Ricciardo finished third in the standings ahead of Ferrari drivers Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen. The team did hit trouble with Daniil Kvyat’s car though, as an engine issue left hit stuck in the garage for much of the session and 18th in the final classification.

Valtteri Bottas finished sixth overall ahead of Max Verstappen, who enjoyed a solid first run under the lights in Singapore to end up P7. The Dutchman was joined in the top ten by Toro Rosso teammate Carlos Sainz Jr. in ninth, as the duo were split by Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg.

Pastor Maldonado displayed a good baseline pace in FP1 to finish tenth, but he was forced to end his session early due to a problem on his Lotus E23 Hybrid car. Teammate Romain Grosjean finished 14th overall.

McLaren showed signs of an improved pace in FP1 as Fernando Alonso finished on the cusp of the top ten in 11th place. Teammate Jenson Button finished three-tenths of a second further back in 15th.

American driver Alexander Rossi enjoyed his first run in an F1 car since August 2014 in FP1 ahead of his grand prix debut with Manor on Sunday. However, he brought the session to an early end when he hit the wall with four minutes remaining after losing the backend of his car.

Despite propping up the timesheets in 20th place, Rossi did finished just 0.015 seconds shy of teammate Will Stevens in the sister car. Manor will face a race against time to get his car repaired for the beginning of FP2, though.

Second practice from Singapore kicks off at 9:30am ET on Friday, and is live on NBCSN and Live Extra.

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.