Chilton on podium in Monterey. Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway Photography, LLC

After near-miss at Mazda Raceway, Chilton looks ahead to 2016 options

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Not too many drivers do a good job of “owning it” when they make a mistake, but Max Chilton made sure to do so after one in the first race of the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca season finale for the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires probably cost him not just Saturday’s, but also Sunday’s race wins.

Chilton had qualified on pole position but a spin at the Corkscrew after clipping the tires on corner entry sent him back in the field.

“Completely my fault yesterday,” Chilton told MotorSportsTalk after the weekend at Monterey. “Now I now what happened today, I’m really annoyed I didn’t get that victory. I had the pace yesterday. I was three or four tenths quicker than anyone. Today I didn’t have that. Pretty sure I could have won if I didn’t have to defend from Jack (Harvey). It’s virtually impossible to overtake. I know we have the pace.”

Chilton also suggested the start for Sunday’s race two shouldn’t have necessarily occurred, given how wide Harvey went on the launch to try to make a run to the outside.

“I don’t know what Tony (Cotman, race director) was looking at,” Chilton said. “I’m not sure why he waved the green flag when someone was clearly that far out of line. I don’t want to go any further than that, but we should have waited.”

On the whole though, Chilton said he enjoyed his time in North America this year, and has to have IndyCar as a viable option for 2016. He was particularly stout in the second half of the season, with a healthy amount of podium finishes for Carlin as well as an emotional first series win at Iowa Speedway less than 24 hours after the loss of Formula 1 teammate Jules Bianchi.

“I’ve really enjoyed my time racing in America. I have some decisions to be made,” he said.

“I have enjoyed it here. It’s very welcoming. Very professional series they’ve got here with the Mazda Road to Indy, Indy Lights and IndyCar.

“I have a few decisions to be made. I think I could do pretty good in IndyCar. It would suit me. I’ve shown this year I’m very quick. Hadn’t got it right in all the races. But had I done the whole year as a main focus, things might have been different.”

Chilton also made the most humorous moment of the night at the Mazda Road to Indy banquet, when he tried to take a selfie in front of the crowd, but needed several attempts to nail the moment.

Toyota No. 8 car wins the 24 Hours of Le Mans for third consecutive year

24 Hours of Le Mans

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.