Max Papis answers fan questions about driving technique

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Max Papis has raced everywhere.

The Italian driver is one of the few who has had the privilege to race in NASCAR’s many levels, IndyCar, CART, the American Le Mans Series, Formula One and the Rolex Grand-Am Sports Car Series.

As a result, though he’s not the most successful driver, he has an immense library of knowledge to share with the curious. That’s what he did with a Q&A for SafeisFast.com, a website powered by Honda.

Here are three of the best insights Papis had to share with fans.

Q: Of the major series that you have driven, how would you compare them with one another? How would you rank them (NASCAR, F1, Sports Car…) concerning difficulty in learning to drive, or the talent of your competitors?

Papis: The thing I can tell you is that for sure the most demanding cars that I have driven were the Champ Cars. The Miller Lite car that I drove for many years was definitely the series that I got the most satisfaction from because to be champion you had to be a complete driver. You went from driving on a short track at Nazareth one weekend to driving Long Beach, then Michigan, then Toronto and then Laguna Seca …. NASCAR to me is nowadays the most competitive series that I have been in. Those drivers that are involved are not just great oval drivers but they are great drivers overall and they are definitely the best American racers.

Q: When you were first starting out as a professional racing driver who were your first sponsors and how did you get them?

Papis:  I was paid to race karts when I was 16 or 17, but then I wasn’t paid to race again until I was 24 or 25. I found all my own sponsors, I picked up the Yellow Pages and I called every single company that could have some thing to do with the sport of racing in a 500 mile radius. I went to visit all of them one by one to try to create interest and maybe out of 1,000 companies I was able to find two who believed in me as a person and who would support me … In my young career I definitely drove more miles on the road trying to pursue sponsors and talk to companies than what I did driving my race car.

Q: I recently did a hot lap as a passenger in a GT car with a pro driver. He was very fast. I noticed his hands made many quick corrections – they never stopped moving. Is this a particular style of driving or just what is needed when driving at the very limit?

Papis: There is no such thing as a ‘correct’ driving style. Driving is like walking – everyone does it in a different way. There are drivers who are extremely fast and on the limit but look super smooth and there are other drivers that are fast and on the limit that are very reactive. In racing you can achieve your goals driving the car in very different ways. Obviously having fast hands always helps because it is a great way to recover out of tough situations. That has been one of my characteristics since the beginning of my career, but there are guys who look like they are going to the grocery store and instead they are running super fast laps.

Read the rest of the Q&A at safeisfast.com.

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.