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Berthon completes Team Aguri line-up in Formula E

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Nathanael Berthon will make his Formula E debut next weekend in Beijing after being announced as Team Aguri’s second driver on Thursday.

Berthon is a GP2 race winner and has taken part in the 24 Hours of Le Mans twice, but looked set to turn his attention to Formula E after a successful test with Team Aguri at Donington Park in August.

The Frenchman has now been confirmed as Aguri’s second driver for season two, joining ePrix winner Antonio Felix da Costa for the new campaign.

“I am really looking forward to racing with Team Aguri in the second season of Formula E,” Berthon said. “I am really thankful to Aguri [Suzuki], Mark [Preston] and the whole team to have given me the chance to show what I could bring to the team at Donington Park during testing last month.

“For me, it is a good new challenge and I think we can look forward to a very good season with the proven package that Aguri has worked on improving during the off-season. The attitude and mentality of Team Aguri very much matches mine and this was clear from the very start.

“Formula E is all about being a complete driver and tests you technically. This really appeals to me because with my experience in many disciplines I have a lot to call upon when it comes to strategies and efficiency.”

Following Aguri’s confirmation of Berthon, the grid for the second Formula E season is now complete.

2015-2016 Formula E season entry list

NEXTEV TCR
1. Nelson Piquet
88. Oliver Turvey

DS Virgin Racing
2. Sam Bird
25. Jean-Eric Vergne

Venturi
4. Stephane Sarrazin
12. Jacques Villeneuve

Dragon Racing
6. Loic Duval
7. Jerome d’Ambrosio

Renault e.dams
8. Nicolas Prost
9. Sebastien Buemi

Trulli
10. Vitantonio Liuzzi
18. Salvador Duran

ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport
11. Lucas di Grassi
66. Daniel Abt

Mahindra Racing
21. Bruno Senna
23. Nick Heidfeld

Amlin Andretti
27. Robin Frijns
28. Simona de Silvestro

Team Aguri
55. Antonio Felix da Costa
77. Nathanael Berthon

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.