Boston IndyCar race promoters hope to finalize all agreements soon

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Although Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh has expressed concern that agreements still have not been reached with several state agencies, organizers of next year’s IndyCar Grand Prix of Boston are confident those hurdles will be overcome soon.

“They’ve been in dialogue since day one,” Grand Prix spokesperson Jana Watt told MotorSportsTalk on Monday. “We support the Mayor 100 percent. It would behoove us, the quicker these agreements are signed, the better.

“But we also understand that from the agencies’ perspective that they understand everything they possibly can about the event, the usage and everything else and who’s paying for what. We need to nail all that down. We agree, absolutely.”

The race will be held on Sept. 4 on a street course that takes in a good portion of Boston’s riverfront area. It was confirmed as part of the Verizon IndyCar Series schedule last week, having been first announced in May.

In a sense, organizers are patterning it after existing and very successful IndyCar street races in Long Beach, Calif., and St. Petersburg, Fla.

While Walsh and the city are on-board with plans, financial and other agreements still need to be worked out with agencies including the Massachusetts Port Authority (Massport), the Massachusetts Convention Center and the Massachusetts Department of Transportation.

Those groups control much of the property the planned street race is slated to be contested upon. The final version of the race track layout was only completed in early October.

“Obviously, there are a lot of agreements that have to come to fruition in order for the event to happen, but that’s not unexpected,” Watt said. “That’s part of a race or an event of this nature, that touches so many different agencies. So we’re in 100 percent support of what the Mayor has said. We need these agreements done, too.”

Walsh’s chief of operations, Patrick Brophy, emailed a letter to Jim Freudenberg, chief commercial officer of the Grand Prix of Boston, asking promoters to finalize all outstanding agreements within the next 14 days.

“It is expected that your team will finalize agreements with all interested parties within the next two (2) weeks,” Brophy wrote to Freudenberg. “Please be advised that the Mayor grows increasingly concerned with the progress (or lack thereof) of those discussions.”

In addition to the two-week deadline, Brophy asked that tickets for the race – which were slated to go on sale this month – will not be sold until all agreements are in place.

There is also concern about working closer to allay increasing concerns from community groups about the event, which is expected to generate at least $25 million to the city and state in the first year.

“As you are aware, a predicate to agreements and permit acquisition is the outcome of your discussions with local neighborhood, civic and business associations,” Brophy said in his email. “Mayor Walsh feels strongly that overall community ‘buy-in’ and timely resolution of all financial terms for this proposed event are paramount to his final approval.”

Watt said race organizers remain confident they can reach agreements soon.

“At the end of the day, the conversation didn’t start yesterday,” Watt said. “It’s been an ongoing dialogue and a healthy and good one, a very robust dialogue. It’s been open communication. There are certainly things to finalize.”

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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.