MotoGP grid falls to 22 bikes for 2016

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The MotoGP grid will fall from 26 bikes to 22 for the 2016 season following the departures of the Forward Racing and AB Motoracing teams, as confirmed by the publication of the provisional entry list.

In a statement issued by the FIM, motorcycle racing’s governing body, on Saturday, it was confirmed that the grid would fall by four bikes.

All of the leading factory teams will provisionally race with the same line-up once again in 2016, with the only team changes coming towards the back of the field.

Loris Baz of Forward Racing has already agreed a deal to join Avintia Racing in 2016, while Jack Miller will move from LCR Honda to join Marc VDS Racing.

Miller will take over from Scott Redding, who moves to Octo Pramac Racing as Yonny Hernandez replaces the WSBK-bound Nicky Hayden at Aspar.

As confirmed earlier this year by the FIM, the factory and open classes will merge for 2016, while Michelin becomes MotoGP’s sole tire supplier following Bridgestone’s withdrawal.

Here is the provisional entry list in full, as published by the FIM on Saturday ahead of Sunday’s 2015 season finale in Valencia.

2016 MotoGP provisional entry list

Andrea Dovizioso – #4 Ducati
Stefan Bradl – #6 Aprilia Racing Team Gresini
Hector Barbera – #8 Avintia Racing
Danilo Petrucci – #9 Octo Pramac Racing
Alex de Angelis – #15 IodaRacing
Alvaro Bautista – #19 Aprilia Racing Team Gresini
Maverick Vinales – #25 Team Suzuki Ecstar
Dani Pedrosa – #26 Repsol Honda
Andrea Iannone – #29 Ducati Racing
Cal Crutchlow – #35 LCR Honda
Bradley Smith – #38 Monster Yamaha Tech 3
Aleix Espargaro – #41 Team Suzuki Ecstar
Jack Miller – #43 Marc VDS Racing
Pol Espargaro – #44 Monster Yamaha Tech 3
Scott Redding – #45 Octo Pramac Racing
Valentino Rossi – #46 Movistar Yamaha
Eugene Laverty – #50 Aspar
Tito Rabat – #53 Marc VDS Racing
Yonny Hernandez – #68 Aspar
Loris Baz – #76 Avintia Racing
Marc Marquez – #93 Repsol Honda
Jorge Lorenzo – #99 Movistar Yamaha

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.