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Lorenzo wins third MotoGP title after Valencia victory

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Jorge Lorenzo clinched his third MotoGP world championship after fending off Honda riders Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa to win Sunday’s Grand Prix of Valencia.

Lorenzo entered the final race of the season trailing Yamaha teammate Valentino Rossi by seven points at the top of the riders’ standings after 17 races.

The Spaniard took pole position on Saturday, putting the two championship contenders at opposite ends of the grid thanks to Rossi’s penalty following his clash with Marquez in Sepang.

Lorenzo managed to retain his lead off the line ahead of Marquez and Pedrosa, while Rossi made a flying start from the back of the grid, rising up to 15th by the end of the first lap – a gain of 11 positions.

Going in search of his tenth world championship and seventh in the premier class, Rossi managed to scythe through the field in the laps that followed to run fourth on lap 13, leaving only Lorenzo, Marquez and Pedrosa ahead.

The trio had gapped Rossi by over ten seconds by this point, leaving the Italian reliant on both Marquez and Pedrosa to pass Lorenzo if he were to win the championship.

Lorenzo appeared to have the title won as Pedrosa fell some two seconds back at one point. However, just as Marquez began to crawl all over the back of Lorenzo with seven laps to go, Pedrosa began to make inroads after saving his tires.

With just two laps to go, less than one second separated the top three, with Pedrosa pushing to pass Marquez for position. However, the outgoing champion was able to hold his teammate back, with their battle giving Lorenzo some relief at the front.

Following a classic and controversial season, Lorenzo crossed the line to win the race by just 0.2 seconds and clinch his fifth motorcycle world championship, his third in the premier class.

Marquez and Pedrosa followed the Yamaha rider across the line in second and third, while Rossi finished the race in a somewhat lonely fourth, leaving him just five points shy of the Spaniard in the final standings.

Pol Espargaro finished fifth ahead of Tech 3 teammate Bradley Smith, while Andrea Dovizioso was the sole Ducati to take the checkered flag after Andrea Iannone crashed out early on. Aleix Espargaro finished eighth for Suzuki, beating Cal Crutchlow and Danilo Petrucci in ninth and tenth.

American rider Nicky Hayden ended his long MotoGP career with a 17th-place finish for Aspar.

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.