Kristensen: Le Mans clash a shame for F1 drivers

© Getty Images
1 Comment

LONDON – Nine-time Le Mans winner Tom Kristensen has called the provisional clash between the 24-hour race and the European Grand Prix in 2016 “a shame”, believing it will deny a number of Formula 1 drivers the chance to take part in the prestigious event.

Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg joined Porsche in the FIA World Endurance Championship for the 6 Hours of Spa before becoming the first current F1 driver since 1991 to win Le Mans.

However, the German looks unable to defend his crown in 2016 alongside Nick Tandy and Earl Bamber thanks to a clash between Le Mans and the European Grand Prix in Azerbaijan on June 19.

Speaking to MotorSportsTalk in London ahead of this weekend’s Race of Champions, Kristensen expressed his disappointment in the clash, believing that Hulkenberg would not be the only F1 driver keen to balance commitments in 2016.

“What’s lovely to see is a guy like Nico who in the season he was driving and was able to compete along with Bamber and Tandy,” Kristensen said. “They well deserved the victory, they were particularly strong at night.

“That’s something which I like to see. I think that just puts it a bit in fashion. Every Formula 1 driver, you ask them, they would all love to do Le Mans.

“It’s just the name of the industry at the moment. It’s difficult to combine these things. It’s a shame. It’s a big shame that it’s on the same weekend.

“WEC for me has always been around the 24 Hours of Le Mans – the hardest race, the most sexy race with the cars we have.

“So in that sense, I know what I would pick if I was a driver and you can have a longer career. I’m an older driver. Of course, these youngsters they will be and dream of going to Le Mans one time.”

Kristensen will be defending the Race of Champions Nations Cup title at London’s former Olympic Stadium on Friday, racing for Team Nordic alongside ex-WRC and current WRX driver Petter Solberg.

Travis Pastrana leads flag-to-flag in Nitro Rallycross as the series returns to America

Pastrana Nitro Rallycross
Barry Chin / Getty Images

Travis Pastrana waited until the final trip around ERX Motor Park to take his Joker Lap – a longer way around the course that all drivers must do at least once in a race – and came out cleanly to win his first Nitro Rallycross race of 2022. With this win, Pastrana is the third driver to visit Victory Lane in the first three rounds of the 2022-23 season.

“This is the closest to a motocross track,” Pastrana told Katie Osborne on Peacock. “Thank you so much for a beautiful facility. It’s been a rough start to the season and I’m so thankful to be back out here. We had a good run in the side-by-side and now for this. This is much needed.”

Another thing needed was the sense of improvement. And Pastrana earned that affirmation each time he completed a lap around the course.

“I get my lap times read out and they said ‘fastest time of the week,’ ‘fastest time of the week’ (each time around) ” Pastrana said. “This is really special. We’re a long way behind in the championship, but welcome to America.”

In a pre-race press conference, Pastrana said that as Nitro Rallycross heads back to America, it was time for an American to win and he made good on his promise. Pastrana took the early lead over Robin Larsson and let the back of his Subaru hang out, taking risks he might not otherwise take if not for his need to win.

How to Watch Nitro Rallycross

Larsson’s second-place finish completed a perfect sweep of the podium in three rounds. In fact, he has not yet finished worse than second after winning the opening round at Lydden Hill in the United Kingdom and finishing second at Strangnas in Sweeden.

Fraser McConnel rounded out the podium for his best result of the season. He finished fourth in each of the first two rounds.

Last year, Pastrana finished second in this race to Scott Speed before narrowly edging his teammate for the championship.

Andreas Bakkerud crashed in prelims, but rebounded to finish just off the block in fourth. Bakkerud won the second round ahead of his teammate Larsson.

Oliver Bennett completed the top five.

Minneapolis is the first of three rounds scheduled in the United States. Next on the schedule is Glen Helen, Calif. on Octo 30 and then Phoenix at Wild Horse Pass on November 12th. Nitro Rallycross will then head to Saudi Arabia in December to continue their 2022-23 season.