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Leeds, Kari, Camara join Red Bull Junior Team

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Red Bull has announced the addition of three new drivers to its junior programme ahead of the 2016 racing season.

In 2015, the junior programme comprised of GP2 drivers Pierre Gasly and Dean Stoneman, and Formula 3 racer Callum Ilott, and although the final line-up for 2016 is still to be confirmed, another three drivers have now been drafted in.

Luis Leeds, 15, will race in the British MSA Formula series with Arden in 2016 following a season in Formula 4 in his native Australia, and is excited about the prospect of working with Red Bull.

“To think that I am now part of the Red Bull Junior Team is just incredible and I can’t wait for the MSA Formula season to start in Britain,” Leeds said.

“I know that the level of competition will be much higher but at least the cars will be the same so I can take what I have learnt here and make use of it.”

Niko Kari, 16, established himself as one of the brightest talents on the European junior racing scene after dominating the SMP F4 series in 2015 by taking seven wins and 19 podiums in 21 races.

“It was a great year and the series had some really good drivers so it wasn’t easy,” said the Finn, who will race in the FIA Formula 3 European Championship next year.

“I believe that if you do your work well you can achieve your aims and shouldn’t be worried about it. That’s the way I am looking at next season, of course I will have a lot to learn in F3 but I will work hard to make the best of this big opportunity.

“It’s a great feeling to be invited to be part of the Red Bull Junior Team. I think it will be a fantastic year, I can’t wait to see Pau, that will be my first street circuit and to go to Spa, that is my favourite, I have already tested there a few times in a Formula Renault and F3 car.”

Kari will be joined at the Motopark team by Brazil’s Sergio Sette Camara, 17, who has also joined the Red Bull junior programme after taking two podiums in his debut season in FIA F3.

“My first season in single seater didn’t start that well for me but the podium in Spa came at the right time and from there things improved a lot and specially the second part of the season with the podium in Red Bull Ring and the 3rd in the Zandvoort Masters gave me a lot of confidence,” Camara said.

“I am very proud to join Red Bull family and it is a great opportunity to be part of it, I am very grateful for it. I am very confident for this coming season and really looking forward to start competing again. I am sure that, together with the team and working on the same direction as we are, we will get our objectives.”

The Red Bull Junior Team has operated since 2001 with the goal of supporting young talent in motorsport and nurturing drivers for its Formula 1 teams.

Sebastian Vettel, Daniil Kvyat, Daniel Ricciardo, Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz Jr. all worked their way into F1 through the Red Bull junior programme, while others such as Jaime Alguersuari, Jean-Eric Vergne and Scott Speed also enjoyed backing from the energy drinks giant.

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.