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Lindsey takes wrong exit, ends up driving through infield at Rolex 24

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As the Rolex 24 at Daytona begins to draw to a close and night became day once again, fans were offered one of the more surreal sights courtesy of Patrick Lindsey.

Racing in the No. 73 Park Place Motorsports Porsche GT3 R, Lindsey hit trouble when one of the axles on his car began to pop in and out before coming loose and forcing him to slow.

Lindsey tried taking an exit road in a bid to avoid causing a stoppage on track or holding up the field, only to find himself driving through the infield and contending with public traffic.

“First of all I need to know if I can plead the fifth if that’s a public road, if there are any laws or anything, if I maybe need to shut up!” Lindsey joked before explaining what happened.

“I lost drive coming out of [Turn] 5. We were having an axle issue, it was popping in and out. Sure enough, the thing popped out. I lost forward drive so I took the exit road back. I didn’t want to cause a race stoppage or anything stupid like that or risk anything.

“First of all I got to sit there for a minute while the guy woke up and opened up the gate. I don’t know what time it was but people were just kind of foggy. I made it through there. I didn’t exactly know where I was but I knew there was a road there somewhere.

“People are walking, having their morning coffee, and there’s a race car behind them. And the cars this year are a lot quieter. I’ll be damned if we don’t have a horn because there’s nothing you can do except just wait for them to figure out that there’s a race car there. As soon as they did they were kind enough to jump out of the way.

“People are coming through the tunnel, and they’re looking at cars going on the banking and looking at people tailgating. They’re looking everywhere but their rear-view mirror. They have no idea, anything could be coming up behind them.

“I might have made an unkind gesture to the first car that didn’t get out of the way, then I was like well someone’s going to get this on camera, so I better just be polite, do the right thing. I don’t want to embarrass myself. Eventually I made it back.

“The worst part was because I didn’t have drive I couldn’t go very quickly. When I did have clear road I was still limping along at 10 mph.

“Everybody had a nice long look and apparently a good laugh about it. If nothing else it’ll be a good memory and a good story I can tell.”

Lindsey did however insist that he did know where he was going and knew full well what lay ahead.

“I did know where I was going. Once I made it to the main road I did know where I was going,” Lindsey said.

“However, I’ve had experience trying to get in and out of here during the race, and I knew I was in for a world of hurt because the traffic can be just paralyzing.”

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.