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New Manor Racing F1 car hits the track in Barcelona

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Manor Racing’s new Formula 1 car, the MRT05, has hit the track for the very first time in Barcelona on Monday at the start of pre-season testing.

Manor has undergone a number of changes over the winter, signing two new drivers for the 2016 season and welcoming new management personnel, as well as signing a technical agreement with Mercedes.

The MRT05 broke cover for the first time around 90 minutes into the first day of pre-season testing at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, sporting a new powder red and blue livery.

Mercedes junior Pascal Wehrlein is completing the first running in the car for Manor, which technical director John McQuilliam called a “dream package”.

“Even at this early stage of the game, we can easily say this is the best car we’ve ever launched,” McQuilliam asserted.

“Certainly the most developed, the most ambitious and the most aggressive. The overall package is a very significant step forward, not just from last year, but from any of the cars from our stable.

“So yes, we have a long way to go from here in terms of developing the MRT05, but it’s already a dream package for the 154 Manor Racing people who’ve worked so hard to design and build it. In a small team like ours, every single individual has played their part.”

After experiencing something of an interim year in 2015 when financial problems made getting on the grid at all a major achievement, McQuilliam is pleased that Manor was able to produce an all-new car for the coming season.

“It’s all new, as it should be of course, but we had to ‘make do’ last year and that’s not what we’re here for,” McQuilliam said. “We build fast race cars for a living and it’s great to get back to doing what we love. We’re also pretty good at it, when we have the right tools for the job.

“So that in itself is quite special. Better still, the MRT05 is a contender. We really believe that. The design team have focused almost exclusively on it since the middle of last season and it’s just a whole different ball game to any of its predecessors.

“We haven’t left any performance on the table and right now I can say there’s not a single part of the car we’d have designed differently.”

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.