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Magnussen: Points possible for Renault in Bahrain

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Kevin Magnussen is hopeful that Renault can score its first points of the season in this weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix after an encouraging display in Australia two weeks ago.

Renault made its return to Formula 1 as a constructor in Melbourne on March 20, and narrowly missed out on points as Jolyon Palmer finished 11th ahead of Magnussen in P12.

Despite having a rushed winter due to the late nature of Renault’s takeover of Lotus, the team impressed many in Australia and may well have scored points had it not been for an early puncture for Magnussen.

Looking ahead to this weekend’s race in Bahrain, Magnussen said that he believes points are within Renault’s reach.

“Looking forward to getting back in the car,” Magnussen said. “Pretty good weekend in Melbourne where even though I didn’t have a perfect race weekend personally, we got a good result in terms of where we thought we were.

“It showed we have a good car, and we can actually fight for points, so hopefully this race we can go for points.

“It was pretty clear in Melbourne that we can get points if we get it right. That should be the aim for this weekend, getting points.”

After missing the 2015 season while working as McLaren’s reserve driver, Magnussen is looking forward to racing under the lights in Bahrain for the first time since 2014.

“It’s quite a different race because it’s a night race. You start in semi-dark and then it goes full dark under artificial light,” Magnussen said.

“It’s a cool race because I think the cars look cool in that light. It’s just nice to see something different.

“Usually it’s quite hot but this weekend I think it’s going to be less hot. It’s a track that is quite hard on the rear tires because there’s a lot of corners where you have a long exit of the corner and you’re really working your rear tires hard.”

Toyota No. 8 car wins the 24 Hours of Le Mans for third consecutive year

24 Hours of Le Mans

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.