Audi leads Le Mans test day courtesy of di Grassi

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Lucas di Grassi continued his excellent run of recent form to lead the timesheets in the no. 8 Audi R18 car on the sole test day ahead of the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

All teams and drivers were afforded eight hours worth of running at the Circuit de la Sarthe ahead of the race on June 18-19, with the next practice session taking place on June 15.

After seeing Porsche lead the morning session with its pair of 919 Hybrids in the LMP1 class, Audi bounced back in the afternoon as di Grassi took the no. 8 car to the top of the timesheets.

A fastest lap of 3:21.375 was enough to give di Grassi and Audi P1 at the end of the day, finishing eight-tenths of a second clear of the Porsche no. 1 car of Timo Bernhard, Mark Webber and Brendon Hartley.

The sister no. 2 Porsche followed narrowly behind in third place, while the no. 7 Audi finished fourth to ensure that the two Volkswagen Group brands locked out the top positions.

Toyota’s pair of TS050 Hybrid cars slotted into P5 and P6, the quickest finishing 1.8 seconds off di Grassi’s fastest time of the day.

The no. 33 Eurasia Motorsport entry topped the timesheets in LMP2 as Pu Jun Jin, Tristan Gommendy and Nick de Bruijn set the pace, finishing seven-tenths of a second clear of the no. 36 Signatech Alpine Nissan.

Chevrolet stamped its authority on the GT classes on Sunday in Le Mans as the no. 63 Corvette set the pace in GTE Pro, while the no. 50 Larbre Competition Corvette led the way in GTE Am despite being without regular driver Paolo Ruberti.

2015 race winner Nick Tandy made his return to the Circuit de la Sarthe on Sunday in the no. 91 Porsche 911 RSR entry in GTE Pro, finishing two-tenths of a second off the pace in P2. Fellow victor Earl Bamber finished narrowly behind in the second one-off Porsche factory entry for Le Mans.

Sunday’s running was cut short by 28 minutes following a crash for the no. 49 Michael Shank Racing Ligier driven by Oswaldo Negri. The driver reported that he was OK, but the damage to the barrier meant that the session could not be restarted.

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

Pastrana Nitro Rallycross
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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.

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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.