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Sebastien Bourdais fails to pick up where he left off at Road America 9 years ago

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Maybe some things are indeed better left in the past.

That was somewhat the case for IndyCar driver Sebastien Bourdais this past weekend at the Kohler Grand Prix.

Bourdais won the last Indy car race – run under the Champ Car World Series banner – at the legendary Road America road course in 2007.

He returned to the 4.014-mile, 14-turn track this past weekend as one of the few drivers who not only had tackled the track in the past, but also won there. He’d been on the podium each of his four prior starts, as well.

Unfortunately, what Bourdais did in 2007 was not to be repeated in the return of Indy car racing to Road America in nine years.

The 37-year-old Le Mans, France native who now lives in St. Petersburg, Fla., was coming off two wins in the last month. He won the first of two races in Detroit, then won his class at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

But on Sunday he struggled to an 18th place finish at Road America, in his No. 11 Team Hydroxycut KVSH Racing Chevrolet.

His race was compromised from the off when he got hit on the first lap, which damaged his rear wing assembly, and forced a change after he pitted. That knocked him a lap down and cost him his race hopes, and with no full course cautions until Lap 40 he wasn’t able to recover.

“It’s a shame because the Hydroxycut machine was a good race car,” Bourdais said in a post-race media release. “Unfortunately, we got hit on the first lap and went down a lap repairing the damage. It was pretty much game over at that point.”

But Bourdais remained in the game – err, the race – and finished one lap down.

“We soldiered on and gave it our best, passing when we could, but with only the one late caution there wasn’t much we could do,” Bourdais said. “It’s especially frustrating because, as I have said before, I really like the Road America circuit and the atmosphere this weekend was fantastic.

“Fortunately, we will be racing here again (in 2017). At this point, the KVSH Racing Team will just have to move on and see what we can do in Iowa.”

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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.