© Getty Images

Marquez perfects tire call for MotoGP victory in Germany

Leave a comment

MotoGP championship leader Marc Marquez stormed to his seventh straight victory at the Sachsenring in Germany on Sunday after perfecting his tire call amid drying conditions.

Marquez eased to pole position on Saturday, but dropped back at the start on wet tires as Valentino Rossi and Andrea Dovizioso led early on.

As the track began to dry, riders made the switch over to intermediate tires, but Marquez opted to bide his time until conditions were suitable for slicks.

Marquez dropped all the way to 14th after pitting and switching bikes, only to find four seconds per lap on the rest of the field, allowing him to scythe through to first place with five laps to go.

From there, Marquez managed to ease home with a nine second advantage to extend his lead at the top of the riders’ championship.

The result continued Marquez’s winning streak at the Sachsenring, dating back to 2010 across all three classes of the MotoGP pyramid.

“At a certain point today, I thought my run at this circuit was going to come to an end, but in the end we succeeded and earned a very good result, especially considering how Valentino [Rossi] and Jorge [Lorenzo] finished the race,” Marquez said.

“I’m very happy with how we worked with the team today: they did a great job preparing my bike after my crash in the warm-up, and then in the race our strategy proved to be perfect.

“It was a very difficult race, with it being flag-to-flag and the track conditions so delicate. In the first part of the race, in the wet, I found things a little difficult.

“It’s always very difficult to decide when to change bikes, and perhaps we made our switch very early – I think I was the second rider to do so – but I decided to take a chance and it went well.

“We end the first half of the season with our homework done and off the back of a good race, but we must not forget to prepare well for the second half of the year.”

Marquez now stands 48 points clear of Jorge Lorenzo at the top of the standings after the Spaniard finished down in 15th place, leaving Germany with just a single point to show for his efforts. Rossi crossed the line down in eighth, meaning he stays third in the standings.

Cal Crutchlow bounced back from a Q1 elimination on Saturday to finish second ahead of Dovizioso, while Scott Redding and Andrea Iannone rounded out the top five.

Dani Pedrosa finished sixth ahead of Assen wet-dry winner Jack Miller, with Hector Barbera and Alvaro Bautista rounding out the top 10 behind Rossi.

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
3 Comments

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.