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Formula V8 3.5 to support FIA WEC from 2017

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Formula V8 3.5 will become a support series for the FIA World Endurance Championship in 2017, featuring on the undercard of at least six of the sportscar series’ nine events next year.

Formula V8 3.5 took over from the hugely successful Formula Renault 3.5 at the end of last year, acting as a high-level single-seater junior championship for those looking to reach Formula 1.

The series has struggled with grid numbers so far this year, with just 13 cars entering the last race at Silverstone.

However, Formula V8 3.5 has now been handed a boost following the WEC’s announcement on Thursday that the two series would join forces for 2017.

“Jaime Alguersuari, President of RPM Racing and Gérard Neveu, CEO of the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) have reached an extremely encouraging agreement that will link the Formula V8 3.5 series to the majority of the 2017 WEC events,” a statement reads.

“The agreement includes a minimum of three overseas rounds in Mexico, Japan and Bahrain, the last being the final event of the endurance championship, in addition to three of the four European events on the WEC calendar: Silverstone, Spa and Nürburgring.

“Both organizations have as their main aim the desire to provide young single-seater drivers with the opportunity to enter a professional motorsport environment offering a clear and well-defined professional career path including LMP1, LMP2 and GTE in addition to any other series in the pinnacle of motorsport.

“This benefits not only the drivers but also their families or backers. The WEC and RPM wish to offer the young drivers an outstanding international calendar with affordable costs.

“Included in this historic new motorsport project is an amazing prize: the chance to be part of the WEC’s Rookie Test in Bahrain in the main categories of LMP1 or LMP2 or GTE for the drivers placed first, second and third in the Formula V8 3.5 championship.”

“It is very good news that the V8 3.5 series will join the FIA WEC race meetings from 2017,” Neveu said.

“Great news for the fans, but also for the young drivers who are the champions of the future, and the future is tomorrow.

“This single-seater championship has demonstrated for many years how very appealing and exciting it can be, while at the same time providing many great champions.

“It makes sense to offer to the new generation of drivers access to a well-established championship such as the FIA WEC. The fact that the champions will have an opportunity to take part in the WEC’s official rookie test at the end of the season will be additional motivation and a target for everyone on the grid.

“We know also that RPM, promoter of this single-seater championship, shares the same values as the ACO, the promoter of the FIA WEC. It was logical to join together.

“This combination of V8 3.5 and Sports Prototype and GT cars, in the same place at the same time, will provide for the pleasure of the fans a fantastic motorsport show with great racing over the same weekend, a real festival of motorsport.

“The FIA WEC Paddock is really delighted to welcome V8 3.5, and we look forward to moving ahead together with this project where the main target is to have happy drivers, competitors, manufacturers, partners, media and fans.”

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.