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Rookie Rosenqvist takes Formula E pole in Marrakesh

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Felix Rosenqvist sprung a surprise on the Formula E grid in qualifying for the Marrakesh ePrix on Saturday by snatching pole position for just his second race in the series.

Recent Indy Lights racer Rosenqvist moved into Formula E with Mahindra for the all-electric series’ third season, putting his street course knowledge to good use on debut in Hong Kong to record the fastest lap of the race.

Rosenqvist impressed through qualifying in Marrakesh, finishing second in the group stages before taking provisional pole with his final lap of the session in Super Pole.

Jean-Eric Vergne had set the pace for Techeetah early on and was the only driver who could deny Rosenqvist pole, only for drama to strike and a mix-up with the team’s timings to leave him stranded at the end of the pit lane with the red light on.

With Vergne unable to head out and set a time, Rosenqvist could revel in securing his maiden pole in the series at just the second attempt.

“We knew in Hong Kong we were quick. We even took it to the next step here with pole position here, very nice,” Rosenqvist said.

“We had to push quite hard, but the car has been really good all day. Big thanks to the team and the engineer for making it perfect.”

Defending champion Sebastien Buemi qualified second after a solid run through qualifying, while Sam Bird slotted into third place for DS Virgin Racing ahead of Hong Kong polesitter Nelson Piquet Jr. Vergne was left fifth on the grid after the issue.

Track improvement meant the later runners in the group phase had the upper hand, leaving Daniel Abt on the bubble in P6 despite looking comfortable after Q3. Nicolas Prost finished seventh in the second Renault e.dams ahead of Oliver Turvey, while the Andretti pair of Robin Frijns and Antonio Felix da Costa rounded out the top 10.

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.