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Neuville wins Tour of Corsica rally as Ogier finishes second

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BASTIA, Corsica (AP) Belgian driver Thierry Neuville extended his overnight lead to comfortably win the Tour of Corsica rally on Sunday, with world champion Sebastien Ogier finishing nearly one minute behind in second place.

Neuville became the fourth driver to win in as many races this season, suggesting an unpredictable campaign to come after years of dominance from Ogier and his predecessor Sebastien Loeb.

Neuville had won three of Saturday’s four stages to lead Ogier by 38.9 seconds overnight and padded out that advantage to win by 54.7. Spaniard Dani Sordo was 56 behind Neuville in third.

Sunday’s ninth and penultimate stage – a long 54-kilometer (33-mile) trek from Antisanti to Poggio di Nazza – gave Ogier an opportunity to close the gap on Neuville.

Instead, he lost more time due to an electrical problem, finishing in seventh. Neuville won stage 9 to extend his lead, while Sordo leapfrogged Ogier.

Neuville was in a comfortable position heading into the 10th and final special of the race, and did not need to push hard over the 10.4-kilometer (6.5-mile) power stage from Porto-Vecchio to Palombaggia offering five bonus points.

Finnish driver Jari-Matti Latvala narrowly won it ahead of Ogier, who moved back in front of Sordo.

Overall, it was a frustrating race for Ogier, who left Volkswagen to drive the Ford Fiesta for M-Sport this season. Even though he won the season-opening Monte Carlo Rally, he is still getting accustomed to the car.

Ogier has won the past four world titles and is looking to become only the second driver to win five. Countryman Loeb holds the record with nine, all won consecutively.

Toyota No. 8 car wins the 24 Hours of Le Mans for third consecutive year

24 Hours of Le Mans
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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.