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James Davison set to fill in for Bourdais at Indy 500

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INDIANAPOLIS – James Davison is set to replace Sebastien Bourdais in the No. 18 Dale Coyne Racing Honda for the 101st Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil, it has emerged Sunday morning at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, via multiple sources to NBC Sports and also via Trackside Online.

Dale Coyne Racing is expected to make a formal confirmation of the selection later today, as the process of building up a backup car to replace Bourdais’ trashed primary car continues.

“First off, my thoughts are with Sebastien and Claire Bourdais. This is never the way a driver wants to secure an opportunity. But, of course, it’s the tough game we’re in,” Davison told NBC Sports about subbing for Bourdais. “I certainly am appreciative of getting the call up. I’ve done the “500,” last with (Dale Coyne Racing) two years ago and we had a competitive run, which no doubt helped secure this opportunity.”

Dale Coyne Racing now faces an uphill challenge to prepare its backup car, which is still in road course trim, and Davison was careful not to set any expectations. “We’re in a compromised situation with what time and equipment we have to work with now. But, we’re just going to do the best we can as a team and secure the best result for Sebastien and our sponsors, GEICO, Vibra Healthcare, and Cruz Associates,” he added.

Dale Coyne Racing team manager Darren Crouser confirmed to NBC Sports that Davison has a seat made and will bring it to Indianapolis from the team’s Illinois-based shop.

The Australian driver has made two prior Indianapolis 500 starts with KV Racing Technology in 2014 and with Coyne in 2015, both in partnership with Always Evolving Racing, with his most recent start with Coyne coming under similar abnormal circumstances that year.

Tristan Vautier qualified Davison’s No. 19 Always Evolving Racing Honda that year while Davison was competing in Pirelli World Challenge competition away from the IMS race both on qualifying weekend and the Saturday before the race.

However, a bizarre series of circumstances occurred whereby Vautier also got to race. Carlos Huertas was not medically cleared to drive and Vautier, who qualified one car, was moved over to the other car, the No. 18 car while Davison raced the No. 19 car. The bizarre situation continued when the two cars then collided in the pits together on race day.

This leaves Stefan Wilson high and dry, the Englishman having emerged as the sentimental favorite for the seat at a team where his late brother Justin Wilson achieved so much success and the team’s first win at Watkins Glen in 2009. The younger Wilson was en route to the Coyne garage.

Others such as Matthew Brabham were seen in Gasoline Alley this morning.

This story, like Davison’s sponsor in recent years, is always evolving.

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.