Photo and logo courtesy Global Rallycross Europe/Christian Houdek

New racing series, Global Rallycross Europe, to debut next May

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European racing fans will have a new series to cheer for in 2019, as Global Rallycross Europe will soon make its debut.

Riding a slogan of “Be Loud, Be Wild, Be Real,” GRC Europe will feature the new Pantera RX6, a 500-plus horsepower livery for series contestants that was introduced Thursday at the series’ unveiling in Vienna, Austria.

GRC Europe will host races in England, Italy, Hungary, France, Germany and Austria or Slovakia. The 2019 season will run from May to October. The inaugural schedule is still being finalized.

Three-time World Rallycross Championship winner and Austrian native Max J. Pucher is CEO of MJP Promotions and founder of GRC Europe.

Pucher believes the series will be a success, based upon top competition but also with affordable costs for teams and drivers.

“It is a very exciting moment for me and my team,” Pucher said in a media release. “Standing here with the series set up and the new car in front of us, is as breathtaking as standing on the grid, when the lights go green.”

The plan for the new series is to race upon short, mixed-surface tracks.

“Rallycross is explosive, it’s pure emotion,” two-time Le Mans winner and former Formula One driver Alex Wurz said. “While driving, you are so focused, you nearly forget to breathe.”

Wurz’s father, Franz, is a former two-time European Rallycross winner and introduced the sport to his native Austria nearly 50 years ago. The younger Wurz plans to be a competitor in the new GRC Europe series.

“I have grown up with Rallycross,” Alex Wurz said. “Hence, I love the sport and fully support this project.”

Plans are to have a total of 15 Pantera RX6 cars entered in the GRC Europe GRC Titan championship class. A second category, GRC Supercars, will also be part of the series.

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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.