Toyota takes repeat 24 Hours of Le Mans victory

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For the second consecutive year, Toyota Gazoo Racing has won the 24 Hours of Le Mans with the No. 8 TS050 piloted by Fernando Alonso, Sebastien Buemi, and Kazuki Nakajima claiming the overall victory.

However, until the final hour, it looked like the defending race winners would have to settle for second to the No. 7 car, piloted by teammates Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and José Maria López. The No. 7 led the majority of the race before a suspected puncture in the right-front tire sent López into the pits with one hour, three minutes remaining.

The issue turned out to be a sensor issue with the right-rear tire, which forced the No. 7 to hastily limp around the 8.467-mile Circuit de la Sarthe for another lap before coming in for a second pit stop. That handed the lead – and overall victory – to Alonso, Buemi and Nakajima.

 

The victory also helped the No. 8 trio earn the FIA World Endurance Drivers’ Championship in LMP1, with Buemi a champion for the second time (2014).

The No. 7 finished second overall, 16.972 seconds behind.

The No. 11 SMP Racing entry of Stoffel Vandoorne, Mikhail Aleshin, and Vitaly Petrov took third and final position on the podium, finishing six laps down.

LMP2: Signatech wins after G-Drive suffers wiring issue

In LMP2, the Signatech Alpine Matmut trio of Nicolas Lapierre, Pierre Thiriet and Andre Negrao (No. 36 Oreca) won for the second consecutive year and claimed the WEC class championship as well.

Signatech’s latest Le Mans victory came thanks in part to a mechanical issue suffered by the G-Drive Racing team.

Their No. 26 Oreca, shared by Roman Rusinov, Jean-Eric Vergne, and Job van Uitert, lost a three-minute lead due to a wiring issue on a pit stop 19 hours into the race. The No. 26 car spent 20 minutes in the pits attempting to fix the issue, losing several positions in the process.

After catching a lucky break, it was smooth sailing for the No. 36 team, who finished a lap ahead of second place finishers Ho-Pin Tung, Stephane Richelmi, and Gabriel Aubry in the No. 38 Jackie Chan DC Racing Oreca.

The No. 28 TDS Racing Oreca of Loic Duval, Matthieu Vaxiviere, and Francois Perrodo finished third in LMP2.

GTE Pro: Ferrari wins in heartbreaking race for Corvette

Ferrari claimed their first Le Mans GTE Pro victory since 2014, with the No.  51 AF Corse 488 GTE shared by James Calado, Alessandro Pier Guidi, and Daniel Serra taking the checkered flag.

The team claimed the win over the No. 91 Porsche 911 RSR of Gianmaria Bruni, Frederic Makowiecki, and Richard Lietz, with the No. 93 Porsche of IMSA regulars Nick Tandy, Earl Bamber, and Patrick Pilet finishing third.

The No. 66 Chip Ganassi Ford GT of Sebastien Bourdais, Dirk Muller, and Joey Hand finished fourth, as the team and manufacturer marked their final Le Mans run together as a factory effort.

Both Corvette entries did not fare well in the event, with the No. 64 entry of Oliver Gavin, Tommy Milner and Marcel Fassler out of the race when Fassler hit the tire barriers in the Porsche curves towards the end of Hour 6.

The No. 63 Corvette of Antonio Garcia, Jan Magnussen, and Mike Rockenfeller battled for the class victory into the morning hours. But  Magnussen spun in the same part of the track as Fassler, making contact with the barriers and sending the car into the garage for 15 minutes. The team eventually finished five laps off the pace.

GTE Am: Keating Ford narrowly claims class victory

The No. 85 Keating Motorsports Ford GT of Ben Keating, Jeroen Bleekemolen, and Felipe Fraga narrowly took the GTE Am class victory, after almost losing the top spot when Keating had to serve a stop-and-go penalty in the closing laps.

The penalty shrunk the team’s 36-second lead to less than five seconds over the No. 56 Project 1 Porsche of Jorg Bergmeister, Egidio Perfetti, and Patrick Lindsey. But a strong final stint from Bleekemolen was enough to keep the Wynn’s machine in front at the end.

It marks the first class win for the Ford GT in its customer racing debut.

The No. 84 JMW Motorsport Ferrari of Rodrigo Baptista, Jeff Segal, and Wei Lu was third on the GTE Am podium.

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Justin Grant prevails over Kyle Larson in the Turkey Night Grand Prix

Grant Larson Turkey Night
USACRacing.com / DB3 Inc.
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On the heels of his Hangtown 100 victory, Justin Grant worked his way from 13th in the Turkey Night Grand Prix to beat three-time event winner Kyle Larson by 1.367 seconds. The 81st annual event was run at Ventura (Calif.) Raceway for the sixth time.

“My dad used to take me to Irwindale Speedway, and we’d watch Turkey Night there every year,” Grant said in a series press release. “This is one of the races I fell in love with. I didn’t think I’d ever get a chance to run in it, never thought I’d make a show and certainly never thought I’d be able to win one.”

With its genesis in 1934 at Gilmore Stadium, a quarter-mile dirt track in Los Angeles, the race is steeped in history with winners that include AJ Foyt, Parnelli Jones, Gary Bettenhausen and Johnnie Parsons. Tony Stewart won it in 2000. Kyle Larson won his first of three Turkey Night Grands Prix in 2012. Christopher Bell earned his first of three in 2014, so Grant’s enthusiasm was well deserved.

So was the skepticism that he would win. He failed to crack the top five in three previous attempts, although he came close last year with a sixth-place result. When he lined up for the feature 13th in the crowded 28-car field, winning seemed like a longshot.

Grant watched as serious challengers fell by the wayside. Mitchel Moles flipped on Lap 10 of the feature. Michael “Buddy” Kofoid took a tumble on Lap 68 and World of Outlaws Sprint car driver Carson Macedo flipped on Lap 79. Grant saw the carnage ahead of him and held a steady wheel as he passed Tanner Thorson for the lead with 15 laps remaining and stayed out of trouble for the remainder of the event.

“It’s a dream come true to win the Turkey Night Grand Prix,” Grant said.


Kyle Larson follows Justin Grant to the front on Turkey Night

The 2012, 2016 and 2019 winner, Larson was not scheduled to run the event. His wife Katelyn is expecting their third child shortly, but after a couple of glasses of wine with Thanksgiving dinner and while watching some replays of the event, Larson texted car owner Chad Boat to see if he had a spare car lying around. He did.

“We weren’t great but just hung around and it seemed like anybody who got to the lead crashed and collected some people,” Larson said. “We made some passes throughout; in the mid-portion, we weren’t very good but then we got better at the end.

“I just ran really, really hard there, and knew I was running out of time, so I had to go. I made some pretty crazy and dumb moves, but I got to second and was hoping we could get a caution to get racing with Justin there. He was sliding himself at both ends and thought that maybe we could get a run and just out-angle him into [Turn] 1 and get clear off [Turn] 2 if we got a caution, but it just didn’t work out.”

Larson padded one of the most impressive stats in the history of this race, however. In 10 starts, he’s won three times, finished second four times, was third once and fourth twice.

Bryant Wiedeman took the final spot on the podium.

As Grant and Larson began to pick their way through the field, Kofoid took the lead early from the outside of the front row and led the first 44 laps of the race before handing it over to Cannon McIntosh, who bicycled on Lap 71 before landing on all fours. While Macedo and Thorson tussled for the lead with McIntosh, Grant closed in.

Thorson finished 19th with McIntosh 20th. Macedo recovered from his incident to finish ninth. Kofoid’s hard tumble relegated him to 23rd.

Jake Andreotti in fourth and Kevin Thomas, Jr. rounded out the top five.

1. Justin Grant (started 13)
2. Kyle Larson (22)
3. Bryant Wiedeman (4)
4. Jake Andreotti (9)
5. Kevin Thomas Jr. (1)
6. Logan Seavey (8)
7. Alex Bright (27)
8. Emerson Axsom (24)
9. Carson Macedo (7)
10. Jason McDougal (18)
11. Jake Swanson (16)
12. Chase Johnson (6)
13. Jacob Denney (26)
14. Ryan Timms (23)
15. Chance Crum (28)
16. Brenham Crouch (17)
17. Jonathan Beason (19)
18. Cade Lewis (14)
19. Tanner Thorson (11)
20. Cannon McIntosh (3)
21. Thomas Meseraull (15)
22. Tyler Courtney (21)
23. Buddy Kofoid (2)
24. Brody Fuson (5)
25. Mitchel Moles (20)
26. Daniel Whitley (10)
27. Kaylee Bryson (12)
28. Spencer Bayston (25)