Supercross: Cooper Webb wins Round 12; Eli Tomac second

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Defending series champion Cooper Webb kept his title defense hopes alive in the first Monster Energy AMA Supercross event held on a Wednesday night.

Webb passed Zach Osborne with 5 minutes remaining in the 450 main event and led the final seven laps to win Round 12 at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City, Utah.

With five races remaining, Webb remains ranked third but cut the gap to 29 points behind championship leader Eli Tomac, who took second from Osborne (third) late in the race.

RESULTS, POINTS: Where everyone finished in Round 12

It was the ninth career victory and second of the season for Webb, as well as the KTM rider’s first since a hard crash on the concrete in Arlington, Texas in February.

“We’ll see at the end of the year,” Webb told NBCSN when asked if he was back in the title fight. “But it was a great night overall. To get second off the start. Zach was really riding well at the beginning. I was just trying to put in some good laps. I could see Eli coming to catch us and knew I needed to get around him and try to break away.

“It was a tough race. Track conditions were tricky, you had to be patient. The whoops were tough. I just committed to my line, and it played out pretty well.  Great night to get a win. These are not easily gained, especially with the top guys up here tonight. So I want to just soak it in, got five more (races this year).”

The runner-up finish allowed Tomac, who won Round 11, to extend his lead to 13 points over Ken Roczen, who finished fifth.

“I was fighting all I could there,” Tomac told NBCSN. “Tonight it was who was the man on the inside. Cooper got us there (at the start). I got a little bit shuffled back the first lap and then started moving forward.

“Other than that, Zach and Cooper had the pace tonight. So I did everything I could. Got close with two (laps) to go, made one mistake at end of rhythm section, and that was it. I lost all my hope (of a win) there. Good night. Kind of a wash on points for us. Keep trucking along.”

Osborne nabbed his second career podium after taking the holeshot and leading the first 20 laps.

“I’m happy but also a little disappointed to lead that long and let it get away there at the end,” he said. “Nice night here in Salt Lake. Looking forward to being here the next couple of weeks. It’s been an amazing trip so far.”

In the 250 East main event, Shane McElrath scored his second consecutive victory since Supercross’ return and moved into a tie with Chase Sexton for the points lead with five races remaining.

After finishing ahead of Colt Nichols and Jeremy Martin, McElrath celebrated by waving to the nonexistent crowd at Rice-Eccles Stadium (where the grandstands will remain empty over the final seven rounds of 2020).

“We’ve got to make the fans feel like they’re here,” McElrath, who led 14 of 20 laps, told NBCSN. “We had a tough day all around. This track is tough but we did a lot of praying and focusing, and it was nice to come out like that.”

Sexton finished fourth, rebounding after falling on the first lap and dropping to 17th.

“I just washed the front,” he told NBCSN after sliding into a tie with McElrath at 140 points. “Yeah, that was about it. Came from pretty much dead last. We’re going to have to be better and get ready for Sunday.”

FIVE THINGS TO WATCHBurning issues as Supercross restarts

NEXT: Here are the details for the remaining five rounds:

  • Sunday, June 7 (5-8:00 p.m. ET, NBCSN);
  • Wednesday, June 10 (7–10 p.m. ET, NBCSN);
  • Sunday, June 14 (7-10 p.m. ET, NBCSN);
  • Wednesday, June 17 (7-10 p.m. ET, NBCSN);
  • Sunday, June 21 (3-4:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN; 4:30 – 6:00 p.m. ET, NBC).

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

24 Hours of Le Mans

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.