IMSA

IMSA driver Felipe Nasr tests positive for COVID-19; will miss Daytona

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Felipe Nasr is out of IMSA’s return at Daytona International Speedway after testing positive for COVID-19, his team announced Friday morning.

Action Express will replace Nasr with Gabby Chaves to team with Pipo Derani in the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac DPi this weekend at Daytona, which will mark IMSA’s first race since the Rolex 24 at Daytona. The series had been on hiatus during the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, but the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship will return Saturday with the WeatherTech 240 at Daytona.

Nasr said in a release that he wasn’t feeling right while driving to Daytona Beach to Miami and went for a test Thursday that was positive. He had been living in Miami for the past month after arriving in late May from his home in Brazil because of concerns about travel restrictions.

Felipe Nasr (IMSA)

“I felt I had been doing everything correctly,” Nasr said in the release. “I have been in Miami for about a month, staying away from anyone in racing. Before I went to the track or met with my team or anyone in motorsports, I went and got tested and, unfortunately, I tested positive.

“I want to keep everyone on the Whelen Engineering/Action Express team and those around the series safe. I am going back to Miami to quarantine. Hopefully, I will recover quickly, and my doctors can clear me to return to racing soon. For now, I will follow all instructions, guidelines and recommendations from my medical team, my race team, and the IMSA Officials.”

During a Zoom call with the media last Friday, Derani, a Brazilian who also has been living in Miami, said he’d been training for the race with Nasr, and he posted a tweet last month of a photo on a boat with Nasr and former IMSA driver Christian Fittipaldi.

The team has told IMSA officials that it had been more than 14 days since Derani and Nasr had been within 6 feet of each other. According to IMSA, Action Express said the drivers’ last interaction was on June 10 (which is the date on Derani’s tweet from the boat).

Asked by NBCSports.com whether Derani or other team members also would be tested for COVID-19, an Action Express spokesman referred questions to IMSA.

In a statement, IMSA president John Doonan said, “We share Felipe’s disappointment that he will not be able to join his Action Express Racing teammates this weekend in Daytona. He followed all necessary steps, sought medical attention when he wasn’t feeling well and has not been to the racetrack. He has had no direct interaction with any members of his team or any other participants in this weekend’s race. He is a champion of our sport and we expect that he will attack this virus with the same spirit that made him a champion.”

IMSA doesn’t test for COVID-19. But drivers, team members and anyone else entering Daytona International Speedway this weekend will undergo screening that includes a temperature check and completing a health questionnaire that includes a question about being within 6 feet for at least 5 minutes of a person for who has tested positive for COVID-19 in the past 14 days.

Action Express Racing team manager Gary Nelson said in the team’s release that Nasr had not been to the track and would avoid any contact with the public until being cleared.

“All of us at Action Express were stunned when we heard that our friend and teammate, Felipe Nasr, has tested positive for COVID-19 on Thursday,” Nelson said in a release.  “We are certainly going to miss having him competing in our Whelen Cadillac DPi-V.R on Saturday at Daytona. But, more importantly, he is a great friend to us all and we know he will fight hard to beat this virus the same way he fights for trophies on the racetracks. We wish him a speedy recovery.”

Nasr, 27, has been running full time in IMSA since 2018, winning the prototype championship as a rookie. He also finished second in the DPi standings last season and has three career victories in the class.

Prior to IMSA, the Brazilian raced in Formula One from 2015-16.

Here’s the release from the team:

DENVER, N.C. (July 2, 2020) – Gabby Chaves will replace Felipe Nasr in the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac DPi-V.R for this weekend’s running of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship WeatherTech Daytona 240 July 3-4.

Nasr tested positive for the COVID-19 virus and is heading back to Miami to quarantine.

“I’ve been waiting so long for this weekend to get back to racing,” Nasr said. “I felt I had been doing everything correctly. I have been in Miami for about a month, staying away from anyone in racing. Yesterday as I was driving to Daytona, I wasn’t feeling just right. So, before I went to the track or met with my team or anyone in motorsports, I went and got tested and, unfortunately, I tested positive. I want to keep everyone on the Whelen Engineering/Action Express team and those around the series safe. I am going back to Miami to quarantine. Hopefully, I will recover quickly, and my doctors can clear me to return to racing soon. For now, I will follow all instructions, guidelines and recommendations from my medical team, my race team, and the IMSA Officials.”

“All of us at Action Express were stunned when we heard that our friend and teammate, Felipe Nasr, has tested positive for COVID-19 on Thursday,” Gary Nelson, Action Express Racing, team manager said.  “We are certainly going to miss having him competing in our Whelen Cadillac DPi-V.R on Saturday at Daytona. But, more importantly, he is a great friend to us all and we know he will fight hard to beat this virus the same way he fights for trophies on the racetracks. We wish him a speedy recovery. Felipe has not been to the track and will avoid any contact with the public until he has been cleared by his medical team.

“We made the quick decision to bring in Gabby Chaves who is familiar with our team to partner with Pipo Derani this weekend. We will get Felipe ready to hopefully join us again at Sebring in 15 days.”

Gabby Chaves drove for the team in 2018 at Petit Le Mans, finishing eighth.

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.