IndyCar Gateway practice
John Cote/IndyCar

Pato O’Ward tops IndyCar practice at Gateway; Will Power second fastest

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Pato O’Ward turned a 181.532 mph lap Friday to lead the lone practice session of the weekend for the NTT IndyCar Series at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway.

The Arrow McLaren SP No. 5 Dallara-Chevrolet driver, who was named the 104th Indy 500’s rookie of the year after finishing sixth this past Sunday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, topped the speed chart for the 90-minute session ahead of Will Power (180.961), points leader Scott Dixon (180.822), Conor Daly (180.581) and Takuma Sato (180.434).

PRACTICE SPEEDS: Who was fast Friday at Gateway

WEEKEND SCHEDULE: When IndyCar is on track at Gateway

“We put a lot of very valuable work into that session,” O’Ward said in a team relesae. “We did everything we wanted to do to prepare for tomorrow’s qualifying and race. There’s so many little things that go into it that make a perfect race, so we want to make the best out of it.

“This Arrow McLaren SP crew gave us some really strong cars to roll out with and I think it was just fine tuning from there. I ended the day really happy, and I think we will be ready for qualifying tomorrow.”

There were no incidents in the practice

After winning the Indianapolis 500 for the second time, Sato enters the Saturday-Sunday doubleheader weekend at Gateway as the defending winner of last year’s race.

ENTRY LISTS: Who is racing Saturday and Sunday at Gateway

Next up is qualifying at noon ET Saturday (available on NBC Sports Gold), which will set the field for both races. The first lap determines the starting order for Saturday and the second lap sets Sunday’s lineup.

Race coverage will begin Saturday and Sunday at 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN (here are the streaming links for Saturday’s race and Sunday’s race).

The rest of the top 10 in practice: Jack Harvey, Alex Palou, Marcus Ericsson, Rinus VeeKay and Colton Herta.

Click here for the full practice report from Friday at Gateway.

 

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.