Fernando Alonso scores Le Mans 24HR double
Last-hour puncture for leading Toyota sees former F1 champ take unexpected victory
Double Formula One world champion Fernando Alonso struck lucky with a second successive victory in the Le Mans 24 Hours race on Sunday with Toyota teammates Kazuki Nakajima and Sebastien Buemi.
The number eight car crew, who were set for second until late drama, were also crowned world endurance champions with Nakajima driving the final stint and becoming the first Japanese to win a global FIA-sanctioned series.
Toyota's number seven TS050 hybrid, driven by Britain's Mike Conway, Japan's Kamui Kobayashi and Argentina's Jose Maria Lopez, had a two-minute advantage before a puncture shattered their hopes with an hour to go.
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The team changed the wrong tyre, due to a sensor issue, meaning the car had to limp around and pit again before rejoining in second place in a one-two finish for the Japanese manufacturer.
The winning margin, after 385 laps of the Sarthe circuit in the 87th edition of a race watched by a crowd of 252,000, came down to 16.9 seconds.
"Luck sometimes plays an important part in motorsport and today we feel extremely lucky and maybe we don't deserve it but we take it," added the former Ferrari and McLaren driver who left Formula One last year.
Alonso's former McLaren Formula One teammate Stoffel Vandoorne, a Le Mans rookie, joined him on the podium in the third-placed number 11 SMP Racing BR Engineering car shared with Russians Vitaly Petrov and Mikhail Aleshin.
That nonhybrid car finished seven laps off the pace.
Alonso, a two-time winner of the Monaco Grand Prix, is now leaving the series and hoping to become only the second driver after the late Briton Graham Hill to complete the so-called "Triple Crown of Motorsport".
The Spaniard needs to win the Indianapolis 500 to complete that, a race he failed to qualify for this year after leading for 27 laps on his debut in 2017.
In the two Le Mans production-based racing classes the LM GTE Pro category was won by a Ferrari 488 GTE Evo — 70 years on from the Italian brand’s first Le Mans win — with Porsche 911 RSRs placing second and third; victory in the GTE Am category went to a Porsche 911 RSR after the winning Ford GT was disqualified for breach of fuel tank capacity regulations.
MARQUEZ WINS AFTER LORENZO CAUSES MASS CRASH
MotoGP world champion Marc Marquez won his home Grand Prix of Catalunya on Sunday after his Honda team mate Jorge Lorenzo took out the Spaniard's main rivals in a mass crash on the second lap.
French rider Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha) finished second and 2.6 seconds behind, after starting on pole and dropping to eighth, with Italian Danilo Petrucci third for Ducati.
Marquez's closest rival Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati) and the Yamaha factory pairing of Valentino Rossi and Maverick Vinales went down like skittles after Lorenzo lost control of his Honda at turn 10.
The triple MotoGP champion was late on the brakes as he tried to pass Vinales on the inside, first colliding with Dovizioso before the sliding bikes swept up the two Yamaha riders.
"I feel really sorry for Maverick, Andrea and Valentino because they are fighting for the championship," said Lorenzo, who had rocketed from 10th on the grid to fourth after the opening lap.
"It's a big disaster and I feel sorry for them."
The incident knocked the stuffing out of what had been shaping up as a thrilling battle at the front, with three podium contenders abruptly eliminated and Marquez enjoying an easier ride to the chequered flag.
Petrucci, winner of the previous race in Italy, was engaged in a lively battle with Spaniard Alex Rins for second before the Suzuki rider went wide with seven laps to go and fell to sixth before climbing back to fourth.
Quartararo made his move a few corners later and slotted in to second place.
Marquez's fourth win of the season means he now has a 37-point lead over Dovizioso after seven of 19 races.
SA’s Brad Binder (KTM) was 11th in the Moto2 race. His brother Darryn finished 15th in the entry-level Moto3 class.
FERRARI FIGHT VETTEL PENALTY
Ferrari have asked for a review of the stewards' decision that cost Sebastian Vettel victory in the Canadian Grand Prix, the team said on Monday.
Vettel finished first in the race in Montreal on June 9 but lost the win after a five-second time penalty for going off track and returning in what stewards deemed to be an unsafe fashion.
Mercedes’ Formula One championship leader Lewis Hamilton was declared the winner instead.
Significant and relevant new evidence that was not available at the time is required for a team to submit a "right of review" under article 14 of the governing FIA's International Sporting Code.
The spokesperson said Ferrari, who last week dropped a planned protest against the penalty, had formally requested the review but gave no further details "due to the sensitivity of the matter".
Stewards will now have sole discretion to determine whether such a significant and relevant new element existed, with their decision final.
If the review is deemed admissable, a secondary hearing will be held.
Mercedes have won all seven races so far this season, and the last nine in total, with Britain's five times world champion Hamilton now 29 points clear of Finnish teammate Valtteri Bottas in the standings.
Vettel, who was furious with a decision that caused an immediate controversy, is 62 points adrift of Hamilton.
Formula One holds its eighth race of the 21 round season in the south of France this weekend at Le Castellet circuit.