Motorsport wrap: Devastating Le Mans for Toyota
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van Gisbergen wins, Toyota reinvent what it means to lose
What a bizarre, incredible, draining weekend it was for motorsport fans. The Supercars in Darwin and GP2 in Baku were crashfests, the drifting for our leading Kiwi was over before it began, and the weather for the Asia-Pacific Rally Championship was a mission.
Then you had Le Mans.
Cruel, awful loss for Toyota, as Porsche pick up the pieces
Photo / Porsche
'To finish first, first you must finish' sounds stupid as a phrase, and just a hint condescending.
Yet, no saying could've been more appropriate after the leading #5 Toyota TS050 spluttered to a halt on the front straight with just five minutes left on the clock. Five minutes. Porsche's #2 Jani/Lieb/Dumas entry took the win.
Things didn't go much better for Brendon Hartley's #1 Porsche, after technical dramas shot their race to pieces at the eight-hour mark. The best of the Kiwis was Scott Dixon, who finished third in the GTE-Pro class with Ford — who won the class with Dixon's sister #68 entry, on the 50th anniversary of their first Le Mans win.
Rulebook not on Whiddett's side
Photo / Larry Chen, Formula Drift
After his breakthrough win in Japan, luck has abandoned 'Mad Mike' Whiddett's Formula Drift Pro campaign.
The latest chapter of woe came in the form of technical dramas for his ND Mazda MX-5 early in the weekend at round four of the championship in New Jersey.
It looked like Whiddett had a lifeline to compete, after rival Chris Forsberg offered to lend the Kiwi his freshly built Nissan 370Z, but Formula Drift regulations that prevent drivers from competing in cars that differ from what they use in practice meant that Whiddett had to sit on the sidelines for the remainder of the weekend.
van Gisbergen tastes both ends at Hidden Valley
Photo / Holden Motorsport
After grabbing pole position for race 12 of the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship, expectations were high for Shane van Gisbergen. But, he failed to deliver, after being judged to have jumped a restart while trying to take the lead of the race. The subsequent penalty sent him back through the field.
Thankfully for SVG, and his Red Bull squad, he was able to make up for it in race two. After taking a second pole, he ... threw away the lead five corners later.
However, after Craig Lowndes did the same at turn one a few laps later handing him back the lead, the New Zealander proved unstoppable for the remainder of the race — taking his second win of 2016.
Man of the match had to be handed to the glowing Michael Caruso after the Nissan Motorsport driver won the first race of the weekend. It was his first win since 2009, and Nissan's first since 2013.
But, the event was overshadowed by a large crash for Lee Holdsworth in the second race. The driver was hospitalized with a fractured pelvis.
Mike Young on the Asia-Pacific podium
Conditions sprawled on the couch following Le Mans in the darkness were bad, but nowhere near as bad as the weather that faced those competing at the Australian leg of this year's Asia-Pacific Rally Championship on the Gold Coast.
In fact, the sorry conditions were so bad that rally officials decided to cancel the final four stages of the day. This helped Gaurav Gill and co-driver Glenn Macneall take an early victory in their MRF Skoda Fabia, ahead of teammate and International Rally of Whangarei winner Fabian Kreim.
New Zealand's Mike Young rounded out the podium in his Cusco Subaru Impreza.
"We had a pretty good rally actually," Young said.
"It was really tough out there but we’re happy to make it through while being quite fast too which I’m obviously happy about. The pace we had all weekend was good and the podium result we got reflected that.”
Crash and bash in Baku sees mixed results for Evans
Photo / GP2 Series Media
Initially, it looked like Mitch Evans might be in for another difficult weekend, after qualifying 15th for race one of the GP2 Series weekend in Azerbaijan.
But the Toyota Racing Series graduate was able to dodge the trouble to climb all the way to fifth in race one.
At that point, it looked like everything had come good, and — starting fourth for the second race — there was promise.
Then he was smashed into on the front straight during one of several controversial restarts.
Read more about the 24 Hours of Le Mans
Read more about 'Mad Mike' Whiddett's New Jersey campaign
Read more about the V8 drama at Hidden Valley: Race 1 / Race 2 / Holdsworth's crash
Read more about the Asia-Pacific Rally Championship on the Gold Coast
Read more about Baku's contraversial GP2 weekend: Race 1 / Race 2