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2024 Spanish Grand Prix: Norris leads Verstappen in First Practice

Lando Norris was fastest in the first Practice session of the 2024 FIA World Championship Spanish Grand Prix weekend, edging out Drivers Championship leader, Max Verstappen.

As the green lights signalled the start of a triple header of European races to come, starting with Barcelona this weekend. Oracle Red Bull Racing will be hoping to get back to top form after a difficult few race weekends, despite getting the win in Montreal. The Milton Keynes based outfit have brought a big upgrade package this weekend, but so have Constructors Championship rivals, Scuderia Ferrari. Red Bull junior team, Visa Cash App RB have also brought a sizeable upgrade.

With the drivers getting more comfortable, the track was getting quicker, but the session was halted temporarily due to debris on track from Fernando Alonso’s Aston Martin Armaco F1 Team car. This small delay meant everyone came back out on different run plans – some opting for long runs and others on qualifying simulations.

Norris was the quickest at the chequered flag, with a time of 1:14.228s, which was around four tenths better than the quickest time in Free Practice One in 2023. Verstappen’s fastest time was only good enough for second, while Carlos Sainz Jr. ended the hour +0.344s back from his former teammate in third.

Photo: McLaren Media Centre

George Russell was the lead Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team car in fourth, ahead of Sergio Pérez and Oscar Piastri. Lewis Hamilton was running a different programme to his teammate, finishing the hour in seventh.

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Martin Macik Jr. sells Dakar-winning truck to Firemen Dakarteam

Martin Macík Jr.‘s beloved IVECO PowerStar, nicknamed “Cenda”, has a new home for the 2025 Dakar Rally. He announced Thursday he has sold his Dakar-winning truck to Richard de Groot and Firemen Dakarteam, while he and MM Technology plan to field a new truck.

Cenda is a PowerStar that MM Technology built and débuted at the 2023 Dakar, where he won four stages but narrowly lost the overall victory in the Truck category. Macík also raced Cenda in the World Rally-Raid Championship, finishing third in class points. He finally got over the hump at the 2024 edition in January with four more stage wins as he beat Aleš Loprais for his maiden Bedouin.

In early June, Macík brought Cenda to Tunisia for a four-day desert test. The truck received slight upgrades such as better weight distribution and modifications to help mechanics repair it easier. He also spent the week in the desert test driving a Can-Am Maverick, of which he was named a brand ambassador in January, as well as helping fellow Czech team MING Racing test their new Ford F-150 T1+.

Macík has another IVECO dubbed “Charles”, which was built in 2019 and has raced events like Dakar and the Morocco Desert Challenge.

“A great machine and the pinnacle of MM Technology’s technological development so far, thanks to which we finally fulfilled our big dream – to win the Dakar Rally,” wrote Macík. “It is worth mentioning the second place in the Dakar 2023, or several podium finishes in various World Cup races. In short, a great period when I and the whole team learned a lot.

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Lewis, George, and Toto Visit INEOS Britannia in Barcelona

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Lewis, George, and Toto Wolff got to experience INEOS Britannia’s AC75 Race Boat first-hand with guides Sir Ben Ainslie and Sir Jim Ratcliffe on Wednesday, 19th June. The trio visited the British Challenger of Record representing Royal Yacht Squadron Ltd for the 37th America’s Cup at their base in Barcelona ahead of the Spanish Grand Prix.

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Lewis, George, and Toto were taken on a tour of the facilities, including spending time in the team’s simulator and meeting the wider team. George and Toto then joined Sir Ben on the water, with George getting behind the wheel of ‘Britannia’ whilst Toto joined the squad of cycling sailors, known as cyclors, to help power the boat via the onboard bikes.

Lewis said:

It has been so exciting seeing the work of INEOS Britannia at the factory in Brackley over the past few years. It was so impressive to come to Barcelona and see it all coming together, including the race boat, for the first time. The technology involved is incredible, and my mind is absolutely blown! I’m really excited to see how the team gets on later this year, and I want to wish them the very best of luck in their pursuit of the America’s Cup.

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2024 Spanish Grand Prix: What the Teams are Saying ahead of the Weekend

Formula 1 heads to Barcelona this weekend for Round 10 of the FIA Formula 1 World Championship for the 2024 Spanish Grand Prix.

Max Verstappen returned to winning ways last time out at the Canadian Grand Prix, extending his championship lead over Charles Leclerc and Oracle Red Bull Racing’s lead in the Constructors with both Scuderia Ferrari cars missing out on points in Montreal.

The Spanish Grand Prix is always a crucial part of the season, with nearly all of the grid bringing upgrade packages and it’s no different this year. The drivers and team representatives have given their thoughts ahead of the weekend, read what they had to say below:

Max Verstappen — Oracle Red Bull Racing — Driver

“We are back to the European races for a while now and I have been with the Team at the factory this week preparing for the Spanish Grand Prix, being the first race of a busy triple header.

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Kamui Kobayashi: “It was a phenomenal race through 24 hours.”

Kamui Kobayashi has described the 2024 24 Hours of Le Mans as “a phenomenal race through 24 hours, with every manufacturer fighting non-stop.” The team principal of Toyota Gazoo Racing and driver of the #7 car was reflecting on his team’s performance as they narrowly missed out on victory in the epic 24 race.

The historic race week did not start well for the Japanese team. In qualifying on Wednesday 12 June, the #8 car was knocked out of the battle for the pole position, qualifying 11th on the grid. The #7 car seemed to be faring better, with Kobayashi setting the 4th fastest time. However, in the final few moments, he span at the Porsche curves, bringing out the red flag and causing all his lap times to be deleted, meaning they would start in 23rd on the grid.

The #8 Toyota was involved in several battles with the #51 Ferrari. Credit: Toyota Gazoo Racing

In the first few hours of the race, both Toyotas made steady progress through the field and, as night fell, the #8 car was leading with Ryo Hirakawa at the wheel. On Sunday morning, both cars were very much in the mix. With 2 hours of racing remaining, contact between the leading #8 Toyota and the #51 Ferrari AF Corse car pushed the Toyota down to 6th and out of contention. Meanwhile, the #7 car was battling the #50 Ferrari for the lead. After a final fuel stop, José María López set about chasing down the leading Ferrari, but a minor turbo issue caused enough of a delay for the Ferrari to win. The team told López to bring the car home in second, banking valuable points for the team in the 4th round of the 2024 FIA World Endurance Championship. The #8 car finished 5th.

“Obviously it was a very tough race for us” commented Kobayashi, “we could have won but we had a few issues. It was not a smooth 24 hours for the #7 car, but the whole team did such a great job throughout a very tough week. Everyone wants to win this race and we were very close. Such a close finish makes us hungry to come back stronger next year and we will do our best to achieve that.”

The #7 car battles through the rain which had such an impact on the race. Credit: Toyota Gazoo Racing

For López, it was a particularly emotional day, having been drafted in as a replacement for the regular #7 driver Mike Conway who suffered a cycling accident just days before the race. “It was a rollercoaster of emotions for me, starting from 10 days ago when Mike got injured and I took his place” López explained, adding “I was happy be here but also sad for him.” Speaking about the race itself, the Argentinian said “the race was simply the hardest one I ever experienced, with the weather, having to start from last and losing time with slow zones, punctures and other issues. We always managed to come back, and we showed our strong spirit. I am proud of everyone for that.“

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INTERVIEW: “I Know I’m Capable Of Winning The World Championship” – Kevin Hansen Is Ready For The Challenge Of The 2024 FIA World Rallycross Championship

Kevin Hansen is part of a dynasty of rallycross royalty. His father, Kenneth Hansen, won 14 European Rallycross titles throughout his career, while his mother, Susann Hansen, is the only female European champion, winning in Super 1400 in 1994. The pair are now Team Principal and Team Manager respectively of Hansen World RX Team, and their eldest son, Timmy Hansen, was champion of the 2019 FIA World Rallycross Championship.

Now Kevin Hansen is one of the driving forces propelling world rallycross into an exciting new era, both as a driver and as team principal of junior rallycross team, #YellowSquad. 2023 was Kevin’s most successful world rallycross season to date, finishing second overall and securing a superb victory in Hong Kong. Having visited MotoFest Coventry earlier this year, scouting a new potential city centre circuit for world rallycross, and the FIA introducing the “Battle of Technologies” concept, the future of world rallycross looks very exciting for the young Swedish superstar. Kevin’s enthusiasm and passion for the sport are immediately obvious when talking to him. He joined The Checkered Flag from his office in Weybridge to discuss the future of the sport by first taking a look back at the turbulent end to the 2023 season.

Kevin Hansen celebrates his win in Hong Kong. Credit: Joerg Mitter / Red Bull Content Pool

“If we didn’t do that, we wouldn’t have a series this year.”

Kevin Hansen

We last spoke at Lydden Hill in July 2023 at the weekend that changed the rest of the season? How was the rest of the season for you, and how did you find switching to the RX2e machinery?

“I think the end of the ’23 season was not what anyone wanted but we did the best with what we had. We were able to put on a good show in Mettet and drive a good entertaining race for the fans there. In Cape Town and Hong Kong, we were able to pull something off. All the teams came together. We put our wallets where we wanted to be able to continue the world rallycross championship. I think if we didn’t do that, we wouldn’t have a series this year.

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Ricciardo and Márquez visit Alinghi Red Bull Racing

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Motorsport champions Ricciardo and Márquez trade the track for sea for a high-speed sailing race in Barcelona with America’s Cup team Alinghi Red Bull Racing.

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Ahead of the Spanish Grand Prix this weekend, Alinghi Red Bull Racing was joined by two motorsports icons, 8-time Grand Prix winner Daniel Ricciardo and 8-time MotoGP champion Marc Márquez.

Following Max Verstappen’s visit to the Base last year this week, the two racers took it a step further, not only getting the chance to foil the Swiss challenger’s two AC40 yachts but also race them on the America’s Cup venue. Swapping wheels for sails, Ricciardo and Márquez went head-to-head along Barcelona’s seafront for a friendly contest, feeling the adrenaline as they reached almost 90 km/h speeds.

Both boats were quick off the start line, but ultimately, the Australian driver got the upper hand, beating the Catalonian MotoGP champion on home ground. Márquez compared his experience in motorsports: “The speed is completely different. Maybe in kilometres per hour, it’s slower, but the feeling of the speed was super high. You don’t feel like you are flying when you’re in it. But then I saw Daniel’s boat flying by our side and realised I was too. We were foiling super smoothly.”

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Sebastien Ogier “never been really attracted that much” by Dakar Rally

Sébastien Ogier is one of the greatest drivers in World Rally Championship history as an eight-time champion who continues to win races today even on a part-time schedule. Unfortunately, fans who want to see him trade in his Toyota Yaris for a Toyota Hilux will be disappointed to learn he doesn’t echo their sentiment.

Speaking with Autosport, Ogier admitted that even if he decides to step away from rally for good, the Dakar Rally is not something he is particularly excited about.

“It hasn’t been on my list yet,” Ogier explained. “I think testing the car, I will always be for it, it’s always a fun experience. But at the moment, I don’t know. I’ve never been really attracted that much by this race.”

Rally raid is a popular avenue for rally drivers who wish to try something else that still shares some overlap in skillset. Ari Vatanen won the 1981 World Rally Championship before going on to win four Dakar Rallies, while Kenjiro Shinozuka was the first Asian driver to win a WRC round and claimed the 2000 Dakar. Nine-time WRC champ Sébastien Loeb and twice titlist Carlos Sainz are among the top drivers in the World Rally-Raid Championship today, the latter winning the Dakar four times including the latest in January, while reigning W2RC victor Nasser Al-Attiyah continues to dabble in rally today to great success. Mikko Hirvonen and Spanish Rally Champion Sergio Vallejo boast Dakar experience too, and although he has yet to make it happen, 2003 WRC champion Petter Solberg has been open to tackling the race someday.

Instead of cross-country rally, Ogier is more attracted to pavement racing with a focus on the 24 Hours of Le Mans. He entered the 2022 edition in an Oreca LMP2 and finished ninth in class, capping off a three-race stint in the FIA World Endurance Championship. The Frenchman has also made one-off appearances in the Porsche Supercup and DTM.

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Stephane Peterhansel returns to bike roots at Swank Rally di Sardegna

With his four-wheeled rally machine out of commission for the foreseeable future, Stéphane Peterhansel decided to return to his roots once again by entering last week’s Swank Rally di Sardegna. Racing a Yamaha WRF450F, he battled with Benjamin Melot and Alessandro Botturi throughout the five-leg event; although coming up short, he still proved he hasn’t missed a step on a bike with a third-place finish.

Peterhansel led early when he beat Vincenzo Savoca Corona for the first stage win by just two seconds. He continued his advantage before Melot tied it up with an identical time through three legs. Melot had raced alongside Peterhansel at the Dakar Rally in January, albeit on a bike (and solo), and the veteran stayed sharp as he pulled away in the final two stages to beat Botturi by a mere seven seconds. Botturi in turn edged out Peterhansel by seventeen seconds.

Beyond riding the same marque, Peterhansel and Botturi also both knew their way from Europe to Senegal on two wheels. Peterhansel won the Paris–Dakar Rally six times on a motorcycle followed by three more in a car before the race moved elsewhere, while Botturi is a two-time bike winner of the Africa Eco Race that took up the Dakar’s original route. Botturi, one of Yamaha’s factory riders, also finished second in the 2024 AER.

In January, Peterhansel finished thirtieth in his thirty-fifth career Dakar, scoring his record-tying fiftieth stage win but falling out of contention due to mechanical problems. He and Mattias Ekström spent the rest of the race accompanying team-mate Carlos Sainz to his fourth Dakar victory. Although their Team Audi Sport was supposed to race for the W2RC in their final season, the team ended up shutting down after Dakar due to parts shortages, leaving Peterhansel with plenty of free time for himself.

While his career has been up in the air as he approaches his sixties, he has been keeping busy. In 2023, Peterhansel made his return to bikes when he entered the Morocco Desert Challenge in a non-competition category as part of the Tenere Spirit Experience, a factory-backed programme for Ténéré 700 owners led by his wife Andréa Peterhansel. Andréa also entered the Swank Rally and finished nineteenth.

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The Ultimate Guide to Overlanding with a Jeep

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Overlanding, the blend of off-road driving and camping, has surged in popularity as adventurers seek to explore the world in their vehicles. Among the many vehicles suitable for overlanding, the Jeep stands out due to its ruggedness, versatility, and iconic status. This guide delves into why a Jeep is an excellent choice for overlanding, how to prepare it, essential gear, and tips for an unforgettable overlanding experience.

Why Choose a Jeep for Overlanding?

Legendary Off-Road Capability

Jeeps, especially models like the Wrangler and Gladiator, are renowned for their off-road prowess. With features such as high ground clearance, solid axles, and advanced four-wheel-drive systems, Jeeps can tackle the most challenging terrains. These attributes are crucial for overlanding, where off-road trails can range from muddy paths to rocky mountain passes.

Durability and Reliability

Jeeps are built to withstand harsh conditions, making them a reliable choice for long journeys through remote areas. The rugged construction and durable components ensure that your vehicle can handle the stresses of continuous off-road driving and exposure to the elements.

Aftermarket Support and Customizability

One of the greatest advantages of choosing a Jeep for overlanding is the extensive aftermarket support. From lift kits and heavy-duty bumpers to roof racks and camping accessories, the options for customizing your Jeep to fit your needs are virtually limitless. This customizability allows you to tailor your vehicle to your specific requirements and preferences.

Preparing Your Jeep for Overlanding

Suspension and Tires

A key aspect of overlanding preparation is upgrading the suspension and tyres. Installing a lift kit will improve ground clearance, allowing you to navigate rough terrains more effectively. Opt for all-terrain or mud-terrain tyres, which provide better traction and durability compared to stock tyres. Brands like BFGoodrich and Goodyear offer excellent options for overlanding tyres.

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Kevin Benavides: “I’m going to recover, I’m going to come back and keep giving my best day by day”

Kevin Benavides does not remember much about his accident in May that prevented him from racing the World Rally-Raid Championship‘s Desafío Ruta 40 in his home country. Most of this stems from the diffuse axonal injury he sustained to his brain, among a rash of fractured bones and other injuries that necessitated surgery. After staying mostly silent in the month since the crash, Benavides went public on Monday to discuss what occurred and his rehabilitation.

He and his younger brother Luciano Benavides had wrapped up DR 40 training in Salta for the day when they decided to visit Mantillo MX Park and get some laps in. Besides the head injury, he also broke his left elbow, left humerus, part of his cervical spine, and tore a radial nerve.

“I wanted to do a bit of motocross. Normally it’s the other way around, Luciano is the one who entices me,” remarked Kevin. “We had done a roadbook of almost 400 kilometres that day at over 4000 metres of altitude for over five hours. I was a little tired, but I wanted to do motocross that day.

“Honestly, I don’t know what happened that caused me to fall and hit my head so hard. It wasn’t just my head: I broke my humerus, my elbow, I cut the radial nerve, also some injuries in the cervical spine which made it noticeable that it was a big fall. The type of head injury I had is called a diffuse axonal injury. I don’t remember how the fall happened. I remember very few things about that day. The good thing about not remembering my fall is that I already want to ride my bike again.”

A diffuse axonal injury is a traumatic brain injury in which the brain’s nerve fibres, or axons, are disconnected when damaged. DAIs are one of the most severe TBIs that one could suffer, resulting in comas or severe impairment. Benavides was taken into intensive care, where his procedure took twice as long as scheduled.

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2024 Spanish Grand Prix: TheCheckeredFlag’s Preview

It’s race week once again and time for Round 10 of the 2024 FIA Formula 1 World Championship as the pinnacle of motorsport heads to Circuit de Catalunya for the 2024 Spanish Grand Prix.

Max Verstappen was victorious at the 2022 Spanish Grand Prix and the 2023 event too, with a double Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team podium on race day in 2023 and the Dutchman will be hoping to further extend his Drivers Championship lead on Charles Leclerc and Lando Norris as F1 returns to Europe and to a circuit that should suit Oracle Red Bull Racing’s RB20 much better than the previous two rounds in Monaco and Canada. 

It will be a key weekend for Mercedes as they will hope to show similar pace to what we saw in Canada, where George Russell secured pole position and a podium in the race, with pace that was good enough for a potential race win. Lewis Hamilton will be hoping for a better qualifying if he is to challenge near the top end too – the seven time world champion is yet to start a race within the top six.

It’s a home race for Carlos Sainz Jr. and Fernando Alonso. The former will be looking to bounce back from a Q2 exit, retirement in the race and an overall disappointing weekend in Montreal last time out. The latter will be hoping for a bit more pace with Aston Martin Armaco F1 Team. Lawrence Stroll’s team haven’t developed the car as they would’ve liked so far this but a double points finish in Canada was a step in the right direction as they look to close the gap on the front runners.

Photo: Sam Bloxham

Head of the midfield, Visa Cash App RB are set to be bringing upgrades to the Spanish Grand Prix, which is good news for Yuki Tsunoda and Daniel Ricciardo. Tsunoda will be hoping for another points finish after spinning out of the top ten during the Canadian Grand Prix, while Ricciardo will be wanting to build on his performance in Montreal and have another positive weekend.

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Nicklas Nielsen: “It really is a dream come true.”

Ferrari AF Corse driver Nicklas Nielsen has described winning the 2024 24 Hours of Le Mans as a “dream come true.” The Danish driver secured victory for the #50 Ferrari 499P, along with teammates Miguel Molina and Antonio Fuoco in an utterly gripping race. The 2023 winning #51 Ferrari finished third, making it a double podium for the legendary Italian team.

The two Ferraris qualified on the second row of the grid and looked competitive from the off. Nielsen took the lead from the #6 Porsche Penske Motorsport car on the first lap and the team made their presence felt at the front of the pack for the majority of the race. During the night, they fell back a little and battled with the #2 Cadillac Racing car. After an immense 4.5 hour safety car period due to rain, the battle resumed in the morning, the #50 car continuing to fight for the lead against the Cadillac. The American car dropped off with a few hours to go, leaving a tantalising dogfight between Ferrari and Toyota.

The podium featuring the two Ferrari AF Corse crews and the drivers of the #7 Toyota who pushed them all the way. Credit: Ferrari Media Center

The final couple of hours will go down in Le Mans history as one of the most tense and exhilarating finishes to a race. Rain threatened to intervene once again, falling heavily on certain parts of the track. The #51 was involved in a tangle with the #8 Toyota, dropping the Toyota out of contention and handing the #51 car a 5 second penalty at its next pit stop. Meanwhile, door issues threatened to derail the #50’s efforts. When instructed to pit to repair it, a simple fix was completed at the same time as a fuel stop, shuffling the car back to the front and handing them the advantage.

Nielsen was cool, calm, and collected, nursing the car home with barely any energy left in the tank, pushed all the way by the #7 Toyota which, after 24 hours of racing, finished just 14 seconds behind the winner. The win means that the team have achieved glory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the 2024 Monaco Grand Prix, the first time the same manufacturer has won both races in a single year since Alfa Romeo in 1934.

Nielsen nurses the #50 Ferrari across the line. Credit: Javier Jimenez / DPPI

“The last lap was very long, impossible to imagine. I worried about avoiding any risks and getting to the finish line as quickly as possible” Nielsen explained after the race. “The victory seemed very difficult for part of the race, even at the end, when we had a problem with the door. But then everything went well. I’m speechless. I’m very proud of everyone.“

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Baja Satu Mare cut short after crash involving leaders

The Baja Satu Mare, a joint race in Romania between the Hungarian and Romanian Cross-Country Rally Championships, was called off for the former after three stages following a wreck involving leaders Miroslav Zapletal and Lőrinc Mészáros Jr.

Both drivers, competing in Ford F-150 T1+ cars, collided after a navigation error sent one of them in the wrong direction, causing Zapletal to t-bone Mészáros in the driver’s side. Mészáros and co-driver Erik Pál got out of their vehicle without issue, but the former reported feeling pain in his left leg upon standing up and decided to go back to Hungary for evaluation. Zapletal and Marek Sýkora escaped injury, though their Ford suffered substantial front damage.

Prior to the accident, Zapletal had been leading the overall with a time of 48:15.9, just a minute and eleven seconds ahead of Mészáros. The latter set the best time during the first Selective Section on Friday while Zapletal was third; Mészáros’ M1 Motorsport team-mate Balázs Molnár was sandwiched between them but retired in SS3. The second stage, which was supposed to take place later Friday, was cancelled due to agricultural machinery blocking the course for many competitors.

The race continued for the Romanians, but was called for Hungarians due to the crash. The awards ceremony was also called off. Sebastian Paraipan won the rally on the Romanian side in his Can-Am Maverick R by nearly twenty-four minutes, continuing an impressive rally raid infancy for the SSV; Can-Ams swept the top five.

Mészáros was the defending Satu Mare winner when he narrowly beat Csucsu by just seven-tenths of a second and Zapletal by eleven seconds in 2023, and had finished third overall in the season-opening Desert Express 300 in March. His father is a businessman who served as the mayor of Felcsút in the 2010s; the elder Mészáros grew up with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and is thus a close member of his inner circle.

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Ferrari AF Corse Win 2024 24 Hours of Le Mans

After an unbelievable race, the 2024 24 Hours of Le Mans has been won by the #50 Ferrari AF Corse. In a race full of twists, turns, torrential rain, Nicklas Nielsen brough the Ferrari 499P home on fumes, having almost drained its fuel tank. The #7 Toyota Gazoo Racing team pushed them all the way to the flag, ultimately having to settle for 2nd. The sister Ferrari, the #51 car that won Le Mans in 2023, completes the podium in Hypercar.

The #7 Toyota had an excellent race and were unlucky not to snatch victory. Credit: Javier Jimenez / DPPI

In LMP2, the #22 United Autosports team secured a fantastic victory, 18 seconds ahead of the 2023 winners, #34 Inter Europol Competition, with #28 IDEC Sport rounding off the podium. In LMGT3, Manthey EMA won a comfortable victory, the only winning car to finish a lap ahead of the 2nd place car, the #31 Team WRT BMW M4 LMGT3. Third on the LMGT3 podium went to the #88 Proton Competition Ford Mustang LMGT3.

This has been an incredible race from start to finish. We have covered it all in various reports throughout the last 24 hours. Click here for race reports on the first 6 hours, here for the overnight report, and here for the morning stint.

Manthey EMA, the winners of LMGT3 at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Credit: Mike Widdowson / MJW Media

Race Report: 12:00 – 15:00 GMT

As the race entered its final three hours, an almighty dogfight was brewing between the leading #2 Cadillac Racing car, the #50 and #51 Ferrari AF Corse, and the #8 Toyota Gazoo Racing car. Anthony Davidson on the official WEC broadcast calculated that the Cadillac wasn’t lapping quickly enough to ultimately content for victory. Slight drama for Ferrari as both cars were investigated for technical infringements, but ultimately both cars were only given reprimands.

With 21:45:00 race time passed, the track was declared wet due to heavy rain falling on sections of the track. #2 Cadillac was the first to blink and strap a set of wets onto the car. Drama in the pits for the #8 Toyota as it struggled to get the nut off the front right tyre, and also the #50 Ferrari who had an unsafe release into the path of an LMP2 car. As the penultimate hour of racing started, the #51 Ferrari tagged the back of the #8 Toyota with an ambitious move down the inside at Mulsanne corner, spinning the Toyota out and down to 6th in the standings. The Ferrari had an added 5 seconds to its next pit stop as penance for the contact.

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2024 24 Hours Of Le Mans: A Gripping Morning Stint

After a somewhat muted overnight stint dominated by safety car periods, the morning stint of the 2024 24 Hours of Le Mans delivered an enthralling, intriguing race, setting up an extraordinary finish. With three hours to go, the #2 Cadillac Racing car leads the way, followed by the #50 Ferrari AF Corse and the #8 Toyota Gazoo Racing car, three titans of the FIA World Endurance Championship battling for glory.

In LMP2, IDEC Sport are currently leading, followed by the 2023 winners Inter Europol Competition. Manthey EMA have led since the early hours in LMGT3, with the #31 Team WRT BMW M4 LMGT3 in second, the sister car of the #46 that unfortunately had to retire in the night.

For our race report on the first 6 hours, click here. For the overnight update, click here.

Race Report: 06:00 – 12:00 (GMT)

An all too familiar sight overnight at the 2024 24 Hours of Le Mans. Credit: Julien Delfosse / DPPI

After a mammoth safety car period of over 4 hours, the field got ready to restart racing with 7 hours and 50 minutes to go. The starting order was #8 Toyota Gazoo Racing, #6 Porsche Penske Motorsport, #50 Ferrari AF Corse, and #7 Toyota. AF Corse led the way in LMP2, while a duo of Porsches led LMGT3. One mighty train of the 52 remaining cars prepared to get underway.

First casualty under green flag racing was Nyck de Vries in the #7 Toyota, having to stop after one lap of racing to clear the windscreen, the Dutch driver having been unable to see anything. His Toyota dropped down to 11th in the field, out of the points, due to the field being so close together. Similarly, the leading Manthey PureRxing car in LMGT3 plummeted down the order after having to come into the pit garage for a lengthy period due to gearbox and electrical issues, handing the lead to the Manthey EMA Porsche.

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2024 24 Hours of Le Mans: A Very Wet Overnight Report

As the Circuit de la Sarthe begins to brighten in the early Sunday morning, Toyota Gazoo Racing lead the way in Hypercar in the 2024 24 Hours of Le Mans. The fourth round of the 2024 FIA World Endurance Championship had been a fantastically exciting race. However, with heavy rain falling from before the halfway point, the field has been behind the safety cars for well over two hours. All three safety cars have themselves had to pit for fuel.

For our report on the first six hours of the race, click here.

Race Report: 21:00 – 06:00 (GMT)

#5 Porsche Penske Motorsport racing in the rain before it got too heavy to continue. Credit: Mike Widdowson / MJW Media

As the rain cleared, the pit stop cycle kept the #83 AF Corse Ferrari in the lead of Hypercar and shuffled the #50 Ferrari AF Corse back into 2nd, followed by the #5 Porsche Penske Motorsport and #8 Toyota Gazoo Racing. At around the 6:30:00 mark, huge drama on the run down to the Mulsanne corner. The #83 Ferrari clipped the #15 BMW M Team WRT approaching full speed, spearing the BMW into the barrier and out of the race. The BMW, which had been remarkably fast in qualifying, became the third Hypercar retirement after both Alpine Endurance Team cars retired in the first 6 hours, and triggered the first safety car of the race.

After a 1.5 hour safety car period due to barrier repairs on the Mulsanne straight, the race went back to green flag conditions in stone cold and soaking wet conditions. Almost everyone in the remaining 58 car field dived into the pit lane to get wet tyres on except the #5 Porsche and the #311 Whelen Cadillac Racing car who stayed out on slicks. The #83 Ferrari romped past the #5 Porsche at 8:20:00 into the race, Porsche gambling on the track drying in time for him to get the advantage back. However, this never materialised, dropping the #5 Porsche out of the top 10.

The #311 Whelen Cadillac Racing car after finally pitting for wets. Credit: Mike Widdowson / MJW Media

For the contact with the #15 BMW, the #83 Ferrari has handed a 30 second stop and go penalty. Once served, it came back out in 6th, handing the lead to the #8 Toyota. At 8:42:00, Ahmed Al Harthy span his #46 Team WRT BMW under the Dunlop bridge. What looked like a relatively straightforward spin caused a huge water leak and a punctured radiator, bringing an end to a very competitive race for the car. At the start of the 10th hour, the track was dry and everyone was back onto slicks. The team that most benefited was Toyota, with #8 in the lead, #7 in 3rd, with the #6 Porsche somehow back up to 2nd, a great recovery from a difficult first third of the race.

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ASO has yet to refund Dakar fee to MAZ due to sanctions, claims Viazovich

As the United States imposed sanctions on the Silk Way Rally‘s organisers on Wednesday, sanctions have also been keeping the Dakar Rally‘s organisers from reimbursing defending Silk Way winner MAZ-SPORTauto. In an interview with Match TV on Thursday, MAZ boss and 2023 SWR winner Siarhei Viazovich claimed the Amaury Sport Organisation was forced to withhold the entry fee that the team paid to enter the 2022 Dakar Rally, only to be turned back because of penalties on their parent Minsk Automobile Plant.

The European Union imposed sanctions on Minsk Automobile Plant in 2021 in response to the company cracking down on employees who protested the 2020 Belarusian presidential election, which is widely regarded by international observers as rigged as Alexander Lukashenko won a sixth term in a landslide. MAZ, which is fully owned by the state, received additional Western penalties in 2023 amidst the Russia invasion of Ukraine.

Viazovich unsurprisingly toes the government line, separately claiming team members who quit to join the protests “were not satisfied with the anthem, flag, coat of arms; there was some kind of mania for all of this. The majority of the team did not support this, but it was very difficult not to succumb to what was going on.” He also went as far as to state, while acknowledging it “may be harsh,” that the military and police “were correct” in violently quashing the protests. Over thirty thousand protesters were arrested and multiple died during the protests, from mistreatment while in prison, or other circumstances connected to the events.

“They affected many people in some negative way,” he prefaced about the government response, “but if we talk about society as a whole, about the peace and well-being of the country, everything was done correctly. Every employee of certain structures who were there at that time did their job perfectly.”

In an attempt to get around the sanctions, MAZ-SPORTauto registered for the 2022 Dakar Rally under the Belarusian Automobile Federation‘s name; the federation also paid the entry fee rather than the team. However, when the team went to Marseille to have their trucks ferried to Saudi Arabia, French customs ordered them to turn back. MAZ considered getting to the race via Syria, but ultimately withdrew. When the team requested for the fee to be refunded, the ASO refused on grounds that it would be be wired back to MAZ, a sanctioned entity.

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2024 24 Hours of Le Mans: An Enthralling First 6 Hours

The #83 AF Corse Ferrari 499p leads the way after the first 6 hours of the 2024 24 Hours of Le Mans. The fourth round of the 2024 FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) is providing scintillating racing throughout the three classes of Hypercar, LMP2, and LMGT3.

Ye Yifei leads the way for Ferrari with Matt Campbell in the #5 Porsche Penske Motorsport car in second. In LMP2, Lorenzo Fluxa leads in the COOL Racing car, followed by the #10 Vector Sport car. Joel Sturm leads for Manthey PureRxing in LMGT3, with the #46 Team WRT BMW in second.

“Spike” leading the LMP2 class away from the start. Credit: Javier Jimenez / DPPI

For our full preview of the race, click here.

Race Report: 15:00 – 21:00 (GMT)

A record 23 Hypercars start the 2024 24 Hours of Le Mans. Credit: Mike Widdowson / MJW Media

The grid was set by a thrilling Hyperpole session on Thursday 13 June. #6 Porsche Penske Motorsport snatched pole position on the final lap of the session, followed by the #2 Cadillac Racing car. The Cadillac will start from p7 on the grid due to a five-place grid penalty, thanks to Earl Bamber being deemed responsible for the mighty crash at the 6 Hours of Spa. Lining up alongside the Porsche was #3 Cadillac, followed by the two Ferrari AF Corse cars, the cars that qualified on pole and won the 2023 Centenary 24 Hours of Le Mans lurking on the second row. In LMP2, “Spike” roared to victory in Hyperpole, qualifying first with Louis Delétraz at the wheel, while LMGT3 Hyperpole honours went to #70 Inception Racing McLaren 720S LMGT3 Evo, beating championship leaders Manthey PureRxing to pole by 0.8 seconds.

After a remarkably clean start, Nicklas Nielsen in the #50 Ferrari 499P made a great move on Laurens Vanthoor in the #6 Porsche on the opening lap at Indianapolis. It wasn’t long before the #51 Ferrari made it a Ferrari 1-2, relegating the pole Porsche to 3rd. The #3 Cadillac with Le Mans man Sébastian Bourdais at the wheel clung on to that group to apply pressure from 4th. Meanwhile, in LMP2, the #47 COOL Racing car had to pit immediately with a punctured radiator, re-joining the race after a 16 minute stay on pitlane. In LMGT3, Inception Racing continued to lead, with Manthey PureRxing dropping down to 8th. The very rapid #77 Ford Mustang LMGT3 made it up to 2nd and battled hard with the McLaren through the first pit stop session.

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Silk Way Rally Association sanctioned by US Treasury Department

The Silk Way Rally Association, organiser of the eponymous rally raid, was among over 300 entities sanctioned by the United States Department of the Treasury on Wednesday as the Russian invasion of Ukraine continues.

Although the race is ostensibly apolitical, the association is linked to the Main Directorate of the General Staff of the Armed Forces (GRU), the Russian military’s lead intelligence agency. A joint investigation by between Bellingcat, Der Spiegel, Le Monde, and The Insider in April 2023 uncovered communications between the GRU’s Unit 29155 and race director Bulat Yanborisov. The unit is tasked with foreign assassinations and disruption campaigns in the West, which include detonating ammunition depots in the Czech Republic in 2014 and the poisoning of ex-Russian officer Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Britain in 2018. 29155 commander General Andrey Averyanov is also suspected of leading Russia’s military operations in Africa following the demise of Wagner Group’s leadership.

In April, Der Spiegel and The Insider collaborated with 60 Minutes to conclude that the unit was involved in “Havana syndrome”, an alleged illness that American officials reported experiencing overseas, though U.S. intelligence has expressed scepticism of their findings. The report also noted that Alexander Mishkin, one of Skripal’s assassins, and his colleagues travelled between Asia and Europe by disguising themselves as race mechanics.

Yanborisov has received various honours from the GRU and communicated with figures like former Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu, while the 2023 joint investigation uncovered internal documents outlining SWR’s diplomatic capability and support Russia’s geopolitical agenda. For example, the association hoped to promote the Power of Siberia 2 gas pipeline between Russia and China and to preserve political stability in Mongolia; all three countries were to host the 2024 edition in July, though China was subsequently dropped from the route with the plan of returning for 2025. Other projects in the documentation, including a proposed 2022 route that went through nine countries in Central and West Asia, were described by the investigation as an attempt at projecting Russian soft power in the region. SWR officials refuted the report, insisting they had no knowledge of Yanborisov’s activities.

With the 2024 SWR set to begin in one month, the U.S. Treasury Department imposed sanctions focused on the “architecture of Russia’s financial system” as the country shifts to a wartime economy to continue its invasion. The Department of State, who sanctioned the GRU in September 2022, did the same for over 100 others in tandem with the Treasury Department.

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