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Audi wins fourth straight 24 Hours of Le Mans

Audi Motorsports chief Wolfgang Ullrich, second left, and drivers Allan McNish, left, and Tom Kristensen, right, acknowledge the death of Aston Martin’s Allan Simonsen on the podium.

Associated Press

Audi Motorsports chief Wolfgang Ullrich, second left, and drivers Allan McNish, left, and Tom Kristensen, right, acknowledge the death of Aston Martin’s Allan Simonsen on the podium.

LE MANS, France — Audi won the 24 Hours of Le Mans for the fourth straight year Sunday and dedicated its victory to Allan Simonsen, the first driver to die in the endurance race since 1997.

Tom Kristensen, Allan McNish and Loic Duval of Audi No. 2 finished one lap ahead of Toyota No. 8 driven by Anthony Davidson, Sebastien Buemi and Stephane Sarrazin.

"This one is for Allan Simonsen," a tearful Kristensen said. "A fantastic driver."

Simonsen, 34, spun his Aston Martin on Saturday only 10 minutes into the race. He skidded into the barrier at the Tertre Rouge corner, where cars typically reach 105 mph.

"Obviously, this horrible incident dampens the joy about another great Le Mans victory for Audi," Ullrich said on the team's website. "This is the first fatal accident we've had to witness in 15 Le Mans years. I hope it'll remain the last."

Aston Martin Racing stayed in the race at the family's request.

Sebastien Enjolras lost his life during prequalifying in 1997. The last driver fatality during the race itself was Jo Gartner in 1986.

"It was a complicated race," Duval said. "It's a reminder that it's a dangerous sport."

This was Duval's first win at Le Mans but the third for McNish and the ninth for Kristensen, who extended his record for most titles by a driver.

Audi earned its 12th title at Le Mans, four shy of Porsche's record. The winning trio completed 348 laps in 24 hours on the 8½ mile Circuit de la Sarthe.

IndyCar: James Hinchcliffe cruised to victory in the Iowa Corn 250, leading all but 24 of 250 laps as he became the series' first three-time winner this season and gave Andretti Autosport its fourth consecutive victory at Newton, Iowa's oval.

Ryan Hunter-Reay, Hinchcliffe's teammate, was second, followed by Tony Kanaan.

"I've watched guys win races like this on TV, and my whole career I thought, 'I just don't get it. How do they do that?' … And now I know," said Hinchcliffe, who is 66 points behind series leader Helio Castroneves. "Man, it feels good to do it like that."

NHRA: Courtney Force claimed a Funny Car final victory against her father at the New England Nationals in Epping, N.H. Courtney Force earned her third career victory, improving to 4-2 against her father, John Force, a 15-time world champion. Spencer Massey (Top Fuel) and Allen Johnson (Pro Stock) won their respective classifications.

Audi wins fourth straight 24 Hours of Le Mans 06/23/13 [Last modified: Sunday, June 23, 2013 10:39pm]
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