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Toyota Le Mans Racer Goes Off Track, Takes Roundabout, Keeps Third

le mans 24 hour race practice qualifying
Toyota Le Mans Racer Takes Roundabout, Keeps ThirdJames Moy Photography - Getty Images

The 24 Hours of Le Mans is hosted on an 8.5-mile "hybrid" circuit, one with a section of permanent road course and a section of temporary track constructed out of nearby public roads. That means a few of the track's corners spend most of their year as intersections, and that can make trips off track awkward. As Toyota ace and track record holder Kamui Kobayashi found out, simply following the rules of the road will get you back on track even when you wander onto the streets that are not a part of the race.

Kobayashi went off track on one of those corners in treacherous partially-wet conditions, then slid left while skidding through the runoff area. Typically, a driver would jam on the brakes here and wait patiently for a chance to spin the car around and re-join the race. Kobayashi, though, is an expert: he noticed that the runoff area led to what would otherwise be a roundabout if the race were not happening, which he then followed until he found his exit. He made a full loop, exited the roundabout, and went back on his way without ever actually stopping.

Kobayashi, who won this race with Toyota back in 2021 and uniquely serves off track as the Gazoo Racing team's principal, did not actually lose a position in the exchange. His No. 7 Toyota GR010 still sits in third after seven hours of racing, meaning he and the No. 7 Toyota team still have a chance for the first-ever roundabout-and-win at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

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