Graff / Gommendy Tops Timing Screens After First Practice At Circuit Paul Ricard (09.04.18)

Photo: @ParenRaval

Conditions at the Circuit Paul Ricard, Le Castellet, slowly improved throughout the morning session and lap-times fell as drivers became more confident in the tricky conditions. With a resurfaced track and the removal of a chicane, times were always going to be quicker than 2017 where the #21 DragonSpeed ORECA 07 driven by Hedman Lapierre and Hanley was on pole with a 1:52.761

Tristan Gommendy, driving the #39 Graff ORECA 07 he shares wit Alexandra Cougnaud and Jonathan Hirschi, set the fastest time of the four-hour first practice session with a 1:44.012 driven in the dying seconds of a session that saw lap-times tumbling in the final five minutes. Second quickest was the LMP2 category was the #35 SMP Racing Dallara P217 driven by Victor Shaitar.

Third quickest in the LMP2 category was the #32 United Autosports Ligier JSP217 driven by Hugo de Sadeleer, in the car he shaes with Willam Owen and Wayne Boyd

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In the LMP3 class it was the #2 United Autosports Ligier JS P3 which lapped quickest in the hands of Sean Rayhall, defending LMP3 champion, in the car he shares with John Falb. Rahall set a 1:53.081. Second quickest with a 1:53.269 was the #17 Ultimate Ligier driven by Matthieu Lahaye. Completing the top three times in theLMP3 class was the #19 M.Racing-YMR Norma M30 n which David Droux set a 1:53.584.

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Proton Competition set the fastest time of the session in the LMGTE class with a 1:56.548 in the #88 Porsche 911 RSR drven by Gianluca Roda, Giorgio Roda and Matteo Cairoli. Aaron Scott in the #55 Spirit of Race Ferrari F488 GTE was second quickest with a 1:56.766 in the car he shares with Matthew Griffin and Duncan Cameron.

Third quickest in the LMGTE class was the #66 Ferrari of defending champions JMW Motorsport driven by Liam Griffin, Alex Macdowall and Miguel Molina.

The track reopens at 14:00 local for a four-hour session prior to a one-hour break after which there will be a two-hour night session. No further rain is forecast for Monday.

 

 

2018 European Le Mans Series Opens With Test Days At Circuit Paul Ricard (08.04.18)

Photo: @ParenRaval

The 2018 European Le Mans Series season opens with two days of testing at Circuit Paul Ricard, Le Castellet on Monday and Tuesday April 9 – 10, ahead of the opening round on April 15.

Teams arrived and garages were prepared on Sunday April 8 with participants being greeted with warm and dry conditions combined with a very strong wind. This is in contrast to the  forecast for Monday which predicts heavy rain with the wet conditions potentially continuing into  Monday.

The programme for Monday and Tuesday is designed to allow maximum track-time for the 2018 European Le Mans Series grid.

The programme for the two days of testing starts on Monday April 9 at 09:00 when the circuit opens for testing until 13:00. After a one-hour lunch break the track re-opens at 14:00 until 18:00. The day finishes with a two-hour night session, finishing at 21:00.

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Photo: @ParenRaval

The track is open for a total of a seven hours on Tuesday, starting at 09:00.

With 45 cars entered for the season, 19 in LMP2, 18 in LMP3 and 8 in LMGTE this promises to be a highly-competitive season with the opening two test days just a taste of what is in store.

 

 

 

British GT Championship Stewards Award Full Points For Oulton Park’s Shortened Race Two. (05.04.18)

After much deliberation, the British GT Championship stewards have declared that full points will be awarded for the shortened Round Two of the 2018 championship at Oulton Park.

The race started behind the Safety Car as torrential rain fell on the Cheshire circuit and the field drove four laps before being asked to form up on the grid under parc ferme rules.

As conditions did not improve, the Clerk of the Course abandoned the race and the rest of the day’s activities on safety grounds.

After initial thoughts were that the race would be declared and void, it emerged on Wednesday April 4 that was not necessarily the case.

The result of Race Two is effectively the same as the qualifying positions with the GT3 class win going to the #33 Barwell Lamborghini Huracan GT3 of Jon Minshaw and Phil Keen with the GT4 win going to the #66 Team Parker Racing Ltd Mercedes-AMG GT4 of Nick Jones and Scott Malvern.

The British GT Championship now moves to Rockingham Motor Speedway on April 28 /29.

“The Car Felt Really Strong” – Team HARD’s Benjamin Wallace Pleased With The Opening Weekend For the 2018 British GT Championship. (03.04.18)

Photo: BritishGT.com / Jakob Ebrey

Southport-based Benjamin Wallace enjoyed a confident start to his 2018 British GT Championship campaign despite the wet weather at the opening rounds of the series at Oulton Park. Wallace, driver of the #88 Team HARD Ginetta G55 GT4 he shared with William Phillips, left the Cheshire circuit full of optimism for the rest of the season. The weekend, and especially race-day (Bank Holiday Monday – April 2) had been hampered with rain which ultimately led to the abandonment of the meeting shortly after the delayed start for second race of the day for the British GT grid.

The #88 Team HARD Ginetta G55 GT4, piloted by Phillips and Wallace, had qualified eighth in the GT4S class for Monday’s first 60-minute race, which itself had a delayed start and ran behind the safety-car for the first three laps due to the wet circuit.

Despite the challenges of the damp track, Ben Wallace, and co-driver William Phillips, finished seventh in the GT4 Silver class in Round One of the UK’s premier national GT series.

Benjamin Wallace was pleased at the outcome of the weekend.

“It was the second time I had driven at Oulton Park in the Ginetta so I was still getting familiar with it. William and I worked on finding a good set-up for the car and we were pleased with how the car improved, and the lap-times we set, as the weekend progressed,” said the Bolton College student.

“The team had continued to work on the set-up after the first race and, going into Round Two, the car felt really strong and a great improvement on where we had been on Friday on Saturday so, yes, it was frustrating to drive behind the safety-car for thirty minutes. However the safety of drivers and marshals is paramount so Will and I completely understood why the decision was made to red-flag the race.”

The British GT Championship now moves to Rockingham Motor Speedway in Corby for Round Three on April 28 – 29, a circuit that Benjamin Wallace is familiar with from his time in the VW Racing Cup and the VAG Trophy, in which he finished third in 2017.

“I’ve raced at Rockingham in the VWs and I had a good weekend there, finishing second and third,” said Benjamin. “It’s now about getting used to it again in the Ginetta G55 GT4, a rear-wheel drive car which is very different to the front-wheel drive Golfs I drove there previously. I’m looking forward to it and I’m taking a lot of confidence to Rockingham Motor Speedway.”

Win For Haigh/Adam In British GT Championship R1 At Oulton Park. Victory For Barnicoat/Balon In GT4 – Amended (02.04.18)

Photo: BritishGT / Jakob Ebrey

Flick Haigh and Jonny Adam, driving the #75 Optimum Motorsport Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3, got the 2018 British GT Championship to a flying start by winning the opening round from pole position.

Second across the line, and 28.243 seconds back, was the #99 Beechdean AMR Aston Martin of Andrew Howard and, taking the second stint, Darren Turner, Beechdean returning to the premier national GT Championship after a year out to focus on the European Le Mans Series.

Taking the final podium step in the GT3 category, and pushing hard in the final laps, was the #116 ERC Sport Mercedes-AMG GT3 of Lee Mowle and, driving to the line, Mercedes factory driver Yelmer Buurman. The #116 entry finished just .251 seconds behind Turner in the #99 Beechdean entry.

In the GT4 category it was the #72 Track-Club McLaren 570s GT4 driven by Adam Balon and Ben Barnicoat that took the class win. Second in the GT4 class was the #42 Century Motorsport BMW M4 GT4 piloted by Ben Tuck and Ben Green with the final podium position in the GT4 class going to the #4 Tolman Motorsports Ltd McLaren 570S GT4 driven by Michael O’Brien and Charlie Fagg.

The race start was delayed by some 45 minutes due to repairs to barrier damage that occurred earlier in the morning. The 60-minute race was started behind the safety-car and was green-flagged after three laps.

Due to the slippery conditions, the first few minutes were frantic but Haigh, behind the wheel of the #75 Optimum Motorsport entry held on to the lead with Rick Parfitt Jnr in the #1 Team Parker Racing Bentley struggling in the wet.

Join Minshaw in the #33 Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini Huracán took the most advantage of the challenging conditions by moving from seventh on the grid to second, 6.8 seconds behind Haigh in the #75 entry. Andrew Howard in the #99 Beechdean entry also enjoyed a solid start, moving in to third position.

As the race moved towards the driver-change and pit-stop window. Minshaw had closed to within three seconds of Haigh with Howard in the #99 car just under 17 seconds behind in third place.

After the driver changes had cycled through, Jonny Adam, 2017 24 Hours of Le Mans winner in the LMGTE Pro class, continued to hold the lead in the #75 Aston but Phil Keen, now behind the wheel of the #33 Barwell entry continued to push hard to close to just over a second behind Adam. Darren Turner, meanwhile, in the #99 Beechdean Aston Martin, having taken over from Andrew Howard, held on to third place in class.

Bad luck was to hit Phil Keen, however, after contact with the #50 HHC Motorsport Ginetta with Will Burns at the wheel caused damage to the right rear wheel of the3 #33 Lamborghini. Keen was forced to stop for a tyre change which dropped him out of contention for a podium finish.

Darren Turner then took over second place but Yelmer Buurman, now behind the wheel of the #116 ERC Sport Mercedes-AMG GT3 now had the bit between his teeth and pushed the Englishman hard over the closing laps, finishing just over a quarter of a second behind the #99 entry as they took the chequered flag.

Flick Haigh and Jonny Adam were delighted at the result in their first time out in the #75 Optimum Motorsport Aston Martin. Haigh was the first to acknowledge the support that Jonny Adam had given her.

“it’s helped because he knows the Aston inside-out and inside knowledge is everything so I’ve learned it a lot quicker,” she said.

Haigh was conscious of how hard Jon Minshaw was pushing in the #33 Barwell Lamborghini as they approached the driver changes:

“I wasn’t pushing too hard and then I saw him in my mirrors and I thought ‘Oh God, here we go’ but no, I brought it in with enough to spare. The last time I was here I was airlifted to hospital (after nasty Caterham accident) so today been a much better day!”

Jonny Adam was pleased for the team to have taken the win in its first race with new car.

“It was obviously quite greasy at the end there so it was about managing (the race from the lead) It’s a great result for the team. They’re a new customer to Aston so to win first time out (was great) and Flick drove tremendously well all week and through the weekend.”

ABBB a.a. 18.04.02

In GT4 Callum Pointon, driving the #55 HHC Motorsport Ginetta G55 GT4, led the first half of the race from Michael O’Brien in the #4 Tolman Motorsport McLaren 570S GT4 with Ricky Collard, at the wheel of the #43 Century Motorsport BMW M4 GT4 in third.

After the driver changes had cycled through, it was Ben Barnicoat in the #72 Track-Club McLaren that held the class lead, with Ben Green second in the #42 Century Motorsport BMW. The top three positions in class remained unchanged through to the chequered flag.

“We had a very tough week preparing for this event,” said a delighted Barnicoat. ”I’ve got to say huge thanks to everyone at McLaren Automotive and Track-Club for really working hard and getting us on the grid. If it wasn’t for them we really wouldn’t be here so to be on the top step is a big reward for everyone’s hard work.”

Barnicoat is keen to capitalize on the team’s momentum going into Round Two.

“We’ll try in the second race. We start sixth and we started tenth (in the first race). I’m praying it keeps on raining – a few less cars to overtake so no reason why (we can’t have a good result).”

Team mate Adam Balon was also complimentary of Barnicoat’s drive.

“It is the best possible start. Ben doesn’t have a lot of experience round here but it just shows what a good driver he is.”

“This seems to be a lucky circuit for me. In the wet – at Oulton Park, you wouldn’t have thought but there you go.”

Race Two is scheduled for 15:25 on Monday April 2.

Amendedment – Subsequent of the end of the race, the #42 Century Motorsport entry was moved down the field as a result of a pit-lane speed infringement. The penalty meant that the #43 Century Motorsport BMW M4 GT4 of Robb Collard and Jack Mitchell was promoted to the final podium position.

"When you're racing, it's life. Anything that happens before or after is…. just waiting. " Steve McQueen – "Le Mans" – 1971