Toyota / Kobayashi Quickest In Le Mans Free Practice (13.06.18)

Photo: FIAWEC.com

Kamui Kobayashi, driving the #7 Toyota Gazoo Racing TS050-Hybrid he shares with Mike Conway and José Maria López, went quickest in Free Practice for the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the first track running for the 24 Hours grid since the Test Day on Sunday June 3.

Kobayashi lapped the Circuit de la Sarthe in 3:18.718, nearly half a second quicker than Sébastien Buemi in the #8 Toyota who put in a 3:19.275 in the car he shares with Kazuki Nakajima and McLaren Formula One driver Fernando Alonso, making his La Sarthe debut in 2018.

Completing the top three on the time-sheets in the premier category was the first of the non-hybrids, the #3 Rebellion Racing Rebellion R13 in which Thomas Laurent lapped the 13.626 kms circuit in 3:19.426, laying a marker down as to how competitive the non-hybrid class will be in 2018.

The LMP2 class time-sheets were led Jean-Éric Vergne in the #26 G-DRIVE Racing Gibson-powered ORECA 07. Vergne’s team-mates for the 2018 24 Hours of Le Mans are Roman Rusinov and Andrea Pizzitola.

Second quickest in the LMP2 class the #48 IDEC Sport ORECA 07 in which Paul-Loup Chatin put in a 3:27.054.

The LM GTE Pro category was confidently led by the three of the four Porsche GT Team entries with the #93 Porsche 911 RSR lapping in 3:50.121 to top the time-sheets in the hands of Partrick Pilet. Laurens Vanthoor was second quickest in the #92 entry with a 3:50.859 while the sister #91 entry was fractionally slower with a 3:50.862 in the hands of Gianmaria Bruni.

Porsche also topped the time-sheets in the LM GTE AM class with 3:52.903 from the #88 Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche 911 RSR driven by Matteo Cairoli in the car he shares with Khaled Al Qubaisi and Giorgio Roda.

There were struggles for the CEFC TRSM Racing Mecachrome-powered Ginetta G60-LT P1s, the #5 and #6 entries who, desperate to put some mileage on the new-for-2018 cars, managed five laps apiece.

The #4 Bykolles Racing Team Enso CLM P1/01 only managed three laps with a 3:23.795 being set by Tom Dillmann.

The four-hour session was conducted in warm and dry conditions with air temperatures reaching over 22 degrees and track temperatures peaking in excess of 30 degrees.

With the weather expected to revert to variable conditions on Thursday June 14 for the two qualifying sessions, it is likely that many teams will attempt an all-out qualifying lap as the temperatures start to drop for the two-hour qualifying session beginning at 22:00.

“I’m Very Excited To See What We’ve Got” – Jenson Button Speaks To EnduranceandGT. (12.06.18)

Photo: Roger Jenkins

2009 Formula One World Champion, who left McLaren at the end of the 2016 season to pursue other motorsport interests, is contesting his first 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2018

Button is part of the driver line-up for the #11 SMP Racing BR Engineering BR1-AER entry, with teammates Vitaly Petrov and Mikhail Aleshin.

Jenson took two minutes out of his busy race-week build-up to speak to EnduranceandGT Editor Andy Lloyd about his thoughts on the French classic and the challenges of racing on motorsport’s biggest stage.

Jenson, now that we are in to race-week, how are you feeling about making your debut at the Circuit de la Sarthe?

“I’m looking forward to it . The race is just around the corner but also so far away. It’s a long, long week here but I’m very excited to get in the car and see what we’ve got and then get underway for the 24 Hours.”

What is the biggest challenge for a highly skilled single-seater driver coming in to endurance racing like this?

“I think for a lot of people it would be the traffic, the difference in speeds and the closing speeds. Also it’s just completely different to a Formula One car. I’ve enjoyed it so far but I still need more laps in the car to get fully acquainted with it but I’m enjoying the process.”

First Practice for the 2018 running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans begins at 16:00 on Wednesday June 13 with the lights going out for the start of the race at 15:00 on Saturday June 16.

“It Was Our Best Weekend Of The Season So Far” – Ben Wallace Enjoys Positive Outing At Silverstone (12.06.18)

Photo: Paren Raval

Ben Wallace, driver of the #88 Team HARD Ginetta G55, enjoyed his best weekend of the season so far with a solid seventh place finish in class and making up eleven places on his qualifying position for Round Seven of the 2018 British GT Championship.

Driving for the first time in 2018 with Alex Reed, Southport-based Ben Wallace was very pleased with how the new driving partnership developed over the course of the Silverstone weekend,

“It was the first time I had met Alex and we got on very well,” said Ben. “He has a lot of experience both race-wise and testing so I felt he was the ideal person for me to gain experience from. As this was the first time I had raced on the Silverstone GP circuit, Alex’s experience and advice helped me a lot.”

Continue reading “It Was Our Best Weekend Of The Season So Far” – Ben Wallace Enjoys Positive Outing At Silverstone (12.06.18)

“We’re Very Satisfied With Where We Are” – Eurasia Motorsport’s Tracy Krohn Enjoys Record-Breaking Run With Co-Driver Niclas Jönsson. (11.06.18)

Photo: Eurasia Motorsport

Tracy Krohn, driver of the #44 Eurasia Motorsport Ligier JSP 217 with teammates Niclas Jönsson and Andrea Bertolini is looking forward to the 2018 24 Hours of Le Mans, having last driven a prototype at the Circuit de la Sarthe in 2016 in a Ligier JS P2, under the old regulations.

“We’re very comfortable with the car,” said Krohn. “This is a much faster car than we had last year (the #83 DH Racing Ferrari F488) . We’re very satisfied with where we are and the team has worked together very well.”

Tracy Krohn commented on the cockpit dimensions of the latest generation Ligier P2 prototype when speaking at Scrutineering for the 2018 running of the French classic.

“It’s true that the cockpit is certainly smaller than it was in the previous car but my team-mates Niclas and Andrea fit in it quite well so that’s one positive. Nic, of course, has been with us for thirteen years and this is the second year for Andrea so we’ll get through it!”

Tracy Krohn is very happy that the driving partnership with Jönsson has lasted into its second decade.

“Yes, it’s a real positive for the team. Nic and I are, of course, very good friends. It’s delightful to drive with him.”

Niclas Jönsson is under no illusions that there is still much to be learned about the Ligier JSP217.

“Yes, it’s a fantastic car,” said Jönsson. “Obviously ORECA has a good car too but to be back in a P2 car here at Le Mans is fantastic. As Tracy has already said, it’s faster than we ran here three years ago so it’s still a learning curve for us. Neither me or Tracy has been in one of these cars for two years so it’s a learning curve to get up to speed but the team we have behind us and the support from Onroak is very good so we feel very confident going into the race.”

First Practice for the 24 Hours of Le Mans grid gets underway at 16:00 local time on Wednesday June 13.

“Let’s Make Sure We Finish This Race’ – #25 Algarve Pro Racing Crew In Determined Mood at Le Mans Scrutineering (11.06.18)

Photo: europeanlemansseries.com

The crew of the #25 Algarve Pro Racing Ligier JSP217 attended Scrutineering in Le Mans town centre today on Monday June 11 in the middle of another torrential downpour that may have soaked the surroundings but did nothing to dampen the determination of the multi-national driving trio..

The line-up of American Mark Patterson, Dutchman Ate de Jong and Korean Tack Sung Kim, who are currently lying joint fifteenth in the 2018 European Le Mans Series LMP2 Teams Standings, are approaching the French classic very much remembering the old racing adage: “To finish first, first you have to finish” and are looking for a mistake-free run when the flag drops at 15:00 on Sunday June 16.

For Ate de Jong, 2018 will be his first entry in the 24 Hours of Le Mans and, for him, the rise to the top of the endurance racing world has been rapid but not unexpected.

“I’m 50 years old and married with two kids,” said de Jong. “I have lived in Manila in the Philippines for ten years now and I left the Netherlands twenty years ago. I started racing in 2016 with the Asian Le Mans Sprint cup in LMP3 and then I did the Asian Le Mans Series in an LMP3. Last season I did LMP2 in the Asian Le Mans Series and then this year I’m doing the European Le Mans Series in LMP2.”

1988 Le Mans winner and fellow countryman Jan Lammers, who had appeared on the same stage just minutes before, heavily influenced De Jong as a young man.

“Jan Lammers was my idol when I was a little kid and I saw those Group C cars in the ‘80s and early ‘90s. Then, of course, I already had the dream to go to Le Mans. I have achieved my dream within a certain time frame even though I’m 50. It’s amazing for me! It’s ‘magnifique!”

Although this is de Jong’s first entry into the 24 Hours of Le Mans, this is not his first time on the Circuit de La Sarthe.

“Last year I did the ‘Road To Le Mans’ race in the LMP3 and I did around 20 to 30 laps but in an LMP2 it is a bit faster than LMP3. It’s an amazing circuit and it really suits me. I like the long straights and the Porsche Curves. It is, for me, the best circuit in the world.”

Team-mate Tak Sung Kim is proud that he will be the first Korean driver to start the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

“It was my dream since I was a kid watching the Steve McQueen movie; ‘Le Mans’,” said Kim. “I started racing in Asia in the Asian Le Mans Series and this year I’m racing in the European Le Mans Series. I’m very happy about this.”

“My target is to finish the race safely and don’t take any risks so that’s my first goal. Hopefully we can we have a good result. I don’t want to make any mistakes!”

Mark Patterson, competing in his sixth 24 Hours of Le Mans is also determined to finish the grueling race.

“This will be my sixth 24 Hours of Le Mans and I’ve finished all of the first five so, as Tak says, let’s make sure we finish this race.”

The lights go out for the 24 Hours of Le Mans at 15:00 on Saturday June 16.

Notes From Le Mans (Sunday 10.06.18)

Photo: Roger Jenkins

Sunday of race-week being the traditional departure date for the EnduranceandGT team for the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Editor Andy Lloyd and Le Mans photographer Roger Jenkins set off from Kent to begin the seven-or-so hour journey (via P & O Ferries – Dover to Calais) to our base for the week in a small village about 15 minutes north of Le Mans city centre.

The journey was largely uneventful, French roads being a joy compared to South-East England and, it being a Sunday, there was very little commercial traffic on the road.

All was going well until we arrived at base-camp and unpacked everything in readiness for set-up. To cut a long story short, as we were assembling our large, and extremely confortable tent, a thunderstorm struck and we were caught in a torrential down-pour. Beyond the point of turning back at that stage, we persevered and the tent was put up. It was, however, a painful exercise and we were both soaked by the time we had finished.

After drying out somewhat and preparing some dinner, we headed into Le Mans itself. The day’s events at scrutineering had long-since finished by the time we arrived but a leisurely coffee was enjoyed in the Place de la Republique in the warm and humid evening conditions.

The point about the weather is not that it was inconvenient today – bad weather and camping are old friends after all and a week in a tent in the Pays de la Loire would not be the same without a cloud-burst at some point. The point is that the weather forecast is mixed for much of the week and that will make for fascinating practice and qualifying sessions.

Tomorrow, Monday June 11, sees the continuation of scrutineering in the town centre which is always fund to attend. The first car up for scrutineering is the #29 Racing Team Nederland Dallara P217 at 09:30 and, with the exception of the Corvettes who went through scrutineering on Sunday, all theLM GTE Pro field will be the centre of Le Mans on Monday.

At the circuit, set-up and administrative checks continue with the official photo for the ‘Road To Le Mans’ grid at 17:00. The long build-up to the Great Race continues!

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