Aaron Mason Joins RCIB Insurance Racing Team HARD For British GT

Doncaster-born Aaron Mason is joining the RCIB Insurance Racing for the third round of the 2016 British GT Championship. Mason replaces Wilson Thompson who has departed the team after only two rounds. He will partner Rob Barrable in the #75 Ginetta G55 GT4

Mason has an extensive motorsport CV having won the Volkswagen Racing Cup Great Britain in both 2013 and 2015. He also has experience in the Creventic 24 Hour Series and the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship.

Mason will drive the #75 Ginetta G55 GT4 for the first time in a test at Brands Hatch on May 24.

Mason has close ties with Team HARD owner Tony Gilham and this has led to the opportunity to step into the British GT Championship in the third round. Continue reading Aaron Mason Joins RCIB Insurance Racing Team HARD For British GT

Packed Grid For 2016 Road To Le Mans

The Automobile Club de l’Ouest, in cooperation with Le Mans Endurance Management, has announced the entry list for the 2016 ‘Road to Le Mans’.

Intended to allow drivers an opportunity to enjoy and experience the full 24 Heures du Mans circuit and to introduce top-level prototype and GT3 racing to teams and drivers possibly not familiar with Circuit de la Sarthe, 39 cars will take to the grid for a race start at 11:10 on Saturday June 18.

For the LMP3 class, entries were invited from teams who have competed, or are currently competing, in an ACO series. Although results from the one hour race will not count towards the European Le Mans Series LMP3 championship, it will constitute the second round of the Michelin GT3 Le Mans Cup. The first round of the Michelin GT3 Le Mans Cup was held at Imola on May 15. Continue reading Packed Grid For 2016 Road To Le Mans

Tequila Patrón ESM Announces Paul Mitchell Systems As Primary Sponsor For Le Mans

Riviera Beach, Florida-based, Tequila Patrón ESM has announced that Paul Mitchell Systems will be its primary sponsor at the 2016 24 Hours of Le Mans.

The striking black-and-white livery will first be seen at the Test Day on Sunday June 5.

Paul Mitchell Systems is a leading global provider of hair care systems with estimated annual revenues in excess of $1bn. The company was started in 1980 by John Paul DeJoria and Paul Mitchell. DeJoria is co- owner of the Patrón Spirits Company with President, CEO race car driver Ed Brown. Team Owner Scott Sharp is excited that Paul Mitchell Systems will be primary sponsor on the team’s 2016 Le Mans campaign.

“Everyone at Tequila Patrón ESM welcomes Paul Mitchell to our team and the largest motorsports event in the world, the 24 Hours of Le Mans,” said Sharp. “We are excited to showcase this incredible brand to the millions of fans that will be watching us go to the top step of the podium.”

“We are so excited that Paul Mitchell has finally arrived to Le Mans racing,” said Paul Mitchell CEO and company founder John Paul DeJoria. “Our world distributors are looking forward to the race, and all of us thank our family, Patrón Spirits, for making this possible. This Tequila Patrón ESM team won both Sebring and Daytona. Look out France, here we come!”

Tequila Patrón ESM has enjoyed a spectacular start to the season, winning the first two rounds of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship at the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona and the Twelve Hours of Sebring. It also took two second places in class in the FIA World Endurance Championship at Silverstone and Spa-Francorchamps.

The 2016 running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans takes place on June 18 and 19.

Thiriet by TDS Racing Wins Rain-Soaked ELMS At Imola

The #46 Thiriet by TDS Racing Nissan—powered ORECA 05, driven by Pierre Thiriet, Ryō Hirakawa and Mathias Beche, took the top step of the podium at the second round of the European Le Mans Series at Imola.

Second was the #38 G-Drive Racing Gibson 015S in which Simon Dolan took the start, followed by Harry Tincknell and Giedo Van der Garde. Taking the last podium position was the #21 DragonSpeed ORECA 05-Nissan, driven by Nicolas Lapierre, Henrik Hedman and Ben Hanley.

The race finished in a frustrating manner for competitors and spectators alike as torrential rain forced the organisers to call a full course yellow with an hour to go. The race was then further neutralised by a safety car, under which it finished.

In LMP2 the pole-sitting #21 DragonSpeed with Lapierre at the wheel led from from the start. The #23 Panis-Barthez Compétition Ligier JS P2, with Paul-Loup Chatin driving, took the lead after an hour during the driver changes. As the raced approached the half-way mark Ryō Hirakawa, at the wheel of the #46 Thiriet by TDS Racing ORECA 05, overtook Fabien Barthez in the #23 car for the lead and thereafter the #46 car controlled the race from the front.

The #38 G-Drive Racing Gibson 015S had a promising beginning to the four hour race when Simon Dolan took the start for the Kent-based team from fifth on the grid and handed the car over to Harry Tincknell in the same position. Tincknell pushed hard to get the car into the podium positions and Giedo Van der Garde had got the car into second place with the promise of more to come when the rain struck. It was clear the venerable Gibson 015S had the pace but the lengthy full course yellow and safety car did not allow the team the opportunity to push for the lead.

In LMP3 the #2 United Autosports Ligier JS P3, driven by Alex Brundle, Michael Guasch and Christian England took the victory, the car’s second of the season, to gain a commanding lead in the series. The #2 car passed the sister #3 car in the opening stages of the race, the #3 car, driven by Mark Patterson, Matthew Bell and Wayne Boyd, eventually finishing seventh in class due to having to serve a drive-through penalty.

Second in the LMP3 class was the #11 Eurointernational Ligier JS P3 driven by Giorgio Mondini, Andrea Roda and Marco Jacobini, a car that ran strongly throughout the race. Taking the final podium spot was the #16 Panis-Barthez Compétition Ligier JS P3 driven by Éric Debard, Valentin Moineault and Simon Gachet, concluding a satisfying day for the French team.

LMGTE was dominated by the #77 Proton Competition Porsche 911 RSR 991 driven by Michael Hedlund, Wolf Henzler and Robert Renauer. The #77 car led the class from the start with Renauer putting in a faultless opening double stint. Although the team knew the car was competitive, the pace and consistency of the car was undoubtedly a very pleasant surprise for the Ummendorf-based team. Second in class was the #66 JMW Motorsport Ferrari F458 Italia with its driver line-up of Robert Smith, Rory Butcher and Andrea Bertolini. Third was the #56 AT Racing Ferrari F458 Italia driven by Duncan Cameron, Matt Griffin and Aaron Scott.

In the Teams Classification the #38 G-Drive Racing leads LMP2 with 43 points. LMP3 is led by the #2 United Autosports entry with 50 points while the #99 Aston Martin Racing V8 Vantage leads the LMGTE category with 35 points.

The third round of the 2016 European Le Mans Series will be held at the Red Bull Ring in Austria on July 17.

TF Sport Takes Inaugural Michelin GT3 Le Mans Cup Victory At Imola

Redhill, Surrey-based TF Sport won the inaugural round of the Michelin GT3 Le Mans Cup, a six-round championship which runs alongside the European Le mans Series.

The #34 Aston Martin V12 Vantage, with Salih Yoluc from Turkey taking the lead-off driving stint, lead from the first corner after an incident between the #88 Mentos Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R driven by Egido Perfetti and the pole-sitting #7 BMS Scuderia Italia Ferrari F458 Italia of Luigi Lucchini. The incident resulted in a drive-through penalty for the #88 car and it pitted after four laps, after which it did not rejoin.

Yoluc in the #34 car was then able to pull away from the pack before he passed the car to Euan Hankey. Hankey finished over 16 seconds clear of the #55 FFF Racing Team by ACM Mclaren 650S driven by Adrian Quaife-Hobbs and Hiroshi Hamaguchi. The second FFF Racing Team by ACM car, the #5 Lamborghini Huracán GT3 did not start due to damage sustained in the first practice session.

The final podium slot was taken by the #26 Classic & Modern Racing Ferrari F458 Italia GT3 driven by Matthieu Vaxiviere and Nicolas Misslin. The #26 car finished just over 3 seconds ahead of the #51 AF Corse Ferrari F488 driven by Francesco Castellaci who was handed the car by Thomas Flohr. Castellaci was rapidly closing the gap to the #25 car but ran out of laps to claim a podium position.

Although the first round of the new-for-2016 Michelin GT3 Le Mans Cup yielded a modest field, it is clear how this series has been positioned to be attractive to the European-based amateur driver. After a race set in the picturesque landscape of the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari in Imola, this championship is bound to attract a lot of attention.

As an additional, and huge, incentive, the winners of the championship earn an entry into the 2017 24 Hours of Le Mans

The cars will next see track action in the ‘Road to Le Mans’ race as part of the build-up to the 24 Hours of Le Mans on June 18.

Pole for DragonSpeed at Imola ELMS

Florida-based DragonSpeed, in its debut season in the European Le Mans Series, took pole in qualifying for the second round of the championship at Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari in Imola.

The #21 DragonSpeed ORECA 05-Nissan with Nicolas Lapierre at the wheel lapped in 1:33.780 to take pole by just under 1/10 of a second from the #46 Thiriet by TDS Racing ORECA 05-Nissan driven by Mathis Beche who lapped in 1:33.815.

In third place on the grid for Sunday May 15’s four hour race is the #23 Panis-Barthez Compétition Ligier JS P2. Paul-Loup Chatin, who was quickest in both of the previous free practice sessions, lapped in an identical time to the second place car. As the #46 car had established the time a lap earlier, the #23 car will line up on the grid in third place.

In LPM3, in a grid that consists entirely of Nissan-powered Ligier JS P3 chassis, United Autosports enjoyed another solid performance, placing its cars first and third in class on the grid.

The #3 United Autosports car took the class pole with a 1:39.256 with Wayne Boyd at the wheel. The #11 Eurointernational car with Giorgio Mondini driving was second in class with a 1:39.401. Alex Brundle will line up third in class for United Autosports in the #2 car after he lapped in 1:39.623.

Proton Competition will also line up first and third in the LMGTE class for Sunday’s race after Wolf Henzler lapped in 1:41.269 in the #77 Porsche 911 RSR 991 to take class pole. Klaus Bachler in the sister #66 car qualified third in after he put in a 1:41.397. Splitting the two Porsche 911 RSR 991s is the JMW Motorsport #66 Ferrari F458 Italia which lapped in 1:41.310 with Andrea Bertolini at the wheel.

The LMGTE field will be missing one entrant after Formula Racing had to withdraw its #60 Ferrari F458 Italia after damage sustained in FP2 proved impossible to repair in time for the race on Sunday.

The 4 Hours of Imola, the second round of the 2016 European Le Mans Series, starts at 14:00 local time on Sunday May 15.