Audi Sport Team Joest Take Victory In FIA WEC Thriller

The #8 Audi Sport Team Joest R18, driven by Lucas Di Grassi, Loïc Duval and Oliver Jarvis, took the chequered flag after a thrilling 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps which saw all three manufacturers take the lead over the course of the race.

In second place was the #2 Porsche Team 919 Hybrid driven by Romain Dumas, Neel Jani and Marc Lieb. The #13 Rebellion Racing R-One AER, driven by Mathéo Tuchser, Dominik Kraihamer and Alexandre Imperatori took the final podium slot.

The LPM1 class was closely fought. Technical issues were widespread, however, across the class. The #5 Toyota Gazoo Racing TS050-Hybrid gained an early advantage, only to lose the lead after three hours due to mechanical problem. The car then remained in the garage, only to return to complete one final lap under hybrid power in order to score championship points. The sister #6 Toyota, driven by Stéphane Sarazin, Mike Conway and Kamui Kobayashi retired after four hours with electronics issues.

Despite its second place, Porsche also had a difficult day. The #1 Porsche 919 Hybrid, driven by Brendon Hartley, Mark Webber and Timo Bernhard led at the start, only to suffer a series of punctures and a gearbox failure which meant the car had to be worked on in the garage for over 90 minutes, to emerge with just enough time to complete enough laps to gain points.

Rebellion Racing enjoyed what must have been a very satisfying result for the team. The #13 R-One-AER, driven by Mathéo Tuscher, Dominik Kraihamer and Alexandra Imperatori finished third, the best ever FIA World Endurance Championship finish for the Swiss-based team. The #12 sister car, driven by Nicolas Prost, Nelson Piquet Jr and Nick Heidfeld finished fourth, ensuring that then team took maximum LMP1 Privateer points from the race.

The result means that Porsche now lead the FIA World Endurance Championship with 54 points, followed by Toyota on 45 and Audi on 41. Lieb, Jani and Dumas lead the Drivers Championship with 43 points each.

LMP2 also witnessed close battles. The class was won by the #36 Signatech Alpine A460-Nissan driven by Gustavo Menezes, Nicolas Lapierre and Stéphane Richelmi. Second was the #31 Extreme Speed Motorsports Ligier JS P2 driven by Ryan Dalziel, Pipo Derani and Christopher Cumming. Taking the final podium spot was the #45 Manor Ligier JS P2 driven by Matt Rao, Richard Bradley and Roberto Mehri.

The early class lead was taken by the #26 G-Drive Racing ORECA 05 with René Rast at the wheel. However Nathanaël Berthon suffered a puncture which took the car out of contention and the race was subsequently fought over by Manor, Extreme Speed Motorsports, Signatech Alpine and RGR Motorsport By Morand. Lapierre, in the #36 Signatech Alpine, took the lead in the closing minutes of the race after a courageous pass on the #31 ESM car.

The result saw Manor take its first podium in the FIA World Endurance Championship. At one stage, however, Manor’s cars were running first and fourth in class so Manor must be taking a lot of positives away from Spa in preparation for Le Mans.

GTE Pro was won by the #71 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GTE driven by Davide Rigon and Sam Bird. However it was the sister #51 car, driven by Gianmaria Bruni and James Calado that had led the class for the race, only to retire with ten minutes to go. Calado appeared to be very upset with the retirement.

Second place was taken by the #67 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Team UK Ford GT driven by Marino Franchitti, Andy Priaulx and Harry Tincknell, the team’s first podium in the FIA World Endurance Championship. Third place was taken by the #97 Aston Martin Racing V8 Vantage driven by Richie Stanaway, Fernando Rees and Jonny Adam, Adam being on a roll after winning in the British GT Championship at both Brands Hatch and Rockingham.

GTE Am saw three different manufacturers take the class podium. The winner was the #98 Aston Martin Racing Vantage V8 driven by Paul Dalla Lana, Pedro Lamy and Mathias Lauda. Second was the #83 AF Corse Ferrari 458 GTE driven by François Perrodo, Emmanuel Collard and Rui Aguas while the #50 Larbre Competition Corvette C7-Z06 driven by Yukata Yamagishi, Pierre Ragues and Paolo Ruberti was third.

The race witnessed a concerning incident when the #95 Aston Martin, driven by Nicki Thiim, rolled after contact with the #38 G-Drive Racing Gibson 015S driven by Simon Dolan. Thankfully no serious injuries were sustained by the Danish driver. A Full Course Yellow neutralised the race whilst the driver was attended to.

The next round of the FIA World Endurance Championship will be the 24 Hours of Le Mans, held on June 18 and 19

Team Parker Racing Earns PMW Expo Team Of The Weekend Award

After the massive effort to get the #31 Team Parker Racing Bentley Continental GT3 on to the grid for May 1’s second round of the British GT Championship, the team has been awarded the ‘PMW Team of the Weekend Award’.

The Team Parker Racing Bentley Continental GT3, driven by Rick Parfitt Jnr and Seb Morris, sustained damage after Parfitt was caught out on oil exiting Gracelands in FP1. The resulting impact was measured at 4g and the damage, for many teams, would have resulted in the car being retired for the weekend. Not so for Team Parker Racing.

“The impact punched two holes in the chassis and took almost the entire right-hand side out,” explained Team Principal Stuart Parker, in an interview with Motorsport news. “We had to change both bumpers, the front cooling pack, both corners and repair the chassis. The carbon fibre specialist was working until 7.00am on the bodywork.

The car had lost none of its pace in the race on Sunday when Parfitt drove through up to fourth overall and set the fastest Am lap time. Penalties, however, resulted in the #31 car ultimately finishing 10th.

The third round of the 2016 British GT Championship takes place at Oulton Park on May 29 and 30.

Martin Brundle Joins United Autosports For Road To Le Mans

Former 24 Hours of Le Mans winner, previous Formula One driver and Sky Sports commentator Martin Brundle is to join United Autosports for the ‘Road To Le Mans’ race at La Sarthe in June.
Brundle will partner Christian England in one of United Autosports’ Ligier JS P3 cars in the hour-long race which forms part of the support package for the 2016 24 Hours of Le Mans. Brundle will drive the same chassis that his son, Alex, currently drives in the European Le Mans Series and which won at Silverstone in the first round of the 2016 season.

“This golden opportunity allows me to drive the full Le Mans circuit again in a Prototype racecar,” said a delighted Brundle. “It’s always such a pleasure and privilege to drive that magnificent circuit, so I grabbed the opportunity to re-join United Autosports, after our last successful adventure in the 2011 Dayton 24 Hours and, along with our longstanding sponsor Richard Mille, to once again race a Ligier. At 57 years of age I consider this a wonderful and unexpected bonus.”

Christian England is also excited at the opportunity.

“Coming off the back of our hugely successful debut in the European Le Mans Series, I am absolutely delighted to be joining forces with Martin Brundle for this year’s LMP3 support race to the Le Mans 24 Hours,” said England. “It will be a huge privilege for me to race on such an iconic circuit and alongside a great of our sport like Martin.”

“Martin Brundle to race for United Autosports at Le Mans in a Ligier…sounds very exciting to me,” said Richard Dean, Team Owner and Managing Director of United Autosports. “Martin loves Le Mans and he loves prototype racing. He has shown great faith in the team by entrusting his son Alex with us in the ultra-competitive LMP3 category of the ELMS this year.”

“This is a very exciting line up for the Le Mans event and I can’t wait to see how they get on.”

The lights go out for the start of the 2016 ‘Road to Le Mans’ race at 11:10 on Saturday June 18.

Villorba Corse Commits To Michelin GT3 Le Mans Cup

Villorba Corse, from its base north of Treviso, Italy, has announced that it will enter the 2016 Michelin GT3 Le Mans Cup in conjunction with its “Racing With Ferrari” programme.

The Michelin GT3 Le Mans Cup is a new international series created by the Automobile Club L’Ouest (ACO) and is designed primarily for amateur drivers in exclusively GT3 machinery. Six rounds will held in 2016, supporting the European Le Mans Series, with the first round to be held at Imola on May 14.

Villorba Corse’s driver line-up will be the French pairing of Cedric Mezard and Steeve Hiesse. They will be campaigning the team’s Ferrari 458 GT3.

“Our partnership with Ferrari has been playing a crucial role in the Villorba Corse activities for many years,” said Team Principal Raimondo Amadio. “In 2016 it will be focused on the Michelin GT3 Le Mans, a very interesting championship with a well-organised calendar, including Le Mans.”

The team is very happy with its current driver selection and is already looking at bringing a second car to the championship.

“We already know Mezard and Hiesse,” continued Amadia. “We can get significant results with them and we want a second car in the Championship as soon as possible.”

The first round of the 2016 Michelin GT3 Le Mans Cup will take place at Imola on May 14.

Dramatic Close For Round Two Of British GT GT4

A post-race penalty saw the #73 Century Motorsport Ginetta G55 GT4 excluded from the race result and the #407 Beechdean AMR Aston Martin Vantage GT4 driven by Jack Bartholomew and Jordan Albert declared winners.

The race saw the #73 Century Motorsport Ginetta G55 GT4 driven by Anna Walewska and Nathan Freke take the class win after starting from 27th and last place on the grid. Century Motorsport were looking forward to enjoying a double podium celebration as the #40 Ginetta driven by Sean Byrne and Aleksander Schjerpen took third place.

The #407 Aston Martin Vantage GT4 driven by Jack Bartholomew and Jordan Albert took second at the chequered flag. However a dramatic post-race penalty saw the #73 car excluded from the results for overtaking under a yellow flag.

The #50 PMW World Expo / Optimum Motorsport Ginetta G55 GT4 driven by Graham Johnson led the GT4 grid off the line, followed by the #40 Century Motorsport Ginetta driven by Sean Byrne. Sandy Mitchell took the first stint in the #50 Black Bull Ecurie Ecosse Mclaren 570S GT4.

After 30 minutes Johnson still held his class lead in the #50 car while Mitchell in the #50 McLaren had got up to second in class, followed by William Phillips in the #45 RCIB INSURANCE RACING Ginetta G55 GT4. A solid drive by Anna Walewska had got the #73 Cenury Motorsports Ginetta G55 GT4 up to 8th in class.

After the driver changes had cycled their way through, GT4 was led by Ciaran Haggerty in the #59 Black Bull Ecurie Ecosse Mclaren 570S GT4 followed by Abbie Eaton in the #60 Ebor GT Motorsport Maserati GT MC GT4 and the #44 Generation AMR Racing Aston Martin Vantage GT4 of Jamie Chadwick. The #50 PMW World Expo / Optimum Motorsport had previously retired, much to the disappointment of the Wakefield-based team.

Nathan Freke, in the #73 Century Motorsport Ginetta GT4, was moving fast through the field, however, and took the lead in GT4 with less than 30m minutes to go, a position he was not to relinquish.

The post-race penalty, however, and the subsequent exclusion of the #73 car saw the #51 Lanan Racing Ginetta G55 GT4 driven by Alex Reed and Joey Foster promoted to the third and the #407 car announced as class winners.

The next round of the British GT Championship takes place at Oulton Park on May 29 and 30.

TF Sport Makes It Two In A Row In British GT GT3

The #17 TF Sport Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3 driven by Derek Johnston and Jonny Adam took the top step of the podium after the team led from pole and drove a controlled race.

In second place was the #33 Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini Huracán of Jon Mishaw and Phil Keen. Completing the podium positions was the #1 Beechdean Aston Martin V12 Vantage of Andrew Howard and Ross Gunn.

The race started in dry conditions and was slightly warmer than qualifying. Both the #31 Team Parker Racing Bentley Continental GT3 and the #11 TF Sport Aston Martin Vantage GT3 were on the grid after both teams had worked flat out to prepare the cars after the #31 sustained damage in practise and the #11 had an engine change. The # 17 TF Sport Aston Martin, driven by Derek Johnston, led from the start and established a gap ahead of the #73 Black Bull Ecurie Ecosse Mclaren 650s GT3 driven by AlasdaIr McCaig and Liam Griffin in the #6 Barwell Motorsports Lamborghini Huracán.

After 20 minutes both Lamborghini Huracáns were justifying their pre-season promise with Liam Griffin in the #6 car up into second and Jon Minshaw in the sister #73 car close behind McCaig in the #70 McLaren 650S GT3.

Rick Parfitt in the #31 Team Parker Racing Bentley Continental GT3 clearly intended to start where he left off at Brands Hatch by putting in the fastest lap of the race to move the Bentley from 13th to 6th.

Ahead of the pit stop window Johnston continued to hold the lead with Griffin and Minshaw in the Barwell Motorsport Lamborghinis in second and third while Parfitt in the #31 Bentley Continental GT3 had moved up to 4th.

Just after the half way mark the race was neutralised with an eight minute safety car period during which the #50 PFL Motorsport Aston Martin Vantage GT3 retired due to damage sustained during contact with a GT4 car.

As the race settled back down after pit stops and driver changes, the #17 TF Sport Aston Martin Vantage GT3, driven now by Jonny Adam, kept the lead with the two Barwell Motorsports Lamborghini Huracáns close behind, the #6 car with Adam Carroll at the wheel and the #33 with Phil Keen driving. Adam was able to pull out a 5 second advantage over Carol before a second safety car period, this time for 2 minutes, allowed the field to bunch up again. Carrol briefly took the lead before a drive-through penalty moved him down to fourth.

Adam, however, was the able to drive comfortably to win by nearly 5 seconds from Phil Keen in the #33 Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini Huracán GT3.

“We knew we’d need a gap to stand a chance of winning and being on pole gave us that opportunity, “ said Derek Johnston, after the race. “I had to lead into Deene – that was uppermost in my mind – so when I did that I just concentrated on getting my head down. The tyres weren’t quite up to temperature but I knew the first lap would really count. Fortunately that worked and I just kept pushing. I came in to hand over with a decent lead, which ultimately just cancelled out the success penalty.”

The next two rounds of the British GT Championship take place at Oulton Park on the weekend of May 29 and 30.