Dominant Performance From Barwell Motorsport At Opening Round of 2017 British GT Championship. (17.04.17).

Photo Above: Britishgt.com/Jakob Ebrey

Great Bookham-based Barwell Motorsport opened the 2017 British GT Championship season with a dominant performance, finishing 1 -2 at Oulton Park in a race that tested the abilities of amateur drivers and team strategists alike.

First across the line in a race that it led from the opening seconds was the #33 Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini Huracán GT3 with Phil keen at the wheel, Jon Minshaw having started the race. Second was the sister #6 Huracán in which GT rookie, although highly experienced sprint racer, Sam Tordoff fended off the eventual third place GT3 finisher, Jonny Adam in the #1 TF Sport Aston Martin Vantage GT3.

Nobody seemed to want to win the G4 class, with stop-go penalties being handed out for short pit-stops by the Race Director, and it was the #72 track-club McLaren 570S GT4 that took the class win with Adam Mackay at the wheel, fellow driver Adam Balon having taken the opening stint.

Second in the GT4 class was the #55 HHC Motorsport Ginetta G55 GT4 with Stuart Middleton taking the chequered flag. Third in class was the #62 Academy Motorsport Aston Martin Vantage GT4 drive by Matt Nicoll- Jones, who took the car to the finish, and Will Moore.

The one-hour race started in the wet with pole-sitter Rick Parfitt Jnr in the #31 Bentley Continental GT3 having no answer to the pace in the wet of the #33 Barwell Motorsport entry with Jon Minshaw at the wheel. The Lamborghini quickly pulled out a 4-second which it continued to increase to over 26 seconds by the time the pit-window opened.

By the time the pit-window was closed and the driver changes had cycled through, the two Barwell Motorsport entries were lying first and second with the 2016 GT3 champions TF Sport in the #1 Aston Martin Vantage third, Jonny Adam having taken over from Derek Johnston. Johnston had driven a superb first stint and had taken the #1 Aston Martin from eleventh on the grid at the start to sixth at the driver changes. Adam pushed in the final minutes of the race and closed the gap to Tordoff to just under 3.5 seconds but, coming under pressure from Morris in the #31 Bentley, wisely chose to focus on keeping the third podium slot.

TC a.a. 17.04.17

Photo: Britishgt.com / Jakob Ebrey

The GT4 class was being led by the #100 Black Bull Garage 59 McLaren 570S GT4 with sandy Mitchell taking the opening stint until issues with the left rear wheel at the pit-stop forced a delay at the driver change.

The #62 Academy Motorsport Aston Martin Vantage GT4 with Matt Nicoll-Jones driving took the class lead but was served a stop-go penalty for spending too little time in the pits at the driver change. The #72 track-club McLaren 570S GT4 also suffered the same fate. However the lead that the #72 car had established meant that it retained the lead, even after the penalty had been served, and went on to take the class win.

The second race of the afternoon takes place at 15:30

Toyota Gazoo Racing Wins Thrilling FIA WEC 6 Hours Of Silverstone (16.04.17)

The #8 Toyota Gazoo Racing TS050 – Hybrid driven by Sébastien Buemi, Anthony Davidson and Kazuki Nakajima won the opening round of the 2017 FIA World Endurance Championship in a race which saw changing weather conditions and drama throughout the entire race.

Winning TS050 a.a. 17.04.16

Photo: FIA World Endurance Championship

Second in the LMP1 class was the #2 Porsche LMP Team 919 Hybrid piloted by Timo Bernhard, Earl Bamber and Brendon Hartley. Taking the final step of the podium was the sister Porsche, the #1 919 Hybrid with the driving line-up of Neel Jani, André Lotterer and Nick Tandy.

The LMP2 class was won by the #38 Jackie Chan DC Racing Jota Sport ORECA 07 driven by Ho-Pin Tung, Oliver Jarvis and Thomas Laurent. The Vaillante Rebellion #13 ORECA 07 was second, the car driven by Mathias Beche, David Heinemeier Hansson and Nelson Piquet Jr. Third in class was the #28 TDS Racing ORECA 07 piloted by François Perodo, Matthieu Vaxivière and Emmanuel Collard.

The LMGTE Pro battle was won by the #67 Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK Ford GT with Andy Priaulx, Harry Tincknell and Luis Felipe ‘Pipo’ Derani driving.

The LMHTE Am class was won by the #61 Clearwater Racing Ferrari F488 GTE driven by Weng Sun Mok, Keita Sawa and Griffin.

In a race that tested the strategic planning of all teams with a mix of wet and dry running saw the eventual race winner take the lead with just twelve minutes to go when Buemi in the #8 Toyota TS050 , with more grip on newer tyres, passed Brendon Harley in the #2 Porsche 919 Hybrid. Porsche had already announced prior to the race that it was running a low-downforce aero kit in preparation for the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

The sister Toyota, the #7 TSO050, went off at Copse with José Maria Lopez at the wheel. The Argentinian, the current World Touring Car Champion, managed to get the car back to the garage but due to the severity of the impact, the driver was taken to the medical centre for a check-up and was eventually transferred to the local hospital.

LMP2, which entered 2017 with new-look, more powerful cars, estimated at being 4 seconds a lap quicker round the Northamptonshire circuit that the previous generation, saw Jackie Chan DC Racing become the first Chinese-entered team to win at World Endurance Championship level.

#38 a.a. 17.04.16

Photo: FIA World Endurance Championship

The #38 car, retaining the number from the Jota Sport’s 2014 Le Mans-winning and 2016 European Le Mans Series-winning entries, had the piloting line-up of Ho-Pin Tung, Oliver Jarvis and Thomas Laurent, combining youth with significant experience.

Once the field was bunched for the safety-car after the crash of the #7 Toyota, the race was effectively on again and Jarvis was able to lead the field at the line by almost 20 seconds over the #31 Vaillante Rebellion ORECA 07.

In LMGTE pro the #67 Ford Chip Ganassi team UK Ford GT piloted by Andy Priaulx, Harry Tincknell and Pip Derani took the win but it was not a faultless run to the flag, as events in the first hour showed. The pole-sitting #67 car had to stop early to correct a front tyre pressure issue which left it out of sequence. However the hugely-experienced driver line-up drive faultlessly from there on to take charge and the chequered flag.

Ford GTs a.a. 17.04.16

Photo: FIA World Endurance Championship

The second placed AF Corse #51 Ferrari F488 GTE drove a good raced but could nt match the pace and consistency of the Ford GT.

The LMGTE Am class enjoyed some close racing with the winning #61 Clearwater Racing Ferrari F499 GTE, with Matt Griffin at the wheel, take the lead but a late stop for fuel relegated the Irish driver to third. The leading #98 Aston Martin Martin Racing Vantage with Pedro Lamy at the wheel tangled with the second placed Miguel Molina’s #54 Spirit of race Ferrari, pitching the #54 car off the track. Griffin saw his opportunity and took the class lead for the win.

Overall, the race was hugely exciting and enjoyable and bodes well for the rest of the 2017 Championship, including the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

The second round of the FIA World Endurance Championship, the 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps takes place on May 4 – 6.

Filipe Albuquerque Snatches Victory In Dying Minutes of Dramatic European Le Mans Series Opener (15.04.17)

Filipe Albuquerque, taking the final stint in the #32 United Autosports Ligier JSP217 he shared with William Owen and Hugo de Sadeleer, snatched the lead in the dying minutes to win the 4 Hours of Silverstone, demoting Ryo Hirakawa in the #22 G-Drive Racing ORECA 07 to second place.

#32 3 a.a. 17.04.15

Photo: Roger Jenkins

Third in the premier class was the #49 High Class Racing Dallara P217 with Anders Fjordbach at wheel in a car he shared with Dennis Anderson.

In the final minutes of the race Hirakawa visibly started to struggle with grip, allowing Albuquerque to close the gap from 30 seconds and take the lead in the last three minutes.

#22 a.a. 17.04.15

Photo: Roger Jenkins

The LMP2 podium featured chassis from three different manufacturers, namely Ligier, ORECA and Dallara, demonstrating the competitiveness of the revised 2017 regulations for the class.

Albuquerque realised he had a chance as the race was approaching its conclusion.

“In the end I was on the limit of my tyres but I could see I was gaining more and more,” said Albuquerque. “So when I saw it was possible to win the race I was really pushing in the last ten laps. I could see he couldn’t do much more because of tyre degradation and so I overtook him. The new cars are faster and much more demanding than the previous car but I am having a lot more fun.”

Hirakawa was understandably upset to lose he race he appeared to have sewn up by the final 30 minutes.

“I was really struggling with tyre degradation at the end of the race,” said Hirakawa. “I wanted to change the tyres by pitting but we couldn’t. The tyre was dropping a lot and it was really difficult. I am really disappointed. For sure, I’m encouraged by the performance for the next race in Monza and I will do my best at that race.”

In the LMP3 class John Falb in the the #2 United Autosports Ligier JS P3 he shared with Sean Rayhall after he crossed the line over 4 seconds ahead of the Ross Kaiser in the #6 360 Racing Ligier entry. However a post-race penalty for the #6 360 Racing entry demoted Kaiser, Woodward and Wells to to seventh in class.

The revised results showed the #17 Ultimate Ligier JS P3 as secnd with the sister United Autospirts entry, the #3 Ligier driven by Mark Patterson, Wayne Boyd and Christian England in third. It was almost the perfect result for the Leeds-based 2016 LMP3 champions.

The journey to the chequered flag was not without incident for the #2 car after Falb spun at Turn 9 in the final half hour.

The championship is now clearly in the American driver’s sights.

“I like to race here in Europe and in the States but more importantly I want to fight for a championship,” said Falb. “I am excited about the next race in Monza, the land of high speed and it is good to go there with a win here at Silverstone. Let’s go!”

In LMGTE it was the 2016 Michelin GT3 Le Mans Cup champions TF Sport who took the victory in its debut European Le Mans Series season when Euan Hankey brought the #90 Aston Martin V8 Vantage home ahead of the #77 Proton Competition Porsche 911 RSR with Matteo Cairoli at the wheel.

#90 TFS a.a. 17.04.15

Photo: Roger Jenkins

Third in the LMGTE class was the Beachdeen AMR #99 Aston Martin V8 Vantage in which Ross Gunn was asked to take the final stint.

The TF Sport Aston Martin had a scare when a coming-together with the #51 Spirit of race Ferrari sent both cars spinning. However the #90 car quickly recovered and went on to take the class victory by a lap from the second placed #77 Proton Competitition Porsche 911 RSR.

Hankey, who brought the car home, was quick to praise his fellow drivers, Salih Yoluc and Nicky Thiim for the win.

“I never thought we would be in this position if you’d asked me in the middle of last season, but we all improved so much especially Salih,” said Hankey. “He has really developed and it made our lives very easy. I did have a few bits of contacts which wasn’t exactly ideal. However we got over the finish line and we got the first place, which is exactly what we wanted.”

The second round of the 2017 European Le Mans Series take place at Autodromo Nazionale Monza on May 12 – 14.

 

Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK / Toyota Gazoo Racing Take Poles For FIA World Endurance Championship Season-Opener (15.04.17)

Photo Above: Roger Jenkins

Toyota Gazoo Racing drew first blood of the 2017 FIA World Endurance Championship by taking pole position for the 6 ours of Silverstone in a session that saw lap-times by both drivers in both cars for Porsche and Toyota beat the current record lap-times set in 2015.

Starting the 6 Hours of Silverstone at the front of the grid will be the #7 Toyota Gazoo Racing TS050 – Hybrid after Mike Conway and Kamui Kobayashi put in lap-times of 1:37.816 and 1:36.793 respectively to average 1:37.304, less the a third of as second quicker than the #8 Toyota TS050-Hybrid, qualified by Kazuki Nakajima.

Third on the grid for the 6 Hours of Silverstone will be the #1 Porsche LM Team 919 Hybrid in which Nick Tandy and Neel Jani averaged a 1:38.615.

In the LMP2 class pole position was taken by the 2016 class champions G-Drive Racing, this year being run by Thiriet, with its ORECA 07 with Pierre Thiriet and Alex Lynn on qualifying duty. With an average a 1:44.387, it confirmed the pace of the new-look class for 2017.

Second on the grid will be the #36 Signatech Alpine Matmut Alpine 470 in which Nicolas Lapierre and Matt Rao averaged a lap-time of 1:44.433.

Qualifying in third was the #38 Jackie Chan DC Racing ORECA 07, driven by Thomas Laurent and Oliver Jarvis for the session, which averaged 1:44.591

Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK took the first LMGTE Pro pole of the 2017 FIA World Endurance Championship season after Andy Priaulx lapped Silverstone in 1:55.858, 3 tenths of a second faster than his team-mate Harry Tincknell who put in a 1:56.546 to give the #67 Ford GT an average of 1:56.202.

Second on the grid for the 6 Hours of Silverstone will be the #71 AF Corse Ferrari F488 GTE where Davide Rigon and Sam Bird averaged 1:57.011, one tenth of a second faster than the #85 Aston Martin Racing entry where Nicki Thiim and Marco SØrensen lapped in an average of 1:57.117.

LMGTE Am pole was taken by the #98 Aston Martin Racing entry where Paul Dalla Lana put in a 2:00.333, nearly two second a lap faster than his fellow AM drivers to give an average of 1:59.562.

Second on the grid in the LMGTE Am class for the opening round of the season will be the #54 Spirit of Race Ferrari F488 GTE where Thomas Flohr put in a 2:02.121 to give an average of 2:00.608.

The lights go out for the 6 Hours of Silverstone at 12:00 on Sunday April 16.

Pole For DragonSpeed In ELMS 4 Hours Of Silverstone (14.04.17)

Photo Above: Jakob Ebrey / Europeanlemansseries.com

DragonSpeed, with its #21 ORECA 07 driven by Ben Hanley, has taken pole position for the opening round of the 2017 European Le Mans Series

TF Sport, Aston Martin and Nicki Thiim drew first blood in the ten-minute sessions by qualifying on pole in the LMGTE category.

It was an Aston Martin 1 -2 in qualifying for the 4 Hours of Silverstone with the Danish driver lapping the Northamptonshire circuit in the #90 Aston Martin V8 Vantage in 1:58.269. Thiim was closely followed by Ross Gunn who lapped the #99 Beechdean AMRV8 Vantage in 1:58.466.

In third position was the #55 Spirit of Race Ferrari F488 GT3 with Matt Griffin behind the wheel. Griffin had lap-time of 1:59.697 disqualified for a track limit infringement but the deletion of the lap did not affect his grid position.

Rory Butcher in the JMW Motorsport Ferrari 458 Italia had a disappointing session, qualifying in the final position in the class, with a 2:00.940.

With a hint of moisture in the air, the LMP3 grid went out for their ten-minute session. LMP3 Sean Rayhall in the #2 United Autosports Ligier JSP3 looked to have class pole sewn up, even after the chequered flag had been shown. However Mikkel Jensen had other ideas and, courtesy of a session-fastest third sector, put the #9 AT Racing Ligier JSP3 on pole by less than two-tenths of second with a 1:53.665.

Qualifying in third position was the sister #3 United Autosports Ligier JS P3 with Wayne Boyd at the wheel, setting a time of 1:54.181.

8 cars were ‘pinged’ for track limit infringements and had lap times deleted, indicating the stance that the Race Director will be taking on cars keeping to the racing surface this season.

The LMP2 qualifying session was interrupted by a brief red flag following the departure from the track at Maggots of both the #22 G-Drive Racing ORECA 07 with Ryo Hirakawa behind the wheel and the #40 Graff entry driven by Richard Bradley.

After the session resumed with 5 minutes to go it was Filipe Albuquerque in the #32 United Autosports Ligier JS P217 who took provisional pole with a 1:44.314 from Andrea Pizzitola driving the #25 Algarve Pro entry.

Ben Hanley, however, in the #21 DragonSpeed ORECA 07 was quickly up to speed and snatched pole position with a 1:44.040. as the sessions was drawing to a close.

The opening round of the 2017 European Le Mans Series takes place on April 15 with the lights going out for the 4 Hours of Silverstone at 14:30

DragonSpeed Quickest In Silverstone European Le Mans Series FP2 (14.04.17)

Photo Above: Jakob Ebrey Photography / Europeanlemansseries.com

Friday’s 90-minute Free Practice 2 session took place under grey and cold skies initially although it did brighten up as the session progressed.

Fastest time in the new-look LMP2 category was set by Ben Hanley with a 1:44.647 in the #21 DragonSpeed ORECA 07, a car he shares with Henrik Hedman and Nicolas Lapierre. Second quickest, with a 1:44.856 was the #40 Graff ORECA 07 driven by Roberto Lacorte, Giorgio Sernagiotto and Richard Bradley, with Bradley setting the time.

Third fastest in a largely uneventful session was the #32 United Autosports Ligier JSP217 driven by William Owen, Hugo de Sadeleer and Filipe Albuquerque with a 1:45.742 set by Albuequerque.

Overall, times looked to be about 4 seconds a lap quicker in comparison with times set by the 2016-spec cars last year. Weather in 2016 was extremely variable so it is difficult to draw exact conclusions.

In the LMP3 class, it was 2016-class champions United Autosports who once again showed the way with its #3 Ligier JS P3 setting a time of 1:55.101 with Wayne Boyd behind the wheel. Panis Barthez Compétition was second quickest with 1:55.425 set by Simon Gachet in the #16 Ligier JS P3 he shares with Eric Debard and Théo Bean.

Third quickest, and completing a Ligier lock-out at the top of the time-sheets was the sister #2 United Autosports entry with a 1:55.804 set by John Falb in a car he shares with Sean Rayhall.

In the LMGTE field, Darren Turner set the quickest time with a 2:00.517 in the #99 Beechdean AMR Aston Martin V8 Vantage. The car was not without its issues though as it was in the garage during the session with gear-box problems. Team owner Andrew Howard commented that, although practice in changing gear-boxes was always useful, due to the limited practice the teams get, he would have much preferred to have the car on the track putting in laps.

Qualifying for the 2017 4 Hours of Silverstone, split into 3 ten-minute sessions for each class begins at 14:05.