Jamie Spence Puts Nielsen Racing On Pole for R4 Of Henderson Insurance Brokers LMP3 Cup Championship At Brands Hatch (21.05.17)

Jamie Spence, driving the #23 Nielsen Racing Ligier JS P3, took pole for Round Four of the Henderson Insurance Brokers LMP3 Cup Championship after putting in a 1:21.446 on the Brands Hatch Grand Prix circuit.

Eight cars took to the track for the ten-minute qualifying session. The #2 United Autosports entry, with C J Wilson at the wheel, got out for the ten-minute session after significant repairs overnight following an off at Druids in the previous day’s free practice session.

Also on track was the #72 Douglas Motorsports entry with Mike Newbould behind the wheel after clutch issues encountered the previous day were resolved overnight.

Nielsen Racing locked out the front row of the grid when Alasdair McCaig went second quickest with a 1:22.291 in the #79 entry.

Third quickest was the #3 United Autosports entry after Tony Wells put in a 1:22.703.

The lights go out for the 60-minute Round 4 of the 2017 Henderson Insurance Brokers LMP3 Cup Championship at 14:10.

PERRINN Announces First Orders For New LMP1 Chassis (18.05.17)

Photo: PERRINN.com

British motorsports engineering company PERRINN has announced that it has received the first order for its new LMP1 car. Designer Nicholas Perrinn expects to see the new car competing in the FIA World Endurance Championship in 2018.

Nicholas Perrin believes that, with the stability of regulations in the class, more teams will be attracted to the category.

“Increased support and stability from the FIA and ACO, coupled with programmes from other manufacturers, has meant we’ve had a lot of discussions with teams seeking more freedom from the new LMP2 category,” explained Nicholas Perrinn.

“LMP1 offers a route to progress from an engineering and pace point of view,” he continued. “In just a few short months, the programme has progressed very quickly to the point we’ll have two cars plus enough spares to build another car within six months. We have ensured we have capacity to do more should some of our other discussions develop.”

The name of the buyer has not been disclosed but PERRINN has said it is a European race team who has committed to buy two cars.

PERRINN is committed to ensuring the design will be ‘open source’.

“I am using open source as a way to focus resources and talents around our project,” said Perrinn. “I want PERRINN to achieve success at Le Mans by becoming a much bigger organisation that it can be if we limit ourselves to a centralised closed company.”

The, as yet unnamed, car, images of which were released today, will be revealed in late November with testing to start before the end of the year.

Toyota Gazoo Racing Adjusts Driver Line-Up Ahead Of 24 Hours of Le Mans (17.05.17)

Photo: FIAWEC.com

Toyota Gazoo Racing has announced an adjustment to its driver line-up for the 24 Hours of Le Mans on June 17 – 18.

The #7 Toyota TS050-Hybrid will now be driven by Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and Stéphane Sarrazin for the French classic. The line-up for the #8 entry remains unchanged with Sébastien Buemi, Anthony Davidson and Kazuki Nakajima sharing the driving duites.

Jose Maria Lopez, who was injured in an incident at the opening round of the 2017 FIA World Endurance Championship at Silverstone and did not take part in the 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps, will now join Nicolas Lapierre and Yuji Kunimoto in the #9 entry.

Toshio Sato, Toyota Gazoo Racing Team President, explained the decision:

“Our circumstances have changed over the last few weeks as a result of the injury to José Maria. He is in the unfortunate position of having completed very few racing laps this year in WEC, so we all felt it was appropriate to adjust the driver line-up.”

“I am very confident that Stéphane will fit well into a #7 line-up that can fight for the win,” continued Toshio Sato. “José Maria, like Yuji, will learn a lot at Le Mans this year, familiarising himself with the track and the event in general, and this is an important step for the future as well.”

The 2017 running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans takes place on June 17 – 18.

G-Drive Racing Wins 4 Hours of Monza To Take Lead In 2017 European Le Mans Series (14.05.17)

Photo: europeanlemansseries.com

The #22 G-Drive Racing ORECA 07 took the chequered flag to win the second round of the 2017 European Le Mans Series in Monza and take the lead in the six-round championship.

Memo Rojas, Ryo Hirakawa and Léo Roussel shared the driving duties in the #22 car with Hirakawa bringing the car home to take the win.

Second in the LMP2 class was the sister #21 DragonSpeed ORECA 07 driven by Henrik Hedman, Nicolas Lapierre and Ben Hanley.

Taking the final podium spot in class was the #49 High Class Racing Dallara P217, piloted by Dennis Andersen and Anders Fjordbach.

LMP2:

The #39 Graff ORECA 07 with Enzo Guibbert at the wheel held the lead from pole but came under pressure from Nicolas Lapierre in the #21 Dragon speed entry. Contact between the #16 Panis-Barthez Compétition Ligier JS P3 and the #9 AT Racing Ligier caused the race to be neutralised under a Full Course Yellow and also impeded Lapierre in the #21 as he took avoiding action at T8.

Meanwhile Richard Bradley in the #40 Graff ORECA 07 had made solid progress through the field, having started seventh on the grid, and was challenging the #22 car for the lead before a jump-start penalty forced an unwanted stop. On Bradley’s out-lap from the penalty, an electrical issue caused his car to stop. Bradley successfully re-started the car but it pushed what was potentially race-winning challenge down the order.

A further FCY was required when, with less the an hour and quarter run, contact between the #2 United Autosports Ligier JS P3 with Sean Rahall at the wheel and the #9 AT Racing Ligier piloted by Alexander Talkanitsa requires the race to be neutralised. As the #39 Graff entry pitted before the race went green, it caused Enzo Guibbert to drop down the field.

The #22 G-Drive Racing ORECA, with Léo Roussel took the lead at the halfway mark with the #47 Cetilar Villorba Corse Dallara P217 in second place.

Just when it looked like the #22 G-Drive Racing entry, now with Ryo Hirakawa at the wheel, had an unassailable lead, the Japanese driver was handed a drive-through penalty for a speed infringement under the FCY. The resulting penalty left Hirakawa in the lead but now with only a 22-second lead.

The battle for second place was just about to get interesting. Anders Fjordbach in the #49 High Class Racing Dallara P217 was coming under pressure from Ben Hanley in the #21 DragonSpeed ORECA 07. A splash-and-dash by the #49 car meant that Hanley could catch the #49 and take second place with less than five minutes to the finish.

It looked as if Hanley had the pace to catch Hirakawa in the #22 but time ran out.

LMP3:

M.Racing – YMR took the two top podium spots and the first win for the new-for-2017 Norma M 30 after a race that saw incidents cause interruptions.

Taking the class win was the #19 M.Racing = YMR Norma M 30 piloted by Ricky Capo and Erwin Creed. Second in class was the sister #18 Ligier JS P3 with the driver line-up of Alexandra Cougnaud, Antoine Jung and Romano Ricci.

Taking the final podium spot was the #3 United Autosports Ligier JS P3 piloted by Mark Patterson, Wayne Boyd and Christian England.

The #17 Ultimate Ligier JS P3 now has a five point lead in the LMP3 standings over the #18 M.Racing – YMR entry.

LMGTE:

The LMGTE class saw an emotional victory for the #66 JMW Motorsport Ferrari F458 driven by Robert Smith, Jody Fannin and Jonathan Cocker. The 4 Hours of Monza was the last race for the F458 which has been with the team for seven years. The victory at Monza means the #66 car won both its first and final outings. The team joked via social media that it was being ‘retired to a farm in the South-East where she can live out her days free-range’.

JMW a.a. 17.05.14

Photo: Dunlop Motorsport

Second in class was the #90 TF Sport Aston Martin V8 Vantage driven by Salih Yoluc, Euan Hankey and Nicky Thiim.

Taking the last podium spot was the #99 Beechdean AMR Aston Martin V8 Vantage.

TF Sport leads the LMGTE Teams classification by nine points over the JMW Motorsport entry.

The next round of the 2017 European Le Mans Series will be the 4 Hours of the Red Bull Ring on July 23.

“It’s Always Been My Dream To Drive In The 24 Hours Of Le Mans” – Graff’s James Allen Talks To Enduranceandgt.co.uk (12.05.17)

Photo: James Allen

Australian-born but currently living in Nice, France for the racing season, James Allen will be realising a boyhood dream in June when he makes his debut appearance in the 24 Hours of Le Mans alongside Franck Matelli and Richard Bradley in the #40 Graff ORECA 07.

“It’s always been my dream to drive in the 24 Hours of Le Mans,” explained Allen. “To be able to actually do it is very exciting. The goal has always been Le Mans and prototypes. I just drove Formula cars to get experience in racing.”

The journey to Le Circuit de la Sarthe has been by way of single-seaters. James began his racing career in karts in his home country where he won the Australian National title and began racing in Europe in 2013 in the Formula BMW Talent Cup, in which he finished sixth. He drove for two full seasons in the Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup with ARTA Engineering and in 2016 he finished seventh in the Formula Renault 2.0 Northern European Cup with JD Motorsport.

James joined Morangis, France-based Graff at the start of the 2017 to contest the European Le Mans Series alongside fellow Le Mans debutant Franck Matelli and 2015 FIA World Endurance Championship Vice-Champion Richard Bradley.

JA2 a.a. 17.05.12

Photo: James Allen

Moving from single-seaters to driving as part of a team in multi-class racing has made James re-think the way he approaches races.

“I have to be a bit more patient, I guess,” said James. “You don’t want to risk unnecessary contact with a GTE or LMP3 car. In Formula cars you’re always competing with your team-mate whereas in sportscars and endurance racing, I’m doing everything I can to help my team-mates. I really like to do as much as I can to help everyone in the team.”

The first round of the 2017 European Le Mans Series saw the #40 Graff entry come home fourth, three places ahead of the sister #39 entry.

“I definitely feel more comfortable now,” said James. “I was very nervous going into the first race at Silverstone. Now I’ve had a run and seen what it’s like, I’m a lot more comfortable.”

What did James find most challenging about the opening round?

“The traffic is still the most difficult thing,” he explained. “Passing three or four cars a lap never happened in single-seaters. Setting up a pass on a much slower car and getting through while losing as little time as possible is a lot more difficult than it sounds. That’s definitely something I can work on for the next few races.”

James feels he has settled well into Graff for 2017.

“It’s been good. They’ve treated me like a rookie because that’s what I am. They’ve let me take my time and get used to the car. They seem happy with how I’m going and so am I. I’m happy with everything that’s going on at the moment.”

Although it’s still early in the season, James is clear on the future direction of his career.

“The dream is LMP1,” he said, confidently. “To be honest, if anybody is willing to pay me, I’ll drive for them. I’m not going to be fussy when it comes to that, that’s for sure!”

The second round of the 2017 European Le Mans Series will be held at Autodromo Nazionale Monza on May 14.

‘There Are A Lot More Podiums To Come From Us’ – Matty Graham Talks British GT And GT4 European Series With EnduranceandGT.co.uk (11.05.17)

In his second season in the British GT Championship, Matty Graham has his career goals firmly set on sportscars and wants to move into GT3s in 2018.

“I would like to get the chance to show people what I can do in a GT3 car,” explained Matty in an interview with EnduranceadGT.co.uk’s Andy Lloyd. “From what I’ve seen there’s a lot more aero and downforce so hopefully I can stand out a lot more. I’d be more than capable of holding my own.”

Matty a.a. 17.05.11

Photo: BritishGT.com / Jakob Ebrey

20-year old Matty Graham has been racing since the age of eight and began his career in karts, winning the 2011 CIK-FIA Asia Pacific Karting Championship in 2010 and the Under-18 World Championship title in 2011. He moved into cars in 2013, winning the BRDC Formula 4 Winter Championship title before international competition beckoned in the form of the Formula Renault 2.0 Northern European Cup.

In 2016 he made the move into GT racing and drove alongside Jack Mitchell in the #42 Generation AMR Macmillan Racing Aston Martin Vantage in which Graham and Mitchell finished joint 5th in the GT4 Drivers Championship.

“I’ve always had an interest in road cars and when the opportunity came to test in a GT car I absolutely loved it,” explained Matty. “The offer came about and I didn’t expect to enjoy driving it but, to be honest, I actually enjoyed it more. I really enjoyed my first year last year, especially the racing side of it.”

Moving from single-seaters to bigger, heavier cars with driving partners and multi-class racing is always a challenge for a young driver so what did Matty regard as the biggest challenge in making the move?

“I think it was having a team mate and working together” said Matty. You’ve got to work together through the data and on the track and share absolutely everything, including knowledge that you’ve gained from past experience. You’ve got to be able to be open to sharing with the team and especially the driver you’re driving with.”

The Northumberland-based driver felt very positive about his debut season in GT racing.

“Yeah, I really enjoyed it. It was one of my more enjoyable seasons in racing, not just in GTs but in my whole career really. The only downside was that we had a lot of bad luck last year with mechanical issues.”

“I always take a lot of positives from a race-weekend and each weekend we were always one of the faster cars. I would have liked to have had the win in the last round at Donington but the brakes over-heated quite badly and that stopped us from doing that. We were, however, on the podium three times in the last four races. It was just a shame the season didn’t start like that.”

Looking back on the 2016 British GT season, it was the final round at Donington that Matty regards as the high point for him.

“When I went out of the pits I was nine seconds behind the McLaren and I got it down to four seconds within twenty minutes of my stint. In the car, however, I was having a difficult battle from the start because the brakes boiled over. I was catching the McLaren and that was when I was confident I was going to get the first win. I thought that was probably one of the best drives of my career. From the outside it didn’t looking that special but, for me, with the brake problem, I was really proud of myself after that race.”

Going into 2017 Matty evaluated different options and tested the Maserati GT MC GT4 at Snetterton on the Media Day but, prior to the first round at Oulton Park, settled on partnering with Marcus Hoggarth in the In2Racing McLaren 570S GT4.

Matty 2 a.a. 17.05.11

Photo: BritishGT.com / Jakob Ebrey

“The Maserati felt like a very good car and I don’t think there would be many that would beat it in GT4. The McLaren, however, is a proven car from last year. It is very fast and it’s impressive to look at. In2Racing are a very professional team and I was impressed with the way they operate. Marcus as well is a very quick Am driver. The first round was good and we’re still working on the car. I know there is still time to come in the car and also from Marcus and myself. I believe that there are a lot more podiums to come from us.”

“It’s never relaxing in a race-car but the McLaren is more relaxing than any race car I’ve driven before. It’s quite comfortable on the inside and nicely finished which makes you a bit more relaxed.”

Matty had a one-off drive in the GT4 European Series Northern Cup on May 6 and 7 at Brands Hatch with Dutch team Equipe Verschuur, driving alongside Csaba Mor, which allowed him to add to his seat-time in the McLaren. The weekend yielded a third place in the first race but a mistake by team-mate Mor relegated the #10 McLaren 570S GT4 to 19th place in the second race of the day.

“The team and Csaba were both very happy with me. I think I helped Csaba a lot around Brands,” said Matty. “I like that track and I gave him a lot of suggestions and thoughts when we were on our track-walk. We’d make a good pairing so I wouldn’t say no if another opportunity arose in the series, especially if the budget was available.”

Rounds four and five of the 2017 British GT Championship will be held at Snetterton on May 27-28.