Sheffield’s Jonathan Jones Celebrates His 40th Birthday With Season-Long British GT Adventure (10.05.17)

Some motorsport enthusiasts decide to celebrate their 40th birthday by buying a motorbike…..or a sportscar. Jonathan Jones decided to recognise the ‘Big Four Zero’ with the year-long adventure of following the 2017 British GT Championship and attending all nine rounds in the company of his family.

Oxfordshire-born and now a resident of Sheffield, Jonathan Jones (@icklejon on Twitter) spoke to www.EnduranceandGT.co.uk editor Andy Lloyd about how the inspiration for the plan came from two sources; a visit to Le Mans in 2016 and attending the final round of last year’s British GT season at Donington Park.

“We were in France on a summer holiday and we’d just visited the Le Mans circuit,” explained Jonathan “While we were there a Ford GT40 was out on the circuit and it was just a stunning sound. A couple of weeks later I was at the final round of the British GT Championship at Donington Park and somehow, out of the combination of the two, the idea cropped up. What a way to make it a year-long celebration as opposed to one particular date!”

Being brought up in the middle of the British motorsport heartland, it was Jonathan’s father who first instilled his love of all things fast.

“A lot of my friends’ parents were involved in the motorsport industry and my dad used to take me along to Formula One so I grew up with Formula One to begin with and also Touring Cars. From there, I got into rallying, Prodrive being up the road, and then over the years I tended towards sportscars and it’s just gone on from there. I’ve been to the Blancpain GT Series at Silverstone and the British GT Championship over a good few years now. And it’s grown and grown. I love the cars and the close wheel-to-wheel racing.”

With his love of sportscar racing, it was almost inevitable that Jonathan would chose the British GT Championship to follow in his birthday-celebration year.

“It’s proper wheel-to-wheel racing and it’s also the accessibility of that paddock. Of all the different racing I’ve been to, it’s the one that I almost felt part of it, of being able to go and chat to the drivers, chat to the mechanics and go into the garages and see the cars. You are part of that scene and to then be out on circuit watching them going round when half an hour before you were chatting to the drivers, it’s quite a privilege. I like being able to feel a genuine part of the series.”

Jonathon Jones 3 a.a. 17.05.08

Jonathan is also recording his season in his blog (http://gt40th.weebly.com/blog). How has he found the experience of recording his visits in writing?

“It’s really enjoyable. I’m partly writing it as a diary so that in years to come, I can come back to that blog and revisit and relive those moments and the excitement.

I’m conscious of trying to do it as quickly after the event as possible which isn’t always possible just because of family life and work. It’s a lovely process to go through, to relive it like the weekend like that.”

Jonathon’s two children have also started to appreciate racing through the enthusiasm of their father. I asked Jonathan if he now had two ‘wannabe’ racing drivers in the family.

“Yes, there’s a very real risk!” said Jonathan, laughing. “My son’s already started going to parties at go-kart places and fancying his chances on that and he enjoys playing the simulator games we’ve got on the PlayStation. Meanwhile my daughter is showing signs that she enjoys the sport so yes, it’s a slightly worrying couple of signs being shown!”

Jon Jones a.a. 17.05.10

So what’s next for Sheffield’s motorsport family?

“I’ll continue to follow British GT. Donington Park is my closest track so I’ll continue to go there and also Oulton Park and Rockingham because they’re not that far away from Sheffield. But what I‘d really like to focus on is taking in a 24 hour race so maybe Le Mans or the 24 Hours of Spa with the GT cars .”

It looks like a new motorsport dynasty may be being developed in South Yorkshire!

You can follow Jon on Twitter here and read his blog here.

Toyota Gazoo Racing Finish 1 -2 In Round 2 Of FIA World Endurance Championship At Spa-Francorchamps (07.05.17)

Photo: FIAWEC.com

Toyota Gazoo Racing Finish 1 -2 In Round 2 Of FIA World Endurance Championship At Spa-Francorchamps (07.05.17)

Toyota Gazoo Racing finished 1 – 2 at the end of a fascinating second round of the FIA World Endurance Championship from Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps.

The #8 Toyota TS050-Hybrid with Sébastien Buemi at the wheel crossed the line less than two seconds ahead of the sister #7 TS050 in which Kamui Kobayashi had driven the stint of his career in an attempt to snatch the lead of the race in the closing laps.

The result was Toyota’s first 1 -2 since the 6 Hours of Shanghai in 2014.

Taking the final step of the podium was the #2 Porsche LMP Team 919 Hybrid in which Brenda Hartley took the final stint. The #2 Porsche 919 Hybrid was leading the race in the closing stages until a last-minute splash-and-dash relegated it to third place.

G-Drive Racing, with its #26 Gibson-powered ORECA 07 driven by Roman Rusinov, Pierre Thiriet and Alex Lynn took the victory in the LMP2 class with the #31 Vaillante Rebellion ORECA, with the driver line-up of Julien Canal, Nicolas Prost and Bruno Senna, finishing in second place.

Third in the LMP2 class was the ‘Mighty’ #38 Jackie Chan DC Racing OECA 07 driven by Ho-Pin Tung, Oliver Jarvis and Thomas Laurent.

LMP1:

Pole-sitter André Lotterer in the #1 Porsche 919 Hybrid held the lead from the start but was overtaken by Mike Conway in the #7 Toyota with less than 30 minutes run. The Porsches appeared to have an issue with grip as the #8 Toyota, with Sébastien Buemi at the wheel, moved through into second place. By the end of the first hour the #7 and #8 cars were leading the LMP1 class.

Porsche LMP1 team pushed on in the second hour with Nick Tandy at the wheel of the #1 entry taking second place from the #8 Toyota after a driver change which saw Anthony Davidson swap with Buemi behind the wheel of the #8.

By the end of the third hour the #7 Toyota Gazoo Racing entry, now with Kamui Kobayshi behind the wheel, held a 25-second lead over Anthony Davidson in the #8 entry. Tyre strategies were now becoming critical for Porsche but, as temperatures began to cool, the Porsches seemed to be getting back in to the race. Neel Jani in the #1 Porsche held third place, ahead of the #2 sister car with Timo Bernhard behind the wheel.

It was during the fourth hour that Kazuki Nakajima in the #8 Toyota was able to take the lead after the #7 fell behind during a brief Full Course Yellow. However Mike Conway in the #7 entry was not about to give up and pushed hard to reduce the gap to the leader to just 3.3 seconds at the end of the hour.

As the race drew to a close the #2 Porsche 919 Hybrid, for the final stint driven by Brendon Hartley, tangled with Romain Dumas in the #36 Signatech Alpine Matmut Alpine A470 on the entry into the Bus Stop Chicane. Both cars were damaged, and indeed Hartley was summoned to see the stewards at the end of the race, but it was the #1 Porsche that needed to stop for a new nose, costing the team any chance of competing for the win.

As the race approached the end the #7 car with Kobayashi at the wheel made a final charge and it looked to have the pace to challenge for the lead but traffic gave the winning #8 a slight advantage and the eventual victory.

#26 GDR a.a. 17.05.06

Photo: FIAWEC.com

LMP2:

Roman Rusinov in the #26 G-Drive Racing ORECA 07 led the LMP2 field until a slow pit-stop allowed the #31 Vaillante Racing entry with Bruno Senna at the wheel to close the gap and eventually find an opportunity to take the class lead at the one-hour mark.

The #31 entry held the class lead but was put under pressure by Alex Brundle in the #37 Jackie Chan DC Racing ORECA 07. Alex Lynn, however, in the #26 G-Drive Racing entry was on a charge and took second place in class just before the end of the second hour and pushed on to close up on class-leading Julien Canal in the #31 Vaillante Rebellion car.

The #26 entry regained the lead and Pierre Thiriet, now at the wheel, was put under pressure from Bruno Senna in the #31 car as the race approached the fourth hour. Prost in the #31 entry took the lead with bold move on the #26 car at La Source. However a penalty given to the #31 car for contact with a Ford GT gave the #38 Jackie Chan DC Racing ORECA the chance to catch up with the leading pair.

As the race approached the 6–hour mark an issue for the #31 Vallainte Rebellion entry meant that victory went to the #26 G-Drive Racing entry, converting pole-position to the eventual top step of the podium.

DR-SB a.a. 17.05.06

Photo: FIAWEC.com

LMGTE Pro:

The 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps saw a dominant performance from the AF Corse Ferrari F488 GTEs which must cause concern to the Ford Chip Ganassi Team as it approaches the 24 Hours of Le Mans, a race which it won convincingly in 2016.

David Rigon, in the #71 AF Corse entry, took the lead in the first hour, despite being under significant pressure from the Ford GTs. The class battle was extremely close with James Calado in the #51 AF Corse entry seizing an opportunity to pass both the Ford GTs at Les Combes. Tincknell re-passed however and set about closing in on the leading #51 entry.

The class battle was not just between the marques though. The inter-team fight between the AF Corse entries saw the #51 Ferrari F488 GTE with Alessandro Pier Guidi at the wheel collide with Sam Bird in the #71 car at one stage. As the race went into its fourth hour it was clear that, barring issues, AF Corse had the advantage but with just 2.5 seconds between them at the fourth hour, which would be the eventual winner was more difficult to predict.

At the finish it was the #71 car with Sam Bird at the wheel that took the chequered flag for the class, followed by the #51 car.

LMGTE Am:

The LMGTE Am class was won convincingly by the #98 Aston Martin Racing Aston Martin Vantage with the driver line-up of Pail Dalla Lana, Pedro Lamy and Mathias Lauda. This was the team third consecutive victory at the Belgian circuit, having won there in 2015 and 2016.

The eventual winning positions had been established by the end of the second hour, second place in class being taken by the #77 Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche 911 RSR piloted by Christian Reid, Matteo Cairoli and Marvin Dienst.

Taking the final podium step in class was the #61 Clearwater Racing Ferrari F488 GTE, driven by Weng Sun Mok, Keita Sawa and Matthew Griffin.

The next round of the 2017 FI World Endurance Championship will be the 24 Hours of Le Mans on June 17 / 18.

FIA World Endurance Championship – 6 Hours Of Spa-Francorchamps – Preview (04.05.17)

Photo: FIAWEC.com

After a thrilling opening to the 2017 season at Silverstone, the FIA Word Endurance Championship moves to its traditional pre-Le Mans round with the 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps.

After victory in the opening round, Toyota Gazoo Racing has entered three cars for Spa-Francorchamps. The third entry, the #9 Toyota TS050-Hybrid, will be piloted by Stéphane Sarazin, Yuji Kunimoto and Nicolas Lapierre.

In the #7 Toyota Gazoo Racing entry, doubt remains over the ability of Jose Maria Lopez to drive after his heavy impact at Silverstone. At the time of writing, no decision had been made as to how the team might proceed if Lopez is unfit.

In the LMP2 field, Signatech Alpine Matmut has entered a second car for Spa-Francorchamps. The #35 Alpine A470 will be driven by Pierre Ragues, André Negrão and Nelson Pantiatici. Romain Dumas is deputising for Nicolas Lapierre in the #36 Signatech entry, driving alongside Gustavo Menezes and Matt Rao.

New to the entry list for Spq-Francorchamps is the #34 Tockwith Motorsports Ligier JSP 217. Regular drivers for the York-based team, Nigel Moore and Philip Hanson, will be joined in Belgium by Karun Chandhok.

Matthieu Vaxivière, injured in a training accident, will be substituted in the #28 TDS Racing ORECA 07 for Spa by Ben Hanley, full-season driver with DragonSpeed in the European Le Mans Series.

The GTE classes see no changes to the entry list that contested the 6 Hours of Silverstone entry list.

With three different manufacturers on the podium in Round 1 at Silverstone, 2017 looks to be a highly competitive in the premier LMGTE Pro category. Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK will go to Spa full of confidence after victory in the UK. However the #66 crew will feel they have something to prove after a disappointing end to the race at Silverstone and an eventual fourth place.

With the race on Saturday May 6, qualifying for the 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps takes place on Friday May 5 with the 25-minutes qualifying session for the LMGTE pro and Am classes starting at 14:50 local time and the two prototype categories qualifying at 15:25.

The lights go out for the start of the 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps at 14:30 local time on Saturday May 6.

Matthew Graham To Join Equipe Verschuur For GT4 European Series At Brands Hatch (04.05.17)

Photo: Jakob Ebrey

Matthew Graham, currently driving alongside Marcus Hoggarth in the In2Racing McLaren 570S GT4 in the 2017 British GT Championship, has announced that he will join Dutch team Equipe Verschuur for the GT4 European Series Northern Cup meeting at Brands Hatch on May 6 and 7.

Equipe Verschuur was established in 1978 and drivers who have worked with the team include Jos Verstappen and Jeroen Bleekemolen.

Graham will be driving Team Verschuur’s McLaren 570S GT4 and the deal will allow him to develop his understanding of a car which is widely regarded as one which demands the very best of a driver.

Graham’s driving partner for the weekend will be Hungarian driver Csaba Mor.

The Northumbrian driver is excited about the opportunity to drive with Mor and Equipe Verschuur.

“It’s a nice surprise to be racing with Equipe Verschuur this weekend, which has come about quite suddenly and I’m looking forward to getting more miles in a McLaren and racing in a quality field,” said Graham. “Csaba is a high calibre driver and he did very well in the first round in Misano, so I’m looking forward to seeing what we can do together at Brands.

“The McLaren is an excellent car and I’m learning more about getting the most from it the more time I spend at the wheel, so to be out as part of this team is going to be a very beneficial experience.”

The lights go out for the first hour-long race of the GT4 European Series Northern Cup at 10:15 on Sunday May 7 with the second race at 14:25.

Parfitt Jnr and Morris / Team Parker Racing Win Round 3 Of 2017 British GT Championship After Review (01.05.17)

Photo Above: Jakob Ebrey

The #31 Team Parker Racing Bentley Continental piloted by Rick Parfitt Jnr and Seb Morris was declared the winner of Round 3 of the 2017 British GT Championship after a review which saw the #21 Spirit of Race Ferrari F488 GT3 demoted to second.

In a finish that had many spectators scratching their heads, the #21 Spirit of Ferrari F488 GT3, driven to the finish by Matt Griffin, crossed the line over 25 seconds ahead of Seb Morris in the Bentley after being waved through from behind the safety car. The race neutralisation had been brought about after Matt Chapman, in the #63 Autoaid/RCIB Insurance Racing Ginetta G55 GT4, spun at Turn 4 and had to be recovered.

21 a.a. 17.04.30

Photo: Jakob Ebrey

The #21 Spirit of Race found itself leading but with a 5-second penalty to serve due to track-limit violations by Duncan Cameron. As a result, it was assumed that the safety car had not picked up the race leader, which would have been Morris in the #31 Spirit of Race entry. It was also assumed that the penalty would be served retrospectively, relegating the #21 down the order.

However, confusion continued when, after the #21 entry had been waved through, it still continued to be shown at the top of the timing screens.

Many observers were assuming, incorrectly, that the #21 Ferrari was not in the running when it was announced that it was, in fact, leading the race despite being waved past the safety car.

As the race finished, the #21 Ferrari was declared the winner, with the #31 Bentley second and the #23 Macmillan AMR Aston Martin Vantage driven by James Littlejohn, taking the final stint, Jack Mitchell in third. To add further drama, however, a message appeared on the timing screens that the first and second placed cars were being investigated after contact.

The revised results were published some three hours after the race had finished, promoting the #31 car to first place and demoting the #21 to second. This was later clarified as being a result of the ‘#21’s avoidable contact with the #31 Bentley and not passing under the safety car.”

An investigation was launched into the circumstances surrounding the finish and enough evidence was found to suggest that the #21 had gained an advantage through avoidable contact with the #31 Bentley but, with the race finished, there was no way of applying an in-race penalty and thus 26 seconds was applied.

Clearly this was a highly unusual situation and one which the series organisers, SRO Motorsports Group, want to avoid in the future.

“What happened today with the Safety Car procedure was very unfortunate but, given the letter of the regulations, not something we could have controlled,” explained Championship Manager Benjamin Franassovici. “We follow the MSA’s regulations which state the Safety Car must pick up the race leader which, in the official timing, 2as not the #21 Spirit of Race Ferrari. Race Control therefore had no choice but to wave it by.”

“Applying in-race time penalties contributed to this but these are the rules by which we and others race under the MSA’s jurisdiction. Today we found an anomaly, which will be investigated fully. One way or another there must be changes to avoid this situation from ever happening again.””