G-Drive’s Gutiérrez To Miss Final Rounds Of ELMS (27.08.18).

Photo: Jose Gutiérrez (L) / Enzo Guibbert (C) / James Allen(R) (Credit: Jakob Ebrey)

Sources close to the Graff-run #40 G-Drive Racing ORECA 07 have told EnduranceandGT that Jose Gutiérrez will not be part of the driver line-up for the team’s entry into the remaining two rounds of the 2018 European Le Mans Series season.

The 22-year old Mexican driver had competed in the opening three rounds of the premier European prototype championship alongside James Allen and Enzo Guibbert, with Garry Findlay replacing Guibbert for Round Four, the 4 Hours of Silverstone. Gutiérrez, Allen and Guibbert also contested the 2018 24 Hours of Le Mans.

In contrast to a spectacular year for the #40 car in the 2017 European Le Mans Series with victories in the final two rounds and a third-place finish in the LMP2 Teams Trophy standings, 2018 has proved frustrating, despite an immense amount of hard work by the team and drivers. An opening round 6th place finish at the opening round at Circuit Paul Ricard promised much with the hope that the team could continue with the momentum it had built up at the end of the previous year.

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Photo: Jakob Ebrey / JEP

Round Two at Monza saw the #40 not classified after a big accident for Enzo Guibbert at the Variante Ascari. The incident was later attributed due to a braking problem. Round Three at Red Bull Ring saw the #40 car hampered with a traction control issues which resulted in the traction control system having to be switched off and a 13th place finish.

The #40 G-Drive Racing ORECA looked to be on course for a possible podium finish at the 4 Hours of Silverstone on August 18 and was running in second place in the early stages of the race with the young Australian driver James Allen at the wheel. An electrical problem, however, forced the #40 entry into the garage and the team finally finished in 13th place.

James Allen has driven in every round of the team’s 2018 European Le Mans Series campaign, twice being entrusted with qualifying the car, resulting in an eighth-in-class grid position at Red Bull Ring and fifth-in-class at Silverstone.

The #40 entry currently lies twelfth in the LMP2 Teams Classification.

Gutiérrez joined G-Drive Racing for the 2018 season from PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports where he finished twelfth in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Prototype Drivers standings, driving the team’s #52 Ligier LMP2 with teammates Olivier Pla and Julien Canal.

Round Five of 2018 European Le Mans Series takes place at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps on September 23.

Ben Wallace To Promote Diabetes UK At Ormskirk Motorfest 2018. (22.08.18)

Ben Wallace, driver of the #88 Team HARD Ginetta G55 GT4 in the 2018 British GT Championship, will be appearing at Ormskirk Motorfest on Sunday August 26. Ben will be displaying his Ginetta race car at the Moor Street P2 area.

Ben, who has Type 1 diabetes, will be fundraising  for Diabetes UK at the event to promote the work of the UK’s leading charity for people affected by diabetes.

“The August Bank Holiday weekend is the perfect time to relax with family and friends and I can’t think of a better way to spend it than displaying my Ginetta G55 GT4 race car at the North-West’s biggest festival of motoring, Ormskirk Motorfest,” said Ben. “As an athlete competing at the highest level of national GT racing, I have been very grateful for the support of Diabetes UK and I am delighted to be able to join their fundraising at this prestigious event.”

“This year has been a busy one for me, combining my British GT Championship campaign with my driver-coaching work and studies,” continued Ben. “Planning my 2019 racing activities is now a priority for me and Ormskirk Motorfest is a fun and effective way to demonstrate how I work with my supporters.”

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Photo: Ian Cutting

Diabetes UK is the leading UK charity for people affected by diabetes. From care and support to prevention, campaigning, fundraising and research, Diabetes UK is tackling the fastest-growing health threat in the UK.

Ormskirk Motorfest is organised and run by the Aintree Circuit Club and expects to welcome 30,000 visitors and have over 300 motor vehicles on display. Ben’s Ginetta will be on display next to, amongst others, a 7.6ltr Ultima GTR, an Aston martin DB11 V12 Coupe, a Talbot Sunbeam Lotus and a 1934 Austin.

The event opens at 11:00 on Sunday August 26 and is completely free to attend. The organisers advise that, if you are planning to attend, you use public transport (Merseyrail Electric direct to Ormskirk Town Centre) or, if coming by car, use the Classic Bus Park and Ride from Edge Hill University.

Toyota Disqualified At Silverstone. Rebellion Take 1-2 In Round Three WEC. (20.08.18)

Photo: Paren Raval

Following post-race scrutineering, both Toyota TS050-Hybrids were disqualified from the 6 Hours of Silverstone after finishing 1 -2 on the track.

The #91 Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR, driven by Richard Lietz and Gianmaria Bruni was also excluded.

Concerning the exclusion of the #7 and #8 Toyotas, Decision No 25 from the Stewards of the Meeting declared that; “The Technical Delegates measured the vertical deflection of the front part of the skid under a 2500 N load. The deflection was to be 9mm on both sides of the front part of the skid block. The measurement was witnessed by the competitors’ technical representative John Litjens and he confirmed to the stewards that the measurement was done correctly.”

The decision promoted the two Rebellion Racing Rebellion R13s to first and second place, with the #3 entry, piloted by Mathias Beche, Thomas Laurent and Gustavo Menezes taking the win and the sister #1 car, with the driver line up of Neel Jani and André Lotterer, moving into second place. The final podium position is now occupied by the #17 SMP Racing BR Engineering BR1.

The LMP2 results still stood, with a 1 -2 for Jackie Chan DC Racing, its #38 ORECA 07 piloted by Ho-Pin Tung, Gabriel Aubry and Stéphane Richelmi winning the class by just 1.971 seconds from the sister #37 entry driven by Jazeman Jaafar, Weiron Tan and Nabil Jeffri. Completing the top three in the LMP2 category was the #36 Signatech Alpine Matmut Alpine A470 with the driver line-up of Nicolas Lapierre, André Negrão and Pierre Thiriet.

The #51 AF Corse Ferrari F488 GTE of Alessandro Pier Guidi and James Calado took the win in the LNGTE Pro and, after the disqualification of the #91 car for ground clearance issues, the #67 Ford Chip Ganassi team UK Ford GT moved up to second place with the #91 Porsche in third.

Porsche won the LMGTE Am category with the #77 Dempsey-Proton Porsche 911 RSR taking the chequered flag 46.878 seconds ahead of the #90 TF Sport Aston Martin Vantage.

Round Four of the 2018/19 FIA World Endurance Championship takes place at Fuji International Speedway on October 12.

“I Think We’ve Hit The Sweet Spot” – President Of Aston Martin Racing David King Discusses GT3 And GT4 Development. (19.08.18)

Photo: astonmartin.com

President of Aston Martin Racing David King, speaking ahead of Round Four of the FIA World Endurance Championship, has indicated that the Gaydon-based manufacturer is pleased with the reception of the new Vantage GT3 and is looking to develop the brand in the key North American market.

“We’re deep into the customer testing now and have lots of orders,” said David King. “GT3 is a very competitive market place. There are lots of good offerings from all the manufacturers but I think there’s something special about racing an Aston. It’s a competitive car and good value for money. The outgoing car, the V12, is a fan favourite but I think the new car will be very exciting. The art of developing a GT3 car is to make it useable for the gentleman driver and still suit the professional driver as well. I think we’ve hit that sweet spot.”

The recent announcements by the SRO Motorsports Group concerning the development of the World Challenge in North America has offered Aston Martin an additional platform to present its products and David King is looking to take full advantage of the opportunity, as well as explore other US-based series .

“We aren’t fully exploiting the opportunities in North America yet and it’s no secret to say we are actively seeking a partner in North America to work alongside the Prodrive AMR team to help with the distribution and support of customer cars,” said David King. “Ideally as well (to offer support) to get an IMSA programme running for us. I’m talking about an aspiration rather than a plan at the moment but, yes, we’d like to race in GTLM in IMSA. It’s a massive market and a fantastic series and we’re not there yet.”

In addition to its presence in the British GT Championship and the Blancpain GT Series, Aston Martin would like to increase its presence in other European championships but not before the new GT3 car has been proven with customer teams in its existing markets.

“It’s more important in the first year that we don’t flood the market with cars when we’re not quite ready,” said King. “We want to place GT3 cars with a few key customer teams so they can go out and demonstrate how good the car is for us and then we can sell more in the second and third year. It’s about quality rather than quantity in GT3 in the first year. We need to see some strong teams running in Blancpain Endurance and British GT. ADAC GT Masters in Germany is important – we haven’t been represented there at all for a few years so we’d like to get a strong partner team in Germany as well.”

The new Aston Martin GT4 was presented at Le Mans this year but is not quite as far advanced in development as its sister GT3 car.

“The new GT4 is in development at the moment based on the new V8 Vantage and we’re not quite doing customer drives yet but we’ll be doing so fairly soon,” said David King. “GT4 is a massive market for us and it’s a very good way to link our road-car customers to racing and as an intro to racing and track days as well. We were first in to GT4 back in 2007 when SRO launched it so we’ve seen it grow and flourish. We’ll continue to play a big part in that.”

G-Drives Makes It Three-In-A-Row With Dominant Silverstone ELMS Win (18.08.18)

Photo: Paren Raval

The #26 G-Drive Racing ORECA 07, piloted by Roman Rusinov, Andrea Pizzitola and Jean-Eric Vergne took their second consecutive victory and their third of the 2018 European Le Mans Series when Vergne took the chequered flag, one lap ahead of the #21 DragonSpeed ORECA driven by Henrik Hedman, Ben Hanley and Nicolas Lapierre, who took the final stint.

Completing the podium positions in the LMP2 class was the #28 IDEC Sport ORECA 07 with the driver line-up of Paul Lafargue, Paul Loup Chatin and Memo Rojas, Lafargue bringing the car home 8.33 seconds behind the 21 entry.

The field was led away from the grid by Julien Canal, at the wheel of the #23 Panis-Barthez Competition Ligier JSP217 with Roman Rusinov holding second place. The Russian driver found a way past the #23 entry just after the first hour while the leading pair were overtaking back-markers.

The #22 United Autosports Ligier was retired at the the half-way mark after tyre pick-up entered the cabin, activating the fire extinguisher and immediately disabling the car’s system. Driver Phil Hanson was quick to exit the stricken vehicle. The incident was quickly followed by the #35 SMP Racing Dallara with Victor Shaitar at the wheel coming off the circuit and hitting the tyre barrier. Although the car was returned to the garage, damage meant that the car had to be retired.

Andrea Pizzitola handed the #26 enry over to Jean-Eric Vergne who enjoyed a relatively trouble-free run to the chequered despite a last minute stop for fuel.

The battle for the remaining podium places intensified in the closing laps with Norman Nato in the #24 Racing Engineering making contact with the barriers, contact between the #23 Panis-Barthez Competition entry driven by Will Stevens and the #31 APR Rebellion Racing ORECA, the #30 AVF by Adrián Vallés Dallara requiring a new rear wing and a splash-and-dash fuel stop for the #28 IDEC Sport ORECA. The resulting changes to the order ment that the #21 DragonSpeed ORECA with Nicolas Lapierre took second lace within the last ten minutes, a position which he held to the chequered.

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Photo: Roman Rusinov

Roman Rusinov was delighted with the win but was quick to praise his teammates .

“Yes it was a very good race but in the beginning it was not so easy because Julien Canal was very fast and I was doing one second slower than him so for a Silver it was quite impressive to be honest,” said Rusinov.

Commenting on the pass which saw take Rusinov take the lead just after the one-hour mark, the Russian driver thought that traffic played more of factor than jis pace.

“To be honest he (Canal) was stuck in traffic and I got more speed so it was not such a big move,” said Rusinov. “I think the job was done by Jean-Eric and Andrea, to be honest, and they did a fantastic job. Throughout the weekend the car was very fast, the team was doing a perfect job and, at the end of the day, it is a team job to get the car as good as that.”

Jean-Eric Vergne’s drive to the finish saw him less concerned about what was happening behind him and more focused on maintaining steady lap times.

“I really enjoyed myself in that race,” said Vergne. “I won my first title at Silverstone in Formula 3 and it’s always nice to come back here to my roots because I used to  live next to Silverstone. The race was fun but I was just racing with myself. The only thing I was trying to do was to beat my own lap times and just try to improve my average. I had no idea what was going on behind and I had a lot of fun.”

United Autosports took the class win in the LMP3 category with its #3 Ligier JSP3, driven by Anthony Wells, in the car he shared with Garret Grist and Matthew Bell, taking the chequered flag 9.113 seconds ahead of the #7 Ecurie Ecosse / Nielsen Ligier driven by Colin Noble, Alex Kapadia and Christian Stubbe Olsen. The #17 Ultimate Norma M 30 finished in third place a further 95 seconds back.

The #12 Eurointernational Liger Mattia Drudi held the lead in the LMP3 class for the first 90 minutes whilst Sean Rayhall spun the #2 United Autosports Ligier at Turn 11 which forced him to fight his way back up the order. However a problem re-starting the engine at pit stop meant that teammate John Falb rejoined the race in a position from which he was unable to fight for a podium finish.

At a circuit that he has always found challenging, Tony Wells was delighted that he was able to fend off Le Mans Cup Championship teammate Colin Noble to take the class win.

“The car was good and the team did a great job,” said Tony Wells. “The car was rebuilt for this round and we were quick on Monday. Ironically I never go well at Silverstone – how ridiculous is that. The car was hooked up and we didn’t change anything from Monday. It was just the challenge of getting round Silverstone quickly. The pressure was on when your teammates give you the lead  but immediately I had pace and I pushed on. I did the pit stop and we had green all the way so I could get my head down and go. The team was calling the gap to Colin and obviously I w as pushing on although I admit I backed off the last few laps as I had a bit of a gap. I was very happy to see the chequered flag.

The LMGTE victory went to the #66 JMW Motosport Ferrari F488 GTE driven by Liam Griffin, Alex MacDowall and Miguel Molina, less than a second ahead of the #88 Proton Competition Porsche 911 RSR of Gianluca Roda, Giorgio Roda and Matteo Cairoli. The #55 Spirit of Race Ferrari  of Duncan Cameron, Matthew Griffin and Aaron Scott completed the top three in class.

The GTE class probably saw the most competitive racing of all three classes. The #88 Proton Competition Porsche 911 RSR, with Gianluca Roda, led the field from the start with Christian Ried, driving the #77 sister car in pursuit. With less than a few seconds covering the top four for most of the race, Miguel Molina in the #66 JMW Motorsport Ferrari F488 GTE took the lead in the final ten minutes from Matt Griffin, driving the #55 Spirit of Race Ferrari.

Both the #55 and #66 cars saw themselves awarded 10-second penalties as the race drew to a close, meaning that Matteo Cairoli, running in third in the #88 Proton Competition was mathematically leading the race.

Cairoli caught Griffin but a brief off-track excursion meant, and the resulting delay, meant that Cairoli finished 10.126 seconds behind Molina, ceding victory to the JMW Motorsport entry.

G-Drive Racing’s win means that the #26 car extends its lead at the top of the LMP2 Team’s classification to 34 points. The #15 RLR MSport Ligier leads the LMP3 Teams’ standings on 58.5 points while the #88 Proton Competition entry heads the LMP3 standings on 72 points.

The 2018 European Le Mans Series grid gathers next at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps on September 23.

 

Toyota Gazoo Racing On Pole For Silverstone WEC. (18.08.18

Photo: Paren Raval

Mike Conway andJosé María López put the #7 Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota TS050-Hybrid on pole position for Sunday August 19’s Six Hours of Silverstone, Round Three of the 2018/19 FIA World Endurance Championship ‘Super Season’.

Conway pushed hard in the opening qualifying stint in the #7 entry, resulting in some interesting moments for Sevenoaks, Kent-based driver. However he held on to put in a 1:36.769 before handing over to Lopez who consolidated the effort with a 1:36.769.

Conway was delighted at the qualifying outcome but admitted he had probably pushed too hard at the start of his stint.

“It wasn’t the best start,” said Conway. “I tried to be a bit greedy on the first lap and had a moment coming in to the last corner. I knew at that point I was going to be down a tenth or two and then in Turn Four I had another moment so I knew I had to save the tyres and go again. Luckily the tyres were still there. It was a pretty decent lap.  I let a bit on the table with so many laps being deleted with track limits – I tried to be careful there – but Jose jumped in and did a mega lap as well. It was a good start. The car was quick in practice so it’s good for tomorrow.”

Teammate López also enjoyed the session but is firmly focused on the race.

“We are very happy to be on pole but the main objective is to win the race tomorrow,” said Lopez. “It’s always hard in a six-hour race to be in front but we will see. Qualy was good. I was a bit nervous when Mike went off on the first lap but he put in a good lap and then he left it to me. I was very happy with my lap. It’s good to to start from the front but it’s a long race so we will see tomorrow.”

Pole position in the LMP2 class went to the #37 Jackie Chan DC Racing ORECA 07 crew of Jazeman Jaafer and Nabil Jeffri, in the car they share with Ho-Pin Tung with an average qualifying time of 1.44:896.

LMGTE Pro pole went to the #66 Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK Ford GT of Stefan Mücke and Olivier Pla while the #56 Team Project 1 Porsche 911 RSR of Egido Perfetti, Jörg Bergmeister and Patrick Lindsey.

The lights go out for the Six Hours of Silverstone at 12:00 on Sunday August 19.