All posts by Andy Lloyd

Asian Le Mans Series – “Bigger And Better For 2018” (15.05.18)

The A.C.O. has announced details of the 2018/19 Asian Le Mans Series, promising that “it will be bigger and better than the 2017/18 season that delivered record coverage for the teams, drivers and sponsors.”

The biggest change is that there will be two trophies to be won in the LMP2 class – a professional trophy for the outright class winner and an amateur trophy for all-amateur crews. Winners of both categories will receive invitations to the 2019 running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

As well as the LMP3 class, which has been growing in popularity, the GT class will be open to GT3 as well as cars from the GT300 class of the Japanese Super GT Championship.

As a result, there will be four invitations to the 2019 24 Hours of Le Mans – two in the LMP2 class, one for the winners of the LMP3 category and an invitation to compete in the LMGTE Am class for the winner of the GT class.

The Series will visit the Shanghai International Circuit, China in November, Fuji Speedway, Japan, in December, Buriram International Circuit, Thailand, in January 2019 and concludes at the Sepang International Circuit, Malaysia at the end of February.

President of the Automobile Club de l’Ouest, Pierre Fillon, is looking forward to the news season.

“The Asian Le Mans Series is a very important championship for the ACO, particularly with regard to the role the Series plays in the development of endurance racing in the region,” said Pierre Fillon. “The significant growth in coverage is opening the sport up to a new audience, whilst it offers local teams and drivers the opportunity to develop before making the step up to the 24 Hours of Le Mans.”

G-Drive / Rusinov / Pizzitola / Vergne Win At Monza (14.05.18)

Photo: Europeanlemansseries.com

Signes, France-based chassis manufacturer ORECA dominated the LMP2 class at Round Four of the 2018 European Le Mans Series from Autodromo Nazionale Monza, taking the top six positions in the premier category in a race that saw four interruptions for safety-car interventions.

The #26 G-Drive Racing ORECA 07, piloted by Roman Rusinov, Andrea Pizzitola and, taking the final stint to the chequered flag, Jean-Eric Vergne, won in decisive fashion, 29.828 seconds ahead of the #33 TDS Racing ORECA driven by Matthieu Vaxivière in the car he shared with François Perrodo and Loïc Duval.

Taking the final podium position in the LMP2 class, and just 2.108 seconds behind the #33 car, was the #28 IDEC Sport entry with the driver line-up of Paul Lafargue, Paul-Loup Chatin and Memo Rojas.

In the LMP3 class, the #11 Eurointernational Ligier JS P3, piloted by Giorgio Mondini and, taking the final stint, Kay Van Berlo who took the victory ahead of the #6 360 Racing Ligier of Terrence Woodward and Ross Kaiser.

The LMGTE class saw an almost lights-to flag win for the#55 Spirit Of Race Ferrari F488 GTE driven by Duncan Cameron, Matthew Griffin and Aaron Scott.

LMP2:

Ben Hanley, at the wheel of the #21 DragonSpeed ORECA started from pole and had begun to open a gap to fellow front-row starter Roman Rusinov in the #26 G-Drive entry but, with less than 15 minutes run, the #39 Graff ORECA, driven for the opening stint by Alexandra Cougnaud, went off at speed at T7, bringing out the safety-car and neutralising the race for 19 mins. DragonSpeed took advantage of the pause to pit the#21 car and change drivers to Henrik Hedman.

The race had enjoyed green-flag racing for less than 10 minutes before the safety-car was called in to action for the second time when Enzo Guibbert, taking the opening stint in the #40 G-Drive Graff-run ORECA, went off. Guibbert was unhurt and the race was neutralised for a further 18 minutes for recovery and barrier repair.

When the race restarted, the #29 Duqueine Engineering entry, with Pierre Ragues at the wheel, led the field, closely followed by the #30 AVF By Adrian Valles Dallara driven by Henrique Chaves.

As the 90-minute mark approached Roman Rusinov took the lead in the #26 G-Drive entry, pursued by Philip Hanson in the #22 United Autosport Ligier JSP217, just over three seconds behind. However further disruption was just round the corner after the #20 Racing For Poland Ligier JS P3 spun at the Ascari Chicane, causing the race to be neutralised for nearly 20 minutes to allow for recovery.

Andrea Pizzitola had just taken over driving duties in the #26 car when the safety-car was called upon for the fourth time after the #18 M Racing-YMR Ligier made contact with the #9 AT Racing Ligier JSP3 and the race was neutralised for 13 minutes. There was momentary confusion when the leading #22 United Autosports car with Philip Hanson at the wheel went past the safety-car and only correct and careful handling by Race Control avoided chaos.

When the race returned to green-flag running, Pizzitola retook the lead with Will Stevens chasing in the #23 Panis-Barthez Compétition Ligier.

The final driver change saw Jean-Eric Vergne take over driving duties in the #26 G-Drive entry and although Paul-Loup Chatin briefly took the lead with 30 minutes to go, Vergne brought the car home for the victory.

Roman Rusinov was delighted with the win.

“It’s a great weekend for us,” said the 36-year old Russian driver. “From the beginning the car was competitive and all the team did a really great job, Jean-Eric and Andrea were fantastic during then whole weekend also. We really showed our pace during the race. I did a good start but then it was impossible to follow the DragonSpeed with Hanley inside. Then we were unlucky with the first pitstop when we lost some positions, but then I think my teammates did an amazing job and we recovered from that quite well.”

Round Three of the 2018 European Le Mans Series takes place at the Red Bull Ring on July 22.

Vaxiviere Puts TDS Racing On Pole At Monza (12.05.18)

Photo: europeanlemansseries.com

Matthieu Vaiviere, at the wheel of the #33 TDS Racing ORECA 07 he shares with Francois Perodo and Loic Duval, took pole for Sunday May 13’s 4 Hours of Monza, Round Two of the 2018 European Le Mans Series, with a 1:35.456, .381 seconds clear of the #21 DragonSpeed ORECA 07 driven by Ben Hanley.

Completing the top three in the LMP2 class was the #31 APR-Rebellion Racing ORECA 07 of Ryan Cullen, Harrison Newey and Gustavo Menezes in which Menezes put in a 1:36.034.

The session was neutralised with as red flag with 2:48 to go to allow track workers to clear debris from the track. There was also drama just as the chequered flag went out to conclude the session when Ate De Jong, driving the #25 Algarve Pro Racing Ligier JSP217  he shares with Mark Patterson and Tacksung Kim, went off the circuit at the exit of the Parabolica. De Jong emerged from the car seemingly unscathed but there will be significant work required to get the #25 car on the grid for Sunday’s race.

Vaxiviere was delighted at taking his first pole position in the European Le Mans Series.

“It’s been long, hard to get the pole but we are really happy to get this,” said the young Frenchman. “I am also really happy for Francois, for Loic and for the team because we have worked hard all the last season in the WEC. I did a good, decent lap for myself but maybe lost two tenths at T2 but I’m pretty happy with my lap.”

“It will be a long race and we need to see the weather first and then  work out where we can finish but we finished P2 in the ELMS at Paul Ricard so the goal is to get a podium again but we’ll see.”

In a packed LMP3 qualifying session, Mathieu Lahaye took class pole with a 1:45.386, .339 seconds quicker than the pole setting time in 2017, in the #17 Ultimate Norma M30. ahead of David Droux in the #19 M Racing-YMR Norma.

LMGTE pole went to the #80 Ebimotors Porsche 911 RSR with Riccardo Pera at the wheel, securing the Italian team’s second class pole position of the weekend.

The lights go out for the 4 Hours of Monza at 12:20 local time on Sunday May 13.

 

 

 

Devon Modell Steps Down From 2018 British GT Championship (09.05.18)

Photo: BritishGT.com / Jakob Ebrey Photography

Devon Modell, driver of the #24 RJN Motorsport Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 alongside team-mate Struan Moore, has decided to step down from the British GT Championship with immediate effect to concentrate on his business interests.

Modell, who first drove in the premier national GT championship in 2014, owns, with his family, the Gallery Superclub Maidstone and made the announcement ahead of the third round at Snetterton on May 26 – 27.

“It’s a shame,” said Modell. “I knew it was going to be a big risk to run the business and drive and compete over the same weekend. If I’m not able to be 100 per cent focused, it’s better someone else gets the chance to drive the RJN Nissan for now.”

“The Gallery Superclub is an new venture for me this year and it demands a lot of attention but I’m certainly not hanging up my helmet just yet and hope to return to the series on another occasion, maybe even later this year.”

“For now though, I will be focusing on business commitments and maybe the occasional outing in one-off events when my time permits. I would especially like to thank Bob Neville at RJN Motorsport for his understanding and wish him and Struan the very best for the remainder of the season.”

“The Future Is Bright” – Team HARD’s Anna Walewska Discusses The University of Bolton’s National Centre For Motorsport Engineering With EnduranceandGT. (01.05.18)

Photo: @BritishGT / Jakob Ebrey Photography

Anna Walewska, now in her fourth season of the British GT Championship and team-mate of Callum Hawkins-Row in the #34 Team HARD with Trade Price Cars Ginetta G55 GT, is Brand Ambassador for the University of Bolton and its new National Centre of Motorsport Engineering (NCME).

Anna’s role with the University of Bolton means that students at the NCME have the opportunity to work within Team HARD as way of providing work experience in an industry that is notoriously hard to break in to.

EnduranceandGT.co.uk editor Andy Lloyd caught up with the Hindhead-based driver, who finished third in the 2016 GT4 Drivers Standings, at Round Three of the British GT Championship at Rockingham Motor Speedway to discuss her involvement with the University.

Anna, you’ve been a Brand Ambassador for the University of Bolton for four years. How did that relationship come about?

“It originally came about because the University was looking for a female ambassador and I was racing in Britcar at the time and I won the Britcar class championship and finished third overall. That was enough for them to appoint me to the position as long as I was happy to have the students’ involvement with me and the teams I worked with.”

Anna a.a. 18.05.01

Photo: @ParenRaval

Has the student involvement been there from the start?

“It’s progressed. It was not there originally but when we entered British GT, which was three years ago, we started and they’ve been with me ever since. Wherever I go, they follow.”

The idea of motorsport as an educational path is relatively new. What do you think that gives students when they’re looking at careers in an industry which is particularly difficult to get in to?

“I think, if you go to university and you come out with an engineering degree, you’ve proved your ability and commitment to a degree course and you’ve learned the theoretical side. This programme couples that with hands-on experience and a taste of the industry, at a high level, with the opportunity to look at aspects such as data, telemetry, and also the mechanical side. It gives the students a chance to see where they might like to specialise.”

“I think that what we’re giving them, and what I’m offering them, is an opportunity to find out what field they want to go in to. After that, in terms of competitiveness for them, it gives their CV an edge compared to anyone else. They can say ‘I worked in British GT with a professional team and I’ve got experience’. It’s not part of the course but it’s like work-experience. We try and give the opportunity to everyone who wants to go. And they enjoy it – it’s nice to see them progress.”

What is the step-change that the National Centre of Motorsport Engineering gives the University of Bolton from that which they had before?

“Now they have a hub – a building that is specifically for motorsport engineering called the National Centre for Motorsport Engineering. Although there’s no race team running out of it per se on campus, they still have the cars that go up to the team at the University, cars that can be worked on if they want to and the opportunity to see the prep work, the set-down work and, of course, they can visit Team HARD’s work-shop and carry out some prep work with us. They can also go externally and do some work in Rallycross as we have links with Albatec.”

#34 a.a. 18.05.01

Photo: BritishGT.com / Jakob Ebrey Photography

What does the future hold for the NCME?

“The future is bright. There are many things that the University wants to do. I’d like to see them have an in-house race team – in years to come I think that would be a nice progression but essentially the National Centre is a facility for the students. It’s hub for them where they have fantastic facilities at a base from where it all happens.”

How many of the students have moved into the motorsport industry?

“we have one student who’s gone on into McLaren, not at F1 level but he’s working on the workshop floor. We also have few who have gone into British Touring Cars and there are two that Century Motorsport have taken on. So the programme has worked in that sense. They’ve got a job at the end of it which is what they want.”

Working in a race team is more than just having the technical skills, isn’t it? It’s the ability to work as part of a team…

“Yes. Our students get to see the highs and experience the lows. For some people it’s not for them. If the car gets smashed at the end of the day and the race is tomorrow, they’ll be up all night working on it. On a degree course, you wouldn’t necessarily see that. It gives them the opportunity to ask themselves the question: ‘Do I want to be involved in this?’. And most of them do!”

You can read more about the University of Bolton and the National Centre for Motorsport Engineering here.

“I have Full Confidence Going Into The Next Round” – Team HARD’s Ben Wallace Takes The Positives From British GT Championship Round Three at Rockingham (29.04.18)

Photo: @ParenRaval.

Southport-based Ben Wallace, driver of the #88 Team HARD Ginetta G55 GT4, alongside team-mate Joshua Jackson, finished tenth in the GT4 Silver class after the first two-hour race of the 2018 British GT Championship season at Rockingham Motor Speedway on Sunday April 29.

The weekend saw a supreme effort from Team HARD who worked miracles to get the #88 Ginetta out for Saturday April 28’s qualifying sessions following damage sustained to the car in practice. The hard work of the Rochester-based team was recognised by the Championship organisers when they were awarded ‘Team of the Weekend’.

“The team was fantastic,” said 18-year old Ben Wallace. “It was definitely a team success and it was great that the work of Team HARD in getting the car ready for qualifying was rewarded with a trophy for ‘Team of the Weekend’.”

Due to a mechanical failure preventing the car from setting a qualifying time, Ben Wallace started from 34th on the grid but the pace of the LIPS Reifen-backed driver in the Ginetta G55 GT4 was soon evident after Benjamin made up sixteen places in the early part of the race.

Contact with another competitor caused a steering-arm to snap and the resulting repairs cost nearly 20 minutes in the pits. Wallace handed the car over to team-mate Joshua Jackson who drove an excellent second-half of the race to bring the car home tenth in class and claim 1.5 Championship points.

Despite the delay in the pits, the pace he could show in the car excited Ben Wallace.

“I felt I could have easily finished in the top five,” said Wallace. “You could see how much quicker I was compared to the other cars and I felt really good in the car.”

“It was nice to prove that I can be as quick as anyone else in the field,” continued Wallace. “It’s a real boost and I now have full confidence going into the next rounds. We will certainly be higher up the grid for Rounds Four and Five at Snetterton, if not a top-ten team, even top five.”

The British GT Championship now moves to Snetterton, Norfolk for Rounds Four and Five on May 27.