All posts by Andy Lloyd

2017 British GT Championship Grid Starts to Take Shape

With the final round of the 2016 British GT season now over two months ago, teams are working fast to get plans into place for next year. Contrary to whispers at the end of the season of the demise of GT3 in the national championship, three teams have already announced plans for the premier class in 2017.

AmDTuning.com has announced that it will run dual campaigns in both the British GT Championship and the Michelin Le Mans Cup, which sits alongside the European Le Mans Series. The West Thurrock-based team will campaign a 2017-spec Mercedes-AMG GT3 with drivers for the Michelin Le Mans Cup already confirmed as Lee Mowle and Phil Keen.

“Having enjoyed our first season of GT3 competition this year, it was always our intention to secure a ‘latest generation’ car for 2017 and we are delighted to confirm we will be running the Mercedes-AMG GT3 next season, “ said Team Principal Shaun Hollamby. “The car is a proven winner on track having taken the Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup title and victory in the Nurburgring 24 Hours and we’re confident that it is the right car to carry us to success.”

Also campaigning a Mercedes-AMG GT3 in the British GT Championship in 2017 will be Team ABBA with Rollcentre Racing. Martin Short and Richard Neary drove the team’s BMW Z4 GT3 in 2016 and have reconfirmed their commitment to the championship by buying a brand new car.

“It’s one of the latest cars and proved its credentials in Europe last season,” said Martin Short. “We were able to have a good look at it when Black Falcon joined British GT at Spa. It was immediately clear how good the build quality and AMG customer service was, and then following it on track gave us an idea of how it handles. That was very apparent when Richard and I tested one at Hockenheim. It’s the best GT car I’ve ever driven and should be well suited to British circuits.”

Stepping up to GT3 in 2017 will be Macmillan Racing who will be adding an Aston Martin GT3 to its existing GT4 entry. Jack Mitchell has been confirmed to drive the Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3, which will be receiving assistance from Prodrive.

“It’s been a big surprise and also a big jump!” said Mitchell. “Myself and the team spent last year learning the ropes so it was good to get a few podiums. It could be more of the same in 2017 but I’m really excited about the challenge.”

“This is such an exciting announcement”, said Team Principal David Macmillan. “Racing at the very highest level in the UK, with just one season of racing behind us, may seem like a big step but we are ready for the challenge.”

After enjoying its debut season with the Maserati GT MC GT4, which included celebrating a second place in class at Oulton Park, York-based Ebor GT has announced its intention to campaign two examples of the iconic Italian marque in the 2017 British GT Championship.

Ebor GT drivers Abbie Eaton and Marcus Hoggarth finished joint second in the GT4 Pro-Am Drivers standings in 2016 and the team is focused on building on that success next season.

The first round of the 2017 British GT Championship takes place at Oulton Park on April 15 – 17.

Porsche Closes Out Manufacturers Championship At FIA WEC Shanghai (06.11.16)

Porsche sealed the 2016 FIA World Endurance Manufacturers Championship at the 6 Hours of Shanghai with victory for the #1 Porsche 919 Hybrid driven by Timo Bernhard, Mark Webber and Brendon Hartley and fourth place for the #2 car driven by Romain Dumas, Neel Jani and Marc Lieb.

Toyota Gazoo Racing continued its run of podium successes with a well-earned second and third place in China. The #6 Toyota TS050 with the driver line-up of Stéphane Sarrazin, Mike Conway and Kamui Kobayashi crossed the line in second position, Kobayashi at the wheel for the final stint. The #5 car, piloted by Anthony Davidson, Sébastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima finshed third with Davidson taking the chequered flag.

Continue reading Porsche Closes Out Manufacturers Championship At FIA WEC Shanghai (06.11.16)

FIA World Endurance Championship – Round Eight Preview – The 6 Hours Of Shanghai (02.11.16)

Round Seven of the 2016 FIA World Endurance Championship, the 6 Hours of Fuji, offered some of the best motorsport action across any series, championship or formula that we have seen this year. As the 2016 FIA World Endurance Championship reaches its penultimate round, the 6 Hours of Shanghai promises more no-holds-barred action across all the four classes.

Adding additional poignancy to this round will be the fact that this will be the first of two opportunities to witness the might of Audi Sport Team Joest with the Audi R18 for the final time, following the shock announcement on October 26 that the manufacturer will be leaving endurance racing to focus on FIA Formula E. The announcement was as much a shock to the drivers as it was to the motorsport press and public and the team will definitely want to leave its mark on its final two appearances.

There are no changes to the entries or drivers in the LMP1 class for the Shanghai round.

In LMP2 Tom Blomqvist replaces Giedo van der Garde in the #30 Extreme Speed Motorsports Ligier JS P2, to drive alongside Antonio Giovinazzi and Sean Gelael. In the #35 Baxi DC Racing Alpine A460 Paul-Loup Chatin replaces nelson Pantiaticci alongside David Cheng and Ho-Pin Tung. The #42 Strakka Racing Gibson 015S will be missing for the last two rounds of the championship due to engine issues and the difficulty of shipping a fresh engine out to China.

There has been a shuffle in the driver line-ups for the two Manor entries. Alex Lynn replaces Roberto Mehri in the #44 ORECA 05 and will join Matt Rao and Richard Bradley. In the #45 entry Roberto Gonzalez and Mathias Beche will drive alongside Tor Graves.

There are no changes to the LMGTE pro entries from Round Seven.

In LMGTE Am Romain Brandela replaces Yutaka Yamagishi in the #50 Larbre Competition Chevrolet Corvette C7 – Z06.

In the FIA WEC Manufacturers Champioship Porsche hold a 59-point lead over Audi, Porsche topping the table on 263 points. With only two rounds left, Porsche look strong favourites for the title. Toyota, however, are only 30 points behind Audi and after the victory on home soil at Fuji, will now believe that second place in the Championship is within its grasp.

LMP2 saw a titanic battle at Fuji between the #26 G-Drive Racing ORECA 05 and the #43 RGR Sport by Morand Ligier JS P2. With the #36 Signatech-Alpine holding a 35-point lead on 171 points in the FIA WEC Endurance Trophy For LMP2 Teams, the French team will be hard to beat. However, G-Drive Racing, buoyed by its incredible ‘never-say-die’ victory at Fuji, will definitely believe that second place in the team trophy is realistic.

In LMGTE Pro it’s all to play for with only 16 points separating the top four teams. Aston Martin Racing has a 10-point advantage at the top of the table over AF Corse with the two Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Team UK entries tied on 103 points, 6 points behind the the #71 AF Corse Ferrari F488 GTE entry.

The #83 AF Corse Ferrari F458 Italia holds a 33 –point advantage over the #98 Aston Martin Racing entry in the LMGTE Am class and is now in the driving seat for the FIA Endurance Trophy for LMGTE Am teams.

The first Free Practice session for the 6 Hours of Shanghai starts at 10:00 local time on Friday November 4. Qualifying is split into two twenty-minute sessions for the Prototype and GTE classes and starts at 13:30 local time on Saturday November 5.

The lights go out for the start of the 6 Hours of Shanghai at 11:00 local time on Sunday November 6.

UK time is 8 hours behind local time so it will be a very early start for European endurance racing enthusiasts on Sunday morning.

Jackie Chan DC Racing Takes Zhuhai Double Podium At Asian Le Mans Series Round One (30.10.16)

Jackie Chan DC Racing took double class honours when it won the LMP2 and LMP3 classes at the opening round of the 2016/17 Asian Le Mans Series at Zhuhai.

The #35 Jackie Chan DC Racing Nissan-powered ORECA 03R driven by Ho-Pin Tung, Thomas Laurent and Gustavo Menezes took the honours in LMP2 after the four-hour race where the lead was traded back and forth with the #24 Judd-powered Algarve Pro Racing Ligier JS P2, driven by Tack Sung Kim, Andrea Roda and Matthew McMurry. The #24 car was second at the chequered flag, followed by the Nissan-powered #25 Algarve Pro Racing Ligeir JS P2, piloted by Michael Munemann, Nicky Catsburg and Andrew Pizzitola.

Jackie Chan DC Racing also took class honours in LMP3 when the #1 Ligier JS P3 driven by David Cheng, Jamie Winslow and Jun Jin took the chequered flag ahead of the #26 Tockwith Motorsports Ligier JS P3 driven by Nigel Moore and Phil Hanson. Third in the LM P3 class was the #85 G-Print by Triple 1 Racing Ligier driven by Hanns Lin and Julio Acosta.

In GT it was an all-Italian manufacturers podium with two Ferrari F488 GT3s and a Lamborghini Huracán GT3. The #38 Spirit of Race Ferrari F488 GT3, driven by Nasrat Muzayyin, Rui Aguas and Marco Cioci took the class victory ahead of the #61 Clearwater Racing Ferrari piloted by Mok Weng Sun, Keita Sawa and Matt Griffin. The #6 VS Racing Lamborghini Huracán GT3 with the driver line-up of Cozzolino, Lewis and Zaugg took the final podium position.

The second round of the 2016/17 Asian Le Mans Series will take place at Fuji, Japan on December 2 – 4.

Full race report to follow.

Johnston, Adam, Farmer And Barnes Confirmed For TF Sport 2017 British GT Title Defence (27.10.16)

Redhill-based TF Sport, winners of the 2016 British GT Teams and Drivers championships and the inaugural Michelin GT3 Le Mans Cup, has announced that Derek Johnston and Jonny Adam will remain with the team to defend the British GT titles in 2017.

Mark Farmer and Jon Barnes will also remain with TF Sport as it looks to consistency to repeat the outstanding form the team, and all its drivers, displayed throughout 2016.

Continue reading Johnston, Adam, Farmer And Barnes Confirmed For TF Sport 2017 British GT Title Defence (27.10.16)

Audi To Leave FIA World Endurance Championship At End Of 2016 (26.10.16)

After weeks of rumour, Audi has confirmed that it will withdraw from the FIA World Endurance Championship, including the 24 Hours of Le Mans, at the end of the 2016 season and will instead focus on the Formula E series.

Chairman of the Board of Management Rupert Stadler spoke to employees of the motorsport department on the morning of Wednesday October 26.

“We’re going to contest the race for the future on electric power,” said Stadler. “As our production cars are becoming increasingly electric, our motorsports cars, as Audi’s technological spearheads, have to even more so.”

Audi’s departure from top-level endurance racing marks the end of an 18 year campaign, during which the brand scored 13 victories in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, won the FIA World Endurance Championship twice and secured the American Le Mans Series title nine times.

Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ulrich was clearly sad at the closing of this chapter in Audi’s history.

“After 18 years in prototype racing that were exceptionally successful for Audi, it’s obviously extremely hard to leave,” said Dr. Ulrich. “Audi Sport Team Joest shaped the WEC during this period like no other team. I would like to express my thanks to our squad, to Reinhold Joest and his team, to the drivers, partners and sponsors for this extremely successful cooperation. It’s been a great time!”

Audi’s departure will leave only two manufacturers in the premier class of the FIA World Endurance Championship – Porsche and Toyota.