All posts by Andy Lloyd

BMW To Enter FIA World Endurance Championship And Le Mans In 2018 (27.09.16)

BMW has announced that it will enter the FIA World Endurance Championship in 2018, alongside the IMSA WeatherTech Sportscar Championship. It will also offer a BMW M4 GT4 as the company seeks to explore exciting opportunities in GT racing.

The announcements came within a wide-ranging brief which outlines BMW’s strategic realignment of its motorsport activities. The company will maintain a focus on sustainability with a commitment to working with the Andretti Formula E team. Classic motorsport will also form part of the company’s motorsport activities.

Kraus Fröhlich, Member of the Board of management of BMW AG, commented:

“On the production-based racing scene, we will be represented with BMW M in the global WEC series in the future, as well as the DTM and the IWSC. Our commitments complement each other perfectly: we are going head to head with our most important global competitors, whether through our works commitments or customer racing. In short: The future strategy is excellently suited to the BMW group. Bring on the future.”

Jens Marquardt, BMW Motorsport Director, sees great opportunities for BMW in international motorsport.

“It is fantastic that the BMW Group will be even more broadly positioned and represented in all relevant areas in the future,” said Marquardt. “Starting with the 2018 season, we want to further expand our activities in GT racing and compete in the FIA World Endurance Championship, as well as the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. This obviously also includes our return to Le Mans, which we are particularly looking forward to. The way the WEC has developed so well makes us confident that there is a big future for GT racing.”

“This is also the motivation behind our further expansion in the customer racing sector. Our range has already been spearheaded by a successful representative, in the form of the BMW M6 GT3. As of 2018, we will also be excellently represented by the BMW M4 GT4 in the GT4 class, which is also experiencing something of a boom.”

The announcement makes for a mouth-watering entry list for the 2018 24 Hours of Le mans, with the Ford GT fully developed and both Porsche, Ferrari and Chevrolet having formidable GTE offerings.

DragonSpeed Takes Maiden Win AtELMS Round 5 At Circuit De Spa-Francorchamps – LMP2 Report (26.09.16)

West Palm beach, Florida-based DragonSpeed, with its #21 Nissan-powered ORECA 05, earned a convincing win at the fifth round of the 2016 European Le mans Series at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps.

The #21 car, piloted by Henrik Hedman, Nicolas Lapierre and Ben Hanley started on pole and was rarely running outside the top three in a race which was full of incident across all three classes.

The first safety car period was triggered by the #33 Eurasia Motorsport ORECA 05 losing a wheel at T8 and although the car was recovered to the garage, it was unable to rejoin the race.

Krohn Racing, with its Ligier JS P2 had an evenful first hour with Tracey Krohn at the wheel. Krohn collided with the #60 Formula Racing Ferrari F458 Italia with Johnny Laursen driving, causing both cars to finish in the gravel at T12. A Full Course Yellow was required to recover the stricken Ligier, the neutralisation lasting ten minutes.

After an hour, the Teams Classification-leading #46 Thiriet by TDS Racing ORECA 05 took the lead, overtaking the #21 DragonSpeed entry.

Two further safety car periods occurred in quick succession. Gary Findlay in the #48 Murphy Prototypes ORECA 05 turned right into the barrier at T8 which resulted in a safety care period of more than fifteen minutes to repair the damage. Murphy Prototypes subsequently admitted that it may have left Findlay out for a lap too long on tyres that were clearly past their best.

When the race went green, it was the #38 G-Drive Racing Gibson 015S hat took the lead, Simon Dolan pushing hard to make the best of a car which was clearly struggling against newer opposition in certain sectors.

Dolan was unlucky when, after 9 minutes, the second safety car period occurred when the #29 Pegasus Racing Morgan went off in a similar place to Gary Findlay in the #48 Murphy Prototypes entry. The damage was now so severe to the safety barrier that it took nearly 30 minutes to effect full and safe repairs. As the race went green again, Dolan in the #38 G-Drive entry along with the #41 Greaves Motorsport and #23 Panis Barthez Competition cars needed to pit for fuel.

As pit stops worked their way through, it was the #47 team WRT Ligier JS P2 that found its way to the front of the field with the #46 Thiriet by TDS Racing, #38 G-Drive Racing and #32 SMP racing cars fighting for 6th place.

Further woes were added to the #38 G-Drive Racing entry when Simon Dolan spun at T19 and, in rejoining, earned the Team Principal a trip to the Race Director’s office.

With less than an hour to the #47 Team WRT Ligier JS P2 led the #21 DragonSpeed car, driven by Lapierre, with Lapierre closing rapidly.

In the closing minutes, the #25 Algarve Pro Racing Ligier JS P2 came into contact with the #46 Thiriet by TDS ORECA 05, resulting in the #25 being stuck in the gravel at T14. The race was neutralised under a Full Course Yellow and that was how it concluded.

Victory For DragonSpeed In European le Mans Series Round Five At Spa (25.09.16)

DragonSpeed, with its #21 Nissan-powered ORECA 05 took the win at Round Five of the 2016 European Le Mans Series with Nicolas Lapierre bringing the car home after an eventful 4 hours of racing in the Ardennes. The victory was especially notable for the team, 2016 being its debut season in the premier European prototype championship.

Second in the LMP2 class was the #47 Team WRT Ligier JS P2 driven by Laurens and Dries Vanthoor alongside Will Stevens. Round Five was Team WRT’s debut appearance in the European Le Mans Series.

Taking the final spot on the LMP2 podium was the #46 Thiriet By TDS Racing ORECA 05 driven by Pierre Thiriet, Mathias Beche and Ryo Hirakawa.

The third place gives Thiriet By TDS Racing a 20-point lead in the Teams Classification ahead of G-Drive Racing who finished fifth after pushing hard from the start.

In LMP3 the top step of the podium was taken by the #9 Graff Ligier JS P3 driven by Eric Trouillet, Paul Petit and Enzo Guibbert. Second, and with sufficient points to wrap up the 2016 LMP3 Teams Classification, was the #2 United Autosports Ligier JS P3, piloted by Alex Brundle, Michael Gausch and Christian England.

Taking the final podium position was the sister #3 United Autosports entry, driven by Mark Patterson, Matthew Bell and Wayne Boyd.

The ##66 JMW Motorsport Ferrari F458 Italia, driven by Robert Smith, Rory Butcher and Andrea Bertolini, took a dominant win in the LMGTE class, giving the team a 20 point lead in the LMGTE Teams Classification. Second in class was the #88 Proton Competition Porsche 911 RSR 991 driven by Gianluca Roda, Christian Ried and Matteo Cairoli.

Third in class was the #55 AF Corce Ferrari F458 Italia, piloted by Duncan Cameron, Matt Griffin and Aaron Scott.

The 4 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps was closely fought across all three classes and produced some superb racing. Full report to follow.

SMP Racing Makes It Three In A Row In Michelin GT3 Le Mans Cup R5 At Spa (24.09.16)

SMP Racing, with its #72 Ferrari F488 driven by Aleksey Basov and Victor Shaitar made itn three in a row after taking the chequered flag to win Round Five of the new-for-2016 Michelin GT3 Le Mans Cup at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps.

In a close second place was the #88 Mentos Racing Porshe 911 RSR driven by Egidio Perfetti and, taking the stint to the finish, Klaus Bachler.

Continue reading SMP Racing Makes It Three In A Row In Michelin GT3 Le Mans Cup R5 At Spa (24.09.16)

The European Le Mans Series Returns To Spa For Round Five (23.09.16)

The 2016 European le Mans Series pays its annual visit to the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps for Round Five of a closely fought season.

Racing has been highly competitive across all three classes, none more so than LMP2 where Thiriet by TDS Racing took the victory last time out and now lead G-Drive Racing by nine points in the LMP2 Teams Classification. G-Drive had set its sights firmly on winning the 2016 LMP2 Teams Classification and Simon Dolan, Harry Tincknell and Giedo van der Garde will settle for nothing less than the win at the classic circuit.

Continue reading The European Le Mans Series Returns To Spa For Round Five (23.09.16)

Michelin GT3 Le Mans Cup Visits Spa For Round Five (22.09.16)

The Michelin GT3 Le Mans Cup visits Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps for the first time in its inaugural season.

The new-for-2016 Cup has provided excellent racing on some of the most iconic circuits in the world and the Belgian round will surely be no exception.

12 cars will take to the grid for Saturday September 24’s two-hour race.

Belgium-based Autoclub Excelsior joins the Cup for this round, bringing its Aston Martin Vantage GT3 with the driver line-up of Michael Schmetz and Tim Verbergt.

Missing from the grid will be the #75 Optimum Motorsport Audi R8 LMS which was piloted by Flick Haigh and Joe Osbourne at Le Castellet. However, the team has made clear that its presence at Circuit Paul Ricard was a precursor to a possible full-season entry next year.

Also missing at Spa will be the #7 BMS Scuderia Italia Ferrari F458 GT3.

Surrey, UK-based TF Sport currently lead the Teams Classification, 15 points ahead of SMP Racing who are currently on 52 points. After clinching the British GT Championship at Donington Park two weeks ago, TF Sport’s confidence will be sky-high that the Michelin GT3 Le Mans Cup is now within its grasp.

The SMP racing driver pairing of Aleksey Basov and Victor Shaitar will, however, be champing at the bit to bring the fight to TF Sport after their victory at Le Castellet last time out. Basov and Shaitar currently lead the Drivers Classification on 77 points, 10 points ahead of the TF Sport driver pairing of Salih Yoluc and Euan Hankey.

First Practice begins at 11:50 local time on September 23 with qualifying beginning at 11:55 on Saturday September 24.

The lights go out for the two-hour race at 17:30 local time later the same day. It should be a superb race.