Category Archives: 24 Hours Of Le Mans

James Allen To Return To European Le Mans Series With GRAFF In 2018 (14.12.17).

Photo: Roger Jenkins

21-year-old Australian driver James Allen has announced that he will return to the European Le Mans Series in 2018 with Morangis, France-based GRAFF.

Allen, who enjoyed a stellar debut season in the 2017 European Le Mans Series, shared his plans via social media. The young australian intends to contest his second 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2018, if the team receive an invitation.

Allen was partnered by Richard Bradley throughout the season with Franck Matelli completing the driver line-up for the first half of the season and Gustavo Yacaman for the latter part.

The #40 GRAFF ORECA 07 won the final two rounds of the series on the way to finishing third in the LMP2 Teams standings on 86 points.

Speaking to EnduranceandGT.co.uk, Allen, currently enjoying a warm winter off-season in his native Australia, said:

“I’m very excited for 2018. My first year in LMP2 went much better than I expected and I’m pleasantly surprised. 2018 will still be a big challenge but I feel ready to push for an even better season next year.”

The first round of the 2018 European Le Mans Series will be the Four Hours of Le Castellet on April 15.

Ginetta Announces First Two Customers For New-For-2018 LMP1 (01.11.17)

As the FIA World Endurance Championship looks towards 2018, the ‘Super Season’ and the launch of privateer LMP1 entries, Leeds-based Ginetta Cars has announced the first two customers for its new premier-class prototype.

Manor Endurance Racing and TRS Racing will both campaign the new Ginetta LMP1. The engine partner will be announced ‘in due course’.

Ginetta Cars Chairman Lawrence Tomlinson was delighted to break the news, ten months after the car was launched in time for Autosport, the annual racing car show in Birmingham, England.

Continue reading Ginetta Announces First Two Customers For New-For-2018 LMP1 (01.11.17)

24 Hours Of Le Mans 2017 – Sample Gallery (22.06.17)

During the running of the 2017 24 Hours of Le Mans, EnduranceandGT.co.uk photographer Roger Jenkins took thousands of images across the whole of race-week. Roger has been perfecting his techniques for shooting cars both in day and night conditions and this year surpassed himself with some excellent and evocative pictures. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be publishing a selection of some of the best. Below is a just a small sample of what is to come.

If there are any entries in  particular that you would like to see, please let me know.

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#8-1 R

#8-2 R

#38-1 R

#38-2 R

#37-1

#37-2

 

Notes From Le Mans – Friday 16.06.17

Well, we can’t say that the weather has been unkind to us at Le Mans in 2017. After the, frankly, miserable conditions teams and spectators alike had to endure in 2016, this year every day of race week has bright, very warm and clear. Currently there is no rain forecast for the race and, indeed, some forecasters are predicting even hotter temperatures this weekend. More of that later.

After finally putting to bed our (brief) report on qualifying early this morning, late lie-ins were the order of the day. Emerging mid-morning, provisions were stocked-up on and, breakfasted and rested, we headed down to Le Mans and to the village of Mulsanne.

For the last five years, the ‘Virage de Mulsanne’ has hosted an event at Mulsanne Corner to celebrate the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The theme this year was ‘Jaguar at Le Mans’ and there was a fascinating collection of the famous British marque gathered on the corner itself. Further down the straight towards Indianapolis was a collection of both classic and contemporary cars, ranging from Renault Gordinis and some very early Citroens to American muscle with a good selection of Porsches included. Having caught the Porsche ‘bug’ himself, the EndurandGT.co.uk editor thinks he has spotted his next possible purchase!

V2

Having thoroughly enjoyed our visit to Mulsanne, we headed back along the Mulsanne Straight towards the town to prepare for the Drivers Parade. When the weather is as it was this evening, there is no better way to prepare for the race than by watching the drivers drive past in classic cars. It’s an event squarely targeted at the children of Le Mans, with souvenirs being thrown into the crowds, but nevertheless it is a lot of fun and well worth making the effort for, if you come down.

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As we walked back to the car, we met the family of James Allen, driver of the #40 Graff Racing entry, and we discussed how he was feeling now that qualifying is past. James is a driver that has a fantastic future ahead of him in sportscars and the EnduranceandGT.co.uk team wish him the very best of luck for his first 24 Hours of Le Mans.

And so… the talking stops and the racing starts…tomorrow. There has been much talk in the paddock that 2017 will be a race of attrition. Here are some points that we think will be interesting to watch as the race unfolds.

a) The faster speeds of the LMP2 cars will put of lot of strain on brakes, tyres and drivers. Teams will have to pace themselves in order to see the chequered flag and it won’t necessarily be the car that goes haring off into the distance at the start that is leading come Sunday afternoon. The LMP2 battle has the makings of one of the best class battles ever at Le Mans.

b) Clearly the issue of the top-end speed of the LMP1 And LMP2 cars will be a factor, especially as drivers get tired and at night. Mistakes can happen but need to be avoided for a good run at Le Mans. How this issue plays out in 2017 will be fascinating to watch.

c) The GTE battles will be gripping. Have all the teams shown their full hands, even during qualifying? The first few laps of the race will show us where we really are, especially in the LM GTE Pro class.

d) Toyota knows it can win this race. But… the memory of 2016 will be fresh in its mind. How will it play the first quarter of the race? Will the #9 car make the pace for the field and try to break the Porsches? Are the Toyota’s as bullet-proof as they need to be? All will be revealed.

e) The high temperatures may make the A.C.O. enforce its stint-length rules for drivers in cars without airt-conditioning. If this does become a factor, engineers of non-air-conditioned cars will have a nightmare trying to plan round it.

As ever, the 24 Hours of Le Mans will throw up excitement, triumph, despair and heartache in equal measure. Sit down, get the drinks and snacks in and settle in for the greatest motor race on the planet. Le Mans.

As Steve McQueen once said: “Racing is life. Everything before or after is….just waiting.”

Toyota Gazoo Racing On Pole for 2017 24 Hours Of Le Mans (16.06.17)

Photo: Roger Jenkins

In some of the best qualifying conditions seen at le Circuit de la Sarthe for many years, lap records tumbled and Kamui Kobayashi put the #7 Toyota Gazoo Racing TS050-Hybrid on pole for the 2017 running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Kobayashi put in a 3:14.791 in the second qualifying session to set the new lap-record and take pole position. Lining up alongside Kobayashi will be the sister #8 Toyota Gazoo Racing TS050-Hybrid after Kazuki Nakajima lapped in 3:17.128 in the final qualifying session.

Third on the grid will be the #1 Porsche LMP Team 919 Hybrid after Neel Jani lapped in 3:17.259.

ORECAs dominated the LMP2 field in qualifying. The class grid will be headed by the #26 G-Drive Racing ORECA 07 after Alex Lynn put in a 3:25.352 in the final qualifying session. Second on the LMP2 grid will be the #25 CEFC Manor TRS Racing ORECA 07 after Vitaly Petrov lapped in 3:25.549 ion the second session. ‘Mighty #38’ Jackie Chan DC Racing will complete the top three in the LMP2 field after Ho-Pin Tung put in a 3:25.911.

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Photo: Roger Jenkins

In a hotly contested LM GTE Pro field it was Aston Martin who came out on top after Darren Turner put in a 3:50.837 in the #97 Aston Martin Racing Vantage to take pole position. Second quickest in the LM GTE Pro field was the #51 AF Corse Ferrari F488 GTE after James Calado lapped in 3:51.028 in the third session.

Rounding out the top three in the LM GTE Pro field was the #95 Aston Martin Racing entry with Richie Stanaway at the wheel.

Aston Martin did not have it all its own way in the LM GTE field after Fernando Rees put the #50 Larbre Competition Chevrolet Corvette C7.R on pole in LM GTE Am with a 3:52.843.

Tomorrow is a rest day from track action with warm-up for the 24 Hours cars early on Saturday morning.

To Really Be Here Is A Dream Come True.” – Graff Racing’s James Allen Talks Le Mans And ELMS (14.06.17)

Photo: Roger Jenkins

Young Australian race driver James Allen is competing at Le Mans for the first time. Supported by his family and close friends at the French classic, James displays remarkable composure for a driver facing one of the biggest challenges of his career to date.

EnduranceandGT editor Andy Lloyd caught up with James prior to the first practice session for the 24 Hours grid on Wednesday June 14….

So… you’re here. Le Mans 2017. That must feel very special, doesn’t it?

“It definitely feels special. I’ve been dreaming about it since I was a kid so to really be here is a dream come true.”

When we spoke earlier in the year you were saying that prototypes were really where you wanted to focus your career moving forward. Has the reality lived up to the expectation?

“I actually think it’s gone further than I expected. The cars are unbelievably fast and the races are fantastic. So it’s really brilliant!”

JAAL

Photo: Roger Jenkins

How have you found European Le Mans Series so far for you?

“Obviously in Monza I didn’t have the best luck with a mechanical failure. However we seem to have had good pace. Apart from the mechanical failure, it’s been fantastic. The team have done everything they can and they’ve done a great job. I think later in the year we will be looking at some podiums and, hopefully, wins. “

The relationship with Graff Racing seems to be a very good one and you seem to have gelled well with the team.

“Yes, definitely. I feel I’m part of the family right now. I have a great relationship with my engineers, the team and the other drivers. It’s feels good.”

The Le Mans Test Day nearly two weeks ago was your first experience of the circuit. How was that?

“It was unbelievable! I felt lost for the first five or six laps and at Le Mans five or six laps takes twenty minutes! I felt like ‘how am I going to figure out how to drive this track?’ but I soon got to grips with it.”

From a driver’s perspective in an LMP2 car, especially a 2017 car which has got a lot of power and a lot of aero, which are the most challenging parts of the circuit to learn?

“Probably the fast corners like the Porsche Curves. It’s really hard to try and commit to going fast, especially on a corner like that where any mistake can put you in the wall. That’s definitely been a challenge. But when you’re driving down towards Mulsanne for the first time, it’s definitely something very special.”

JAC2

Photo: Roger Jenkins

Driving the car at night must be a big challenge.

“Yes, I did the night session at Monza when it was getting dark and it was definitely something different. It feels a lot faster in the dark. You think you’re going really fast but when you come round your lap times two seconds slower because it’s at night!”

Much of the Le Mans circuit isn’t lit at night, is it?

“That’s right. The Bugatti circuit is lit but once you get through Tertre Rouge there’s no lighting and it’s pretty much the same up to the Porsche Curves and the Ford Chicane. At the night session at Monza we had good headlights because there wasn’t a lot of lighting there and it was quite easy to see.”

Many people have been talking this year about the fact that the straight line speed of the LMP2s is comparable with the LMP1s so they will be faster out of the corners and you might be faster on the straights. What has been your experience of that so far?

“I’ve actually had a P1 pull up alongside me on the straight so I ended up passing him back! It might get a bit difficult if one of the P1s gets a bit desperate but they’re professionals so they know what they’re doing. It will definitely be something to be aware of. “

And how have you have you acclimatised to the demands of driving in traffic?

“I’ve still got a bit to work on. It’s definitely a lot better than when I started. It was a challenge to keep the pace up while passing GT and LMP3 cars. However I’ve worked on driving in traffic and it’s getting better and better.”

Le Mans is  unique and the build-up is considerably longer than any other event. You must be keen to get on with racing now, aren’t you?

“I’ll  glad to be getting on track this afternoon! Le Mans is definitely nothing like anything I’ve done before.”

The first qualifying session for the 2017 running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans takes place at 22:00 local time on Wednesday June 14.