Category Archives: ACO Series

All series sanctioned and organised by the Automobile Club de L’Ouest

“The WEC And Le Mans Have Always Been The Aim.” European Le Mans Series LMGTE Champion Jody Fannin Has His Sights Set High For 2018. (13.01.18)

24-year old, Jody Fannin, 2017 European Le Mans Series LMGTE champion in the #66 JMW Motorsports Ferrari F488 GTE he shared with Rob Smith, is clear about his objectives for the new season – he wants to defend his title and be on the grid for 2018 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Speaking at Autosport 2018, Fannin was clear that to return to the European stage with JMW Motorsport would his preferred route.

“That would be the ideal plan,” said the South Godstone, Surrey-based driver. “Hopefully defend the title in the ELMS and mavbe do the Le Mans 24 Hours as well. To stay with JMW Motorsport would be perfect. It’s such a perfect team. The support you get from Ferrari is brilliant If you need anything, they’re always there straight away.”

Continue reading “The WEC And Le Mans Have Always Been The Aim.” European Le Mans Series LMGTE Champion Jody Fannin Has His Sights Set High For 2018. (13.01.18)

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.

“Le Mans – We were very proud to have been there. I hope we can do many more” – TF Sport’s Tom Ferrier Talks With EnduranceandGT.co.uk (12.12.17)

Photo: tfsport.co.uk

2017 was a year of incredible highs and some deep frustrations for Surrey-based TF Sport. The team’s 2016 form in the British GT Championship seemed to elude it on occasions and a one-point lead in the LMGTE class in the European Le Mans Series going into the final round turned into a two-point deficit as the chequered flag fell in Portimáo. Those events were, however, were balanced by the team clinching the 2017 Blancpain GT Endurance Cup Pro/Am crown with Jonny Adam and Ahmad Al Harthy and contesting its first 24 Hours of Le Mans.

EnduranceandGT.co.uk editor Andy Lloyd caught up with TF Sport Director Tom Ferrier as the team prepared to depart for the Gulf 12 Hours of Abu Dhabi.

The 2017 British GT Championship, from the outside, looked like a very frustrating season for you. How did it feel from your perspective?

“That’s probably the right word – frustrating. Obviously we had come off the back of a really strong year. Mark and Jon were ever improving and we thought they were going to be in a place for a real title bid and we didn’t quite get it together. We were pretty strong at Oulton in the first round. Rockingham looked great and we qualified one and two but the Am drivers just had a bad race there. Starting first and second and finishing seventh and eighth was the worst outcome we could have had.”

“After that we discovered that Derek and Jonny had had a bit of a handling issue with the car which carried through to Silverstone as well. We eventually found it was due to some of the chassis glue had come away but it took us a long time to get to the bottom of it. That lost us the mid-part of the season with Derek and Jonny which was frustrating and I think that had a bit of an effect on Mark and Jon as well because the sister car wasn’t doing quite so well and I think that heads dropped a little bit in the camp. But then we were all up and singing at Brands Hatch and Donington.”

“It was just a mid-season lull which I would say affected the confidence of everyone a bit – the drivers and team. But you learn from it and it was lovely to end on a high to re-establish a bit of a boost back into the drivers and they’re all geared up now for next year.”

TFS2 a.a. 17.12.12

Photo: tfsport.co.uk

Derek Johnston and Mark Farmer have both already committed for next year. Does that give you a lot of confidence, to be able to plan for 2018 at this stage of the year?

“Absolutely. Being an Aston Martin team and wanting to stay an Aston Martin team, it’s not the easiest seeing as how the car is in its last year and she’s an old girl. To have that faith from our two Am drivers this early on has been lovely going in to the winter, that’s for sure.”

Stepháne Ratel has always been very clear about the balance between Am and Pro drivers in the British GT Championship. Do you feel that the regulations are about as good as they can get now for a national GT series?

“Yes, I would say so. There’s definitely nowhere else to go and race as a Pro/Am pairing. I think Derek Johnston summed it up. He was unsure if he wanted to do British GT or not mid-way through the year because he was obviously quite down. He went and looked at other options but to race in the UK there isn’t a more prestigious, well turned-out paddock with tougher competition. It’s the only place to be. We’ll just keep going hopefully. There’s rumours of GT3 slumping. There’s a cost issue there – these are expensive cars to run – but if you look at the quality of the teams that are in it, it’s very high so we’re very happy to be there.”

Looking at your European Le Mans Series campaign, the final round at Portimão looked to be heart-breaking bearing in mind how dominant you were in the earlier part of the season?

“Yeah, I’m still grumpy about it now, to be honest! It’s the worst way, isn’t it, to have led every round and to lose it by two points at the last race. I think, without getting political, things were against us. If you look at our Pro driver Nicky Thiim who’s one of the fastest men on the planet in a GT car and how he could qualify a second and a half off the pole position of a Ferrari is unheard of, really. I don’t think things were in our favour and we chose one way with the strategy and things didn’t go our way.”

“If the first full course yellow had happened five minutes later, we would probably have won the race by 45 seconds but as it happened it was the other side of the five-minute window and it hurt us. But that is GT racing. It was sad because the boys had done a great job on the car, our drivers were on-form and we were definitely dominant and not to come away with it was a bit disappointing. I’m greedy and I wanted to win two championships!”

Silverstone Salih Yoluc (TUR) / Euan Hankey (GBR) / Nicki Thiim (DNK) - TF SPORT - Aston Martin V8 Vantage

Photo: tfsport.co.uk

Your season this year included the 24 Hours of Le Mans. That must have been an incredible experience.

“That was the word to sum it up. It was absolutely mind-blowing from start to finish. It was lovely to be involved with the Aston Martin camp through our first Le Mans. That helped us a lot and it helped me more than anyone, probably. What an event! I couldn’t sum up the size of it, to be honest. Everyone absolutely loved it – the drivers, the team, everyone. We were very proud to have been there. I hope we can do many more.”

Was there one moment in that whole race week that you look back on and think: that was the moment?

“No, it was all a bit of a blur, to be honest. Obviously when we finished that was absolutely lovely. Having Jonny win the race was an incredible moment as well, as we were part of that camp. It was just a great event. We finished British GT on the Sunday night and I drove the van with Jonny in the back and some of the mechanics and we drove over night to Scrutineering. Every day you woke up, it was an exciting day because it was the first time doing it. And to get to the end of it, it was lovely to finish for all the boys who put the effort in – it was great. I think we have the potential to do more there but next time… as they say!”

Blancpain this year was brilliant for you. That must have counter-balanced some of the frustrations in the other championships.

“I was fully aware of how tough Blancpain is but winning at Monza was probably one of my highlights of the year because it was the first race and the first time and the first time the crew had been together. It was a lot of firsts and to come away with such a dominant victory was awesome and then the rest of the year kept rolling on really well.”

“The Spa 24 was fantastic for us. We went there to try to win the championship and that was our strategy for the race. I think we could have fought for the win in the race had we not been trying to collect so many points along the way. Another great event. I think both 24 hour races this year have been awesome. Somewhat tiring but awesome!”

Jonny Adam’s drive at Monza was staggering. That, and his win at Le Mans, were my highlights of the year.

“He got the bit between his teeth. The car had been fast all weekend. Again we probably had favourable BoP there. We got the fastest lap of the race. But he didn’t put a foot wrong. There wasn’t a way we weren’t going to win that one once he got in the car. Hats off to him – he’s been wonderful to have in the team for the past two years.”

TFS4 a.a. 17.12.12

And now you’re off to the Gulf 12 Hours of Abu Dhabi. What are your thoughts on the final race of the season?

“It’s an event we’ve not done before so we have a bit of learning to do. We’ve got Euan Mckay, who’s not driven with us before, as one of the silver drivers so it will be good to see how he gets on. We have Tom Jackson, Le Mans support race-winner in ‘Road to Le Mans’ and we have Ahmad Al Harthy. Obviously the aim is to win Pro/Am and see where we can get to overall. It’s nice to have a race in the winter, to be honest. It’s such a long off-season, it’s nice to get everyone revved up again.”

Are you at a stage where you can say what your commitments will be in 2018 to Blancpain and the European Le Mans Series?

“I can tell you we’ll be in British GT definitely. We’re pretty much there with the FIA World Endurance Championship deal with Salih and Euan and a TBC driver. It’s not 100% confirmed yet. Then we’re looking at either the European Le Mans Series or Blancpain – it’s one or the other. We’re not quite sure which way it will go yet.”

The Gulf 12 Hours of Abu Dhabi takes place on December 16.

Triple Podium For Jackie Chan DC Racing X JOTA At Fuji For Asian Le Mans Series (03.12.17)

Photo: asianlemansseries.com

Jackie Chan DFC Racing X JOTA enjoyed a highly successful second round of the 2017/18 Asian Le Mans Series when it took first and third in the LMP2 class and won the LMP3 class.

The #8 Nissan-powered ORECA 05, piloted by Thomas Laurent, Stéphane Richelmi and Harrison Newey, crossed the line to take the LMP2 class victory 1:00.354 minutes ahead of the #37 BBT Ligier JS P2 with the driver line-up of Anthony Xu Liu, Pipo Derani and Davide Rizzo.

Taking the final podium position in the LMP2 class was the sister #7 Jackie Chan DC Racing X JOTA entry driven by David Cheng and Jazeman Jaafar.

Jackie Chan DC Racing X JOTA driver Thomas Laurent was delighted at the win.

“My teammates did a really good job at the start of the race,” said the French driver. “I was around 20 or 30 seconds behind the BBT car in front of us. I was able to close the gap and pass him in my first stint and I tried to manage our tyres for the rest of the race while managing my lead. The team did a really good job to maintain the cars as well as possible. A big thank you to my team mates and my team.”

Jackie Chan DC Racing X JOTA also took the victory in the LMP3 class after its #6 Ligier JS P3 piloted by Patrick Byrne and Guy Cosmo crossed the line some four laps ahead of the second-in-class #65 Viper Niza Racing Ligier JS P3 piloted by Douglas Khoo, Dominic Ang and James Winslow. Taking the final podium was a delighted Shinyo Sano in the TKS Ginetta LMP3 driving alongside Yuta Kamimura and Takuya Shirasaka.

“We battled a lot with managing the tyre pressures throughout the race,” said Patrick Byrne, driver of the #6 entry. “But everything worked out well and we went from 5th to 2nd. I got out – Cosmo got in and just demolished it. He went up to first and had a huge time gap so we knew we were comfortable for the pit stops. For me it was an enjoyment to watch, an enjoyment to be with the drew, a great team , great mechanics – we just go out there and drive – they are the ones that are working hard and staying late. And thanks to the Asian Le Mans Series as well – it is a great series.”

In the GT category it was the FIST-Team AAI who scored a 1-2 in class after its #90 Ferrari F488 GT3 driven by Lam Yu, Ollie Millroy and Marco Ciocci took class honours, followed by the sister #91 BMW M6 GT3 piloted by Junsan Chen, Jesse Krohn and Chaz Mostert.

Third in the GT class was the Tianshi Racing Team Audi R8 LMS driven by Peng Liu, Weian Chen and Massimilano Wiser.

Round Three of the 2017/18 Asian Le Mans Series takes place on January 11 – 13 with the 4 Hours of Buriram.

GT Cup Champions TKS Return To Asian Le Mans Series For Fuji (16.11.17)

Photo: asianlemansseries.com

Current Asian Le Mans Series GT Cup champions TKS have announced that they will return to the series for Round Two at Fuji International Speedway.

For the 2017/18 season, the Japanese team will again be led by Shinyo Sano and will campaign the Ginetta LMP3 in which Sano contested the Asian Le Mans Series Sprint Cup.

It has been a busy twelve months for Shinyo Sano and TKS as the team entered the ‘Road To Le Mans’ race, held as a prelude to the French classic at le Circuit de la Sarthe in June, where he was joined by Takuya Shirasaka to complete the driver line-up.

Team owner and driver Shinyo Sano is excited at the prospect of re-joining the Asian Le Mans Series grid in time for the second round at Fuji.

“The reason I made the team is my dreaming of going to Le Mans,” said Sano. “For me, the Asian Le Mans Series is a necessary race. As the only Japanese team in this race I want to stand on the podium at my home course of Fuji Speedway. And I want to share the pleasure with my team, chasing our dream.”

Further drivers for the TKS GInetta LMP3 will be announced shortly.

Round Two of the 2017/18 four-round Asian Le Mans Series will be held at Fuji International Speedway, Japan on December 1 – 3.

2017/18 Asian Le Mans Series Set For Zhuhai Opener (27.10.17)

The 2017/18 Asian Le Mans Series opens at Zhuhai International Circuit in Zhuhai City, Guangdong Province, China on October 27/29 for the 4 Hours of Zhuhai, the first of four rounds which will see the series visit China, Japan, Thailand and Malaysia.

The series was launched in 2013 and the management and promotion of the championship being taken over by the Automobile Club De L’Ouest (ACO) in 2014.

Open to entries from the LMP2, LMP3, GT3 and GT Cup ranks, the series offers the prize of an entry to the 2018 24 Hours of Le Mans to the class winners and, as a result, has attracted interest from teams based outside of Asia as a potential doorway to the grid for the world’s premier endurance race.

Continue reading 2017/18 Asian Le Mans Series Set For Zhuhai Opener (27.10.17)