Category Archives: European Le Mans Series

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.

 

 

 

“The European Le Mans Series Is At A Very High Level. We Have To Be Perfect.” – Tristan Gommendy Talks To EnduranceandGT.Co.Uk (10.04.18)

Photo: @ParenRaval

Tristan Gommendy, who finished second in the LMP2 class and third overall in the 2017 24 Hours of Le Mans in the #37 Jackie Chan DC Racing ORECA 07, is contesting the 2018 European Le Mans Series in the #39 Graff ORECA with team-mates, Alexandre Cougnaud and Jonathan Hirschi.

As the Official Test got underway at Circuit Paul Ricard at Le Castellet, Gommendy set the quickest time in the morning session of Monday April 9, on a circuit that has undergone some changes in recent months. During the opening minutes of afternoon running, Tristan shared some thoughts on the European Le Mans Series, the new LMP1 Privateer entrants and the 2017 24 Hours of Le Mans with EnduranceandGT.co.uk editor, Andy Lloyd.

Tristan, you went quickest this morning. A lot has changed at Circuit Paul Ricard with the resurfacing and the removal of the chicane. How did the circuit feel to you?

“We had a lot of rain this morning so it was difficult to judge the grip. I think we have to put more rubber on the track during the afternoon so the overall grip I can’t really judge. I’m quite surprised about a few bumps on the track. I expected a very smooth track but it’s not the case at all so I was quite surprised about that. It’s OK. There are a few changes but they don’t really transform the track so no big changes.”

Are you looking forward to the 2018 European Le Mans Series season?

“Yes, definitely. The European Le Mans Series is at a very high level. We have a lot of good drivers in the championship this year so it will be amazing. It’s really nice to compete with this level of drivers. It’s going to be a very challenging championship and, I think, probably one of the best sportscar championships. We have to be perfect – the team and the team-mates – to fight at the top because the level will be really high.”

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Photo: @ParenRaval

You were part of that amazing Le Mans experience in the Jackie Chan DC Racing team last year, part of a team that was fighting for the overall win. When you look back at that race, it must seem quite surreal how events unfolded at Circuit de la Sarthe last year.

“Yes, that’s true, because when you know Le Mans like I do, you know that you need everything to be on the podium ands if you want to win you have to be perfect – the drivers, the car and the team – everything has to be perfect. And finally – it was both cars (who were challenging for the win)!”

“It wasn’t really a big surprise because we had experienced, quick drivers in the team like Oliver Jarvis, Ho-Pin and myself. The team was strong and Jota Sport did an amazing job. We prepared for Le Mans with two or three races and a few tests so it wasn’t a big surprise. But you have to be lucky for Le Mans. You can be very prepared with the best line-up of drivers in the paddock and end up stopping in the first hour.”

“So you need everything and last year was amazing because both cars were up there, finishing one and two in class and two and three overall. It was amazing. I don’t want to think too much about it because when you do something like that, of course you think how I can do better! So we have to fight for the victory. I would like to win Le Mans so we will try to do it this year.”

What are your thoughts on the new LMP1 privateer chassis? Will that be a class that, as a professional driver, is of interest to you?

“Yes, definitely. But for the moment there are, for me, only a few chassis or maybe only one or two that will be very good. I think it is too early to have a good feeling about the privateer LMP1 class. Most of the teams have received their cars very late so we don’t know…nobody knows what we can expect from this category at the moment. It’s going to be interesting to see what happens at Le Mans this year.”

“For me the LMP1 Privateer class will, for me, in the next two or three years be the category that will win Le Mans. So if you want to win Le Mans as a driver you need to be in LMP1 so of course it’s interesting. For the moment, however, my choice is LMP2 because for me it’s the highest level you can race at in sportscars. But definitely next year LMP1 Privateer is going to be very interesting.”

The 2018 European Le Mans Series opens with the 4 Hours of Le Castellet on April 15.

DragonSpeed Quickest In Second Session At Circuit Paul Ricard. (09.04.18)

Photo: @Paren Raval

The #21 DragonSpeed ORECA 07 was quickest in the afternoon session at Circuit Paul Ricard, as the Official Test for the 2018 European Le Mans Series saw conditions improve from the early part of the morning session.

The #21 DragonSpeed entry, piloted by Henrik Hedman, Ben Hanley and Nicolas Lapierre put in a 1:41.769, just over a quarter of a second quicker than the #28 IDEC Sport entry, driven by Paul Lafargue, Paul-Loup Chatin and Memo Rojas.

Third quickest in the LMP2 class in the afternoon was the #26G-Drive Racing ORECA driven by Roman Rusinov, Jean-Eric Vergne and Andrea Pizzitola, which lapped in 1:42.082

In the LMP3 class it was the #8 DKR Engineering Norma M 30, piloted by the Torils, Alexander and Miguel who topped the time-sheets with a 1:51.819. Second quickest was the #17 Ultimate Ligier JS P3, driven by Mathieu Lahaye, Paul Lahaye and François Heriau with a 1:51.188.

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Photo: @ParenRaval

In the LMGTE class it was the #88 Proton Competition Porsche 911 RSR, piloted by Christian Ried, Joel Camathias and Dennis Olsen who again topped the class times with a 1:54.580.

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Photo: @ParenRaval

The final test session of the day is a two-hour stint, running into dusk, which begins at 19:00 local time.

G-Drive Racing’s James Allen Shares His Thoughts On The 2018 European Le Mans Series With EnduranceandGT. (09.04.18)

Photo: @ParenRaval

James Allen is about to start his second season in the European Le Mans Series, having finished third in the LMP2 Teams Championship, driving alongside Richard Bradley, Franck Matelli and Gustavo Yacamán in the #40 Graff ORECA 07. James also competed in his first 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2017, finishing sixth overall and fifth in class. As the second session of the 2018 European Le Mans Series Official Test got underway at Circuit Paul Ricard, James spoke to EnduranceanGT editor Andy Lloyd about the forthcoming season.

James, you’re about to embark on your second season in the European Le Mans Series. Armed with the experience that you’ve gained in your first season and the considerable success you had at the end of 2017, what are your thoughts on 2018?

“My team-mates have changed, the car has been updated, the tyres are different – I’m confident but I’m not going in expecting to win straight out of the gate. I’m trying to focus on doing the best I can with what I have.”

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Photo: @ParenRaval

You mentioned that fact that you’ve got a new driver combination. What work have you been doing far to build up the driving relationship up between Enzo Guibbert, Jose Gutiérrez and yourself?

“Enzo and I did the Dunlop tyre test together at Motorland Aragon. We’ve also had a couple of tests here at Circuit Paul Ricard with Jose so I’ve had a chance to meet with them both and talk with them and figure out what kind of drivers they are. Hopefully we’re going to work well together this season.”

You’re approaching your second Le Mans. The first one is always very daunting but you must be approaching the 2018 24 Hours of Le Mans in a very different manner, having already been through the race-week experience.

“Yes, I’m a lot less nervous this year. I was wondering last year if I could do the whole race and I definitely learned a lot of new things. I had an accident early in the morning last year that I’ve definitely learned from. Overall I’m quite a bit more relaxed about this year.”

And how was this morning for you? The track was getting quicker as the session progressed.

“Because we have new tyres we weren’t sure if the intermediates or the wets were better this morning. We found it was the wets that ended up being better. I hadn’t been out in the wet up to now so it was a new thing to get my head around. We were just trying to work on the pace and see how far we could go and we ended up being quite fast.”

The first round of the 2018 European Le Mans Series, the 4 Hours of Le Castellet, takes place at Circuit Paul Ricard on April 15.

Graff / Gommendy Tops Timing Screens After First Practice At Circuit Paul Ricard (09.04.18)

Photo: @ParenRaval

Conditions at the Circuit Paul Ricard, Le Castellet, slowly improved throughout the morning session and lap-times fell as drivers became more confident in the tricky conditions. With a resurfaced track and the removal of a chicane, times were always going to be quicker than 2017 where the #21 DragonSpeed ORECA 07 driven by Hedman Lapierre and Hanley was on pole with a 1:52.761

Tristan Gommendy, driving the #39 Graff ORECA 07 he shares wit Alexandra Cougnaud and Jonathan Hirschi, set the fastest time of the four-hour first practice session with a 1:44.012 driven in the dying seconds of a session that saw lap-times tumbling in the final five minutes. Second quickest was the LMP2 category was the #35 SMP Racing Dallara P217 driven by Victor Shaitar.

Third quickest in the LMP2 category was the #32 United Autosports Ligier JSP217 driven by Hugo de Sadeleer, in the car he shaes with Willam Owen and Wayne Boyd

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In the LMP3 class it was the #2 United Autosports Ligier JS P3 which lapped quickest in the hands of Sean Rayhall, defending LMP3 champion, in the car he shares with John Falb. Rahall set a 1:53.081. Second quickest with a 1:53.269 was the #17 Ultimate Ligier driven by Matthieu Lahaye. Completing the top three times in theLMP3 class was the #19 M.Racing-YMR Norma M30 n which David Droux set a 1:53.584.

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Proton Competition set the fastest time of the session in the LMGTE class with a 1:56.548 in the #88 Porsche 911 RSR drven by Gianluca Roda, Giorgio Roda and Matteo Cairoli. Aaron Scott in the #55 Spirit of Race Ferrari F488 GTE was second quickest with a 1:56.766 in the car he shares with Matthew Griffin and Duncan Cameron.

Third quickest in the LMGTE class was the #66 Ferrari of defending champions JMW Motorsport driven by Liam Griffin, Alex Macdowall and Miguel Molina.

The track reopens at 14:00 local for a four-hour session prior to a one-hour break after which there will be a two-hour night session. No further rain is forecast for Monday.