Category Archives: European Le Mans Series

G-Drive’s Gutiérrez To Miss Final Rounds Of ELMS (27.08.18).

Photo: Jose Gutiérrez (L) / Enzo Guibbert (C) / James Allen(R) (Credit: Jakob Ebrey)

Sources close to the Graff-run #40 G-Drive Racing ORECA 07 have told EnduranceandGT that Jose Gutiérrez will not be part of the driver line-up for the team’s entry into the remaining two rounds of the 2018 European Le Mans Series season.

The 22-year old Mexican driver had competed in the opening three rounds of the premier European prototype championship alongside James Allen and Enzo Guibbert, with Garry Findlay replacing Guibbert for Round Four, the 4 Hours of Silverstone. Gutiérrez, Allen and Guibbert also contested the 2018 24 Hours of Le Mans.

In contrast to a spectacular year for the #40 car in the 2017 European Le Mans Series with victories in the final two rounds and a third-place finish in the LMP2 Teams Trophy standings, 2018 has proved frustrating, despite an immense amount of hard work by the team and drivers. An opening round 6th place finish at the opening round at Circuit Paul Ricard promised much with the hope that the team could continue with the momentum it had built up at the end of the previous year.

#40 a.a. 18.08.27

Photo: Jakob Ebrey / JEP

Round Two at Monza saw the #40 not classified after a big accident for Enzo Guibbert at the Variante Ascari. The incident was later attributed due to a braking problem. Round Three at Red Bull Ring saw the #40 car hampered with a traction control issues which resulted in the traction control system having to be switched off and a 13th place finish.

The #40 G-Drive Racing ORECA looked to be on course for a possible podium finish at the 4 Hours of Silverstone on August 18 and was running in second place in the early stages of the race with the young Australian driver James Allen at the wheel. An electrical problem, however, forced the #40 entry into the garage and the team finally finished in 13th place.

James Allen has driven in every round of the team’s 2018 European Le Mans Series campaign, twice being entrusted with qualifying the car, resulting in an eighth-in-class grid position at Red Bull Ring and fifth-in-class at Silverstone.

The #40 entry currently lies twelfth in the LMP2 Teams Classification.

Gutiérrez joined G-Drive Racing for the 2018 season from PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports where he finished twelfth in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Prototype Drivers standings, driving the team’s #52 Ligier LMP2 with teammates Olivier Pla and Julien Canal.

Round Five of 2018 European Le Mans Series takes place at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps on September 23.

G-Drives Makes It Three-In-A-Row With Dominant Silverstone ELMS Win (18.08.18)

Photo: Paren Raval

The #26 G-Drive Racing ORECA 07, piloted by Roman Rusinov, Andrea Pizzitola and Jean-Eric Vergne took their second consecutive victory and their third of the 2018 European Le Mans Series when Vergne took the chequered flag, one lap ahead of the #21 DragonSpeed ORECA driven by Henrik Hedman, Ben Hanley and Nicolas Lapierre, who took the final stint.

Completing the podium positions in the LMP2 class was the #28 IDEC Sport ORECA 07 with the driver line-up of Paul Lafargue, Paul Loup Chatin and Memo Rojas, Lafargue bringing the car home 8.33 seconds behind the 21 entry.

The field was led away from the grid by Julien Canal, at the wheel of the #23 Panis-Barthez Competition Ligier JSP217 with Roman Rusinov holding second place. The Russian driver found a way past the #23 entry just after the first hour while the leading pair were overtaking back-markers.

The #22 United Autosports Ligier was retired at the the half-way mark after tyre pick-up entered the cabin, activating the fire extinguisher and immediately disabling the car’s system. Driver Phil Hanson was quick to exit the stricken vehicle. The incident was quickly followed by the #35 SMP Racing Dallara with Victor Shaitar at the wheel coming off the circuit and hitting the tyre barrier. Although the car was returned to the garage, damage meant that the car had to be retired.

Andrea Pizzitola handed the #26 enry over to Jean-Eric Vergne who enjoyed a relatively trouble-free run to the chequered despite a last minute stop for fuel.

The battle for the remaining podium places intensified in the closing laps with Norman Nato in the #24 Racing Engineering making contact with the barriers, contact between the #23 Panis-Barthez Competition entry driven by Will Stevens and the #31 APR Rebellion Racing ORECA, the #30 AVF by Adrián Vallés Dallara requiring a new rear wing and a splash-and-dash fuel stop for the #28 IDEC Sport ORECA. The resulting changes to the order ment that the #21 DragonSpeed ORECA with Nicolas Lapierre took second lace within the last ten minutes, a position which he held to the chequered.

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Photo: Roman Rusinov

Roman Rusinov was delighted with the win but was quick to praise his teammates .

“Yes it was a very good race but in the beginning it was not so easy because Julien Canal was very fast and I was doing one second slower than him so for a Silver it was quite impressive to be honest,” said Rusinov.

Commenting on the pass which saw take Rusinov take the lead just after the one-hour mark, the Russian driver thought that traffic played more of factor than jis pace.

“To be honest he (Canal) was stuck in traffic and I got more speed so it was not such a big move,” said Rusinov. “I think the job was done by Jean-Eric and Andrea, to be honest, and they did a fantastic job. Throughout the weekend the car was very fast, the team was doing a perfect job and, at the end of the day, it is a team job to get the car as good as that.”

Jean-Eric Vergne’s drive to the finish saw him less concerned about what was happening behind him and more focused on maintaining steady lap times.

“I really enjoyed myself in that race,” said Vergne. “I won my first title at Silverstone in Formula 3 and it’s always nice to come back here to my roots because I used to  live next to Silverstone. The race was fun but I was just racing with myself. The only thing I was trying to do was to beat my own lap times and just try to improve my average. I had no idea what was going on behind and I had a lot of fun.”

United Autosports took the class win in the LMP3 category with its #3 Ligier JSP3, driven by Anthony Wells, in the car he shared with Garret Grist and Matthew Bell, taking the chequered flag 9.113 seconds ahead of the #7 Ecurie Ecosse / Nielsen Ligier driven by Colin Noble, Alex Kapadia and Christian Stubbe Olsen. The #17 Ultimate Norma M 30 finished in third place a further 95 seconds back.

The #12 Eurointernational Liger Mattia Drudi held the lead in the LMP3 class for the first 90 minutes whilst Sean Rayhall spun the #2 United Autosports Ligier at Turn 11 which forced him to fight his way back up the order. However a problem re-starting the engine at pit stop meant that teammate John Falb rejoined the race in a position from which he was unable to fight for a podium finish.

At a circuit that he has always found challenging, Tony Wells was delighted that he was able to fend off Le Mans Cup Championship teammate Colin Noble to take the class win.

“The car was good and the team did a great job,” said Tony Wells. “The car was rebuilt for this round and we were quick on Monday. Ironically I never go well at Silverstone – how ridiculous is that. The car was hooked up and we didn’t change anything from Monday. It was just the challenge of getting round Silverstone quickly. The pressure was on when your teammates give you the lead  but immediately I had pace and I pushed on. I did the pit stop and we had green all the way so I could get my head down and go. The team was calling the gap to Colin and obviously I w as pushing on although I admit I backed off the last few laps as I had a bit of a gap. I was very happy to see the chequered flag.

The LMGTE victory went to the #66 JMW Motosport Ferrari F488 GTE driven by Liam Griffin, Alex MacDowall and Miguel Molina, less than a second ahead of the #88 Proton Competition Porsche 911 RSR of Gianluca Roda, Giorgio Roda and Matteo Cairoli. The #55 Spirit of Race Ferrari  of Duncan Cameron, Matthew Griffin and Aaron Scott completed the top three in class.

The GTE class probably saw the most competitive racing of all three classes. The #88 Proton Competition Porsche 911 RSR, with Gianluca Roda, led the field from the start with Christian Ried, driving the #77 sister car in pursuit. With less than a few seconds covering the top four for most of the race, Miguel Molina in the #66 JMW Motorsport Ferrari F488 GTE took the lead in the final ten minutes from Matt Griffin, driving the #55 Spirit of Race Ferrari.

Both the #55 and #66 cars saw themselves awarded 10-second penalties as the race drew to a close, meaning that Matteo Cairoli, running in third in the #88 Proton Competition was mathematically leading the race.

Cairoli caught Griffin but a brief off-track excursion meant, and the resulting delay, meant that Cairoli finished 10.126 seconds behind Molina, ceding victory to the JMW Motorsport entry.

G-Drive Racing’s win means that the #26 car extends its lead at the top of the LMP2 Team’s classification to 34 points. The #15 RLR MSport Ligier leads the LMP3 Teams’ standings on 58.5 points while the #88 Proton Competition entry heads the LMP3 standings on 72 points.

The 2018 European Le Mans Series grid gathers next at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps on September 23.

 

Stevens / Panis-Barthez Compétition / Ligier On Pole For Silverstone ELMS (18.08.18)

Photo: Europeanlemansseries.com

Will Stevens, at the wheel of the #23 Panis-Barthez Compétition Ligier JSP217 he shares with Julien Canal and Timothé Buret, set a 1:43.690 around the 5.901 kms Silverstone circuit to take pole position for the 4 Hours of Silverstone, Round Four of the 2018 European Le Mans Series. Lining up alongside the #23 entry on the front row of the grid will be the #26 G-Drive Racing ORECA 07 in which Jean-Éric Vergne lapped in 1:44.420.

Completing the top three was the #21 DragonSpeed ORECA with a 1:44.539 set by Ben Hanley.

Mattia Drudi took his first ever LMP3 pole with a 1:55.508 in the #12 Eurointernational Ligier JS P3, closely followed by Ross Kaiser who set a 1:55.554 in the #6 360 Racing Ligier.

Pole position in the LMGTE category was taken by Dennis Olsen in the #77 Proton Competition Porsche 911 RSR he shares with Christian Ried and Marvin Dienst.

The lights go out for the 4 Hours of Silverstone at 14:30 on Saturday August 18.

Can G-Drive Make It Three In A Row? ELMS Visits Silverstone For Round Eight (15.08.18).

Photo: Paren Raval

The 2018 European Le Mans Series makes it annual stop at Silverstone for Round Eight on August 18 at a time in the season that should, hopefully, allow for warmer weather than we have previously experienced in the early Spring calendar slot.

In a double-header with the FIA World Endurance Championship, track action for Round Eight begins on Friday August 17 with two ninety-minute practice sessions at 10:35 and 14:45 respectively.

42 cars will take to the for Round Eight, 16 in the LMP2 class, 19 in the LMP3 category and 7 in LMGTE.

In changes to the entry list for the previous round in Austria, the #27 IDEC Sport ORECA 07, entered to be driven at Red Bull Ring by Patrice Lafargue and Erik Maris will be missing at Silverstone, as will the #33 TDS Racing ORECA, piloted in Austria by Matthieu Vaxivière, François Perrodo and Loïc Duval.

In the #35 SMP Racing Dallara P217, Victor Shaitar and Egor Orudzhev will be joined by an as-yet unnamed third driver, Matevos Issakyan having not been declared a starter for Silverstone.

In the #40 G-Drive Racing ORECA, Garry Findlay joined season-regulars James Allen and Jose Gutierrez. 28-year-old Findlay has not raced in the European Le Mans Series since 2016 when he drove the #48 ORECA 03R for Murphy Prototypes. Findlay does, however, have previous experience with Graff in the European Le Mans Series, having contested one round of the 2015 championship with the Morangis, Paris-based team in 2015.

Continue reading Can G-Drive Make It Three In A Row? ELMS Visits Silverstone For Round Eight (15.08.18).

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.