Category Archives: European Le Mans Series

ELMS At Imola Promises More Close Racing

Round two of the 2016 European Le Mans Series tales place at the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari at Imola on Sunday May 15. 42 cars will take to the grid in a race that last year was won by the Thiriet by TDS Nissan-powered ORECA 05, the maiden international victory for the car.

In 2016, however, G-Drive Racing will be looking for its second win of the European Le Mans Series season after a frustrating weekend at Spa-Francorchamps eight days previously with its two-car entry in the second round of the FIA World Endurance Championship.

In the LMP2 class the #40 Krohn Racing Ligier JS P2 – Nissan will see OlivierPla alongside the existing driver line-up of Tracy Krohn and Nic Jönsson. Pla replaces Björn Wirdheim for this round. SMP Racing will have a sole entry for Imola, the #44 not being entered for this round.

As announced this week, Murphy Prototypes will have new additions to its driver line-up for the #48 ORECA 03R when Garry Findlay and Patrick McClughan join Seán Doyle, in line with the team’s policy of nurturing young driving talent.

In LMP3 Jens Petersen replaces Thomas Dagoneau in the #13 Inter Europol Ligier JS P3. In the #15 RLR Msport Nissan-powered Ligier JS P3 Ross Warburton is not driving at this round.

In LMGTE Davide Rigon replaces Alessandro Pier Guidi in the #56 AT Racing Ferrari 456 Italia. There is also a driver change in the #77 Proton Competition Porsche 911 RSR 991 where Robert Renauer replaces Marco Seefried. There is also a further change for Proton Competition in the #88 car where Klaus Bachier will join Gianluca Roda and Christian Reid in place of Richard Lietz.

Aston Martin Racing has a single entrant for Imola – the #99 Aston Martin V8 Vantage, driven by Andrew Howard, Alex MacDowall and, for the second time this season, Darren Turner.

Track action starts at 14:00 on Friday May 13 with FP1. FP2 takes place on Saturday May 14 at 09:35 with qualifying sessions starting at 13:50. The 4 Hours of Imola starts at 14:00 on Sunday May 15.

Murphy Prototypes Announces New Drivers For ELMS At Imola

Dublin, Ireland-based Murphy Prototypes has announced a new driver line-up for the second round of the 2016 European Le Mans Series, The 4 Hours of Imola.

Seán Doyle remains as part of the driving team for Imola and is joined by Garry Findlay and Patrick McClughan.

McClughan, from Newtownabbey in Northern Ireland, began his motorsport career in the Ginetta Junior Championship. He contested the 2015 Radical Sprint Championship and was on the top step of the podium for 12 of the season’s 21 races. He also won a fully funded drive at Daytona in January as a result of winning the Sunoco Challenge Award last year.

Findlay, from Norfolk, made his European Le Mans Series debut at Estoril in 2015 and secured a podium finish in the LMP3 class. Findlay also has experience in Formula Fords and VdeV sportscars.

“Our team has always been committed to showcasing young talent and giving drivers the opportunity to develop their natural ability,” said Greg Murphy, Team Principal at Murphy Prototypes. “Garry has already demonstrated what he can do in Formula Fords and then underlined it in VdeV. Patrick is an incredibly exciting prospect. He has shown his speed in the Radical Championship and has even beaten former Murphy Prototypes drivers such as Alex Kapadia and James Littlejohn.  Seán did a great job for us at Silverstone on his first time out in an LMP2 car and it’s good to have him driving for us again.”

Murphy Prototypes has a talent for developing young drivers. Brendon Hartley, now racing for Porsche in the 919 Hybrid, started his prototype career with the team as did Pipo Derani, who won the Rolex 24 At  Daytona and The 12 Hours of  Sebring earlier this year.

The lights go out for the start of the 4 Hours of Imola, the second round of the 2016 European Le Mans Series, at 14:00 on May 15.

Onroak Automotive Expands Presence In Asia

Le Mans-based Onroak Automotive, manufacturer of Ligier prototypes, has announced that it will open a branch in Asia to support teams racing its cars in Asian series.

Onroak has been expanding its global reach over the past two years and opened Onroak Automotive North America in 2015. Earlier this month it announced that it had appointed United Autosports as official, exclusive agent for its CN and LM P3 sports prototypes in Great Britain. Sepang, Malaysia has been chosen a base for Asia as it is seen as the centre of motor sport activities in the region.

“While continuing the promotion of the Asian Le Mans Series that has undergone a real revival since last year, the ACO is also organising a new series, the Asian Le Mans Sprint Cup, which compliments the first one and is in total harmony with the coming development of endurance racing in Asia,” said Onroak Automotive President Jacques Nicolet. “Thus, it’s important for us to be present on the spot, not only as a constructor which supplies cars for the two series, but also to be able to support this project and to become involved with the local teams and players.”

“Opening this branch at Sepang means that we’ll have a human and technical presence in situ,” continued Nicolet. “And by setting up a supply system of spare parts, we’ll make it easier for our clients to organise things while we continue our ongoing quest to give them the greatest possible satisfaction.”

Of the 19 LMP3 cars on the grid for the first round of the European Le Mans Series, all but one were Ligier JS P3s. United Autosports brought home its Ligier JS P3s to a 1 – 2 finish in class.

G-Drive Racing Wins First Round After Silverstone ELMS Thriller

G-Drive Racing emerged as the overall winner after an exciting opening round to the 2016 European Le Mans Series at Silverstone.

The #38 Gibson 015S, driven by Harry Tincknell, Simon Dolan and ex-Caterham F1 driver Giedo van der Garde, led almost from the start and controlled the race from the front throughout much of the four hours.

In second place was SMP Racing’s #32 BR 01 Nissan driven by Stefan Colleti, Julian Leal Covelli and Andreas Wirth. Taking the last podium position in LMP2 was So24! By Lombard Racing’s #22 Judd-engined Ligier JS P2 driven by Vincent Capillaire, Olivier Lombard and Jonathan Coleman.

The LMP3 category saw a huge entry of 20 cars, the majority of which were Nissan-engined Ligier JS P3s.
U.S.-entered but Leeds-based United Autosports took a 1-2 in the class, the #2 car driven by Alex Brundle, Mike Guasch and Christian England beating the the sister #3 car driven by Mark Patterson, Matthew Bell and Wayne Boyd.
The Graff #9 Ligier JS P3 driven by Enzo Guibbert, Paul Petit and Eric Trouillet rounded out the top three places in the class.

GTE saw exceptionally close racing with the final podium slot being decided in the lasts second of the race. The #66 JMW Motorsport Ferrari F458 Italia of Robert Smith, Rory Butcher and Andrea Bertolini beat strong competition from the #99 Aston Martin Racing V8 Vantage of Andrew Howard, Darren Turner and Alex MacDowall. The #96 Aston Martin Racing V8 Vantage of Roald Goethe, Stuart Hall and Richie Stanaway took the final podium position.

Although the race had been declared wet immediately prior to the start, giving teams the opportunity to choose wet or intermediate tyres, the track was drying as the lights went out. Chaos ensued at the start as the #19 Duqueine Engineering Ligier JS P3 spun and the #29 Pegasus Racing Morgan-Nissan collided with the pit wall.

The #32 SMP Racing BR 01, driven by Andreas Wirth, briefly took the lead but was shortly overtaken by the #38 G-Drive Racing Gibson 015S driven by Harry Tincknell after which he stretched out his advantage. Tincknell was pushed hard by Paul-Loup Chatin in the #23 Panis Barthez Competition Ligier JS P2 but maintained his lead. The positions were reversed after driver changes but Simon Dolan in the #38 car put in a magnificent stint to retake the lead after which it was never lost.

After concern as rain threatened in the final hour, Giedo Van Der Garde took over the #38 car for the final stint and continued to push hard, putting in his best time in his final lap of the race.

Sir Chris Hoy’s debut in LMP2 was not all plain sailing when his #25 Algarve Pro Racing Ligier JS P2 ended up in the gravel at the beginning of the Hanger Straight. The car was snatched back on track during a Full Course Yellow and Hoy eventually finished tenth overall.

Alex Brundle, in the #2 United Autosports Ligier JS P3, took the lead in the LMP3 class before handing over the car to ‘Molecule Mike’ Guasch. Guasch pushed hard and handed the car over to Christian England who brought it home for the win. The #3 United Autosports car was running second but a malfunctioning door meant that Matthew Bell had to pit for repairs. Mark Patterson and Wayne Boyd worked hard to bring the car back into contention with Boyd overtaking the #9 Graff Racing Ligier of Enzo Guiberrt for second place with 30 minutes left to race.

In GTE, Stuart Hall drove the #96 Aston Martin V8 Vantage into the class lead and battled with the #99 sister car of Alex MacDowall. At the halfway point MacDowall had the advantage. As the four hour mark approached the #66 JMW Motorsport Ferrari F458 Italia driven by Rory Butcher led the #99 Aston Martin driven by Andrew Howard.

The battle for the final podium spot was fierce and ended with contact between the #56 AT Racing Aston Martin V8 Vantage driven by Pier Guidi and the #96 Aston Martin driven by Ritchie Stanaway with the outcome that Stanaway took the position.

There was clearly some very enthusiastic driving amongst the large LMP3 field which may raise some questions before the next round of the European Le Mans Series which will be held at Imola on May 15.

Beche Takes Pole In Weather-Affected ELMS Qualifying

Qualifying took place on schedule for the opening round of the European Le Mans Series after heavy snow showers and cold conditions at the start of the day threatened delays.

The session, however, got underway on time and it was the LMGTE cars who rolled out for the first on-track action of the 2016 Europeans Le Mans Series. Richie Stanaway was immediately on the pace in the #96 Rofgo-entered Aston Martin 8 Vantage, putting in a 2:19.348 early in his 5 lap qualifying run. The battle for second place went to Ricard Lietz in the Proton Competition #88 Porsche 911 RSR 991 with a 2:20.286, closely followed by Andrea Bertolini in the #66 JMW Motorsport Ferrari F458 Italia with a 2:20.378.

The top six were rounded out two Ferrari F458 Italias, the #66 AF Corse car driven by Matt Griffin with a 2:21.309 and the #56 AT Racing entry driven by Pier Guidi Alessandro with a 2:21.360, followed by Wolf Henzler with a 2:21.419 in the #77 Proton Competition Porsche 911 RSR 991.

The LMP3 class was next on track in conditions that were still being described as wet but with a drying line appearing. With cold tyres and unable to reach speeds which made them aerodynamically effective, the LMP3 cars were initially struggling to beat the LMGTE times. Dino Lunardi in the Duqueine Engineering #19 Ligier JS P3 made the early running and looked set to take class pole. However, with the track continuing to improve it was Ross Kaiser in the 360 Racing #6 Ligier JS P3 who set the fastest time with a 2:13.264 on his fifth lap.

Lunardi finished the session second in class with a 2:13.315 while Enzo Guibbert in the #9 Graff-entered Ligier put in a flying final lap to qualify in third place with a 2:13.394.

“I’m a little disappointed’” said Lunardi after the session. “We have good pace and the race is most important. It is difficult to say where I lost time but the rain had stopped and lap after lap the track got better.”

The LMP2 cars were last on the circuit in the fast-and-furious qualifying format. Only Mathias Beche in the #46 Thiriet By TDS OREC 05-Nissan had set a time before the session was red-flagged after a spin by Damien Faulkner in the Murphy Protoypes #48 ORECA 03R-Nissan. After a delay of some eight minutes the car was recovered and the rest of the field returned to the track for a final shoot-out.

Mathias Beche finished the session taking pole position with a 2:06.471 set on his fourth lap. Four manufacturers filled the top four places. SMP Racing’s Stefano Coletti set a 2:07.0576 in the #32 BR 01, Léo Roussel finished third in the Pegasus Racing #29 Morgan-Nissan with a 2:07.624 and Harry Tinknell in the G-Drive Racing #38 Gibson 015S Nissan finished fourth with a 2:07.855.

With close performances across all three classes the race promises to be an exciting and closely-fought affair.

The lights go out for the start of the 4 Hours of Silverstone this afternoon at 14:30.

2016 ELMS Kicks Off At Silverstone

The 2016 European Le Mans Series begins on April 16 with the 4 Hours of Silverstone. This season promises to be one to savour with a packed grid and the promise of close racing across all three classes.

2016 will be a transition year for LMP2 prior to new technical regulations coming into force for next season. As a result, we will see fascinating battles with well-proven machinery facing the latest in prototype development. 14 teams, representing nine nationalities will be campaigning 6 different chassis types.

The most popular chassis this year is the Ligier JS P2 of which we will see six examples of the grid. 2015 champions Greaves Motorsport will be bringing the #41 car with a driver line-up of multiple Rolex Daytona 24 and 12 Hours of Sebring-winner Memo Rojas, Julien Canal and Jakub Giermaziak. So24! By Lombard Racing are entering the #22 car with Vincent Capillaire, Olivier Lombard and Jonathan Coleman sharing the driving duties.

New-for-2016 Panis-Barthez Competition will be campaigning the #23 car, to be driven by Fabien Barthez, making his debut in debut at Silverstone, Timothé Buret and Paul-Loup Chatin. The #25 car is entered by Algarve Pro Racing, who recently gained a Le Mans entry, with Michael Munemann, British Olympian Sir Chris Hoy and Parth Ghorpade driving. Hoy moves up to the LM P2 class for 2016, having won the inaugural ELMS LMP3 title in 2015. Krohn Racing, from Houston, Texas, enter its second year of ELMS competition with the #40 car, to be driven by its established pairing of Tracy Krohn and Niclas Jonsson who are joined by Bjorn Wirdheim following his successful season last year with Greaves Motorsport. IDEC Sport racing complete the Ligier entries with its Judd-engined #28 car to be driven by Patrice and Paul Lafargue and Dimitir Enjalbert.

Three Nissan-engined ORECA 05s have been entered this season. DragonSpeed, new to the ELMS in 2016, bring their #21 car with a driver line-up of Henrik Hedman, Nicola Lapierre and Ben Hanley. Eurasia Motorsport, fresh from its Asian Le Mans Series campaign, enter the #33 car, with Pu Junjin, Nick De Bruijn and Tristan Gommandy sharing the driving duties. The #46 car, entered by 2015 Vice Champions Thiriet by TDS Racing completes the ORECA 05 entries and will be driven by Pierre Thiriet, Mathias Beche and Ryo Hirakama.

SMP Racing are entering a pair of Nissan-engined BR 01s. The #32 car will be driven by Stefano Coletti, Julian Leal Covelli and Andreas Wirth. Sean Gelael, Mitch Evans, who made his Le Mans debut with JOTA Sport in 2015, and Antonio Giovinazzi complete the driver line-up in the #44.

Four open-top LMP2s will be on the grid this season. Race Performance has entered the #34 ORECA 03R with a Judd engine for Nicolas Leutwiler, James Winslow and Franck Mailleux. Murphy Prototypes has entered a Nissan-engined example with Michael Lyons and Marc Goosens driving. Pegasus Racing has entered the #29 Morgan, driven by Inès Tattinger, Rémy Striebig and Léo Roussel.

Finally, G-Drive racing / JOTA Sport will be hoping for better luck this season for its venerable Gibson 015S, driven by the experienced pairing of Simon Dolan and Harry Tincknell, joined this year by ex-Caterham F1 driver, Giedo Van Der Garde. The team will have its sights on the 2016 title, having been narrowly beaten over the previous two seasons.

After its inaugural season in 2015, LMP3 comes of age in 2016 with a huge grid of 20 cars entered for the 4 Hours of Silverstone. Despite the ACO inviting five manufacturers, with a sixth recently added, to supply chassis for the new class, all but one of the entries for the first round are Michelin-shod and Nissan-powered Ligier JS P2s.

Six teams from France are entering a total of nine cars. OAK Racing has entered the #4 car to be driven by Jean-Marc Merlin and Eric Maris while the sister # 24 car shares a driver line-up of team owner Jacques Nicolet and his son, Pierre. The Graff Racing #9 car is driven by Eric Trouillet, Paul Petit and Enzo Guibbert while John Falb and Sean Rayhall from the US and Vicente Potolicchio from Venezuela will drive the #10 entry.

Alongside its LMP2 entry, Panis-Barthez Competition will also campaign a Ligier JS P3, the #16 car being driven by the all-French line-up of Eric Debard, Valentin Moineault and Simon Gachet. Ultimate has a further all-French driving roster of Jean-Baptiste Lahaye, his brother Mathieu and Francois Heriau. Thomas Laurent, Yann Ehlacher and Alexandre Cougnard will drive the #18 M.Racing-YMR entry while Duqueine Racing enter two cars. The #19 will be driven David Hallyday, David Droux and Dino Lunardi while Roman Iannetta, Maxime Pialat and Eric Clement will share the #20.

US-entered and Leeds-based United Autosports are new to the championship and has entered two cars. The #2 will be driven by British drivers Alex Brundle and Christian England who are joined by Mike Guasch from the US. The #3 sister car will be driven will also two British drivers; Matthew Bell and Wayne Boyd who are joined by Mark Patterson from the US. United Autosports topped the time sheets in its class at the ELMS test in Le Castellet so will be confident going into the first round of the championship. Another new two-car team from the US is Eurointernational. The all-Italian driver line-up of Giorgio Mondini, Andrea Roda and Marco Jacobini share the #11 entry. Andrea Dromedari is currently the sole declared driver for the #12 car.

Spanish-based By Speed Factory has entered the #5 car. Two Spanish drivers; Alvaro Fontes and Jesus Fuster are joined by Briton Tom Jackson.

Two British-based teams are entered for Silverstone. 360 Racing has entered the #6 car with driving duties shared by Terrence Woodward, Ross Kaiser and James Swift. The #15 car is entered by RLR Motorsport with Morten Dons, Ossy Yusuf and Ross Warburtion driving.

Completing the Ligier JS P3 entrants are Villorba Corse, Race Performance and Inter Europol Competition. Villorba Corse has entered the #7 car to be driven by an Italian driver line-up of Roberto Lacorte, Giorgio Sernagiotto and Nicollo Schiro. From Poland Inter Europol Competition has entered the #13 car, driven by Jakub Smiechowski and Thomas Dagoneau while Swiss-based Race Performance will campaign the #8 car with a driver line-up of Marcello Marateotto, Giorgio Maggi and Bert Longin.

The sole non-Ligier entry wll be the Nissan-engined ex-University of Bolton Ginetta entered by MurphyP3 3Dimensional.com whose Ave-Riley will not be ready for the first round. Tony Ave from the US and Venezuela’s Doug Peterson will drive.

Nine cars are entered in GTE, the Ferrari F458 Italia being the most popular with five examples on the grid at Silverstone. AF Corse return with largely unchanged driver line-ups from last year. Piergiuseppe Parazzini, Marco Cioci and Rui Aguas share the #51 car while Duncan Camaron and Aaron Scott from Britain and Matt Griffin from Ireland complete the driver line-up in the #55. AT Racing from Austria has entered the #56 car to be driven by father-and–son duo of Alexander Talkanitsa Senior and Junior alongside Alessandro Pier Guidi. Denmark’s reigning ELMS LMGTE champions Formula Racing have an all-Danish driver line-up of Johnny Laursen, Mikkel Mac and Christina Nielsen. Nielsen has made previous appearances in the ELMS and had a class win at the 12 Hours of Sebring earlier this year.

Completing the Ferrari F458 Italia entrants is JMW Motorsport with Britain’s Rory Butcher and Rob Smith sharing the driving duties with former FIA GT1 World Champion Andrea Bertolini.

Proton Competition has entered a pair of Porsche 911 RSR 991s. Reigning LMGTE Champion Richard Lietz will be joining team principal Christian Ried and Gianluca Roda in the #88 car while Michael Hedlund, Wolf Henzler and Marco Seefried share the #77 entry.

2015 British GT Champion Andrew Howard will be joined in the #99 Aston Martin V8 Vantage by Alex MacDowell and, for Silverstone only, Darren Turner. Jonny Adam is unable to join the team for this round of the ELMS due to a scheduling conflict with the British GT Championship. The #96 Aston Martin Racing entry will be driven by Roald Goethe, Stuart Hall and New Zealander Richie Stanaway.

Qualifying for the 4 Hours of Silverstone takes place between 10:50 and 11:40 on April 16 with the race starting at 14:30 in the afternoon.