Category Archives: European Le Mans Series

European Le Mans Series Returns To Red Bull Ring For Round Three (18.07.17)

Photo: Gabi Tomescu/AdrenalMedia.com

After the dust has settled following the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the European Le Mans Series returns to Austria for Round Three.

36 cars will take to the grid for The 4 Hours of the Red Bull Ring.

13 LMP2 entries are on the provisional entry list for July 23’s race, one more than at the previous round – the 4 Hours of Monza. Joining the grid for the Red Bull Ring will be the #27 SMP Racing Dallara P217, driven by Matevos Isaakyan and Egor Orudczhev.

There are some changes in the driver line-ups in the LMP2 class for the third round. Nicolas Lapierre replaces Ryo Hirakawa in the #22 G-Drive Racing ORECA 07. In the #23 Panis-Barthez Compétition Ligier JSP217 Nathanaël Berthon replaces Matthieu Vaxiviere.

In a surprise move announced last week, Gustavo Yacaman has replaced Franck Matelli in the #40 Graff ORECA 07, to drive alongside James Allen and Richard Bradley.

RBR 2

Photo: Gabi Tomescu/AdrenalMedia.com

The LMP3 category also has a number of driver changes. In the #4 Cool Racing By GPC Ligier JS P3 Gino Forgione is not included in the list of declared drivers. A replacement has yet to be announced.

In the #8 Duqueine Engineering entry, Douglas Lundberg has replaced Henry Hassid and Mikkel Jensen has replaced Maurizio Mediani in the #9 AT Racing entry. Finally the #12 Eurointernational entry sees two-thirds of its driver line-up changed for this round when James Dayson and Ricky Capo replace Maxime Pialat and Maxwell Hanratty.

The LMGTE class sees a field of six entries, one less than the previous round. Missing for the Red Bull Ring will be the #50 Larbre Competition Chevrolet Corvette C7-ZO6.

After two rounds, the drivers of the #22 G-Drive Racing ORECA 07 lead the 2017 European Le Mans Series Trophy for LMP2 drivers. Léo Rousell, Memo Rojas and, absent for Red Bull Ring, Ryo Hirakawa lead the standings on 43 points after taking victory last time out. Second in the drivers standings, and just 10 points behind, is the #32 United Autosports trio of Filipe Albuquerque, Hugo de Sadeleer and Will Owen.

Third in the LMP2 drivers standings is the #49 High Class Racing duo of Dennis Andersen and Anders Fjordbach.

In the LMP3 drivers standings François Heriau, Jean-Baptists Lahaye and Matthieu Lahaye, drivers of the #17 Ultimate Ligier JS P3 head the table on 33 points. Only five points behind is the #18 M.Racing – YMR driving trio of Alexandre Cougnaud, Antoine Jung and Romano Ricci.

The LMGTE drivers standings are led by the #90 TF Sport driver line-up of Salih Yoluc, Euan Hankey and Nicki Thiim.

Track action for the 4 Hours of the Red Bull Ring starts with FP1 on Friday 21 July at 15:20 local time. The three ten-minute qualifying sessions take place on Saturday July 22, starting at 13:45 local time.

The lights go out for the start of the 4 Hours of the Red Bull Ring at 13:00 local time on Sunday July 23.

G-Drive Racing Wins 4 Hours of Monza To Take Lead In 2017 European Le Mans Series (14.05.17)

Photo: europeanlemansseries.com

The #22 G-Drive Racing ORECA 07 took the chequered flag to win the second round of the 2017 European Le Mans Series in Monza and take the lead in the six-round championship.

Memo Rojas, Ryo Hirakawa and Léo Roussel shared the driving duties in the #22 car with Hirakawa bringing the car home to take the win.

Second in the LMP2 class was the sister #21 DragonSpeed ORECA 07 driven by Henrik Hedman, Nicolas Lapierre and Ben Hanley.

Taking the final podium spot in class was the #49 High Class Racing Dallara P217, piloted by Dennis Andersen and Anders Fjordbach.

LMP2:

The #39 Graff ORECA 07 with Enzo Guibbert at the wheel held the lead from pole but came under pressure from Nicolas Lapierre in the #21 Dragon speed entry. Contact between the #16 Panis-Barthez Compétition Ligier JS P3 and the #9 AT Racing Ligier caused the race to be neutralised under a Full Course Yellow and also impeded Lapierre in the #21 as he took avoiding action at T8.

Meanwhile Richard Bradley in the #40 Graff ORECA 07 had made solid progress through the field, having started seventh on the grid, and was challenging the #22 car for the lead before a jump-start penalty forced an unwanted stop. On Bradley’s out-lap from the penalty, an electrical issue caused his car to stop. Bradley successfully re-started the car but it pushed what was potentially race-winning challenge down the order.

A further FCY was required when, with less the an hour and quarter run, contact between the #2 United Autosports Ligier JS P3 with Sean Rahall at the wheel and the #9 AT Racing Ligier piloted by Alexander Talkanitsa requires the race to be neutralised. As the #39 Graff entry pitted before the race went green, it caused Enzo Guibbert to drop down the field.

The #22 G-Drive Racing ORECA, with Léo Roussel took the lead at the halfway mark with the #47 Cetilar Villorba Corse Dallara P217 in second place.

Just when it looked like the #22 G-Drive Racing entry, now with Ryo Hirakawa at the wheel, had an unassailable lead, the Japanese driver was handed a drive-through penalty for a speed infringement under the FCY. The resulting penalty left Hirakawa in the lead but now with only a 22-second lead.

The battle for second place was just about to get interesting. Anders Fjordbach in the #49 High Class Racing Dallara P217 was coming under pressure from Ben Hanley in the #21 DragonSpeed ORECA 07. A splash-and-dash by the #49 car meant that Hanley could catch the #49 and take second place with less than five minutes to the finish.

It looked as if Hanley had the pace to catch Hirakawa in the #22 but time ran out.

LMP3:

M.Racing – YMR took the two top podium spots and the first win for the new-for-2017 Norma M 30 after a race that saw incidents cause interruptions.

Taking the class win was the #19 M.Racing = YMR Norma M 30 piloted by Ricky Capo and Erwin Creed. Second in class was the sister #18 Ligier JS P3 with the driver line-up of Alexandra Cougnaud, Antoine Jung and Romano Ricci.

Taking the final podium spot was the #3 United Autosports Ligier JS P3 piloted by Mark Patterson, Wayne Boyd and Christian England.

The #17 Ultimate Ligier JS P3 now has a five point lead in the LMP3 standings over the #18 M.Racing – YMR entry.

LMGTE:

The LMGTE class saw an emotional victory for the #66 JMW Motorsport Ferrari F458 driven by Robert Smith, Jody Fannin and Jonathan Cocker. The 4 Hours of Monza was the last race for the F458 which has been with the team for seven years. The victory at Monza means the #66 car won both its first and final outings. The team joked via social media that it was being ‘retired to a farm in the South-East where she can live out her days free-range’.

JMW a.a. 17.05.14

Photo: Dunlop Motorsport

Second in class was the #90 TF Sport Aston Martin V8 Vantage driven by Salih Yoluc, Euan Hankey and Nicky Thiim.

Taking the last podium spot was the #99 Beechdean AMR Aston Martin V8 Vantage.

TF Sport leads the LMGTE Teams classification by nine points over the JMW Motorsport entry.

The next round of the 2017 European Le Mans Series will be the 4 Hours of the Red Bull Ring on July 23.

“It’s Always Been My Dream To Drive In The 24 Hours Of Le Mans” – Graff’s James Allen Talks To Enduranceandgt.co.uk (12.05.17)

Photo: James Allen

Australian-born but currently living in Nice, France for the racing season, James Allen will be realising a boyhood dream in June when he makes his debut appearance in the 24 Hours of Le Mans alongside Franck Matelli and Richard Bradley in the #40 Graff ORECA 07.

“It’s always been my dream to drive in the 24 Hours of Le Mans,” explained Allen. “To be able to actually do it is very exciting. The goal has always been Le Mans and prototypes. I just drove Formula cars to get experience in racing.”

The journey to Le Circuit de la Sarthe has been by way of single-seaters. James began his racing career in karts in his home country where he won the Australian National title and began racing in Europe in 2013 in the Formula BMW Talent Cup, in which he finished sixth. He drove for two full seasons in the Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup with ARTA Engineering and in 2016 he finished seventh in the Formula Renault 2.0 Northern European Cup with JD Motorsport.

James joined Morangis, France-based Graff at the start of the 2017 to contest the European Le Mans Series alongside fellow Le Mans debutant Franck Matelli and 2015 FIA World Endurance Championship Vice-Champion Richard Bradley.

JA2 a.a. 17.05.12

Photo: James Allen

Moving from single-seaters to driving as part of a team in multi-class racing has made James re-think the way he approaches races.

“I have to be a bit more patient, I guess,” said James. “You don’t want to risk unnecessary contact with a GTE or LMP3 car. In Formula cars you’re always competing with your team-mate whereas in sportscars and endurance racing, I’m doing everything I can to help my team-mates. I really like to do as much as I can to help everyone in the team.”

The first round of the 2017 European Le Mans Series saw the #40 Graff entry come home fourth, three places ahead of the sister #39 entry.

“I definitely feel more comfortable now,” said James. “I was very nervous going into the first race at Silverstone. Now I’ve had a run and seen what it’s like, I’m a lot more comfortable.”

What did James find most challenging about the opening round?

“The traffic is still the most difficult thing,” he explained. “Passing three or four cars a lap never happened in single-seaters. Setting up a pass on a much slower car and getting through while losing as little time as possible is a lot more difficult than it sounds. That’s definitely something I can work on for the next few races.”

James feels he has settled well into Graff for 2017.

“It’s been good. They’ve treated me like a rookie because that’s what I am. They’ve let me take my time and get used to the car. They seem happy with how I’m going and so am I. I’m happy with everything that’s going on at the moment.”

Although it’s still early in the season, James is clear on the future direction of his career.

“The dream is LMP1,” he said, confidently. “To be honest, if anybody is willing to pay me, I’ll drive for them. I’m not going to be fussy when it comes to that, that’s for sure!”

The second round of the 2017 European Le Mans Series will be held at Autodromo Nazionale Monza on May 14.

Filipe Albuquerque Snatches Victory In Dying Minutes of Dramatic European Le Mans Series Opener (15.04.17)

Filipe Albuquerque, taking the final stint in the #32 United Autosports Ligier JSP217 he shared with William Owen and Hugo de Sadeleer, snatched the lead in the dying minutes to win the 4 Hours of Silverstone, demoting Ryo Hirakawa in the #22 G-Drive Racing ORECA 07 to second place.

#32 3 a.a. 17.04.15

Photo: Roger Jenkins

Third in the premier class was the #49 High Class Racing Dallara P217 with Anders Fjordbach at wheel in a car he shared with Dennis Anderson.

In the final minutes of the race Hirakawa visibly started to struggle with grip, allowing Albuquerque to close the gap from 30 seconds and take the lead in the last three minutes.

#22 a.a. 17.04.15

Photo: Roger Jenkins

The LMP2 podium featured chassis from three different manufacturers, namely Ligier, ORECA and Dallara, demonstrating the competitiveness of the revised 2017 regulations for the class.

Albuquerque realised he had a chance as the race was approaching its conclusion.

“In the end I was on the limit of my tyres but I could see I was gaining more and more,” said Albuquerque. “So when I saw it was possible to win the race I was really pushing in the last ten laps. I could see he couldn’t do much more because of tyre degradation and so I overtook him. The new cars are faster and much more demanding than the previous car but I am having a lot more fun.”

Hirakawa was understandably upset to lose he race he appeared to have sewn up by the final 30 minutes.

“I was really struggling with tyre degradation at the end of the race,” said Hirakawa. “I wanted to change the tyres by pitting but we couldn’t. The tyre was dropping a lot and it was really difficult. I am really disappointed. For sure, I’m encouraged by the performance for the next race in Monza and I will do my best at that race.”

In the LMP3 class John Falb in the the #2 United Autosports Ligier JS P3 he shared with Sean Rayhall after he crossed the line over 4 seconds ahead of the Ross Kaiser in the #6 360 Racing Ligier entry. However a post-race penalty for the #6 360 Racing entry demoted Kaiser, Woodward and Wells to to seventh in class.

The revised results showed the #17 Ultimate Ligier JS P3 as secnd with the sister United Autospirts entry, the #3 Ligier driven by Mark Patterson, Wayne Boyd and Christian England in third. It was almost the perfect result for the Leeds-based 2016 LMP3 champions.

The journey to the chequered flag was not without incident for the #2 car after Falb spun at Turn 9 in the final half hour.

The championship is now clearly in the American driver’s sights.

“I like to race here in Europe and in the States but more importantly I want to fight for a championship,” said Falb. “I am excited about the next race in Monza, the land of high speed and it is good to go there with a win here at Silverstone. Let’s go!”

In LMGTE it was the 2016 Michelin GT3 Le Mans Cup champions TF Sport who took the victory in its debut European Le Mans Series season when Euan Hankey brought the #90 Aston Martin V8 Vantage home ahead of the #77 Proton Competition Porsche 911 RSR with Matteo Cairoli at the wheel.

#90 TFS a.a. 17.04.15

Photo: Roger Jenkins

Third in the LMGTE class was the Beachdeen AMR #99 Aston Martin V8 Vantage in which Ross Gunn was asked to take the final stint.

The TF Sport Aston Martin had a scare when a coming-together with the #51 Spirit of race Ferrari sent both cars spinning. However the #90 car quickly recovered and went on to take the class victory by a lap from the second placed #77 Proton Competitition Porsche 911 RSR.

Hankey, who brought the car home, was quick to praise his fellow drivers, Salih Yoluc and Nicky Thiim for the win.

“I never thought we would be in this position if you’d asked me in the middle of last season, but we all improved so much especially Salih,” said Hankey. “He has really developed and it made our lives very easy. I did have a few bits of contacts which wasn’t exactly ideal. However we got over the finish line and we got the first place, which is exactly what we wanted.”

The second round of the 2017 European Le Mans Series take place at Autodromo Nazionale Monza on May 12 – 14.

 

Pole For DragonSpeed In ELMS 4 Hours Of Silverstone (14.04.17)

Photo Above: Jakob Ebrey / Europeanlemansseries.com

DragonSpeed, with its #21 ORECA 07 driven by Ben Hanley, has taken pole position for the opening round of the 2017 European Le Mans Series

TF Sport, Aston Martin and Nicki Thiim drew first blood in the ten-minute sessions by qualifying on pole in the LMGTE category.

It was an Aston Martin 1 -2 in qualifying for the 4 Hours of Silverstone with the Danish driver lapping the Northamptonshire circuit in the #90 Aston Martin V8 Vantage in 1:58.269. Thiim was closely followed by Ross Gunn who lapped the #99 Beechdean AMRV8 Vantage in 1:58.466.

In third position was the #55 Spirit of Race Ferrari F488 GT3 with Matt Griffin behind the wheel. Griffin had lap-time of 1:59.697 disqualified for a track limit infringement but the deletion of the lap did not affect his grid position.

Rory Butcher in the JMW Motorsport Ferrari 458 Italia had a disappointing session, qualifying in the final position in the class, with a 2:00.940.

With a hint of moisture in the air, the LMP3 grid went out for their ten-minute session. LMP3 Sean Rayhall in the #2 United Autosports Ligier JSP3 looked to have class pole sewn up, even after the chequered flag had been shown. However Mikkel Jensen had other ideas and, courtesy of a session-fastest third sector, put the #9 AT Racing Ligier JSP3 on pole by less than two-tenths of second with a 1:53.665.

Qualifying in third position was the sister #3 United Autosports Ligier JS P3 with Wayne Boyd at the wheel, setting a time of 1:54.181.

8 cars were ‘pinged’ for track limit infringements and had lap times deleted, indicating the stance that the Race Director will be taking on cars keeping to the racing surface this season.

The LMP2 qualifying session was interrupted by a brief red flag following the departure from the track at Maggots of both the #22 G-Drive Racing ORECA 07 with Ryo Hirakawa behind the wheel and the #40 Graff entry driven by Richard Bradley.

After the session resumed with 5 minutes to go it was Filipe Albuquerque in the #32 United Autosports Ligier JS P217 who took provisional pole with a 1:44.314 from Andrea Pizzitola driving the #25 Algarve Pro entry.

Ben Hanley, however, in the #21 DragonSpeed ORECA 07 was quickly up to speed and snatched pole position with a 1:44.040. as the sessions was drawing to a close.

The opening round of the 2017 European Le Mans Series takes place on April 15 with the lights going out for the 4 Hours of Silverstone at 14:30

DragonSpeed Quickest In Silverstone European Le Mans Series FP2 (14.04.17)

Photo Above: Jakob Ebrey Photography / Europeanlemansseries.com

Friday’s 90-minute Free Practice 2 session took place under grey and cold skies initially although it did brighten up as the session progressed.

Fastest time in the new-look LMP2 category was set by Ben Hanley with a 1:44.647 in the #21 DragonSpeed ORECA 07, a car he shares with Henrik Hedman and Nicolas Lapierre. Second quickest, with a 1:44.856 was the #40 Graff ORECA 07 driven by Roberto Lacorte, Giorgio Sernagiotto and Richard Bradley, with Bradley setting the time.

Third fastest in a largely uneventful session was the #32 United Autosports Ligier JSP217 driven by William Owen, Hugo de Sadeleer and Filipe Albuquerque with a 1:45.742 set by Albuequerque.

Overall, times looked to be about 4 seconds a lap quicker in comparison with times set by the 2016-spec cars last year. Weather in 2016 was extremely variable so it is difficult to draw exact conclusions.

In the LMP3 class, it was 2016-class champions United Autosports who once again showed the way with its #3 Ligier JS P3 setting a time of 1:55.101 with Wayne Boyd behind the wheel. Panis Barthez Compétition was second quickest with 1:55.425 set by Simon Gachet in the #16 Ligier JS P3 he shares with Eric Debard and Théo Bean.

Third quickest, and completing a Ligier lock-out at the top of the time-sheets was the sister #2 United Autosports entry with a 1:55.804 set by John Falb in a car he shares with Sean Rayhall.

In the LMGTE field, Darren Turner set the quickest time with a 2:00.517 in the #99 Beechdean AMR Aston Martin V8 Vantage. The car was not without its issues though as it was in the garage during the session with gear-box problems. Team owner Andrew Howard commented that, although practice in changing gear-boxes was always useful, due to the limited practice the teams get, he would have much preferred to have the car on the track putting in laps.

Qualifying for the 2017 4 Hours of Silverstone, split into 3 ten-minute sessions for each class begins at 14:05.