Category Archives: 24 Hours of Le Mans

Automobile Club De L’Ouest Extends Initial Invitations For the 2017 24 Hours of Le Mans (24.01.17)

The Automobile Club de L’Ouest, organiser of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, has issued the first 14 invitations for the 2017 running of the French classic.

Following the conclusion of the 2016/17 Asian Le Mans Series, the ACO is now in a position to extend its initial invitations.

For those new to endurance racing, participation at the 24 Hours of Le Mans is solely at the invitation of the ACO. Participation, and particularly success, in an ACO-organised or sanctioned series brings with it the possibility of an invitation to enter the great race.

Continue reading Automobile Club De L’Ouest Extends Initial Invitations For the 2017 24 Hours of Le Mans (24.01.17)

Norma Auto Concept M30 LMP3 On Schedule For 2017 European Le Mans Series Debut (30.12.16)

In a recent interview published on www.norma-auto-concept.com Norbert Santos, founder of the Saint-Pé-de-Bigorre-based company, has said that new M30 LMP3 chassis will be ready in January, in preparation for the 2017 European Le Mans Series season.

The Automobile Club de l’Ouest announced in April 2016 that Norma Auto Concept, founded in 1986 and specialising in the manufacture of prototypes, had been selected as one of the Official Manufacturers of LMP3 chassis.

In the interview, Santos explained the challenges of preparing the new M30 chassis for the forthcoming season:

“That was the initial plan, yes (to be ready for the end of 2016). But it will now be ready in January. We had to incorporate regulatory upgrades related to the driver’s safety. That was not planned and we had to perform a series of calculations over several weeks. Today, we are very happy with the results that we got in simulation. The lights are all green now.”

The success of the LMP3 class in the 2016 European Le Mans Series and interest beyond Europe in North America and Asia means that demand for LMP3 chassis is substantial. Santos is clear about the volume of M30 chassis that Norma Auto Concept will be able to supply.

“Today I can tell you that we will not be able to supply more the fifteen M30s before the start of the European Season, while the demand is much higher.”

“It’s also a choice that we have imposed on ourselves,” continued Santos. “We don’t want in any way to sacrifice the quality of the finished product for the quantity. I can only add that, beyond what has already been announced, we have sold M30s in the U.S. and to other teams in Europe. In the last ten days, three other established European teams have placed orders. And advanced discussions are underway with some others, including in Asia.”

The 2017 European Le Mans Series opens at Silverstone on April 14 – 15.

Audi To Leave FIA World Endurance Championship At End Of 2016 (26.10.16)

After weeks of rumour, Audi has confirmed that it will withdraw from the FIA World Endurance Championship, including the 24 Hours of Le Mans, at the end of the 2016 season and will instead focus on the Formula E series.

Chairman of the Board of Management Rupert Stadler spoke to employees of the motorsport department on the morning of Wednesday October 26.

“We’re going to contest the race for the future on electric power,” said Stadler. “As our production cars are becoming increasingly electric, our motorsports cars, as Audi’s technological spearheads, have to even more so.”

Audi’s departure from top-level endurance racing marks the end of an 18 year campaign, during which the brand scored 13 victories in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, won the FIA World Endurance Championship twice and secured the American Le Mans Series title nine times.

Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ulrich was clearly sad at the closing of this chapter in Audi’s history.

“After 18 years in prototype racing that were exceptionally successful for Audi, it’s obviously extremely hard to leave,” said Dr. Ulrich. “Audi Sport Team Joest shaped the WEC during this period like no other team. I would like to express my thanks to our squad, to Reinhold Joest and his team, to the drivers, partners and sponsors for this extremely successful cooperation. It’s been a great time!”

Audi’s departure will leave only two manufacturers in the premier class of the FIA World Endurance Championship – Porsche and Toyota.

Virage De Mulsanne Annnounces Theme for 2017 (20.10.16)

The Virage Mulsanne Association, which organises the extremely popular pre-race Friday event based at Mulsanne Corner, has announced its theme for 2017.

In 2016 Virage de Mulsanne honoured Ford, and the fiftieth anniversary of its famous 1-2-3, with a gathering of over 500 vehicles which included many examples from the ‘Blue Oval’.

For 2017 the theme will be ‘Jaguar’. Jaguar is a name synonymous with Le Sarthe, having recorded five victories in seven years between 1951 and 1957 and enjoying further success in 1990 with a 1-2 from Tom Walkinshaw’s Silk Cut-sponsored XJR-12s.

Virage de Mulsanne will be hoping to attract even more cars to its display which runs from Mulsanne Corner and extends down the circuit towards Indianapolis.

In 2016 the weather, which those of us who attended will remember, was wet and miserable for much of the week but it cleared on Friday, allowing an opportunity to spend a very pleasant lunchtime at Mulsanne, viewing the assembled cars and grabbing the chance to walk along the empty circuit on which, twenty fours later, battle would commence.

Artist Ray Toombs, the official illustrator of Virage de Mulsanne, will be present at the event in 2017

If you are planning to travel to the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2017, don’t miss out on Virage de Mulsanne on Friday June 16, possibly before travelling to the town for the Parade des Pilotes.

BMW To Enter FIA World Endurance Championship And Le Mans In 2018 (27.09.16)

BMW has announced that it will enter the FIA World Endurance Championship in 2018, alongside the IMSA WeatherTech Sportscar Championship. It will also offer a BMW M4 GT4 as the company seeks to explore exciting opportunities in GT racing.

The announcements came within a wide-ranging brief which outlines BMW’s strategic realignment of its motorsport activities. The company will maintain a focus on sustainability with a commitment to working with the Andretti Formula E team. Classic motorsport will also form part of the company’s motorsport activities.

Kraus Fröhlich, Member of the Board of management of BMW AG, commented:

“On the production-based racing scene, we will be represented with BMW M in the global WEC series in the future, as well as the DTM and the IWSC. Our commitments complement each other perfectly: we are going head to head with our most important global competitors, whether through our works commitments or customer racing. In short: The future strategy is excellently suited to the BMW group. Bring on the future.”

Jens Marquardt, BMW Motorsport Director, sees great opportunities for BMW in international motorsport.

“It is fantastic that the BMW Group will be even more broadly positioned and represented in all relevant areas in the future,” said Marquardt. “Starting with the 2018 season, we want to further expand our activities in GT racing and compete in the FIA World Endurance Championship, as well as the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. This obviously also includes our return to Le Mans, which we are particularly looking forward to. The way the WEC has developed so well makes us confident that there is a big future for GT racing.”

“This is also the motivation behind our further expansion in the customer racing sector. Our range has already been spearheaded by a successful representative, in the form of the BMW M6 GT3. As of 2018, we will also be excellently represented by the BMW M4 GT4 in the GT4 class, which is also experiencing something of a boom.”

The announcement makes for a mouth-watering entry list for the 2018 24 Hours of Le mans, with the Ford GT fully developed and both Porsche, Ferrari and Chevrolet having formidable GTE offerings.

Scuderia Villorba Corse Takes Postives And Great Experiences Away From ‘Road To Le Mans’

Treviso-based Scuderia Villorba Corse took many positives and some great experiences away from its two-car entry into the inaugural ‘Road to Le Mans’ race, which was run on the Circuit de la Sarthe on the morning of the 2016 24 Heures du Mans.

The #8 Ferrari F458 Italia GT3, piloted by Cedric Mezard and Steeve Hiesse finished 24th overall and 11th in the GT3 class while the #7 Nissan-powered Ligier JS P3 with Roberto Lacorte and Giorgio Sernagiotto at the wheel finished 34th overall and 17th in class.

“The weekend of this official ‘Road to Le Mans’ served as a Road to Le Mans for the team,” said Team Principal Raimondo Amadio. ”All the work the team did has been a preparation for the future. The team and the drivers used all the miles, as far as possible, that were available to them. Sernagiotto, despite only one lap in free practice, was able to set the fifth fastest time in qualifying and was then fast in the race. The progression in terms of the stop-watch is undoubtedly positive but the important thing is the experience lived by the whole team and the information and data we have been able to gather, even in the wet.”

Photo: Scuderia Villorba Corse
Photo: Scuderia Villorba Corse

Although the participation of the LM P3 cars did not count for the overall standings in the 2016 European Le Mans Series, the race for GT3 cars counted as the second round of the inaugural Michelin GT3 Le Mans Cup.

The third round of the Michelin GT3 Le Mans Cup will be held at the Red Bull Ring in Austria on July 16.