Benjamin Wallace And Graham Roberts Enjoy Positive Weekend At Rockingham (15.04.18)

Photo: Ian Cutting

Benjamin Wallace, driver of the #88 Team HARD Ginetta G55 GT4 in the 2018 British GT Championship, was joined by 2017 Fun Cup UK champion, Graham Roberts, for the opening round of the 2018 Britcar Dunlop Endurance Championship at Rockingham Motor Speedway, Corby On April 13 – 14.

Roberts will be contesting selected rounds of the Britcar Dunlop Endurance Championship while Wallace is focusing on his first full-season in the premier national GT championship. The Southport-based driver, however, saw the weekend as preparation for Round Three of the British GT Championship, which visits Rockingham on April 28 – 29.
The weekend consisted of practice, qualifying and two races on Saturday April 14 – a 50-minute sprint and a two-hour race, replicating the race length for the British GT Championship.

Benjamin Wallace and Graham Roberts qualified 5th in class and finished in the same position in Race One. In Race Two the #88 Team HARD pairing finished seventh in the Endurance Classification.

Benjamin Wallace found the weekend was excellent preparation for returning to the Corby circuit in two weeks for the British GT Championship.

“Rockingham was a new circuit for me in the Ginetta G55 GT4 and finding a set-up for the track, with its high-speed banking and twisting, bumpy infield sections, is challenging,” said Wallace. “As a result, the weekend has definitely helped us to prepare for the British GT weekend. We found some set-up solutions and the track-time helped me build up my experience in the car, especially at this circuit.”

#88 BC a.a. 18.04.14

Photo: Ian Cutting

Commenting on his team-mate for the weekend, Benjamin Wallace was delighted at how quickly he formed a working relationship with Graham Roberts.

“Graham was quickly on the pace,” said Wallace. “We both had the same challenges with the Ginetta, Graham probably more so because he’s only driven the car twice. It was a new experience for us both.”

Wallace is now confidently looking forward to returning to Rockingham in two weeks with the British GT Championship.

“I’m really looking forward to the British GT weekend,” he said. “The Britcar Dunlop Endurance Championship experience was very positive. We probably found out more about the car and the circuit then we expected to so it was definitely the best preparation ahead of returning in two weeks time.”

Round Three of the 2018 British GT Championship, a two-hour race, takes place at Rockingham Motor Speedway on April 29.

Vilander / R. Ferri Takes Second Pole of 2018 At Long Beach (14.04.18)

Photo: world-challenge.com (From St. Petersburg)

Toni Vilander, driving the #61 R.Ferri Motorsport Ferrari F488 GT3-R, took his second pole position of the season at the Grand Prix of Long Beach with a 1:18.436 set on his eleventh lap of 17. In a close qualifying session, joining Vilander on the front row will be the #2 CRP Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 piloted by Daniel Morad, who lapped the Californian street circuit in 1:18.642.

Completing the top three in the Pro category was the #31 TR3 Racing Ferrari F488 in which Daniel Mancinelli put in a 1:18.694 on his eighth lap.

In the AM category Yuki Harata put the #55 Dream Racing Motorsport Lamborghini Huracán GT3 on the class pole with a 1:19.157. Martin Fuentes, piloting the #07 Squadra Corsa Garage Italia Ferrari F488, went second quickest with a 1:19.183. Qualifying third in the Am category was Rodrigo Baptista in the #3 K-PAX Racing Bentley Continental GT3. Baptista set a 1:19.608 on his fifth lap of nine.

Quickest of the GTS Invitational class was the #78 Compass Racing McLaren 570S GT4 in which Paul Holton lapped in 1:25.930.

Round Three of the 2018 Pirelli World Challenge series for the GT and GTA classes takes place at 10:00 local / 18:00 BST on Sunday April 15.

“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.

"When you're racing, it's life. Anything that happens before or after is…. just waiting. " Steve McQueen – "Le Mans" – 1971