ELMS Showdown On The Algarve (16.10.17)

The 2017 European Le Mans Series arrives at Algarve International Circuit, Portimão, Portugal for its sixth and final round on Sunday October 22.

35 cars will take to the grid across the three classes with 12 entries in the premier LMP2 class, 17 in LMP3 and six in the LMGTE category.

In the LMP2 class entry list the sole change for Portimão in comparison to the previous round is that Ricardo Sanchez replaces Jonathan Hirschi in the #39 GRAFF ORECA 07.

In the LMP3 class Timor Boguslavskly is declared as the third driver in the #5 By Speed Factory Ligier JS P3.

Elsewhere in the LMP3 category, Andrea Dromedari moves from the #12 Eurointernational entry to the sister #11 car to partner Giorgio Mondini. James Dayson joins Ricky Capo and Maxwell Hanratty in the #12 entry.

In the #19 M.Racing-YMR Norman M 30 Erwin Creed replaces Neale Muston.

Looking at the LMGTE class, Will Stevens continues in the #66 JMW Motorsport Ferrari F488 GT3, driving alongside fellow British drivers Robert Smith and Jody Fannin. Beechdean AMR continues its policy of developing new driver talent with the introduction of Immanuel Vinke to drive the #99 Aston Martin V8 Vantage alongside Andrew Howard and Darren Turner.

LMP2.

The #22 G-Drive Racing ORECA 07, on 98 points, has a 18-point advantage over the second-placed #32 United Autosports Ligier JSP217 in the teams standings. The #22 entry has enjoyed great consistency in 2017 with two victories at Monza and Spa-Francorchamps and a trio of second places at Silverstone, the Red Bull Ring and Le Castellet. Memo Rojas, Ryo Hirakawa and Léo Roussel will be looking forward to a trouble-free run in order to secure the title.

The #32 United Autosports entry has also taken two wins but a disappointing sixth place at Monza and a fifth-place finish at Le Castellet means that William Owen, Hugo de Sadeleer and Filipe Albuquerque will, realistically, need a victory and some luck if they are to finish 2017 as team champions.

Sitting in third place on 61 points in the LMP2 teams championship is the #40 GRAFF ORECA 07 with the driver line-up of James Allen, enjoying his first season in prototypes, Richard Bradley and, for the latter half of the season, Gustavo Yacaman. Victory last time out at Spa-Francorchanos means that, conceivably, the #40 crew could finish the season in second place.

LMP3:

United Autosports is looking to repeat its class championship that it won in 2016 when Alex Brundle, Christian England and Mike Guasch dominated the category.

In 2017 it is again the #2 entry that enters the final round leading the championship. The American driver pairing of John Falb and Sean Rayhall have a 19-point lead over the #18 M.Racing-YMR driven by Alexandre Cougnaud and Antoine Jung.

Falb and Rayhall have emulated Brundle, England and Guasch’s consistency of 2016 with victories at Silverstone and Le Castellet and second-place finishes at the Red Bull Ring and Spa-Francorchamps. The #18 M.Racing-YMR entry has taken three podium positions this season with a second-place finish at Monza and third-place finishes at the Red Bull Ring and Le Castellet. A pair of sixth places however, at Silverstone and Spa-Francorchamps, means that the challenge on the Algarve is significant.

LMGTE:

The closest of the three categories, just 17 points separates the top-four in the teams championship with the #90 TF Sport Aston Martin V8 Vantage of Salih Yoluc, Eaun Hankey and Nicki Thiim enjoying a slender one-point advantage at the top of the table over the #66 JMW Motorsport Ferrari F488 GT3 of Robert Smith, Jody Fannin and Will Stevens.

2016 saw a disappointing finish to the European Le Mans Series for Colchester-based JMW Motorsport and, after victory at La Sarthe, the team will be looking to close the season in style. TF Sport, meanwhile, with victories at Silverstone and Spa-Francorchamps and never having been off the class podium this season, will be full of confidence. It will be fascinating battle.

The lights go out for the Four Hours of Portimão at 13:00 local time on Sunday October 22.

Michelin Le Mans Cup Reaches Season Finale At Portimão (14.10.17)

Photo: Jakob Ebrey / lemanscup.com

The 2017 Michelin Le Mans Cup reaches its final round at the Algarve International Circuit at Portimão, Portugal on Sunday October 22.

19 entries will take to the grid for the seventh round of the championship, now in its second year.

14 cars are entered in the LMp3 category. Missing from the provisional entry list from those entered for the previous round at Spa-Francorchamps is the #33 Ibran Pardo Javier Ligier JS P3 piloted by Javier Ibran and Mathijs Bakker. Also missing is #40 GRAFF Ligier which was driven to 14th place at Spa by Richard Bradley and William Lok.

Joining the grid on the Algarve will be the #39 GRAFF Ligier with the driver line-up of Eric Trouillet and Scott Andrews. Also joining the LMP3 class will be #44 SPV Motorsport Ligier, with the driving duties being shared by Alvaro Fontes and an, as yet unnamed, second driver.

Other changes in the prototype field include the replacement at Duqueine Engineering of Kenton Koch in its #9 Ligier. Jonatan Jorge will be sharing the driving duties with Joël Janco.

Andrew Bentley will be driving the #23 United Autosports Ligier alongside Richard Meins, replacing Shaun Lynn.

The GT3 grid has six entries for the final round. Kessel Racing has entered its #93 Ferrari F488 GT3 to be driven by the all-Italian driver line-up of Claudio Schiavoni and Andrea Piccini.

LMP3:

With only 25 points available at Portimão, the top three positions in the LMP3 teams standings are almost certainly decided.

DKR Engineering heads the table on 113 points with its #3 Norma M30, the only non-Ligier JS P3 chassis in the field, and its driver line-up of Jean Glorieux and Alexander Toril.

DKR Engineering, owned by Kendy Janclaes and based in Luxembourg, has enjoyed a dominating year in the prototype class. With wins at La Sarthe, the Red Bull Ring, Le Castellet and Spa-Francorchamps and a second-place finish at the season-opener at Monza, the team has only had a single poor result this season – a non-finish in the first ‘Road to Le Mans’ race.

33 points behind DKR Engineering sits Corby, UK-based Nielsen Racing on 80 points. The team has enjoyed an excellent season with a win at the opening round at Monza and second places, albeit behind its closest rival DKR Engineering, at the Red Bull Ring, Le Castellet and Spa-Francorchamps. A poor showing at the two ‘Road to Le Mans’ races at La Sarthe has spoiled an otherwise highly consistent run in the championship.

Third in the LMP3 teams standing is the #65 GRAFF, piloted by Emilien Carde abd Adrien Chila. Being 25.5 points behind second-placed Nielsen Racing means that the first three places in the prototype teams championship are almost certainly decided.

GT3:

The GT3 championship is, however, far closer. Ebimotors and its #46 Lamborghini Huracán GT3 driven by Emanuele Busnelli and Fabio Babini sits at the top of the teams standings, just seven points ahead of Lee Mowle and his #7 Mercedes AMG GT3 that he will be sharing with Phil Keen at Portimão.

#46

Photo: Jakob Ebrey / Lemanscup.com

The Italian team from Cermenate has enjoyed wins at the Red Bull Ring and Le Castellet with podium position finishes at Monza, Le Sarthe and Spa-Francorchamps. Lee Mowle has also had two victories, at Monza and Spa as well as a second-place finish at Le Castellet A disappointing 13th-place finish in the first ‘Road to Le Mans’ race at La Sarthe has cost the team dearly in the fight for the championship.

Track action for the Michelin Le Mans Cup field begins on Friday October 20 with FP1 at 15:00 local time. Qualifying takes place on Saturday October 21 at 15:40 local time with the lights going out for two-hour race on Sunday October 22 at 09:00.

Ginetta Cars Annnounces First Three LMP1 Orders (03.10.17)

After announcing its entry into the LMP1 privateer field at the start of the year, Garforth, Yorkshire-based constructor Ginetta Cars has announced that it has sold its first three premier-class chassis.

The un-named buyer has placed a deposit for two cars in readiness for the FIA World Endurance Championship 2018/19 ‘Super Season’ with a possible third car intended for spares.

Ginetta Cars Chairman Lawrence Tomlinson was delighted to announce the news.

“This is a big step forward for the programme and will be great news too for the FIA WEC and the ACO who have placed a lot of faith in their new LMP1 regulations,” said Tomlinson.

“For now you’ll have to wait for our customer to make their own announcement on this programme. The signs are that they will soon be joined by more Ginetta customers in the top LMP1 class and that a car conceived in our Yorkshire factory will soon be contesting overall wins in the World Endurance Championship including the world’s biggest race, the Le Mans 24 Hours.”

Ginetta Cars intends to produce 10 cars, one of which will be its development car. Testing is expected to begin in November.

Ginetta Cars was founded in 1958 by the Walklett brothers and was acquired by Lawrence Tomlinson in 2005. Ginetta G40, G55 and G57 cars are now exported globally.

Adam / Johnston Win At Donington. Parfitt / Morris Clinch GT3 Crown (24.09.17

Jonny Adam and Derek Johnston, driving the #1 TF Sport Aston Martin Vantage GT3, won the final round of the 2017 British GT Championship, heading a TF Sport 1 -2 after Jon Barnes, driving the sister #11 Vantage which took pole for the season finale, crossed the in second place.

Taking the final podium spot was Phil Keen, driving the #33 Lamborghini Huracán GT3 he shared with Jon Minshaw.

Seb Morris brought the #31 Team Parker Racing Bentley Continental GT3 home in fourth place after team-mate Rick Parfitt had handed the car over in third.

The fourth place finish was sufficient for Morris and Parfitt to secure their first GT3 Drivers Championship with Jon Minshaw and Phil Keen finishing second in the standings.

The HHC Motorsport pairing of Stuart Middleton and William Tregurtha, driving the #55 Ginetta G55 GT4 secured the GT4 Drivers Championship after twenty minutes of the start when title rivals Alex Reed and David Pittard went out after Reed spun the #55 entry.

The GT3 battle was hard-fought after pole-sitter Mark Farmer, in the #11 TF Sport Aston Martin Vantage GT3, was pushed hard by Derek Johnston in the sister #1 car, with brief contact between the TF Sport entries allowing Jon Minshaw in the #33 Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini Huracán to briefly move into second place.

A spin by Minshaw, however, relegated the #33 Barwell Motorsport entry down to eighth place before Minshaw brought the bright green Lamborghini back up to fifth place at the driver changes.

Parfitt took third place from Liam Griffin in the #6 Barwell Motorsport entry with an opportune move after a yellow flag. An aggrieved Parfitt admitted that the move had been the best of the year for him.

“At the beginning it seemed like I was hit by every single Lamborghini,” said an exhausted Parfitt “(Liam) Griffin seemed to be attempting to drive me off the circuit. He wasn’t even turning into the corners. it was absolutely the most amateurish move I’ve seen all year and it was a real shame. Luckily M-Sport build the Bentley strongly and it’s a bit of a tank. Liam was holding me up and doing a very good job of that. He was using the strength of the Lamborghini to park it on the apex and the used their superior traction.”

I timed the move (for third place) absolutely perfectly. It was very opportunistic. I saw the yellow and saw the green and just as we hit the green I was alongside. I was absolutely bang on that move and it was probably my best move if the year. After that, it was just about keeping my head together and driving consistently.”

After the pit stops had cycled through it was 2016 British GT Drivers champion Jonny Adam, now at the wheel of the #1 TF Sport Aston Martin Vantage GT3, who held the lead, ahead of Jon Barnes in the sister #11 car.

Phil Keen, now piloting the #33 Barwell Motorsports Lamborghini pushed hard but was unable to mount a serious challenge for second place.

Seb Morris, meanwhile, in the #31 Team Parker Racing Bentley Continental GT3 held station in fourth place knowing that it would be sufficient to secure his and Rick Parfitt’s first GT3 drivers title.

Rick Parfitt is the first driver to win both the GT4 and GT3 drivers titles.

The GT4 class was won by 2016 GT4 Drivers Champions Graham Johnson and Mike Robinson in the #501 PMW Expo Racing / Optimum Motorsport McLaren 570S GT4.

Full race report to follow.

Middleton and Parfitt Lead Sunoco Challenge Standings (24.09.17)

British GT Championship drivers Stuart Middleton and Rick Parfitt are currently leading the Sunoco Challenge standings as the competition draws to a close for 2017.

Middleton, driving partner of William Tregurtha in the #55 HHC Motorsport Ginetta G55 GT4 , currently leads the British GT GT4 driver standings by 25 points and heads the Sunoco Whelan Challenge points table with 76.39 points.

Previous winners of the Sunoco Whelen Challenge include Derek Johnston and Seb Morris. The prize is a fully-funded drive in the #31 Whelan Engineering Cadillac DPi at the 2018 Rolex 24 at Daytona, including flights, accommodation and food, worth $250,000.

Rick Parfitt, driver of the #31 Team Parker Racing Bentley Continental GT3 and who currently leads the GT3 Drivers Championship in the 2017 British GT Championship with previous Sunoco Whelan Challenge-winning driver Seb Morris, leads the Sunoco 240 Challenge by 5.5 points ahead of Jon Minshaw.

Sunoco_challenge_240_final

The prize for winning the Sunoco 240 Challenge is a race seat in a GT4 car, run by Racers Edge, in the 4-hour endurance race on the Friday before the Rolex 24 at Daytona, a package worth $50,000.

The Sunoco Whelan Challenge was launched in 2009 as a concept to promote the Rolex 24 at Daytoan and was a joint initiative between NASCAR chairman Jim France and Anders Hilderbrand, Managing Director of Anglo American Oil Company.

The Sunoco 240 Challenge was first introduced in 2011 as a competition for drivers who were not ready to race a Daytona Prototype.

 

TF Sport Locks Out Front Row For British GT Final Round. #31 Bentley / #33 Lamborghini On Second Row. (23.09.17)

Photo: BritishGT.com / Jakob Ebrey

TF Sport will occupy the front row of the grid for Sunday September 24’s final round of the 2017 British GT Championship after Mark Farmer and Jon Barnes lapped in a cumulative 2:55.337 to take pole in the #11 TF Sport Aston Martin Vantage GT3.

2016 Champions Derek Johnston and Jonny Adam, driving the #1 Aston, will join the sister car on the front row when they lapped in a cumulative 2:55.821.

2017 GT3 protagonists Barwell Motorsport and Team Parker Racing will start September 24’s 120-minute race alongside each other on the second row. Phil Keen, in the #33 Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini Huracán GT3, put in a 1:27.376 in the dying seconds of the 10-minute GT3 Pro session to snatch third on the grid with a cumulative 2:56.109 with driving partner Jon Minshaw.

The #31 Team Parker Racing Bentley Continental GT3 of Rick Parfitt and Seb Morris will start from fourth on the grid with a cumulative 2:56.170.

Jon Barnes brought the #11 TF Sport entry into the pits with minutes left to go in the GT3 Pro qualifying session, so confident was he that his 1:27.125 could not be improved upon.

The #11 driving partnership of Barnes and Farmer was delighted at their pole position.

“We’re really pleased. Mark came here on his own last Thursday and had a really good test and he’ll have to come and test on his own again because he’s obviously quick when I’m not here!” joked Jon Barnes. “It’s just fantastic. Mark pulled a really good time out of the bag – a low 1:28 as an Am round here is really awesome. I’m pleased from my own point of view because I haven’t been in the car for seven weeks so both of us can be really pleased with our day’s work and hopefully we can continue it into tomorrow.”

2016 Champion Derek Johnston is looking forward to some competitive racing for Sunday September 24’s season finale and doesn’t expect any team orders from TF Sport.

“No, not at all,” said Johnston. “We’re all ready to race. If there’s an opportunity for me to pass, for sure that’s what ‘m going to do. I’m not going to do anything stupid, obviously.”

The lights go out for the final round at 13:30 local time on Sunday September 24.

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