G-Drive Racing Win 2016 European Le Mans Series LMP2 Title With Victory At Estoril (23.10.16)

Kent-based G-Drive Racing took a convincing victory at Circuito do Estoril in Portugal to win the 2016 LMP2 Teams Classification. Giedo van der Garde, Simon Dolan and Harry Tincknell controlled the race from the front for much of the four hours. The win was especially poignant as it was the last competitive outing for the venerable Gibson 015S, the same chassis that won the LMP2 class at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2014.

The #46 Thiriet by TDS ORECA 05, driven by Mathias Beche, Pierre Thiriet and Ryo Hirakawa, led the standings going into the final round but encountered a problem with the car failing to start after a pit stop with less than two hours of the race run. The subsequent repairs dropped the #46 back by some 24 laps from which it was unable to recover.

Second across the line in the LMP2 class was the #21 DragonSpeed ORECA 05 piloted by Nicolas Lapierre, Henrik Hedman and Ben Hanley, Lapierre taking the final stint. Taking the final podium spot was the #32 SMP Racing BR 01, driven by Stefano Coletti, Andreas Wirth and Vitaly Petrov, Coletti taking the car across the line.

Victory for G-Drive Racing put it on 103 points for the championship with Thiriet by TDS Racing on 94 points, having scored two points for its eventual ninth place finish.

Full race review with reports on LMP3 and LMGTE to follow.

Victory And 2016 Michelin GT3 Le Mans Cup To TF Sport At Estoril (22.10.16)

Redhill, England-based TF Sport took the chequered flag at Circuito do Estoril to win the sixth and final round of the inaugural Michelin GT3 Le Mans Cup and win the Teams Standings. Euan Hankey took the #34 TF Sport Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3 across the line after a champions first-stint drive from Salih Yoluc.

In a race where heavy rain threatened but never materialised, TF Sport led from early in the two-hour race and rarely looked threatened. The championship adds to TF Sport’s 2016 British GT title and concludes a highly successful year for the British team.

Continue reading Victory And 2016 Michelin GT3 Le Mans Cup To TF Sport At Estoril (22.10.16)

Perfetti Puts Mentos Racing On Pole For Michelin GT3 Le Mans Cup Final Round (22.10.16)

Egidio Perfetti put the #88 Mentos Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R on pole for Saturday October 22’s final round of the 2016 Michelin GT3 Le Mans Cup at Estoril.

The Norwegian driver lapped the 4.182 km circuit in 1:56.788, 1.922 seconds quicker than the #55 FFF Racing team by ACM McLaren 650S with Hiroshi Hamaguchi at the wheel.

Lining up third on the grid will the #72 SMP Racing Ferrari F488 GT3 driven by Aleksey Basov.

Qualifying took place in very wet conditions. Salih Yoluc, in the series-leading #34 TF Sport Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3, headed the time-sheets after the first qualifying session and stayed in the car for the Superpole session. However the continuing rain meant that Yoluc could only ultimately manage only fourth on the grid.

The lights go out for the start of the two-hour sixth and final round of the 2016 Michelin GT3 Le Mans Cup at 16:45 local time (16:45 UK time).

Michelin GT3 Le Mans Cup – Estoril Finale – Round Six Preview (21.10.16)

The Michelin GT3 Le Mans Cup, which has provided excellent GT3 racing alongside the European Le Mans Series, visits Circuito do Estoril, Portugal for its sixth and final round on October 22.

11 cars will take to the grid for the two-hour race which starts at 16:45 local time. BMS Scuderia Italia returns with its #7 Ferrari F458 Italia GT3, to be piloted by Luigi Luchini and Matteo Cressoni. Missing, however, from those who competed at Spa will be the #66 Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini Huracán, the team sampling the series at Spa as did Optimum Motorsport at an earlier round, and the #90 Autoclub Excelsior Aston Martin Vantage GT3.

The standings could not be closer with 12 points covering the top three teams. TF Sport leads the standings on 82 points with its #34 Aston Martin Vantage V12 Vantage GT3 driven by Salih Yoluc and Euan Hankey. Second, and just four points behind in the standings, is the #72 SMP Racing Ferrari F488 driven by Aleksey Basov and Victor Shaitar. Third, just a further eight points behind SMP racing, is the #88 Mentos Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R, piloted by Egido Perfetti and Klaus Bachler.

Although the grids have been of modest size for this inaugural season, the quality of the racing has been very high and that, combined with the beauty of the circuits, has meant that the two-hour Saturday evening races have become compulsive viewing. The sixth round will be no exception.

The 35-minute qualifying session takes place on Saturday October 22 at 11:05 local time with the flag dropping for the start of the two-hour race at 16:45. Excellent on-line coverage, compete with Rad+io Le Mans commentary, can be found at www.gt3lemanscup.com.

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.

Finale At Estoril! – European Le Mans Series Round Six – Preview (18.10.16)

The 2016 European Le Mans Series reaches a conclusion on October 23 with the sixth and final round at Circuito do Estoril in Portugal.

10 LMP2 cars will take to the grid this weekend, three less than at Round Five at Spa-Francorchamps. Missing for the 4 Hours of Estoril will be the #25 Algarve Pro Racing Ligier JS P2, piloted by Michael Munemann, Jonathan Hirschi and Andrea Pizzitola in Belgium. Also absent will be the #47 Team WRT Ligier JS P2 and the #48 Murphy Prototypes ORECA 03R.

Continue reading Finale At Estoril! – European Le Mans Series Round Six – Preview (18.10.16)