Tag Archives: 24 Hours of Le Mans

Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Announces Driver Line-Up For 2018 24 Heures du Mans (22.02.18)

Ford Chip Ganassi Racing has revealed its full driver line-up for the 2018 running of the 24 Heures du Mans.

The Detroit-based manufacturer will be taking four examples of its Ford GT to the French classic, two from its entry to the 2018/19 FIA World Endurance Championship and two from the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.

From the WEC entries, the #66 car driver paring of Stefan Mücke and Olivier Pla, the two regular FIA World Endurance Championship drivers, will be joined by 2016 Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge GS class champion Billy Johnson. The #67 Ford GT will be driven by regular drivers Andy Priaulx and Harry Tincknell and, joining them at the Circuit de la Sarthe, Brazilian IndyCar driver Tony Kanaan. Kanaan drove with Joey Hand and Dirk Müller at Le Mans in 2017, finishing 6th in the LM GTE Pro class.

From the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, the #68 car will be driven by the regular season #66 car driver line-up of Joey Hand, Dirk Müller and Sébastien Bourdais. Ryan Briscoe, Richard Westbrook and Scott Dixon will pilot the #69 car, the #67 car from the North American Championship.

The lights go out for 86th running of the 24 Heures du Mans on Saturday 16.06.18 at 15:00 local time.

“We Believe That We’ve Created A Chassis That Is Class-Leading.” Ginetta’s Technical Director Ewan Baldry At Autosport 2018 (22.01.18)

The highlight of the 2018 Autosport Racing Car Show for many endurance racing enthusiasts was the presentation and launch of the new Ginetta G60-LT-P1, the new-for 2018 LMP1 car of which TRS-Manor has already announced it will take delivery of two examples for entry into the 2018/19 FIA World Endurance Championship ‘Super Season’.

Ginetta Technical Director Ewan Baldry spoke additionally at the show to give some insight into the design and build of one the most exciting prototype projects for many years.

Below are some edited and summarised highlights from Ewan Baldry’s presentation.

Engine and Major Component Suppliers:

“Obviously we had designed an LMP2 car before, we had designed an LMP3 and the G58 and G57 cars which are prototype-based but to design a car like this and attempt to sell it for £1.3m, which is what the rolling chassis cost, without an engine, it’s quite a big ask and requires a good level of credibility. So it was logical for us to get on board with a good number of technical partners who could help with the credibility of that programme. The first on that list is Mecachrome. I was at the Cologne motorsport show last November and found their new GP2 engine on a turbo supplier’s stand. I got talking and went to visit them and found that they had assembled all the Renault Formula 1 engines since the year ‘dot’ right to now so they have a huge knowledge of wealth and experience and it’s been great to have them on board.”

“Xtrac is a no-brainer choice for a gearbox for this type of application.”

“The next one is ARS, a composites company. They’re Italian and they’ve had experience of manufacturing composites for programmes like this.”

“The next one is a special one for me. I started my motorsport career because when I was at university I came home after a night out and in those days Open University programmes used to be on the telly in the middle of the night. There was a programme about Reynard Racing Cars and at that point I decided that that’s what I wanted to do. Just a year ago I got introduced to Adrian Reynard who was my hero and we basically recruited their company to do our CFD services and I now count him as a friend which is great.”

“For the wind tunnel programme we chose Williams. I’m not sure you could choose anybody better. “

“And again, I think you would agree, some top-notch names; Öhlins for dampers, Bosch for the electronics, BBS for the wheels and AP for the braking equipment. “

Project Targets:

“Clearly the car has got to be reliable, it’s got to be serviceable and there are a lot of regulations around it as well. The real places where we could make a difference are aero-dynamically and the mass distribution of the car.”

“In terms of engine performance, again, it is relative given. The ACO have a fuel-flow method for controlling engine performance so they tend to cap engine performance by looking to cap the amount of fuel you’re allowed to use per hour so our real focus tended to start on the light weight of the vehicle and we were delighted the other day to put the car on the scales. You never really know until you’ve finished the car and put it on the scales how much it is going to weigh. The minimum weight limit when we line up on the grid at Le Mans this year is 833 kgs so that’s the minimum it’s got to be but your objective is always to make it as light as possible can so then you can apply ballast to the car which will give you performance in terms of the dynamic of the car. Also with a car like this, getting mass distribution forward is always a key requirement, a key focus and a key challenge too. The reason for that is obviously we need to work the front tyres in order to get the energy in them in order for them to heat up. It’s always a tricky thing to do so in order to do that you want to move weight, move ballast forward it gives the tyres more to do and obviously therefore enables them to warm and get into their key operating range.”

“So throughout the process I had to keep going to the CEO of the company to say can we spend a little bit more to take a little bit more weight out of the vehicle and the net result of that was we put the car on the scales the other day and it was 756 kgs. There was only a radio and a drinks system to go in there so we were miles under the 833 kgs target. The down side of that is that I then had to go to my boss and say you know I’ve been asking to spend a bit more money to make the car lighter. Well I now need to spend £25,000 on ballast to get the car up to the weight limit so it didn’t go down too well!”

Aero Package:

“What we’ve done is produced quite a high nose concept. If you look at the car and look down the gap between the side-pod and the front ‘elephant’s foot’ as we call it, you’ll see a void and the reason is to get the front end working first of all. Any aero designer will always start with the front splitter as they’re called, it’s more complex than a splitter, but they’ll start with that and the whole design feeds from that. They’ll focus on that bit first and that’s what we did. That said, we didn’t go quite as extreme as the Audi that never ran. They went really high nose for that but we needed to make sure we compromised slightly to ensure we had good driver comfort. We needed to make sure it was a bit more accessible so what we did was we built a wooden mock-up very early on that had a moveable foot-box and we got a range of drivers to sit in and arrived at what we thought was a good compromise and you will see the results over there. “

Aero Development:

“As I mentioned we used ARC in Indianapolis which is Adrian Reynard’s company and just to explain – they didn’t design anything for us – we design everything in-house at Ginetta. Our objective is always looking at the lift-drag ratio. That’s the result that we’re interested in – how much downforce we can generate for the amount of drag – there is a bit of a trade-off. So we did, I can’t totally remember, it must have been three or four hundred iterations of CFD throughout the programme of the car and it’s still on-going actually.”

“Once we’d arrived at what we thought was a good starting point for developing and testing further we then moved on to the wind tunnel programme.”

“A friend of mine who was an ex-F1 analyst travelled the world looking at various wind tunnel opportunities and decided to stay at home really and use Williams in the end and I’m really glad that we did. So we used Tunnel No1 at Williams which is where they won all the world championships. Tunnel 1 runs a 50% scale model. It has a moving table so it allows the car to yaw. So every time we did an iteration or a run of the car the model makers would make the changes to the car, they come out of the tunnel, the tunnel gets locked down, they press the button and start it and we record all the numbers. So at each iteration the car runs through a cycle – a complete range of pitch, a complete range of roll, a complete range of steer and also of yaw. So after every run we’d got a lift-over- drag number for each of those.”

“So the other key thing we did here – we took the decision to go with pneumatic tyres which again was an expensive decision to take but again with a car like this the flow of the car is so significant to the overall performance and the tyres affect that significantly. If you take a slightly cheaper route you take a solid carbon fibre wheel / tyre but it doesn’t deform in the way that a rubber one obviously does and when the car steers, pitches and rolls we want to try and get deformation so what happens is that the guys at Williams take the Michelin or the Dunlop tyre that we would use in real life and they perform a test where they load the tyre and look at the contact patch and change and then we use an Italian company to look at that and make us a model tyre – 50% tyre – from rubber and it get inflated and then they try to match that contact patch deformation that occurs so we get good representation of what is going on under the car.”


“We also wanted to design it around a specific engine although other engines are available and the tub has been designed to accept other possible engine configurations as it’s a customer race car we’re selling. That said, we strongly would advise to go down the Mecachrome route – it’s been a fantastic process so far working with them and to that end as well as I’ll tell you about shortly, the gearbox has been designed to bolt straight to the engine so there’s no integral bell-housing which again gives us benefits in terms of structural stiffness, weight etc.”

“The base of the engine is the GP2 engine and the thing that appealed to us about it was that, first of all, it’s tiny but most of all I guess is that as part of the GP2 signing-off process they’ve had to do hours of durability testing as part of their contractual obligations for Formula 2. So all of the reciprocating components in the engine have gone through that durability programme. What we’ve done is turn the engine into GDI so it’s direct injection. The F2 engine isn’t. For Le Mans, to be competitive, you have to have good fuel efficiency so we had to switch to GDI which gives us 10% – 15% improvement in efficiency. But it is not the work of a moment and Mecachrome have spent all of the nine months that we’ve been developing the new car, developing g the new casting and the new cylinder heads for GDI. We fired up the engine for the first time last Tuesday before we brought the car here and I’m pleased to say it doesn’t sound anything like a Formula 1 engine. It sounds fantastic – it really screams.”

“It’s a ‘Hot V’ so the turbo sits in the V rather than on the flanks of the engine which has been really good for the cooling package and packaging in general.”


“In terms of the gearbox we did look around but we decided to go with Xtrac for fairly obvious reasons as they’ve got an incredible pedigree at Le Mans and the 24 Hours. I don’t know what the numbers are but I guess that last year they must have had 75% of the cars on the grid. We’ve taken a gear cluster that has won Le Mans many times so we didn’t want to reinvent the wheel. What we have done is twisted the cluster slightly to make it go further forwards and lower in the interest of the C of G. The other interesting thing is that, with Xtrac, we have designed our own casing so whereas other cars who use an off-the-shelf gearbox use an adaptor, our case is custom so it bolts straight to the back of the Mecachrome engine. “


“On to the chassis. To our knowledge, we’re not totally sure, but to our knowledge this is the first car to have Zylon panels integrated into it . Zylon panels are effectively mandated by the regulations – they’re effectively an impact resistant structure. And normally they get laminated and cured separately onto the chassis and the bonded on which means that you don’t really get much performance from them other than when the impact happens – if it happens. However the reason it’s done that way is that they generally don’t bond very well in testing of the systems that have been used previously. ARS, the company that we use, and the materials supplier have come up with a new resin system that has enabled them to co-laminate the Zylon into there. So we believe that we’ve created a chassis that is class leading. It weighs just under 60 kgs and our knowledge in terms of everything in LMP2 is that they’re around 75kgs’ I’m not sure what an Audi or a Toyota would be . I’m sure we’re knocking on the door of what they’ve achieved so we’re delighted with that.

24 Hours Of Le Mans 2017 – Sample Gallery (22.06.17)

During the running of the 2017 24 Hours of Le Mans, EnduranceandGT.co.uk photographer Roger Jenkins took thousands of images across the whole of race-week. Roger has been perfecting his techniques for shooting cars both in day and night conditions and this year surpassed himself with some excellent and evocative pictures. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be publishing a selection of some of the best. Below is a just a small sample of what is to come.

If there are any entries in  particular that you would like to see, please let me know.

#2 R

#2 -2 R

#8-1 R

#8-2 R

#38-1 R

#38-2 R




Notes From Le Mans – Friday 16.06.17

Well, we can’t say that the weather has been unkind to us at Le Mans in 2017. After the, frankly, miserable conditions teams and spectators alike had to endure in 2016, this year every day of race week has bright, very warm and clear. Currently there is no rain forecast for the race and, indeed, some forecasters are predicting even hotter temperatures this weekend. More of that later.

After finally putting to bed our (brief) report on qualifying early this morning, late lie-ins were the order of the day. Emerging mid-morning, provisions were stocked-up on and, breakfasted and rested, we headed down to Le Mans and to the village of Mulsanne.

For the last five years, the ‘Virage de Mulsanne’ has hosted an event at Mulsanne Corner to celebrate the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The theme this year was ‘Jaguar at Le Mans’ and there was a fascinating collection of the famous British marque gathered on the corner itself. Further down the straight towards Indianapolis was a collection of both classic and contemporary cars, ranging from Renault Gordinis and some very early Citroens to American muscle with a good selection of Porsches included. Having caught the Porsche ‘bug’ himself, the EndurandGT.co.uk editor thinks he has spotted his next possible purchase!


Having thoroughly enjoyed our visit to Mulsanne, we headed back along the Mulsanne Straight towards the town to prepare for the Drivers Parade. When the weather is as it was this evening, there is no better way to prepare for the race than by watching the drivers drive past in classic cars. It’s an event squarely targeted at the children of Le Mans, with souvenirs being thrown into the crowds, but nevertheless it is a lot of fun and well worth making the effort for, if you come down.


As we walked back to the car, we met the family of James Allen, driver of the #40 Graff Racing entry, and we discussed how he was feeling now that qualifying is past. James is a driver that has a fantastic future ahead of him in sportscars and the EnduranceandGT.co.uk team wish him the very best of luck for his first 24 Hours of Le Mans.

And so… the talking stops and the racing starts…tomorrow. There has been much talk in the paddock that 2017 will be a race of attrition. Here are some points that we think will be interesting to watch as the race unfolds.

a) The faster speeds of the LMP2 cars will put of lot of strain on brakes, tyres and drivers. Teams will have to pace themselves in order to see the chequered flag and it won’t necessarily be the car that goes haring off into the distance at the start that is leading come Sunday afternoon. The LMP2 battle has the makings of one of the best class battles ever at Le Mans.

b) Clearly the issue of the top-end speed of the LMP1 And LMP2 cars will be a factor, especially as drivers get tired and at night. Mistakes can happen but need to be avoided for a good run at Le Mans. How this issue plays out in 2017 will be fascinating to watch.

c) The GTE battles will be gripping. Have all the teams shown their full hands, even during qualifying? The first few laps of the race will show us where we really are, especially in the LM GTE Pro class.

d) Toyota knows it can win this race. But… the memory of 2016 will be fresh in its mind. How will it play the first quarter of the race? Will the #9 car make the pace for the field and try to break the Porsches? Are the Toyota’s as bullet-proof as they need to be? All will be revealed.

e) The high temperatures may make the A.C.O. enforce its stint-length rules for drivers in cars without airt-conditioning. If this does become a factor, engineers of non-air-conditioned cars will have a nightmare trying to plan round it.

As ever, the 24 Hours of Le Mans will throw up excitement, triumph, despair and heartache in equal measure. Sit down, get the drinks and snacks in and settle in for the greatest motor race on the planet. Le Mans.

As Steve McQueen once said: “Racing is life. Everything before or after is….just waiting.”

Toyota Gazoo Racing On Pole for 2017 24 Hours Of Le Mans (16.06.17)

Photo: Roger Jenkins

In some of the best qualifying conditions seen at le Circuit de la Sarthe for many years, lap records tumbled and Kamui Kobayashi put the #7 Toyota Gazoo Racing TS050-Hybrid on pole for the 2017 running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Kobayashi put in a 3:14.791 in the second qualifying session to set the new lap-record and take pole position. Lining up alongside Kobayashi will be the sister #8 Toyota Gazoo Racing TS050-Hybrid after Kazuki Nakajima lapped in 3:17.128 in the final qualifying session.

Third on the grid will be the #1 Porsche LMP Team 919 Hybrid after Neel Jani lapped in 3:17.259.

ORECAs dominated the LMP2 field in qualifying. The class grid will be headed by the #26 G-Drive Racing ORECA 07 after Alex Lynn put in a 3:25.352 in the final qualifying session. Second on the LMP2 grid will be the #25 CEFC Manor TRS Racing ORECA 07 after Vitaly Petrov lapped in 3:25.549 ion the second session. ‘Mighty #38’ Jackie Chan DC Racing will complete the top three in the LMP2 field after Ho-Pin Tung put in a 3:25.911.


Photo: Roger Jenkins

In a hotly contested LM GTE Pro field it was Aston Martin who came out on top after Darren Turner put in a 3:50.837 in the #97 Aston Martin Racing Vantage to take pole position. Second quickest in the LM GTE Pro field was the #51 AF Corse Ferrari F488 GTE after James Calado lapped in 3:51.028 in the third session.

Rounding out the top three in the LM GTE Pro field was the #95 Aston Martin Racing entry with Richie Stanaway at the wheel.

Aston Martin did not have it all its own way in the LM GTE field after Fernando Rees put the #50 Larbre Competition Chevrolet Corvette C7.R on pole in LM GTE Am with a 3:52.843.

Tomorrow is a rest day from track action with warm-up for the 24 Hours cars early on Saturday morning.

To Really Be Here Is A Dream Come True.” – Graff Racing’s James Allen Talks Le Mans And ELMS (14.06.17)

Photo: Roger Jenkins

Young Australian race driver James Allen is competing at Le Mans for the first time. Supported by his family and close friends at the French classic, James displays remarkable composure for a driver facing one of the biggest challenges of his career to date.

EnduranceandGT editor Andy Lloyd caught up with James prior to the first practice session for the 24 Hours grid on Wednesday June 14….

So… you’re here. Le Mans 2017. That must feel very special, doesn’t it?

“It definitely feels special. I’ve been dreaming about it since I was a kid so to really be here is a dream come true.”

When we spoke earlier in the year you were saying that prototypes were really where you wanted to focus your career moving forward. Has the reality lived up to the expectation?

“I actually think it’s gone further than I expected. The cars are unbelievably fast and the races are fantastic. So it’s really brilliant!”


Photo: Roger Jenkins

How have you found European Le Mans Series so far for you?

“Obviously in Monza I didn’t have the best luck with a mechanical failure. However we seem to have had good pace. Apart from the mechanical failure, it’s been fantastic. The team have done everything they can and they’ve done a great job. I think later in the year we will be looking at some podiums and, hopefully, wins. “

The relationship with Graff Racing seems to be a very good one and you seem to have gelled well with the team.

“Yes, definitely. I feel I’m part of the family right now. I have a great relationship with my engineers, the team and the other drivers. It’s feels good.”

The Le Mans Test Day nearly two weeks ago was your first experience of the circuit. How was that?

“It was unbelievable! I felt lost for the first five or six laps and at Le Mans five or six laps takes twenty minutes! I felt like ‘how am I going to figure out how to drive this track?’ but I soon got to grips with it.”

From a driver’s perspective in an LMP2 car, especially a 2017 car which has got a lot of power and a lot of aero, which are the most challenging parts of the circuit to learn?

“Probably the fast corners like the Porsche Curves. It’s really hard to try and commit to going fast, especially on a corner like that where any mistake can put you in the wall. That’s definitely been a challenge. But when you’re driving down towards Mulsanne for the first time, it’s definitely something very special.”


Photo: Roger Jenkins

Driving the car at night must be a big challenge.

“Yes, I did the night session at Monza when it was getting dark and it was definitely something different. It feels a lot faster in the dark. You think you’re going really fast but when you come round your lap times two seconds slower because it’s at night!”

Much of the Le Mans circuit isn’t lit at night, is it?

“That’s right. The Bugatti circuit is lit but once you get through Tertre Rouge there’s no lighting and it’s pretty much the same up to the Porsche Curves and the Ford Chicane. At the night session at Monza we had good headlights because there wasn’t a lot of lighting there and it was quite easy to see.”

Many people have been talking this year about the fact that the straight line speed of the LMP2s is comparable with the LMP1s so they will be faster out of the corners and you might be faster on the straights. What has been your experience of that so far?

“I’ve actually had a P1 pull up alongside me on the straight so I ended up passing him back! It might get a bit difficult if one of the P1s gets a bit desperate but they’re professionals so they know what they’re doing. It will definitely be something to be aware of. “

And how have you have you acclimatised to the demands of driving in traffic?

“I’ve still got a bit to work on. It’s definitely a lot better than when I started. It was a challenge to keep the pace up while passing GT and LMP3 cars. However I’ve worked on driving in traffic and it’s getting better and better.”

Le Mans is  unique and the build-up is considerably longer than any other event. You must be keen to get on with racing now, aren’t you?

“I’ll  glad to be getting on track this afternoon! Le Mans is definitely nothing like anything I’ve done before.”

The first qualifying session for the 2017 running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans takes place at 22:00 local time on Wednesday June 14.