Tag Archives: EGT

“There’d Be Nothing better For Me Than To Win It!” – GT SPORT Motul Team RJN’s Bob Neville On the Build-Up To The TOTAL 24 Hours of Spa (05.07.18)

Photo: www.blancpain-gt-series.com

Oxfordshire-based GT Sport Motul Team RJN will be bringing its new-for-2018 Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 to the TOTAL 24 Hours of Spa. Owner and Team Principal recently spoke to www.Blancpain-GT-Series.com and, in a fascinating interview, the full contents of you can read here, outlined the massive amount of work it takes to prepare a world-class GT3 car for the rigours of the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps.

In the middle of packed schedule of racing, Neville has his sights firmly set on victory at Spa but is under no illusions about the challenges that the next three weeks offers before the #22 and #23 entries can join the grid on Saturday July 28.

“The logistical task is virtually carried on from when the chequered flag drops the previous year,” said Neville. “This year will be particularly difficult as there’s a British GT round the preceding weekend (as part of the SRO Spa Speedweek), which we’re also doing.”

“There are arrangements to be made with SRO, such as paddock and garage space, which is really important to be able to arrive there in the right frame of mind. All of that starts really early on.”

Continue reading “There’d Be Nothing better For Me Than To Win It!” – GT SPORT Motul Team RJN’s Bob Neville On the Build-Up To The TOTAL 24 Hours of Spa (05.07.18)

Packed Grid Announced For TOTAL 24 Hours of Spa (04.07.18)

Photo: Blancpain-GT-Series.com

The blue riband event of the 2018 Blancpain GT Series, the TOTAL 24 Hours of Spa gets underway on Saturday July 28 at 16:30 with a total of 67 entries representing 13 manufacturers expected to be on the grid for arguably the greatest GT3 race in the world.

With the build-up already having begun with the Test Day at the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps on Tuesday July 3, the packed grid gets to stretch its legs for the first time on the 7.004 kms track on Thursday July 26 with Free Practice 1.

The four 15-minute qualifying sessions begin later on the Thursday of race-week at 20:50 local time with the 30-minute Super Pole session taking place on Friday July 27 at 18:30.

Qualifying positions for the TOTAL 24 Hours of Spa are initially set on the average lap-times of the drivers in each of the four qualifying sessions. At the end of the four sessions, the teams with cars occupying the top twenty grid positions will each nominate a driver for the Superpole session within 30 minutes of the end of qualifying.

In reverse order of the qualifying positions, each driver will complete one out-lap, two flying laps and one in-lap with the final qualifying positions being determined by the quickest lap-times from each driver.

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Photo: Blancpain-GT-Series.com

The TOTAL 24 Hours of Spa also offers the interesting variation of awarding points at the six-hour and 12-hour mark as well as at the completion of the race. 12 points are available to the leader in each class at the six- and twelve-hour mark as well as 25 points to the winner of each class at the chequered flag. As a result, there are a considerable number of points available, hence the increased interest in racing at the iconic Belgian circuit.

After back-to-back victories in the previous round at Misano World Circuit, Alex Riberas and Christopher Mies, teammates in the #1 Audi Sport Team WRT Audi R8 LMS, lead the overall Drivers Standings on 103.5 points, 24 points clear of Dries Vanthoor who will be joining Riberas and Mies in the #1 for Spa.

Endurance Cup Drivers Standings could not be closer with 10 points separating the top 11 drivers. Again, Vanthoor, Riberas and Mies head the table on 37 points, just two points ahead of Christian Klien, Albert Costa and Marco Seefried, crew of the #14 Emil Frey Lexus Racing Lexus RC F GT3, after victory for the Lexus at Circuit Paul Ricard in the last Endurance Cup round.

Lamborghini will have the largest presence on the Spa grid. 11 examples of the Sant’Agata Bolognese-manufacturer’s work will be present. 10 Huracán GT3s are entered with GRT Grasser Racing Team campaigning three, Daiko Lazarus Racing and Barwell Motorsport two and Attempto Racing, Target Racing and Ombra Racing with one apiece. GDL Motorsport has entered a single Super Trofeo.

Audi will have ten examples of the R8 LMS on the grid. Team WRT has entered three, two under the name of Audi Sport Team WRT and one in the name of Belgian Audi Club Team WRT. Attempto Racing has entered two while Audi Sport Team Sainteloc Racing, Montaplast by Land-Motorsport, Car Collection Motorsport, Sainteloc Racing and Aust Motorsport have entered one apiece.

There will be much interest in the pair of Aston Martin V12 Vantages, two of four in total on the grid for the TOTAL 24 Hours of Spa, entered by R-Motorsport, after the team showed scorching pace at Silverstone in a weekend albeit marred by an issue with data-logger.

As ever, the TOTAL 24 Hours of Spa promises to be a highly competitive race at one of most challenging and iconic circuits on the Blancpain GT Series calendar. Coverage and live timing can be found at www.blancpain-gt-series.com

The 2018 24 Hours of Le Mans – Thoughts, Reflections and The Future (17.06.18)

Photo: Roger Jenkins

As the 2018 running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans draws to a close, EnduranceandGT would like to offer some thoughts and reflections on the Great Race as well as looking ahead, as indeed the ACO is with its announcements about regulations for future classes from 2020.

1) Alonso did it!

Fernando Alonso, double Formula One World Champion, driving the #8 Toyota Gazoo Racing TS050-Hybrid he shared with Sébastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima, won the 2018 24 Hours of Le Mans by a margin of two laps over the sister #7 car and 12 laps ahead of the nearest non-hybrid contender. Many people regarded that Alonso’s victory was a foregone conclusion, that the race win was gifted to him by Toyota, the series organisers the ACO and the FIA in order to generate interest in endurance racing and to allow the ‘halo’ effect to fall on the 2019 Indianapolis 500.

If Alonso can win the ‘jewel-in-the-crown’ of the US single-seater world, the Indy 500, he would secure the ‘Triple Crown’. (Incidentally, the Motorsport Triple Crown, as defined by Graham Hill, consists of the Formula One Drivers Championship, the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the Indianapolis 500 – not, as some commentators have suggested, the Monaco Grand Prix. It doesn’t matter as Alonso has won both.)

Even if all the above were true, it does not detract, in any way, from the achievement of winning at Circuit de la Sarthe. It is true that the pressure was off Toyota Gazoo Racing with no other manufacturer hybrid cars. However, to circulate around a busy track continuously for 24 hours, contending with traffic, with varying driving standards and with weather that can change in a heartbeat, is no mean feat. For the Spaniard to pull this off on his first attempt, ably supported , of course, by Buemi and Nakajima, is nothing short of incredible. Remember that, for decades now, Formula One drivers have lived within their own little bubble and the careers such as those enjoyed by Jacky Ickx, Derek Bell, Jackie Stewart and Brian Redman, where drivers mixed sportscar and Formula One events in the same season, are long gone. Until 2018, Alonso had enjoyed very limited running in a top-level prototype. We should enjoy the privilege of watching one of the greatest drivers of all time demonstrating his skills on the world’s finest circuit.

2) We Can’t Always Have Close Finishes.

The Le Mans crowd has been spoiled in recent years. In 2014 we had the JotaSport Gibson-Zytec carve its way through the LMP2 field to take the class win. In 2016 we had the heartbreak of the lead Toyota TS050 failing mechanically on the last lap. In 2017 we enjoyed the prospect of an LMP2 entry, the Jackie Chan DC Racing Jota entries again, in with a shout of an overall victory.

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Photo: Andy Lloyd

In 2018 we did not see that. Toyota had the LMP1 class locked up, the #26 G-Drive Racing entry took the lead near the start and held on to it until the chequered flag and the LMGTE Pro Porsches look bullet-proof from the start.

We can’t always have nail-biting finishes to endurance races and neither should the organisers be encouraged to create them.

There was much discussion about Balance of Performance tinkering on the eve of the race and whilst it undoubtedly helped create a slightly closer race, true enthusiasts are interested in seeing the best that manufacturers and engineers can produce and not an artificially-created contest where manufacturing excellence and race-craft are penalised by weight and air restrictions.

3) Endurance racing people are great company!

Over the course of a week at Le Mans, the EnduranceandGT team had the immense pleasure of bumping into, and talking to, some great people. We met James Allen (driver of the #40 G-Drive Racing entry), David Clark (partner at Jota Sport – Jackie Chan DC Racing), Hugh Chamberlain (team owner and manager for decades and fantastic character), Seb Delanney and his sister Chloe (one of the world’s biggest supercar vloggers on YouTube), Jenson Button (enough said)! and Gemma Hatton (Racecar Engineering Deputy Editor and Radio Le Mans commentator). All were happy to talk and share their love of fast cars and endurance racing.

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Photo: Roger Jenkins

This list doesn’t include the dozens of other enthusiasts, characters, fans and team personnel who are all at Le Mans to enjoy a week of camaraderie, fast cars, great racing and for some, a little business as well.

I have never failed to enjoy the company of racing people and the more you understand the sport, its rules and regulations and its history, the more those relationships deepen and grow.

4) The weather has a part to play.

The weather at Le Mans is always a huge variable. In 2017 we were blessed with almost unbroken sunshine from the day we arrived to the moment we left. That was not the case this year.

Heavy rain greeted participants from Scrutineering Sunday onwards and a large area of the Pays de Loire, north of the City of Le Mans, was hit with flooding from Tuesday after onwards and this included the EnduranceandGT team.

As it was, the race was largely unaffected by rain but the risk was always there. If you come to Le Sarthe, make sure you pack plenty of wet-weather gear!

5) The ACO is thinking ahead.

The outlines of new regulations due to come in to effect from 2020 onwards were announced during Race Week. The regulations, at this stage, have probably sparked more questions than commitments from manufacturers but the concept of cars that look like ‘hypercars’ (as the ACO calls them), much reduced costs and hydrogen fuel cell power some years down the line shows that the ACO is thinking very hard about what the future of endurance racing will look like.

6) We’ll be back next year!

Was it a comfortable experience? Not all the time. Was the racing ‘edge of the seat’ stuff? Not especially. Did we bask in golden sunshine? For the most part, no. Did we see history being made? Possibly.

Will we be back in 2019? Definitely!

“I Would Like To See The Chequered Flag” – G-Drive’s Rusinov Is Cautious As Race Enters Eighth Hour (16.06.18)

Photo: gdriveracing.com

After qualifying third in the LMP2 class for the 2018 running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the #26 G-Drive Racin ORECA 07, driven by Andrea Pizzitola, Roman Rusinov and Jean-Eric Vergne has led the huge class field for much of the first eight hours of the French classic.

Despite a string start to the race, Rusinov is not looking at the podium just yet. Speaking in the pit-lane, Rusinov is focused on getting to the finish and seeing where the team are in the closing stages.

“There are still may hours to go,” said Rusinov. “It’s not a bad start so we will try to keep pushing in the same way and we will see what happens.”

“I would like to see the chequered flag,” continued Rusinov.

The pace of the #26 entry is testament to the work that has been put in by the team over the off-season.

“We have worked hard during the past winter and the job which we did during the winter, finally we can show it here. We are happy to see that and to lead the class but it is a hard race so let’s keep everything crossed so that we can see the chequered flag,” said Rusinov.

The chequered flag falls at 15:00 local time on Sunday June 16.

 

Toyota Pair Lead After Five Hours (16.06.18 At 20:55)

As the 2018 running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans moved through its sixth hour, it was the Toyotas who led from the front, with the #8 TS050-Hybrid at the head of the field, driven by Kazuki Nakajima in the car he shares with Fernando Alonso and Sébastien Buemi.

As was expected, and designed, when Toyota Gazoo Racing entered the 2018-19 ‘Super Season’ , the only two hybrids in the premier class were controlling the race from the front and, barring disasters, should be able run the remainder of the race at a pace of their choice.

The best of the non-hybrids, as the race moved through its sixth hour, was the #17 BR Engineering BR1, piloted by Matevos Isaakyan, Egor Orudzhev and Stéphane Sarrazin.

The LMP2 category is being led by the #26 G-Drive Racing ORECA 07, Roman Rusinov at the wheel in the car he shares with Andrea Pizzitola and Jean-Éric Vergne.

The battle at the head of the LM GTE Pro category is capturing a lot of attention with the #92, £93 and #91 Porsche GT Team 911 RSRs leading the field in a race that celebrates 70 years of the Stuttgart brand.

Porsche also hold on to the top two positions in the LM GTE Am category with the #77 Dempsey-Proton Racing 911 RSR leading the Team Project 1 911 RSR in second place in class with Jörg Bergmeister at the wheel.

There was major disappointment for the ByKolles Racing Team when, after issues at the start line for Enso CLM P1/01 when it failed to fire up, Domink Kraihamer had a huge accident in the car after four hours, leading to a long safety car period.

“If We Can Finish In The Top Fifteen, That Would Be Like A Win For Me” – Algarve Pro Racing’s Ate De Jong Speaks To EnduranceandGT. (15.06.18).

  • Photo: Roger Jenkins.

Ate de Jong,  member of the driver line-up of the #25 Algarve Pro Racing Ligier JSP217 with teammates Mark Patterson and Taksung Kim, is feeling relaxed and confident as the countdown to the start of the 2018 running of the 25 Hours of Le Mans continues.

For De Jong, who started his motorsport journey in January 2016, joining the grid at Le Mans is the culmination of a dream that started in childhood.

The Philippines-based driver took time out of his busy pre-race schedule to share some thoughts on the race with EnduranceandGT editor Andy Lloyd.

The Test Day, practice and qualifying are now behind us. How do you feel now that the race is approaching?

“I feel very confident. We didn’t run a lot of laps in Q3 because there were a lot of slow zones and red flags. It’s crazy compared to last year, so the drivers tell me but I’m happy with the balance of the car and the set-up.”

“We have put a new engine and gear-box in – race ready- so that gives us a little bit more power so I am very confident for the race. We are going to try to keep out of trouble. We are an amateur team with three bronze drivers so as long as we can keep out of trouble and keep on running, keep out of the pits and not make any mistakes I think we can move up the ladder bit by bit. That’s the plan.”

The weather at the Test Day, practice and qualifying has not been wet exactly but you’ve had various kind of mixed, greasy conditions to contend with.

“Yesterday during the night session, because qualifying was shut down half an hour early because of the shunt, we had two and half hours in Q3. During the last hour it started drizzling which turned in to light rain and then it rained more heavily. It was not worth taking a risk with the car and running in those conditions. If it happens in the race you have to, but we didn’t want to take the risk in Q3 to shunt or spin and make it even more problematic for the team because they already have to work already to fit the engine and the gearbox. I’m very happy with where we are.”

You have achieved your goal of racing at Le Mans. Have you started to look ahead to other plans or is it too early to think about 2019?

“I started racing in January 2016 and I began with testing at Sepang in a Formula Renault. I then bought my own LMP3 in which I competed in the Asian Le Mans Sprint Cup and the Asain Le Mans Endurance Series. Last year I did some testing in the LMP2 – the old spec as well as the new spec and the goal was to go to Le Mans so, yes, it’s a dream come true from when I was a little boy watching the Group C cars.”

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“Now the goal is to finish and then we will see during the race how it falls. I want to finish in overall top fifteen and I expect a number of professional teams will run on the edge and that will cause some accidents. I think, with retirements, we can slowly move up the ladder. If we can finish in the top fifteen that would be a win for me!”

The lights go out for the 2018 running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans at 15:00 local time on Saturday June 16.