This weekend sees the final round of the 2017 FIA World Endurance with the 6 Hours of Bahrain.
The annual visit to Bahrain will be tinged with sadness as the Championship says farewell to Porsche LMP Team after it announced its departure from the prototype stage at the end of the 2017 season. This will also be the last round of what many would regard as a standard (i.e. summer) season for the World Endurance Championship before it moves to the interim ‘Super Season’ ahead of a full Winter championship.
The Super Season will include two visits to the Circuit de la Sarthe and two to the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps and will conclude with the 2019 24 Hours of Le Mans. Although a fascinating prospect, the season will be a huge commitment for teams spanning, as it does, two annual budget periods for many of their sponsors and partners.
There is much to contest in the final round and you can read a preview of the 6 Hours of Bahrain here.
As seasons draw to a close, winter seasons are beginning and there has been a lot of activity in the world of sportscar and endurance racing over the past few days.
Looking back to the end of October, the 2017/1 Asian Le Mans Series launched with first round being held in Zhuhai. The Jackie Chan DC Racing X JOTA team won the opening round in dominant fashion with the #8 JCDC X JOTA ORECA 05, with the driver line-up of Thomas Laurent, Harrison Newey (son of Adrian and contesting his first race in prototypes) and Stéphane Richelmi, crossing the line ahead of the #37 BBT Ligier JS P2 crewed by Davide Rizzo, Anthony Xu and Pipo Derani.
You can read a report of the race here. The coverage of the race was equal to that of any global endurance series with an excellent commentary team, multiple camera positions and clear on-screen graphics. Combined with live-timing, the series looks to have come of age this season and, with prizes of 24 Hours of Le Mans entries available to the championship winners, can only increase in its significance and grid size in future seasons.
The FIA World Endurance Championship visited Shanghai for the penultimate round of the 2017 season. Victory went to the #8 Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota TS050-Hybrid driven by Sébastien Buemi, Anthony Davidson and Kazuki Nakajima, followed the #2 Porsche LMP Team Porsche 919 Hybrid of Timo Bernhard, Earl Bamber and Brendon Hartley.
Second and third in Shanghai meant that Porsche was able to wrap up the World Manufacturers Championship, with Bernhard, Bamber and Hartley securing the FIA World Endurance Drivers Title, a first for Bamber and the second for Bernhard and Hartley.
The final round of the 2017 FIA World Endurance Championship takes place in Bahrain on November 16 – 18.
Looking ahead to the 2018/19 ‘Super Season’ for the FIA WEC, Ginetta has announced the names of the first two customers for its new privateer LMP1 car. Manor Endurance Racing and TRS Racing will both campaign the new Ginetta LMP1 with an engine partner to be announced ‘in due course’.
Ginetta also announced that it will be presenting its new LMP1 car to the wider motorsport industry and the world’s media at Autosport International 2018 at the NEDC in Birmingham, England on January 11-14.
“I am delighted to be launching the Ginetta LMP1 car at Autosport International,” said Ginetta Chairman Lawrence Tomlinson. “The show represents the ideal environment to introduce our latest model to the media, industry and fans who are the lifeblood of British motorsport. Not only that, but we’ll be using the show to demonstrate the Ginetta motorsport ladder in action, with our Ginetta Racing Drivers Club putting on a show in the Live Action arena.”
Autosport International Show Director Kate Woodley said:
“We’re thrilled that Ginetta has chosen Autosport International to unveil its LMP1 car. With such a longstanding relationship between us, we can’t wait to see the company’s latest project in the metal and to help them share this great addition to their range with the wider industry.”
You can buy tickets for Autosport International 2018 here.
Student Motorsport, the on-line community that connects students, graduates and educators to professionals and organisations in the motorsport industry continues to grow as founder and owner JP Latham looks ahead to 2018.
Student Motorsport recently announced that Jessica Shanahan, coach, journalist and owner of www.racingmentor.com has joined as a Contributor.
“I used to be a race team boss and I’ve worked with students and drivers from all walks of life,” explained Jessica Shanahan. “I realised that a lot of people don’t know what path to take to get into motorsports, so from there Racing Mentor was born.”
“I’m still a driver manager but focus a lot of my efforts on teaching drivers to find sponsorship, and coaching people into engineering, media and management careers within motorsport.”
Founder JP Latham is delighted that Jessica Shanahan and Racing Mentor have joined the Student Motorsport community.
“I am thrilled to be personally supported by such a professional individual with a wealth of knowledge in areas such as motorsport sponsorship, journalism and coaching,” said JP Latham. “It was fantastic to meet Jess through a mutual contact in motorsport which shows how crucial it is to make good connections in this industry. I’m looking forward to supporting our members through her professional services and advice.”
Finally, Bentley Motorsport has revealed its new 2018 Continental GT3. The manufacturer is looking to build on its 2017 successes of winning the British GT Championship with Team Parker Racing and taking the Teams Championship in the Blancpain GT Endurance Series Cup.
Brian Gush, Director of Motorsport at Bentley, is excited at the opportunities that the new car offers.
“After four years of success with our Continental GT3, we’re very excited to reveal our second-generation car,” said Gush. “It leaves no area or system untouched in search of even better performance, and early test results are promising.”
“The new Continental GT3 road car has proved to be a great starting point for the development of a new racer and the engineering development work is true to Bentley’s impeccable standards.”
With the season about to kick into high-gear, the past week has seen some excellent on-track action and, with racing on both sides of the Atlantic this weekend, sportscar enthusiasts will have difficult choices to make as to what to follow.
The HANKOOK 24H SILVERSTONE took place last weekend for the opening round of the 2017 TOURING CAR ENDURANCE SERIES and, although the field was slightly smaller than some might have wished for, the racing as close and intriguing as ever.
TCR cars dominated the top of timing-screens this year and it was the #100 Team Bleekemolen SEAT Leon TCR V2 SEQ, driven by Sebastiaan Bleekemolen, Melvin de Groot, Rob Smith and Rene Steenmetz, who took the class and outright win. Second in class was the #122 Pit Lane Competizione Audi RS LMS TCR DSG piloted by Alberto Vescovi, Roberto Ferri, Zach Arnold, Enrico Bettera and John Fillipi.
The #303 Red Camel-Jordans.nl SEAT Leon TCR V3 DSG was running strongly but suffered a rear steering-arm breakage followed by turbo issues and oil pressure problems. The car was eventually retired.
The EnduranceandGT.co.uk report on the HANKOOK 24H SILVERSTONE can be found here.
The FIA World Endurance Championship visited the Autodromo Nazionale Monza for over the weekend of April 1 – 2 for the season-opening Prologue.
Photo: John Rourke/AdrenalMedia.com
27 of the full-season 28 entries were present on the grid for five test sessions, spread over the two days, with three being held on Saturday, including a night session, and two on Sunday.
Toyota Gazoo Racing topped the weekend’s timesheets in the LMP1 class when the #8 TS050 – Hybrid with Nicolas Lapierre at the wheel, driving alongside Anthony Davidson and Kazuki Nakajima, put in a 1:30.547 on the final session of the weekend.
The all-Gibson-powered LMP2 class was led by Mattieu Vaxivière in the #28 TDS Racing ORECA 07 who lapped in 1:36.078 on the Sunday morning session.
Porsche GT Team must be very satisfied with its performance over the weekend after Michael Christensen in the #92 Porsche 911 RSR was quickest in the LMGTE Pro category in the #92 Porsche 911 RSR.
The time-sheets for LMGTE Am were led by Miguel Molina in the Spirit of Race #54 Ferrari F488 GTE who lapped in 1:49.483 on Sunday morning.
The EnduranceandGT report on the FIA World Endurance Championship Prologue can be found here.
This weekend sees a packed programme of track-action from both sides of the Atlantic.
In Europe the third round of the 24H ENDURANCE SERIES takes place in Austria with the 12H RED BULL RING 2017. 35 cars are entry list, seven in A6 Pro, 8 in A6 Am, 5 in 991, 6 in SP2, 5 in SP3-GT4, 3 in TCR and 1 in A3.
The past seven days have been busy for the sportscar community across Europe as the British GT Championship hosted its pre-season Media Day at Snetterton, the European Le Mans Series contenders met for the Official Test Session at Autodromo Nazionale Monza, the FIA World Endurance Championship prepared for the Prologue, also at Monza, and the 24H SERIES started arriving at Silverstone for the HANKOOK 24H SILVERSTONE.
In the British GT Championship, Nick Jones and Scott Parker announced that they will contest the 2017 Championship in their Team Parker Racing-run Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport.
The duo had intended to run the full 2016 season with the Porsche but delivery issues meant that they were unable to get the car out until the Silverstone round and even then without the full ‘MR’ kit necessary for their entry to be fully competitive.
“We’re coming at it from a totally different standpoint from 2016 which was a very tough season for a variety of reasons,” said Jones. “But after working closely with Team Parker and doing a lot of testing, I feel like we’ve taken some big steps forward.”
Staying with the British GT Championship, the Media Day at Snetterton, after a foggy start, enjoyed some glorious spring weather, enabling the cars to stretch their legs. The championship has undergone some evolutions during the winter, something that Championship Manager Benjamin Franassovici was keen to point out.
“We want keep the platform stable so we don’t need to change the format too much,” said Franassovici. “What is important is that we have live TV this year. Front Runner TV will be hosting our programme and we look forward to producing a great programme for this new channel.”
“We’ve increased track-time during free practice, targeted at the gentleman driver and the two-hour race format driving time has been increased from 60 to 70 minutes.”
The Championship Manager is also delighted at the entry list for the 2017 season.
“We’re again at capacity,” said Franassovici. “We’re very excited to see that GT3 is doing so well. It’s great to have new models joining British GT.”
Click here to read the full story on EnduranceandGT.co.uk.
Double British GT champion Jonny Adam spoke to the media about his thoughts on the new season.
“It’s going to be difficult” said Adam. “Last year wen had a great season with TF Sport and a new teammate last year with Derek (Johnston). It was a great season with great success but this year it will be really difficult. We won the championship last year, yes, but we didn’t have consistency in the middle part of the year so our focus is to have that throughout.”
The European Le Mans Series gathered at Autodromo Nazionale Monza for the Official Test. In LMP2 Graff was strong, topping the timesheets in three out of the five sessions. It was, however, the #28 IDEC SPORT RACING Ligier JSP2-17, driven by Patrice and Paul Lafargue, Olivier Pla and David Zollinger which put in the quickest time for the class over the five sessions.
2016 ELMS LMGTE Champions Beechdean AMR were highly competitive throughout the five sessions, heading the time-sheets in two. It was, however, the 2016 Michelin GT3 Le Mans Cup victors TF Sport who were fastest in class over the two days with Salih Yoluc setting a 1:48.720 in the first session.
You can read more from the European Le Mans Series Official test here.
This coming weekend will be busy with the FIA World Endurance Championship field taking over at Monza for the Prologue.
Also this weekend the 24H TCE SERIES HANKOOK 24H SILVERSTONE takes place at the Northamptonshire circuit. You can find the entry-list here. The flag drops at 4.00pm on April 1. Live timing can be found here.
Whatever and wherever you are watching, competing or marshalling at this weekend, have a great one!
With the FIA World Endurance Championship Prologue being held on weekend of April 1 – 2 at Autodromo Nazionale Monza, the Media Day launch for the British GT Championship at Snetterton on Tuesday March 28 (which also coincides with Day One of the Official Test for the European Le Mans Series) and the first round of the VLN series being held on the Nordschleife this weekend, the 2017 launch of three more major global and European series is almost upon us.
Some series and championships have already got underway, however, and last weekend saw the second rounds of both the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and the 24H SERIES.
The 24H SERIES arrived in Italy for the Hankook 12H Mugello and it was the #11 Scuderia Praha Ferrari F488 GT3 piloted by Jiri Pisarik, Josef Král and Matteo Malucelli that took the chequered flag and the top step of the podium. The Czech Republic-based team won with a four-lap advantage over second place finishers IDEC SPORT RACING with its #17 Mercedes AMG GT3 driven by Patrice Lafargue, Paul Lafargue and Dimitri Engelbert.
With the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring and the 24H SERIES 12H Mugello this weekend, The Prologue to the 2017 FIA World Endurance Championship just over a week away and the European Le Mans Series test at Monza the following week, the 2017 endurance and GT-racing season is bursting into life.
As a result, this week saw announcements concerning, amongst others, the Henderson Insurance Brokers LMP3 Cup, the European Le Mans Series and the British GT Championship.
United Autosports started the week with the announcement that race team owner, driver, businessman and former professional baseball player CJ Wilson and compatriot Andrew Evans will be joining the team for an assault on the 2017 Henderson Insurance Brokers LMP3 Cup. Wilson retired from professional baseball at the age of 36 and now owns a substantial automotive dealership business, amongst other businesses.
“My goal is to develop as a driver and climb the ranks,” said Wilson. “United Autosports has proven they can win at develop drivers. Andrew and I decided that this is a huge opportunity to get across the Atlantic and challenge ourselves with an incredible platform in LMP3.”
Century Motorsport confirmed its entries in the GT4 class of the 2017 British GT Championship. Anna Walewska will be returning the team to partner highly-experienced Ginetta driver Mike Simpson. The sister car will feature two names new to the British GT Championship but both are experienced endurance racers. Stephen Fresle and Dane Jacob Mathiassen, who competed in the Britcar Endurance series in 2016, will pilot Century Motorsport’s second entry in the GT4 class.
“It’s great to be back in British GT with Century Motorsport after our success last year,” said Anna Walewska. “I am excited to race with Mike Simpson who has so much experience to bring to the team. Together we will be a fierce driver pairing and I can’t wait to see how the season unfolds.”
In the European Le Mans Series, which opens at Silverstone on April 15, Panis-Barthez Compétition has announced its driver line-ups for its LMP2 and LMP3 entries. Nathanaël Berthon, Fabien Barthez and Timothé Buret will pilot the Ligier JS P217 in the LMP2 class while Eric Debard, Simon Gacher and young American driver Theo Bean will form the driving line-up for the team’s Ligier JS P3.
Team Principal Olivier Panis said: “I am very happy to start our program. The arrival of the new Ligier JS P217 in LMP2 is going to make us reach a turning point in terms of technical and physical performance. It will also require a higher level of driving. That is why we wished to have a driver with solid experience in Endurance by Fabien and Timothé’s sides and Nathanaël Berthon meets this requirement.”
At G-Drive by DragonSpeed, Léo Roussel has been confirmed as the third full-season driver for its ORECA 07, joining Memo Rojas and Ryo Hirakawa. The young Frenchman completes the two–car European Le Mans Series effort for the team who will also be racing under the 10Star DragonSpeed banner for its second car, to be driven by Henrik Hedman, Nicolas Lapierre and Ben Hanley.
The IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship enters its second round this weekend with the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fuelled By Fresh From Florida. The flag drops for the start of the US classic at 10:40 local time (06:40 GMT for UK fans). Click herefor the provisional entry list.
Also racing this weekend is the 24H SERIES 12H Mugello. The first six-hour session starts at 14:00 local time. The excellent live-timing screen can be accessed here.
Wherever you are and whatever you’re racing and watching, have a great sportscar weekend!
"When you're racing, it's life. Anything that happens before or after is…. just waiting. " Steve McQueen – "Le Mans" – 1971