Friday 4 September 2015

ELMS – 4 Heures du Castellet, Friday news and updates

Round 4 of the ELMS season this weekend, at the Paul Ricard circuit in the south of France. The High Tech Test Track that has been re-opened to the public in 2009 is situated in the Var region between Marseille and Toulon.   5.861 meters long, 11 corners and the impressive Mistral straight of 1,8 km, simulating the Le Mans Hunaudières straight together with an impressive backdrop in the mountains behind the cote d'Azur make this track one of the teams and drivers favourites.  Le Castellet has been on the ELMS schedule since the beginning and has always given us exciting races.

JOTA Sport announced this morning the addition of a full season WEC entry to their program in 2016.   The British team will compete in the LMP2 class with an Oreca 05-Nissan. Given their succesful entry's in WEC at Spa and Le Mans in the past years, and an impressive track record in the ELMS, this will be stiff competition for the other LMP2 teams in WEC.  Next to their new WEC entry, JOTA Sports stays loyal to the ELMS championship with the Gibson 015S-Nissan in 2016.  No words yet on possible drivers, but there's no doubt Simon Dolan & co will have a very competitive line-up next year. 

Ibanez Racing withdrew its 2 cars for Paul Ricard, but will be back at the last race in Portugal mid-October. The updated entry list now shows a grid of 27 cars for the weekend. SMP Racing changed its name into AF Racing from now on, and will race their 2 BR01-Nissans with #20 and #21. They will also change to Dunlop tyres from this race on instead of Michelin.

A few driver changes for the weekend : Olivier Pla takes the wheel of the Krohn Ligier again this weekend, after driving the car at Daytona and Sebring. Eurasia Motorsport adds Richard Bradley to its line up at Le Castellet. Bradley won the LMP2 class at Le Mans and the Nürburgring last week at the wheel of the KCMG Oreca05. 2 new faces at JMW Motorsport in the Ferrari F458 Italia : Jonny Cocker and Rory Butcher will drive together with Robert Smith.

Gérard Neveu will announce the provisional 2016 ELMS schedule on a press conference tomorrow, together with some “exciting changes for next season”.

United Autosports first Ginetta LMP3 has been delivered, and had his shakedown at Blyton Park in Gainsborough this week. Countdown to 2016 to see this car added to the ELMS startgrid.

Sunday's race will be broadcast live on Motors TV and streamed on the ELMS website. For those making the trip to Paul Ricard; general admittance is free, a ticket for the paddock (including pitwalk and autograph session) is priced at a very reasonable 10 euros.   Free practice sessions will be run on Saturday at 10.30h and 15h and qualifying Sunday morning starting at 9 am.  Green flag will be shown Sunday at 13h for the 4 hours of Le Castellet. 

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Kristof Vermeulen