Saturday, 13 October 2018

FIA WEC: Pole postion for Toyota and Aston Martin in Fuji

After a dramatic qualifying session, Fernando Alonso and Sebastien Buemi in the #8 Toyota TS050 Hybrid claimed pole position for their home race in Fuji tomorrow. 

© Joao Filipe/

Initially, the #7 Toyota of Jose Maria Lopes and Kamui Kobayashi earned pole position when Sebastian Buemi saw his best time being deleted due to track limits violation. But when Lopes entered the pitlane too fast after his flying lap, his only laptime was deleted, forcing them to the back end of the LMP1 grid. An average laptime of 1.23.648 put the #8 on pole then for tomorrow’s race. 

© Rebellion Racing

Quickest of the non-Hybrids and on front row tomorrow was the #1 Rebellion R13 of André Lotterer and Neel Jani with an average time of 1.24.359, 0.711 seconds shy of the Toyota. The #3 sister car of Thomas Laurent and Gustavo Menezes will be third on the grid and ova the #17 SMP Racing BR1 of Egor Ordhzev and Stephane Sarrazin next to them. Row three will be filled by the #11 SMP Racing and the #4 ByKolles Eens CLM/P1 while Dragonspeed will have the second Toyota next to them on the fourth row of the grid. 

After the free practice sessions, the non-hybrid LMP1’s have been given an extra EoT break in a new attempt to make them more competitive against the Toyota’s. The normally aspirated cars (Rebellion, Dragonspeed) now have an increased fuel weight per stint (55,5 kg vs 54,4 kg), the turbo powered LMP1’s (ByKolles, SMP Racing) also got an increased amount of fuel up to 50,3 kg. Also the maximum amount of petrol energy per lap has been increased for all non hybrid cars. 

© Joao Filipe/

In the LMP2 class, Anthony Davidson and Roberto Gonzalez scored the first pole position in the FIA WEC for Dragonspeed. Their average laptime of 1.28.906 in the #31 Oreca held off both Jackie Chan DC Racing Oreca’s; the #38 of Stephane Richelmi and Gabriel Aubry and the #37 of Jazeman Jafaar and Nabil Jeffri.  Championship leaders Signatech Alpine were fourth fastest, TDS Racing completing the top 5 for Oreca once again.  Racing Team Nederland (Dallara) and Larbre Competition (Ligier) took sixth and seventh place. 

© Aston Martin Racing

Nicki Thiim and Marco Sorensen claimed pole position in the LMGTE Pro class with their #95 Aston Martin,  the first pole position for the new Aston Martin Vantage. With an average laptime of 1.36.093, the “Dane train” outpaced the surprising #82 BMW M8 GTE of Tom Blomqvist and Antonio Felix Da Costa (1.36.275). The second Aston Martin (#97) of Maxime Martin and Alex Lynn took the third sport on the grid and will have the #67 Ford GT of Andy Priaulx and Harry Tincknell next to them.  Rounding out the top 5 was the first Ferrari, #71 of Davide Rigon and Sam Bird. The Porsches who had been top runners in all practice sessions had a bit a disappointing session, only managing 8th and 10th place on the grid. Qualifying in the Pro class was very close again with all ten cars in just over a second.   

© Porsche

Dempsey Proton Competition scored its second pole in the Super season with the #88  of Matteo Cairoli and Satoshi Hoshino. Quite a debut for the 57 year old Hoshino in the FIA WEC. Their combined average laptime of  1.38.366 was just 0.064 seconds quicker than Pedro Lamy and Paul Dalla Lana in the #98 Aston Martine Vantage. Third fastest was the second Proton Porsche of Matt Campbell and Christian Ried. 

The start for the 6 Hours of Fuji will be given at 11h00 on Sunday morning local time, that’s 4h00 CET so an early morning wake up call if you want to watch the race in Europe (or a short night if you’ve survived Petit Le Mans on Saturday evening/night). 

Friday practice sessions

© Toyota Gazoo Racing

Toyota also set yesterday’s pace with Fernando Alonso (#7) on top of both free practice sessions. Alonso set a best time of 1.23.973 in the afternoon session, just over a second faster than Jose Maria Lopez in the #7 TS050 Hybrid. 

All laptimes in the second session were significantly faster as the morning session was driven on a damp and drying track. Issues with some of the kers disrupted both practice sessions though, both sessions being red flagged for some time to deal with damage to some kerbs which had to be removed. The quickest non-hybrid LMP1 was the #3 Rebellion of Thomas Laurent.  Despite the new BoP which was introduced for the race weekend in Fuji, the gap with the leading Toyota was still just over 1.7 seconds (1.25.697). Jenson Button put his #11 SMP Racing BR1 on fourth place. 

© TDS Racing

In LMP2, Matthieu Vaxiviere set the quickest time over both 90 minute sessions with a 1.30.630.  Vaxiviere’s time was the only one from the first practice session which wasn’t improved in the afternoon session. Freshly crowned Le Mans champions Signatech Alpine Matmut were second fastest, Andre Negrao just 0.050 seconds off the TDS Oreca. Third quickest was Silverstone winner Ho-Pin Tung in the #38 Jackie Chan DC Racing.  Nyck De Vries in the #29 Racing Team Nederland was the fastest non-Oreca driver in sixth place overall. 

© Aston Martin Racing

Nicki Thiim in the #95 Aston Martin Vantage was the man to beat in LMGTE Pro yesterday. His time of 1.37.659 was 0.162 seconds faster than Harry Tincknell in the #67 Ford GT who held off Davide Rigon in the #71 AF Corse Ferrari.  Both Porsches followed in fourth and fifth. Despite their BoP adjustments, the BMW’s didn’t get any further than 8th and 10th on Friday, although all GTE Pro cars were within a margin of 0.845 seconds. 

© Joao Filipe/

Dempsey-Proton racing set the pace in the LMGTE Am class, with the #77 of Matteo Cairoli quickest in 1.38.989 ahead of Matt Campbell in the #88 sister car. The #61 Ferrari F488 GTE of Keita Sawa was third fastest in the shadow of Mount Fuji, leading the two other Ferrari’s of Spirit of Race and MR Racing. 

Qualifying results LMP1/LMP2
Qualifying results GTE

Results Free Practice 1
Results Free Practice 2
Results Free Practice 3

Kristof Vermeulen.

Wednesday, 10 October 2018

FIA WEC: 6 Hours of Fuji preview

The FIA World Endurance championship arrives in Japan this weekend for the fourth race of the 2018/2019 Super season. 34 cars are due to start in the seventh edition of the 6 Hour race in the shadow of Mount Fuji. 

Toyota arrives at their home race leading the championship with the #8 TS050 Hybrid of Fernando Alonso, Sebastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima on top with 65 points after 3 races. After Toyota’s disqualification in Silverstone, the Rebellion #3 of Thomas Laurent, Gustavo Menezes and Mathias Beche is now second in the championship, only 2 points behind the leading Toyota.  The #7 Toyota is third with 46 points so far.  Will Rebellion be able to keep up with the Toyota’s this weekend after the updated Balance of Performance (see below) ?  If so, the race for the championship might be open again.

Dragonspeed will run its BR1/Gibson with just two drivers this weekend.  With Henrik Hedman and Pietro Fittipaldi both to miss the 6 hours of Fuji, team regular Ben Hanley will be joined by James Allen.  The 22 year old Australian driver will make hes debut in the LMP1 class after 2 succesful seasons in the ELMS with Graff.  The crew of the #11 SMP Racing is back to its usual line-up with Matevos Isaakyan joining Stéphane Sarrazin and Egor Orudhzev again in the AER powered BR1.  

Oliver Webb in the #4 ByKolles will be joined by Tom Dillman and James Rossiter. Where as the first provisional entry list for Fuji featured one AER powered Ginetta, that car is now gone from the list, the team missing their second race in succession in the championship. 

In LMP2 it’s Signatech Alpine Matmut who arrives in Fuji as championship leaders, after being declared Le Mans winners last week. The #36 Alpine of Nico Lapierre, André Negrao and Pierre Thiriet has a lead of 4 points over the #38 Jackie Chan DC Racing of Silverstone winners Ho-Pin Tung, Gabriel Aubry and Stéphane Richelmi. The second Jackie Chan Oreca, #37, is third in the championship with 61 points. 

TDS Racing has to replace Loic Duval in their Gibson powered Oreca 07 for this weekend, the Frenchman on DTM duty for the season finale at Hockenheim. He will be replaced by Formula E champion Jean-Eric Vergne. There’s also a driver change to be noted at Larbre Competition where Keiko Ihara will race next to Romano Ricci and Erwin Creed in the #50 Ligier.  

The championship lead in the GTE Pro class is for the Porsche #92 of Kevin Estre and Michael Christensen with 71 points. They have a lead of 14 points over Olivier Pla and Stefan Mücke in the #66 Ford GT. The Ferrari #51 of Allesandro Pier Guidi and James Calado are in third positiion so far with 43,5 points. 

Only one driver change to be noted in the GTE Pro class: Augusto Farfus will also race at the DTM finale in Hockenheim and is being replaced by Tom Blomqvist who returns to the #82 after Le Mans. 

Porsche also leads the GTE Am class, with the #77 Proton Competition of Christian Ried, Julien Andlauer and Matt Campbell scoring 76 points so far. The #61 Clearwater Ferrari is second with 43 points, with the Team Project 1 Porsche just 2 points behind.  

Gianluca Roda won’t race the #88 Proton Competition Porsche in the GTE Am class, his place will be filled by Japanese driver Satoshi Hoshino.  Gulf Racing UK also has a new driver in the #86 Porsche: Austrian Thomas Preining will takes Alex Davison’s place and make his debut in the FIA World Endurance Championship.  

Balance of Performance adjustments

In the latest bulletin of the FIA WEC Endurance Commission, several adjustments for the Balance of Performance (BoP) have been announced for the 6 Hours of Fuji this weekend. 

The Toyota TS050 Hybrids will have to carry 26 kg of extra weight with them, now up to a minimal weight of 904 kg, while the non-hybrid LMP1’s have a minimum weight of 818 kg for the atmospheric cars and 833 kg for the turbocharged ones.  It seems as Toyota has given its consent for these adjustments as the regulations for the Super season clearly stated their would be no changes to the specs of the TS050 Hybrid.

The two lap stint advantage over the non-hybrids has also been dropped due to a fuel allocation increase for the non-hybrid cars and adjustments to the refueling restrictors, which should equalize the refueling times for all LMP1’s. 

Both GTE classes also see a few changes in the BoP for Japan. After a difficult start of the season, BMW gains the most in the Balance of Performance adjustments for this weekend.  Their M8 GTE will be 20 kg lighter, an additional increase in turbo boost pressure and a 2 liter fuel capacity increase. 

The Ford GT’s are to receive a weight increase of 18 kg and a small reduction of turbo boost. Porsche also gets a weight increase, although just 2 kg, and a 0.3 mm smaller air restrictor. Both Fords and Porsches also will have one liter less fuel on board. There’s no changes announced for the Astons and Ferrari’s.  In the Am class, the Porsche 911 RSR gets a weight increase of 10 kg.  The “old” Aston Martin Vantages also see their weight increased by an extra 5 kilograms.

Track action starts Friday at 11h00 local time in Fuji. 

Wednesday, 26 September 2018

Porsche Rennsport Reunion VI to be held at Laguna Seca this weekend

Championship winning race cars, the engineers who designed them and the men who drove them to victories around the world will be united again at the Weathertech Laguna Seca  Raceway near Monterey, CA this weekend. 

The four day “family reunion” will take place from September 27th to September 30th, the first time for Rennsport Reunion to be held over 4 days.  The fifth edition in 2015 saw nearly 60.000 people coming to Laguna Seca for Rennsport Reunion V.  It’s the world largest gathering of vintage and contemporary race cars, those who have driven and engineered them and fans.  Hosted by the Porsche Club North America, Rennsport Reunion VI will again feature the widest variety of historic racing cars in competition as Porsche celebrates its 70th anniversary this year. 

The 2018 theme “Marque of Champions” focuses on the legends of the Porsche brand and will bring together the world’s largest gathering of Porsche race cars and enthousiasts. 

© Porsche

The list of attendees includes a lot of names and personalities who have shaped Porsche’s rich and long history: Hurley Haywood, the most successful American endurance racer; Brian Redman, co-creator of Porsche Rennsport Reunion and racing driver extraordinaire; Vic Elford, celebrating the 50th anniversary of his legendary 1968 season; Norbert Singer, known as the “father of the Porsche 962 and Jacky Ickx, Monsieur Le Mans and Paris-Dakar winner, will all be attending Rennsport Reunion VI alongside many others.  Overall more than 50 legendary drivers will be at Laguna Seca, making their appearance on track and signing autographs. 

Twelve factory drivers will also be on hand this weekend at the Monterey track; including Patrick Long, Earl Bamber, Timo Bernhard and this year’s Le Mans winners in GTE Pro: Kévin Estre, Laurens Vanthoor and Michael Christensen. 

© Porsche

Not only the people will be the stars and heroes of Rennsport, but also the cars.  The 919 Hybrid Evo which already shattered laptime records at Spa-Francorchamps and the Nordschleife will be on site and perform a daily demo drive. In pit row, a special Champions Garage will be on display, showing 11 victorious and legendary Porsche race cars, including the 1960 Porsche 718 RS Spyder which won the first major endurance race for Porsche in 1960 at the 12 Hours of Sebring and the 2008 Porsche RS Spyder which won over three years three manufacturer championships in the ALMS and scored an overall win in the 2008 Sebring 12 Hours, beating the top prototype class for the first time in 14 years.  A third legendary car is the Porsche 911 (953) Carrera 3.2 4x4 Paris-Dakar in which Porsche tackled the desert race for the first time. Porsche scored an outright win at Dakar in 1984, after which the 953 was replaced by the 959 in 1985.

© Porsche

Porsche doesn’t only brings its cars from the past to Rennsport, but also looks forward to its new challenges in the future. Linking the rich history of Porsche cars to the future of e-mobility, the 356 “N°1” Roadster will be at Laguna Seca alongside the electric concept study “Mission E”.  Other displays include more than 1.300 cars in the Porsche corrals and an exciting collection of 70 significant race cars in the Porsche Heritage tent. 

Overall 350 Porsche race cars will be competing in seven different classes, from the 356 through the mighty 917 to modern 911 GT cars and many, many more.  

Action on the WeatherTech Laguna Seca raceway gets underway on Thursday September 27th at 8 am with the first practice sessions.  Throughout the whole weekend there will be practice sessions for all 7 classes, with their respective races on Saturday afternoon Sunday. The 919 Evo will have daily exhibition laps, as well the 917 and 918, a lot of cars and vendors are to be seen in the paddocks, a 959 gathering on Sunday, Concours on pitlane on Friday … enough action on and off the track for 4 days of Stuttgart finest. 

To keep up with all the news and action from Laguna Seca, download the Porsche Rennsport Reunion VI app on the Apple store or at Google play, with lots of info about RRVI such as schedules, driver and car info’s, etc. Or visit the Club Arnage website and facebook page throughout the weekend.  We’ll try to put up some daily pictures and news updates during the weekend and more pictures in the week following Rennsport Reunion. 


Kristof Vermeulen

Monday, 24 September 2018

ELMS: Victory for United Autosports in rain shortened Spa-Francorchamps

With heavy rain & severe weather conditions predicted for race day, it was decided to move the start of the 4 hours of Spa-Francorchamps forward with 1h15’ to 10h45.  Despite the earlier schedule trying to avoid the worst weather, track conditions were very tricky at race start.  The 40-car field started behind the safety car, before being unleashed after 4 laps on a soaked track.  Drivers were very cautious on the wet and slippery track, but that didn’t prevent a lot of incidents bringing out three safety cars before the race was red flagged. 


Andrea Pizzitola in the #26 G-Drive held on to the lead at the start, but immediately had Nicolas Jamin in the #29 Duqueine Engineering under his rear wing. Jamin kept pushing and got into the lead when he passed Pizzitola at Fagnes a few laps into the race.  Jean-Baptiste Lahaye kept the lead in the LMP3 class early in the race, but eventually had to let Job Van Uitert pass in the #15 RLR MSport after a strong start from fifth position.  In the LMGTE class, Ricardo Pera had a perfect start, overtaking the #88 Porsche of Gianluca Roda and going straight into the lead. 

The first safety car was deployed when Jean-Baptiste Lahaye, under pressure of Matia Drudi in the #11 Eurointernational, lost control of his #17 Ultimate Norma and went into the barriers at the exit of Fagnes.  The safety car came back in after 20 minutes after the #9 AT Racing also was recovered when it stopped on the Kemmel straight.  Most of the teams used the safety car period to bring their cars into the pits and do their first driver changes. 

© Bob Ten Kley
The #26 G-Drive Racing Oreca was back into the lead after the pitstops but Pizzitola now had Gustavo Menezes behind him in the #31 APR-Rebellion who was pushing hard for the lead. Menezes forced Pizzitola to run wide at Stavelot and took the lead of the race. Pizzitola ran wide again the second lap at the same spot when he had to avoid the #12 Eurointernational Ligier who got stranded in the middle of the track.  The #26 G-Drive tumbled down to ninth place, Pizzitola now coming into the pits to hand over the car to Formula E champion Jean-Eric Vergne. 

© Bob Ten Kley

More incidents occurred when Nic Jonsson in the #83 Krohn Racing Ligier was pipped by Alexey Chulkin in the #5 Nefis BySpeed Factory Ligier in La Source and ran into the back of the LMP3 car. Jonsson made it back to pitlane but was forced to retire while Chulkin received a drive through penalty for causing a collision. 

© Bob Ten Kley

Meanwhile in LMP3, Job Van UItert was still in the lead but now faced Antonin Borga in the #4 Cool Racing Ligier who quickly closed the gap with the #5 RLR M-Sport. After an intense battle which lasted for several laps, the Dutchman ran wide at Fagnes and lost his lead to Borga

© Bob Ten Kley

Filipe Albuquerque took over from Phil Hanson in the #22 United Autosports Ligier and stormed into the lead in the team’s first race on Michelin rubber. Julien Canal followed in second place with the #23 Panis Barthez Competition, another Ligier with the #24 Racing Engineering Oreca close behind in third. Meanwhile G-Drive Racing was not having the race they hoped for.  After dropping down the order, their problems weren’t over yet. While Vergne was fighting for position with Ryan Cullen in the #31 APR Rebellion, Vergne pushed Christian Ried’s Porsche off the track at the brake zone into the Bus stop chicane, sending the Porsche sliding over the grass and straight into Cullen. Race over for both cars. 

© Bob Ten Kley

Minutes later disaster struck again for Algarve Pro Racing when their #25 Ligier got into the grass at the start of the Kemmel straight. At the same time the #7 Ecurie Ecosse went off at Combes. Conditions got worse again with several cars struggling to stay on track, and the third safety car was brought out again to give the marshalls the chance to recover the stranded APR Rebellion. Rain kept falling down and track conditions got even worse, forcing race director Eduardo Freitas to red flag the race after just over two hours of racing.  The cars lined up on the grid, but would never get to race again as weather conditions all but improved and 20 minutes later the race called off. 

© Bob Ten Kley

Filipe Albuquerque and Phil Hanson were leading the race when the red flag was waived and won the 2h20’ of Spa-Francorchamps. Second place was for the #21 Dragonspeed of Henman, Hanley and Lapierre, with the #23 Panis Barthez Competition of Buret, Canal and Stevens in third place on the podium.  A remarkable fourth was the #28 IDEC Sport which came into the pits very early in the race, and fought it’s way up through the field up to fourth place. 

Despite finishing on 12th position (their 2 minute stop & go penalty was converted into a 2 min 30 seconds time penalty), the #26 G-Drive was crowned champions with Roman Rusinov and Andrea Pizzitola winning the drivers title. 

© Bob Ten Kley

A double win for United Autosports this weekend, as John Falb and Scott Andrews finished first in the LMP3 class, ahead of the #15 RLR MSport Ligier of Job Van Uitert, Rob Garofall and John Farano. 360 Racing took hold of the third and final podium spot.

© Bob Ten Kley

Ebimotors scored their first victory in the European Le Mans Series after an almost perfect race up to the red flag. Riccardo Pera, Fabio Babini and Bret Curtis  went to to front of the class in the opening stages of the race, only to hold on to the lead, able to expand it every time when the safety car was called in again.  The #55 Spirit of Race Ferrari of Duncan Cameron & co finished second, with the #88 Proton Competition Porsche in third.  

Kristof Vermeulen.
Pictures: Bob Ten Kley/

Race results

Saturday, 22 September 2018

ELMS: Vergne takes pole for G-Drive and closes in on the title

After a thrilling final minute in today’s qualifying session, Jean-Eric Vergne scored championship leaders G-Drive’s first pole position this season. 

© Bob Ten Kley

It seemed like Filipe Albuquerque was about to clinch first spot on the grid tomorrow when he drove a 2.00.912 in the final minute of the session.  Vergne responded however and set a stunning 2.00.735 to take pole position for the 4 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps. An incredible lap, 1.7 seconds faster than last season’s pole time.  The second row of the grid will be filled by the #29 Duqueine Engineering of Nelson Panciatici and the #28 IDEC Sport of Paul Loup Chatin. Rounding out the top 5 is the #31 APR - Rebellion Racing Oreca of Gustavo Menezes. 

© Bob Ten Kley

Pole position gives the G-Drive crew an extra point in the championship, increasing their lead over the #24 Racing Engineering Oreca to 35 points. Roman Rusinov & co will be out for the championship tomorrow and their fourth win in a row this season. 

© Bob Ten Kley

Mathieu Lahaye scored the third pole position for Ultimate in the LMP3 class with the #17 Norma M30. With a laptime of 2.13.699, the Frenchman outpaced  Mattia Drudi in the #11 Eurointernational with only 0.065 seconds. Ross Kaiser put the #6 360 Racing Ligier on third position (2.13.874), followed by Colin Noble in the #7 Ecurie Ecosse Ligier.  Championship leaders RLR Msport will start from fifth place. Once again, the LMP3 qualifying session was very close with the first 10 cars within a second.

Porsche continued to dominate the LMGTE class, with all three Porsches taking the top spots in the session. Once again Matteo Cairoli was the fastest man on track, scoring pole position with a laptime of 2.15.654 in the #88 Proton Competition 911 RSR.  Dennis Olsen took second place in 2.16.354, exactly 0.7 seconds behind Cairoli in the #77 sister car.  Riccardo Pera set the #80 Ebimotors Porsche on third place for tomorrow’s race.  Best of the Ferrari’s was Miguel Molina in the JMW F488 GTE, but already over 2 seconds behind the leading Porsche. 

Free Practice 2

Earlier today the G-Drive crewe took the top spot in the second and final free practice session at Francorchamps. With 2 red flags, a full course yellow and a mid-session splash of rain, it was quite an entertaining 90 minutes.

© Bob Ten Kley

Vergne set a quickest time of 2.02.348, followed by Nicolas Jamin in the #29 Duqueine Engineering Oreca in 2.02.348.  Paul Loup Chatin (#28 IDEC Sport) and Gustavo Menezes (#31 APR Rebellion) followed close to make it a top 4 Oreca finish again. Fifth fastest and first Ligier was Hugo De Sadeleer in the #32 United Autosports. James Allen was the biggest victim of the weather conditions wen he went off at the pif-paf and into the barriers with the #40 Graff run G-Drive Oreca 07. 

© Bob Ten Kley

Job Van Uitert was fastest in the championship leading RLR MSport Ligier JSP3, in a time of 2.14.423. Matthieu Lahaye followed close as his #17 Ultimate Norma came up to pace, just 0.066 seconds behind the Dutchman. Monza winner Mattia Drudi set the third fastest time in his #11 Eurointernational Ligier.  Rounding out the top 5 were the #4 Cool Racing and the #2 United Autosports Ligiers. 

© Bob Ten Kley

In LMGTE the Porsche domination continued Dennis Olsen now quickest in the #77 Proton Competition in 2.19.290. Ricardo Pera in the Ebimotors 911 and Giorgio Roda Jr in the second Proton Porsche rounded out the top three. JMW once again was the quickest Ferrari this morning in 2.20.016 set by Alex MacDowall. 

Today's results: 
LMGTE Qualifs


Due to the weather forecast and for the safety of all, the 4 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps start will be given at 10:45 tomorrow morning.

Kristof Vermeulen
Pictures: Bob Ten Kley

Friday, 21 September 2018

ELMS: Nato fastest in the first wet practice at Spa-Francorchamps.

It would’t be Spa if the weather gets unpredictable … setup day on Thursday was warm and sunny with the same forecast for the weekend, today’s first practice session was wet, if not very wet at times. 

Tricky conditions on track caused several drivers to go off track, and an early full course yellow.  In the final 30 minutes the session was red flagged when 3 incidents occurred at the same time.  Thanks to very efficient work of the Belgian Marshalls, the track was freed up quickly so the session could restart for the final 15 minutes. 

© Bob Ten Kley

Norman Nato in the #24 Racing Engineering Oreca set the quickest time in the damp Ardennes.  His laptime of 2.19.745 with an average speed of 180,4 km/h was just under a second faster than Gustavo Menezes in the #31 APR-Rebellion Racing Oreca 07. Another clean sweep for Toyota this afternoon with the #21 Dragonspeed of Nico Lapierre in third position (2.21.224). Quickest of the non-Oreca’s was Konstantin Tereschenko in the #30 AVF by Adrian Vallés Dallara in fourth place.  Wayne Boyde in the #32 United Autosport Ligier completed the top 5. 

© Bob Ten Kley

In LMP3 it was Antonin Borga in the #4 Cool Racing Ligier who took the honours in 2.34.085, half a second quicker than Jakub Smiechowski in the #13 Inter Europol. Yann Clairay in the #9 AT Racing completed the top 3 in the class. The Ligiers took the top 7 spots in the session with the Norma’s on place 8 to 10.  David Droux was the fastest Norma driver in the #19 M.Racing-YMR with a best time of 2.35.986.

© Bob Ten Kley

Matteo Cairoli was unstoppable again in the LMGTE class, completing a lap in 2.31.555, beating not only all other LMGTE runners but also the whole LMP3 field with his #88 Proton Competition Porsche 911 RSR. Impressive stuff from the young Italian. Christian Ried in the #77 Proton sister car was second fastest, 1.369 seconds slower than Cairoli. Fabio Babini completed a Porsche top 3 in the #80 Ebimotors.  Duncan Cameron was the quickest of the non-Porsche drivers in the #55 Spirit of Race Ferrari. 

There’s a few last minute driver changes that are to be noted in the LMP2 class. Sean Rayhall couldn’t make the flight over to Belgium this weekend due to illness and will be replaced by Scott Andrews in the #2 United Autosports Ligier. In the #25 Algarve Pro Racing Ligier, Ate Dirk De Jong is being replaced by Matt McMurry who returns to the team for the first time this season. 

© Bob Ten Kley

Roberto Lacorte set the fastest time in the bronze driver collective test.  Weather conditions changed late afternoon, with a dry track and even a hint of sunshine … welcome to Spa-Francorchamps !  His time of 2.06.565 in the #47 Cetilar Villorba Corse Dallara was over 2 seconds faster than Dennis Andersen in the #49 High Class Racing.  Third quickest in was Henrik Hedman in the #21 Dragonspeed Oreca, with a time of 2.08.713, only 6 thousands of a second short from Andersen. 

In the LMP3 class, it was Kay Van Berlo who set the best time in 2.16.351 with his #11 Eurointernational Ligier. Alexey Chulkin in the #5 NEFIS by Speedfactory (2.16.593) and Anthony Wells in the #3 United Autosports Ligier (2.17.063) completed the top 3.  Romani Ricci in the #19 M.Racing-YMR was the quickest of the Norma drivers. 

The #88 Proton Competition was fastest again in the LMGTE class, this time with Gianluca Roda at the wheel in 2.19.023. Christian Ried put the second Proton Porsche on second place, just under 1.4 seconds after the Italian. Bret Curtis in the #86 Ebimotors completed the Porsche top 3. 

The second practice session is bound to go green Saturday morning at 9h05, qualifying starts at 13h10 with the LMGTE class to open the debates.

Results FP1
Results Bronze driver test

Kristof Vermeulen
Pictures: Bob Ten Kley.   

Wednesday, 19 September 2018

ELMS: Bumper grid of 40 cars for Spa-Francorchamps this weekend

The title race for the 2018 European Le Mans Series is heading into its deciding stage with the penultimate round of the season in Spa this weekend. Two out of the six titles could already be decided on what is probably the most beautiful track in the world, in the Belgian Ardennes.  A (very) healthy grid of 40 cars features the entry list for the 4 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps with teams returning to the competition and several driver changes to be noted in the LMP2 and LMP3 class. 

The #26 G-Drive Racing Oreca 07 of Roman Rusinov, Andrea Pizzitola and Jean-Eric Vergne won the last three races of the championship and beat all the FIA WEC LMP2’s in the 6 Hour race earlier this year.  No wonder the Russian team arrives as favourite in Spa this weekend, eager for a fourth consecutive victory and claiming this year’s ELMS title.  With 87 points scored so far, Rusinov & co now have an advantage of 34 points over the #24 Racing Engineering Oreca of Norman Nato, Olivier Pla and Paul Petit who see Pla returning to the team after racing with Ford in the FIA WEC. A win or second place finish could seal the championship for G-Drive on Sunday. 

The battle for second place in the championship is still open and will go down to the wire with three teams battling it out.   Third place at this moment is for the #28 IDEC Sport of Memo Rojas, Paul Lafargue and Paul Loup Chatin.  The French team has scored 50 points so far, being right on the tail of Racing Engineering.  The #21 Dragonspeed of Henrik Hedman, Nico Lapierre and Ben Hanley sits in fourth place at the moment with a total of 41 points.  Despite a DNF at the first race of the season, the American crew is still in contention for a top three finish.  TDS Racing, currently fifth in the standings won’t return to the European Le Mans Series this season, as their car is already underway to Fuji for the next race in the FIA WEC. 

Returning to the grid is the #27 Ligier of IDEC Sport which missed the race in Silverstone last month. Aurélien Panis - son of Olivier - will make his debut in the European Le Mans Series and the LMP2 class alongside Patrice Lafargue and Eric Maris.  The #35 SMP Racing Dallara won’t race at Spa this weekend, after a disappointing race at Silverstone where they had to retire just over an hour into the race. The #40 Graff run G-Drive racing has a revised driver line-up for Spa. James Allen stays on board of the Oreca,  joined by Frenchman Julien Fanchero and Swedish driver Henning Enqvist.  Enqvist raced in the LMP3 class with DKR Engineering and Team Virage and will now make his debut in the LMP2 class. Julien Falchero has been racing in GP3 so far and will make his debut in the prototype class. 

LMP3 racing has been exciting and very close all season long so far, with seven cars still in contention for the 2018 title.  Leading the championship is the #15 RLR M-Sport Ligier of John Farano, Job Van Uitert and Rob Garofall.  Van Uitert didn’t miss his debut in prototype racing, the young Dutchman showing his outright speed from the prologue on and leading the team to two victories in France and Austria so far.  With a total of 58,5 points the RLR crew has an advantage of 12 points over the #11 Eurointernational of Kay Van Berlo and Giorgio Mondini who are joined by Mattia Drudi at Spa.  The #3 United Autosports of Anthony Wells, Garett Grist and Matthey Bell, is tied with the Eurointernational in second place, both on 46,5 points. 

Behind those three, it’s all too close to call at the moment.  360 Racing sits in fourth place with 46 points so far, immediately trailed by the #13 Inter Europol Competition Ligier with 45 points. The #7 Ecurie Ecosse (39 points) and the #17 Ultimate Norma (35 points) are mathematically still in contention for the title.  

DKR Engineering returns to the grid in Spa, after missing out Silverstone but with a whole new driver line-up; the #8 Norma M30 now in the hands of Christian Vaglio and Martin Klein. Other driver changes are to be noted at Eurointernational where Matteo Drudi steps over from the #11 and the #12 Ligier. Andrea Dromedari is the only driver confirmed in the #12 Ligier so far.  Antonin Borga returns to the cockpit of the #4 Cool Racing after missing out Silverstone last month. Martin Hippe won’t be at the wheel of the #14 Inter Europol Competition, he will be replaced by Moritz Müller-Crepon. Romano Ricci stays on board of the #19 M.Racing-YMR Norma for his second race of the season after Silverstone last month. 

The LMGTE class has given us some nailbiting races so far this season with a few dramatic finishes right onto the wire. Gianluca and Giorgio Roda in the #88 Proton Competition lead the championship with 72 points, and are joined by young Porsche ace Matteo Cairoli again in the Ardennes this weekend.  The #66 JMW Ferrari is second in the championship, 9 points behind the Porsche with 63 points so far.  Miguel Molina, Liam Griffin and Alex McDowall. 5 points behind the JMW crew is the green #55 Spirit of Race Ferrari of Duncan Cameron, Aaron Scott and Matt Griffin who took victory in Monza.  All is still to play for in this class, but Sunday’s winner might be able to take a decisive lead in the championship before heading to Portimao for the season finale at the end of October. 

The action in the Ardennes starts Friday lunchtime with the first 90 minute practice session at 12.00h and the Bronze driver collective test at 16.30h.  The Michelin Le Mans Cup and Alpine Europe Cup will be this weekends support races. 

Kristof Vermeulen 

Tuesday, 21 August 2018

Michelin Tyres at the WEC 6 Hours of Silverstone

Your scribbler has the enquiring mind of a child! So where did this Michelin and Bibendum business start?

Back in 1894 Edouard and Andre Michelin were in Lyon attending an exhibition and they noticed a pile of used tyres that made Edouard think of a man with no arms.. bit of imagination needed here I agree. Some four years later Andre met a cartoonist called Marius Rossillon. Marius showed him an image that had been rejected by a Munich brewery. It was a cartoon of a sizeable rather regal figure holding a massive glass of beer and quoting Horace’s phrase “Nunc est bibendum” or “now is the time to drink”! André immediately suggested replacing the man with a figure made from tyres. This transformed the earlier image into Michelin's current symbol. Today, Bibendum is one of the world's most recognised trademarks, representing Michelin in over 150 countries. 

Enough history.. back to The 6 Hours of Silverstone! 

Michelin have all but cornered that market in WEC, there are only four cars on the grid using Dunlop. This year’s visit gives the tyre suppliers a new challenge because the entire track has been resurfaced. It will be the first time this has happened in 22 years of hard use. The only chance to test here was at the end of July when the exceptionally hot weather wasn’t really representative of the conditions teams normally encountered at Silverstone.

The long, fast track features ten right-hand and eight left-hand turns which put tremendous strain on tyres. The technical regulations for the 2018/2019 FIA WEC dictate that, Michelin’s partners must use tyres that were developed to cover the entire super-season. Jérôme Mondain who is manager of Michelin Motorsport’s endurance racing programmes tells us that  “Silverstone was recently resurfaced, so it’s like we are going there for the very first time because we have zero data. Based on experience, wear rates are likely to be low if the conditions stay dry due to the new surface’s characteristics. That said, the track promises to heat up in direct sunshine and we could see particularly high ground temperatures which would certainly have an impact on tyre performance. If it rains, the resurfacing probably won’t assist draining, so standing water will tend to accumulate and this will lower the aquaplaning threshold.” 

The regulations state that FIA WEC entries for Silverstone are allowed just 18 tyres in the LM P1, LM P2 and LM GTE Pro classes, but LM GTE Am runners will be able to use up to 26 tyres. Teams will be able to choose between hard- and medium-compound tyres. If it rains, as well it might, they will be able to fit either ‘Wets’ or ‘Full Wets’.Things are a bit different for the LM P1 teams who will have the option of selecting the ‘Hybrid’ intermediate slick for drying conditions.

This Hybrid tyre is just for the LMP1 cars and was introduced to replace the more conventional ‘intermediate’ treaded  tyre for the first time in 2012. It’s revolutionary compound means this pattern-less tyre can be used in damp and drying conditions. Michelin have brought along around 3,200 tyres to Silverstone in order to cover the possible weather conditions and different strategies of its 30 different cars..

Jock Simpson