Monday, 20 August 2018

WEC Silverstone 6 Hours - The Race Highlights (and a few low lights)

OK these guys are racing drivers.. it is in their DNA to be competitive but it still comes as a surprise when with just six hours to go they drive into each other! It was a messy start that the stewards decided to investigate. In amongst the general excitement there was contact between #3 Rebellion car and #17 SMP Racing . The upshot was the two Rebellion cars nearly hitting each other., which would have been a pity!

The Ford GT’s had a messy sort of start and lost out in a big way in the muddle but quickly showed they had the pace to match the Astons and the race leading Porsche.

After the chaotic start the #38 Jackie Chan DC racing earned itself a drive through penalty! The pit entry cuts out a fair chunk of circuit so it isn’t such a major penalty in reality.

The two BMW M8 GTE started better than most and were looking good but the ever faster Fords caught and passed them.

Remember the #17 SMP Racing that was involved in ‘the action’ at the start? Well, the earned themselves a drive through penalty!

Next on Ford’s shopping list was the #97 Aston Martin which had qualified well and had kept out of trouble at the start. Everybody had expected the Ford GT to be quick and it was proved to be right.

Also as expected the Toyota Twins were having a ‘race’ of the own with the lead changing occasionally during the pit stops. They are obviously way quicker than the rest of the cars in LMP1, so no surprises there then. Only some kind of mechanical catastrophe will rob them of a victory but the question is whether it will be #7 or #8 on the top step.

#11 SMP Racing BR1 pulled off the track with what looked like a blown engine. Not encouraging information for Lawrence Tomlinson and Ginetta who have just swapped from Mecachrome to AER for the balance of their troubled season.

Several cars have had surprising spins, maybe due to the resurfaced track, one victim was #29 Racing for Nederland. It seems the track was resurfaced but the very hot spell has caused ‘micro’ bumps to appear.

The Fords were on a charge and after 90mins #97 took the lead in GTE Pro.. it had taken time but it they were looking good as the Aston Martins faded. The reason the #95 Aston had slowed was due to getting stuck in 4th gear.. a new actuator and longish pit stop later it was back into the action.

The #4 Bykolles Racing Team car driven by Rene Binder had a serious fright when he caught up some slower cars which caught him out and he lost it into the barriers. It was a fairly hard hit which led to a Full Course Yellow and Rene being carted off to the medical centre for a check over.

One very lucky spectator was one of the infamous ‘Silverstone Hares’ who narrowly avoided getting flattened while crossing the track!

One of the messier accidents involved #17 and #71.. they both wanted the same bit of track and made contact. The #71 Ferrari came off rather worst with a rear right puncture. The tyre then fell apart taking most of the rear corner with it scattering carbon fibre all over the track. This incurred the wrath of the Clerk of The Course and brought out the safety car while the mess was cleared up. The #17 SMP Racing then had a spin which was probably down to damage caused when it collided with the #71 car.

You may recall one of the Ford GT’s having a spot of bother keeping its door shut at Le Mans, unfortunately the problem struck the #66 car here at Silverstone and it was forced to pit while the door was replaced.

With all the action going on in and around GTE Pro it was easy to overlook the AF Corse #12 Ferrari which was keeping out of trouble and fending off the challenges from Porsche and leading the class for sometime. Maybe Ferrari were bluffing but they reckoned they didn’t really have a chance here but clever tactics and low tyre wear seem to have paid off and the Porsches (who are notoriously greedy with their tyres)  will be very hard pressed to catch them… unless of course we get a safety car...

It came as a surprise when the #8 Toyota arrived in the pits for a scheduled stop and had its nose section replaced.. this was part of a plan to sort out a cure for oversteer.

At then other end of the reliability scale is the #10 Dragonspeed BR1... they have a tricky race all round with what may be a record breaking 11 pit stops!

With less than an hour to go the Toyota Twins swapped places and the #8 car took the lead.. just to remind you that is the Alonso car...surely they are not ‘engineering’ a result? No.. of course not !!

At this level it was a surprise when  #50 #56 #90 all got hit with 75 second stop go penalty for coming into the pits too early when the safety car was out.. they should have waited for three laps behind the safety car before they piled off into the pits.. seemed like a silly mistake but a harsh penalty!!

So it all panned out roughly as we expected.. the ‘right’ Toyota won with Alonso on board.. the #7 car had some unscheduled work on its rear body panels which wasn’t as slick as you might have expected losing them 10 precious seconds, the delay let #8 car take the lead. The ‘Best of The Rest’ in LMP1 was the #3 Rebellion Racing R13-Gibson.

In LMP2 Jackie Chan DC Racing had a great race with a 1st (#38) and 2nd (#37) ahead of the #36 Signatech Alpine Matmut. They didn’t run into trouble like the others, it was a very tidy performance.

Some of the best racing came out of LMGTE with a great battle between Ferrari, Porsche, Ford and of course Aston Martin. The #13 AF Corse Ferrari had a relatively straightforward win in the end. They had the edge as far as tyres and tactics were concerned. Porsche had a busy day chasing down the Ferraris and fending off the Fords. The result was Porsche #91 came second ahead of the #87 Ford GT.

It is amazing that Dempsey-Proton Racing and their #77 Porsche 911 RSR made their way steadily through the race to come home ahead of the #90 TF Sport Aston Martin Vantage and the Aston Martin Martin Racing #56.

Postscript -

Both Toyota TS050 Hybrids have been disqualified from Sunday’s Six Hours of Silverstone due to technical infractions, handing the overall victory to Rebellion Racing.

The cars, which finished 1-2 in the third round of the FIA World Endurance Championship, were found to have failed skid block deflection tests.

According to a stewards report issued late Sunday, the “front part” of the No. 8 Toyota’s skid block deflected 9 mm under the specified 2500 N load on both sides of the skid block, while the No. 7 car had 8 mm of deflection on the left side and 6 mm on the right side.

It was found to be a breach of Art. 3.5.6.d of the LMP1H technical regulations, resulting in exclusions.

While there were no reports of the Toyotas being involved in any incidents, the Japanese manufacturer has claimed, per the stewards report, that both cars must have sustained “some sort of damage” to the internal stays affixed to the portion of the skid block.

The stewards, however, dismissed that explanation, stating that cars must be able to withstand the “normal rigors” of a six-hour race.

It comes after a dominant run for the Toyotas, which finished four laps clear of the competition, led by the No. 8 entry of Fernando Alonso, Sebastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima.

Saturday, 18 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

WEC 6 Hours of Silverstone - Free Practice and Qualifying

Free Practice

In the first free practice session there was a big accident for Bruno Senna in Rebellion #1. Senna suffered an injured ankle going off at the exit of Copse corner. The car appeared to have been destroyed and took no part in the second session later in the day. Senna's injury was not serious but did sideline him for the rest of the weekend. The Bykolles #4 ENSO caught fire towards the end of the second free practice on Friday evening bringing out a red flag. 

The third free practice session was at 9:00am on Saturday for 1 hour. In the first few minutes Alonso set a time of 1:37.677 on his first flying lap in the #8 Toyota. Meanwhile Pedro Lamy in the #98 Aston Martin set a 1:58.460, quicker even than last year's GTE Am fastest lap. The end of FP3 was cut short a few minutes due to a wayward bollard on the circuit. Both the Bykolles #4 and the Rebellion #1 were repaired overnight and took part in the session.

You can't draw any firm conclusions from practice times but as far as LMP1 is concerned, it's really just as case of which of the two Toyota's crosses the finish line first. Cynics might even say that perhaps Toyota may ensure that it's the #8 car. Among the non-hybrids the two SMP Racing BR1's were looking very strong at that point with both cars dipping under 1:40 in FP3. 


Qualifying started on time at noon under an overcast sky and relatively chilly (by recent standards) 17.2C air temperature. GTE qualifying became very hard to follow with many laps deleted for track limits infringements, particularly in the Am class. In Pro the #66 Ford GT of Stefan Mücke and Olivier Pla had a very tidy session and took pole position. It was a slightly less tidy session for Priaulx and Tincknell the #67 sister car that ended up behind the Aston Martins #97 and #95. In GTE Am once all the lap deletions had been accounted for, it was the #56 Team Project 1 Porsche at the top of the timing screen followed by the #77 Dempsey-Proton Porsche that may even have taken pole were it not for several lap deletions. Third quickest was the TF Sport Aston Martin.

LMP qualifying was easier to follow with less pushing of track limits.  Alonso quickly put Toyota #8 quickest with a time of 1:36.789 but that was short lived as Conway in Toyota #7 went a shade faster with a time of 1:36.769. One of Nakajima's laps in the #8 Toyota was deleted for track limits and the #7 car stayed at the top of the timing screen for the remainder of the session. Jaafar set a time of 1:44.372 in the #37 JC DC Racing Oreca and a quick lap by Jeffri gave them an average of 1:44.896 and LMP2 pole position. With 5 minutes remaining there was a red flag to recover the #29 Racing Team Nederland Dallara that Frits Van Eerd spun into the gravel at Copse.

Full timing results can be found HERE

WEC 6 Hours of Silverstone - Pre-race Jox Jottings

Having missed Le Mans 24hrs for ‘technical reasons’ (or more accurately accreditation reasons!) it is good to be back at Silverstone for round three of The Super Season. There has been a long summer break since Le Mans back in June. 

However the technical fellows at FIA WEC have not been idle! Toyota had a very convincing victory at Le Mans as we know, so there was a call to ‘level the playing field’ to give the other LMP1 teams a reasonable chance of at least a getting a glimpse of the silverware. Toyota got their first ever win since they began racing at Le Mans. Alonso moved from F1 to Le Mans and achieved ‘part two’ of his dream to win Le Mans, Monaco and Indianapolis. But for some observers the Toyota victory was seen as slightly hollow, forgone conclusion. OK the cars survived for 24 hours but there was no serious competition and they finished 12 laps ahead of the rest of the field.. Credit where credit is due it is not easy winning at Le Mans as Toyota knew only too well! As a result The FIA World Endurance Championship organisation set about having a go at applying a modestly sized roller to the playing field between the hybrid Toyotas and the other non-hybrid LMP1s by making changes to the Equivalence of Technology (EoT) rules. Equivalence of Technology? A degree in particle physics would come in handy here and we don’t happen to have one! 

But the outcome of all this for Silverstone was the removal of the promised 0.25% lap time advantage given to Toyota. At Le Mans this was reckoned to worth around half a second a lap, that doesn’t sound much but over 388 laps it all begins to add up! 

Next up are changes to the fuel flow to the non hybrid engines which has been upped to 115kg/h from 108kg/hr’ Again rather hard to comprehend for us lesser mortals! Easier to get to grips with is the refuelling rig restrictor size has been increased. This means fuel can go in faster and as a result less time in the pits. 

Ironically it was this area of technology that caused the downfall and exclusion of the two TDS run cars at Le Mans. This is still under appeal.

Weight is easier to understand..the normally aspirated cars have been given a 15kg weight reduction..  

A WEC statement said that the changes were designed to 
"Ensure an appealing top category and achieve the best possible balance between the performance potential of cars using both hybrid and non-hybrid technologies."

It will not come as a great surprise to hear that Ginetta won’t be here this weekend. It is a long and complex saga that is getting no easier to fully explain. However plenty of words appear elsewhere but the latest news is that Ginetta have changed their Mecachrome’s 3.4-litre V6 engine to the AER P60B twin-turbo V6. This was because Ginetta reckoned they were down on power with the Mecachrome engine but interestingly the AER engined car didn’t finish at Le Mans while the Mecachrome one did.  This story will run and run but they are not here at Silverstone

In GTE-Pro it was fair to say that at Le Mans and Spa Aston Martin did not prosper as far as Balance of Performance was concerned. They were way off the pace through no fault of their own. Balance of Performance is a blunt instrument to say the least but WEC have tried to make amends for Silverstone. So both the Aston Martin and Ferrari 488 GTE Evos have received BOP adjustments for Silverstone.

A pair of the ‘new-generation’ Aston Martin Vantage GTEs have arrived at this weekend’s Six Hours of Silverstone but now armed with more power. In Aston Martin’s case their new turbocharged V8 engine gets a significant increase in turbo boost throughout its power band. Plus they get an extra five litres of fuel to take into account the increase in power.
Additionally, the Astons will have 5 litres of additional fuel capacity to take into account the increased power. On the other hand Ferrari only get a small increase in power There have been no adjustments for BMW, Ford and Porsche .

Finally.. you may have heard that Bruno Senna had a big accident in free practice when he went off at Copse driving the #1 Rebellion Racing R13-Gibson. The good news is that despite the scale of the accident Bruno emerged with a fractured ankle but won’t be racing again this weekend. The car was rebuilt for qualifying and is 6th on the grid. The stewards are allowing the team to run with just two drivers. We wish Bruno well and look forward to maybe seeing him back out in October for the Fuji round.  

Jock Simpson

Sunday, 22 July 2018

ELMS: Red Bull Ring practice and qualifying pictures

A selection of our pictures from practice and qualifying sessions for the 4 hours of Red Bull Ring this afternoon.  Weather has been unpredictable all weekend with sunshine and pooring rain.  Predictions for the race change by the minute, so we could have a very interesting afternoon ... 

Saturday, 21 July 2018

ELMS: Pole position for Paul Loup Chatin on the Red Bull Ring

Paul Loup Chatin continued to dominate the LMP2 class on a dry and sunny Red Bull Ring this afternoon, securing pole postition for tomorrows race in the #28 IDEC Sport Oreca.  

Chatin took the team's second pole position of the season in his final flying lap at the end of the session with a time of 1.19.246. He ultimately pushed Nicolas Jamin in the #29 Duqueine Engineering Oreca from pole position with only 0.019 seconds. Norman Nato secured third position on the grid in his #24 Racing Engineering Oreca, 0.122 seconds slower than Jamin. Nico Lapierre set the fourth fastest time in 1.19.423. 

Championship leaders G-Drive Racing will start from fifth place tomorrow, immediately followed by their main challengers TDS Racing. The battle for pole was very close, with the first six cars within half a second. First non-Oreca on the grid is the #22 United Autosports Ligier of Filipe Albuquerque after setting a best time of 1.19.950, 0.704 seconds behind the fastest Oreca. Felipe Nasr was the quickest of the Dallara drivers, starting from 10th position tomorrow in the #47 Cetilar Villorba Corse. 

Mikkel Jensen seemed to have secured pole position in the LMP3 class in AT Racing's home race.  However, his laptime of 1.26.408 was deleted by the race stewards due to exceeding track limits.  This promoted the #17 Ultimate Nissan powered Norma M30 of Mathieu Lahaye to pole, with a time of 1.26.519. 17 year old Swiss driver Lucas Légéret in the #19 M.Racing-YMR made it a Norma front row, just 0.175 seconds from pole.  The #15 RLR Msport Ligier will start third after Job van Uitert set a time of 1.26.703. Qualifying in the LMP3 class was (very) tight again, under 0.5 seconds separating the first seven cars on the grid. Antonio Borga in the #4 Cool Ligier and Ricardo Sanchez in the #8 DKR Engineering Norma completed this afternoon's top 5. 

Miguel Molina claimed pole position in the LMGTE class with his #66 JMW Motorsport Ferrari F488.  His time of 1.28.827 was 0.098 seconds faster than Matteo Cairoli in the #88 Proton Competition Porsche. Surprisingly, this is the first pole position for last years champions JMW since Hungary 2013. The second row of the grid will be occupied by 2 Ferrari's:  the #83 Krohn Racing Ferrari of Andrea Bertolini (1.28.967) and the #55 Spirit of Race of Matt Griffin. The #77 Proton and #80 Ebimotors Porsches will close tomorrow's grid with fifth and sixth place in class.  

Free Practice 2

This morning's Free Practice session started dry but within minutes the clouds moved in and the heavens opened sending the field into the pits for wet tyres. 

Paul-Loup Chatin in the #28 IDEC Sport Oreca again set the fastest time with a 1:19.616 on lap 4, just moments before the heavy rain began to fall, +0.134s ahead of Andrea Pizzitola in the #26 G-Drive Oreca. Next up was Norman Nato pushing the #24 Racing Engineering Oreca to a 1:19.832. The first of the non-Oreca chassis was the #35 SMP Racing Dallara P217  in fifth position with a time of 1:20.952, +1.336s off the leading Oreca's time. It was another bad session for the Ligiers with the fastest being the #32 United Autosports car in which Hugo de Sadeleer set a 1:21.963 on lap 4. 

In the LMP3 class there was nearly 13s separating 1st and last spot. Job van Uitert took his #15 RLR MSport Ligier JS P3 to the top of the table setting a 1:27.176 on lap 5. Second was David Droux in the #19 M. Racing - YMR, 0.604s off the Dutchman's pace. Third fastest went to American Sean Rayhall who took the #2 United Autosports Ligier he shares with John Falb to a 1:28.486 lap. Yesterday's fastest class car the #17 Ultimate finished the session in penultimate place after setting it's best tine of 1:38.237 on lap 34. 

Ferrari pipped Porsche in the LMGTE class with Matt Griffin setting a time of 1:29.845 in the #55 Spirit of Race F488. Second was Dennis Olsen in the #77 Proton Competition Porsche 911 RSR followed by Fabio Babini in the Ebimotors 911; 0.029s adrift with a 1:30.051. Yesterday's class fastest, JMW Motorsport, finished the session in fourth place followed by the #88 Proton Competition and the #83 Krohn Racing Ferrari.

Race start tomorrow is scheduled right on midday at 12.00h.  The weather forecast has been changing all weekend, but it looks like we're up for a wet race tomorrow afternoon. 

Qualifying results: 

Results Free practice 2

Text: John Stevens & Kristof Vermeulen
Pictures: Kristof Vermeulen & JellyBaby.Media

Friday, 20 July 2018

ELMS: The European Le Mans Series arrive in Austria for the third race of the season

The European Le Mans Series return to the Red Bull Ring this weekend for their third race of the 2018 season.  With its stunning setting on the Styrian Alps and top of the line accomodation, the Red Bull Ring is certainly one of the team's – and media's – favourite tracks on the calendar. 

42 cars arrived in Austria for Sunday's 4 hour race; 18 in both the LMP2 and LMP3 class and 6 in the LMGTE category.  G-Drive's Roman Rusinov and Andrea Pizzitola arrive in Spielberg as championship leaders with a total of 37 points, and are joined again by newly crowned Formula E champion Jean-Eric Vergne.  The TDS trio of François Perrodo, Matthieu Vaxiviere and Loïc Duval are just 1 point behind with 36 points.  It's still unclear though if they will complete in all the remaining rounds of the championship as the team initially only intended to do the opening three races of the season. 

 Le Castellet winners Norman Nato, Olivier Pla and Paul Petit are currently third with 35 points.  All is still to play for between those three teams, so we might well see the championship go undecided 'till the chequered flag at Portimao end October. 

In the LMP3 class it's the #11 Eurointernational drivers Giorgio Mondini and Kay Van Berlo who are leading the series with a 10 point bonus (40 vs 30) on Ross Kaiser and Terrence Woodward in the #6 360 Racing Ligier. Currently in third position with 25,5 points are Rob Garofall, John Farano and Job Van Uitert in the #15 RLR Msport.  Watch out for the #9 AT Racing Ligier this weekend, as it's the home race for father and son Talkanitsa and Mikkel Jensen.

JMW Motorsport leads the LMGTE championship with 37 points after their last lap victory at Le Castellet and a fourth place in Monza. ELMS debutants Ebimotors had a strong start of the season with two podium finishes in the Porsche 911 RSR and are trailing JMW with 31 points. Last years winners at the Red Bull Ring Duncan Cameron, Matt Griffin and Aaron Scott won the race in Monza in May and will be eager do to that again here on Sunday afternoon. 

Oreca dominated today's free practice session, taking up the first eight positions in the LMP2 class. All but one Oreca (the #31 APR Rebellion) finished ahead of the Dallara's and Ligiers in the field.  
Paul Loup Chatin in the #28 IDEC Sport Oreca 07 was quickest around the Austrian track. His laptime of 1.20.067 was just 3 thousands of a second faster than Norman Nato in the #24 Racing Engineering Oreca. Matthieu Vaxiviere in the #33 TDS Racing Oreca went third fastest, only 21 thousands behind Nato.  

The first non-Oreca chassis was the #35 SMP Racing Dallara of Matevos Isaakyan who went round in 1.20.836, just under 0.8 seconds slower than Chatin.  Wayne Boyd was the quickest of the Ligier drivers in 10th position overall with a laptime of 1.21.053. 

In LMP3 it was Ultimate who went fastest in their Nissan powered Norma M30. Matthieu Lahaye set a 1.26.927, just 0.018 seconds ahead of Matthew Bell in the #3 United Autosports Ligier.  Another Norma on third place: the #19 M.Racing-YMR of Lucas Legeret, just under 0.4 seconds behind Lahaye. Sean Rayhall in the second United Autosports Ligier and Timur Boguslavkiy in the #5 NEFIS by Speed Factory Ligier rounded out the top 5. 

JMW Motorsport went quickest in the LMGTE class with Miguel Molina at the wheel of the Ferrari F488 in 1.28.829.  Matteo Cairoli put the #88 Proton Competition Porsche on second place, 0.570 seconds behind the Spaniard. Andrea Bertolini in the #83 Krohn Racing Ferrari set the third fastest time this afternoon. 

Text: Kristof Vermeulen

Sunday, 8 July 2018

LE MANS CLASSIC - Sunday's Jox Jottings

The rather more relaxed atmosphere at The Classic meant that your team ambled off for beer, food and decent night’s sleep. A stark contrast to the main event when it was quite normal to stay up and be ‘active’ for 36 hours or so! We are getting “mature” even so this is civilised..

On Saturday evening we headed off for our annual pilgrimage to Fillé to wish our favourite French hound “Grim” well and sip some beer in the little village bar. Hannibal Smith in  “The A Team” had the famous quote “I love it when a plan comes together”... They didn’t have a favourite quote that covered  when a plan falls apart! Fillé was closed for business due to village fête ... hence no bar, no Grim ... no hope!  Instead we landed on our feet close by in L'Auberge du Rallye. It is no longer ferociously expensive and is very tasty.  As a bonus there was a superb firework display in the village. Job done!

Back to the main event. As we have said before it is virtually impossible to tell you what is going on. OK that is a cop out but it is true. For example we were impressed by Tommy Dreelan and Aaron Scott winning the fantastic Group C race in their Leyton House Porsche 962 and were about to write it up, until we heard they had been handed a one lap penalty and had actually come home 23rd! It seems the driver of #25 Mike Lyons in his Gebhardt C291 had formally protested due to Tommy passing the red light at pit lane exit just as it turned red! Needless to say Lyons went on to win !!    You may recall the Gebhart Group C car, it raced with sponsorship from Momo. It started life with an Audi power unit that was later replaced with a Ford Cosworth 3.5 litre V8 DFR.  The Porsche is of course immortal!! (I am biased).

The whole penalty system is impenetrably complex not helped by some drivers who happily incur huge penalties for skipping their pit stop window because they want to enjoy being out on the circuit! Pit stop timing clearly isn’t a major issue since owner drivers are ... how shall we say ... not always in a state of peak physical fitness and pit stops can be challenging. Interesting to see a stunning Porsche 356 Spyder with no roll over bar and the driver safely (?) secured with lap strap belt! Rather him than me.

The only real problem spectators are facing is the heat. Plus where to watch and avoid walking too far. It has hardly dropped below 30° and has spent most of the day around 33°. Spare a thought then for the photographers out there and of course that stalwart band of marshals. 

For us the star performers start with the Porsche 917 and Ford GT40. However the level of preparation and presentation everywhere is really stunning. All the same we do wonder what on earth Cadillac and their no doubt brilliant design team had in mind when they produced the Series 61 “ Le Monstre” in 1950. The #39 car burbled around looking very peculiar  it seems that the concept of aerodynamics and design might have been in their infancy. Plus the well known adage “ if it looks right it is right” doesn't really seem to apply here but thank goodness the likes of Derek Drinkwater chooses to keep this 5.4 litre V8 beast up and running..the man is a hero! Talking of Cadillacs it is great to see one of the big Series 61 saloons #34  out there racing. Maybe it would be more at home running in the original Carrera Panamericana.

Proving that anything goes and all are welcome  is the tiny flat four 600cc #52 Panhard Dyna X84 that finished 66th in its group cheerfully acting as a mobile chicane and completing half as many laps as the winners . ( Not good value for his entry fee !!) Mind you it had a nerve jangling top speed of 101 km/h (62.7585 mph!)  and the winner of his grid was 240 km/h ( 149.129 mph). The Mulsanne Straight must have seemed endless at that speed. It is not the winning that counts .. it is the taking part !!

Tony Light, our source of useful information ,has worked out that the times put in by the Grid Six leader #33 1976 Toj SC 304 driven by the Swiss driver Yvres Scemama would have got him onto the back row of this year’s Le Mans 24hrs grid. Back in the day these cars raced under the Warsteiner banner powered by 2.0 litre Wassermann BMW M12/7 engine.  

Grid 1 1923-1939 Final Results ( Provisional)  after all 3 races: 
1st #17 G. Burnett Talbot 105 
2nd #20 G. Burnett/M.Birch Talbot 105 
3rd #21 R.Spencer Bugatti T35B 

Grid 2 (1949-1956) Final Results ( Provisional)  after all 3 races
1st #21 Carlos Monteverde/Gary Pearson/A. Smith Jaguar D Type 
2nd #3 C. Joy/S. Trenery/P. Simon Jaguar D Type 
3rd #16 R. Wilson/MartinStretton Maserati 250S  

Grid 3 (1957-1961) Final Results ( Provisional)  after all 3 races
1st #68 Roger Wills/D Clark Lotus XV 
2nd #16 Lukas Halusa Ferrari 250 GT Breadvan 
3rd #5 Hans Hugenholtz Lister Jaguar Costin 

Grid 4 (1962-1965) Final Results ( Provisional)  after 3 races
1st #61 Diogo Ferrao Ford GT40 
2nd #17 Shaun Lynn Ford GT40 
3rd #64 James Cottingham/Joe Twyman Ford GT40

Grid 5 (1966-1971) Final Results ( Provisional)  after 3 races: 
1st #38 Jacques Nicolet Duckhams Ford 
2nd #3 T. Seiler/M. Seiler Lola T70 Mk III 
3rd #22 Stuart Hall/Roald Goethe Lola T70 Mk IIIB  

Grid 6 (1972-1981) Final Results ( Provisional)  after 3 races
1st #33 Yves Scemama Toj SC 304 
2nd #17 R. Büsst/D. Freeman Chevron B31 
3rd #21 U. Beck Porsche 935 K3 

Final thoughts? We are sure this has been the busiest year that we have ever attended.. it was certainly very (uncomfortably ?) hot maybe even hotter than four years ago. It remains a difficult event to spectate only because there is so much going on over such a wide area, we don’t know the answer to this one, maybe a bicycle? Beer has become outrageously expensive, we had a drink at very pleasant Auberge in Fille and the beer was half the price than in Arnage or at the circuit... Traffic in the main areas around Le Mans Circuit feels worse than for the main event. Unusually the main entrance worked well. I have decided the ‘Kiss me quick’ little trains are very handy if you can get onto one. Finally this ageing decrepit athlete (??) is not designed to function or walk far in the heat (but that is personal !) Young fit healthy people will probably survive. Thoroughly enjoyable and a great event. In two years time we will be back.

Make your ferry, hotel and campsite bookings as soon as you can, it will be even busier then and there will be no football to worry about !

Text: Jock SIMPSON
Pictures: Kristof Vermeulen

LE MANS CLASSIC 2018 - Jox Jottings' return to Le Mans

I wasn't able to get to the 2016 event but your team was well represented. So having missed a tat year I have to confess that I am being constantly being amazed this year. It is heaving with “Brits  On Tour” in an astonishing variety of machinery. I suspect there are no Morgans currently in UK, they are all here in France. As are all the TVRs, Porsche etc etc. However new French legislation that has just come in will cramp everybody’s style because they have lowered the speed limit on all two-lane highways to 80km/h (50mph) from 90km/h (56 mph). But maybe some of you found this out the hard way, it wasn’t widely publicised. 

Having parked the odd rally car untidily I am not sure 6 mph would have made much difference, but let’s see if it works. Their hope is it will reduce the alarmingly high fatality rate on French roads. It will remain in place for two years and then they will review the situation. But note they wont be changing any signage as far as we know. But this is still the place to dust off your classic and come on down.

The social demographic has changed a fair bit so now the original classic owners have been joined by modern Ferraris, Porsches and even the odd indecently quick Bentley or two. Until the police call a halt there has been a re-emergence of plenty of madness and tyre smoke in Arnage. We thought Les Gendarmes had put a stop to all this but so far they simply stand by and watch… very ‘unfrench’ !

Keeping up with the track action has been tricky to say the least, after all there are over a thousand drivers ( read that right!) and we reckon around 750 racing cars. Possibly reinforcing the status of the event there are no less than ten previous outright Le Mans winners here racing. Before you ask the list is as follows.. Werner, Mass, Lammers, Ortelli, Dumas, Bell, Larrousse, Duval, Pescarolo and Ludwig. 

One change, which might be for the better, is that the ACO now have a 25% share in Patrick Peter’s organisation. In the past Patrick Peter ( remember him from BPR...Barth, Peter, and Ratel ?) did an astounding job running the event maybe now it has out grown Peter’s team and some help was needed from The ACO).

Another aspect of this splendid event are “The Clubs”. These are the various owner’s clubs that occupy every nook and cranny around the circuit. It is an A-Z of classic manufacturers many of which you will know about others might need a voyage through Google. How about this lot.. Amicale DB (117 cars) Martin (70 cars) Rene Bonnet Matra Sport (89 cars) and Roland Pilain (114 cars). These are all put in the shade by Porsches which are everywhere and like Jaguar have a race of their own.

Some statistics are mind boggling , it isn’t everyday you find five Porsche 917 in one place at one time and out racing.. by that standard Ford GT40s seem pretty commonplace, we reckon there are 14 GT40s out there!! In the Group C race there were 12 Porsche 962 and a fantastic number of very evocative Silk Cut Jaguars . Remember the XJR-8-9-11-14 and the rest?

The race format for the main event. This massive entry is broken down into six grids or 'plateau'. These are based upon dates:-

Grid One 1923-1939
Grid Two 1949-1956
Grid Three 1957-1961
Grid Four 1962-1965
Grid Five 1966-1971
Grid Six 1972-1981

During the 24 hour period each Grid gets three 43 mins races …. somebody somewhere will know where the 43 min idea came from!! Many of the teams have two drivers but some heroes do it on their own. Everybody gets the chance to take on Le Circuit du Sarthe in the dark. We imagine this could be ‘challenging’ for the Grid One and Two cars because in those days headlights were in their infancy! At least in the olden days you didn’t have to find the 1st and 2nd chicanes.

If you want to check out lap-times etc look for

To use the immortal words of Arnold Alois Schwarzenegger “ I’ll be back”.. or maybe more relevant is his latest quote “ I may be old but I am not obsolete”...


Thursday, 5 July 2018

Jacky Ickx announced as Honoree for the 2019 Amelia Island Concours d'élégance

"Monsieur Le Mans", Jacky Ickx has been announced as the Honoree for the 2019 Amelia Island Concours d'élégance in Florida.

In his biography of Enzo Ferrari, Brock Yates summed up Jacky Ickx in one perfect phrase writing Jacky Ickx has " . . . the heart of a lion".

"There is something heroic about Jacky Ickx," said Bill Warner, founder and Chairman of the Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance. "When things are at their worst Ickx is at his best. Grace under pressure doesn't begin to describe him. He's a racer whose abilities, reputation and record stand with the greatest of all time." "It is an honor to have 'Mr. Le Mans' as our 2019 honoree," said Warner, "Especially on the 50th anniversary of the first of his six Le Mans victories."

Five-time Le Mans winner and 2007 Amelia Honoree Derek Bell said of Ickx, "For me he was the Ayrton Senna of his time".

The centerpiece of Ickx's racing career is six victories in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Yet that's just the headline. His versatility is legendary. Ickx is the 1967 European Formula 2 Champion and owns eight World Championship F1 victories (and three non-championship wins) plus second place in the 1969 and 1970 F1 World Championships. Ickx scored 37 individual race victories in the World Sports Car Championship and back-to-back World Sports Car Championships in 1982 and 1983. In America he won the 1979 Can-Am Championship, the 1969 Sebring 12 Hours with Jackie Oliver and the 1972 Daytona "24" with Mario Andretti. The versatile Ickx also logged victory in the 1977 Bathurst 1000 and the 1966 24 Hours of Spa, a class win and second overall in the Nurburgring's grinding 84-hour Marathon de la Route plus his legendary victory in the brutal 10,000-kilometer 1983 Paris-Dakar Rally -- "the war without bullets" -- for Mercedes-Benz.

The 2019 Amelia Island Concours d'élegance is scheduled for March 8-10, 2019; exactly one week ahead of the FIA WEC's return to Sebring and the Sebring 12 hours, and an event not to miss if you're in the area !  

Kristof Vermeulen.  

Friday, 29 June 2018

Porsche smashes Bellof's record at the Nordschleife (updated)

5.19.546, that's the new lap record of the Nürburgring Nordschleife, set by Timo Bernhard in the Porsche 919 Hybrid Evo this morning. 

© Porsche

Two times Le Mans winner and reigning World Endurance Champion Bernhard broke the longstanding lap record of Stefan Bellof from May 28th 1983.  Bellof lapped the Nordschleife in 6.11.13 in his Porsche 956C during qualifying for the 1000 km of the Nurburgring.

This Friday morning Timo  Bernhard's laptime over the 20.832 km Nordschleife circuit in 5 minutes and 19.55 seconds results in an average speed of 233.8 km/h on what is revered by race drivers, engineers and enthusiasts alike as the world’s most difficult track. Driving the Porsche 919 Hybrid Evo, Bernhard beat the previous lap record, set by Stefan Bellof, by 51.58 seconds.

For 35 years and 31 days Bellof’s 6:11.13 minutes record remained uncontested. The German driver from Gießen, who tragically died at Spa-Francorchamps in 1985, counted as the biggest racing talent of his time. He drove his record on May 28 in 1983 at the wheel of a powerful 620 bhp Rothmans Porsche 956 C during qualifying practice for the 1000-kilometer sports car race. Also his average speed was over 200 km/h. It's also to be noted that Bellof set that time during a qualifying session - with traffic - which makes it even more impressive.

Proud and relieved Timo Bernhard, five-time overall winner of the Nürburgring 24-hours, two-time outright winner of the Le Mans 24-hours and reigning World Endurance Champion with the Porsche 919 Hybrid, clambered out of the tight Le Mans prototype cockpit. “This is a great moment for me and for the entire team – the 919 programme’s icing on the cake. The Evo was perfectly prepared and I have done my best on this lap. Thanks to the aerodynamic downforce, at sections I never imagined you can stay on full throttle. 

Timo Bernhard raced with a replica of Bellof's helmet 
at the 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps in 2015

I’m pretty familiar with the Nordschleife. But today I got to learn it in a new way”, said the 37-year old from Bruchmühlbach-Miesau in the German region of Saarpfalz. He is a huge admirer of Stefan Bellof. In 2015, on the thirtieth anniversary of Bellof’s fatal accident, Timo raced at the Spa-Francorchamps 6-hour race of the FIA World Endurance Championship with a helmet carrying the famous black-red-gold design of the 1980s star. “For me Stefan Bellof is and remains a giant”, he emphasises. “Today my respect for his achievement with the technology available back then increased even more.”

Today’s success is the second track record on the Porsche 919 Hybrid Evo tally: On April 9 this year in Spa, the dramatic evolution of the three-times Le Mans winner lapped faster than a Formula One car with Neel Jani at the wheel. The 34-year old Porsche works driver from Switzerland – Le Mans outright winner and Endurance World Champion of 2016 – set a lap of 1:41,770 minutes on the 7.004 kilometre (4.35 mile) Grand Prix circuit in the Belgian Ardennes mountains. He topped the previous track record, set by Lewis Hamilton in 2017 qualifying, by 0.783 seconds. The British Mercedes driver took pole position for the Belgian Grand Prix in 1:42.553 minutes.

© Porsche

The Evo version of the Porsche 919 Hybrid is based on the car that took outright victory at the Le Mans 24-Hours and won the FIA World Endurance Championship in 2015, 2016 and 2017. Over the winter, it was freed from some restrictions hitherto determined by the regulations. Thus, its hybrid power train now develops a system output of 1160 hp. The Evo weighs only 849 kilograms and its modified (and now active) aerodynamics generate over 50 per cent more downforce compared to the WEC model. Top speed at the Nürburgring was 369.4 km/h (229.5 mph).

LMP Team Principal Andreas Seidl commented: “As a race team we constantly search for challenges that push a car, driver and team to operate on the limit. Conquering the “Green Hell” definitely provided such a challenge. Since last winter we were preparing for that task together with our tyre partner Michelin – painstakingly and with a great deal of respect for this track. Today we have shown the full potential of the 919 Evo. Congratulations to Timo for his sensational drive. Being a record winner at the Nürburgring, Timo was the logical choice for the job. Balancing attack and caution at all times was mandatory on this circuit. Safety is the highest priority. In this regard, I also like to thank the Nürburgring team. Porsche cultivates a long and deep relationship with the ‘Ring. Record attempts wouldn’t be possible without the highly professional track support.“

© Porsche

Fritz Enzinger, Vice President LMP1, added: “A big thank you goes to our development team in Weissach and the crew on site for the focused and safe operation of this record attempt. It is terrific what our team has achieved in four years in the World Endurance Championship: From 2015 to 2017 three overall wins in Le Mans and three drivers’ and three manufacturers’ world championship titles. This isn’t easy to be reproduced by anyone. The Tribute Tour is our homage on these years. We didn’t want to see the most innovative race car of its time disappearing unceremoniously in to the museum. Thanks to the support from our partners, we were able to develop the Evo version of the Porsche 919 Hybrid for record attempts.”