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