Saturday 27 October 2018

ELMS: Duqueine Engineering on pole for a thrilling season finale in Portimao.

Nicolas Jamin claimed pole position this afternoon in a sunny but rather windy Portimao.  The Frenchman set his best laptime of 1.33.197 in the dying seconds of the session, giving Duqueine Engineering their first pole position in the LMP2 class of the European Le Mans Series.  Will Stevens looked to have set the fastest lap in the #23 Panis Barthez Competition Ligier when the chequered flag fell, but ultimately came 0.060 seconds short. 

Filipe Albuquerque will start from the second row tomorrow with the third fastest time, 1.33.362 in the #22 United Autosports Ligier.  He will have Paul Loup Chatin next to him in the #28 IDEC Sport Oreca who was quickest in this morning’s practice session.  2018 champions G-Drive Racing will start from fifth place. 

© ELMS/Jakob Ebrey Photorgaphy

Lucas Légeret scored his first pole position in the European Le Mans Series and the second this season for the #19 Norma of M.Racing - YMR.  In another nailbiting session, Légeret’s time of 1.40.715 was just 0.061 seconds quicker than Mathieu Lahaye in the #17 Ultimate Norma.  Légeret set his time just before the #11 Eurointernational of Giorgio Mondini spun off at turn 5, causing a red flag. When the session was restarted, the top times weren’t improved anymore. 

Mikkel Jensen was the quickest of the Ligiers in third place in 1.40.999, almost 0.3 seconds behind pole position. Jensen will have another Norma next to him on the second row of the grid with the #8 of DKR Engineering of Marvin Klein.  All three contenders for the championship struggled for pace this afternoon.  Job Van Uitert in the leading RLR MSport Ligier didn’t get further than 7th place on the grid, almost a second off the pace of Légeret. Their main rivals in the #6 360 Racing Ligier and #3 United Autosport will start even further down the order, on 10th and 15th place. The race to the championship will be very tight and interesting tomorrow.

JMW Motorsport edges one point closer to the leading #88 Proton Porsche in the championship by claiming their second pole position of the season.  Miguel Molina put the #66 Ferrari on the top spot with a laptime of 1.42.765 and closed the gap to the leading Porsche down to 10,5 points.  Dennis Olsen in the #77 Proton Competition Porsche pipped Matteo Cairoli from a front row start with 0.026 seconds.  His time of 1.43.073 was just over three tenths of a second slower than Molina. Matt Griffin in the #55 Ferrari will start from fourth tomorrow.  As in the LMP3 class, anything is possible in the race tomorrow … 

Qualifying Results LMP2
Qualifying Results LMP3
Qualifying Results LMGTE

Free Practice 2

This morning in the second free practice session, Paul Loup Chatin set the pace in his #28 IDEC Sport Oreca 07.  His laptime of 1.33.097 was 0.227 seconds faster than Nico Lapierre in the #21 Dragonspeed. Another Oreca completed the morning session’s top 3, Jean-Eric Vergne setting the third quickest time in 1.33.614. 

Behind the 3 leading Oreca’s were 4 Ligiers, lead by local driver Filipe Albuqerque in the #22 United Autosports. Will Stevens in the #23 Panis Barthez Competition JSP2 and Will Owen in the second United Autosports LMP2 rounded out the top 6.  The leading Dallara was the #49 High Class Racing of Anders Fjordbach in ninth place. 

Lucas Légeret headed the LMP3 category in his #19 M.Racing-YMR Norma.  The Swiss driver posting a laptime of 1.40.145, holding off Mikkel Jensen in the #9 AT Racing Ligier with just over 0.4 seconds.  Third fastest was Giorgio Mondini in the #11 Eurointernational Ligier. 

In LMGTE it was Porsche - Ferrari - Porsche this morning. Matteo Cairoli quickest in his #88 Proton 911 RSR (1.41.786) ahead of Miguel Molina in the #66 JMW Ferrari and Riccardo Pera in the #80 Ebimotors Porsche.  

Apart from 2 short full course yellows - one early in the session when the #18 M.Racing - YMR Ligier went off in turn 3 and a second one mid session after the #47 Cetilar Villorba Corse ended up next to the track.  

The 4 Hours of Portimao will be green flagged tomorrow at 12h30 local time. 

Kristof Vermeulen

Friday 26 October 2018

ELMS: Duqueine Engineering sets the pace in opening practice session

Not exactly the weather we expected in the Algarve this morning with (heavy) overcast skies and rain treathening to fall down.  It did stay dry though during the first 90 minute practice session which ran without any notable incidents. 

Pierre Ragues in the #29 Duqueine Engineering Oreca set the fastest time this morning during the first free practice session for the 4 Hours of Portimao.  The Frenchman managed a best time of 1.32.846, just 74 thousands of a second faster than Filipe Albuquerque in the #32 United Autosports Ligier JSP2. Will Owen in the second United Autosports (#32) clocked the third fastest time. 

Felipe Nasr in the #47 Cetilar Villorba Corse Dallara was fourth fastest, 0.6 seconds behind the leading Oreca.  Another Dallara rounded out the top 5 with Henrique Chaves in the #30 AVF by Andrian Valles.  LMP2 champions G-Drive Racing had a quiet morning session, only managing tenth fastest after 90 minutes. 

In LMP3 it was Matthieu Lahaye who put the #17 Ultimate Norma on top of the timesheet with a laptime of 1.40.097. Nicolas Maulini in the #8 DKR Norma was second fastest, 0.290 seconds slower than the Frenchman.  Championship leaders RLR Sport took third place with Job Van Uitert’s best time of 1.40.427.  Another Norma was fourth quickest with Swiss youngster Lucas Légeret at the wheel of the #19 M.Racing-YMR, ahead of Matt Bell in the #3 United Autosports Ligier.  The #11 Eurointernational of Giorgio Mondini and Kay Van Berlo didn’t set a time during this morning’s session. 

Proton Competition dominated the LMGTE class, with Marvin Dienst in the #77 Porsche 911 RSR (1.43.301) ahead of Giorgio Roda in the #88 sister car with a margin of just over 0.4 seconds.  Championship challengers JMW Motorsport were third quickest, Miguel Molina giving in just 0.1 seconds to Roda. 

Bronze driver test

With (heavy) rain and thunderstorms coming in by the end of the Michelin Le Mans Cup practice early in the afternoon, the bronze driver test was driven in wet conditions and a tricky track.  

Only 11 cars turned a few laps round the soaked track, just 9 LMP3 and 2 LMGTE cars, as non of the LMP2 cars made their way out of the pitlane.  Quickest overall was Alexey Chulkin in the #5 NEFIS by Speed Factory Ligier in 1.53.434, just under 0.7 seconds faster than Kay Van Berlo in the #11 Eurointernational Ligier.  Jacopo Baratto in the #16 BHK Motorsport completed the top 3 in its class.  Just 2 Porsches went for a swim in LMGTE, Gianluca Roda the fastest in his #77 Proton Competition 911 RSR (1.57.985), almost a second faster than Gianluca Giraudi in the #80 Ebimotors.  Ironically, when all track action was over this afternoon, the sun broke back through the clouds … 

The second free practice session is scheduled for tomorrow at 09h25. Qualifying for the 4 hours of Portimao starts tomorrow afternoon 14h25 with the LMGTE cars on track first.

Thursday 25 October 2018

ELMS: All set for the season finale in Portimao

39 cars will be on the grid for the final race of this years European Le Mans Series at the Autodromo do Algarve  in Portimao this weekend. With the team and drivers titles in LMP3 and LMGTE still to be decided, tension will be high in the beautiful Algarve region.  The weather forecast seems a bit unstable and even unpredictable (chance of rain on Friday and Saturday, dry on Sunday but cold), so could play its role again this weekend.  And as we know from previous years, nothing is for granted until the chequered flag falls down on Sunday afternoon, so we should be in for another thrilling weekend of endurance racing ! 

LMP2: Three way battle for the podium 

G-Drive Racing secured their overall and LMP2 title in a rain soaked Spa last month, when Roman Rusinov, Andrea Pizzitola and Jean-Eric Vergne scored enough points after a disastrous race for them.  Rusinov and Pizzitola claimed the drivers titles, Vergne missing out on what could have been his second title of the season due to not being able to race in Silverstone. 

Behind the 2018 champions, the battle for the remaining podium places will be fierce with 3 teams fighting for 2 spots.  Racing Engineering and IDEC Sport both scored 56 points so far and are completely tied up.  Norman Nato, Paul Petit & Olivier Pla (#24 Racing Engineering) and Memo Rojas & Paul Loup Chatin (#28 IDEC Sport) all scored the same amount of points so far.  The #24 crew mainly by winning the first race of the season in Le Castellet and with a podium in Austria, the #28 by scoring podiums in Monza and Silverstone, and finishing in the points all other races too.  Paul Lafargue will have to miss his second race in a row, still recovering from a nasty back injury which also kept him out of the car in Spa.  He will be replaced by Gabriel Aubry again. 

The third car chasing down that 2018 podium spot is the #21 Dragonspeed of Ben Hanley, Nicolas Lapierre and Hendrik Hedman.  After a disappointing start of the season, and remaining without a win so far, the American team showed some good form in the last races, scoring 50 points so far, just 6 points shy of second place.  

Further down in the standings are TDS Racing, who only raced up until the Red Bull Ring before strictly focussing on their FIA WEC entry, the #22 United Autosports Ligier of Phil Hanson and Filipe Albuquerque and the #23 Panis Barthez Competition of Julien Canal, Timothy Buret and Will Stevens.  Both Ligiers too far away though to challenge for the season’s podium.  One car is absent this weekend: the second IDEC Sport Ligier (#27).

LMP3: title showdown with 3 (or 5) teams

5 teams are mathematically still in the running for the 2018 LMP3 title and the auto invite in the LMP2 class at Le Mans next year.  On a more realistic view, the title fight is down to three cars, with the #15 RLR MSport of John Farano, Job Van Uitert and Rob Garofall in pole position after 5 of the 6 races.  With a total of 67,5 points so far, they have a lead of 14 points over Ross Kaiser and Terrence Woodward in the #6 360 Racing Ligier. Kaiser and Woodward didn’t win a race so far this season but were consistent in scoring points at every race, finishing on the podium in Monza and Spa. 

Anthony Wells, Gareth Grist and Matthew Bell in the #3 United Autosports are trailing 360 Racing with just 1 point, 15 points behind championship leaders RLR Sport.  They also still have a chance for the title, if RLR doesn’t make it to the top of the ranking on Sunday afternoon.  The #11 Eurointernational of Giorgio Mondini and Kay Van Berlo (46,75 points) and the #13 of Jakub Smiechowski and Martin Hippe (45,25 points) also could have a shot for the title, but they might have to pray for a miracle then.

As usual, there’s several driver changes to be noted in the LMP3 class.  Sean Rayhall apparently isn’t recovered fully yet and will be replaced again by Scott Andrews in the #2 United Autosports Ligier JSP3.  In the #4 Cool Racing Ligier, Iradj Alexander takes his place again after missing the deluge in Spa last month.  Another driver returning to his team is Mikkel Jensen in the #9 AT Racing of father and son Talkanitsa.  There's no sign anymore of last years Michelin Le Mans Cup winners Alexander Toril and Jean Glorieux at DKR Engineering.  The #8 Norma will be driven by Christian Vaglio, Marvin Klein and Nicolas Maulini.  Another new face in the LMP3 class is Vadim Meschcheryakov who joins James Dayson and Luca Demarchi in the #12 Eurointernational.  Romano Ricci won’t return to the #19 M.Racing-YMR Norma, his place is being taken by British driver Michael Benham who has been driving with Lanan Racing in the Michelin Le Mans Cup. 

LMGTE: The “Roda family” vs JMW and Spirit of Race

Everything is still to play for in the LMGTE class and with two auto invites for the 2019 Le Mans 24 hours the battle will be fierce and down to the wire on Sunday.  Leading the championship are father and son Gianluca and Giorgio Roda in the #88 Proton Competition Porsche.  With 80,5 points so far, they have a lead of 11,5 points over last years champions, the #66 JMW Ferrari of Miguel Molina, Alex MacDowell and Liam Griffin.  Matteo Cairoli - who also drives the #88 Porsche - has scored 70,5 points so far since he missed the race in Monza. Third in the championship, and also still in the running for the title is the #55 Spirit of Race Ferrari of Duncan Cameron, Aaron Scott and Matthew Griffin, who have a total of 67 points after 5 races. 

To secure the championship, the “Roda family” just needs to finish on the podium after Sunday’s 4 hour race.  JMW takes the title if they win and the #88 doesn’t get a podium result. The #55 Spirit of Race Ferrari also still has a shot for the title, but they need to take pole position, win the race and the #88 has to finish on 4th place or lower. Which would then give them a margin of just 1 point !! 

As said before, all to play for in Portugal this weekend, and we know from past seasons that the final race still might have some surprises up its sleeve …       

Track action will start tomorrow at 11h35 local time, with the first 90 minute free practice session.  The Bronze driver test is scheduled at 16h20 in the afternoon.  Qualifying on Saturday and the race on Sunday will be streamed live on the ELMS website ( and their social media channels.  

Pictures: Bob Ten Kley

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.