Wednesday, 13 February 2019

ELMS: Alex Brundle and Ryan Cullen to race for United Autosports in 2019

United Autosports has confirmed that Alex Brundle and Ryan Cullen will join their LMP2 team for the 2019 European Le Mans Series and pending entry confirmation, the Le Mans 24 Hours.

© United Autosports


Alex Brundle first raced for the team in 2016 when they made their European Le Mans Series debut. After scoring three wins and two further podiums, Alex was crowned 2016 ELMS LMP3 Champion alongside other LMP3 team returnees Mike Guasch and Christian England. Alex also joined the team for their Sebring 12 Hours debut last year, standing in for Bruno Senna and finishing fifth in the Ligier JS P217 with Phil Hanson and Paul Di Resta.

Ryan Cullen is new to the team but has previously tested a Ligier JS P217 prior to joining them. Last year he raced in the European Le Mans Series for the APR – Rebellion Racing team and has previously raced in the Porsche Supercup and the GP3 Series. Most recently Ryan won the LMP2 class of the Rolex 24 At Daytona. Cullen has already totalled four days of testing with United Autosports, most recently attending their Barcelona pre-season test last week alongside Filipe Albuquerque and Phil Hanson. 

© United Autosports


Ryan Cullen, driver, United Autosports:
“I’m delighted to be joining United Autosports for 2019. It’s a team with great structure and experience and the perfect place for me to grow and be competitive in ELMS.  So far everybody has been superb and very welcoming and I’m looking forward to having Alex as a teammate. Le Mans also excites me and pending an entry of course, this year will be my first time racing at Le Mans. After experiencing success last month at Daytona, the prospect of being with a front running team in my second 24-hour race is a fantastic position to be in.”

Alex Brundle, driver, United Autosports:
“I’m very excited and motivated to be racing with United Autosports in LMP2 for 2019, re-joining the team who took me to the championship title in LMP3. I can’t wait to get behind the wheel of a Ligier once more, representing a world-class outfit and my longstanding sponsors and friends at Richard Mille.”

Zak Brown, Team Owner and Chairman, United Autosports:
“Alex and Ryan will be a good combination for our LMP2 team. They are both quick and experienced drivers in the ELMS and in the LMP2 class. The competition looks set to be higher than ever in the ELMS this year but I think we have two good line ups so far. Just one more seat left to fill.”

Richard Dean, Team Owner and Managing Director, United Autosports:
“Alex is no stranger to the team and it is good to welcome him back for the 2019 season. He is a previous champion of ours so hopefully he can replicate his season in 2016 once again. Ryan has impressed us in the four days testing he has done with us so far so I am hopeful of good things from him throughout the season. I think him and Alex will make a good line up with their third as yet undecided team mate.”

ELMS: Capacity grid of 41 cars for the 2019 season

No less than 41 cars have been announced by the ACO for the 2019 European Le Mans Series, a championship that seems healthier than ever with this capacity grid.  Lots of new faces, the addition of some very experienced and talented new drivers and several new teams in the championship set the bar high for what should be a very exciting 2019 ! 


No less than 18 LMP2 cars feature on the list, a record amount of full season entries. We’ve already seen 18 (Monza, Red Bull Ring) and 19 (Le Castellet) LMP2 cars on the grid last season, but never before 18 LMP2’s have been committed to a full season entry. The LMGTE class also increases from 6 to 9 cars with the addition of 3 new teams in the class.  The addition of entries in both LMP2 and LMGTE has its effect on the LMP3 class, which loses a few entries and now has 14 cars.  Less cars but several teams with a 2 car effort and what seems an increase in quality for this season. 

LMP2

Last year’s champions G-Drive racing lead the LMP2 field with a single Oreca 07 for Roman Rusinov, Jean-Eric Vergne and LMP3 champion Job Van Uitert. No second entry this year for the Russian team which was run by Graff last year.  United Autosports return with 2 Ligier JSP217’s.  The #22 will be driven by Phil Hanson and Filipe Albuquerque who also step up to the FIA WEC in the 2019/2020 season. The #32 has a new driver line-up with Alex Brundle who returns to team and Ryan Cullen.


Algarve Pro Racing is also set for a two car effort again, although this season without support of Rebellion Racing on the second car. The Portuguese based team now fields 2 Oreca 07’s with 2 new driver line-ups.  Mark Patterson returns to the #25 Oreca and will be joined by 2018 champion Andrea Pizzitola and John Falb, the 2017 LMP3 champion who will make his debut in the LMP2 class. The #31 Oreca has a promising line-up with young and talented drivers Henning Enqvist, James French and Tacksung Kim.     

IDEC Sport returns with 2 cars, an Oreca 07 and a Ligier JSP217. The trio of Oreca drivers  (#28) remains unchanged with Paul Lafargue, Paul-Loup Chatin and Memo Rojas. In the #27 Ligier, Patrice Lafargue and Erik Maris will be joined by Stéphane Adler who has been racing in the French Porsche 911 Cup.  

The third team with a 2 car effort is Panis Barthez Compétition with the addition of a second Ligier. The crew of the #23 has already been announced with Rene Binder, Will Stevens and Julien Canal. Timothé Buret is the only driver confirmed in the #24 so far. 



Dragonspeed  is back with the #21 Oreca.  So far only Henrik Hedman has been confirmed as driver, it’s unclear if Ben Hanley will return for another season in ELMS with his debut in the Indycar series this year.  Nicolas Lapierre won’t return to the team, switching to Cool Racing. Duqueine Engineering is set for its second season in the ELMS top class with their Oreca 07. Pierre Ragues and Nicolas Jamin are still part of the team and will be joined by Richard Bradley in 2019. 

High Class Racing is set for its third season in the championship but changed from Dallara to an Oreca 07 during the winter.  Anders Fjordbach and Dennis Andersen are expected to be back in the #20, and set for a debut at Le Mans, depending on confirmation by the ACO.  Graff Racing are also back in the LMP2 class but down to one car after running the second G-Drive car back in 2018.  No change in the driver line-up for the French team with Alexandre Cougnaud, Jonathan Hirschi and Tristan Gommendy. 

4 teams are moving up the endurance ladder, and are set to make their debut in the LMP2 class, some of them with highly rated drivers. Cool Racing were one of the first to announce their intentions at the end of last season, and immediately announced Nicolas Lapierre as their lead driver. The highly experienced Lapierre will be joined by Cool Racing’s regulars Alexandre Coigny and Antonin Borga in the #37 Oreca. Inter Europol Competition is set for a busy season in the European Le Mans Series, entering not only both LMP3 cars, but for the first time also a Ligier JSP217 in the top class. Jakub Smiechowski has been announced as lead driver for the #34.



Another big name to be seen in the paddock this year is Bruno Senna who has been signed by RLR MSport for their return to the LMP2 class.  Senna will share the #43 Oreca with John Farano and Indian GP2 driver Arjun Maini.  BHK Motorsport is a rather surprising addition to the class, moving up from LMP3 with a new Oreca 07. Francesco Dracone has been announced as lead driver, with Jacopo Barratto also expected at the wheel of the Oreca.  The final team to enter this years championship is Carlin.  A well known name and big player in the motorsport world in single seaters from F4 to Indycar who will field the single Dallara on the grid. A single driver has been confirmed so far: Jack Manchester who has previous experience in Radicals and the Blancpain GT Cup. 

A few teams from last season are missing on the list.  Racing Engineering, who started the season with a win at Le Castellet last year and finished second in the championship decided not to return to the series. They have been testing at Barcelona in January with their Oreca, but seem to shift their focus to a new GT3 program. SMP Racing doesn’t return also, focussing on their LMP1 program in the World Endurance Championship, after already missing out the final 2 races of last season. Spanish team AVF by Adrian Valles also didn’t apply for an entry, after a fairly disappointing first season.  Finally there’s Cetilar Villorba Corse who will race in the FIA WEC as from next season. The Italians will race their Dallara at Monza however, on a single race entry. 

LMP3


The growth of LMP2 and GTE has its reflection on the amount of entries in the LMP3 class this season. The class is down to 14 cars this year, compared to 18 last year. Less cars and also less teams in the paddock, since several teams have doubled up their efforts with a second car. Similar to last season, it’s a battle of Ligier (10 cars) vs Norma (4 cars). 



United Autosports is set for another 2 car entry with the #2 and #3 Ligiers.  The #2 sees the return of 2016 LMP3 champions Mike Guasch and Christian England. In the #3 Canadian Garett Grist is the first confirmed driver so far. 360 Racing expands to a 2 car effort this season. James Dayson, who raced with Eurointernational last year, has been assigned to the #5 car, Terrence Woodward returns to his #6 Ligier. 

Another team doubling up is Nielsen Racing, who also races in the Asian Le Mans Series this winter, now adding a second Ligier to its garage.  The #7 for Anthony Wells and Colin Noble,  the #8 for Nobuya Yamanaka and James Littlejohn.  The fourth and final team with 2 cars on the LMP3 grid is Inter Europol Competition.  It’s going to a busy season, with a Ligier in LMP2 and two in LMP3 and the Asian LMS campaign. Martin Hippe (#13) and Paul Scheuschner (#14) are two familiar faces by now in the ELMS paddock.  



6 teams will have one car on the grid for the first race in April at Le Castellet.  RLR MSport defends its title with a complete new line-up in the #15 (Rich/Olsen/Vedel). Swiss Realteam Racing is new with a Norma (#9), but will be run by Graff Racing don’t have any cars in class under their own banner. 2 drivers have been announced for Realteam: Esteban Garcia and David Droux. Also back is the colourful Norma of Oregon Team (#10) for Damiano Fiorivanti.  


The family-run Ultimate returns with its #17 Norma, which should be driven by Mathieu and Baptiste Lahaye and Francois Heriau again. Yvan Müller’s M.Racing enters just 1 Norma this season (#19), reserved for Laurent Millara and Lucas Légeret, the third driver still to be confirmed.  Another team with 1 car less than last year is Eurointernational which now will have 1 Ligier at the start (#11) for Andrea Dromedari.  

Several teams who were expected do not appear on the list, meaning we’ll probably find them in the Michelin Le Mans Cup this year.  DKR Engineering already announced they would focus on the MLMC again. Cetilar Racing was expected in the ELMS but apparently didn’t make the cut, as Spanish SPV Racing.  Another ELMS regular from the past years which surprisingly isn’t on the list is Austrian AT Racing.   

LMGTE

Not only the LMP2 class increases in numbers, but - and this is a bit of a surprise - the LMGTE class also expands up to 9 cars. It’s a Porsche vs Ferrari battle again with the addition of a few new, but highly experienced teams in the mix the season.  



Last year’s champions Proton Competition are back with two Porsche 911 RSR’s. The #77 under the Dempsey-Proton Racing flag with Porsche factory driver Richard Lietz as designated driver and the #88 under Proton Competition for rising star Matteo Cairoli. They will be joined by 2 other Porsche teams: the #80 Ebimotors of Fabio Babini, now and Project 1 with Egidio Perfetti.  The German team expands its endurance program to the ELMS after a succesful start in their maiden season in the FIA WEC. 

5 Ferrari’s will face the competition against the Porsches. Kessel Racing won last season’s GT3 class in the Michelin Le Mans Cup and steps up to the ELMS with a 2 car effort.  The first Ferrari F488 GTE (#60) has been reserved for MLMC champion Claudio Schiavoni. The #83 will be the first ever full female driver line-up in the ELMS with Manuela Gostner, Rahel Frey and Michelle Gatting. 



Another newcomer is Luzich Racing. A young team that debuted in the GT Open championship last season, and immediately won it with Mikkel Mac. No drivers have been appointed yet, but the return of Mikkel Mac to the ELMS wouldn’t be surprising. 

The 2 remaining Ferrari’s are familiar faces in the ELMS paddock with the #55 Spirit of Race of Duncan Cameron and the #66 JMW Ferrari who was runner-up last season. The designated driver for the #66 is American Jeff Segal who has been racing in the IMSA Weathertech and Pirelli World Challenge in the past years, raced at Le Mans with JMW last season and won the GTE Am class in 2016 with Scuderia Corsa.  

Just one team from 2018 is missing on this year’s entry list: the bright green Ferrari of Krohn Racing. 

Monday, 11 February 2019

Le Mans: First 42 entries announced by the ACO. No Ginetta's in LMP1, Ford GT in GTE Am.


The first 42 entries for the 24 Hours of Le Mans have been announced today by the Automobile Club de L’Ouest. Out of a total of 75 applications to participate at the classic endurance race and finale of the 2018/2019 FIA WEC Super Season, 60 teams will be invited for the race mid-June.  The next step is scheduled on March 1st with the release of the complete official entry list for the 87th running of the race. 



With four months to go before the race, the 2019 24 Hours of Le Mans is drawing an enormous amount of interest. The Automobile Club de l’Ouest has received 75 applications for the 87th running of the greatest endurance race in the world. During a meeting last week, the 24 Hours of Le Mans Selection Committee confirmed 42 entrants. They include the 34 participants in the 2018-2019 World Endurance Championship Super Season and the eight competitors invited thanks to their results at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, in the European Le Mans Series and IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship in 2018. 

Despite earlier announcements which said 50 teams would be announced today and the remaining 10 plus 10 reserve teams on March 1st, the ACO decided only to confirm the teams racing in the FIA World Endurance Championship and auto-entries which have been taken up. The four invitations from the Asian Le Mans Series will be announced on 24 February after the final round in Sepang.  This leaves "just" 14 entries to be assigned. 



















LMP1

Toyota doesn’t take up its third entry leaving both Toyota TS050 Hybrids from the FIA WEC at the start.  They will be joined by Rebellion's R13’s, the Dragonspeed BR1, ByKolles and the 2 SMP Racing BR1’s.  As announced earlier by the team, Nathanaël Berthon replaces Mathias Beche in the #3 Rebellion. Jenson Button will make his return to the #11 SMP Racing after missing out Sebring and Spa later this season. 



The ByKolles Enso CLM P1/01 is still listed with a Nismo engine, although recent reports have hinted at a disturbed relationship between the Austrian team and Japanese manufacturer.  ByKolles will miss Sebring due to this and is believed to be on the market for a new engine supplier.  So far, only Tom Dillmann has been confirmed by the team. 

Ginetta has - unsurprisingly - disappeared from the entry list after failing to race in the FIA World Endurance Championship with the exception of Le Mans.  It was already doubtable whether we would see the Ginetta LMP1’s on track since they only turned a few laps at the prologue and “raced” at Le Mans.  Since then it all went quiet, except for an engine switch from Mecachrome to AER which hasn’t done much more than a straight line test, no on track testing at all.  And although Ginetta claims to have their prototypes ready to race “whenever a customer” turns up, apparently nobody wants to make that investment. A good call thus by the ACO by leaving these 2 entries vacant at the moment.  With just 18 entries left to be assigned, there will be more than enough teams who race in an ACO endorsed championship eagerly waiting for an invite for Le Mans.   

LMP2

In LMP2, nine cars have been confirmed today, lead by last year’s Le Mans winner Signatech Alpine and ELMS champions G-Drive.  The 7 remaining cars all compete in the FIA WEC.  



In the #26 G-Drive Racing Oreca, Roman Rusinov has been announced as the lead driver. It seems likely though that he will be joined by ELMS drivers Job Van Uitert and Jean-Eric Vergne. In the #37 Jackie Chan DC Racing - the former Malaysian backed LMP2 - only David Heinemeier Hansson has been confirmed.  Other open seats are the third drivers for Larbre Competition (Creed/Ricci) and RLR M Sport/Tower Events (Farana/Maini), the latter in need for a replacement driver for Bruno Senna who is racing with Rebellion at Le Mans. 

Expect (a lot) more LMP2 cars on March 1st when the second batch of entries will be announced, with the European Le Mans Series as main suppliers for this class. At this time there’s no Ligier on the entry list and just one Dallara (Racing Team Nederland). 

LMGTE Pro

The 10 WEC cars have been announced in the GTE Pro class so far, Porsche not taking up their auto entry from winning Le Mans last season.  There’s no sign (yet) of the IMSA GTE teams, but it’s fair to accept that at least both Corvettes (celebrating their 20th anniversary at Le Mans this year), a Risi Ferrari and possible the IMSA entries of Porsche and Ford will be added later on. 



So far, only AF Corse and Porsche have confirmed their full driver line-ups. Alessandro Pier Guidi and James Calado will have Daniel Serra with them in the #51 Ferrari, Miguel Molina joins Davide Rigon and Sam Bird in the #71.  At Porsche Fred Makowiecki completes the #91 line up with Richard Lietz and Gianmaria Bruni while Laurens Vanthoor returns to last years winning #92 of Michael Christensen and Kevin Estre.

LMGTE Am

The GTE Am class seems almost complete already with a total of 15 invited cars.  Proton Competition takes up 4 spots on the entry list: 2 cars from the WEC, and 2 auto-entries after winning the class at Le Mans last year and the ELMS GTE championship. With just 1 line-up complete (the #88 for Hoshino/Roda/Cairoli), there’s still a lot of seats to be filled for Christian Ried’s team. Patrick Long already has been assigned in the #77 Porsche 911 RSR, continuing his Le Mans streak with another year. 



ELMS runner-up JMW Motorsport returns to La Sarthe with his Ferrari and Jonny Cocker as designated driver.  Swiss team Kessel Racing is set to make its Le Mans debut after winning the 2018 Michelin Le Mans Cup.  They will enter a Ferrari 488 GTE with Francesco Schiavoni as their lead driver.   Another non-WEC entrant is the #62 Weathertech Racing Ferrari of Cooper Macneil. 

The biggest surprise is Keating Motorsport’s entry with the first Ford GT in the Am class.  Ben Keating will be joined by Jeroen Bleekemolen and Felipe Fraga, the same line-up as with the Riley AMG in the IMSA championship.  This will be Keating’s fifth Le Mans after 2 appearances in LMP2 (Oreca 03 and Riley) and GTE (Viper in 2015 and Ferrari last year).  

All other cars are the FIA WEC entrants.  All driver line-ups for those entrants are complete except for the #86 Gulf Racing Porsche with one seat left next to Michael Wainwright and Ben Barker. 


Friday, 8 February 2019

ELMS: Richard Bradley returns to the LMP2 class with Duqueine Engineering

After a first season in LMP2 category of the European Le Mans Series, Team Duqueine Engineering will their second year with a new driver line-up.


French drivers Pierre Ragues and Nicolas Jamin are still part of the Team and will be joined by Richard Bradley, winner at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2015 (Team KCMG LMP2 category). The 27-year-old British driver, who is used to performing in that category, will make the crew complete, as they are more motivated than ever and look forward to starting the season at the wheel of the Oreca 07 number 29 next April.

Yann Belhomme, Team Manager of Duqueine Engineering said "I'm delighted to see such a quality Team ready to race in LMP2 for the second year in a row. It is with great pride and motivation that Team Duqueine Engineering will start this new season of European Le Mans Series. There is no doubt that we will be a force to be reckoned with in this tough competition!"


ELMS: Nielsen Racing enters two LMP3's in the European Le Mans Series

There is a new look to Nielsen Racing in 2019 as the team have announced a two-car entry into the European Le Mans Series. The British-based team will field two LMP3 entries with Colin Noble and Tony Wells continuing their successful partnership, while James Littlejohn returns to the team and is joined by Nobuya Yamanaka in the sister entry.




“We’re delighted to be back this year in ELMS with two cars in the LMP3 class,” stated Team Manager David ‘Sven’ Thompson. “We have some very familiar faces with Colin and Tony teaming up in one car and James in the other. It’s also a pleasure to welcome Nobuya to the team and help him build on his long-term programme to compete in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. “We know the competition will be to tough but with Colin and Tony we expect to be going for podium positions in every round, while we know that James will be an excellent coach to Nobuya and that as a pairing, they will make great gains over the course of the season.”

Colin and Tony form what is expected to be an especially strong Pro-Am driver line-up. The duo currently compete together in the Asian Le Mans Series and remain in the championship battle heading to the season finale in Malaysia. Both drivers have extensive race experience with Nielsen Racing, with Colin taking the inaugural Henderson Cup LMP3 honours in 2017 and 2018 before following that up with the runner-up position in Michelin Le Mans Cup – as well as fourth in the European Le Mans Series – all under the Nielsen Racing umbrella.  Tony is no stranger to the team either, with an extensive track record in Radicals with the team before embarking on the Michelin Le Mans Cup programme in 2017 where he finished second in the championship and then teamed up with Colin to claim the British LMP3 honours.

The second LMP3 entry of James and Nobuya is also an interesting proposal. The former is currently competing in the Asian Le Mans Series, his first taste of LMP3 competition, and to date in the series after just three rounds, the Japanese gentleman driver has already claimed his first podium position. James is well-known to the Nielsen Racing team having competed with the team last year in the Michelin Le Mans Cup, finishing third overall with four podium positions. Prior to that, the British racer – who cut his teeth in single seaters – took the Radical UK Cup in 2012 and has competed in the British GT Championship with success.

Thursday, 7 February 2019

The 2020 LMP3 regulations announced by the ACO

After the introduction of the LMP3 class in 2015 by the Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO), the next generation of cars will make its competition debut in 2020. Four manufacturers have been selected to help the ACO to take the class forward. Today, the 2020 version of LMP3 has been presented with some key technical information and the introduction process in different championships. 







The LMP3 class forms the first tier of the ACO’s endurance pyramid. The class was introduced by the organisers of the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2015 and will enter its second phase in 2020. The second-generation chassis will race for five seasons; from 2020 to 2024. The entry level class has been a resounding success since its inception, with to date 170 LMP3 cars entered in various racing series all over the world. Several drivers have used the class to launch themselves on the endurance ladder, including Thomas Laurent, who won the 2016 Road to Le Mans race, took the LMP2 crown at the 2017 24 Hours of Le Mans (finishing second overall) and came third at Le Mans in 2018 in LMP1. LMP3 has als been proven very popular with amateur and gentlemen drivers. 





The backbone of the series continues to be formed by competitive cars, a top-flight sporting programme, affordable budget, a straightforward mechanical set-up and technology within everyone’s reach. LMP3 was designed as a training ground for endurance racing: an area in which drivers, team members, engineers and mechanics can hone their skills and prepare for the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the FIA World Endurance Championship.





4 manufacturers have been selected to build the new LMP3 chassis: Ligier, Duqueine Engineering (Norma Automotive), Ginetta and Adess. The new generation of LMP3 cars will be an upgrade of the manufacturers' present vehicles, so not a completely new car. An upgrade kit has been defined, covering safety as well as performance and design. As with the current generation of LMP3 cars, Oreca remains the exclusive supplier for the engine, gearbox and electronics. The engines will still be built by Nissan, who will introduce the new Nissan VK56 engine. Engine power will be increased by 35hp, up to 455 hp. The current engines (Nissan VK50 V8) will be adapted to deliver the same power and performance as the new one. This means competitors will be able to keep their current engines until they come to the end of their life cycle before investing in a new engine.  New for the class will be the introduction of traction control and a technical passport. Some safety-related changes have also been approved for the driver’s headrest structure and the driver’s seat, and Zylon side panels will be introduced.



The new regulations also stipulate the costs for either the upgrade of the current cars or a new car.  The maximum cost for the upgrade of the current engine will be € 4.900, the upgrade of the chassis (including technical passport) has been set to € 50.000. This brings out a total of € 54.900 to upgrade the current car for the 2020 season. The price of a completely new car for the 2020 season has been set to a maximum of € 239.000. A bodywork upgrade kit and mechanical modifications are also permitted, provided costs do not exceed the price of the kit indicated in the regulations.

The second generation of LMP3 cars will be introduced over 2 years/seasons: 
  • 2020 season: European Le Mans Series, Michelin Le Mans Cup, Road to Le Mans, Ultimate Cup, VdeV
  • 2020/2021 season: Asian Le Man Series
  • 2021 season: all other competitions


FIA WEC: Brendon Hartley to replace Button at SMP Racing in Sebring and Spa

Brendon Hartley will take Jenson Button's place at SMP Racing for the next two rounds of the FIA World Endurance Championship: the 1000 miles of Sebring and 6 Hours of Spa. Hartley returns to the FIA WEC after leaving Porsche at the end of 2017 and 2 seasons in Formula 1 with Red Bull Racing. 




The 29 year old driver from New Zealand will join Vitaly Petrov and Mikhail Aleshin in the #11 SMP Racing BR1. Jenson Button isn't able to race in Sebring and Spa due to commitments in the Japanese Super GT championship.  He is expected to return to the team for the 24 Hours of Le Mans.  Hartley has also been confirmed as one of four Ferrari development drivers and is still one of Porsche's factory drivers. 

“I’m very pleased to join SMP Racing for the next two WEC races at Sebring and Spa. The team have all the tools and a great driver roster so I think we have a big opportunity to fight for podiums. It marks my return to the WEC and I’m really looking forward to being back in the paddock amongst many familiar faces” said Hartley.

Boris Rotenberg, SMP Racing founder and leader is delighted to have Hartley on board with SMP Racing. “We welcome Brendon as part of our line-up in the World Endurance Championship. He is a very strong driver, with extensive experience: he won the FIA WEC twice, and the 24 Hours of Le Mans. We are sure that our joint team will make a great contribution to the future victories. I think it will be interesting for Brendon to drive behind the wheel of our new Russian sport prototype BR1 and compete with rivals in the highest class LMP1.”

ELMS: IDEC Sport returns to ELMS with 2 cars in LMP2

IDEC Sport announced their 2019 racing plans yesterday, with their priority on the European Le Mans Series again.  The French team of Patrice Lafargue will once again compete with two cars in the LMP2 class: an Oreca with a top grade line-up and a Ligier reserved for gentlemen drivers. 



The trio of Oreca drivers remains unchanged with Paul Lafargue, Paul-Loup Chatin and Memo Rojas. An unchanged driver line-up for the #28 car, building onto their experience from last season in which they finished third in the championship. Expectations are high for the team in 2019, striving to do even better.  “I’m really pleased that the three of us can continue. Our trio worked well last year and we really built up something. Things are really coming together,” says Paul Lafargue. “I hope we will perform as well as last year, or even better, and that we will once again be aiming for a great result at the end of the season. We are feeling confident.”

In the Ligier, Patrice Lafargue and Erik Maris will be joined by Stéphane Adler, an IDEC SPORT driver in the Porsche 991 Cup, who will be making his debut in LMP2. “Patrice (Lafargue) has been talking to me about the P2 for a while. It took time for the idea to grow and then, I took the decision. These are cars we dream of. Even if I spent six or seven years with the CN prototype, I still feel apprehensive. But I’m there to enjoy myself and we’re all here to have fun,” explained Stéphane Adler. “I started to prepare myself with tests in LMP3 in Barcelona and Portimao. It is something new for me to be in a closed prototype, which is as heavy as this and with so much power. But it is enjoyable to drive. And when I think that it is going to be even faster in LMP2… We have four days of private trials planned at Le Castellet before the start of the season. It’s a huge challenge to be in such a competitive championship. I love that.”



While the main effort remains the ELMS, the pinnacle of the season will of course be the 87th edition of the Le Mans 24-Hour Race. Patrice Lafargue’s goal is to see both cars lining up at the start of the 24 hour race on 15th and 16th June, and to be sharing the enjoyment in Le Mans once again with his son, but this time with each of them in their own car. “IDEC SPORT got off to a humble start in the ELMS without registering for the Le Mans 24-Hour Race. We entered with one car in 2017 and got an excellent result. We stepped up our performance in 2018, once again with one car and I think that the ACO feels confident about IDEC SPORT. I think that should be noticed,” stressed Paul-Loup Chatin, the LMP2 driver in pole position in the 2018 Le Mans 24-Hour Race.

Wednesday, 6 February 2019

ELMS: Arjun Maini completes RLR Msport line-up in LMP2

Indian driver Arjun Maini joins Bruno Senna and John Farano in the RLR Msport Oreca 07 this season in the European Le Mans Series and the Le Mans 24 Hours. 





















21 year old Arjun Maini raced in the Formula 2 championship last season with Trident Racing.  He finished 16th in the championship, his best results in Baku and Monaco with a fifth place finish. In 2017 he became the first Indian driver to win a race in the GP3 series in Barcelona.  Since May 2017 he is also one of Haas F1 development drivers.  

Maini is now set to broaden his horizons and divert his attention from open-wheeled competition to endurance sportscar racing, as he will join RLR MSport for the 87th edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans on 15-16 June and a full season in the European Le Mans Series (ELMS).  He will share the RLR MSport-prepared ORECA with ex-F1 star Bruno Senna and Canadian gentleman racer John Farano in the European Le Mans Series, although other commitments will force Senna to relinquish his seat at Le Mans, and his replacement will be announced before the Automobile Club de l’Ouest reveals the 2019 entry on 11 February.

“I’m extremely excited to make my endurance racing debut this year in the European Le Mans Series,” said Maini. “The highlight of the year will surely be the race at Le Mans and I’m hoping I can do my country proud as it is one of the most prestigious events in motor racing. It is imperative for anyone to succeed to be backed by a strong team and I think the team at RLR MSport will provide the perfect environment for me to perform at my very best, especially considering I will be racing in a category I have no prior experience in. Given that they are the reigning ELMS LMP3 Champions, the expectations for the 2019 season will be quite high and I’m looking forward to the challenges that lie ahead.”

RLR MSport Director of Motorsport Operations, Nick Reynolds: “RLR MSport’s return to the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the European Le Mans Series’ headlining LMP2 class is an important milestone for the team and we feel it’s absolutely imperative to maximise our chances of achieving great results by recruiting the best drivers. Arjun Maini has shown a great deal of innate speed during his illustrious single-seater career and his talent is unquestionable. I’m certain his transition to prototypes will be a successful one and that he will give a positive contribution to RLR MSport’s 2019 programme at Le Mans and throughout the European Le Mans season.”

Tuesday, 5 February 2019

Historics: 4 more reasons why the Amelia concours is worth a visit in March


Last Sunday, we gave you a few good reasons to plan a visit to the Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance next March.   But there's a lot more to look forward to on March 10th: from "Cars of the Rock Stars" with John Oates over Volkswagen coachbuilders to a striking mid-engine Corvette prototype from 1973.






Cars of the Rock Stars

The Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance will partner with Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, John Oates, to celebrate the relationship between the automobile and the guitar. Cars and Guitars will center on vehicles and instruments from John's personal collection. The display will allow fans unprecedented access to the guitars Oates has played onstage with the best-selling rock duo of all time, Hall & Oates. 



"Throughout my life I have always had two major passions: Driving cars and playing guitars. Both the machine and the instrument are paragons of inspired and purposeful design. Both tell their unique story historically and culturally. Both have their roots in the late 19th century, evolving and continuing to fascinate and excite through the 20th and now into the 21st centuries," said Oates. "I'm very proud to have the opportunity to collaborate and curate this unique collection with Chris Brewer and the Amelia Island folks...we hope you enjoy it."

Additionally, The Amelia will gather a small number of historically-significant vehicles previously or currently owned by musicians. John will work with The Amelia to pair each vehicle with a carefully selected guitar for the “Cars of the Rock Stars” field.

It doesn’t end with just the cars of the rockstars this year, as Cincinanati based artist David Snyder has painted a one-of-a-kind Fender Stratocaster guitar for the “Cars of the Rock Stars” class.  David Snyder started drawing cars, airplanes and trains at the age of six. His passion for transportation history continues today. Snyder has displayed his artwork at The Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance since 2004. 



This Cars of the Rock Stars Fender Stratocaster features automobiles owned or closely associated with successful musicians . The headstock is inspired by the hood of Janis Joplin’s 1964 Porsche 356C. Other highlights include the 1959 Chevrolet Stingray Racer driven by Elvis Presley and a Porsche 911 GT3-R customized to celebrate the music and instruments of Eddie Van Halen. Of special significance are two of John Oates’ personal vehicles that will be displayed at Sunday’s Concours. To the left of where the neck joins the body is John’s 1959 MGA Twin-Cam Roadster, on the right is John’s 1960 Porsche 356 Emory Special Cabriolet.  

The Cars of the Rock Stars Fender Stratocaster guitar will be sold on March 9, 2019 during the RM Sotheby’s Amelia Island auction to support The Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance Foundation, a 501(c)3 charity. The non-profit foundation supports North Florida-based charities and has donated more than $3.45 million since 1996.

The Mercedes-Benz 500k - 540k

A remarkable and special class that will take center stage on March 10th will be the Mercedes-Benz 500k - 540k. Both cars descend from the mighty Mercedes-Benz SSK, winner of the brutal 1931 Mille Miglia. The 500K was a superstar and supercar from its first moments at its introduction at the 1934 Berlin Auto Show. From 1934 through 1939 500K - 540K-series Mercedes was the ultimate super car, long before the term had been coined. The “sheer insolence of its power” made it “a master car for the very few,” according to British enthusiasts’ magazines.  



It was the age of the all-conquering Silver Arrows racing cars and the ruthless and relentless technological overkill that spawned them. There was even an Indy 500 project on paper in the Rennabteilung, Mercedes-Benz’s fabled racing division. It now seems inevitable that some of the energy, glamour, power, speed and technology that went into the Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Champions of the 1930s would find its way into the marquee 500K and 540K as the decade came to an end.

A supercharged 5.4 liter straight-eight engine ultimately delivered 180 horsepower making a “an almost demonic howl” mirroring the straight-eight engineering format of the W125 racing car that dominated the 1937 Grand Prix season.  Just 354 500Ks were created from 1934-1936 and 319 540Ks were built from 1936 through 1939; but only for those fortunate enough to be able to pay the equivalent of $5,000 for the privilege.

“Mercedes 500K and 540K-series were cars designed and built without compromise,” says Bill Warner, founder and Chairman of the Amelia IslandConcours d’Elegance. “They were the essence of what would come to be called ‘grand touring’ cars. These cars made Karl Benz’s immortal quote, ‘the best or nothing at all’ a commandment, not a slogan. We have assembled a mouthwatering class of 500Ks and 540Ks. This will undoubtedly be one of our ‘destination classes’,” said Warner. “Knowledgeable enthusiasts will enter the 2019 Amelia Concours show field and head straight for this class!”

70 years Volkswagen Bug in America

Another 70th anniversary is the arrival of the VW Bug in America. To acknowledge that, the Amelia concours will highlight an overlooked segment of Europe’s “carrosserie” culture with a class of custom coachwork Volkswagen “Bugs”. This will be one of the classes to watch out for, as there have been several surprising and very elegant custom built coachwork VW’s produced; not only in Europe but also in the States.  The perfect fodder for an Amelia Concours special class said founder Bill Warner. 



Jacksonville has played a role in the VW saga thanks to local import car industry Hubert Brundage, the “BRU” in Brumos. His name will always be associated with Jacksonville where he also created the Brumos Porsche Car Corp. 

Mid-engine sports car showcase

A striking mid-engine Corvette prototype will be featured as a part of the 2019 Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance’s Mid-Engine sports car class. The display is also scheduled to include examples from DeTomaso, Ferrari and Lamborghini.

The 1973 Chevrolet Corvette XP-897 GT was one of two mid-engine Corvette prototypes designed by General Motors Styling Division to promote the smooth and high revving Wankel Rotary engine. The rotary was intended to power GM passenger cars from 1976, so both cars were shown at the major worldwide auto shows from September 1973 to April 1974. Unfortunately the rotary Wankel engine proved to be both thirsty and polluting compared to the conventional piston-in-cylinder engine so the simultaneous gasoline shortage and strict Federal emission legislation sealed its fate.  

Photo courtesy of GM


After the last show appearance in Europe the XP-897 GT lost the rotary engine and was sealed in a plywood case and stored at the British GM Division Vauxhall Motors Design Centre in Bedford, England. Scheduled to be crushed in the early 1980s, it was rescued by Corvette author Tom Falconer with the assistance of then GM Head of Design, Chuck Jordan, and has been displayed in Kent, England until recently.

On March 10, 2019, the XP-897 GT will be displayed alongside a recently-acquired 1973 GM rotary engine at The 24th Annual Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance. 

The Amelia will be held March 7-10, 2019 at The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island and The Golf Club of Amelia Island. For the Amelia’s full events schedule, including Saturday’s Cars & Coffee at the Concours and Sunday’s premier Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance, visit www.ameliaconcours.org

FIA WEC: 2 new driver crews for Rebellion at Sebring

Rebellion Racing announced a second revised driver crew for the 1000 miles of Sebring next month. 

© Rebellion Racing


André Lotterer will be expectionally be replaced by Mathias Beche in the #1 Rebellion R13 in March.  Lotterer won't be able to attend the race in Florida due to a simulator test with his team in Formula E on the same dates.  For the German driver this will be the first race ever he will miss in the FIA World Endurance Championship. Christian Ried (Dempsey Proton Competition) now remains as the sole driver who has been racing in every round of the WEC since its inception.

Earlier, Nathanaël Berthon was announced as a new driver in the #1 car together with Thomas Laurent and Gustavo Menezes.  Beche now switches from the #3 to the #1 car. 

The ACO and GreenGT launch the creation of the H24Racing team

The Automobile Club de l’Ouest and GreenGT are delighted to announce the creation of H24Racing team, as part of MissionH24.  H24Racing is the brainchild of GreenGT and the ACO, the partners behind MissionH24, the project to race a hydrogen-electric prototype which will lead the way to the mobility of the future.


In 2024, a new class of hydrogen-powered cars will compete at the 24 Hours of Le Mans alongside combustion engine cars. Work is already under way at the ACO to introduce the exciting all-new class of cars in top-level endurance racing. Details will be revealed in due course. Once again, the ACO proves that Endurance is a formidable testing ground for sustainable development.

Pierre Fillon, President of the Automobile Club de l’Ouest: 
"A new team spells excitement, enthusiasm, expectancy and promise. I have to admit a sense of fulfilment in announcing the arrival of H24Racing. With this team, we are making our project real. GreenGT’s accomplishments in research, development and implementation in fuel cell technology are unprecedented. Last September, the ACO and GreenGT launched MissionH24, to promote hydrogen power and zero-emission solutions and draw attention to how fast this energy is progressing. The aura of Le Mans will help raise the profile of the technology. 

H24Racing is the result of the ACO-GreenGT partnership. With this team, our joint venture becomes a truly sporting endeavour with a tangible demonstration of our intentions. We’ll be putting our new technology to the test, on track, pitting it against other fuels and power trains. The realisation that 2024 is just around the corner and the 24 Hours of Le Mans will soon have a hydrogen car on the grid is particularly gratifying. But, make no mistake, we are well aware that this is just the beginning of an immense challenge. Today H24 Racing is setting out on a long journey."


























Christophe Ricard, president of GreenGT:
"As president of GreenGT, my role is to define our game plan. We engineer high-power electric-hydrogen powertrains, an alternative to more traditional locomotion technology. With the sudden interest in hydrogen, we saw that our “high-power” approach needed to become “high-density power” given that it was no longer a question of kilowatts per motorised unit, but more a question of optimising the balance between weight, bulk and power. What better way to demonstrate this technology than on a racing track! That’s why GreenGT joined the ACO in this new endeavour, which combines endurance and sustainable performance, technology and emotion.

I would particularly like to thank the ACO and its president Pierre Fillon who has believed in GreenGT since our project was still in its infancy, who saw that we could rise to this challenge and gave us this unrivalled testing ground."

Gérard Neveu, CEO of FIA WEC and ELMS:
"Endurance racing broke the mould in 2012, when the FIA World Endurance Championship first included hybrid prototypes. This discipline is a pioneer. Today with MissionH24 and H24Racing, the ACO and GreenGT bring hydrogen to the sporting world, and our series and championships take on a whole new dimension. They are the testing ground, the launch pad for MissionH24, the way towards the introduction of hydrogen-powered cars at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2024. Today, we are racing to the future."

Jean-Michel Bouresche, General Manager of H24Racing:
Le Mans 2024 is just five seasons away. Five seasons in which H24Racing will be racing over mid and long distances, putting the LMPH2G and its electric-hydrogen technology through its paces. Fitted with GreenGT’s high-power electric-hydrogen energy module, the car is entering the second stage of development now that the technical configuration has been defined. From now on, we are looking for performance, speed and endurance. The third stage, which begins later this year, is the competition phase where the LMPH2G takes on its first opponents under the new H24Racing banner. We shall be writing the future of the automotive world.

Sunday, 3 February 2019

Historics: The 2019 Amelia Concours d'Elegance celebrates Jacky Ickx, the Porsche 962 and so much more


Scheduled for March 8th to 10th 2019, the weekend ahead of "Super Sebring"', The Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance is the perfect event to pass by if you're in Florida and to start off an extraordinary race week.  The 2019 honoree and celebration of the 35th anniversary of one the most iconic cars to race at Le Mans are just 2 reasons to stop by on March 10th.  We'll give you an overview of what to expect at Amelia Island next month, starting with some of the classes dedicated to motorsport. 

The Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance is now in its third decade and has become one of the best and most accessible concours over the world. Every year chairman Bill Warner and his team draws more than 300 race vehicles from collections all over the world to The Golf Club of Amelia Island, The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island for a celebration of the automobile like no other.

First and foremost there this year’s Honoree: Monsieur Le Mans, Jacky Ickx.  The now 74 year old Belgian Grand Prix, Sportscar and Rally-raid driver needs no real further introduction. 



"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."

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.

Jaguar XK120

Jacky Ickx isn’t the only “Belgian connection” at Amelia this year since the record breaking Jaguar XK120 will also be honoured in March. Exactly 70 years ago, on May 30 1949, Jaguar set a speed record on a Belgian highway, between Ostend and Jabbeke. A standard XK120 broke all local records with a speed over the 2 way mile of 126.448 mph (with screen and top erect), and an even more impressive 133.283 mph (with screen and top removed). 

Photo courtesy of Jaguar Land Rover Limited

The XK120 became the fastest production car of the world, with a price tag of £ 1,000. Clark Gable got the first one to arrive in the States and had his second one customised by George Barris.  Its’s this car that will be the “Hollywood star” of the XK120 class which will commemorate the 70th anniversary of the X120’s coronation as the record setting “fastest production car in the world”. 

The Porsche 962 dynasty

The Porsche 962 celebrates its 35th anniversary this year, so it’s no surprise that one of the greatest and most accomplished sports racing cars of all time will be celebrated at the Amelia Concours. 

In American IMSA competition alone the Porsche 962 won 54 races (15 of 16 in 1985) and both the Drivers’ and Manufacturers’ Championships in 1985, ’86, ’87 and ’88. Ten years after its American debut a GT version of the 962 won the 24 Hours of Le Mans; the third Le Mans victory for the 962 and the 13th for Porsche. 



The user friendly 962 enjoyed an unusually long competition life playing the role of “the car of the stars.” It was raced by many marquee names from diverse motorsport disciplines. Besides the Andrettis, father and son Indy 500 winners Al Unser Senior and Junior both raced the 962 with conspicuous success. “Big Al”, “The Amelia’s” 2017 honoree, won the Rolex 24 at Daytona in Preston Henn’s 962. AJ Foyt shared that Daytona victory in 1985 and scored the final professional victory of his illustrious career at Sebring that year in the same 962. Al Unser Junior notched back-to-back Rolex 24 wins with Holbert Racing’s 962 in 1986 and ‘87. Three-time CART Champion and Indy 500 winner Bobby Rahal -- “The Amelia’s” 2011 Honoree -- logged three IMSA victories with the 962 during 1987. 

By its fifth season the 962 set one of the most extraordinary records in motorsport. With victory in the Rolex 24 at Daytona in 1986 and ’87 plus Le Mans wins in 1986 and ‘87, Derek Bell, Al Holbert and the 962 were undefeated in 96 hours of the world’s most prestigious endurance races covering a marathon 11,280.542 miles; an unmatched record and a tribute to the design, strength, reliability, durability and pace of the 962.

In 1991 Hurley Haywood, “The Amelia’s” 1998 Honoree, scored his record-setting fifth Rolex 24 at Daytona victory in Reinhold Joest’s 962 seven years after the model’s debut! From its first IMSA GTP checkered flag at Mid-Ohio in 1984 through its final win in Belgium in 1999, Porsche’s 962 logged 142 victories and won 35 international championships.

Indy's revolutionary innovations

More motorsport in the spotlights at the Concours this year with the 110th anniversary of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The brilliant and radical ideas and the ground breaking cars that helped revolutionize America’s great race will be highlighted. From its earliest days the “500” was the cradle of innovation and the nursery of famous, sometimes obscure and occasionally infamous cars that drove the Indy 500 to become not just “the greatest spectacle in racing” but the most important auto race in the world.

1926 Miller 91ci Front Drive. Photo Courtesy of The Brumos Collection


Speed has always been the ultimate goal and the defining virtue of the cars that raced at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Indy’s ceaseless technological innovations dated to the days before World War I when a Grand Prix Peugeot showed the sport the way forward with its seminal high-revving dohc four-valve engine. It ended the age of the behemoth, bringing science and fresh technology to Indy’s pursuit of speed.

The brilliant DOHC four valve Peugeot begat the exquisite Millers and the mighty Offenhauser that reigned at Indy from 1935 finally surrendering its crown after its 28th “500” victory in 1976. Across three decades -- 1931 through 1952 -- Diesel power, as epitomized by the 1934 Cummins 2-stroke Diesel defied and defeated not only Indy convention but draconian fuel consumption rules in 1934. Cummins Diesel power went on to claim Indy’s coveted pole position in 1952. By then the “500” had changed speed, shape and style through the Miller front wheel drive era of the 1920s through 1949, the birth of the Roadster in 1952, the rear engine invasion of the 1960s with the introduction of Formula 1 technology and the arrival of Formula 1 World Champions Cooper and Lotus. Ground effects arrived at Indy from Formula 1 in 1979 and, as in 1961, everything changed with speeds climbing steeply.

Some innovations came too far too fast turning Indy’s engineering and design orthodoxy inside out. Turbine engines twice came close to Indy’s victory lane, none with more engineering flair than the Lotus four-wheel-drive Type 56 that, in 1968, retired from the lead less than 23 miles from the richest payday in motorsport. A year after Jim Hall’s Chaparral 2K became the first Indy 500 ground effects winner Dan Gurney’s radical stock-block Chevy V-8 Eagle BLAT -- Boundary Layer Adhesion Technology -- blew established ground effects doctrine apart, started from the front row of the “500” with a stock-block Chevy V-8 engine and a week later won the Milwaukee 150-miler from that last row. It was promptly legislated out of existence.

Al Unser, Jr drives the Penske-Mercedes PC 23 to victory at Indy in 1994. Photo courtesy of Daimler/Mercedes-Benz.


Indy’s radical game changers got their ultimate revenge a quarter century ago when a new rulebook was written to lure major car manufacturers to the “500” with generous specifications for turbocharged stock block pushrod engines. Penske Racing’s brain trust read those rules with extraordinary care and the Penske-Mercedes PC 23 powered by the mega-horsepower Mercedes-Benz 500I V-8 was the result. It was such a leap that the 1,000-plus horsepower Mercedes 500I “pushrod” turbo V-8 became known as “The Beast”. It dominated the entire “Month of May”, upset Indy’s status quo and was, as the turbines and Dan Gurney’s BLAT Eagle before it, banned.
                                     
To those who live for Indy’s Month of May the “500” is the one race worth any cost. As race car technology advances the sanctioning bodies in some forms of motorsport have struggled to reduce speeds and expense in the name of fairness, economy and competition. To many of the brilliant, brave and creative people who design, build and drive Indy Cars such behavior is a kind of perverse technological sacrilege that is at odds with the vision of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s founders, the thousands who have raced there and the millions who, across two centuries, have cheered them at “the greatest spectacle in racing.”

Friday, 1 February 2019

ELMS: Female driver line-up for Kessel Racing in GTE

Kessel Racing will enter the first ever women-only driver line-up with a Ferrari 488 GTE to compete in the 2019 European Le Mans Series. 

© jellybaby.media


Italian Manuela Gostner (34), Swiss Rahel Frey (32) and Danish Michelle Gatting (26) will share a Ferrari F488 GTE in the series as from the testdays at Paul Ricard in April.  The three women are no strangers to eachother as they raced together in the Abu Dhabi 12 Hours past December, finishing sixth overall and second in the Am class. 

This renewed participation in the ELMS was made possible, once again, thanks to Deborah Mayer. Driven by her passion for cars, challenges and the will to conceive something new and innovative in motorsport, Mayer commented:"I'm very happy and proud to be leading this project. It's the start of a wonderful and lasting adventure." The team’s participation is in line with the strategy of the FIA Women in motorsport.  

© Kessel Racing


Kessel Racing will also field a second Ferrari GTE which will be driven by Claudio Schiavone, Andrea Piccini and Sergie Pianezzola.

After winning the 2018 Michelin Le Mans Cup title in GT3 with Giacomo Piccini and Sergio Pianezzola, the team has also earned an auto entry for the 24 Hours of Le Mans in the GTE Am class. Whether this entry will feature a full female line-up is still unclear at the moment.  If so, there is a chance we might see 2 female driver line-ups in June as it is believed that Michael Shank Racing might apply for an entry in the Am class with their Daytona drivers.