Saturday 20 July 2019

ELMS: IDEC Sport and G-Drive set the pace in a warm and sunny Barcelona

G-Drive Racing in the afternoon and IDEC Sport in the evening/night session set the pace in Barcelona on Friday at the Circuit de Catalunya. Clouds and sunshine in Barcelona this afternoon, with temperatures reaching close to 30° all day while it never really cooled down and the evening session was driven under a very pleasant 24°.  

A lap of 1.34.242 early in the afternoon session was enough for Jean-Eric Vergne to claim the top spot in his #26 Aurus 01. Nico Lapierre in the #37 Cool Racing Oreca 07 was second fastest, just 0.15 seconds behind the double Formula E champion.  Anders Fjordbach really starts to feel at home now in the Oreca 07, setting the third-fastest time of the session in 1.34.456, just 2 tenths of a second shy of Vergne.

Rounding out the top 5 were Ben Hanley in the #21 Dragonspeed (1.34.729) and Ben Barnicoat in the #45 Carlin Dallara (1.34.860), the first non-Oreca on the timetable.  Alex Brundle followed in the #32 United Autosports Ligier in sixth position.  The first nine cars finished within a second this afternoon. 

In LMP3 it was Mikkel Jensen who set the pace again after winning the Monza round, with a time of 1.41.486 in the #11 Eurointernational Ligier JSP3.  Damiano Fioravanti set the #10 Oregon Team Norma M30 on second place, just over 1.2 seconds slower than Jensen.  Third fastest was another Norma; the #17 Ultimate of Matthieu Lahaye (1.42.882). Ross Kaiser in the #5 360 Racing and Nigel Moore in the #13 Inter Europol Competition Ligier completed the top 5. 

Ferrari took control of the LMGTE class with the #60 Kessel Racing F488 on top, driven by Andrea Piccini (1.44.721).  WEC GTE Am champion Jörg Bergmeister put the #56 Team Project 1 Porsche on second place, just over half a second slower than Piccini.  In third spot was the #77 Dempsey-Proton Porsche of Matteo Cairoli (1.45.315), followed by the Ferrari’s of Luzich Racing (#51) and JMW (#66). 

The session was red-flagged 2 times: early in the session due to debris on track and right before the end when Ben Hanley got off track in the #21 Dragonspeed Oreca 07.  3 cars didn’t make it out for the first practice session: both United Autosports LMP3’s and the #7 Nielsen Racing LMP3. 

The second session of the day started right after sunset and saw the cars driving into the darkness.  A first for the European Le Mans Series, but very well received by teams, drivers and media. 

Paul Loup Chatin in the #28 IDEC Sport Oreca set the pace last night with a laptime of 1.34.359, which was only 0.117 of a second slower than Vergne’s quickest lap in the afternoon. Ben Hanley in the #21 Dragonspeed was second fastest in 1.35.018, followed by Arjun Maini in the #43 RLR Msport. 

Filipe Albuquerque in the #22 United Autosport Ligier was the first non-Oreca driver in fourth place, 1.377 seconds behind the leader. Ben Barnicoat was fastest again in the Carlin Dallara, putting him on sixth place by the end of the session. 

Norma was quickest in LMP3 with Yann Ehrlacher on top in his #19 M Racing M30, with a laptime of 1.43.331. Mikkel Jensen followed in the #11 Eurointernational Ligier, just under half a second behind the Frenchman. Wayne Boyd in the #2 United Autosports Ligier went third fastest in 1.43.888, followed by the #17 Ultimate Norma. 

The #10 Team Oregon Norma must have hit trouble somewhere as it only managed 4 laps with Damiano Fioravanti at the wheel. 

Matt Griffin was very quick in the #55 Spirit of Race Ferrari, 1.45.421 his best time, right in the mix with the fastest LMP3 drivers. Nicklas Nielsen in the #51 Luzich Racing Ferrari F488 was a close second, only 0.079 seconds behind Griffin.  Michelle Gatting was a strong third in the # 83 Kessel Racing Ferrari 1:45.916. Matteo Cairoli was (once again) the fastest Porsche driver in fourth position. 

Qualifying is set for 10h40 Saturday morning, the start of the race into dusk will be given at 18h30. 

Kristof Vermeulen. 

Thursday 18 July 2019

The ELMS races into the night at Barcelona this weekend

For the first time since 2009, a Le Mans Series race will be held at the Circuit the Catalunya near Barcelona this weekend.  The 4 Hours of Barcelona take the place of the Red Bull Ring on which the ELMS have raced from 2013 to last year.  

For the first time since 2013, when the 4 Hours of Le Castellet raced into dusk, the European Le Mans Series will race into the night.  With the race starting at 18h30, 41 cars will race into sunset and - for the first time in the series - into the dark.  A nice addition to the schedule and something to really look forward to on Saturday evening. 


G-Drive Racing arrives in Barcelona leading the championship after 2 races with a total of 38 points. Newly crowned Formula E champion Jean-Eric Vergne joins the team for the first time in the ELMS this year after missing out Le Castellet and Monza due to a clash with his Formula E commitments.  

Second in the championship so far is the #28 IDEC Sport crew of Paul Lafargue, Paul Loup Chatin and Memo Rojas with 36 points. 10 points further down, in third place, is the #21 Dragonspeed of Henrik Hedman & James Allen. Ben Hanley is 1 point down on his teammates as he didn’t race in Monza in May.  It appears Hanley won’t race in Barcelona either, with Renger Van Der Zande on the entry list. 

Léo Roussel is still recovering from his injuries after his crash at Monza, and will be replaced by Adrian Tambay in the #34 Inter Europol Competition Ligier JPSP2. Mark Patterson is also still recovering from his shunt at Monza. Olivier Pla will take the wheel of the #25 Algarve Pro Racing for the remaining races of the 2019 season.  In the #27 IDEC Sport Ligier, Frenchman William Cavailhes is taking the place of Erik Maris. 


15 entries will race in the highly competitive LMP3 class, lead by championship leaders Jens Petersen and Mikkel Jensen in the #11 Eurointernational with 43 points.  Inter Europol Competition also had a strong start of the season with Martin Hippe & Nigel Moore on second place, 10 points behind the leaders. Paul Ricard winners Ultimate are third so far. 

ACE1 Villorba Corse makes its debut in the ELMS with the #18 Ligier, driven by Yuki Harata, Alessandro Bressan and Gabriele Lancieri  This new endurance project is the result of a partnership between Villorba Corse with Yuki Harata’s ACE1 Team. Villorba Corse has run the Cetilar Racing LMP3 and LMP2 project in the past years in the ELMS and at Le Mans and returns to the European Le Mans Series with a lot experience. 

The #7 Nielsen Racing is back on the entry list after a big shunt in Monza.  Nicholas Adcock replaces Nobuyu Yamanaka and joins James Littlejohn in the Ligier JSP3. One of the teams to look out for will be  360 Racing with the #5 Ligier.  The team struggled with setup and top speed in the first 2 races of the season, but seem to be back into their usual form after a few intensive test sessions after Monza. 


8 cars are on the LMTE entry list, equally divided between 4 Ferrari 488 GTE EVO’s and 4 Porsche 911 RSR’s.  The #88 Proton Competition Porsche is absent (again) on the entry list for Barcelona.  After racing in the stunning Felbermayr livery at Paul Ricard, it was withdrawn from Monza and unfortunately, it seems like the team didn’t find any drivers for this race too.

Dempsey Proton Racing does arrive at Barcelona as championship leaders; Christian Ried, Riccardo Pera and Matteo Cairoli collecting 42 points in the first 2 races of the season.  The #  Ferrari of Alessandro Pier Guidi, Fabien Lavergne and Nicklas Nielsen follows close with 40 points. 10 points further down is the JMW Ferrari driven by Jeffrey Segal, Matteo Cressoni & Wei Lu. 

2 driver changes are to be noted in the GTE class: WEC champions Egidio Perfetti and Jörg Bergmeister will be joined by David Heinemeier Hansson in the #56 Project 1 Porsche. The Danish driver replacing Giorgio Roda who raced with the team in the ELMS so far this season.  In the #80 Ebimotors Porsche, Edward-Lewis Brauner replaces Sébastien Fortuna. 

There's some good news for the fans of the JMW Le Mans livery: the team has decided to have it on their Ferrari 488 for the remainder of the season ! 


Due to the race being driven on Saturday, there’s only a 2-day schedule for the 4 Hours of Barcelona.  Track action starts Friday afternoon with the first 90-minute practice session at 14h30 and night practice at 21h30.  Qualifying is scheduled for Saturday morning from 10h40 onwards.  The 4-hour race “into the night” will be green flagged at 18h30. 

Live streaming is available on the ELMS website from qualifying on. Club Arnage will have its usual live feed on twitter, reports and pictures over the course of the weekend. 

Kristof Vermeulen. 

Saturday 6 July 2019

FIA WEC: Porsche presents its redesigned 911 RSR at Goodwood

Porsche puts its faith in the brand-new 911 RSR (2019 model year) to defend the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) title. The race car complying with the FIA GTE regulations is a completely new development.

The vehicle from Weissach has undergone improvements in all areas and will replace the successful 911 RSR with which Porsche won the manufacturers’ and drivers’ world championship in the FIA WEC as well as the Le Mans 24 Hours and the IMSA races at Sebring and Road Atlanta amongst other events in 2019.

In developing the new Porsche 911 RSR, substantial insights were garnered and adopted from the extremely successful race outings of its predecessor. “Since 2017 the 911 RSR has yielded us more than 20 class wins in the world championship as well as at long-distance series in North America and Europe. Our job in development was to make a very good car even better. The engineers at Weissach have perfectly implemented this in every aspect,” says Fritz Enzinger, Vice President Porsche Motorsport.
“We never rest on our laurels,” explains Pascal Zurlinden, Director GT Factory Motorsport. “We’ve extensively analysed all factory and customer campaigns with the Porsche 911 RSR. Our engineers noticed room for improvement in a number of areas. We have made significant progress in the development of our car for the next three-year homologation period, especially in the complex areas of driveability, efficiency, durability and serviceability. Ninety-five percent of the car is new. The only components that we’ve kept unchanged from the predecessor are the headlights, brake system, clutch, driver’s seat and parts of the suspension. Tests so far have run excellently. We’re already looking forward to the first races of the 2019/2020 FIA WEC season.”

New flat engine with larger displacement
In terms of the drivetrain, Porsche remains faithful to its chosen path. The latest nine- eleven is also powered by a six-cylinder naturally aspirated engine. The highly efficient boxer unit positioned in front of the rear axle has a capacity of 4,194 cc and – depending on the size of the restrictor – produces around 515 hp. The new power unit is the largest ever boxer engine to be mounted in a Porsche 911 ex-works, and offers even better driveability over a wider rev-band compared to the predecessor’s proven four- litre aggregate. Power is delivered to the rear wheels via a weight-optimised, more rigid sequential six-speed constant-mesh gearbox. The new powertrain in the Porsche 911 RSR ensures faster gear-shift times and increased efficiency. The two exhaust pipes now exit on each side in front of the rear wheels. The new exhaust gas ducting saves weight and is aerodynamically advantageous.

With the repositioning of the tailpipes, space has been made for an optimised diffuser. The distinctive component at the rear of the Porsche 911 RSR now generates even more downforce. Thanks to the optimisation of airflow at the front and the sides of the Weissach racer, aerodynamic efficiency and stability have increased significantly, thereby further improving the use and durability of the tyres during racing.

Focus on the work of drivers and mechanics
Driveability and serviceability are critical factors in long-distance racing. For this reason, Porsche placed particular emphasis on these aspects when developing the new 911 RSR. The cockpit has been reworked with the focus on better usability. In this regard, extensive feedback from the Porsche drivers proved invaluable. Like with the predecessor, the body made of carbon-fibre reinforced plastic can be swapped out quickly and thus ensures efficient pit processes in long-distance racing.

To give drivers added protection, the active and passive safety elements in the Porsche 911 RSR have been overhauled. The proven collision warning system allows drivers an even better overview to detect approaching prototype vehicles early enough. The optimised roll cage, the FIA side impact panel in the door and cage as well as additional impact protection for the legs improve the passive safety in the event of an accident. Other features include the removable roof hatch and the rigidly-mounted racing seat featuring a six-point safety harness for the driver.

First race outing in September 2019
“We’ve been working on the concept of the new Porsche 911 RSR since 2017. The first designs were created using CAD software. In August 2018, the best racing nine- eleven to date completed its first kilometers on the factory’s own test track in Weissach,” says Pascal Zurlinden, describing the important milestones in the car’s development. Over the following months, the factory team conducted numerous tests. Sea- soned Porsche works drivers took turns at the wheel of the new 911 RSR. Parallel to this, the aerodynamics were fine-tuned in the Porsche wind tunnel. “Another milestone was our long-run in March 2019 at Le Castellet, where we included the works teams from both the WEC and IMSA. We covered more than 6,000 kilometres over 30 hours without any technical hiccups. The drivers and engineers were very satisfied. The car received its racing homologation on 1st July,” added Zurlinden.
World premiere at Goodwood
The most spectacular 911 of all time made its world premiere earlier today at the Goodwood Festival of Speed. The Porsche 911 RSR will also celebrate its race debut on the British Isles – at the season-opening round of the FIA WEC at Silverstone on 1 September. Prior to this, the vehicle of the current manufacturers’ world champions will face rival manufacturers contesting the FIA WEC GTE-Pro class for the first time at a two-day prologue in Barcelona on 23/24 July. The Porsche GT Team will field two works cars at eight rounds of the 2019/2020 season with drivers Michael Christensen (Denmark) and Kévin Estre (France) as well as Gianmaria Bruni (Italy) and Richard Lietz (Austria). 

In the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, the switch to the latest model will take place in the 2020 season. In North America, an additional two factory-run Porsche 911 RSR will fight for the GTLM category title against competing manufacturers. For customer teams, the vehicle will be available from the 2020/2021 FIA WEC season.

For the first time, the factory race cars from Weissach will be decked out in two different designs: The typical Porsche white will continue to be the dominating colour on the No. 91 car. Added accents include a centrally-placed red stripe extending from the front hood over the roof to the rear apron, as well as red side sills. Grey highlights on the side complement the clear and dynamic design. On the No. 92 car, the white and grey colours are reversed. The rear wing and the wing mirrors are black instead of white so that fans can differentiate between the two.
Kristof Vermeulen
Source: Porsche press
Images: Porsche and Chris Clark