Motorsport Week - WEC News http://www.motorsportweek.com Catch up on all WEC news, here at Motorsport Week RSS Feed! http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/15367http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/15367British sportscar talent Ben Hanley looking to build on WEC one-offsWed, 19 Jul 2017 15:41:00 GMT<p><strong>Former Renault Formula 1 development driver Ben Hanley is hoping to turn his sporadic World Endurance Championship appearances into a more regular engagement following a successful start to 2017.</strong></p> <p>Hanley, 32, made his sportscar debut with European Le Mans Series LMP2 outfit DragonSpeed last year, but has also raced in the WEC as a guest driver.</p> <p>In May, the Brit joined TDS Racing for the 6 Hours of Spa, before making his 24 Hours of Le Mans debut with DragonSpeed.</p> <p>Last weekend&#39;s 6 Hours of the Nurburgring marked his&nbsp;third WEC appearance of the season with a return to the TDS fold, replacing Formula E-tied Alex Lynn behind the wheel of the team&rsquo;s G-Drive Racing sponsored ORECA 07-Gibson.</p> <p>Having reverted to karting when his single seater career stalled for financial reasons, Hanley is now looking to push for a full-time career in sportscars.</p> <p>&quot;Last year I got picked up to do the ELMS, and those performances have helped get me here in the WEC, so it&rsquo;s been a great 12 to 16 months,&rdquo; Hanley told <em>Motorsport Week.com</em>.</p> <p>&quot;With my ELMS campaign, plus Le Mans and Daytona,&nbsp;I&rsquo;ve had quite a lot of time in the ORECA.&rdquo;</p> <p>&quot;I feel very familiar with the car. I&rsquo;m comfortable with its details and the whole sportscar scene. This car seems to suit me better than last year&rsquo;s car [ORECA 05], so I&#39;m feeling really positive.&quot;</p> <p>&quot;Of course, it would be good to get a full-time drive. Last year was my first year in sportscars and endurance racing.&rdquo;</p> <p>&ldquo;This year&rsquo;s been going well and I&rsquo;ve already had some brilliant opportunities so it&rsquo;ll be good to continue that form.&quot;</p> <p>&ldquo;With 90% of the [WEC LMP2] teams choosing ORECA, it&rsquo;s practically a single-make category. You really do have to be at the top of your game to get the results.&rdquo;</p> <figure class="image" style="float:right"><img alt="" height="220" src="/ckfinder/userfiles/images/WEC/jm1714ju32.jpg" width="400" /> <figcaption>Sportscar switch led to a Le Mans drive with DragonSpeed.</figcaption> </figure> <p>So far, those results have made for good reading.</p> <p>In a dozen sportscar races, Hanley has accrued five ELMS podiums including one victory, and was one of&nbsp;the&nbsp;quickest drivers at the Nurburgring in a field that included the likes of Nicolas Lapierre, Oliver Jarvis and Bruno Senna.</p> <p>He even took pole at the German circuit, although a technical infringement meant he and team-mates Roman Rusinov and Pierre Thiriet had to recover from the back of the pack. With an additional three-minute penalty, the trio finished a respectable sixth.</p> <p><strong>An unconventional career</strong></p> <p>Hanley has taken an unusual route to sportscars.</p> <p>While most drivers seek a transition as soon as&nbsp;the Formula 1 dream becomes untenable, the Manchester native reverted to karting - typically the first step for any budding driver - as a way of continuing his motorsport career.</p> <p>After success in Formula Renault 2.0 and 3.5, Hanley reached as far as GP2 in 2008 before losing his backing from the Renault Driver Development scheme.</p> <p>After trying other open wheel&nbsp;championships including Superleague Formula and the F3000 Euroseries, he decided to abandon his plans and pursue the karting route with plenty of success.</p> <p>In 2013 he finished second in the CIK-FIA World KF Championship, before winning the European title two years later.</p> <p>The time away from the car racing cockpit meant his FIA driver rating had dropped to silver, but with none of his talent lost he became an ideal target for sportscar teams looking to fill the void for a lower-rated driver.</p> <p>&quot;Car racing is my priority, but I still love karting and I&rsquo;m still doing it,&quot; Hanley said.</p> <p>&quot;I&rsquo;m still learning all the time,&nbsp;even now. Despite competing for so long I still need to be open and willing to learn new things.&quot;</p> <p>&quot;Whether that&rsquo;s through racing, tyres, or a new car, the principle can be applied to all different types of racing and different styles of driving.&quot;</p> <p>&quot;I&rsquo;m probably one of the few people to still do both competitively: not many people look at doing karting alongside a car racing career.&rdquo;</p> <p>&ldquo;Physically it&rsquo;s really tough, and in terms of race craft it&rsquo;s really useful. Kart races are always super close with cars separated by a tenth or two, so it&rsquo;s not easy. It&rsquo;s very good for keeping me&nbsp;alert and busy.&quot;</p> <p>&quot;It&#39;s been a while since I raced at some of these [WEC and ELMS] tracks, but the corners and the lines are the same so it only takes a couple of laps to get back into the swing of things.&quot;</p> <p>In terms of where Hanley (now gold-rated) wants to be in the future, the book is open.</p> <p>LMP1 is a big target for many sportscar drivers despite being one of the most exclusive categories in motorsport, but GT racing has also piqued&nbsp;his&nbsp;interest.</p> <p>&quot;Anything can happen at the moment, and I&rsquo;d love to be in the LMP1 class, and tied to a manufacturer if possible,&rdquo; he said.</p> <p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;m just continuing to work away and get the maximum every time in the car, to see where the work takes me.&quot;</p> <p>&quot;I&rsquo;d be interested in doing some GT racing, too,&nbsp;especially at&nbsp;races like the Spa 24 Hours.&nbsp;It&rsquo;s an event that every driver in endurance racing wants to do, and if I had the opportunity then I would definitely do it. I&rsquo;m not there next weekend, though!&rdquo;</p> <p>Hanley still has four ELMS races to run this year, plus a dozen or so karting events, but has no immediate plans to return to the WEC.</p> <p>However, strong performances to round out the season will only serve to raise his rapidly growing stock, and potentially lead to a permanent home in the world&#39;s premier sportscar series.</p> <p>For now, though, Hanley is maintaining a pragmatic stance until the right opportunity arrives.</p> <p>&quot;I don&rsquo;t think it&rsquo;s right to put too much pressure on a certain event or drive, because then you start to put too much pressure on yourself and mistakes are made,&quot; he said.</p> <p>&quot;I just need to keep my head down and keep pushing, and hopefully something will come along.&quot;</p> <p><em>Hanley&#39;s next race with DragonSpeed is the 4 Hours of the Red Bull Ring, on July 23rd.</em></p> http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/15357http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/15357Toyota reveals cause of #7 car trouble at 6H NurburgringTue, 18 Jul 2017 08:33:44 GMT<p><strong>Toyota has revealed that damage to the #7 car&#39;s aerodynamic profile led to a drop in pace for Kamui Kobayashi, Jose Maria Lopez and Mike Conway&nbsp;at the 6 Hours of the Nurburgring.</strong></p> <p>After leading the first two hours, the pole-sitting&nbsp;TS050 Hybrid lost around 20 seconds to the pair of Porsche 919s during the double-stints.</p> <p>That gap multiplied over the remaining four hours, with the Toyota crew&nbsp;finishing third and over a minute behind the winning #2 Porsche of Timo Bernhard, Brendon Hartley and Earl Bamber.</p> <p>The sister Toyota finished five laps down following a fuel pump malfunction on the formation lap, on a weekend that saw Porsche extend its World Endurance Championship points lead in both the drivers&#39; and manufacturers&#39; stakes.</p> <p>After a post-race evaluation, the Toyota team found that the #7 car had suffered from an issue with &quot;aerodynamic balance migration.&quot;</p> <p>A statement issued by the team confirmed that the upset in balance was caused by damage to the underfloor of the TS050.</p> <p>&quot;Post-race investigation has revealed significant damage to the underfloor of the #7 car as well as a hole in the rear wing, which caused cracks in the main plane during the race,&quot; it said.</p> <p>&quot;The team believes this damage was caused by kerb riding for the underfloor and by unidentified flying debris which struck the leading edge of the rear wing main plane.&quot;</p> <p>Kobayashi, Lopez and Conway left the Nurburgring fifth in the WEC drivers&#39; championship, 71.5 points off the Bernhard/Hartley/Bamber Porsche crew.</p> <p>The sister Toyota, driven by Sebastien Buemi, Anthony Davidson and Kazuki Nakajima, sits second in the table and 30 points adrift following its recovery drive to fourth place on Sunday.</p> http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/15343http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/15343Porsche lands 1-2 at 6 Hours of NurburgringSun, 16 Jul 2017 17:06:10 GMT<p><strong>Porsche extended its lead in the World Endurance drivers&#39; and manufacturers&#39; championships with a one-two result at the 6 Hours of the Nurburgring.</strong></p> <p>Earl Bamber, Timo Bernhard and Brendon Hartley beat the identical 919 Hybrid&nbsp;driven by Andre Lotterer, Nick Tandy and Neel Jani&nbsp;by a margin of 1.606 seocnds.</p> <p>The pair of Porsches dominated round four of the WEC, with the nearest Toyota TS050 Hybrid finishing over a minute back on the lead lap.</p> <p>Hartley took the lead from Jose Maria Lopez in the pole-sitting #7 Toyota during the second hour with a well-timed lunge down the inside at turn one, before Jani slipped into second shortly after.</p> <p>From there, the German manufacturer never looked back, extending its lead with superior outright pace throughout the contest.</p> <p>The two Porsches briefly switched positions when Earl Bamber overtook Nick Tandy on lap 111, but reverted to their long-standing order when Bamber needed to take avoiding action against a spinning LMP2 car at the chicane.</p> <p>With the #1 car placed higher in the championship than the #2, Porsche took the decision to switch the two at the final round of pit stops with 15 minutes to go, sealing a result that&nbsp;marks the extension of Bernhard, Bamber and Hartley&#39;s points lead over the #8 Toyota crew from 17 to 30&nbsp;points.</p> <p>It also signaled the first one-two for Porsche since the 6 Hours of Shanghai in 2015.</p> <p>Toyota&#39;s lead car finished third, 1m 4.768 seconds down, while the team&#39;s siter car&nbsp;came through in fourth and six laps adrift after suffering a fuel pump failure on the formation lap.</p> <p>LMP2 class honours went to the Jackie Chan DC Racing ORECA-Gibson that finished second overall at the 24 Hours of Le Mans last month.</p> <p>Oliver Jarvis, Ho-Pin Tung and Thomas Laurent resisted an early challenge from the pair of Vaillante Rebellion ORECAs to increase their championship lead with a third win of the year.</p> <p>Jarvis dropped behind the two Rebellions at the start, but reclaimed second place in the pits before overtaking Bruno Senna for the lead in the second hour.</p> <p>The Jackie Chan crew held the lead from that point onward, with Tung taking the chequered flag one lap&nbsp;clear&nbsp;of Senna&#39;s #31 co-driven by Julien Canal and David Heienemeier Hansson.</p> <p>Signatech Alpine pipped the other Rebellion to third after a thrilling race-long battle between the two crews, as Nicolas Lapierre found four seconds of daylight to shut out Mathias Beche.</p> <p>Rounding out the top five in class was the #37 Jackie Chan DC Racing entry, piloted by Alex Brundle, David Cheng and Tristan Gommendy.</p> <p>In GTE-Pro, Alessandro Pier Guidi and James Calado gave the AF Corse Ferrari squad its second victory of the campaign, and the first for the #51 488 Italia.</p> <p>After a tight opening stint involving all four manufacturers, the Ferrari emerged on top through a combination of outright pace and an ability to run longer on its Michelin tyres.</p> <p>Pier Guidi crossed the line with 49 seconds between himself and the second-placed Porsche of Richard Lietz and Frederic Makowiecki, which Calado passed for the lead at the start of the fourth hour.</p> <p>Kevin Estre and Michael Christensen completed the podium in their pole-sitting 911 RSR, while Aston Martin&#39;s Nicki Thiim held off Harry Tincknell (who recovered from a spin induced by one of the LMP1 Porsches) in the battle for fourth.</p> <p>GTE-Am victory went the way of the Proton Competition Porsche 911 RSR driven by Christian Ried, Marvin Dienst and factory junior Matteo Cairoli.</p> http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/15335http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/15335Porsche leads 6 Hours of Nurburgring at halfwaySun, 16 Jul 2017 14:16:50 GMT<p><strong>Porsche held first and second place at the Nurburgring as the fourth round of the World Endurance Championship reached its three-hour point.</strong></p> <p>Having just completed the third round of LMP1 pit stops, Nick Tandy held a 5.796s&nbsp;advantage over Earl Bamber in the sister 919 Hybrid.</p> <p>The pair recently took over from Neel Jani and Brendon Hartley respectively, who battled for the lead during the second hour.</p> <p>Jani overtook Hartley on lap 69 following the second round of stops, breaking the order of the two cars that had stood since the start of the race.</p> <p>Jose Maria Lopez led in the pole-sitting Toyota until lap 41, when Hartley made a clean lunge down the inside at the sharp first corner.</p> <p>Lopez, who took over from the #7 car&#39;s starting driver&nbsp;Kamui Kobayashi, then fell back to third behind the now-leading Porsche before handing over to Mike Conway.</p> <p>At the close of hour three, Conway was 27 seconds off the lead.</p> <p>The sister Toyota, started by Sebastien Buemi, had a nightmarish start when it suffered a fuel pressure problem on the formation lap.</p> <p>Buemi managed to nurse the car back to the pits but lost six laps in repairs, before recovering through the LMP2 field.</p> <p>Anthony Davidson was at the helm as the halfway mark passed, with the #8 car circulating four laps adrift.</p> <p><a href="http://fiawec.alkamelsystems.com/Results/07_2017/04_NURBURGRING/175_FIA%20WEC/201707161300_Race/Hour%203/05_Classification_Race_Hour%203.PDF">Result: 6 Hours of Nurburgring after three hours</a></p> <p>In LMP2, Ho-Pin Tung led for the Jackie Chan DC Racing outfit with a 50 second lead to the sister car driven by Tristan Gommendy.</p> <p>Despite losing the lead to the pair of Vaillante Rebellion ORECAs at the start, Tung&#39;s team-mate Oliver Jarvis recovered to pass Mathias Beche (#13) in the pits and Bruno Senna (#31) on the run down to the final chicane during hour two.</p> <p>Gommendy emerged at the front of a terrific battle between his #38 Jackie Chan car, the #36 Signatech Alpine, and the pair of Rebellions, which partly allowed Tung to build such a large gap.</p> <p>Porsche&#39;s pole-sitting 911 RSR of Kevin Estre and Michael Christensen led the GTE-Pro race into its second half, with the #51 Ferrari close behind.</p> <p>Aston Martin fronted the class field initially after Christensen locked up at the first corner, allowing Marco Sorensen to move ahead, but waning grip levels on the AMR Vantage&#39;s tyres enabled the Porsche crew to regain the ascendancy.</p> <p>Porsche also held sway in GTE-Am, after Matteo Cairoli (Proton Competition 911 RSR) overtook Mathias Lauda in the #98 Aston Martin that had commanded the race since the start.</p> http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/15328http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/15328Kevin Estre predicting 'very open' GTE fight despite Porsche paceSun, 16 Jul 2017 09:02:07 GMT<p><strong>Porsche GT factory driver Kevin Estre believes there is no way of predicting the GTE-Pro battle at this weekend&#39;s Nurburgring round of the World Endurance Championship, despite scoring pole for the German manufacturer.</strong></p> <p>Estre and team-mate Michael Christensen gave the new-for-2017 Porsche 911 RSR its maiden WEC pole position on Saturday afternoon, beating the #95 Aston Martin Vantage of Nicki Thiim and Marco Sorensen by three tenths of a second.</p> <p>The sister Porsche will start from the row behind, after Richard Lietz and Frederic Makowiecki qualified third.</p> <p>However, Estre is refusing to believe that the qualifying result can tell anything about how Sunday afternoon&#39;s six-hour contest will pan out.</p> <p>&quot;We knew we would be quick and challenging for pole, but we didn&rsquo;t do any runs on low fuel on new tyres, so we didn&rsquo;t know what our grip level would be,&quot; Estre told <em>Motorsport Week.com</em>.</p> <p>&quot;The circuit grip improved for qualifying, but it was still a big question mark if we could get pole so we&rsquo;re really happy because it&rsquo;s something we&rsquo;ve been waiting for.&quot;</p> <p>&quot;In qualifying they [Aston] were strong, but in the race it&rsquo;s going to be different because they have Dunlop tyres rather than the rest who run on Michelins.&quot;</p> <p>&quot;It&rsquo;s a little easier to know how Ford and Ferrari will do because we know about their tyres and can try to match what they are doing.&quot;</p> <p>&quot;Aston has been quite far off in WEC so far &ndash; they did well at Le Mans because of the specific sets of tyres that are used there &ndash; so it&rsquo;s difficult to know where they will be on the long runs.&quot;</p> <p>&quot;In practice we can&rsquo;t tell what tyres other teams are using. I think it&rsquo;s going to be very open, and tyre management will be a big key because we don&rsquo;t really know how the Dunlops are going to react to the conditions.&quot;</p> <p>Pole position at the Nurburgring was Estre and Christensen&#39;s best result of 2017, following a fruitless start to the year that included a sixth-place finish at Spa sandwiched by retirements at Silverstone and Le Mans.</p> <p>The pair currently sit 12th in the GT Drivers&#39; World Championship, behind two GTE-Am crews, so a good result at the Nurburgring is required to re-inject some purpose into their full-season campaign.</p> <p>&quot;We&rsquo;re not in the top half of the points, so for us we can&rsquo;t say that the championship is over but it would be really tough to come back,&quot; said Estre.</p> <p>&quot;The sister car isn&rsquo;t in a great position either but they are slightly higher in the points so I think they can still achieve something if they have a really strong second half of the season. &quot;</p> <p>&quot;At the moment there are no team orders or anything&hellip;everyone is just trying to do their job and trying to get the best result out of the performance we have.&quot;</p> <p>&quot;In our car, we are not thinking aboout the championship &ndash; we are doing it race by race, and that means we can risk it a little bit more because we have a bigger gap to bridge than the others.&quot;</p> <p>Porsche&#39;s latest 911 RSR program revolves around a car with the engine positioned slightly behind the driver, rather than the typical rear-engine setup.</p> <p>Variations of&nbsp;the car run in both&nbsp;the WEC and the North American IMSA championship, where the US-based Porsche team claimed its first global global position last week at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.</p> <p>Estre took part in the first three races of the IMSA season before handing his seat to Gianmaria Bruni, so has been involved in the development of the package on both sides of the Atlantic.</p> <p>&quot;We had a good base for the first race at Daytona where we competitive and had one car finish second,&quot; he said.</p> <p>&quot;We have shown from the start of both seasons that our race pace is good, but we have seen lots of good progression in our qualifying results.&quot;</p> <p>&quot;It&rsquo;s great to have both the US and WEC cars doing well at the same time. We can benefit from what the IMSA team learn and vice versa. They&rsquo;ve had more testing time in the US because we have had to take lots of time to focus on Le Mans.&quot;</p> <p>&quot;We have a really close connection between both teams in the US and here, so that helps us a lot. To have two poles in a row is great, but they couldn&rsquo;t manage to get the victory last week&nbsp;so we are hoping to get it here.&quot;</p> <p>Round four of the World Endurance Championship is set to get underway at 13:00 (CEST) on Sunday, July 16th.</p> http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/15324http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/15324G-Drive Racing loses 6H Nurburgring LMP2 poleSat, 15 Jul 2017 18:11:37 GMT<p><strong>The G-Drive Racing ORECA-Gibson that clinched pole position for the Nurburgring round of the World Endurance Championship has been demoted to the back of the prototype grid, following a scrutineering decision.</strong></p> <p>Referring to article 3.5.6 d of the LMP2 technical regulations, the car&#39;s front skid block deflected more than the maximum 5mm allowance.</p> <p>Ben Hanley and Pierre Thiriet had put the #26 car on pole position with an average time of 1:45.001s, but the infringement means all their laps have been deleted.</p> <p>That promotes the championship-leading #38 Jackie Chan DC Racing ORECA-Gibson of Oliver Jarvis, Thomas Laurent and Ho-Pin Tung&nbsp;to the front spot on the class grid.</p> <p>The pair of Vaillante Rebellion ORECAs move up to second and third, whilst the #35 Signatech Alpine slots into fourth place.</p> <p>The stewards&#39; decision marks another major blow for the G-Drive Racing team, which must observe a three-minute stop and hold penalty during the race in reparation for a crash caused by Roman Rusinov at last month&#39;s 24 Hours of Le Mans.</p> http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/15321http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/15321Tandy 'surprised' by Porsche's high-downforce performanceSat, 15 Jul 2017 16:59:05 GMT<p><strong>Porsche LMP1 driver Nick Tandy says he is pleasantly surprised at the showing of the team&#39;s new high-downforce aero configuration, which makes its World Endurance Championship debut at the Nurburgring this weekend.</strong></p> <p>Tandy, who co-drives the #1 Porsche 919 Hybrid with Andre Lotterer and Neel Jani, reckons the car will be stronger in the&nbsp;low-speed corner combinations than previously expected.</p> <p>Porsche led Friday practice for the fourth round of the WEC, before Toyota snatched pole position on Saturday afternoon, although the 919s have been closer to their TS050 rivals than they were at the opening two rounds.</p> <p>The German manufacturer opted to use its Le Mans-style low-downforce aero kit at Silverstone and Spa, to maximise&nbsp;the development time of the high-downforce kit which is traditionally reserved for the six-hour contests.</p> <p>Having tested the new bodywork for the first time on Friday, Tandy believes the delay was worth the step up in performance.</p> <p>&quot;I&rsquo;m surprised how much of a step it is.&quot; Tandy told <em>Motorsport Week.com</em>.</p> <p>&quot;Normally you&rsquo;d expect to really feel the aerodynamics in the high-speed corners, but what we&rsquo;re seeing is that it&rsquo;s actually working really well in the medium and slow speed ones.&quot;</p> <p>&quot;That&rsquo;s where we&rsquo;re gaining extra lap times at the moment. It&#39;s a real positive, because attaining the top-end speed figures&nbsp;in the faster corners is one thing, but to get &lsquo;usable&rsquo; aero in the slow-speed zones is probably more important. So it&rsquo;s good, it&rsquo;s working well.&quot;</p> <p>The high-downforce kit was tested for the first time at the Circuit de Catalunya shortly after Le Mans, although none of the #1 car&nbsp;drivers were present.</p> <p>Nevertheless, Tandy and his team-mates have been closely monitoring the process of development, and have noticed substantial improvements in the wind tunnel readings leading up to the Nurburgring event.</p> <p>&quot;At the first test of the high-downforce kit the results weren&rsquo;t quite correlating, so they went back to the tunnel and did a bit more work, and what&rsquo;s come out this time is actually quite well simulated,&quot; said Tandy.</p> <figure class="image" style="float:right"><img alt="" height="220" src="/ckfinder/userfiles/images/WEC/M17_3516_fine.jpg" width="400" /> <figcaption>Early signs indicate the new-look Porsche will be strong. (Porsche)</figcaption> </figure> <p>&quot;The information that&#39;s been&nbsp;simulated in the wind tunnel is being accurately reflected on the track.&quot;</p> <p>&quot;That&rsquo;s a positive because when you&rsquo;re trying to develop things in the tunnel, you want to be able to change things in the same way that you&rsquo;d hope to change them out on the circuit.&quot;</p> <p>With its high-downforce aero kit locked in for the remainder of the nine-race WEC season, Porsche has the final tool it will use to fight for a third consecutive World Manufacturers&#39; Championship.</p> <p>However, with the variations in circuit layouts over the remaining six events, the team is wary that its performance will be highly dependent on how the high-downforce kit is set up at each round.</p> <p>&quot;There will be some variation between circuits,&quot; said Tandy.</p> <p>&quot;The obvious downside is drag. Places like Fuji and Mexico&nbsp;have big, long straights, so how we work our aero package against the competition is going to be one of the keys on each weekend.&quot;</p> <p>&quot;Here it&rsquo;s a bit more simple because the straights are so short and the corners are so dominant that you just pile on as much downforce as you can get.&quot;</p> <p>Porsche will start second and third at the Nurburgring, following a close-knit qualifying session.</p> <p>Both 919 Hybrids opted to use two sets of tyres during the shootout, although the team doesn&#39;t expect that decision to affect its durability during the race.</p> <p>As Tandy explains, tyre management will be paramount to putting in a winning performance, even if it means taking on an extra set during the timed runs.</p> <p>&quot;[Changing tyres in qualifying] conditions the tyres for the longer runs, but I think we see the starting position as more important than saving a lap on the tyres during the race,&quot; he explained.</p> <p>&quot;I think a stint is going to be around 36 laps or so, so if you&rsquo;re double stinting that&rsquo;s nearly 70 laps or one hour and 40 minutes on a single set of tyres, which is crucial.&quot;</p> <p>&quot;As we found out at Silverstone and Spa, if you can&rsquo;t keep your pace up in the double stint, you win or lose races.&quot;</p> http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/15315http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/15315Toyota clinches pole for 6 Hours of NurburgringSat, 15 Jul 2017 14:17:24 GMT<p><strong>Toyota will start tomorrow&#39;s Nurburgring round&nbsp;of the World Endurance Championship from pole position, following a close-knit qualifying session.</strong></p> <p>Jose Maria Lopez and Kamui Kobayashi set the fastest average time during the 15-minute run, pipping the best-placed Porsche 919 Hybrid by 0.154 seconds.</p> <p>After holding the top-spot during the early stages, Brendon Hartley and Timo Bernhard settled for second with both Porsche drivers lapping a fraction slower than the pole-sitters.</p> <p>Despite setting the fastest outright lap through Andre Lotterer, the #1&nbsp;Porsche finished third with a slower average.</p> <p>Lotterer&#39;s time of 1:37.886s was complemented by a 1:38.671&nbsp;from team-mate Neel Jani, which slotted the duo ahead of the #8 Toyota.</p> <p>The result marked Toyota&#39;s third pole position of 2017, and the first with both manufacturers&nbsp;pitting their high-downforce aero configurations against each other.</p> <p>In LMP2, G-Drive Racing continued its 100% pole position streak as Ben Hanley and Pierre Thiriet commanded the class in the #26 ORECA-Gibson.</p> <p>On his first start in the TDS-entered, G-Drive branded car, Hanley reeled off a low 1m 43 before silver-rated Thiriet backed that up with a mid-1m 45 effort.</p> <p>Although Thiriet&#39;s attempt was two tenths slower than Oliver Jarvis in the #38 Jackie Chan DC Racing ORECA, Hanley&#39;s run was over half a second better than Thomas Laurent, who started the Jota Sport-run car.</p> <p>Row two of the LMP2 grid will be occupied by the pair of Vaillante Rebellion ORECAs, while the #35 Signatech Alpine completes the top five.</p> <p>The G-Drive Racing crew will be required to take a three-minute stop and hold penalty during Sunday&#39;s race, as reparation for an incident caused by Roman Rusinov at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.</p> <p>Porsche took its first WEC pole with the new&nbsp;911 RSR as Kevin Estre and Michael Christensen paced the GTE-Pro field.</p> <p>After securing the car&#39;s first global pole at last week&#39;s IMSA round in Canada, Porsche got off the mark in the GT world championship with a comprehensive performance at the 3.2 mile circuit.</p> <p>Christensen&#39;s early 1:53.779 marker stood as the best time afternoon, while Estre&#39;s 1:54.235&nbsp;was enough to put the #92 car on top by three tenths of a second&nbsp;from the #95 Aston Martin Vantage piloted by Nicki Thiim and Marco Sorensen.</p> <p>Third was the sister Porsche driven by Frederic Makowiecki and Richard Lietz, ahead of the best Ford GT of Stefan Mucke and Olivier Pla.</p> <p>GTE-Am pole went to the #98 Aston Martin driven by Paul Dalla Lana and Pedro Lamy.</p> <p>Several cars had incidents in both the GT and Prototype sessions, with Dominik Kraihamer (ByKolles LMP1) and Julien Canal (Rebellion LMP2) suffering spins.</p> <p>In GT, the Spirit of Race Ferrari dropped to the foot of the order after Thomas Flohr rotated into the gravel at turn&nbsp;one.</p> <p>With qualifying complete, attention turns to the 6 Hours of the Nurburgring itself, with the race set to begin at 13:00 local time (CEST).</p> http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/15305http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/15305Toyota responds to Porsche in 6H Nurburgring warm upSat, 15 Jul 2017 09:11:58 GMT<p><strong>Toyota swept the top two times during Saturday morning&#39;s qualifying warm up for the 6 Hours of the Nurburgring.</strong></p> <p>Having lost out to the Porsche 919 Hybrids on Friday, the TS050s responsed by going over a second quicker than their LMP1 rivals.</p> <p>Jose Maria Lopez led the way with a time of 1:38.969s behind the wheel of the #7 car, with Kazuki Nakajima slotting 0.427 seconds behind.</p> <p>The fastest Porsche, driven by Timo Bernhard, could only muster a 1:40.635s marker, although the team still holds the fastest lap of the weekend thanks to <a href="https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/15295">Brendon Hartley&#39;s Friday afternoon run</a>.</p> <p>Toyota is aiming for its third pole position of 2017, after clinching the top spot at Silverstone and Le Mans.</p> <p>In LMP2, Vaillante Rebellion topped the timesheets thanks to a 1:46.017s time from Bruno Senna.</p> <p>The Brazilian finished two tenths up on Nelson Panciatici in the #35 Signatech Alpine, and a further tenth up on Oliver Jarvis in <a href="https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/15302">the Le Mans class-winning Jackie Chan DC Racing ORECA</a>.</p> <p>Fastest in GTE-Pro was the #66 Ford GT of Stefan Mucke, which posted a 1:54.875.</p> <p>That turned out to be 2.6 seconds under the previous best time of the weekend, set by the #91 Porsche.</p> <p>Ferrari followed Ford in the FP3 order, although the Italian team ran into trouble late in the session when its #71 488 Italia stopped on track.</p> <p>Toni Vilander, who is replacing the Formula E-bound Sam Bird this weekend,&nbsp;was due to hand the car over to team-mate Davide Rigon for the final two laps, but the Finn spun at the final corner meaning he was unable to enter the pits. That caused the Ferrari to run out of fuel on its extra lap around the 3.4 mile GP circuit, resulting in local yellow flags.</p> <p>Vilander still managed to record a 1:56.221, which stood as the second-best time behind Mucke.</p> <p>Qualifying for the 6 Hours of the Nurburgring is set to take place later today (Saturday, July 15th) at 14:55 local time (CEST).</p> <p><a href="http://fiawec.alkamelsystems.com/Results/07_2017/04_NURBURGRING/175_FIA%20WEC/201707150945_Free%20Practice%203/03_Classification_Free%20Practice%203.PDF">RESULT: 6 Hours of the Nurburgring FP3</a></p> http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/15302http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/15302Jackie Chan DC Racing eyeing potential Daytona 24 entrySat, 15 Jul 2017 07:19:09 GMT<p><strong>LMP2 outfit Jackie Chan DC Racing is looking at the possibility of entering the Daytona 24 Hours, according to team owner David Cheng.</strong></p> <p>After winning its class and finishing second and third overall at the 24 Hours of Le Mans last month, the DC Racing team, run by Jota Sport, is toying with the idea of expanding beyond the World Endurance Championship.</p> <p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;ve done all our homework, and we&rsquo;ve done our legwork, which is establishing a very good team with a great group of guys, and now from the commercial side with Jackie and all the opportunities in China,&rdquo; Cheng told <em>Motorsport Week.</em></p> <p>&ldquo;With some foresight and preparation, we&rsquo;ll be ready for a few different scenarios, including North America.&rdquo;</p> <p>&ldquo;Sebring has been checked off [in 2013 with PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports], and now the achievement of Le Mans has been checked off&hellip; but Daytona is missing for me&nbsp;still.&rdquo;</p> <p>Cheng, who co-founded&nbsp;the DC Racing operation with Hollywood superstar and racing enthusiast Jackie Chan last year, believes a North American venture is possible, but only with stability in the regulations.</p> <p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s very interesting what&rsquo;s developing out there with the DPi and LMP2 formulas,&rdquo; he said.</p> <p>&ldquo;Even this month, there have been a lot of fluctuations about whether Prototype should become a split class or if LMP2 should be left integrated, and from my point of view, there&rsquo;s no reason to split DPi and LMP2 because it&rsquo;s starting to become very close.&quot;</p> <p>&ldquo;I think it would be a little premature to do anything drastic&nbsp;with the regulations [under evaluation].&quot;</p> <p>&quot;There are things that I think we can bring to the table over in America, but few people have taken the opportunity because it&rsquo;s still very early and these are all new cars to everyone, so we need to make sure we don&rsquo;t bite off more than we can chew.&nbsp;The opportunities it creates are very interesting, though.&quot;</p> <p>&ldquo;For us, if we were to go and do anything on the American side, we would want to be fighting for overall victory.&quot;</p> <p>Part of the reason Cheng has been looking at Daytona, and other North American endurance contests such as the 12 Hours of Sebring, is that the team has &quot;done the legwork&quot;&nbsp;in creating a mandate for support.</p> <p>Since the success of Le Mans, Cheng and his fellow drivers have been travelling back and forth to China to spread the word about their programme to a burgeoning regional market.</p> <p>With growing interest from home, and from the WEC community, the possibility of Jackie Chan DC Racing expanding its global presence has been given a significant boost. Now, according to Cheng, it is a simple case of waiting&nbsp;for the ideal opportunity to arise.</p> <p>&ldquo;Le Mans gave us a boost in our reputation as a team, and it also brought the sport alive back home,&quot; he said.</p> <p>&quot;It opened a market for endurance racing there.&nbsp;There&rsquo;s a lot of ambition on the table.&quot;</p> <p>&ldquo;With all those opportunities, we know what may happen and what may come to us, but all I can say is that I can&rsquo;t control what I can&rsquo;t control.&quot;</p> <p>&quot;I can go there [to China], do the speeches and give all the reasons why, but now it&rsquo;s almost like fishing: we just need to wait patiently to see what opportunities will be brought to us.&rdquo;</p> <p>&quot;From our side, it&rsquo;s one of those things where we build the team to be ready for expansion. My whole theory is like Noah&#39;s Ark: if you build it, they will come.&quot;</p> http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/15299http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/15299Manor dealt seven-minute stop-go penalty for 6 Hours of NurburgringFri, 14 Jul 2017 19:24:22 GMT<p><strong>The #24 CEFC Manor TRS Racing LMP2 car&nbsp;will observe a seven-minute stop and go penalty during Sunday&#39;s World Endurance Championship contest at the Nurburgring, following an illegal overtake in free practice.</strong></p> <p>Jonathan Hirschi was driving the Manor ORECA&nbsp;when he overtook Olivier Pla&#39;s Ford GT whilst the red flags were out for an incident involving a German photographer.</p> <p>The photographer was situated in an illegal &#39;red zone&#39; at&nbsp;Ford corner, prompting a stoppage that affected the entire circuit.</p> <p>According to a stewards&#39; report Hirschi failed to slow down sufficiently, before colliding with Pla and spinning.</p> <p>&quot;The stewards considered that this incident was a serious fault from driver of car number 24,&quot; the report stated.</p> <p>&quot;His explanations to check his speed limiter are not excusing his behaviour.&quot;</p> <p>Additionally, the car will be required to take a further seven-minute stop and go penalty if it is found guilty of causing any red flag event during the next three races, which are held in&nbsp;the United States, Mexico and Japan.</p> <p>Hirschi is joined at the Nurburgring&nbsp;by&nbsp;regular Manor team-mate&nbsp;Tor Graves,&nbsp;and Roberto Merhi who is filling in for the Formula E-bound Jean-Eric Vergne.</p> http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/15295http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/15295Times tumble at the Nurburgring as Porsche leads second practiceFri, 14 Jul 2017 16:08:27 GMT<p><strong>Porsche finished one second ahead of LMP1 rival Toyota during the second practice session for round four of the World Endurance Championship at the Nurburgring.</strong></p> <p>An early 1:38.663s marker from Brendon Hartley put the championship-leading 919 Hybrid 1.110 seconds up on the nearest TS050, driven by Anthony Davidson.</p> <p>It marked a drastic improvement to times set previously at the 3.2 mile GP Strecke, with the leading Porsche going three seconds quicker than it did during the morning and one second faster than last year&#39;s qualifying average.</p> <p>Porsche ended Friday practice with the two quickest cars, as Andre Lotterer backed Hartley&#39;s time up with a 1:39.629 that dipped slightly under Davidson&#39;s attempt.</p> <p>All the top numbers were posted in the 90-minute afternoon session, which started under clear skies but ended with light rain around the circuit.</p> <p>The Friday result&nbsp;marked the first time Porsche has led a practice session for a six-hour WEC race this year, after Toyota dominated at Silverstone and Spa.</p> <p>The German manufacturer is running its brand-new high-downforce aero configuration - designed to improve cornering speeds - for the first time this weekend.</p> <p>Toyota debuted its high-drag setup at Silverstone, with Porsche deciding to delay rolling out its bodywork until after Le Mans to maximise its development time.</p> <p><a href="http://fiawec.alkamelsystems.com/Results/07_2017/04_NURBURGRING/175_FIA%20WEC/201707141135_Free%20Practice%201/03_Classification_Free%20Practice%201.PDF">RESULT: 6 Hours of the Nurburgring FP1</a></p> <p><a href="http://fiawec.alkamelsystems.com/Results/07_2017/04_NURBURGRING/175_FIA%20WEC/201707141615_Free%20Practice%202/03_Classification_Free%20Practice%202.PDF">RESULT: 6 Hours of the Nurburgring FP2</a></p> <p>Friday&#39;s fastest lap in LMP2 came courtesy of Ben Hanley, driving the G-Drive backed ORECA-Gibson run by TDS Racing.</p> <p>Hanley is guesting at G-Drive Racing&nbsp;following a late call-up to replace team regular Alex Lynn, who is contesting the&nbsp;New York Formula E round this weekend.</p> <p>The Brit reeled off a time of 1:47.188s to put the G-Drive car three tenths up on Mathias Beche&nbsp;in the #13 Rebellion ORECA, with the pair of Signatech Alpine A470s sitting third and fourth.</p> <p>In GTE-Pro, four different manufacturers occupied the top four places with Fred Makowiecki leading the way for Porsche.</p> <p>Driving the #91 911 RSR, the Frenchman clocked in a&nbsp;1:56.244 effort, which edged out Nicki Thiim&#39;s #97 Aston Martin by just under a tenth.</p> <p>A further four tenths down was Alessandro Pier Guidi in the best of the Ferraris, followed by Stefan Muecke&#39;s Ford GT.</p> <p>Friday bragging rights in GTE-Am went the way of Miguel Molina, who is back with the Spirit of Race Ferrari squad following an outing with the Italian manufacturer&#39;s factory Pro team at Le Mans last month.</p> <p>The former DTM star posted a time of 1:57.592s, which was enough to place him comfortably within the Pro-class mid-pack.</p> <p>Two-driver qualifying for the 6 Hours of the Nurburgring is set to take place tomorrow (Saturday, July 15th) at 14:55 local time (13:55 UK).</p> http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/15289http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/15289New-look Porsche leads Nurburgring FP1Fri, 14 Jul 2017 11:40:56 GMT<p>Porsche led the way during opening practice for the Nurburgring round of the World Endurance Championship as it applied the new high-downforce aero configuration to its car.</p> <p>Timo Bernhard turned in a time of 1:41.612s behind the wheel of the Le Mans-winning 919 Hybrid, which sports a different front profile to the one that competed in the opening three events of 2017.</p> <p>Bernhard&#39;s time, set near the end of the 90-minute run, pipped the second-placed Toyota TS050 of Sebastien Buemi by 0.204 seconds.</p> <p>The sister Porsche completed the top three, ahead of the #7 Toyota, as the four LMP1 entries fell under a 0.367 second blanket.</p> <p>The session was brought to a premature halt with four minutes remaining when the #31 Rebellion LMP2 of Julien Canal and the #77 Proton Competition Porsche of Marvin Dienst collided into the Turn 5 gravel.</p> <p>Both cars led the way in their respective classes, with Bruno Senna&#39;s time of 1:47.717s topping LMP2 by six tenths from the G-Drive Racing ORECA, and Matteo Cairoli leading GTE-Am.</p> <p>Ferrari led Porsche in GTE-Pro, with the 488 Italia of Davide Rigon lapping fastest on a 1:57.170.</p> <p>Rigon&#39;s time was marginally quicker than Michael Christensen in the #92 Porsche 911 RSR, who in turn edged out the second Ferrari.</p> <p>The pair of Aston Martin Vantages ran at the foot of the class despite receiving a 20kg weight break from the new &#39;automatic&#39; Balance of Performance system, which takes into account data from the last six-hour race at Spa.</p> <p>A second 90-minute free practice session is bookmarked for 16:15 local time (15:15 UK), ahead of qualifying on Saturday afternoon.</p> http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/15250http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/15250Porsche LMP1 team confident ahead of high-downforce aero debutTue, 11 Jul 2017 10:11:29 GMT<p><strong>Porsche belives its high-downforce aerodynamics&nbsp;package is &quot;looking good&quot; ahead of its debut at the 6 Hours of the Nurburgring this weekend.</strong></p> <p>The German LMP1 manufacturer opted to delay rolling out its high-drag configuration until round four of the World Endurance Championship to maximise its development period.</p> <p>A Le Mans-style downforce kit was used at Silverstone and Spa, compromising the cornering speeds of the 919 Hybrids and resulting in two Toyota victories.</p> <p>Toyota took the more conventional approach of using high-downforce at those&nbsp;opening two races, before reverting to its low-downforce setup for the 24 Hours of Le Mans, although that&nbsp;effectively meant the Porsche 919 Hybrids will arrive in Germany&nbsp;with three months&#39; extra preparation.</p> <p>&ldquo;For the 2017 WEC, we have once again extended the limits of what is technically possible and Toyota did the same,&quot; said team principal Andreas Seidl.</p> <p>&quot;Despite comprehensive new restrictions from the regulations, lap times have improved. But also reliability issues of both manufacturers at Le Mans showed that we all went to the limits.&quot;</p> <p>&quot;After winning Le Mans, we went straight to a very positive three-day performance test in Barcelona [covering 1,800km]. We feel well prepared for the six-hour race at the N&uuml;rburgring. The 919 Hybrid will appear with a new front and a changed rear section.&quot;</p> <p>&quot;Our new high downforce aero looks good. Now it has to prove its performance on the race track.&rdquo;</p> <p>Porsche&nbsp;drivers Earl Bamber, Brendon Hartley and Timo Bernhard currently lead the world drivers&#39; championship on 83 points, 17 ahead of the leading Toyota crew of Anthony Davidson, Sebastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima.</p> <p>Crucial podiums at Silverstone and Spa,&nbsp;despite running the &#39;wrong&#39; downforce setup, mean&nbsp;Porsche holds the advantage going into the second half of the nine-race season, with predominantly high-drag circuits left on the calendar.</p> <p>&quot;The situation could hardly be any nicer&rdquo;, said Fritz Enzinger, Porsche LMP1 vice president.</p> <p>&ldquo;The 24 Hours of Le Mans was endurance racing full of highs and lows. In the Eifel mountains we target a clean six-hour race and we certainly would love to win there for a third consecutive time as well.&quot;</p> <p>&quot;Our new aerodynamics package for higher downforce worked well at a recent test. Now our mission of defending both the World Championship titles, for manufacturers and drivers, is in full swing.&rdquo;</p> <p>Track action for the 6 Hours of the Nurburgring commences on Friday, July 14th, while the race itself is due to get underway on Sunday at 13:00 local time (CEST).</p> http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/15116http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/15116Roberto Merhi to race for Manor at 6 Hours of NurburgringWed, 28 Jun 2017 13:28:07 GMT<p>Former Formula 1 driver Roberto Merhi will return to the FIA World Endurance Championship at the 6 Hours of Nurburgring with the Manor LMP2 team.</p> <p>The Spaniard will replace Jean-Eric Vergne in the No.24 car alongside Tor Graves and Jonathan Hirschi.</p> <p>Vergne is unable to race at the Nurburgring as it clashes with the first Formula E race weekend in New York.</p> <p>The outing will mark Merhi&rsquo;s first time competing in the FIA WEC since last year&rsquo;s finale in Bahrain, having competed in most of the 2016 season with Manor.</p> <p>He missed the Mexico and Shanghai rounds, but scored one podium when his car finished third in the LMP2 class at Spa.</p> <p>Merhi, who raced for Manor in F1 for most of 2015, has had a limited 2017 campaign so far with a one-off Formula 2 outing for Campos.</p> <p>He drove at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya but finished both races outside of the points, before being replaced by Robert Visoiu.</p> http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/15112http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/15112Toni Vilander to replace cup-tied Sam Bird at 6H NurburgringTue, 27 Jun 2017 22:23:19 GMT<p><strong>Toni Vilander will return to Ferrari&#39;s World Endurance Championship driver lineup for a one-off appearance at the 6 Hours of the N&uuml;</strong><strong>rburgring on July 16.</strong></p> <p>The Finn, 36, will replace AF Corse regular Sam Bird, who is taking part in the New York round of the Formula E championship on the same weekend.</p> <p>Bird&#39;s commitments with Virgin DS Racing - which also employs Toyota LMP1 driver Jos&eacute; Mar&iacute;a L&oacute;pez - left a vacant seat in the No. 71 Ferrari 488 next to Davide Rigon.</p> <p>Rigon and Bird currently sit third in the GTE world championship, following a victory at Spa and a top-four points result at Le Mans.</p> <p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;m happy to be able to return to the FIA WEC with the 488 GTE of AF Corse team&rdquo;, said Vilander, who spent three full seasons with Ferrari in the WEC from 2012-15.</p> <p>&quot;Car number 71 is in the top places of the championship standings, and I will give all I have to achieve the best possible result at N&uuml;rburgring, to help Ferrari in the Manufacturers&rsquo; Championship and Davide Rigon in the Drivers&rsquo; ranking&rdquo;.</p> <p>Vilander last raced for Ferrari&#39;s WEC team in 2015, having made his debut in 2012.</p> <p>During that time, he won nine GTE-Pro races, including the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2012 and 2014, and also clinched the drivers&#39; championship in &#39;14 with Gianmaria Bruni.</p> <p>Since moving away from the WEC, Vilander has plied his trade with the&nbsp;factory-assisted Risi Competizione squad, which competes in the North American IMSA WeatherTech Sportscar Championship.</p> <p>The team also raced at Le Mans as a guest entry, although the Ferrari retired early with crash damage.</p> <p>Vilander has stated that the&nbsp;N&uuml;rburgring round will give him his &quot;chance to cancel the disappointment of the 24 Hours of Le Mans as soon as possible.&quot;</p> <p>Although the&nbsp;N&uuml;rburgring replacement is understood to be a one-off, it could harm Bird&#39;s position in the GTE standings heading into the second half&nbsp;of the season.</p> http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/15050http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/15050Toyota accepts Vincent Capillaire apology for Le Mans incidentThu, 22 Jun 2017 15:27:53 GMT<p><strong>Toyota has released a statement accepting an apology from LMP2 driver Vincent Capillaire, who indirectly influenced the retirement of the team&#39;s leading car at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.</strong></p> <p>Toyota driver Kamui Kobayashi was leading by over a minute when his TS050 Hybrid&nbsp;experienced clutch problems during a safety car period in the 10th hour.</p> <p>After the race, it emerged Capillaire had <a href="https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/15036">given Kobayashi a &#39;thumbs up&#39; sporting&nbsp;gesture </a>whilst the Toyota was sat at pit exit, prompting the Toyota driver to lurch forward before stamping on the brakes when his team realised the exit was closed.</p> <p>Capillaire&#39;s orange overalls - which represent the Algarve Pro Racing team - were mistakenly interpreted by Kobayashi as those of a pit-lane marshal.</p> <p>Consequently, the Toyota&#39;s clutch gave in at the restart, causing damage that led to its retirement.</p> <p>Toyota&#39;s other cars also encountered technical issues, leaving Porsche to claim its third successive overall victory at the French endurance classic.</p> <p>Toyota has since received a private&nbsp;apology from Capillaire, which the Japanese manufacturer says has been accepted. The statement in full:</p> <p><strong>TOYOTA GAZOO RACING STATEMENT: LE MANS 24 HOURS</strong></p> <p>Thursday 22 June 2017</p> <p>&quot;Toyota Gazoo Racing can confirm it has received an apology from Vincent Capillaire regarding his actions during the Le Mans 24 Hours. We have fully accepted his apology and acknowledge that his sporting gesture was never intended to cause any negative consequences for our #7 car. We remain on good terms with Vincent and we consider the matter is now closed.&quot;</p> http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/15036http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/15036How a thumbs up potentially cost Toyota its maiden Le Mans victoryTue, 20 Jun 2017 17:20:48 GMT<p>Toyota was comfortably&nbsp;leading the 85th running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans when a clutch failure handed what would have been its maiden victory at the event to rivals Porsche.</p> <p>It turns out that a simple thumbs up from a rival driver&nbsp;and a misunderstanding&nbsp;during a pitstop for #7&nbsp;driver Kamui Kobayashi&nbsp;was behind the clutch failing &ndash; and the end to Toyota&#39;s Le Mans dream for at least another year.</p> <p>How did a thumbs up cause a clutch to fail? It turns out that&nbsp;Vincent Capillaire, of the&nbsp;Algarve Pro Racing team, wore a race suit very similar to that of a marshal &ndash; both are orange with a black stripe running across the stomach &ndash; and he rushed across to give Kobayashi an &#39;encouraging&#39; thumbs up whilst the Japanese driver was stopped in the pitlane. [<a href="https://streamable.com/kvdca">Watch the video here</a>].</p> <p>Kobayashi took that as permission to exit the pitlane, before being told by his team to stop. Some confusion ensued and Kobayashi ended up starting and stopping a couple of times. Of course that wouldn&#39;t be enough to burn out the clutch on a regular car, by Toyota&#39;s hybrid TS050 isn&#39;t a regular car.</p> <p>The TS050 uses its electrical-power to get going, before the combustion engine kicks in. This reduces wear on the clutch &ndash; and reduces the size of the clutch, saving weight &ndash; but due to the confusion, Kobayashi was in the wrong mode and used the clutch and combustion engine to get going, which then caused the clutch to fail.</p> <p>Speaking to&nbsp;<em>SportsCar365, </em>technical director&nbsp;Pascal Vasselon explained:&nbsp;&quot;In this case he has seen a marshal telling him to go, [so] he went. From our side, we told him stop because the safety car queue was coming, and it was not possible [to exit].</p> <p>&quot;There has been, as you can imagine, some confusion. Start, stop, start, stop,&quot; added&nbsp;Vasselon.</p> <p>&quot;The clutch is not made at all to do that. The clutch is to start the combustion engine when the car is at speed; it&rsquo;s not to start the complete car.</p> <p>&quot;So he had burned the clutch because he has been thrown into a situation which should not exist.&quot;</p> <p>So that&#39;s how an innocent thumbs up led to Toyota&#39;s Le Mans hopes going up in smoke &ndash;&nbsp;Capillaire, the well-wisher, was later fined for his actions and issued the following statement.</p> <p>&quot;Saturday evening, during the race, I was waiting for my relay, helmet on [my] head at my box,&quot; he explained.</p> <p>&quot;I wanted to show my encouragement to the leader car [which was] stopped at a red light a few meters in front of my box.</p> <p>&quot;It was a spontaneous encouragement mark as it happens between pilots,&quot; he said, adding: &quot;I was fined by Stewards for this gesture and I admit it was inopportune. I regret that.&quot;</p> http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/15031http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/15031Third-placed Rebellion disqualified from 24 Hours of Le MansMon, 19 Jun 2017 20:01:30 GMT<p><strong>The Rebellion Racing ORECA LMP2 that finished third overall in the 24 Hours of Le Mans has had its podium stripped following a post-race scrutineering decision.</strong></p> <p>Nelson Piquet Jr, Mathias Beche and David Heinemeier Hansson rose to the top three after most of the LMP1 field encountered problems, eventually finishing three laps down.</p> <p>However, an opening in the bodywork on the right-hand side of the engine cover was found to be in breach of Article 3 of the technical regulations, which state &quot;No bodywork variation is permitted&quot; bar front flaps and gurneys.</p> <p>The opening gave Rebellion&#39;s mechanics easy access to the starter motor during pit stops, after the #13 car experienced problems getting underway in the pit lane.</p> <p>Rather than removing the entire engine cover, an instrument was used to tap the starter motor into life at each service.</p> <p>However, teams are forbidden from&nbsp;modifdying&nbsp;homologated parts of the car and using them during tne 24-hours.</p> <p>Consequently, Rebellion lost what would have been its maiden podium finish at Le Mans, with the #37 Jackie Chan DC Racing ORECA driven by Tristan Gommendy, David Cheng and Alex Brundle inheriting third.</p> <p>That meant both Jackie Chan cars - run by British outfit Jota Sport - placed in the overall top three following a solid run to second overall from the car shared by Thomas Laurent, Oliver Jarvis and Ho-Pin Tung.</p> <p>Assuming the final podium spot in the LMP2 category - and fourth outright - is the #35 Signatech Alpine, whilst Untied Autosports&#39; Ligier moves up to fifth.</p> http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/15026http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/15026Video: Watch full race highlights from the 24 Hours of Le MansMon, 19 Jun 2017 11:24:20 GMT<p>It was always going to be unpredictable, but few could have anticipated a race with so many twists and turns&hellip;all the way to the chequered flag.&nbsp;</p> <p>The 2017 24 Hours of Le Mans &ndash; third round of the FIA World Endurance Championship &ndash; was full of emotion, joy and disappointment, heat and drama, and it was Porsche LMP Team&rsquo;s No.2 919 Hybrid which finally conquered all those sensations to take its 19th win at the world&rsquo;s greatest endurance race.</p> <p>A winner in the LMGTE Pro category was never going to be easy to predict, but this year&rsquo;s 24 Hours of Le Mans kept fans, viewers, media and competitors on the edge of their seats right to the chequered flag. The race was held in intense heat and was pronounced &ldquo;tough&rdquo; by drivers up and down the field.</p> http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/15024http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/15024Toyota suggests hybrid technology 'not yet ready' for Le MansMon, 19 Jun 2017 10:28:51 GMT<p>Toyota&rsquo;s President has suggested that hybrid technology &ldquo;might not yet be ready&rdquo; for Le Mans amid the array of issues encountered by LMP1 machines during the 24-hour race at the weekend.</p> <p>Toyota qualified 1-2 and headed the pack through Saturday afternoon, but the #8 lost 30 laps in the garage due to a motor issue before the #7 retired from the lead following a clutch problem.</p> <p>Porsche&rsquo;s race-winning #2 was also delayed, spending an hour in the garage while a replacement Motor Generator Unit was fitted, and the #1 Porsche failed to finish amid a suspected loss of oil pressure.</p> <p>The rate of attrition meant that only two LMP1 cars reached the chequered flag &ndash; Toyota&rsquo;s #8 nine-laps down on the winning #2 crew &ndash; enabling LMP2 teams to finish second and third overall.</p> <p>&ldquo;This time, both Porsche and we, Toyota, were not able to complete without incident 24 hours of driving in the hybrid cars that we put to the challenge on the roads of Le Mans,&rdquo; wrote Akio Toyoda in an open letter post-race..</p> <p>&ldquo;Both even winning car No. 2 and our car No. 8, which completed the race, were forced to undergo time-consuming, trouble-caused repairs, before struggling to cross the finish line.</p> <p>&ldquo;While the hybrid technology that has advanced through competition in the FIA World Endurance Championship puts its abilities on display in six-hour races, it might be that it is not yet ready for the long distance of the 24 Hours of Le Mans.&rdquo;</p> <p>Toyoda nonetheless stressed that the Japanese manufacturer will persist with the technology.</p> <p>&ldquo;The power of electricity is absolutely necessary for cars to take on a more-emotional presence,&rdquo; he said.</p> <p>&ldquo;Le Mans is a precious laboratory in which we can continue to take up the challenges related to the technologies involved, putting such technologies to the test in an extreme environment.</p> <p>&ldquo;We will hone our technologies even further and ripen them to provide our customers with technologies that will truly make them smile.</p> <p>&ldquo;And we, Toyota, will go on making effort after effort so that we can continue making ever-better cars.&rdquo;</p> http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/15021http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/15021Earl Bamber: That's what endurance racing is all aboutSun, 18 Jun 2017 17:26:57 GMT<p>Porsche driver Earl Bamber has hailed his second 24 Hours of Le Mans triumph &#39;magical&#39;, describing the circumstances surrounding the victory as the essence of endurance racing.</p> <p>Bamber, along with&nbsp;team-mates Brendon Hartley and&nbsp;Timo Bernhard, claimed&nbsp;Porsche&#39;s 19th Le Mans win in unexpected circumstances as the leading Toyota cars both retired within an hour of one another, putting Porsche in control, but the #2 car had to battle with its own problems.</p> <p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s so magical to get the win for Porsche today in those circumstances &ndash; It&rsquo;s what endurance racing is all about,&quot;&nbsp;Bamber said after the event.</p> <p>The car suffered a front-axle motor failure, forcing a lengthy repair, but with rivals Toyota out and the second Porsche hitting trouble, the #2 car eventually retook the lead from Jackie Chan&#39;s LMP2 with a handful of laps remaining.</p> <p>&quot;I was driving at the time when I heard it go &lsquo;bang&rsquo; and I thought it was our race done. I brought it back to the pits and the guys looked into it, and we were back out in under an hour.</p> <p>&quot;It was a matter of fighting back into the top five at first, then that became a podium and then a podium became a win.&quot;</p> <p>Bamber said the team had to &quot;risk it all&quot; to claw back the lost time.</p> <p>&ldquo;We were counting the seconds, a few hours out it looked like it might be down to the last lap whether or not we&rsquo;d pass. It was incredibly tense in the pits and we were going flat-out all the time.</p> <p>&ldquo;It was basically a sprint race when we got back out &ndash; we had nothing to lose. We risked it all and got the reward.&rdquo;</p> http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/15018http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/15018Porsche wins 24H Le Mans as LMP2 cars complete podiumSun, 18 Jun 2017 13:17:02 GMT<p><strong>Porsche has won the 85th running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans following a drama-filled race that saw all but two of the LMP1 runners retire.</strong></p> <p>Timo Bernhard took the chequered flag one lap ahead of Ho-Pin Tung in the LMP2-class Jackie Chan DC Racing ORECA 07, which scored a remarkable podium finish by outlasting the more powerful LMP1s.</p> <p>Tung led until the end of the penultimate hour, when Bernhard caught and passed the Chinese driver on the run down to Mulsanne Corner having recovered from a deficit caused by an early hybrid issue.</p> <p>Bernhard, who won Le Mans in 2010 with Audi, lifted the trophy with team-mates Earl Bamber and Brendon Hartley.</p> <p>The result marked the first triumph at the 8.47-mile Circuit de la Sarthe for Hartley, while Bamber celebrated his second victory from three attempts.</p> <p>Joining Tung on the second step of the podium were former Audi LMP1 driver Oliver Jarvis and 19-year-old Thomas Laurent, who was the youngest driver in this year&#39;s race.</p> <p>The Jackie Chan car, run by British squad Jota Sport, led much&nbsp;of the final six hours after the once-leading #1 Porsche 919 Hybrid retired with engine trouble in the 21st hour.</p> <p>Andre Lotterer was coasting the car home with a 19 lap lead to the next-placed car, but lost drive heading down the pit straight and pulled off part-way through his crawl back to base.</p> <p>Other incidents knocked out the other key LMP1 runners, including the #7 Toyota TS050 which broke the qualifying lap record on Thursday.</p> <p>Kamui Kobayashi, the author of that record-breaking effort, encountered a clutch problem following the first of three safety car periods during the 10th hour.</p> <p>Shortly afterwards, the team&#39;s #9 entry, which was next in line but a lap down, retired when Nicolas Lapierre clashed with a Manor-entered ORECA LMP2 at the Dunlop Chicane.</p> <p>That left the #1 Porsche to rule the night alone, following the early hybrid issue&nbsp;for the German manufacturer&#39;s sister car and a similar problem for the #8 Toyota, which came through in ninth overall.</p> <p>Completing the podium was the #13 Rebellion Racing ORECA 07 of Nelson Piquet Jr, David Heinemeier Hansson and Mathias Beche, which lost its class advantage through a recurring starter problem.</p> <p>In fourth was the sister Jackie Chan DC Racing car, ahead of the #35 Signatech Alpine which was running fourth until Andre Negrao went off at Mulsanne in the final hour.</p> <p><b>Adam gives Aston last-gasp GTE-Pro win</b></p> <p>The battle for GTE-Pro honours boiled down to the final lap, with Jonny Adam overtaking Corvette driver Jordan Taylor to seal victory for Aston Martin Racing.</p> <p>Adam started the final stint one second behind Taylor, who got the jump in the final round pit stops.</p> <p>The order almost changed when Adam lunged down the inside at Indianapolis, but the Scottish driver out-braked himself and allowed Taylor to break.</p> <p>But when Taylor missed his own braking point at the second Mulsanne chicane, Adam closed in again and slipped past in front of the main grandstands.</p> <p>Taylor, whose tyres were already fading, incurred a puncture on the final lap and dropped to third behind the Ford GT driven by Harry Tincknell, Andy Priaulx and Pipo Derani.</p> <p>In GTE-Am, British squad JMW Motorsport dominated with Dries Vanthoor, Will Stevens and Rob Smith winning by a margin of one minute.</p> <p>JMW took the lead under the cover of darkness after the #98 Aston Martin Vantage encountered a puncture followed by a drive-through penalty for a pit infringement, which collectively cost three laps.</p> <table class="table table-bordered table-hover table-condensed"> <tbody> <tr> <td align="right">#</td> <td align="right">No</td> <td align="right">Team</td> <td align="right">Driver</td> <td align="right">Driver</td> <td align="right">Driver</td> <td align="right">Class</td> <td align="right">Laps</td> <td align="right">Gap</td> </tr> <tr> <td align="right">1</td> <td align="right">2</td> <td>Porsche LMP Team</td> <td>Timo BERNHARD</td> <td>Earl BAMBER</td> <td>Brendon HARTLEY</td> <td>LMP1</td> <td align="right">350</td> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> <tr> <td align="right">2</td> <td align="right">38</td> <td>Jackie Chan DC Racing</td> <td>Ho-Pin TUNG</td> <td>Thomas LAURENT</td> <td>Oliver JARVIS</td> <td>LMP2</td> <td align="right">350</td> <td>1&#39;33.056</td> </tr> <tr> <td align="right">3</td> <td align="right">35</td> <td>Signatech Alpine Matmut</td> <td>Nelson PANCIATICI</td> <td>Pierre RAGUES</td> <td>Andr&eacute; NEGR&Atilde;O</td> <td>LMP2</td> <td align="right">348</td> <td>2 Laps</td> </tr> <tr> <td align="right">4</td> <td align="right">13</td> <td>Vaillante Rebellion</td> <td>Nelson PIQUET JR</td> <td>David HEINEMEIER HANSSON</td> <td>Mathias BECHE</td> <td>LMP2</td> <td align="right">347</td> <td>3 Laps</td> </tr> <tr> <td align="right">5</td> <td align="right">37</td> <td>Jackie Chan DC Racing</td> <td>David CHENG</td> <td>Tristan GOMMENDY</td> <td>Alex BRUNDLE</td> <td>LMP2</td> <td align="right">347</td> <td>3 Laps</td> </tr> <tr> <td align="right">6</td> <td align="right">32</td> <td>United Autosports</td> <td>Will OWEN</td> <td>Hugo DE SADELEER</td> <td>Filipe ALBUQUERQUE</td> <td>LMP2</td> <td align="right">345</td> <td>5 Laps</td> </tr> <tr> <td align="right">7</td> <td align="right">24</td> <td>CEFC Manor TRS Racing</td> <td>Tor GRAVES</td> <td>Jonathan HIRSCHI</td> <td>Jean-Eric VERGNE</td> <td>LMP2</td> <td align="right">344</td> <td>6 Laps</td> </tr> <tr> <td align="right">8</td> <td align="right">40</td> <td>Graff</td> <td>James ALLEN</td> <td>Franck MATELLI</td> <td>Richard BRADLEY</td> <td>LMP2</td> <td align="right">344</td> <td>6 Laps</td> </tr> <tr> <td align="right">9</td> <td align="right">8</td> <td>Toyota Gazoo Racing</td> <td>S&eacute;bastien BUEMI</td> <td>Anthony DAVIDSON</td> <td>Kazuki NAKAJIMA</td> <td>LMP1</td> <td align="right">341</td> <td>9 Laps</td> </tr> <tr> <td align="right">10</td> <td align="right">47</td> <td>Cetilar Villorba Corse</td> <td>Roberto LACORTE</td> <td>Giorgio SERNAGIOTTO</td> <td>Andrea BELICCHI</td> <td>LMP2</td> <td align="right">338</td> <td>12 Laps</td> </tr> <tr> <td align="right">11</td> <td align="right">34</td> <td>Tockwith Motorsports</td> <td>Nigel MOORE</td> <td>Philip HANSON</td> <td>Karun CHANDHOK</td> <td>LMP2</td> <td align="right">335</td> <td>15 Laps</td> </tr> <tr> <td align="right">12</td> <td align="right">36</td> <td>Signatech Alpine Matmut</td> <td>Romain DUMAS</td> <td>Gustavo MENEZES</td> <td>Matthew RAO</td> <td>LMP2</td> <td align="right">335</td> <td>15 Laps</td> </tr> <tr> <td align="right">13</td> <td align="right">17</td> <td>Idec Sport Racing</td> <td>Patrice LAFARGUE</td> <td>Paul LAFARGUE</td> <td>David ZOLLINGER</td> <td>LMP2</td> <td align="right">329</td> <td>21 Laps</td> </tr> <tr> <td align="right">14</td> <td align="right">29</td> <td>Racing Team Nederland</td> <td>Jan LAMMERS</td> <td>Frits VAN EERD</td> <td>Rubens BARRICHELLO</td> <td>LMP2</td> <td align="right">329</td> <td>21 Laps</td> </tr> <tr> <td align="right">15</td> <td align="right">21</td> <td>Dragonspeed - 10 Star</td> <td>Henrik HEDMAN</td> <td>Ben HANLEY</td> <td>Felix ROSENQVIST</td> <td>LMP2</td> <td align="right">327</td> <td>23 Laps</td> </tr> <tr> <td align="right">16</td> <td align="right">33</td> <td>Eurasia Motorsport</td> <td>Jacques NICOLET</td> <td>Pierre NICOLET</td> <td>Erik MARIS</td> <td>LMP2</td> <td align="right">326</td> <td>24 Laps</td> </tr> <tr> <td align="right">17</td> <td align="right">97</td> <td>Aston Martin Racing</td> <td>Darren TURNER</td> <td>Jonathan ADAM</td> <td>Daniel SERRA</td> <td>LMGTE Pro</td> <td align="right">325</td> <td>25 Laps</td> </tr> <tr> <td align="right">18</td> <td align="right">63</td> <td>Corvette Racing - GM</td> <td>Jan MAGNUSSEN</td> <td>Antonio GARCIA</td> <td>Jordan TAYLOR</td> <td>LMGTE Pro</td> <td align="right">325</td> <td>25 Laps</td> </tr> <tr> <td align="right">19</td> <td align="right">67</td> <td>Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK</td> <td>Andy PRIAULX</td> <td>Harry TINCKNELL</td> <td>Luis Felipe DERANI</td> <td>LMGTE Pro</td> <td align="right">324</td> <td>26 Laps</td> </tr> <tr> <td align="right">20</td> <td align="right">91</td> <td>Porsche GT Team</td> <td>Richard LIETZ</td> <td>Fr&eacute;d&eacute;ric MAKOWIECKI</td> <td>Patrick PILET</td> <td>LMGTE Pro</td> <td align="right">324</td> <td>26 Laps</td> </tr> <tr> <td align="right">21</td> <td align="right">71</td> <td>AF Corse</td> <td>Davide RIGON</td> <td>Sam BIRD</td> <td>Miguel MOLINA</td> <td>LMGTE Pro</td> <td align="right">324</td> <td>26 Laps</td> </tr> <tr> <td align="right">22</td> <td align="right">68</td> <td>Ford Chip Ganassi Team USA</td> <td>Joey HAND</td> <td>Dirk M&Uuml;LLER</td> <td>Tony KANAAN</td> <td>LMGTE Pro</td> <td align="right">324</td> <td>26 Laps</td> </tr> <tr> <td align="right">23</td> <td align="right">31</td> <td>Vaillante Rebellion</td> <td>Nicolas PROST</td> <td>Julien CANAL</td> <td>Bruno SENNA</td> <td>LMP2</td> <td align="right">323</td> <td>27 Laps</td> </tr> <tr> <td align="right">24</td> <td align="right">69</td> <td>Ford Chip Ganassi Team USA</td> <td>Ryan BRISCOE</td> <td>Richard WESTBROOK</td> <td>Scott DIXON</td> <td>LMGTE Pro</td> <td align="right">322</td> <td>28 Laps</td> </tr> <tr> <td align="right">25</td> <td align="right">64</td> <td>Corvette Racing - GM</td> <td>Oliver GAVIN</td> <td>Tommy MILNER</td> <td>Marcel F&Auml;SSLER</td> <td>LMGTE Pro</td> <td align="right">319</td> <td>31 Laps</td> </tr> <tr> <td align="right">26</td> <td align="right">95</td> <td>Aston Martin Racing</td> <td>Nicki THIIM</td> <td>Marco S&Oslash;RENSEN</td> <td>Richie STANAWAY</td> <td>LMGTE Pro</td> <td align="right">319</td> <td>31 Laps</td> </tr> <tr> <td align="right">27</td> <td align="right">84</td> <td>JMW Motorsport</td> <td>Robert SMITH</td> <td>Will STEVENS</td> <td>Dries VANTHOOR</td> <td>LMGTE Am</td> <td align="right">318</td> <td>32 Laps</td> </tr> <tr> <td align="right">28</td> <td align="right">55</td> <td>Spirit of Race</td> <td>Duncan CAMERON</td> <td>Aaron SCOTT</td> <td>Marco CIOCI</td> <td>LMGTE Am</td> <td align="right">317</td> <td>33 Laps</td> </tr> <tr> <td align="right">29</td> <td align="right">66</td> <td>Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK</td> <td>Stefan M&Uuml;CKE</td> <td>Olivier PLA</td> <td>Billy JOHNSON</td> <td>LMGTE Pro</td> <td align="right">317</td> <td>33 Laps</td> </tr> <tr> <td align="right">30</td> <td align="right">62</td> <td>Scuderia Corsa</td> <td>Cooper MACNEIL</td> <td>William SWEEDLER</td> <td>Townsend BELL</td> <td>LMGTE Am</td> <td align="right">316</td> <td>34 Laps</td> </tr> <tr> <td align="right">31</td> <td align="right">99</td> <td>Beechdean AMR</td> <td>Andrew HOWARD</td> <td>Ross GUNN</td> <td>Oliver BRYANT</td> <td>LMGTE Am</td> <td align="right">315</td> <td>35 Laps</td> </tr> <tr> <td align="right">32</td> <td align="right">61</td> <td>Clearwater Racing</td> <td>Weng Sun MOK</td> <td>Keita SAWA</td> <td>Matt GRIFFIN</td> <td>LMGTE Am</td> <td align="right">315</td> <td>35 Laps</td> </tr> <tr> <td align="right">33</td> <td align="right">77</td> <td>Dempsey - Proton Racing</td> <td>Christian RIED</td> <td>Matteo CAIROLI</td> <td>Marvin DIENST</td> <td>LMGTE Am</td> <td align="right">315</td> <td>35 Laps</td> </tr> <tr> <td align="right">34</td> <td align="right">45</td> <td>Algarve Pro Racing</td> <td>Mark PATTERSON</td> <td>Matthew MCMURRY</td> <td>Vincent CAPILLAIRE</td> <td>LMP2</td> <td align="right">314</td> <td>36 Laps</td> </tr> <tr> <td align="right">35</td> <td align="right">90</td> <td>TF Sport</td> <td>Salih YOLUC</td> <td>Euan HANKEY</td> <td>Rob BELL</td> <td>LMGTE Am</td> <td align="right">314</td> <td>36 Laps</td> </tr> <tr> <td align="right">36</td> <td align="right">98</td> <td>Aston Martin Racing</td> <td>Paul DALLA LANA</td> <td>Pedro LAMY</td> <td>Mathias LAUDA</td> <td>LMGTE Am</td> <td align="right">314</td> <td>36 Laps</td> </tr> <tr> <td align="right">37</td> <td align="right">93</td> <td>Proton Competition</td> <td>Patrick LONG</td> <td>Abdulaziz AL FAISAL</td> <td>Michael HEDLUND</td> <td>LMGTE Am</td> <td align="right">314</td> <td>36 Laps</td> </tr> <tr> <td align="right">38</td> <td align="right">27</td> <td>SMP Racing</td> <td>Mikhail ALESHIN</td> <td>Sergey SIROTKIN</td> <td>Victor SHAITAR</td> <td>LMP2</td> <td align="right">314</td> <td>36 Laps</td> </tr> <tr> <td align="right">39</td> <td align="right">86</td> <td>Gulf Racing UK</td> <td>Michael WAINWRIGHT</td> <td>Benjamin BARKER</td> <td>Nicholas FOSTER</td> <td>LMGTE Am</td> <td align="right">313</td> <td>37 Laps</td> </tr> <tr> <td align="right">40</td> <td align="right">60</td> <td>Clearwater Racing</td> <td>Richard WEE</td> <td>Hiroki KATOH</td> <td>Alvaro PARENTE</td> <td>LMGTE Am</td> <td align="right">313</td> <td>37 Laps</td> </tr> <tr> <td align="right">41</td> <td align="right">22</td> <td>G-Drive Racing</td> <td>Memo ROJAS</td> <td>Ryo HIRAKAWA</td> <td>Jose GUTIERREZ</td> <td>LMP2</td> <td align="right">312</td> <td>38 Laps</td> </tr> <tr> <td align="right">42</td> <td align="right">54</td> <td>Spirit of Race</td> <td>Thomas FLOHR</td> <td>Francesco CASTELLACCI</td> <td>Olivier BERETTA</td> <td>LMGTE Am</td> <td align="right">312</td> <td>38 Laps</td> </tr> <tr> <td align="right">43</td> <td align="right">65</td> <td>Scuderia Corsa</td> <td>Christina NIELSEN</td> <td>Alessandro BALZAN</td> <td>Bret CURTIS</td> <td>LMGTE Am</td> <td align="right">308</td> <td>42 Laps</td> </tr> <tr> <td align="right">44</td> <td align="right">83</td> <td>DH Racing</td> <td>Tracy KROHN</td> <td>Niclas J&Ouml;NSSON</td> <td>Andrea BERTOLINI</td> <td>LMGTE Am</td> <td align="right">306</td> <td>44 Laps</td> </tr> <tr> <td align="right">45</td> <td align="right">51</td> <td>AF Corse</td> <td>James CALADO</td> <td>Alessandro PIER GUIDI</td> <td>Michele RUGOLO</td> <td>LMGTE Pro</td> <td align="right">302</td> <td>48 Laps</td> </tr> <tr> <td align="right">46</td> <td align="right">39</td> <td>Graff</td> <td>Enzo GUIBBERT</td> <td>Eric TROUILLET</td> <td>James WINSLOW</td> <td>LMP2</td> <td align="right">302</td> <td>48 Laps</td> </tr> <tr> <td align="right">47</td> <td align="right">49</td> <td>Arc Bratislava</td> <td>Miroslav KONOPKA</td> <td>Konstantin CALKO</td> <td>Rik BREUKERS</td> <td>LMP2</td> <td align="right">298</td> <td>52 Laps</td> </tr> <tr> <td align="right">48</td> <td align="right">43</td> <td>Keating Motorsports</td> <td>Ben KEATING</td> <td>Jeroen BLEEKEMOLEN</td> <td>Ricky TAYLOR</td> <td>LMP2</td> <td align="right">297</td> <td>53 Laps</td> </tr> <tr> <td align="right">49</td> <td align="right">50</td> <td>Larbre Competition</td> <td>Fernando REES</td> <td>Romain BRANDELA</td> <td>Christian PHILIPPON</td> <td>LMGTE Am</td> <td align="right">294</td> <td>56 Laps</td> </tr> <tr> <td align="right">50</td> <td align="right">1</td> <td>Porsche LMP Team</td> <td>Neel JANI</td> <td>Andr&eacute; LOTTERER</td> <td>Nick TANDY</td> <td>LMP1</td> <td align="right">318</td> <td>32 Laps</td> </tr> <tr> <td align="right">51</td> <td align="right">23</td> <td>Panis Barthez Competition</td> <td>Fabien BARTHEZ</td> <td>Timoth&eacute; BURET</td> <td>Nathana&euml;l BERTHON</td> <td>LMP2</td> <td align="right">296</td> <td>54 Laps</td> </tr> <tr> <td align="right">52</td> <td align="right">28</td> <td>TDS Racing</td> <td>Fran&ccedil;ois PERRODO</td> <td>Matthieu VAXIVIERE</td> <td>Emmanuel COLLARD</td> <td>LMP2</td> <td align="right">213</td> <td>137 Laps</td> </tr> <tr> <td align="right">53</td> <td align="right">92</td> <td>Porsche GT Team</td> <td>Michael CHRISTENSEN</td> <td>Kevin ESTRE</td> <td>Dirk WERNER</td> <td>LMGTE Pro</td> <td align="right">179</td> <td>171 Laps</td> </tr> <tr> <td align="right">54</td> <td align="right">9</td> <td>Toyota Gazoo Racing</td> <td>Nicolas LAPIERRE</td> <td>Yuji KUNIMOTO</td> <td>Jose Maria LOPEZ</td> <td>LMP1</td> <td align="right">160</td> <td>190 Laps</td> </tr> <tr> <td align="right">55</td> <td align="right">7</td> <td>Toyota Gazoo Racing</td> <td>Mike CONWAY</td> <td>Kamui KOBAYASHI</td> <td>St&eacute;phane SARRAZIN</td> <td>LMP1</td> <td align="right">154</td> <td>196 Laps</td> </tr> <tr> <td align="right">56</td> <td align="right">25</td> <td>CEFC Manor TRS Racing</td> <td>Roberto GONZALEZ</td> <td>Simon TRUMMER</td> <td>Vitaly PETROV</td> <td>LMP2</td> <td align="right">152</td> <td>198 Laps</td> </tr> <tr> <td align="right">57</td> <td align="right">82</td> <td>Risi Competizione</td> <td>Toni VILANDER</td> <td>Giancarlo FISICHELLA</td> <td>Pierre KAFFER</td> <td>LMGTE Pro</td> <td align="right">72</td> <td>278 Laps</td> </tr> <tr> <td align="right">58</td> <td align="right">26</td> <td>G-Drive Racing</td> <td>Roman RUSINOV</td> <td>Pierre THIRIET</td> <td>Alex LYNN</td> <td>LMP2</td> <td align="right">20</td> <td>330 Laps</td> </tr> <tr> <td align="right">59</td> <td align="right">88</td> <td>Proton Competition</td> <td>Klaus BACHLER</td> <td>St&eacute;phane LEMERET</td> <td>Khaled AL QUBAISI</td> <td>LMGTE Am</td> <td align="right">18</td> <td>332 Laps</td> </tr> <tr> <td align="right">60</td> <td align="right">4</td> <td>Bykolles Racing Team</td> <td>Oliver WEBB</td> <td>Dominik KRAIHAMER</td> <td>Marco BONANOMI</td> <td>LMP1</td> <td align="right">7</td> <td>343 Laps</td> </tr> </tbody> </table> http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/15014http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/15014Video: Porsche's Le Mans night updateSun, 18 Jun 2017 08:37:35 GMT<p><strong>Watch how Porsche took the lead at&nbsp;the 24 Hours of Le Mans following separate incidents for the No. 7 and No. 9 Toyota TS050s.</strong></p> http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/15013http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/15013Porsche continues 24H Le Mans dominance; LMP2s move in for podiumSun, 18 Jun 2017 07:33:10 GMT<p><strong>Porsche maintained its comfortable position out front at&nbsp;the 24 Hours of Le Mans, with Nick Tandy taking the #1 919 Hybrid into the final quarter of the race.</strong></p> <p>Following Toyota&#39;s <a href="https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/15011">double retirement under the cover of darkness</a>, Tandy surged into a 12-lap lead with no immediate LMP1 hybrid opposition remaining.</p> <p>With the next-closest LMP1 - the #2 Porsche 919 Hybrid which lost time through an early hybrid issue - a further four laps behind the fight for LMP2 class honours took on new meaning as the possibility of an overall podium emerged.</p> <p>Thomas Laurent was second overall at the close of the 18th hour, having recovered the Jackie Chan DC Racing ORECA 07-Gibson from an early spin.</p> <p>Laurent caught and passed the leading #13 Vaillante Rebellion ORECA through a localised &#39;slow zone&#39;, and went on to build a healthy lead to David Heinemeier Hansson.</p> <p>The Rebellion lost time during the dawn hours when the car failed to get going after a routine stop, but the team executed a quick turnaround to stay on the overall podium, in front of Nelson Panciatici in the #35 Signatech Alpine.</p> <p>In GTE-Pro, Aston Martin Racing led at the 18-hour mark, although the British manufacturer&#39;s challenge had been split for the second time when the #95 Vantage went off at Arnage and collected a puncture.</p> <p>Richie Stanaway&#39;s mistake dropped that car off the lead lap in class, after it had recovered through the night following an earlier puncture in the first six hours.</p> <p>That left the #97 Aston Martin to lead the category, with Jonny Adam two&nbsp;seconds ahead of Jordan Taylor in the #63 Corvette C7.R.</p> <p>Close behind Taylor was the sole surviving new-spec Porsche 911 RSR of Fred Makowiecki, which now flies the flag alone for the manufacturer&#39;s GTE effort after Michael Christensen crashed the sister car at the Ford chicane.</p> <p>Ferraris ran 1-2-3 in GTE-Am with six hours to go, as JMW Motorsport continued to extend its lead inherited during the night.</p> <p>With six hours to go, Dries Vanthoor had a two lap cushion to Duncan Cameron in the #55 Spirit of Race car, with Bill Sweedler third for the US-based Scuderia Corsa outfit.</p> http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/15012http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/15012Big lead for #1 Porsche as 24H Le Mans hits halfwaySun, 18 Jun 2017 01:29:43 GMT<p><strong>Porsche LMP1 driver Nick Tandy held a nine lap lead at the halfway stage of the Le Mans 24 Hours&nbsp;following a series of issues for the leading Toyota runners.</strong></p> <p>All three Toyota TS050s encountered trouble during the opening 12 hours, with the No. 7 and No. 9 retiring within minutes of each other either side of the 11-hour mark.</p> <p>The Japanese manufacturer&#39;s No. 8 car had previously lost 30 laps with a front-end hybrid issue, and continued into the second half of the contest in 45th place overall.</p> <p>Following a safety car period during hour 10 to recover gravel spewed up by a spinning Ford GT, Kamui Kobayashi parked the No. 7 TS050 citing clutch issues.</p> <p>The #9 car, driven by Nicolas Lapierre, then made contact with the #25 Manor LMP2 - which was fighting for a class podium - before stopping on track just before the Ford chicane.</p> <p><a href="http://fiawec.alkamelsystems.com/Results/07_2017/03_LE%20MANS/171_FIA%20WEC/201706171500_Race/Hour%2012/05_Classification_Race_Hour%2012.PDF">24 Hours of Le Mans: Positions after 12 hours</a></p> <p>So far, the #1 Porsche 919 Hybrid driven by Tandy, Andre Lotterer and 2016 race winner Neel Jani is the only front-runner to have escaped major incident.</p> <p>The #2 Porsche fell nine laps adrift when the team encountered a similar issue to the No. 8 Toyota during the first six hours.</p> <p>After an hour-long recovery, the team returned to the track but Brendon Hartley, Earl Bamber and Timo Bernhard have a long way to go before they clear the LMP2 field.</p> <p>Second overall is the #31 Vaillante Rebellion ORECA 07-Gibson, which has shared the secondary prototype class lead with the sister #13 Rebellion since the early stages.</p> <p>At the close of 12 hours, Nicolas Prost held a lead of --- back to David Heinemeier Hansson.</p> <p>Third in LMP2 and fourth overall is the #38 Jackie Chan DC Racing ORECA 07 that early on through Oliver Jarvis, but dropped back when Thomas Laurent spun and surrendered the lead.</p> <p>Rounding out the top five was the #36 Signatech Alpine entry.</p> <p>In GTE-Pro, Aston Martin continued to lead at halfway, with the two Vantages back together again following a solid recovery drive from the #95 crew of Nicki Thiim, Marco Sorensen and Richie Stanaway.</p> <p>Sorensen was leading during the fourth hour when he picked up a puncture, meaning the crew had to fight back from last place.</p> <p>At the top of the 12th hour, the two Astons were separated by three seconds, with the #91 Porsche 911 RSR a further 48 seconds adrift.</p> <p>GTE-Am was headed&nbsp;by the JMW Motorsport Ferrari 488 of Will Stevens, Dries Vanthoor and Rob Smith after the #98 Aston Martin pitted from the lead with heavy damage caused by a right-front tyre blowout.</p> http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/15011http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/15011Toyota's Le Mans hopes obliterated by double retirementSat, 17 Jun 2017 23:44:19 GMT<p><strong>Toyota&#39;s chances of victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans have been dashed by a half hour of madness at the Circuit de la Sarthe.</strong></p> <p>Having led the majority of the race, the No. 7 car encountered a clutch problem with Kamui Kobayashi behind the wheel during the 10th hour.</p> <p>Kobayashi was preparing to take a restart following a safety car period caused by a spin for Olivier Pla&#39;s Ford GT, but the TS050&#39;s power cut out and the Japanese driver was forced to complete a lap of the 8.47 mile circuit at a crawl.</p> <p>The No. 7 car lasted until the Arnage complex before Kobayashi finally pulled off in resignation.</p> <p>A second safety car period was called a few minutes later when Simon Trummer spun the #25 Manor ORECA out from fifth in LMP2.</p> <p>That bunched up the field again, and at the ensuing restart disaster struck for a second time when as the No. 9 Toyota had its race ended by an incident at the Dunlop chicane.</p> <p>Nicolas Lapierre, who was trying to return the car to the lead lap after a door problem forced an extra pit stop, made contact with the LMP2-class Villorba Corse Dallara and skidded into the gravel.</p> <p>That meant the Frenchman also had to trundle round the entire circuit, with the car&#39;s dislodged left-rear tyre causing considerable damage to the surrounding bodywork.</p> <p>Lapierre stopped three times on his way round, eventually abandoning the car on the run down to the Ford chicane.</p> <p>The drama leaves Toyota with one car left in the race -&nbsp;the #8 driven by Sebastien Buemi, Anthony Davidson and Kazuki Nakajima - although that sits 29 laps down following an earlier front hybrid issue.</p> <p>Nick Tandy currently leads the race overall for Porsche, having taken over the #1 919 Hybrid from Andre Lotterer.</p> <p>The sister Porsche lies 19&nbsp;laps behind after recovering from a front hybrid problem of its own.</p> <p>In LMP2, Rebellion Racing runs first and second with a realistic possibility of finisshing on the overall podium.</p> http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/15010http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/15010Stephane Sarrazin out front in No.7 Toyota after six hours of Le MansSat, 17 Jun 2017 19:27:25 GMT<p>The No.7 Toyota TS050 driven by Stephane Sarrazin holds the lead a quarter of the way through the 24 Hours of Le Mans, ahead of the No.1 Porsche 919 Hybrid.</p> <p>Sarrazin&rsquo;s team-mate Mike Conway took over first place from the No.8 Toyota in the second hour, before further strengthening its advantage.</p> <p>Porsche started to reel the No.7 TS050 back though in the fifth and sixth hour, even spending a short part of the race at the front with Andre Lotterer while the Toyota took to the pits.</p> <p>Sarrazin claimed back first place when Lotterer dived into the pits and held a 26 second lead after 96 laps of running, just past the six-hour mark as the sun began to set.</p> <p>The hour was completed under yellow flags and with slow zones, due to a crash between the No.82 Ferrari and No.28 TDS Racing LMP2 machine, plus a spin for David Cheng in the No.37 Jackie Chan DC Racing LMP2 car.</p> <p>The No.8 Toyota of Kazuki Nakajima was closing in on the leading two and was just 31 seconds off the lead by the conclusion of the sixth hour.</p> <p>Meanwhile the third and final Toyota, the No.9, was one lap down in fourth after losing time due to an unscheduled pitstop for a slightly ajar door.</p> <p>The fifth factory LMP1 entry, the No.2 Porsche, spent a long spell in the garage with a front-axle issue before rejoining some way down the order in 54th.</p> <p>The super-competitive LMP2 class is led by the No.31 Vaillante Rebellion car, five laps off the leading LMP1 car and part of a 1-2-3 for the Oreca 07.</p> <p>Rebellion&rsquo;s second car, the No.13, held the runner-up spot after six hours, ahead of the No.38 Jackie Chan DC Racing machine.</p> <p>In GTE Pro, the No.97 Aston Martin Racing car leads the No.67 Ford GT, with the No.66 Chip Ganassi Ford close behind in third.</p> <p>GTE Am&rsquo;s front-running car is the No.98 Aston Martin Racing entry, with the No.84 JMW Motorsport Ferrari on the same lap.</p> <p>Numerous incidents caused slow zones and yellow flags, including an early clash between the pole-sitting LMP2 car &ndash; the No.26 G-Drive &ndash; and the No.88 Proton Competition Porsche.</p> <p><a href="http://fiawec.alkamelsystems.com/Results/07_2017/03_LE%20MANS/171_FIA%20WEC/201706171500_Race/Hour%206/05_Classification_Race_Hour%206.PDF">24 Hours of Le Mans: Positions after 6 hours</a></p> http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/15007http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/15007Sebastien Buemi takes lead in first hour at Le MansSat, 17 Jun 2017 14:20:13 GMT<p><strong>Toyota paced the opening hour of the 24 Hours of Le Mans with Sebastien Buemi passing stable-mate Mike Conway for the overall lead.</strong></p> <p>A gutsy overtake from Buemi - piloting the #8 TS050 - round the outside of pole-sitter Conway at Indianapolis developed into a 1.624&nbsp;second advantage after 60 minutes of action.</p> <p>All LMP1 runners made their first pit stops on laps 12 and 13, with each opting to take fuel only, in hot conditions at the Circuit de la Sarthe.</p> <p>Porsche held third and fourth after Neel Jani lost second position in the pits, having passed Buemi in the first string of corners.</p> <p>The Swiss driver sat 4.5 seconds down on the leader, and three seconds off Conway, at the close of the hour.</p> <p>Timo Bernhard sits behind in second, with the #9 Toyota of Nicolas Lapierre fifth following a nose cone change after picking up a debris graze on lap one.</p> <p>The fastest lap so far is a 3m 18.694 set by Conway on lap three.</p> <p><a href="http://fiawec.alkamelsystems.com/Results/07_2017/03_LE%20MANS/171_FIA%20WEC/201706171500_Race/Hour%201/05_Classification_Race_Hour%201.PDF">24 Hours of Le Mans: Hour 1 positions</a></p> <p>In LMP2, Vitaly Petrov took the lead from pole-man Roman Rusinov at the first set of corners, and led until the first round of stops halfway through the hour.</p> <p>Rusinov spun at the Ford Chicane and recovered by scuttling into the pits, but the #26 ORECA dropped out of the top 10.</p> <p>Manor driver Petrov was replaced up front by Oliver Jarvis (Jackie Chan DC Racing) who led until the pit window.</p> <p>A slow stop from the DC Racing team elevated Bruno Senna (Vaillante Rebellion) into the lead, ahead of Petrov and Manor team-mate Jean-Eric Vergne.</p> <p>GTE-Pro was led at the top of the second hour by Nicki Thiim, who passed Alessandro Pier Guidi and Darren Turner before the pit stops began.</p> <p>Thiim overtook both cars before making a faultless pit stop, and managed to build a lead of around four seconds to Turner, who had Pier Guidi and the Porsche of Kevin Estre for close company.</p> <p>Having set a class lap record in qualifying, Fernando Rees dropped to third position in GTE-Am after a long opening pit stop, behind leader Townsend Bell (Scuderia Corsa Ferrari) and Rob Bell (TF Sport Aston Martin).</p> <p>The first casualties were the ByKolles Racing Nissan LMP1 which clipped the wall at Tertre Rouge before pitting, and the #22 G-Drive Racing ORECA LMP2 which is currently in the pits undergoing gearbox repairs.</p> http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/15003http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/15003Le Mans is our Everest - Anthony DavidsonSat, 17 Jun 2017 08:49:13 GMT<p><strong>Toyota LMP1 driver Anthony Davidson reckons Le Mans remains the team&#39;s &#39;Mount Everest&#39; despite being more prepared than ever to claim a maiden victory at the 24-hour classic.</strong></p> <p>Davidson shares the #8 TS050 Hybrid with S&eacute;bastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima, one year on from the last-gasp&nbsp;air-line failure&nbsp;that allowed Porsche to steal victory on the final lap.</p> <p>The trio started the year by winning&nbsp;the opening two World Endurance Championship rounds at Silverstone and Spa, although Davidson claimed the latter was &#39;lucky&#39; considering they didn&#39;t have the quicker car.</p> <p>Following that early-season experience, and having come so close to winning Le Mans in the past, the 2014&nbsp;World Endurance champion believes&nbsp;good fortune will be a factor in deciding a winner for the 85th edition of the race this weekend.</p> <p>&quot;Well you saw how much bad luck can come into effect last year,&quot; Davidson told <em>Motorsport Week.com</em>.</p> <p>&quot;If you don&#39;t have any bad luck, you need a faultless race in terms of driving, in terms of reliability of your car.&quot;</p> <p>&quot;I watched a documentary recently on climbing Mount Everest, and the locals said that you need luck to get to the top, and I think it&#39;s the same as that.&quot;</p> <p>&quot;I could really empathise with what they&#39;re saying, because it&#39;s true. You can plan this race as good as you can, and at the end of the day you do need luck to win it.&quot;</p> <p>The #8 Toyota will start second on the grid, as part of a front-row lockout with the sister #7 car which <a href="https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/14993">broke the Circuit de la Sarthe lap record in qualifying</a>.</p> <p>Porsche occupy the row behind, and although the 919 Hybrids have been short on pace to the Toyotas so far this week, Davidson doesn&#39;t feel we have seen the best of the German manufacturer&#39;s two cars.</p> <figure class="image" style="float:right"><img alt="" height="220" src="/ckfinder/userfiles/images/WEC/2017_WEC_T09_LeMans_Sunday_S2_1.jpg" width="400" /> <figcaption>Davidson and co are wary of Porsche (James Moy)</figcaption> </figure> <p>&quot;Nope. No. I can&#39;t tell myself that we have,&quot; he said.</p> <p>&quot;You&#39;ve always got to expect them to improve like we saw in Silverstone. We had the upper hand all week, and I when it came to the race I think they had the speed to win.&quot;</p> <p>&quot;The outright pace of the #2 car was a big surprise, so I&#39;m expecting them to raise their game for the race day.&quot;</p> <p>&quot;They [Porsche] knew they had a good car in the Silverstone race.&nbsp;So based on that, I&#39;m fully expecting them to be right there this weekend.&quot;</p> <p>&quot;I feel we are prepared with three cars here,&quot; he said.</p> <p>&quot;We&rsquo;ve done the best we can. I&rsquo;ve never seen the team so prepared to win this race so hopefully it pays off this year. You can never expect anything from this one.&quot;</p> <p>Davidson&#39;s best result at Le Mans was second in 2013, with the Toyota TS030 Hybrid.</p> <p>The following year he finished third, but those have been his only&nbsp;trips&nbsp;to the podium from nine visits.</p> <p>Although Le Mans is his Mount Everest, Davidson doesn&#39;t feel the pressure to add his name to the Le Mans honour roll on his tenth appearance&nbsp;- rather he feels the opposite, because he knows he has done enough in the past to prove his ability.</p> <p>&quot;I don&rsquo;t think that if I won this race, other people&rsquo;s perception of me as a sportscar driver will change,&quot; he explained.</p> <p>&quot;At the end of the day I don&rsquo;t really care about what other people think about my driving, but I&rsquo;m hard on myself.&quot;</p> <p>&quot;Last year we did enough to win this race and I know I&rsquo;ve done the job multiple times. I said a couple of years ago that I know how to win this race as a driver, and I proved that last year.&nbsp;I don&rsquo;t actually need a trophy or for it to be on my CV to prove&nbsp;it.&quot;</p> <p>&quot;And that&rsquo;s how I get the best out of myself for this race: I find people get too hit up about it because they put too much weight on this one race when you can&rsquo;t control how well you do because it either comes your way or doesn&rsquo;t.&quot;</p> <p>&quot;It&#39;s our Everest, basically.&nbsp;I may never get to the top in my career...but as long as I do the job I know I can do, I&#39;ll be happy.&quot;</p> <p>The 24 Hours of Le Mans is set to get underway on Saturday afternoon (June 17th) at 15:00 local time (CEST).</p> http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/15000http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/15000Cost-cutting, plug-in hybrids at the heart of 2020 LMP1 regulationsFri, 16 Jun 2017 10:56:37 GMT<p><strong>An updated rulebook for the LMP1 category of the FIA World Endurance Championship has been announced by the ACO, with cost-cutting initiatives and plug-in hybrid technology headlining the changes.</strong></p> <p>ACO President Pierre Fillon presented the regulations one day before the start of this year&#39;s 24 Hours of Le Mans,&nbsp;which promise to&nbsp;maintain stability whilst furthering technological innovation in the competition&#39;s top tier.</p> <p>The number of aerodynamic kits allowed per season has been reduced from two to one in a bid to reduce spending.</p> <p>In response, the WEC has granted the use of active aerodynamic elements that can be tweaked to suit the demands of different circuits, depending on their downforce requirements.</p> <p>Implementing removable aero parts will mean teams won&#39;t be able to develop a specific Le Mans aero package, as is currently the case.</p> <p>Other cost-cutting measures include the reduction of wind tunnel testing to 600 hours per year (from 800), the curbing of test day availability to give teams a &#39;very limited&#39; number of private runs, and a rule preventing teams from building a new car each season.</p> <p>In another major announcment, Fillon revealed&nbsp;that hybrid teams will be required to run the first kilometre of each outlap under electric power alone.</p> <p>In order to bring the road-going technology of manufacturers into racing, cars will undergo a rapid recharge using a plug-in hybrid system that will operate simultaneously with refuelling.</p> <p>Plans are also afoot to require cars to finish races on electric power, although these are not set in stone.</p> <p>Changes regarding staff numbers (down from 65 to 50)&nbsp;and new future competitions were also discussed at the conference, were also presented.</p> <p>From the competition side, an LMP3 &#39;World League&#39; will be established for the growing junior prototype category that now has championships in Europe, Asia, North America and the United Kingdom.</p> <p>The plan is to pit the best entries from each series in a &#39;Super Final&#39; to determine the world&#39;s top LMP3 outfit.</p> http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/14999http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/14999F1 chairman Chase Carey named Le Mans starterFri, 16 Jun 2017 10:06:43 GMT<p><strong>Formula 1 chairman Chase Carey will wave the French tricolore to release the field at this year&#39;s 24 Hours of Le Mans.</strong></p> <p>The Liberty Media executive, who has been in charge of the single-seater championship since September 2016, was confirmed in a press conference at the Circuit de la Sarthe.</p> <p>Carey follows in the footsteps of American compatriot and Hollywood star&nbsp;Brad Pitt, who waved the cars away in 2016.</p> <p>ACO President Pierre Fillon said that Carey would help strenghten ties between Formula 1 and the Le Mans governing body.</p> <p>FIA bosses recently came together in Monaco to discuss the possibility of creating a sporting calendar that would minimise clashes and elevate the global status of&nbsp;each category.</p> <p>&quot;[I am] delighted that Chase Carey immediately accepted the invitation to be 2017 race starter,&quot; said Pierre Fillon, ACO President.</p> <p>&quot;By starting the race side by side, we will be demonstrating the new ties forged between the ACO and Formula One, facilitated by Jean Todt, president of FIA, our partner in the World Endurance Championship.&quot;</p> <p>&quot;The ACO has always been strongly attached to the passion for endurance racing, its history and above all to the fans, the people who make the discipline what it is.&quot;</p> <p>&quot;With Chase Carey as head of Formula One, the time has come to work together on the sporting calendar, to ensure fans can follow the Grand Prix and endurance racing seasons and enjoy both disciplines to the full.&rdquo;</p> <p>The 24 Hours of Le Mans is due to get underway tomorrow (Sunday, June 17th) at 15:00 local time (CEST).</p> http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/14998http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/14998Romain Dumas aiming to 'complete the set' at Le MansFri, 16 Jun 2017 08:27:12 GMT<p><strong>Reigning World Endurance Champion Romain Dumas says he is relishing the opportunity to race an LMP2 car at the 24 Hours of Le Mans for the first time.</strong></p> <p>The 39-year-old Frenchman, who has won the race twice overall and once in class,&nbsp;stepped back from his Porsche LMP1 role at the end of 2016 having clinched the world title with Neel Jani and Marc Lieb.</p> <p>This year, Dumas&nbsp;is taking on the new challenge of piloting an Alpine A470-Gibson in the secondary prototype class alongside Signatech&#39;s regular WEC drivers Gustavo Menezes and Matt Rao.</p> <p>The trio shared the car for the first time at the 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps in May, finishing fifth.</p> <p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s such a great opportunity for me,&rdquo; Dumas told <em>Motorsport Week.com</em>, &ldquo;After trying my hand and winning in LMP1 and GT, I wanted to complete the set and race in LMP2.&rdquo;</p> <p>&ldquo;Last December I contacted Porsche and expressed my plan to do Le Mans with a different team.&rdquo;</p> <p>&ldquo;They were interested in the idea of me doing LMP2, especially with a top team like Signatech Alpine. I saw Alpine&rsquo;s success last season and that made me keen to join. I contacted the team and everyone was willing to have me on board.&rdquo;</p> <p>The move was made possible by Toyota&rsquo;s decision to recall Nicolas Lapierre from Signatech Alpine for its additional Le Mans LMP1 entry.</p> <p>Had that not gone through, Dumas says that he would have pursued a GT3 drive in the Blancpain Series instead.</p> <p>With a Le Mans drive in the bag,&nbsp;Dumas is relishing the opportunity to compete&nbsp;with a French team for the first time since 2008 when he drove for Pescarolo Sport&rsquo;s LMP1 programme.</p> <p>However, he admits that the combination can create added pressure, especially with Alpine&#39;s status as a top team in the category.</p> <p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s hugely important for the fans,&rdquo; he said.</p> <figure class="image" style="float:right"><img alt="" height="220" src="/ckfinder/userfiles/images/WEC/jm1714ju55.jpg" width="400" /> <figcaption>Dumas is a popular driver, especially in a French car. (James Moy)</figcaption> </figure> <p>&ldquo;We have a French team, a French brand and myself, a French driver, competing in a French race - it is an excellent mix,&rdquo; he said.</p> <p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s huge&nbsp;because Alpine is a popular French brand. Admittedly that does put some pressure on us because we are fully aware of the importance of Alpine at Le Mans, but our team is very strong.&rdquo;</p> <p>&ldquo;I watched both Gustavo and Matt [in WEC LMP2] last year and was impressed by their performances. I&rsquo;m sure they&rsquo;ll learn a lot under Nico during the season and at Le Mans for sure I am helping share some of my experience with them. This weekend we are sharing a small motorhome in the campsite - so we know each other well now!&rdquo;</p> <p>Dumas has been driving at the top level of endurance racing for over 15 years, and is preparing to make his 17<sup>th</sup> start at the Circuit de la Sarthe.</p> <p>His profound experience means he has driven in different eras (most recently the hybrid revolution) and tried different cars with constantly evolving regulations.</p> <p>In 2017 he will sample another drastic change in the debut of the new LMP2 formula, which sees increased all-round performance including a power jump to approximately 600 horsepower.</p> <p>&ldquo;The new LMP2 category is very exciting, and is now at a level of performance where it is producing enough power to be the class that sits under LMP1 Hybrid,&rdquo; said Dumas.</p> <p>&ldquo;I think we are seeing that it has become like the new LMP1 privateer - teams from there are looking at LMP2 as the next step and it is a good, competitive place for young drivers to race.&rdquo;</p> <p>&ldquo;I have been involved in quite a few changes in the structure of the sport, like the introduction of hybrids and the arrival of closed-cockpit LMP1s, and this is one of the major ones.&rdquo;</p> <p>After a successful test day, the #36 car qualified 11th in class and 17th overall, with Menezes posting a time of 3m 28.021s that would have been enough to beat Dumas&#39; LMP1 Pescarolo by half a second.</p> <p>Although Dumas believes the team can go faster, he is wary that the class has numerous potential winners and so it taking a pragmatic approach.</p> <p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s the toughest class I&rsquo;ve ever driven in, based on the competition,&rdquo; he said.</p> <p>&ldquo;For me, between seven to ten cars can win. I compare that to when I won GTE-Pro with Porsche in 2013 &ndash; we realistically six cars in competition, and in LMP1 last year we had seven cars in total.&rdquo;</p> <p>&ldquo;A lot of people might think I&rsquo;m claiming it&rsquo;s tougher for the sake of saying it, but I genuinely think it is because every car has one silver driver and that can make a big difference. I think we have a good package, but all [ORECA] 07s have the same so it is very close.&rdquo;</p> <p>&ldquo;We do need to be fast but there is no point adding more pressure on ourselves because there is enough as it is - we have a plan in place&nbsp;and we will stick to it.</p> <p>The 85th edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans is set to get underway on Saturday, June 17th at 15:00 local time (CEST).</p> http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/14995http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/14995Video: Kamui Kobayashi smashes the fastest ever Le Mans lapThu, 15 Jun 2017 22:23:00 GMT<p>Kamui Kobayashi in Toyota #7 has literally annihilated the Le Mans lap record with a 3:14.791 on a flying lap just after the restart of qualifying session #2 after a red flag.</p> http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/14994http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/14994Video: Andy Priaulx on his Le Mans journeyThu, 15 Jun 2017 22:17:38 GMT<p>Watch how racing driver Andy Priaulx prepares for the most demanding race on the planet...the 24 Hours of Le Mans.</p> http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/14993http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/14993Toyota clinches pole at Le Mans; locks out front-rowThu, 15 Jun 2017 22:12:20 GMT<p><strong>Toyota will start this weekend&#39;s 24 Hours of Le Mans from pole position after the Japanese manufacturer topped the third and final qualifying session on Thursday night.</strong></p> <p>Kamui Kobayashi&#39;s record-breaking time of 3:14.971s - <a href="https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/14992">set during the second session at dusk</a> - held out as the fastest lap overall to put the #7 TS050 in front.</p> <p>An early 3m 17.126s flyer from Kazuki Nakajima during the final set of runs elevated the sister machine in front of the #1 Porsche 919 Hybrid to ensure a front-row lockout.</p> <p>The final margin between the top two cars was 2.227 seconds.</p> <p>Kobayashi will share the #7 car with Mike Conway and St&eacute;phane Sarrazin, while Nakajima drives the #8 alongside Anthony Davidson and S&eacute;bastien Buemi.</p> <p>Porsche had a troubled run during Q3, with Brendon Hartley pulling the #2 919 to one side with overheating issues.</p> <p>That rested the team&#39;s hopes on the #1 car, which lost valuable track time with a slow puncture.</p> <p>Andre Lotterer mustered a best time of 3:17.259s, bringing Porsche to a tenth of a second shy of disrupting Toyota&#39;s lockout, but the German manufacturer couldn&#39;t quite beach the pace of the leading TS050s. Porsche&#39;s #2 entry will start this weekend&#39;s race fourth, ahead of the #9 TS050 which rounds out the LMP1 hybrid field.</p> <p>The result means&nbsp;Toyota gets to celebrate its second pole position of the season, and a mirroring of its qualifying result at Le Mans in 2014&nbsp;when it beat&nbsp;Porsche.</p> <p><strong>LMP2</strong></p> <p>In LMP2, G-Drive Racing will start from pole position thanks to a 3:25.352s submission by Alex Lynn.</p> <p>The British driver&#39;s time lifted the TDS-run ORECA 07 from the midpack into provisional pole early in the final session, and was enough to seal the top spot by the close of play.</p> <p>Second in class was Vitaly Petrov in the ORECA 07 prepared by Manor, four tenths off the precedent set by Lynn.</p> <p>Oliver Jarvis qualified third for Jackie Chan DC Racing, ahead of the two Rebellion Racing entries.</p> <p>The top nine places in LMP2 were occupied by ORECAs with the &#39;best of the rest&#39; honour going to Mikhail Aleshin in the SMP Racing-entered Dallara P217.</p> <p><strong>GTE-Pro</strong></p> <p>Aston Martin will start from pole position in GTE-Pro, but the British squad&#39;s hopes of a front-row lockout were dashed by Ferrari driver James Calado, who jumped up to second in the final 10 minutes.</p> <p>Calado&#39;s time was two tenths slower than the ultimate pole figure set by Darren Turner in the #97 Vantage, but was enough to edge out the sister Aston qualified by Richie Stanaway.</p> <p>Stanaway had gone top with 23 minutes to go, but a late charge from the other side of the Aston Martin garage saw the order switch.</p> <p>Sam Bird slotted the #71 Ferrari into fourth, ahead of the #69 Ford GT which shot to provisional pole after spending much of qualifying at the foot of the table.</p> <p>Sixth and seventh were the fastest entries from Corvette and Porsche, respectively.</p> <p><strong>GTE-Am</strong></p> <p>The order was equally restless in GTE-Am, with numerous teams spending time in the provisional pole spot.</p> <p>Ultimately it was Fernando Rees in the Labre Competition &#39;art-car&#39; Corvette who prevailed, with the Brazilian registering a 3:52.843, four seconds quicker than last year&#39;s pole.</p> <p>Initially, US Ferrari driver Bill Sweedler held sway after knocking the previously dominant #98 Aston Martin of Pedro Lamy off its perch.</p> <p>A response from Lamy&#39;s team-mate Mathias Lauda restored the provisional result from earlier on Thursday, but didn&#39;t last long as former Aston Martin driver Rees charged through to snatch pole.</p> <p>The Aston Martin squad duly settled for second, with Sweedler&#39;s time good enough for third and the #77 Proton Competition Porsche 911 RSR ensuring an eclectic top-four.</p> http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/14992http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/14992Le Mans Q2: Kamui Kobayashi breaks lap record for ToyotaThu, 15 Jun 2017 19:46:06 GMT<p><strong>Kamui Kobayashi smashed the Circuit de la Sarthe&nbsp;qualifying lap record to top the second of three sessions for the 24 Hours of Le Mans.</strong></p> <p>Driving the #7 Toyota TS050 Hybrid, Kobayashi made the most of a clean track and favourable wind conditions to set a time of 3m 14.791s, some two seconds quicker than the previous record set by Porsche&#39;s Neel Jani in 2015.</p> <p>The lap strengthened the #7 crew&#39;s position as provisional pole sitter, after Mike Conway paced the session&#39;s early stages and Kobayashi led the opening session on Wednesday.</p> <p>It also put a bridge of 2.468 seconds between Kobayashi and Neel Jani, who lifted the #1 Porsche 919 Hybrid into second position.</p> <p>Third quickest was Timo Bernhard&nbsp;in the sister Porsche with a 3m 18.067, ahead of the #8 Toyota which underwent a swift engine change for a suspected oil pressure problem during the opening 10 minutes.</p> <p>The fastest times of the two-hour dusk session all came after a 45-minute red flag period, caused by a heavy shunt for Eurasia Motorsport LMP2 driver Erik Maris against the Mulsanne Straight barriers.</p> <p>A seccond, session-ending stoppage&nbsp;occurred with 10 minutes to go after Timothe Buret nosed the Panis Barthez Ligier LMP2 into the armco at Tertre Rouge.</p> <p>Other minor incidents peppered the session, as drivers started to touch the limit in the bid to maximise their qualifying positions.</p> <p>In LMP2, Vitaly Petrov elevated Manor into provisional pole position with a 3m 25.549s effort midway through the evening run.</p> <p>The Russian driver&#39;s time broke the lap record for the category by almost four seconds, and put the British squad 1.2 seconds ahead of the #38 Jackie Chan DC Racing ORECA 07.</p> <p>Consolidating Manor&#39;s position was Jean-Eric Vergne in third, with the two Rebellion Racing ORECAs rounding out the top five.</p> <p>An improvement from Jonny Adam kept Aston Martin at the top of the GTE-Pro timesheets, although the #97 now sits ahead of the #95, which led Q1.</p> <p>Adam&#39;s registering of a 3m 51.860s put him three tenths of a second up on the second-placed Ferrari 488 driven by James Calado, who came close to beating the Aston in the closing stages.</p> <p>In GTE-Am, Aston Martin&#39;s status as provisional pole-sitter&nbsp;was altered by Will Stevens who laid down a time of 3m 53.981s to put the JMW Motorsport Ferrari&nbsp;in front.</p> <p>Moments after Stevens set his lap moments before the final red flag period, Euan Hankey slid the TF Sport Aston Martin into second, ahead of Mathias Lauda who was behind the wheel of the Aston that led much of the session.</p> http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/14987http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/14987Panoz aiming for Le Mans return with electric Garage 56 entryThu, 15 Jun 2017 10:08:02 GMT<p><strong>American sportscar manufacturer Panoz has revealed the car it hopes will mark its return to the 24 Hours of Le Mans, in a presentation at the Circuit de la Sarthe on Thursday.</strong></p> <p>The GT-EV is a four-wheel drive, battery-powered GT car designed to run in the special Garage 56 category of the French enduro.</p> <p>Its primary goal is to match the speed and range of current petrol and hybrid racing machines using a single battery pack, before changing batteries in the same time it would take to refuel a conventional car.</p> <p>Panoz said the concept, which has been named the Green4U Panoz Racing GT-EV, is the &quot;holy grail&quot;&nbsp;for his team.</p> <p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;re debuting it here at Le Mans because of this iconic race&rsquo;s history where the brightest and most ambitious and tenacious competitors always push the motorsports and automotive boundaries,&quot; he said.</p> <p>&ldquo;We pushed the boundaries when we brought Sparky [the 1998 Panoz Q9 GTR-1 Hybrid] and the DeltaWing to Le Mans, and we&rsquo;ll do the same with the all-electric GT-EV.&quot;</p> <p>&quot;I don&#39;t see reason to waste time doing what everyone else is doing,&quot; he added, &quot;so why not do something new?&quot;</p> <p>The car&nbsp;creates a total power output of 450 kW through electric motors mounted in the front and rear axles, and has a projected top speed of 180 mph.</p> <p>It will be based on a carbon fibre chassis, with an offset closed cockpit on the left side of the frame.</p> <p>The company also has plans to put the GT-EV into production, with Panoz stating &quot;this car is representing the GT road car of the future.&quot;</p> <p>Although Panoz is waiting for acceptance of its Garage 56 status by the ACO, it has hinted that terms have been met and even suggested running the car at the Daytona 24 Hours.</p> <p>The marque most recently entered Le Mans under the DeltaWing banner in 2012. Previously, it ran the Panoz Esperante GTR-1 to seventh place in 1998, and the LMP900-class Roadster-S which achieved a best result of fifth.</p> http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/14984http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/14984Toyota on provisional pole for Le Mans 24 HoursWed, 14 Jun 2017 22:31:11 GMT<p><strong>Toyota drew first blood in qualifying for the 24 Hours of Le Mans, as Kamui Kobayashi topped the timesheets in the first of three sessions.</strong></p> <p>A 3:18.793s time from the Japanese driver early in the two-hour Wednesday night run gave Toyota the early edge over Porsche.</p> <p>Kobayashi&#39;s attempt was one second quicker than the pole time from 2016, set by Porsche driver Neel Jani, but still short of his own marker from the official test day.</p> <p>Backing up Kobayashi&#39;s time was compatriot&nbsp;Kazuki Nakajima, who steered the #8 TS050 to a 3:19.431s.</p> <p>Porsche&#39;s closest challenge to the Toyota ascendancy came from the German marque&#39;s #2&nbsp;car, qualified by Timo Bernhard.</p> <p>The 2015 world champion&#39;s best effort was 0.971 seconds off the pace of Kobayashi, leaving Porsche with pace to find during the two remaining sessions on Thursday.</p> <p>Neel Jani qualified the&nbsp;sister 919 fifth, behind the #9 Toyota driven by Nicolas Lapierre.</p> <p><a href="http://fiawec.alkamelsystems.com/Results/07_2017/03_LE%20MANS/171_FIA%20WEC/201706142200_Qualifying%20Practice%201/03_Classification_Qualifying%20Practice%201.PDF">RESULT: 24 Hours of Le Mans Qualifying 1</a></p> <p>In LMP2, a late flurry of quick laps saw the order change multiple times, until Mathieu Vaxiviere eventually set a definitive marker.</p> <p>Driving the TDS Racing ORECA 07-Gibson, Vaxiviere turned in a best lap of 3:29.333s to edge ahead of the two Manor ORECAs that had previously commanded the session through Jean-Eric Vergne then Vitaly Petrov.</p> <p>Rebellion Racing&#39;s Bruno Senna and G-Drive Racing&#39;s Alex Lynn&nbsp;also slipped under the times set by the Manors, bringing&nbsp;the former onto the front row of the grid.</p> <p>Provisional pole in GTE-Pro went to Aston Martin&nbsp;courtesy of a 3:51.117s set by defending world champion Nicki Thiim.</p> <p>In a close-knit class battle, Sam Bird&nbsp;in the #71 Ferrari 488 finished second, just one tenth adrift of the Danish driver.</p> <p>A larger gap&nbsp;extended back to the sister entries for each manufacturer, before the best-placed Ford of Andy Priaulx could be found in fifth place and two seconds off Sorensen.</p> <p>Aston Martin also led the way in GTE-Am, as Pedro Lamy topped the class for the second time in a day following the Portuguese driver&#39;s strong performance during practice.</p> http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/14982http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/14982Neel Jani paces 24H Le Mans practice for PorscheWed, 14 Jun 2017 18:14:24 GMT<p><strong>Neel Jani set the fastest time during free practice for the 24 Hours of Le Mans, with the Swiss driver edging out the second-placed Toyota by six tenths of a second.</strong></p> <p>A last-gasp 3:20.362s&nbsp;effort from Jani, who shares the #1 919 Hybrid with Andre Lotterer and Nick Tandy, sealed the order in the final five minutes of a sunny four-hour session at the Circuit de la Sarthe.</p> <p>Jani eclipsed the time set early in the final hour by Kamui Kobayashi, who later spun his Toyota at the final chicane.</p> <p>The&nbsp;margin between the two drivers at the end was 0.604s, with Jani just over two seconds short of the pace set by Kobayashi at the official test day.</p> <p>Third quickest in free practice was Earl Bamber, who slotted his Porsche 919 Hybrid under Kobayashi by a margin of 0.721 seconds, and over a second off the leader.</p> <p>The 2015 Le Mans winner&#39;s best run of 3:21.687s was enough to eclipse the two other Toyotas,&nbsp;which rounded out the LMP1 hybrid order.</p> <p><a href="http://fiawec.alkamelsystems.com/Results/07_2017/03_LE%20MANS/171_FIA%20WEC/201706141600_Free%20Practice/03_Classification_Free%20Practice.PDF">RESULT: 24 Hours of Le Mans Free Practice</a></p> <p>In LMP2, ORECA 07-Gibsons filled out the top ten places as Alex Lynn set the benchmark for G-Drive Racing.</p> <p>Lynn&#39;s time of 3:30.363s gave the former Williams F1 tester a 1.3 second cushion to Mathias Beche in the next-placed car entered by Rebellion Racing.</p> <p>Bruno Senna backed up Beche&#39;s marker in the sister Rebellion entry, with the pair of Jackie Chan DC Racing ORECAs completing the top five.</p> <p>The fastest non-ORECA was the all-Russian SMP Racing Dallara driven by Victor Shaitar, which finished on a 3:34.507s.</p> <p><strong><big>Ferrari, Aston shine in GTE</big></strong></p> <p>GTE-Pro saw Ferrari and Aston Martin share out the top four places, with the former taking the fastest lap.</p> <p>A 3:54.832s marker from Sam Bird gave the 6 Hours of Spa-winning Ferrari 488 a four tenths of a second advantage over the Aston Martin driven by Darren Turner.</p> <p>Turner, who is competing in his 15th Le Mans, placed ahead of James Calado in the other Ferrari and Marco Sorensen in the sister Aston, which held the fastest lap for the opening half of the session.</p> <p>Pedro Lamy recorded a 3:56.082s time&nbsp;in GTE-Am that put the Aston Martin driver in the mid-pack of the Pro field.</p> <p>The session passed largely without incident, although the&nbsp;safety car did make an appearance during the second hour when Christian Philippon spun his Corvette into the barriers at Karting.</p> <p>After a full assessment, the Larbre crew opted to repair the damage and sent the car back out to complete its laps.</p> <p>An accident for the Villorba Corse LMP2 Dallara in the final 10 minutes resulted in the deployment of slow zones, but the safety car wasn&#39;t called for a second time.</p> <p>Minor incidents also befell the GTE-Pro teams, with a puncture impeding the progress of the #95&nbsp;Aston Martin&nbsp;and&nbsp;a brief trip across the Karting gravel slowing&nbsp;Michele Rugolo, who has come in as a<a href="https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/14981"> late replacement for the injured Lucas di Grassi</a>&nbsp;at Ferrari.</p> <p>Qualifying for the 85th running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans is set to take place later today at 22:00&nbsp;local time.</p> http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/14981http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/14981Lucas Di Grassi to miss 24H Le Mans with leg injuryWed, 14 Jun 2017 16:15:14 GMT<p><strong>Lucas di Grassi will not take his place in Ferrari&#39;s GTE-Pro driver lineup for this weekend&#39;s 24 Hours of Le Mans, after breaking his fibula playing football.</strong></p> <p>The former Audi LMP1 driver was due to make his GTE debut in the #51 488 with James Calado and Alessandro Pier Guidi, but has been ruled&nbsp;out upon advice by the FIA medical delegate.</p> <p>After initially gaining clearance and pushing through the injury to claim two podiums at the Berlin Formula E event, Di Grassi underwent further analysis on Wednesday and was deemed unfit to race.</p> <p>A Ferrari spokesperson said Di Grassi had likely failed to meet the requirement of exiting a car in under seven seconds.</p> <p>The AF Corse-run squad has filed a request to allow Michele Rugolo to come in as a late replacement.</p> <p>Ferrari is bidding for this year&#39;s GTE-Pro crown with rival manufacturers Porsche, Aston Martin, Chevrolet and Ford.</p> <p>The team&#39;s two car effort involves the Calado/Pier Guidi car and the #71 machine driven by Sam Bird, Davide Rigon and Miguel Molina.</p> http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/14980http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/14980Ford finding Le Mans 'really tough' - Andy PriaulxWed, 14 Jun 2017 13:59:25 GMT<p><strong>Ford factory GT driver Andy Priaulx believes the team will struggle to retain its GTE-Pro crown at the 24 Hours of Le Mans this weekend.</strong></p> <p>Priaulx, who finished ninth last year with gearbox problems,&nbsp;will share the World Endurance Championship-leading&nbsp;#67 Ford GT with Harry Tincknell and Pipo Derani.</p> <p>However, he doesn&#39;t expect it to be as competitive as it was during the Silverstone and Spa six-hour contestes,&nbsp;where the trio finished first and fourth respectively.</p> <p>The source of discontent is the pre-event Balance of Performance, which is designed to level the different types of GTE machinery.</p> <p>Following Ford&#39;s rampant win in 2016, the quartet of Chip Ganassi-run cars have been dealt a 15 kg weight increase from the 6 Hours of Spa, putting them 20 kg up on last year&#39;s 24-hours.</p> <p>&quot;We&rsquo;ve got a lot more weight and a lot less power, so we&rsquo;re just working through our programme with the performance we have,&quot; Priaulx told <em>Motorsport Week.com</em>.</p> <p>&quot;I don&rsquo;t think we&rsquo;re the leaders of the pack this year with a tough BoP. We&rsquo;re in&nbsp;&#39;hanging-on&#39; mode, rather than the &lsquo;driving from the front&rsquo; mode we were in last year. I think it&rsquo;s going to be really tough.&quot;</p> <p>Priaulx, Tincknell and Derani currently lead the GTE-Pro category with 38 points, two points&nbsp;ahead of Sam Bird and Davide Rigon in their Ferrari.</p> <p>However,&nbsp;the onset of the BoP regulations - which have not impacted the Ferraris as severely&nbsp;- will enhance the value of the Le Mans double-points round in the scheme of the world championship.</p> <p>When approached about whether he feels extra pressure having to defend a championship lead with unfavourable BoP, Priaulx said:&nbsp;</p> <p>&quot;I do, yeah.&nbsp;For us leading the world championship, the goal here is to get a result that means we come away from here with as many points as possible. That&rsquo;s where our focus lies at the moment, even more than the race.&quot;</p> <p>&quot;It&#39;s like a boxing fight with the level of pressure and intense build-up.&quot;</p> <p>&quot;We&rsquo;ve done lots of testing, including some low-downforce and tyre work&nbsp;at Spa. Then we&rsquo;ve been building everything up for this race because it&rsquo;s a big one for us with four Fords.&quot;</p> <p>&quot;It&rsquo;s always one of the biggest races in terms of pressure and we do really ramp up our preparations compared with the other WEC rounds. I&#39;ll need to go on holiday after!&quot;</p> <p>Regarding lap times, Priaulx doesn&#39;t foresee the Fords matching their pole-winning pace of 2016, when Dirk M&uuml;ller paced the field with a time of 3m 51.185s.</p> <p>&quot;It all depends on the heat of the track during the night sessions, and what the wind conditions are,&quot; said the three-time World Touring Car champion.</p> <p>&quot;There are many&nbsp;outside variables to consider. But with the changes we&rsquo;ve had, I think we&rsquo;ll be a couple of seconds off the pace set last year when we weren&rsquo;t carrying the extra weight.&quot;</p> <p>&quot;We don&rsquo;t know what anyone else has got. We may all think we know what we have, but in reality, nobody does.&quot;</p> http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/14978http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/14978Video: Porsche, Toyota, Ford & Corvette preview the 24 Hours of Le MansWed, 14 Jun 2017 09:42:40 GMT<p>The jewel in the crown of the endurance racing calendar, the 2017 24 Hours of Le Mans is set to once again push the teams and drivers to the absolute limit. With Porsche and Toyota leading the line in the LMP1 class, the likes of Ford, Corvette, Ferrari and Aston Martin will battle out a competitive GT field. Mobil 1 The Grid spoke to Porsche&#39;s Timo Bernhard, Neel Jani, Earl Bamber &amp; Richard Lietz, Toyota&#39;s Jose Maria Lopez, Kazuki Nakajima and Sebastien Buemi, Ford&#39;s Joey Hand, Corvette&#39;s Doug Fehan and Aston Martin&#39;s Nicki Thiim to find out more.</p> http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/14969http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/14969Everything you need to know for this year's Le Mans 24 HoursTue, 13 Jun 2017 05:03:06 GMT<p><strong>The world&#39;s most iconic endurance race - the 24 Hours of Le Mans - returns this weekend with a bumper grid and four competitive classes. Here you can find all the key information, from entries to TV schedules,&nbsp;before track action begins on Wednesday.</strong></p> <p><strong>What&#39;s new this year?</strong></p> <p>With Audi gone, Toyota and Porsche will lock horns for overall honours, with Toyota aiming to redress the 2016 race&nbsp;which saw its chances of victory scuppered by a turbo unit failure on the final lap. A full-length preview can be found in the latest edition of Motorsport Monday e-magazine.</p> <p>In LMP2, the new regulations make this category at least eight seconds a lap quicker than last year (and faster than the 2006 overall pole).</p> <p>GTE-Pro features another titanic manufacturer tussle between Aston Martin, Ferrari, Chevrolet, Ford and Porsche.</p> <p>The GTE-Am category involves some of the world&#39;s best customer GT teams, including Clearwater Racing, Proton Competition and Scuderia Corsa.</p> <p>A new feature this year is the system of <a href="http://fiawec.alkamelsystems.com/Results/07_2017/03_LE%20MANS/INFO%20EVENT/LeMans_2017_24H_CircuitMap.png">nine fixed slow zones</a>, to regulate speeds around incident areas. Previously slow zones were administered on an ad-hoc basis.</p> <p>Modifications have also&nbsp;been made to the layout on the inside line at the Porsche Curves to increase safety, although drivers have already voiced concerns over corner-cutting.</p> <p>Times from the official test day, held on June 4th, can be <a href="http://fiawec.alkamelsystems.com/Results/07_2017/03_LE%20MANS/167_FIA%20WEC/201706040900_Official%20Test/05_ClassificationByClass_Official%20Test.PDF">found here</a>. Toyota went quickest, with a 3m 18.132s set by Kamui Kobayashi.</p> <p><strong>Who&#39;s taking part?</strong></p> <p><a href="http://fiawec.alkamelsystems.com/Results/07_2017/03_LE%20MANS/INFO%20EVENT/24H%20-%20Entry%20list%20with%20Drivers%20line%20ups%20-%20V%2017.05.2017.pdf">View the entry list here.</a> Note: Tony Kanaan replaces&nbsp;S&eacute;bastien Bourdais in the #68 Ford.</p> <p><a href="http://assets.lemans.org/explorer/pdf/courses/2017/24-heures-du-mans/spotter-guide-24-heures-du-mans-2017.pdf">View the spotter guide here</a>.</p> <p>This year&#39;s grid matches the record of 60 entries set last year, following the expansion of the pit complex.</p> <p>LMP1: 6 cars - including five hybrids<br /> LMP2: 25 cars - a class record<br /> GTE-Pro: 13&nbsp;cars &ndash; two per manufacturer, plus Ford&rsquo;s quartet and the Risi Ferrari from the USA.<br /> GTE-Am: 16 cars - with entries from WEC, IMSA (North America), ELMS (Europe) and AsLMS (Asia)</p> <p><strong>What&#39;s the schedule?</strong></p> <p><a href="http://www.lemans.org/en/Program/schedule/95">View the full event timetable here</a>.</p> <p>All times are local (CEST). UK is -1 hour and east coast&nbsp;USA is -6 hours.</p> <figure class="image" style="float:right"><img alt="" height="220" src="/ckfinder/userfiles/images/WEC/35050291976_79892e9d88_o.jpg" width="400" /> <figcaption>Six hours of qualifying decides the grid. (Drew Gibson)</figcaption> </figure> <p><strong>Wednesday, June 14th</strong></p> <p>16:00-20:00 Free Practice<br /> 22:00-00:00 Qualifying 1</p> <p><strong>Thursday, June 15th</strong></p> <p>19:00-21:00 Qualifying 2<br /> 22:00-00:00 Qualifying 3</p> <p><strong>Friday, June 16th</strong> - driver parade in Le Mans town centre</p> <p><strong>Saturday, June 17th</strong></p> <p>09:00-09:45 Warm up<br /> 15:00 Race start - finishes at 15:00 on Sunday, June 18th</p> <p><strong>How can I follow the race?</strong></p> <p>This year, the 24 Hours of Le Mans will be&nbsp;streamed on the official app, with advert-free live coverage and onboard cameras from 16 cars.</p> <p>Once again, Eurosport is one of the leading sources of TV coverage&nbsp;with the entire race and support package on Eurosport 1 combined with uninterrupted live streaming on the Eurosport Player app.&nbsp;Practice and qualifying are also part of <a href="http://www.eurosport.co.uk/watch-eurosport.shtml#watch-schedule__wrapper">the schedule</a> on both fronts.</p> <p>In the UK, digital channel Quest will be showing select live segments of the race, plus a highlights show on Monday, June 19th. <a href="http://www.questtv.co.uk/lemans24/">View the times here</a>.</p> <p>ITV4 is also showing the last few hours live.</p> <p>In the US, <a href="http://www.foxsports.com/motor/story/fox-sports-names-broadcast-team-for-iconic-24-hours-of-le-mans-060917">Fox Sports</a> is covering the race live on its two primary TV channels.</p> <p>For other countries, there is a detailed list of <a href="http://assets.lemans.org/explorer/pdf/courses/2017/24-heures-du-mans/tv-distribution-24-heures-du-mans-2017.pdf">all the broadcasters for 2017</a>.</p> <p>Live circuit radio is supplied by Radio Le Mans.</p> <p>Some useful Twitter accounts:</p> <p><a href="https://twitter.com/MotorsportWeek">@MotorsportWeek</a><br /> <a href="https://twitter.com/24hoursoflemans">@24hoursoflemans</a><br /> <a href="https://twitter.com/FIAWEC">@FIAWEC</a><br /> <a href="https://twitter.com/Porsche_Team">@Porsche_Team</a><br /> <a href="https://twitter.com/Toyota_Hybrid">@Toyota_Hybrid</a></p> <p><a href="http://www.twitter.com/AMR_Official">@AMR_Official</a>; <a href="https://twitter.com/afcorse?lang=en">@afcorse</a>; <a href="https://twitter.com/CorvetteRacing">@CorvetteRacing</a>; <a href="http://www.twitter.com/porscheraces">@porscheraces</a>; <a href="http://www.twitter.com/FordPerformance">@FordPerformance</a></p> <p>Official hashtag: #LEMANS24</p> <p><strong>What are the support races?</strong></p> <p>For the second year in a row, the Road to Le Mans provides support to the 24-hours, while the Porsche Carrera Cup joins the bill.</p> <p>Taking place on Thursday (17:30) and Saturday (11:30) the 55-minute Road to Le Mans races are&nbsp;for LMP3 and GT3 machinery, and are part of the Michelin GT Le Mans Cup which takes place throughout the year in Europe.</p> <figure class="image" style="float:right"><img alt="" height="220" src="/ckfinder/userfiles/images/WEC/27788961395_04922d5673_o(1).jpg" width="400" /> <figcaption>LMP3 gets another crack at Le Mans (Jakob Ebrey)</figcaption> </figure> <p>An expanded grid of 50&nbsp;cars (eight more than last year) should make this a suitable appetiser for the more powerful prototypes and GTE cars racing in the main event. <a href="http://assets.lemans.org/explorer/pdf/courses/2017/24-heures-du-mans/support-races/entry-list-road-to-le-mans-2017.pdf">View the runners and riders here</a>.</p> <p>The Porsche Carrera Cup race&nbsp;combines the best entries from the French, German, British, Benelux, Scandinavian,&nbsp;Australian, Japanese, Asian and Brazilian variations of the&nbsp;one-make championship.</p> <p>The 45-minute contest will take place on Sunday morning (before the second&nbsp;Road to Le Mans)&nbsp;with the green flag set to fly at 10:15. <a href="http://assets.lemans.org/explorer/pdf/courses/2017/24-heures-du-mans/support-races/entry-list-porsche-carrera-cup.pdf">Browse the 61 entries here</a>.</p> <p><strong>Things to look out for...</strong></p> <p>A colourful Corvette C7.R entered by French team Larbre Competition in&nbsp;GTE-Am.&nbsp;The &#39;art car&#39; design was realised by a friend of driver Romain Brandela.</p> <p>Eleven time F1 grand prix winner Rubens Barrichello is making his Le Mans debut with the Racing Team Nederland LMP2 squad.</p> <p>Continuing the F1 theme, current Renault test driver Sergey Sirotkin will also make his debut, driving an SMP Racing Dallara in the same category.</p> <p>The current race lap record is 3m 17.475, set by former Audi driver Andre Lotterer in 2015.</p> <p>Mark Webber is the grand marshal for this year&#39;s race, while the official starter is yet to be confirmed.</p> <p>Two former Audi LMP1 drivers are listed in the GTE-Pro ranks. Lucas di Grassi, still contracted to Audi, will drive an AF Corse Ferrari 488 whilst three-time Le Mans winner Marcel F&auml;ssler gets behind the wheel of a Corvette C7.R (the Swiss driver made a one-off appearance with the Chevrolet team in&nbsp;&rsquo;09).</p> <p>Some of the world&#39;s best online racers will be at the Circuit de la Sarthe to take part in the 24 Hours of Le Mans esports event, which runs simultaneously with the &#39;real&#39;&nbsp;24-hours on Saturday and Sunday.</p> http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/14945http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/14945Corvette loses ground in pre-Le Mans Balance of PerformanceSun, 11 Jun 2017 11:14:16 GMT<p><strong>A new wave of&nbsp;changes to the GTE Balance of Performance have been carried out ahead of next weekend&#39;s Le Mans 24 Hours, with Corvette taking the largest hit following its strong showing at the official test day.</strong></p> <p>Oliver Gavin&#39;s time of 3m 54.701s behind the wheel of the #64 Corvette was the&nbsp;quickest of last week&#39;s test, putting the American marque&nbsp;three tenths of a second up on the second-placed Porsche 911 RSR.</p> <p>Consequently, the pair of C7.Rs will run with smaller air restrictors (-0.5 mm) during race week, whilst the other manufacturers keep the same size.</p> <p>Additionally, all GTE-Pro cars have undergone changes to their fuel capacity.</p> <p>Ferrari and Aston Martin will run with the largest fuel tank increases of three&nbsp;litres, whist the Corvettes and Fords receive an extra two litres and the Porsches an additional one litre.</p> <p>This latest&nbsp;round of adjustments is expected to be the last&nbsp;before Wednesday&#39;s opening free practice session, but there are no restrictions regarding later changes following the onset of track activity.</p> <p>Prior to the test, the Ford GTs were pegged back with a 15 kg weight increase (+20 kg from last year)&nbsp;which saw the Chip Ganassi-run squad&#39;s quartet of cars lap at the foot of the GTE-Pro order.</p> <p>Other changes included a smaller weight increase for the pair of Aston Martin Vantages,&nbsp;which were also dealt an air restrictor raise of 0.8 mm, and the Corvettes which were handed a now-reduced&nbsp;0.7 mm restrictor lift.</p> <p>In GTE-Am, the eight Ferrari 488s entered have been granted a marginal turbo boost increase.</p> <p>At the test day, the quickest Ferrari (#62 Scuderia Corsa) finished fourth in class, 0.3 seconds off the pace set by the #98 Aston Martin.</p> <p>The first practice session for the 85th running of the Le Mans 24 Hours is scheduled to take place on Wednesday, June 14th at 16:00 local time.</p> http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/14889http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/14889Video: The final lap - Porsche's Neel Jani recalls victory at Le MansTue, 06 Jun 2017 17:56:00 GMT<p>Twice a pole-sitter and now a reigning champion at the 24 Hour of Le Mans, Porsche&#39;s Neel Jani has plenty of fond memories from the world&#39;s most famous endurance race. Mobil 1 The Grid sat down with the Swiss driver to find out more about last year&#39;s epic battle with Toyota, a race which would eventually see him secure victory for Porsche in the most dramatic of circumstances.</p> http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/14874http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/14874Porsche reflects on 'mixed' Le Mans 24 test dayMon, 05 Jun 2017 09:37:15 GMT<p><strong>Porsche had a &#39;mixed&#39; test day for&nbsp;the&nbsp;24 Hours of Le Mans, according to LMP1 Team Principal Andreas Seidl.</strong></p> <p>The two 919 Hybrids were out-paced by the trio of Toyota TS050s on Sunday, with Earl Bamber&#39;s best time of&nbsp;3:21.512s falling 3.3 seconds shy of the overall benchmark.</p> <p>However, unlike Toyota, Porsche elected not to carry out qualifying runs during the test, instead focusing exclusively on race setup.</p> <p>Bamber shared driving duties with Brendon Hartley and Timo Bernhard, while Neel Jani, Andre Lotterer and Nick Tandy took turns behind the wheel of the sister machine, with test driver Marc Lieb also gaining seat time.</p> <p>Defending race winner Jani posted a 3:22.100s marker to put his car fifth in the order.</p> <p><a href="http://fiawec.alkamelsystems.com/Results/07_2017/03_LE%20MANS/167_FIA%20WEC/201706040900_Official%20Test/05_ClassificationByClass_Official%20Test.PDF"><strong>RESULT: Le Mans official test</strong></a></p> <p>&quot;We&rsquo;ve had a mixed test day,&quot; admitted Seidl.</p> <p>&quot;Although we didn&rsquo;t achieve the mileage we wanted, we still learnt important lessons for the race regarding tyre choice and tyre wear.&quot;</p> <p>&quot;Toyota&rsquo;s speed was impressive, we could not match that. In the coming days we will analyse today&rsquo;s data and draw our conclusions to improve our cars&rsquo; performance.&quot;</p> <p>Bamber&#39;s effort behind the wheel of the #2 Porsche was enough to eclipse the manufacturer&#39;s quickest time from 2016 - a race it won - by seven tenths of a second.</p> <p>However, the same car also encountered an oil leak during the four-hour morning session which curtailed its mileage and neccessitated a change of the two-litre V4 combustion engine.</p> <p>That meant the #2 only completed 75 laps across eight hours of test day running, compared with 81 for the sister car and 106 for the most industrious Toyota.</p> <p>&quot;We unfortunately lost a lot of test time with our number 2 car,&quot; reflected Seidl.</p> <p>&quot;After only two-and-a-half hours repair time the car was back on track. What caused the leak is still to be analysed but the team did a great job. Now we go full throttle on the road to the Le Mans race week.&rdquo;</p> <p>Despite the issues to the #2 car and the overall lack in pace, LMP1 Vice President Fritz Enzinger remained confident, assuring&nbsp;the result of the test day should be taken with a pinch of salt:</p> <p>&ldquo;The test result is difficult to read as we stuck to our plan and focused on race preparation,&quot; he said.&nbsp;</p> <p>&quot;On Tuesday, we&rsquo;ll have a roll-out with the Le Mans cars here on the Bugatti Circuit. Afterwards the majority of the team will be sent home to take a deep breath before we return and enjoy the hype at scrutineering next Sunday in Le Mans town centre.&rdquo;</p> <p>&quot;The return to La Sarthe definitely brings back the nicest memories for us. Of course, we would like to follow up on these recollections.&quot;</p> <p>&ldquo;Now Le Mans 2017 is on.&quot;</p> <p>Porsche will return to the 8.5 mile La Sarthe circuit&nbsp;to bid for a record-breaking 19th victory at the 24-hour classic, which takes place on June 17-18.</p> http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/14870http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/14870Video: Porsche at the Le Mans test daySun, 04 Jun 2017 21:49:18 GMT<p><strong>Follow the Porsche LMP1 and GT teams as they prepare to tackle the 24 Hours of Le Mans - starting with this weekend&#39;s official test day.</strong></p> http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/14869http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/14869Toyota runs 1-2-3 at 24H Le Mans test daySun, 04 Jun 2017 21:36:22 GMT<p><strong>Toyota locked out the three quickest times at the official test day for the 24 Hours of Le Mans, beating Porsche and eclipsing the pole position time from 2016.</strong></p> <p>Kamui Kobayashi produced a fastest lap of 3:18.132s behind the wheel of the #7 TS050 Hybrid to head the order after eight hours of running at the Circuit de la Sarthe.</p> <p>Kobyashi&#39;s effort, set during the four-hour afternoon session, was 1.6 seconds quicker than the pole figure set by Neel Jani 12 months ago.</p> <p><a href="http://fiawec.alkamelsystems.com/Results/07_2017/03_LE%20MANS/167_FIA%20WEC/201706040900_Official%20Test/03_Classification_Official%20Test.PDF"><strong>RESULT: 24 Hours of Le Mans test day</strong></a></p> <p>Under clear skies and without major incident, all 60 cars turned laps to register themselves for the 85th running of the French endurance classic on June 17-18.</p> <p>Completing Toyota&#39;s sweep of the top three places were the #8 car driven by Kazuki Nakajima&nbsp;(3:19.290s) and the additional #9 entry of Jos&eacute;&nbsp;Mar&iacute;a L&oacute;pez (3:21.455s) on the Argentinian&#39;s return from injury.</p> <p>The nearest Porsche 919 Hybrid was 3.380 seconds adrift of Kobayashi&#39;s marker.</p> <p>Earl Bamber clocked a&nbsp;3:21.512 effort, under a tenth shy of Lopez&#39;s best, to end the day fourth quickest overall after an engine replacement curtailed its total number of laps.</p> <p>The sister Porsche rounded out the top five with a 3:22.100 courtesy of Jani.</p> <p>In LMP2,&nbsp;Signatech Alpine broke the class lap record with Nelson Panciatici running a time of 3:28.146s.</p> <p>Panciatici&#39;s afternoon attempt behind the wheel of the team&#39;s&nbsp;#35 Alpine-badged ORECA was not only eight seconds quicker than last year&#39;s LMP2 pole time, but would have been enough for pole position outright&nbsp;in 2006.</p> <p>To cap an impressive day for the class-defending outfit, Andre Negrao topped the opening session on his debut at the La Sarthe circuit.</p> <p>Second quickest in class was Jean-Eric Vergne in&nbsp;the #24 CEFC Manor ORECA-Gibson, seven tenths down on Panciatici, while Alex Brundle completed the top three for the Jota Sport-run Jackie Chan DC Racing squad.</p> <p><strong><big>Corvette tops GTE-Pro</big></strong></p> <p>Chevrolet Corvette beat its rival WEC manufacturers to take the fastest time of the day in GTE-Pro, thanks to a&nbsp;3:54.701s effort from Oliver Gavin.</p> <p>Gavin, who is set to take part in his 17th Le Mans, out-paced Porsche 911 RSR driver Frederic Makowiecki by three tenths of a second.</p> <p>Makowiecki&#39;s Porsche stable-mate Kevin Estre followed up with the third quicket time, edging out Antonio Garcia in the sister Corvette.</p> <p>The turbocharged Ford and Ferrari entries&nbsp;offered a slower pace than at May&#39;s 6 Hours of Spa WEC round, with last year&#39;s Le Mans protagonists falling behind their naturally aspirated rivals in Corvette, Porsche and Aston Martin.</p> <p>In GTE-Am, a 3:58.250s flyer from Pedro Lamy put the championship-leading Aston Martin Vantage on top of the class pile, with the glow-in-the-dark Larbre Competition Corvette lapping 0.052&nbsp;seconds off.</p> http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/14854http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/14854Former Audi driver Marco Bonanomi gets Le Mans LMP1 driveFri, 02 Jun 2017 19:54:11 GMT<p><strong>Former Audi LMP1 driver Marco Bonanomi will return to the 24 Hours of Le Mans&nbsp;this month following a late call-up from the ByKolles Racing squad.</strong></p> <p>The 32-year-old Italian will join Dominik Kraihamer and Oliver Webb behind the wheel of the Nissan-powered ENSO CLM P1/01 for the French enduro, which takes place on June 17th-18th.</p> <p>Bonanomi comes in to replace James Rossiter, who is tied with Super GT testing commitments in Japan.</p> <p>&quot;We deeply regret that James had to call off his participation at Le Mans just to attend a test in Japan,&quot; said Boris Bermes, Director of Racing Operations for ByKolles.</p> <p>&quot;We had to find a replacement on short notice. In Marco Bonanomi, we found a very fast and experienced LMP1 driver.&quot;</p> <p>&quot;Marco was already&nbsp;racing on the highest level at Le Mans as an Audi factory driver three times. During our test in Spa-Francorchamps last week, we were convinced by his unsurpassed qualities and we could make further progress with our car.&quot;</p> <p>Bonanomi made three&nbsp;starts with Audi at Le Mans between 2012 and 2015, reaching the podium on his first attempt with Oliver Jarvis and Mike Rockenfeller.</p> <p>He has since competed regularly in Germany&#39;s premier GT series and made his IMSA Sportscar Championship debut in a prototype at Circuit of the Americas last month.</p> <p>&quot;I am very happy that I am allowed to climb into the ByKolles Racing car for the best and most important race of the year,&quot; he said.</p> <p>&quot;In the course of my career, participation in the 24 Hours of Le Mans was always a dream. Being on the podium at my debut in 2012 will stay in my memory forever. I would like to thank the team for giving me this chance and&nbsp;I cannot wait to race a LMP1 car at the Sarthe again.&quot;</p> <p>Bonanomi will join his team-mates for the official Le Mans test day on June 4th, two weeks before the race.</p> http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/14844http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/14844Tony Kanaan replaces Sebastien Bourdais at Ford for Le MansThu, 01 Jun 2017 13:48:20 GMT<p>Ganassi IndyCar driver Tony Kanaan will replace the injured S&eacute;bastien Bourdais in the No.68 Ford GT at this year&rsquo;s Le Mans 24 Hours.</p> <p>The 2013 Indianapolis 500 champion will join regulars Dirk Muller and Joey Hand in the No.68 Ford GTE Pro entry, which won the class at the 2016 race.</p> <p>Kanaan already has experience in the car, having driven for one of the Ganassi Ford GT entries at the Daytona 24 Hours earlier in the year.</p> <p>Bourdais suffered hip and pelvic fractures in a crash during qualifying for the Indy 500 earlier this month, while driving for Dale Coyne Racing.</p> <p>The FIA World Endurance Championship&rsquo;s famous trip to the iconic Le Mans circuit takes place from June 17/18, and it will be Kanaan&rsquo;s first time racing at the 24-hour race.</p> <p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s an honor to be named a part of the Ford GT lineup for Ford Chip Ganassi Racing at the Le Mans 24,&rdquo; he said.</p> <p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s obviously an unfortunate situation that brought us to this point with S&eacute;bastien&rsquo;s injuries, but I&rsquo;m going to do my best to take his place and try to help win this amazing race for the team again this year.</p> <p>&ldquo;This race has definitely been on my bucket list for a long time, so I&rsquo;m thankful that Chip and our partners at Ford have given me this opportunity.&rdquo;</p> http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/14828http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/14828Tockwith Motorsport LMP2 gets Gulf backing for Le MansTue, 30 May 2017 21:55:54 GMT<p>Tockwith Motorsport will be branded in the famous Gulf blue and orange colours at this year&#39;s 24 Hours of Le Mans.</p> <p>The prototype LMP2 entry, run by&nbsp;reigning Asian Le Mans Series LMP3 champions Tockwith Motorsport, will be backed by Gulf Oil International which has a long-standing relationship with the World Endurance Championship.</p> <p>The livery will also be present on the TMS Ligier at various WEC rounds over the remainder of the current season.</p> <p>&quot;This new agreement with Tockwith Motorsport will give an added dimension to our endurance motorsport programme throughout the 2017 season,&quot; said Gulf Oil International Global Vice President of Marketing, Vicki Kipling.</p> <p>&quot;2017 is a year of great significance to Gulf, as not only is it the 50th anniversary of Gulf&#39;s first Le Mans, but also 50 years since our Blue and Orange color scheme came into racing. Having two cars racing in Gulf colors at Le Mans &ndash; one in GTE Am and now a car in LMP2 is great news for the many Gulf guests coming to Le Mans, as well as Gulf enthusiasts everywhere.&quot;</p> <p>TMS&#39; Simon Moore said of the deal: &quot;It&#39;s an extremely exciting development for TMS and we are delighted to be carrying the iconic blue and orange in the year when Gulf is celebrating the 50th anniversary of its first ever participation at Le Mans.</p> <p>&quot;Like many, I grew up, watching and loving GT40s, 917s, Mirages and McLarens sporting Gulf colors and we hope to add our own small chapter to Gulf&#39;s long racing history.&quot;</p> <p><img alt="" height="440" src="/ckfinder/userfiles/images/WEC/tockwith-gulf-2.jpg" width="800" /></p> http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/14744http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/14744Robert Kubica to test Dallara LMP2 car at MonzaTue, 23 May 2017 10:14:49 GMT<p><strong>Robert Kubica will test a Dallara LMP2 car at Monza this week, Russian outfit SMP Racing has confirmed.</strong></p> <p>The 32-year-old former grand prix winner will take turns behind the wheel of a Dallara P217-Gibson that will be entered into next month&#39;s 24 Hours of Le Mans.</p> <p>Although Kubica is not listed to take part in the French endurance classic, he will be on hand to assist with the team&#39;s preparations alongside Viktor Shaytar and Maurizio Mediani.</p> <p>The trio are set to start the test today (May 23rd) and will use the Monza session as a preparatory step for the official Le Mans test day in just under two weeks&#39; time.&nbsp;</p> <p>&quot;It&#39;s a great honor and pleasure for me to help SMP Racing with the preparation of the car for such an important race as [the]&nbsp;24 Hours of Le Mans, said Kubica.</p> <p>&quot;Definitely, we have a lot of work to do for these two days. I&#39;m sure, together with Maurizio and Victor and the whole team, we will get a lot of useful information for the most optimal settings of the machine. &quot;</p> <p>Kubica, who recorded 12 podiums during&nbsp;a five-year stint in Formula One, has recently shown a keen interest in sportscar racing and was initially listed for ByKolles Racing&#39;s World Endurance Championship LMP1 lineup before he and the team parted ways shortly before the opening race.</p> <p>The 2013 WRC2 rally champion has also driven a Renault RS.01 GT car, and was in the paddock at the recent Silverstone round of the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup.</p> <p>SMP Racing will contest the 85th edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans with an all-Russian lineup consisting of Shaytar, Mikhail Aleshian and <a href="https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/14599">Renault F1 test driver Sergey Sirotkin</a>.</p> <p>The team has also expressed interest in contesting the second half of the European Le Mans Series calendar with its Dallara, which it is using to prepare for a 2018 LMP1 entry with the Italian chassis constructor.</p> http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/14694http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/14694LMP1 manufacturer Perrinn confirms two chassis sales for 2018Thu, 18 May 2017 10:42:35 GMT<p><strong>British sportscar manufacturer Perrinn has announced the sale of two LMP1 chassis for the 2018 FIA World Endurance Championship season.</strong></p> <p>The as-yet-unnamed&nbsp;prototype was first launched in 2014, but has now found its first buyer with a view to competing at&nbsp;the top level of sportscar racing as soon as next year.</p> <p>Details of the European-based team and the engine specification will be released in due course, with an unveiling date scheduled for late November ahead of a testing debut in December.</p> <p>A rolling chassis costs &pound;1.2 million, and the car will rely on torsion bar front suspension with coil springs over dampers at the rear.</p> <p>The company also&nbsp;expects it to weigh &lsquo;significantly under&rsquo; the mandated limit of 830kg, and is&nbsp;optimistic of producing more LMP1 chassis in the future.</p> <p>&ldquo;Increased support and stability from the FIA and ACO, coupled with programmes from other manufacturers has meant we&rsquo;ve had a lot of discussions with teams seeking more freedom than the new LMP2 category,&rdquo; said project designer Nicolas Perrin.</p> <p>&ldquo;LMP1 offers a route to progress from an engineering and pace point of view. In just a few short months, the programme has progressed very quickly to the point where we&rsquo;ll have two cars plus enough spares to build another car within six months.&quot;</p> <p>&quot;We have ensured we have capacity to do more should some of our other discussions develop.&rdquo;</p> <p>Perrinn is an open-source project, meaning teams have the &#39;option to manufacture or develop parts for the car at any point in time&#39;.</p> <p>&ldquo;&#39;I am using open source as a way to focus resources and talents around our project,&rdquo; said Perrin.</p> <p>&ldquo;I want Perrinn to achieve success at Le Mans by becoming a much bigger organisation than it can be if we limit ourselves to a centralised closed company.&quot;</p> <p>The sale is another significant boost for the LMP1 category, which is expecting a resurgence in entries from non-hybrid manufacturers next year.</p> <p>Fellow British company Ginetta has committed to selling six cars, while Dallara and BR Engineering are continuing to develop&nbsp;their collaborative project.</p> http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/14671http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/1467160-car Le Mans 24 Hours entry list revealedTue, 16 May 2017 10:18:42 GMT<p><strong>The entry list for next month&#39;s 24 Hours of Le Mans has been formally issued by the Automobile Club de l&#39;Ouest, with 60 cars plus one reserve listed for the 85th running of the French endurance classic.</strong></p> <p>The 60 entries are spread across 41 teams from 16 different countries, with 31 nationalities represented amongst the drivers.</p> <p>LMP2 is the most populous category with 25 runners, ahead of GTE-Am which carries 16 entries.</p> <p>The two all-pro classes - LMP1 and GTE-Pro - feature six and 13 cars respectively.</p> <p>GTE-Am outfit Proton Competition is the only team still yet to nominate its third and final driver for the race, which takes place on June 17-18.</p> <p>The latest driver announcement was made on Tuesday morning by Toyota, with the LMP1 team <a href="https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/14667">confirming&nbsp;a swap between Jos&eacute; Mar&iacute;a L&oacute;pez and St&eacute;phane Sarrazin</a>.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <table align="center" border="1" cellpadding="1" cellspacing="1" style="width: 800px;"> <thead> </thead> <tbody> <tr> <th scope="row">No.</th> <td><strong>Class</strong></td> <td><strong>Team</strong></td> <td><strong>Car</strong></td> <td><strong>Drivers</strong></td> <td><strong>Series</strong></td> </tr> <tr> <th scope="row">1</th> <td>LMP1</td> <td>Porsche Team</td> <td>Porsche 919 Hybrid</td> <td>Nick Tandy, Andre Lotterer, Neel Jani</td> <td>WEC</td> </tr> <tr> <th scope="row">2</th> <td>LMP1</td> <td>Porsche Team</td> <td>Porsche 919 Hybrid</td> <td>Earl Bamber, Brendon Hartley, Timo Bernhard</td> <td>WEC</td> </tr> <tr> <th scope="row">4</th> <td>LMP1</td> <td>ByKolles Racing</td> <td>ENSO CLM P1/01-Nissan</td> <td>Oliver Webb, James Rossiter, Dominik Kraihamer</td> <td>WEC</td> </tr> <tr> <th scope="row">7</th> <td>LMP1</td> <td>Toyota Gazoo Racing</td> <td>Toyota TS050 Hybrid</td> <td>St&eacute;phane Sarrazin, Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi</td> <td>WEC</td> </tr> <tr> <th scope="row">8</th> <td>LMP1</td> <td>Toyota Gazoo Racing</td> <td>Toyota TS050 Hybrid</td> <td>Anthony Davidson, S&eacute;bastien Buemi, Kazuki Nakajima</td> <td>WEC</td> </tr> <tr> <th scope="row">9</th> <td>LMP1</td> <td>Toyota Gazoo Racing</td> <td>Toyota TS050 Hybrid</td> <td>Yuji Kunimoto, Nicolas Lapierre, Jos&eacute; Mar&iacute;a L&oacute;pez</td> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> <tr> <th scope="row">13</th> <td>LMP2</td> <td>Vaillante Rebellion</td> <td>ORECA 07-Gibson</td> <td>Nelson Piquet Jr, Mathias Beche, David Heinemeier-Hansson</td> <td>WEC</td> </tr> <tr> <th scope="row">17</th> <td>LMP2</td> <td>IDEC Sport Racing</td> <td>Ligier JSP217-Gibson</td> <td>Patrice Lafargue, Paul Lafargue, David Zollinger</td> <td>ELMS</td> </tr> <tr> <th scope="row">21</th> <td>LMP2</td> <td>DragonSpeed</td> <td>ORECA 07-Gibson</td> <td>Ben Hanley, Henrik Hedman, Felix Rosenqvist</td> <td> <p>ELMS</p> </td> </tr> <tr> <th scope="row">22</th> <td>LMP2</td> <td>G-Drive Racing</td> <td>ORECA 07-Gibson</td> <td>Memo Rojas, Ryo Hirakawa, Jos&eacute; Gutierrez</td> <td>ELMS</td> </tr> <tr> <th scope="row">23</th> <td>LMP2</td> <td>Panis-Barthez Competition</td> <td>Ligier JSP217-Gibson</td> <td>Fabien Barthez, Timoth&eacute; Buret, Nathana&euml;l Berthon</td> <td>ELMS</td> </tr> <tr> <th scope="row">24</th> <td>LMP2</td> <td>CEFC Manor TRS Team China</td> <td>ORECA 07-Gibson</td> <td>Tor Graves, Jonathan Hirschi, Jean-Eric Vergne</td> <td>WEC</td> </tr> <tr> <th scope="row">25</th> <td>LMP2</td> <td>CEFC Manor TRS Team China</td> <td>ORECA 07-Gibson</td> <td>Roberto Gonzalez, Simon Trummer, Vitaly Petrov</td> <td>WEC</td> </tr> <tr> <th scope="row">26</th> <td>LMP2</td> <td>G-Drive Racing</td> <td>ORECA 07-Gibson</td> <td>Roman Rusinov, Pierre Thiriet, Alex Lynn</td> <td>WEC</td> </tr> <tr> <th scope="row">27</th> <td>LMP2</td> <td>SMP Racing</td> <td>Dallara P217-Gibson</td> <td>Sergey Sirotkin, Victor Shaytar, Mikhail Aleshin</td> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> <tr> <th scope="row">28</th> <td>LMP2</td> <td>TDS Racing</td> <td>ORECA 07-Gibson</td> <td>Fran&ccedil;ois Perrodo, Matthieu Vaxiviere, Emmanuel Collard</td> <td>WEC</td> </tr> <tr> <th scope="row">29</th> <td>LMP2</td> <td>Racing Team Nederland</td> <td>Dallara P217-Gibson</td> <td>Rubens Barrichello, Frits van Eerd, Jan Lammers</td> <td>ELMS</td> </tr> <tr> <th scope="row">31</th> <td>LMP2</td> <td>Vaillante Rebellion</td> <td>ORECA 070-Gibson</td> <td>Nicolas Prost, Bruno Senna, Julien Canal</td> <td>WEC</td> </tr> <tr> <th scope="row">32</th> <td>LMP2</td> <td>United Autosports</td> <td>Ligier JSP217-Gibson</td> <td>Filipe Albuquerque, Will Owen, Hugo de Sadeleer</td> <td>ELMS</td> </tr> <tr> <th scope="row">33</th> <td>LMP2</td> <td>Eurasia Motorsport</td> <td>Ligier JSP217-Gibson</td> <td>Jacques Nicolet, Pierre Nicolet, Erik Maris&nbsp;</td> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> <tr> <th scope="row">34</th> <td>LMP2</td> <td>Tockwith Motorsports</td> <td>Ligier JSP217-Gibson</td> <td>Karun Chandhok, Phil Hanson, Nigel Moore</td> <td>AsLMS</td> </tr> <tr> <th scope="row">35</th> <td>LMP2</td> <td>Signatech Alpine</td> <td>Alpine A470-Gibson</td> <td>Nelson Panciatici, Pierre Ragues, Andr&eacute; Negrao</td> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> <tr> <th scope="row">36</th> <td>LMP2</td> <td>Signatech Alpine</td> <td>Alpine A470-Gibson</td> <td>Romain Dumas, Gustavo Menezes, Matt Rao</td> <td>WEC</td> </tr> <tr> <th scope="row">37</th> <td>LMP2</td> <td>Jackie Chan DC Racing</td> <td>ORECA 07-Gibson</td> <td>David Cheng, Tristan Gommendy, Alex Brundle</td> <td>WEC</td> </tr> <tr> <th scope="row">38</th> <td>LMP2</td> <td>Jackie Chan DC Racing</td> <td>ORECA 07-Gibson</td> <td>Thomas Laurent, Oliver Jarvis, Ho-Pin Tung&nbsp;</td> <td>WEC</td> </tr> <tr> <th scope="row">39</th> <td>LMP2</td> <td>Graff</td> <td>ORECA 07-Gibson</td> <td>Enzo Guibbert, Eric Trouillet, James Winslow</td> <td>ELMS</td> </tr> <tr> <th scope="row">40</th> <td>LMP2</td> <td>Graff</td> <td>ORECA 07-Gibson</td> <td>James Allen, Franck Matelli, Richard Bradley</td> <td>ELMS</td> </tr> <tr> <th scope="row">43</th> <td>LMP2</td> <td>Keating Motorsports</td> <td>Riley Mk.30-Gibson</td> <td>Ben Keating, Jeroen Bleekemolen, Ricky Taylor</td> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> <tr> <th scope="row">45</th> <td>LMP2</td> <td>Algarve Pro Racing</td> <td>Ligier JSP217-Gibson</td> <td>Mark Patterson, Matt McMurry, Vincent Capillaire</td> <td>ELMS</td> </tr> <tr> <th scope="row">47</th> <td>LMP2</td> <td>Cetilar Villorba Corse</td> <td>Dallara P217-Gibson</td> <td>Roberto Lacorte, Giorgio Sernagiotto, Andrea Belicchi</td> <td>ELMS</td> </tr> <tr> <th scope="row">49</th> <td>LMP2</td> <td>ARC Bratislava</td> <td>Ligier JSP217-Gibson</td> <td>Miro Konopka, Konstantins Calko, Rik Breukers</td> <td>AsLMS</td> </tr> <tr> <th scope="row">51</th> <td>GTE-Pro</td> <td>AF Corse</td> <td>Ferrari 488 GTE</td> <td>James Calado, Alessandro Pier Guidi, Lucas di Grassi</td> <td>WEC</td> </tr> <tr> <th scope="row">63</th> <td>GTE-Pro</td> <td>Corvette Racing GM</td> <td>Corvette C7.R</td> <td>Jan Magnussen, Antonio Garcia, Jordan Taylor</td> <td>IMSA</td> </tr> <tr> <th scope="row">64</th> <td>GTE-Pro</td> <td>Corvette Racing GM</td> <td>Corvette C7.R</td> <td>Tommy Milner, Oliver Gavin, Marcel Fassler</td> <td>IMSA</td> </tr> <tr> <th scope="row">66</th> <td>GTE-Pro</td> <td>Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK</td> <td>Ford GT</td> <td>Stefan M&uuml;cke, Olivier Pla, Billy Johnson</td> <td>WEC</td> </tr> <tr> <th scope="row">67</th> <td>GTE-Pro</td> <td>Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK</td> <td>Ford GT</td> <td>Andy Priaulx, Harry Tincknell, Pipo Derani</td> <td>WEC</td> </tr> <tr> <th scope="row">68</th> <td>GTE-Pro</td> <td>Ford Chip Ganassi Team USA</td> <td>Ford GT</td> <td>Joey Hand, Dirk M&uuml;ller, S&eacute;bastien Bourdais</td> <td>IMSA</td> </tr> <tr> <th scope="row">69</th> <td>GTE-Pro</td> <td>Ford Chip Ganassi Team USA</td> <td>Ford GT</td> <td>Richard Westbrook, Scott Dixon, Ryan Briscoe&nbsp;</td> <td>IMSA</td> </tr> <tr> <th scope="row">71</th> <td>GTE-Pro</td> <td>AF Corse</td> <td>Ferrari 488 GTE</td> <td>Davide Rigon, Sam Bird, Miguel Molina</td> <td>WEC</td> </tr> <tr> <th scope="row">82</th> <td>GTE-Pro</td> <td>Risi Competizione</td> <td>Ferrari 488 GTE</td> <td>Giancarlo Fisichella, Toni Vilander, Pierre Kaffer</td> <td>IMSA</td> </tr> <tr> <th scope="row">91</th> <td>GTE-Pro</td> <td>Porsche GT Team</td> <td>Porsche 911 RSR</td> <td>Richard Lietz, Fred Makowiecki, Patrick Pilet</td> <td>WEC</td> </tr> <tr> <th scope="row">92</th> <td>GTE-Pro</td> <td>Porsche GT Team</td> <td>Porsche 911 RSR</td> <td>Kevin Estre, Dirk Werner, Michael Christensen</td> <td>WEC</td> </tr> <tr> <th scope="row">95</th> <td>GTE-Pro</td> <td>Aston Martin Racing</td> <td>Aston Martin Vantage</td> <td>Nicki Thiim, Marco S&oslash;rensen, Richie Stanaway</td> <td>WEC</td> </tr> <tr> <th scope="row">97</th> <td>GTE-Pro</td> <td>Aston Martin Racing</td> <td>Aston Martin Vantage</td> <td>Darren Turner, Jonny Adam, Daniel Serra</td> <td>WEC</td> </tr> <tr> <th scope="row">50</th> <td>GTE-Am</td> <td>Larbre Competition</td> <td>Corvette C7.R</td> <td>Fernando Rees, Romain Brandela, Christian Philippon</td> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> <tr> <th scope="row">54</th> <td>GTE-Am</td> <td>Spirit of Race</td> <td>Ferrari 488 GTE</td> <td>Thomas Flohr, Francesco Castellacci, Olivier Beretta</td> <td>WEC</td> </tr> <tr> <th scope="row">55</th> <td>GTE-Am</td> <td>Spirit of Race</td> <td>Ferrari 488 GTE</td> <td>Duncan Cameron, Aaron Scott, Marco Cioci</td> <td>ELMS</td> </tr> <tr> <th scope="row">60</th> <td>GTE-Am</td> <td>Clearwater Racing</td> <td>Ferrari 488 GTE</td> <td>Richard Wee, Hiroki Katoh, Alvaro Parente</td> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> <tr> <th scope="row">61</th> <td>GTE-Am</td> <td>Clearwater Racing</td> <td>Ferrari 488 GTE</td> <td>Mok Wen Sung, Keita Sawa, Matt Griffin</td> <td>WEC</td> </tr> <tr> <th scope="row">62</th> <td>GTE-Am</td> <td>Scuderia Corsa</td> <td>Ferrari 488 GTE</td> <td>Cooper MacNeil, Bill Sweedler, Townsend Bell</td> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> <tr> <th scope="row">65</th> <td>GTE-Am</td> <td>Scuderia Corsa</td> <td>Ferrari 488 GTE</td> <td>Christina Nielsen, Alessandro Balzan, Curtis Bret</td> <td>IMSA</td> </tr> <tr> <th scope="row">77</th> <td>GTE-Am</td> <td>Dempsey Proton Racing</td> <td>Porsche 911 RSR</td> <td>Christian Ried, Matteo Cairoli, Marvin Dienst</td> <td>WEC</td> </tr> <tr> <th scope="row">83</th> <td>GTE-Am</td> <td>DH Racing</td> <td>Ferrari 488 GTE</td> <td>Tracy Krohn, Nic Jonsson, Andrea Bertolini</td> <td>AsLMS</td> </tr> <tr> <th scope="row">84</th> <td>GTE-Am</td> <td>JMW Motorsport</td> <td>Ferrari 488 GTE</td> <td>Rob Smith, Will Stevens, Dries Vanthoor</td> <td>ELMS</td> </tr> <tr> <th scope="row">86</th> <td>GTE-Am</td> <td>Gulf Racing</td> <td>Porsche 911 RSR</td> <td>Michael Wainwright, Ben Barker, Nick Foster</td> <td>WEC</td> </tr> <tr> <th scope="row">88</th> <td>GTE-Am</td> <td>Proton Competition</td> <td>Porsche 911 RSR</td> <td>Nick Yelloly, St&eacute;phane Lemeret, TBA</td> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> <tr> <th scope="row">90</th> <td>GTE-Am</td> <td>TF Sport</td> <td>Aston Martin Vantage</td> <td>Salih Yoluc, Euan Hankey, Rob Bell</td> <td>ELMS</td> </tr> <tr> <th scope="row">93</th> <td>GTE-Am</td> <td>Proton Competition</td> <td>Porsche 911 RSR</td> <td>Patrick Long, Abdulaziz al Faisal, Michael Hedlund</td> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> <tr> <th scope="row">98</th> <td>GTE-Am</td> <td>Aston Martin Racing</td> <td>Aston Martin Vantage</td> <td>Pedro Lamy, Mathias Lauda, Paul Dalla Lana</td> <td>WEC</td> </tr> <tr> <th scope="row">99</th> <td>GTE-Am</td> <td>Beechdean AMR</td> <td>Aston Martin Vantage</td> <td>Andrew Howard, Ross Gunn, Oliver Bryant</td> <td>ELMS</td> </tr> <tr> <th scope="row">RES</th> <td>GTE-Am</td> <td>Mentos Racing</td> <td>Porsche 911 RSR</td> <td>Egidio Perfetti</td> <td>&nbsp;</td> </tr> </tbody> </table> <p>&nbsp;</p> http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/14667http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/14667Toyota makes changes to Le Mans LMP1 driver lineupTue, 16 May 2017 08:37:49 GMT<p><strong>Toyota has adjusted its LMP1 driver lineup ahead of next month&#39;s 24 Hours of Le Mans.</strong></p> <p>Jos&eacute; Mar&iacute;a L&oacute;pez will move across to the team&#39;s additional TS050 Hybrid for the French endurance classic, in place of St&eacute;phane Sarrazin who assumes L&oacute;pez&#39;s old seat in the no.7&nbsp;regular season car.</p> <p>L&oacute;pez will now partner Nicolas Lapierre and fellow Le Mans debutant&nbsp;Yuji Kunimoto, while Sarrazin joins former WEC team-mates Mike Conway and Kamui Kobayashi.</p> <p>The move is understood to be about L&oacute;pez&#39;s lack of seat time following his incident at the 6 Hours of Silverstone, which resulted in back injuries that ruled him out of the second WEC weekend at Spa.</p> <p>Sarrazin&#39;s impressive lap times at Spa in the additional car, coupled with his existing experience at Toyota as a WEC regular from 2013 to 2016, helped seal the decision with the team&#39;s management.</p> <p>&ldquo;Our circumstances have changed over the last few weeks as a result of the injury to Jos&eacute; Mar&iacute;a.&quot; said Toshio Sato, Toyota LMP1 Team President.</p> <p>&quot;He is in the unfortunate position of having completed very few racing laps this year in WEC, so we all felt it was appropriate to adjust the driver line-up.&quot;</p> <p>&quot;I am very confident that St&eacute;phane will fit well into a #7 line-up which can fight for the win. Jos&eacute; Mar&iacute;a, like Yuji, will learn a lot at Le Mans this year, familiarising himself with the track and the event in general, and this is an important step for the future as well.&rdquo;</p> <p>Toyota has also confirmed that L&oacute;pez will be back with Conway and Kobayashi in the no.7&nbsp;car for the six remaining WEC races after Le Mans.</p> <p>The no.8&nbsp;car lineup of Anthony Davidson, S&eacute;bastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima remains unchanged for the 24-hours, which takes place on June 17-18.</p> http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/14599http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/14599Sergey Sirotkin books Le Mans debut with SMP RacingThu, 11 May 2017 14:32:59 GMT<p><strong>Renault Formula One test driver Sergey Sirotkin will make his 24 Hours of Le Mans debut next month with the SMP Racing LMP2 squad.</strong></p> <p>Sirotkin, 21, has been confirmed alongside IndyCar driver Mikhail Aleshin and 2015 World Endurance GTE-Am champion Victor Shaytar for the French endurance classic on June 17-18.</p> <p>The all-Russian crew will share a Dallara P217-Gibson, as part of groundwork&nbsp;preparations for a new&nbsp;non-hybrid LMP1 project jointly orchestrated&nbsp;by SMP Racing and the Italian chassis manufacturer.</p> <p>Sirotkin&#39;s 2016 GP2 team ART Grand Prix&nbsp;has been contracted to help run the LMP1 venture starting next year.</p> <p>&quot;It was already tradition for us [to race] at Le Mans with&nbsp;a Russian crew,&quot; said SMP Racing founder Boris Rothenberg.</p> <p>&quot;Although we focused on building the LMP1 sport prototype for the 2018 FIA WEC season, we can not help taking part in the most prestigious race on&nbsp;the planet.&quot;</p> <p>&quot;Last year, for the first time in the history of this more than 90-year race, our fully Russian SMP Racing crew was on the podium&nbsp;And this time, I&#39;m sure, the guys will also try and do everything possible to win.&quot;</p> <p>&quot;In addition, the #27 crew will race a Dallara, with which we are building a new sport prototype for the coming season. This will allow us to gather a lot of necessary technical information for further joint work. &quot;</p> <p>SMP Racing previously announced plans to run the P217 in four rounds of&nbsp;the European Le Mans Series, starting with the 4 Hours of Red Bull Ring in late July.</p> http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/14562http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/14562Video: Highlights from the epic WEC 6 Hours of SpaSun, 07 May 2017 09:35:22 GMT<p>Watch full race highlights from the 2017 WEC 6 Hours of Spa in which Toyota claimed a thrilling 1-2 finish ahead of Porsche.</p> http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/14558http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/14558Toyota sees off Porsche challenge to win 6 Hours of SpaSat, 06 May 2017 18:44:34 GMT<p><strong>Toyota resisted a spirited challenge from Porsche to win the second round of the FIA World Endurance Championship at Spa.</strong></p> <p>Sebastien Buemi took the chequered flag 1.992 seconds ahead of Kamui Kobayashi in the sister TS050 Hybrid&nbsp;to extend the Japanese manufacturer&#39;s championship lead.</p> <p>Buemi cycled into first place with 12 minutes to go when Brendon Hartley brought his Porsche 919 Hybrid into the pits for a splash of fuel.</p> <p>Hartley was trying to out-wit the Toyotas using an alternate pit strategy, but the New Zealander&nbsp;required a lengthy full course yellow period to make the end of the race.</p> <p>Instead, Buemi came through to win along with team-mates Anthony Davidson and Kazuki Nakajima.</p> <p>Toyota led the majority of the six-hour contest after Mike Conway overtook pole-sitter Andre Lotterer for the lead during the opening hour.</p> <p>Both TS050s took turns to lead the race for extended periods, but the difference was forged during a pair of second-half full course yellow periods which conspired against the Conway/Kobayashi car.</p> <p>The first FCY, called to retrieve a stranded GTE-Am Porsche, came out just after Conway had pitted, meaning the British driver lost around 20 seconds to Nakajima.</p> <p>Despite closing the gap in the following stint, Conway&#39;s car was hampered again by a fifth-hour caution triggered by an isolated crash for the TDS Racing LMP2 machine.</p> <p>Again, Conway pitted moments before the yellow flags came out, further extending Nakajima&#39;s advantage before the pair handed over for the run to the flag.</p> <p>Porsche, meanwhile, took the final podium place with Hartley, Earl Bamber and Timo Bernhard finishing 50 seconds ahead of the Lotterer/Neel Jani/Nick Tandy car.</p> <p>Toyota&#39;s additional TS050 - which races at Spa and Le Mans only this season - completed the overall top five two laps down.</p> <p>Sixth in LMP1 was the privately run ByKolles Racing CLM P1/01-NISMO which ran a trouble-free race after experiencing countless issues at Silverstone.</p> <p>In LMP2, G-Drive Racing picked up its second victory of the 2017 with Pierre Thiriet, Alex Lynn and Roman Rusinov ruling the roost at Spa.</p> <p>Thiriet, the team&#39;s silver rated driver, crossed the line 53.281 seconds ahead of Bruno Senna in the best-placed Vaillante Rebellion ORECA 07-Gibson.</p> <p>The Rebellion squad had to recover from an unscheduled visit to the pits to fix a sensor, but recovered to finish ahead of the third-placed Jackie Chan DC Racing ORECA.</p> <p>Completing the top five in the secondary prototype class were the sister Rebellion and the highest of the Signatech Alpine entries.</p> <p>Ferrari dominated GTE-Pro with Sam Bird/Davide Rigon taking victory ahead of the&nbsp;Alessandro Pier Guidi/James Calado sister car.</p> <p>The pair of 488s were virtually inseparable throughout the six hours, but a divergence in strategies at the final round of stops put the winning car into a clear lead.</p> <p>Bird took on fuel only at his final service whilst Calado&#39;s crew replaced the two front tyres on his car: Bird subsequently sped away in the final stint to win by 40 seconds.</p> <p>Ford placed third and fourth having challenged the Ferrari ascendancy early on, whilst Porsche took fifth and sixth ahead of the two Aston Martin Vantages.</p> <p>Aston Martin led the GTE-Am race from start to finish, as Pedro Lamy, Paul Dalla Lana and Mathias Lauda clinched their second win of the season and their second consecutive victory at the 6 Hours of Spa.</p> http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/14554http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/14554Aston Martin needing warmer temperatures to match Spa paceSat, 06 May 2017 10:28:08 GMT<p><strong>Aston Martin Racing will need to rely on warmer track temperatures during today&#39;s Six Hours of Spa Francorchamps to bridge the pace deficit experienced in qualifying, according to Aston Martin Racing Managing Director John Gaw.</strong></p> <p>The pair of Aston Martin Vantages set the seventh and eighth quickest times&nbsp;in GTE-Pro, putting them at the back of the class grid some two seconds off the pole-sitting Ferrari 488.</p> <p>Gaw admitted&nbsp;that the Astons would continue to struggle to match the pace of Ferrari, Ford and Porsche if the track temperatures remained lower than 25 degrees celsius.</p> <p>&quot;As at Silverstone two weeks ago, the temperatures don&#39;t really suit the package we have for the weekend,&quot; he told <em>Motorsport Week.com</em>.</p> <p>&quot;At the first race we didn&rsquo;t have a solution for the track temperature which was lower than expected. So far this weekend it&rsquo;s been exactly the same.&quot;</p> <p>&quot;During winter testing there was a&nbsp;focus on developing the tyres for colder conditions but that wasn&rsquo;t the primary focus.&quot;</p> <p>&quot;We put a lot of work into wet weather performance, and we haven&rsquo;t yet found the solution for the cold conditions.&quot;</p> <p>&quot;With the package we&rsquo;ve got right now we really need a track temperature of at least 25 degrees, so fingers crossed&nbsp;for the race.&quot;</p> <p>AMR is expecting its performance to improve significantly this afternoon with the onset of a clear&nbsp;weather band, although the current&nbsp;temperatures could push the team into running its hard compound tyre, which has undergone less testing compared with its medium compound alternative.</p> <p>Despite the drop in GTE-Pro qualifying times, Gaw remains confident that the team&#39;s approach to the 6 Hours of Spa - and to the 2017 season in general - will greatly enhance Aston Martin&#39;s odds of retaining the drivers&#39; crown it won last year with Nicki Thiim and Marco S&oslash;rensen.</p> <figure class="image" style="float:left"><img alt="" height="220" src="/ckfinder/userfiles/images/WEC/3295_ND_WEC2017_02BELGIUM%5B1494%5D.jpg" width="400" /> <figcaption>Gaw maintains a pragmatic stance &nbsp;(Aston Martin Racing)</figcaption> </figure> <p>&quot;This year we&rsquo;re focusing on optimising the package that we&rsquo;ve got, and one of the big things we&rsquo;re focusing on is improving the performance of the team,&quot; he said.</p> <p>&quot;As a team, we&rsquo;re working on something called &lsquo;thinking clearly under pressure&rsquo;, which involves trying to figure out as many of the &lsquo;what if&rsquo; scenarios before arriving at the track, as opposed to making those decisions at the track.&quot;</p> <p>&quot;It&rsquo;s really difficult in a high-pressure racing environment to make the correct decision, because there&rsquo;s so much data and information flying about. It&rsquo;s much easier back in the office where you&rsquo;ve got time on your hands and there&#39;s no constant stream of data, to make decisions.&quot;</p> <p>Gaw uses England&#39;s Rugby World Cup winning squad from 2003 to exercise his point of how working a predetermined solution to every plausible scenario can yield the highest grade of results.</p> <p>&quot;That&#39;s a good example of what we&#39;re doing in the World Endurance Championship,&quot; he said.</p> <p>&quot;[England&#39;s 2003&nbsp;coach] Sir Clive Woodward will tell you that he knew five minutes before the end of the event that they were going to win the World Cup, <em>if</em> they executed correctly, because he knew that if the game was in the position that it was in, the game plan that everyone had and everyone knew that it was to end with a drop goal.&quot;</p> <p>&quot;It&#39;s the same in WEC: we know exactly how to react when a full course yellow comes out, at any specific minute, and our entire team knows the game plan for every eventuality.&quot;</p> <p>&quot;When the balance of performance is close, tyre development is relatively equal, and you&rsquo;ve got really competent drivers in each car, there&#39;s a need to define what the edge is.&quot;</p> <p>&quot;It&rsquo;s part of the recent evolution of GT racing. We&rsquo;ve had to get so many aspects right, from fuel to drivers to car&nbsp;balance &ndash; this planning aspect is the next step. If we do that well then we will get better results and that will move us forward into the future.&quot;</p> <p>Aston Martin, Porsche, Ford and Ferrari will line up on the grid for the second round of the 2017 FIA World Endurance Championship this afternoon (May 6th) at 14:30.</p> <p>Nicki Thiim, Marco S&oslash;rensen and Richie Stanaway will share the wheel of the #95 car, whilst Jonny Adam, Darren Turner and Daniel Serra team up in the #97 machine.</p> <p>The GTE-Am class Aston Martin Vantage will start from pole position, with Pedro Lamy, Paul Dalla Lana and Mathias Lauda driving.</p> http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/14550http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/14550Ford's Harry Tincknell anticipating ultra-close GTE battle at SpaSat, 06 May 2017 07:23:06 GMT<p><strong>Ford GT factory driver Harry Tincknell is refusing to believe the wide spread of times during qualifying for the 6 Hours of Spa will carry through into Saturday&#39;s race.</strong></p> <p>The 25-year-old, who this weekend shares the #67 Ford with regular team-mate Andy Priaulx and additional Le Mans driver Pipo Derani, is confident that all four GTE-Pro manufacturers will be actively involved in the fight for the win.</p> <p>Tincknell and&nbsp;Priaulx qualified the car third on the class&nbsp;grid, half a second off the pole effort set by the Sam Bird/Davide Rigon Ferrari.</p> <p>Whilst the times of the top two marques were closely huddled, Porsche and Aston Martin fell around two seconds off the pace, but Tincknell is certain that those gaps will be bridged come the race start later on Saturday afternoon.</p> <p>&quot;Ferrari took two sets of tyres during qualifying&nbsp;so it was hard to close the gap in pace,&quot; Tincknell told <em>Motorsport Week.com</em>. &quot;We decided to only use one set because we wanted to save ourselves for the race - one of our big focuses is tyre life.&quot;</p> <p>&quot;But, despite that, all the manufacturers are close - I think Porsche in particular were playing a few games in qualifying&nbsp;- so I think you&rsquo;ll see a line of GTs all together for much of the race. It&#39;s going to be incredibly close.&quot;</p> <p>The #67 crew head into the second round of the championship with the wind firmly in their sails.</p> <p>At Silverstone, the trio dominated the opening six-hour contest by taking pole and winning by 15 seconds.</p> <p>This weekend at Spa, Tincknell and Priaulx could clinch their fourth&nbsp;WEC victory in five races if the results are counted back to the tail end of last season.</p> <p>Considering the high standard of racing in the WEC &ndash; and GTE-Pro in particular &ndash; the possibility of posting&nbsp;that kind of statistical figure shows just how effective the partnership has been.</p> <p>&quot;Three wins in the last four makes for good reading,&quot; said Tincknell.</p> <p>&quot;All we&#39;re focused on this year is winning the world championship. Ford is desperate to win it, and we share that passion as drivers.&quot;</p> <p>&quot;We&#39;re pushing all the way in every single race, trying to get maximum points each time. If a win isn&#39;t possible we&#39;ll fight for second: for example, pole wasn&#39;t really on the cards today so we were really happy to get second and third on the grid.&quot;</p> <p>&quot;That&#39;s the attitude we&#39;re taking for the year. We&#39;re on the&nbsp;crest of a wave and we just want to keep that rolling for as long as we can.&quot;</p> <p>Adding to the #67 crew&#39;s impressive tally means tackling the unique set of demands posed by the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps.</p> <p>The seven-kilometre ribbon of tarmac in Belgium&#39;s hilly Ardennes region has three distinct sectors, featuring an inimitable mix of straights, tight turns and high-speed cornering moments.</p> <p>That combination of factors makes it the ideal practice court for Le Mans.</p> <p>&quot;We have a Le Mans-based car, so naturally we&#39;re strong in the high-speed corners like Pouhon and Eau Rouge; the middle sector is our strongest point of the circuit,&quot; explained Tincknell.</p> <p>&quot;We don&#39;t quite have the traction of the Porsches and Ferraris so I think the tighter, lower-speed corners such as the opening hairpin at La Source might be considered weaker points.&quot;</p> <p>&quot;But Spa has a bit of everything - it&#39;s as close to Le Mans as you&#39;re going to get. Bearing that in mind, and since the car is designed for Le Mans, Spa is a good circuit for us in general. We&rsquo;re looking forward to continuing our run of form and we&#39;re confident going into the race.&quot;</p> <p>The WEC 6 Hours of Spa takes place later today (Saturday, May 6<sup>th</sup>) at 14:30&nbsp;CET.</p> http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/14547http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/14547Porsche snatches 6 Hours of Spa pole from ToyotaFri, 05 May 2017 14:35:15 GMT<p><strong>Porsche broke Toyota&#39;s free practice streak to snatch pole position for the second round of the&nbsp;FIA World Endurance Championship at Spa.</strong></p> <p>Having led every session from&nbsp;Thursday to Friday morning, the three Toyotas were expected to sweep&nbsp;qualifying, but an impressive set of laps from Andre Lotterer and Neel Jani swung the result in Porsche&#39;s favour.</p> <p>Jani was placed second heading&nbsp;into the driver change period, behind Stephane Sarrazin who had lapped 0.09 seconds quicker behind the wheel of the #9 TS050, running this weekend with Le Mans-spec bodywork.</p> <p>However, Lotterer&#39;s best effort during the second set of runs was 1.3 seconds more rapid than the time set by&nbsp;Nicolas Lapierre, who had taken over from Sarrazin.</p> <p>That difference put the Porsche on top, with Lotterer and Jani settling on an average score of 1:54.097s.</p> <p>Lapierre&#39;s slower run ultimately dropped&nbsp;the #9 Toyota down to third, behind the #7 TS050 qualified by Kamui Kobayashi and Mike Conway which recorded a 1:54.693s average, half a second off the pole number.</p> <p>Kobayashi had to survive a hairy moment exiting the final corner when the ByKolles LMP1 spun in front of him, but the Japanese driver kept his composure to put his Toyota on the front row.</p> <p>The result means Lotterer becomes&nbsp;the first driver in WEC history to claim pole position for two different LMP1 manufacturers, having clinched six poles in the past with Audi.</p> <p>&quot;Although I had of good results in the past&nbsp;I had to restart everything from zero when I joined Porsche,&quot; said Lotterer.</p> <p>&quot;It was a great lap for Neel; I was a little more conservative in my run but we still managed to go quickest.&quot;</p> <p>&quot;Round here, the 919 Hybrid is faster than the Formula One car I drove in 2013.&quot;</p> <p>Jani admitted that he was surprised with his opening run, which was over two seconds faster than the 2016 pole time, but was nevertheless delighted at clinching his first set of qualifying honours since the 24 Hours of Le Mans last June.</p> <p>&quot;After I had set my lap and looked down at the delta time on my steering wheel I thought something wasn&#39;t right.&quot;</p> <p>&quot;We didn&#39;t even imagine to run 1m 54s in qualifying, let alone a 1m 53.&quot;</p> <p>Toyota locked out the second row of the grid, with Stephane Sarrazin/Nicolas Lapierre edging out Kazuki Nakajima/Sebastien Buemi.</p> <p>Porsche&#39;s other 919 Hybrid, qualified by Brendon Hartley and Timo Bernhard, finished 1.343 seconds off the pace after Hartley locked up at the Bus Stop chicane and disturbed his&nbsp;tyres&#39; grip levels.</p> <p>LMP2 pole went to the G-Drive Racing ORECA-07 Gibson of Pierre Thiriet and Alex Lynn, ahead of the two Signatech Alpine entries.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><big><strong>Ferrari claims pole in GT</strong></big></p> <p>Ferrari and Ford duked it out for pole position honours in GTE-Pro, with the former sealing the top spot and the bragging rights&nbsp;through factory drivers Sam Bird and Davide Rigon.</p> <p>The Anglo-Italian combination&nbsp;produced an average time of 2:15.017s to put their Ferrari 488 on top.</p> <p>Four tenths of a second back were the two Fords, driven by Harry Tincknell/Andy Priaulx and Stefan Mucke/Olivier Pla.</p> <p>Aston Martin Racing took pole in the Am category through a last-minute flying lap by Pedro Lamy.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/14542http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/14542Toyota one second ahead of Porsche in 6 Hours of Spa third practiceFri, 05 May 2017 09:48:56 GMT<p><strong>Toyota commanded the third and final practice session ahead of the World Endurance Championship Six&nbsp;Hours of Spa, with its leading TS050 Hybrid lapping a second quicker than the nearest Porsche.</strong></p> <p>Having topped the previous two 90-minute sessions, Kazuki Nakajima maintained the status quo by setting a time of 1:55.233 seconds to head the order.</p> <p>Driving the #8 car shared with Anthony Davidson and Sebastien Buemi, Nakajima edged out the sister #7 Toyota of Mike Conway/Kamui Kobayashi by just 0.005 seconds.</p> <p>The Japanese driver&#39;s time was enough to eclipse the benchmark effort from qualifying last year by half a second.</p> <p>Backing up the two regular-season Toyotas in third was the manufacturer&#39;s additional Le Mans entry, running in low-downforce trim.</p> <p>Stephane Sarrazin turned in a time of 1:55.448s which put a gap of 0.2 seconds between the two different aerodynamic configurations.</p> <p>Porsche&#39;s nearest challenge came courtesy of Andre Lotterer, who reeled off a 1:56.404s marker in the 919 Hybrid shared with Nick Tandy and Neel Jani.</p> <p>That put Porsche 1.171 seconds off the pace heading into Friday afternoon&#39;s two-driver qualifying shootout.</p> <p>In LMP2, G-Drive Racing driver Alex Lynn stole a march on the category after Vaillante Rebellion&#39;s Mathias Beche led most of the session.</p> <p>A 2:01.708s best from Lynn edged out Beche&#39;s early figure by 0.262 seconds, with the #38 Jackie Chan DC Racing machine lapping third.</p> <p>Ferrari ran first and second in the GTE-Pro class ranks, with Alessandro Pier Guidi recording a 2:14.904s best to pip stable-mate Sam Bird in the sister 488 by 0.196 seconds.</p> <p>The pair of Ford GTs were next in line, some eight tenths off the pace of the lead Ferrari, with the #91 Porsche 911 RSR completing the top five.</p> <p>Porsche junior Matteo Cairoli dominated GTE-Am for Dempsey Proton Racing, producing&nbsp;a time that would have been good enough to place third in the Pro field.</p> <p>The morning run was truncated by a brief full course yellow period with 27 minutes to go, to clean up debris following minor contact between the #38 Jackie Chan DC Racing LMP2 and the Clearwater Racing GTE-Am Ferrari.</p> <p>Only one other notable incident occurred during the session, when Bruno Senna had to come into the pits unscheduled after losing a wheel on his Vaillante Rebellion LMP2.</p> http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/14537http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/14537Toyota stays top in second practice for Spa 6 HoursThu, 04 May 2017 17:02:38 GMT<p>Toyota remained quickest in second practice for the WEC 6 Hours of Spa, with the #7 car driven by Kamui Kobayashi&nbsp;posting a best time of 1:56.369 &ndash; 1.5s better than it managed in FP1.</p> <p>That put Toyota ahead of the #2 Porsche in second place by just over half a second as Timo Bernhard posted&nbsp;a best time of&nbsp;1:56.874 during the opening half hour, which he failed to improve on later in the session.</p> <p>Kobayashi&#39;s time came after a red flag stoppage caused by&nbsp;Kevin Estre going off track at Les Combes in the #92 Porsche 911 RSR. That caused a 10 minute delay.</p> <p>The #1 Porsche driven by Andre Lotterer was third quickest ahead of the&nbsp;second Toyota crew, 1.5s down on their sister car.</p> <p>LMP2 honours went to Manor with&nbsp;Jean-Eric Vergne&#39;s&nbsp;2:02.662 lap&nbsp;in the #24 Manor Oreca-Gibson trumping the second Manor by four-tenths.</p> <p>Privateer entry ByKolles piloted by Oliver Webb was tenth, eight second down on the pace of the other LMP1 cars.</p> <p>The GTE-Pro category was led by the #95 Aston Martin, with a late flyer from Marco Sorensen putting him ahead of Estre&#39;s Porsche before his off.</p> <p>Ferrari&nbsp;led the times in GTE-Am with&nbsp;Miguel Molina setting a time of 2:17.806&nbsp;in the #54 Spirit of Race entry.</p> http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/14535http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/14535Toyota pips Porsche by 0.036 seconds in Spa FP1Thu, 04 May 2017 11:44:39 GMT<p><strong>Toyota driver Mike Conway pipped the two Porsche 919 Hybrids to top a close opening practice session for the Spa-Francorchamps round of the FIA World Endurance Championship.</strong></p> <p>Conway - driving the #7 Toyota TS050 Hybrid shared with Kamui Kobayashi - reeled off a time of 1:57.940s early into the 90-minute&nbsp;Thursday morning run, with the nearest Porsche of Brendon Hartley just 0.036 seconds off the pace.</p> <p>Conway and Kobayashi are competing as a duo this weekend, following the confirmation that Jose Maria Lopez <a href="https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/14533">has been ruled out with a back injury</a>.</p> <p><a href="http://fiawec.alkamelsystems.com/Results/07_2017/02_SPA%20FRANCORCHAMPS/157_FIA%20WEC/201705041145_Free%20Practice%201/03_Classification_Free%20Practice%201.PDF"><strong>RESULT: 6 Hours of Spa FP1</strong></a></p> <p>At the Silverstone opener Porsche struggled to make its low&nbsp;downforce kit work, but the longer straights at Spa have helped reduced the gap between the two LMP1 hybrid manufacturers.</p> <p>Backing up Hartley&#39;s 1:57.976s effort was Neel Jani in the sister 919 Hybrid, who finished 0.893 seconds off Conway.</p> <p>Completing the top five were the two other Toyotas, including the additional car shared by Nicolas Lapierre, Yuji Kunimoto and Stephane Sarrazin.</p> <p>In LMP2, Signatech Alpine topped the class as the top five entries finished within one second of pace-setter Gustavo Menezes.</p> <p>As with Conway, Menezes set his benchark figure early in the session (2:04.171s), which was enough to edge out the G-Drive Racing ORECA 07-Gibson by 0.091 seconds.</p> <p>Third in class was the #25 Manor-entered ORECA, ahead of the #31 Vaillante Rebellion ORECA.</p> <p>In GTE-Pro, Ford stood at the top of the order after its pair of cars were hit with a fuel capacity restriction ahead of this weekend&#39;s race.</p> <p>Driving the car that won the Silverstone opener, Andy Priaulx&nbsp;clocked a time of 2:16.802s to eclipse Frederic Makowiecki&#39;s Porsche 911 RSR by 0.122 seconds.</p> <p>Ford and Porsche occupied the next two places, with Ferrari&#39;s pair of 488s and Aston Martin&#39;s pair of Vantages propping up the Pro ranks.</p> <p>GTE-Am was led by the Porsche 911 RSR entered by Dempsey Proton Racing.</p> <p>A second free practice session is set to take place later today (May 4th) at 16:45 local time.</p> http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/14533http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/14533Jose Maria Lopez to miss 6 Hours of Spa due to vertebrae injuryThu, 04 May 2017 09:39:54 GMT<p>Jos&eacute; Mar&iacute;a L&oacute;pez has been ruled out of this weekend&rsquo;s FIA World Endurance Championship round at Spa due to &ldquo;minor damage to two vertebrae&rdquo;.</p> <p>The No.7 Toyota LMP1 driver sustained the injury during a heavy crash at the WEC season-opener at Silverstone, hitting the barrier during a rain shower at Copse.</p> <p>He got the damaged car back to the garage and following extensive repairs, it returned to the race 38 laps down to finish fourth in the LMP1 class.</p> <p>L&oacute;pez was taken to hospital as a precaution, as the &lsquo;warning light&rsquo; came on in the crash, and he was released the same evening despite reports of suffering back pain.</p> <p>Toyota has now confirmed he suffered &ldquo;minor damage to two vertebrae&rdquo; and will sit out of the 6 Hours of Spa, in order to make sure he is fully fit for Le Mans.</p> <p>Mike Conway and Kamui Kobayashi will therefore be the only drivers of the No.7 Toyota LMP1 car for the Spa round.</p> <p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;m extremely disappointed to miss this weekend&rsquo;s race as I was really looking forward to driving the TS050 HYBRID at Spa,&rdquo; L&oacute;pez said.</p> <p>&ldquo;I feel basically fine but we all agree that we should take no chances; the priority is to be absolutely fit for Le Mans.</p> <p>&ldquo;Probably I could race if we were at a different track but a driver&rsquo;s body experiences extreme forces through Eau Rouge so, after discussions with the FIA Medical Delegate and our team doctor, we decided I should not drive this weekend.&rdquo;</p> http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/14519http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/14519Sayers Says: Tales from the WEC paddock - The Silverstone debriefTue, 02 May 2017 11:26:41 GMT<p>In a new regular column for our sister publication <a href="http://www.motorsportmonday.com">Motorsport Monday</a>, Aston Martin Racing&rsquo;s Technical Director Dan Sayers gives us his debrief and comments from the opening round of the World Endurance Championship at Silverstone. In this edition, Sayers looks at the uniqueness of racing at &lsquo;home&rsquo;, the tricky new tyre regulations for GTE, and the intense homework required for success&hellip;</p> <p><strong>On preparing for Silverstone&hellip;</strong></p> <p>In theory, our Silverstone weekend started just after the 6 Hours of Bahrain last November! The cars were sea-freighted back to the UK and arrived at our Banbury HQ in the New Year. Once the cars were back we went straight into a full strip and rebuild for the upcoming year. Everything is fully crack-checked and taken away down to the bare chassis. It&rsquo;s such a critical point because failure to spot any problems early could mean carrying those through into the season itself.</p> <p>We started thinking about Silverstone four weeks in advance. It&rsquo;s a hectic time, from both an engineer&rsquo;s perspective and a driver&rsquo;s. There are lots of meetings beforehand outlining all the run plans. Everything is well documented and thought over before we arrive at the circuit.&nbsp;</p> <p>Free practice sessions enable us to verify our pre-race predictions: for example, we may run a hard front-left or a complete left side of the car, so we tailor our free practice run plans to find out that information. We need to find that information out early so we can set the car up to suit. Having two cars in GTE-Pro helps with that because we can have each car running a different configuration during practice.</p> <p><b>On what&rsquo;s new for 2017&hellip;</b></p> <p>With the tyre regulation changes this year (GTE allowance reduced from six to four sets per race) there&rsquo;s been a lot of testing to ensure we have a durable tyre, because double-stinting this year is going to be a challenge. We ran the cars differently in FP1 with different tyre configurations, to learn which one would be the best option going forward. The tyre strategy is such a huge part of the race now following the onset of the new regulations: it dominates the weekend preparation.</p> <figure class="image" style="float:right"><img alt="" height="220" src="/ckfinder/userfiles/images/Features/1_4877_ND_WEC2017_01GB.jpg" width="400" /> <figcaption>Aston Martin technical chief Dan Sayers</figcaption> </figure> <p>The other big variable is the way the Balance of Performance (BoP) is adjusted. It&rsquo;s fully automatic at the rounds after Le Mans, so it will be interesting to see how that works out for us. The timing of the new BoP system is eminent. I think we&rsquo;re closer than we were last year and having looked at the timing and analysis from Silverstone we&rsquo;ve improved at a greater rate than Ford, Porsche and Ferrari.</p> <p>This year our Am car (the #98) is running in the same spec our Pro cars ran last year. All our cars are upgraded versions of the previous year&rsquo;s Vantage models, and the upgrades are mostly bodywork related so they are easy to carry out. We had a year of experience on Dunlop tyres for the 2016 configuration of the #98, so a lot of time has been spent trying to make it easy to drive. By that we get more consistency out of our Pro drivers and a huge amount of benefit from the Ams.&nbsp;</p> <p>Paul [<i>Dalla Lana</i>] is a fantastic driver, and on his day is unbeatable against the other guys in Am. The first time the #98 ran was during a winter test, then it headed to Monza for the official test days and straight into the first race, so it hasn&rsquo;t done a huge amount of running, but the drivers are very comfortable with it which bodes well for the rest of the season.</p> <p><b>On the race itself&hellip;</b></p> <p><span style="display: none;">&nbsp;</span><b>GTE-Pro:</b></p> <p><b>#95 Nicki Thiim/Marco S&oslash;rensen/Richie Stanaway &ndash; started 3rd, finished 6th</b><b>&nbsp;</b><br /> <b>#97 Darren Turner/Jonny Adam/Daniel Serra &ndash; started 5th</b><b>, finished 7th&nbsp;</b></p> <p><b>GTE-Am:</b></p> <p><b>#98 Pedro Lamy/Mathias Lauda/Paul Dalla Lana &ndash; started 1st, finished 2nd&nbsp;</b></p> <p><span style="display: none;">&nbsp;</span>We got the best out of the race we could. We had an unfortunate incident when the #97 pitted towards the end for its final stop - we were timing that so we could get out in front of the #71 Ferrari. It would have been a good, close race between the two cars from that point. However, unfortunately the #97 got collected by an LMP1 car which compromised its race completely because it needed a few garage repairs.</p> <p>The pace was not what we had hoped for, that&rsquo;s clear. As it usually is at Silverstone, the conditions were very cold. It can get pretty grim in the garage sometimes! We were struggling to switch the tyres on throughout the race. This year the temperature was a little too low for us. It was consistent, which was great, but we had to work continually on trying to improve and increase the tyre temperature, which is difficult to do when it&rsquo;s consistently around nine degrees.</p> <p>We go into every race weekend fully expecting the unexpected. We do a lot of scenario planning in advance. The last thing you want to be doing when one of those is thrown is panicking and being unsure of what to do. Every scenario we can think of it predefined &ndash; but there are always factors we can&rsquo;t prepare for!</p> <figure class="image" style="float:right"><img alt="" height="220" src="/ckfinder/userfiles/images/Features/2_jm1619no55.jpg" width="400" /> <figcaption>6th and 7th for Aston Martin at Silverstone</figcaption> </figure> <p>We had a safety car during the second half of the race which put our scenario planning into practice. For the Pro cars, it was straightforward - we just followed our procedure and gained a few seconds - but unfortunately the Am car lost a massive lead. From then on it was a constant on-track fight as the track cooled down into the final few hours. It was a fight to the end, culminating with an incident which meant we finished second as opposed to first, so the safety car compromised our race, undoing all the work our Am-car drivers had done up to that point. It was frustrating, but that&rsquo;s part of racing &ndash; we know we will win some and lose some throughout the season. Unquestionably I think if the #98 car had a clean run we would have won.</p> <p>If I could describe how the race went in three words, I&rsquo;d use:</p> <p><b>Planned</b> &ndash; it was the best planning we have ever had for a race event. At the start, we went out with our plan and we didn&rsquo;t deviate from it, which is challenging from a driver&rsquo;s perspective as they had other cars drive off at a faster initial pace. But it&rsquo;s vital to stick to the plan and optimise everything in terms of managing the tyres throughout the stint to make sure the car is as quick at the end as it is at the start.</p> <p><b>Execution</b> &ndash; we executed our plan as well as possible. We can only optimise our plan away from what the weather or our competitors are doing.</p> <p><b>Challenging</b> &ndash; In terms of the varying weather, different drivers and the couple of incidents we had &ndash; both in Pro and Am &ndash; it was very challenging.</p> <p><b>On racing at home&hellip;</b></p> <p>Silverstone means a lot because it&rsquo;s the home event for Aston Martin. As the first race of the year and being just down the road from HQ means it&rsquo;s unquestionably important&hellip;</p> <p>However, in terms of the championship, it doesn&rsquo;t mean too much. Last year we proved that &ndash; at the first two races we had only two finishes out of four between the pair of Pro cars. At Spa, one ended up on its roof and at Silverstone one had a technical problem, but we still went on to win the championship. Whilst we would like to be sitting here with more points in the bag after Silverstone we only got one fewer than last year, so all is not lost.</p> <p>The Silverstone weekend offered a good opportunity to take the designers and some of the people who don&rsquo;t normally attend races. It benefits our development of future cars, because if the designers understand the environment we work in - for instance the necessities required to do quick setup changes, and what the drivers find tricky or easy &ndash; they can take that information and use it. It&rsquo;s something we benefit from greatly during the Silverstone weekend, even if it&rsquo;s not race-related. &nbsp;</p> <p>There is a bit more pressure since we had more people in the garages from staff to guests, but one of the best things about Aston Martin is that the garages are very open. We have lots of guests who enjoy getting extremely close to the action. Moreover, the team really enjoys seeing people enjoying the experience so it creates a nice environment. Although the engineers are boxed off in their own compartment, people can still see what&rsquo;s going on in there! It adds so much to the whole race weekend. The openness is excellent.</p> <p><b>On improvements for the next WEC race&hellip;</b></p> <p>This coming weekend at Spa, we&rsquo;re looking to continue all the factors we put in place planning-wise. It&rsquo;s good for the whole team to know what the plan is when we arrive at the venue. It creates a calmer environment in which we just focus on the things that matter at the circuit.&nbsp;</p> <p>A key point to the championship is that we need to finish every race. If we can do that at the first two circuits which are historically our tougher tracks then that would be a huge improvement on last year. We didn&rsquo;t have too many incidents towards the tail end of last season so it pays to get both cars to the finish at every race, for both Pro and Am, because that way we keep ourselves firmly in the world championship title hunt.</p> http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/14517http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/14517Video: Spa days - Porsche's Neel Jani previews the 6 Hours of SpaTue, 02 May 2017 08:47:45 GMT<p>Porsche&#39;s Neel Jani looks ahead to the famous 6 Hours of Spa, which takes place this weekend in Belgium. The team are looking to fight back after World Endurance Championship rivals Toyota took an early lead in the race for the title at the first round in Silverstone.</p> http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/14477http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/14477Iolande at Large: Discovering the WEC paddockSat, 29 Apr 2017 08:20:39 GMT<p>A gold mine of inspiration, entertainment, brilliant minds and business excellence fills the World Endurance Championship paddock. And I got a taste of every one of these at this year&#39;s 6 Hours of Silverstone.&nbsp;</p> <p>Funfair games, merchandise tents and a row of very sexy Aston Martins welcomed me as I approached the entrance of the iconic Silverstone Circuit. To my left was the Formula V8 3.5 and F3 Europe paddock, distinctly different to the very impressive motorhomes to my right of the WEC teams.</p> <p>The towering media centre and hospitality boxes of the famous Silverstone Wing directly in front of me looked like an extremely inviting retreat from the icy wind and lingering rain clouds. Luckily it wasn&rsquo;t snowing like last year&rsquo;s race and since I left my snow boots and thermals from Rally Sweden at home, a welcome relief. Exploration hat on, it was time to discover the people who call the WEC paddock home.</p> <p>First stop was the green and yellow quarters of Aston Martin Racing where practice was under way. Danish GTE World Champions Nicki Thiim and Marco Sorensen, aka the &lsquo;Dane-train&rsquo;, chatted and joked in front of their #95 car. Sporting an AMR beanie, a huge smile, and prepped in his race suit, Marco offered some advice to young drivers fighting for success.</p> <figure class="image" style="float:right"><img alt="" height="220" src="/ckfinder/userfiles/images/Features/iolande-wec-1.jpg" width="400" /> <figcaption>Meeting the entertaining GTE champion Nicki Thiim</figcaption> </figure> <p>&ldquo;I think it&rsquo;s important to have a good team so if you have everyone in the team behind you and you feel good it helps you as a driver as well,&rdquo; the former Renault and Lotus F1 development driver admitted. &ldquo;If you don&rsquo;t feel at home there&hellip; it&rsquo;s hard to get the right results, and it&rsquo;s important to be easy to work with.&rdquo;</p> <p>Although that cheesy grin rarely leaves his tanned face, when it comes to racing there&rsquo;s no doubt it&rsquo;s serious business with one goal in mind this year.</p> <p>&ldquo;Everyone on the car wants to sign off Le Mans and if we can do that we have a World Championship and we have Le Mans, so that would be the ideal thing,&rdquo; Marco explained, determination flashing in his eyes.</p> <p>Moving down the line, past Ford&rsquo;s Lego man and the crowds waiting outside Porsche and Toyota I stopped at the LMP2 privateer team Vaillante Rebellion. Within their welcoming hospitality, I was invited to join the circle of drivers relaxing on the leather couches and bean bags. The likes of Bruno Senna, Nicolas Prost, Nelson Piquet Jr, Mathias Beche, Julien Canal and David Heinemeier Hansson surrounded me, some enjoying carrot soup.&nbsp;</p> <p>As Formula V8 3.5 played on the big screen I was lucky enough to pick one very impressive brain. Warm, open and pleasantly modest, David Heinemeier Hansson was as keen as his co-drivers Nelson and Mathias for Sunday&rsquo;s WEC red starting lights to go out. He recalled the moment he became addicted to motorsport.</p> <p>&ldquo;I didn&rsquo;t get my driver&rsquo;s licence until I was 25 years old. I lived in Copenhagen, Denmark and just didn&rsquo;t need a car!&rdquo; revealed the third Dane I&rsquo;d met that day. &ldquo;A friend of mine knew of a race track that was close to Chicago where I was living. I got a chance to drive tiny formula car. I did that one day and was just blown away. It was just an amazing amount of fun to be in a car and to experience driving on the limit.</p> <p>&ldquo;In 2009 I got involved with a real racing class, Porsche GT4-type thing&hellip; and then I really got hooked. Pretty quickly after that the goal then became to go to the 24 Hour of Le Mans. That movement up the ranks is very addictive.&rdquo;</p> <p>I also discovered he was an author, motivational speaker, multiple business owner and founder of Basecamp software and Ruby on Rails; clearly there was never going to be any shortage of questions to ask DHH.</p> <p>Turning to the very well-known young man sitting on my right, Bruno Senna, who was passionately watching his friend Pietro Fittipaldi battle for the podium on track, I succeeded in peeling him away from the screen after Pietro took the win.</p> <figure class="image" style="float:right"><img alt="" height="220" src="/ckfinder/userfiles/images/Features/On%20the%20couch%20interview%20with%20Bruno%20Senna.jpg" width="400" /> <figcaption>A quick sit down and chat with Bruno Senna</figcaption> </figure> <p>Having raced in a number of different series across the world, fans eager for photos and autographs no matter where he goes, Bruno&rsquo;s ultimate goal is still yet to be achieved.</p> <p>&ldquo;I still haven&rsquo;t managed to win a championship which is quite annoying,&rdquo; Senna remarks as his frustration is slightly evident. &ldquo;Last year we got close, we got close a couple of times now but no cigar yet. So winning a championship is the first objective. Winning a World Championship is an extra bonus.&nbsp;</p> <p>&ldquo;If we can win here, hopefully we can win a few times and Le Mans definitely. In the US win some of the big races like the Daytona and Sebring &ndash; these things are the most immediate objectives. But racing for me doesn&rsquo;t stop next year, it hopefully stops many years from now.&rdquo;</p> <p>Glancing back to the TV screen, Fittipaldi waving the trophy above his head, Bruno explained his relationship with the youngster who also bears a famous racing name.</p> <p>&ldquo;First [<i>the support</i>] it&rsquo;s personal not necessarily about the surname but&hellip; because we&rsquo;re friends,&rdquo; Bruno insists. &ldquo;Pietro stayed in my place a couple of times and every time he comes we hang out so it&rsquo;s really nice to see them [<i>Pietro and brother Enzo</i>] doing well. Enzo is still a bit younger but I&rsquo;m sure we&rsquo;re going to get him in trouble eventually.</p> <p>&ldquo;I really hope that they do well and I think it&rsquo;s good for our country as well for the racing side so there&rsquo;s only positives there.&rdquo;</p> <p>All while this was happening there was a new sound to my ears around the Silverstone grand prix circuit; the screaming engines of the Formula V8 3.5 machines. Resembling the tones of an old F1 car, it was music to my ears. With faster cornering speeds than a modern F1 car I later sought to find out more about the specs of these racers.</p> <p>Michiel Gommers, Technical Director of Lotus Formula V8 3.5 team, was more than happy to talk me through every inch of their car in incredible detail. Explaining the what&rsquo;s, how&rsquo;s, why&rsquo;s and answering the bevy of technical questions I fired at him, no holds barred, I clearly understood why this operation works so well.&nbsp;</p> <p>Drivers Rene Binder, nephew of a former F1 driver and Pietro Fittipaldi, grandson of the great Emerson Fittipaldi were also on hand to offer their point of view from behind the wheel. The immense passion and warmth of this entire team made me feel lucky to be part of the motorsport world and to experience first-hand a dynamic like this.</p> <figure class="image" style="float:right"><img alt="" height="220" src="/ckfinder/userfiles/images/Features/Buemi%20jm1715ap191.jpg" width="400" /> <figcaption>The winning Toyota LMP1 car in action</figcaption> </figure> <p>On Saturday fans of all ages began to flood through the gates, cameras in hand, autograph books out and some hauling cases of valuable memorabilia awaiting signatures. The entire paddock was constantly buzzing throughout the day.</p> <p>After the FIA press conference where the Directors of ACO, FIA and the Endurance Commission extended the WEC agreement until 2020, I enjoyed meeting a welcoming FIA President Jean Todt and the delightful ACO&rsquo;s boss man Pierre Fillon.</p> <p>Toyota Gazoo Racing&rsquo;s &lsquo;meet the drivers&rsquo; was definitely a highlight and not only because of the delicious petite cakes served. The planets aligned on that Saturday afternoon and F1&rsquo;s Bahrain GP qualifying just happened to be showcased live on the silver screen within TMG&rsquo;s toasty, funky headquarters. Watching quali on those plush leather couches with Toyota&rsquo;s full LMP1 line-up of drivers commentating their every thought was seriously entertaining to say the least. It would have made one hell of a TV show with that range of interesting personalities combined with expertise.</p> <p>Kamui Kobayashi, S&eacute;bastien Buemi, Alex Lynn, Jose Maria Lopez, Anthony Davidson, Mike Conway, Kazuki Nakajima - their racing experiences and tales, from karts to the highest level, would fill a book that I for one would love to read. After watching Valtteri Bottas claim his maiden pole in F1, we sat chatting to the down-to-earth Toyota boys on the couch for the next hour or so.</p> <p>Buemi, Davidson, and Nakajima went on the next day to celebrate on the top step of WEC&rsquo;s first podium of 2017. Heightened emotions filled the Toyota pit garage and hospitality after such an eventful race, a stark contrast to the calm residence I had basked in the previous afternoon.&nbsp;</p> <p>&ldquo;I am so happy with this win,&rdquo; said Buemi. &ldquo;It has been a long time since the last one on our car so it&rsquo;s great to start the season like that. It was a tough race and really exciting at the end.&rdquo;</p> <p>Davidson praised his team mate for such a solid drive.</p> <p>&ldquo;S&eacute;b was on fire at the end on fresher tyres. Kazuki and I were willing him on from the pits and he did an amazing job. We couldn&rsquo;t be prouder to win this one.&rdquo;</p> <p>As the icy night closed in I yearned for a cosy pub dinner and a large glass of wine. What I got was a beetroot muesli bar, a warm bottle of water and three hours of traffic on the M25 back to London.&nbsp;</p> <p>Oh well, a girl can dream..!&nbsp;</p> http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/14445http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/14445Rebellion shows off new Vaillante-inspired coloursThu, 27 Apr 2017 12:48:08 GMT<p><strong>World Endurance Championship LMP2 outfit Rebellion Racing has unveiled its new livery for the 2017 season, inspired by&nbsp;French comic book&nbsp;hero Michel Vaillant.</strong></p> <p>In a presentation at Le&nbsp;Club de V in Brussels, the Rebellion team showcased its red, white and blue scheme&nbsp;to mark the 60th birthday of the racing driver character&nbsp;created by Jean Graton.</p> <p>The new livery will adorn both&nbsp;Rebellion-run ORECA-07 Gibsons, taking the&nbsp;Vaillante brand back to Le Mans for its first apperance at the 24-hour classic since 1997.</p> <p>Nicolas Prost, Bruno Senna and Julien Canal will pilot&nbsp;the #31 Vaillante Rebellion ORECA, whilst Nelson Piquet Jr, Mathias Beche and David Heinemeier Hansson are set to share the sister #13 entry.</p> <p>In the build-up to the big race, Graton will publish a special &quot;Rebellion&quot; edition of the Vaillante comics on June 2nd.</p> <p>The team will also display a Rebellion&nbsp;R-One LMP1 show car&nbsp;in the new colours at next weekend&#39;s 6 Hours of Spa.</p> <p>Rebellion sported a white and red livery at the opening round of the WEC last month (bottom)&nbsp;with its cars finishing second and ninth in class.</p> <p style="text-align:center"><img alt="" height="440" src="/ckfinder/userfiles/images/WEC/Vaillante__13F_OFF_003.jpg" width="800" /></p> <p><img alt="" height="440" src="/ckfinder/userfiles/images/WEC/jm1715ap205.jpg" width="800" /></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/14393http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/14393Karun Chandhok confirmed for Le Mans; British LMP3 CupThu, 20 Apr 2017 21:55:25 GMT<p><strong>Ex-Formula One driver Karun Chandhok will return to the 24 Hours of Le Mans this year in the LMP2 category.</strong></p> <p>The 33-year-old, who made eleven starts with the HRT and Lotus teams in 2010 and 2011 is set to take part in the French endurance classic for the fifth time.</p> <p>Chandhok will drive a Gibson-powered Ligier JSP217 run by British squad Tockwith Motorsports, sharing the car with Nigel Moore and Philip Hanson.</p> <p>The Yorkshire-based team currently competes in the European Le Mans Series and finished fifth on its LMP2 debut at Silverstone last weekend.</p> <p>Chandhok, Moore and Hanson were revealed on the <a href="http://johndagys.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/C9yUp5LWsAA8jEB.jpg">provisional entry list</a> for next month&#39;s Spa round of the World Endurance Championship, which the team will use as preparation for its first attempt at the 24-hours.</p> <p>The last time Chandhok raced at Le Mans was in 2015, when he joined Irish outfit Murphy Prototypes in its LMP2 lineup.</p> <p>He, Nathanael Berthon and Mark Patterson finished fifth in class on that occasion, bettering a sixth-place finish and a DNF with Murphy the previous two years.</p> <p>Chandhok also made one appearance in the top category -&nbsp;LMP1 -&nbsp;driving a JRM-entered HPD with Peter Dumbreck and David Brabham in 2012.</p> <p><strong>LMP3 debut this weekend</strong></p> <p>Chandhok has also been confirmed as a driver in the inaugural round of the UK-based LMP3 Cup Championship, which takes place this weekend at Donington Park.</p> <p>Sharing a Ligier JSP3-Nissan with former British GT regular Steve Tandy, Chandhok will be reunited with the T-Sport team that gave him an early opportunity in Formula 3 single seaters.</p> <p>&quot;Nice to be racing a T-Sport Racing car 13 years after I did F3 with them,&quot; said Chandhok on Twitter.</p> <p>&quot;Great guys! Helps me knock the rust off before Spa &amp; Le Mans.&quot;</p> <p>The LMP3 Cup Championship is a national-level feeder series for the Michelin Le Mans Cup, which supports the European Le Mans Series.</p> <p>It is designed to provide a cost-effective starting point for teams wishing to pursue the prototype ladder in the hope of competing at Le Mans.</p> http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/14364http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/14364Video: 6 Hours of Silverstone race highlightsMon, 17 Apr 2017 09:22:38 GMT<p>Watch race highlights from an action-packed first round of the FIA World Endurance Championship at Silverstone, with the No.8 Toyota taking victory.</p> http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/14351http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/14351Buemi/Davidson/Nakajima Toyota wins dramatic 6H SilverstoneSun, 16 Apr 2017 17:19:11 GMT<p><strong>A late overtake by Sebastien Buemi on Brendon Hartley handed the opening round of the 2017 World Endurance Championship to Toyota at an overcast Silverstone.</strong></p> <p>Buemi, sharing the #8 TS050 Hybrid with Anthony Davidson and Kazuki Nakajima, emerged from his final pit stop with an eight second deficit to Hartley in the #2 919 Hybrid.</p> <p>Equipped with a new set of Michelin tyres, Buemi laid into his rival&#39;s advantage during the final 30-minutes, eventually getting past with an opportunistic move on the inside of the Porsche at the Loop.</p> <p>Hartley - who partnered Earl Bamber and Timo Bernhard -&nbsp;crossed the finish line 6.173&nbsp;seconds behind Buemi, who claimed Toyota&#39;s first victory from pole position in the WEC since Fuji 2014.</p> <p>It also signalled the first win for Buemi, Davidson and Nakajima as a trio.</p> <p>Despite running a less competitive low-downforce aero kit compared to the high-downforce configuration used by Toyota, Porsche was able to keep in touch with the top spot through its alternate pit strategy.</p> <p>After a strong start by the Toyotas the Porsche of Andre Lotterer, Nick Tandy and defending world champion Neel Jani took the lead during a bout of rain during just before the midway point.</p> <p>However,&nbsp;the team lost time when the track returned to dry conditions because it had reverted to intermediate&nbsp;tyres during the shower.&nbsp;Tandy recovered to finish 47 seconds off race winner Buemi, whilst the sister car continued to push and saved time during a full course yellow period.</p> <p>That brought Hartley out in front of Buemi, until the race-winning move was completed with less than 10 minutes remaining.</p> <p>Toyota&#39;s other TS050 Hybrid retired midway through the fourth hour when team debutant Jos&eacute; Mar&iacute;a L&oacute;pez skidded into the barriers at Copse.</p> <p>L&oacute;pez ran onto the outside kerb upon entry to the fast right-hander, which pitched his Toyota straight-on and through the gravel.</p> <p>L&oacute;pez was taken to a nearby hospital as a precaution, whilst the Toyota mechanics got to work on sending the car back out.</p> <p>Mike Conway did manage to reach the finish, albeit 38 laps down.</p> <p>In LMP2, Jackie Chan DC Racing won its maiden WEC event with Oliver Jarvis, Ho-Pin Tung and Thomas Laurent behind the wheel of the #38 ORECA 07-Gibson.</p> <p>Jarvis took the chequered flag 19.376 seconds ahead of Nicolas Prost in the best-placed Rebellion Racing ORECA, and Mathieu Vaxiviere in the TDS Racing ORECA.</p> <p><big><strong>Ford takes GTE-Pro, Drama ensues in Am</strong></big></p> <p>GTE-Pro honours went to the pole-sitting Ford GT trio of Andy Priaulx, Harry Tincknell and additional Le Mans driver Pipo Derani who led most of the contest.</p> <p>Priaulx had to make an unscheduled pit stop early on when his opposite door became unhinged, placing the Ford on an alternate strategy that worked in its favour over the long run.</p> <p>Tincknell brought the car home 15 seconds ahead of Alessandro Pier Guidi in the #51 Ferrari 488, shared with James Calado.</p> <p>Completing an eclectic top three in class was the Porsche 911 RSR of Frederic Makowiecki and Richard Lietz, which took over the reins of Porsche&#39;s GT effort after a fourth-hour&nbsp;engine fire forced its sister car to retire early.</p> <p>A dramatic finish decided the result in GTE-Am, with Singaporean outfit Clearwater Racing taking its maiden WEC victory through an incident between the second and third placed cars.</p> <p>Miguel Molina (Spirit of Race Ferrari) and Pedro Lamy (Aston Martin Racing) tangled at the final corner, with ex-DTM star Molina heading into the gravel and Lamy losing time through a 360-degrees rotation.</p> <p>That enabled Matt Griffin to scamper through and take an unlikely victory for himself and team-mates Keita Sawa and Mok Weng Sun.</p> http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/14348http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/14348World Endurance Championship set to change GTE format in 2018Sun, 16 Apr 2017 10:55:28 GMT<p><strong>The format for the World Endurance Championship GTE categories will be altered in 2018, according to several key members of the organising committee.</strong></p> <p>During a press conference ahead of the season-opening 6 Hours of Silverstone, FIA President Jean Todt said there would be a push to give GTE &quot;even more visibility&quot; in the coming years.</p> <p>Head of the FIA Endurance Commission Sir Lindsay Owen-Jones added that this would involve a change in format to enhance the status of the category, which recently gained recognition as a licenced world championship for the upcoming season.</p> <p>&quot;We are working on a format with some creative ideas on how to give the GT cars more visibility within the race wekeends to make that very attractive for the fans,&quot; said Owen-Jones.</p> <p>&quot;It&#39;s too early to say exactly what we are going to do but we should be able to come back with some news fairly soon.&quot;</p> <p>&quot;We would expect to see some evolution of the format itself by the beginning of next year.&quot;</p> <p>The GTE-Pro category is currently entered by Ferrari, Ford, Aston Martin and Porsche, with BMW set to join in 2018.</p> <p>GTE-Am, meanwhile, has attracted only five entries for 2017 and could be exposed to the upcoming wave of changes.</p> <p>The announcement was made after Todt, Owen-Jones and ACO President Pierre Fillon signed a contract extension for the WEC lasting through to 2020.</p> http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/14347http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/14347Alessandro Pier Guidi (Ferrari): We are pushing, but it won't be easySun, 16 Apr 2017 10:02:27 GMT<p><strong>Ferrari factory GT driver Alessandro Pier Guidi believes tyre management will be key to overturning a pace deficit against his team&#39;s&nbsp;rival manufacturers during the&nbsp;6 Hours of Silverstone.</strong></p> <p>The 33-year-old Italian joins&nbsp;works squad AF Corse for his first full campaign in the World Endurance Championship, sharing the #51 Ferrari 488 with James Calado.</p> <p>However, based on practice and qualifying times, Ferrari is not displaying the pace of 12 months ago when it dominated the Silverstone opener from start to finish.</p> <p>Both Ferraris propped up the tail end of the GTE-Pro class order during opening practice on Friday, and in qualifying Pier Guidi and Calado only managed to record the sixth best time, some 1.2 seconds off the pole figure set by Ford.</p> <p>Pier Guidi linked the drop in performance to the Balance of Performance ratio set before the start of the season, which is taking on a new, algorithm-based system in a bid to take out the human decisions that caused controversy amongst the GTE manufacturers last year.</p> <p>&quot;I don&rsquo;t think we can do anything more because of the BoP system that we have this weekend,&quot; Pier Guidi told Motorsport Week.com.</p> <p>&quot;We are pushing hard but at the moment this is the best we can do. We are trying to push harder but we don&rsquo;t expect to be super competitive and compete against Ford.&quot;</p> <p>&quot;We are not in an easy position but we will do our best.&quot;</p> <p>Although Ferrari says it is struggling in the power department, Pier Guidi asserted that tyre management will be equally important to the final outcome of the race.</p> <p>Silverstone is a high-grip circuit with several harsh cornering zones,&nbsp;meaning tyre degradation is at a premium.</p> <p>Further, with the new GTE-Pro regulations stipulating a reduction from six to four sets of rubber during qualifying and the race, an even greater emphasis is placed on the endurance aspect that Pier Guidi believes could help Ferrari where its pace is lacking.</p> <p>&quot;We have to save and look after the tyres,&quot; said Pier Guidi.</p> <p>&quot;This year we are required to do two double stints with the tyres. It&rsquo;s important that we do a good job with car set up to save the tyres during the second stint, and if we do that well we will gain time and get a good result.&quot;</p> <p>&quot;It&rsquo;s important to have a quick car, but also equally important to make sure the tyres don&rsquo;t drop off. It&rsquo;s difficult to do this &ndash; the weather conditions are not easy because at Silverstone it is often damp, as it has been in practice,&nbsp;or very cold and the tyres start to grain quite quickly here. But I&rsquo;m confident to have a good setup for the race.&quot;</p> <p>Pier Guidi feels he is coming into GTE-Pro at the right time. Despite the BoP contentions, the category is reaching what may be considered a golden era, with the FIA upgrading its drivers&#39; championship trophy to a full world championship accolade that places it on par with the LMP1 crown in terms of importance.</p> <p>&quot;I think with GTE we are reaching the same level of performance we had with GT1 in the past, which I drove in with Maserati,&quot; he said.</p> <p>&quot;In GTE-Pro the grid is only&nbsp;manufacturers, so I&rsquo;d say it&rsquo;s more competitive than GT1 because the car brands are competing directly against each other.&quot;</p> <p>&quot;This is the biggest moment for GTE-Pro, because it has four manufacturers and next year we gain another one in BMW.&quot;</p> <p>The 2017 season marks a watershed for Pier Guidi, who has been toiling away as an AF Corse driver representing Ferrari&#39;s numerous global customer outfits since switching from single seaters to GTs in 2005.</p> <p>Following a test with other prospective factory assets last year - including Miguel Molina and Nyck de Vries - Pier Guidi was chosen as the best candidate and consequently takes his place in the manufacturer&#39;s most prestigious team outside Formula One.</p> <p>His pedigree is capped by a class victory at the Daytona 24 Hours in 2014, plus multiple wins and pole positions in the Blancpain GT Series and European Le Mans Series.</p> <p>&quot;It&rsquo;s great to be here [in WEC] with Ferrari. As an Italian being with Ferrari is something special.&quot;</p> <p>&quot;I have driven for Ferrari for a long time but finally I am a factory driver and this is my first season in WEC. Yes, I did Le Mans last year but finally I am doing the full season.&quot;</p> <p>&quot;It&rsquo;s not going to be easy this year because I think GTE-Pro is by far the most competitive class in the championship, so we have to push hard to reach the goal at the end of the season.&quot;</p> <p>&quot;My results in ELMS and Blancpain last season helped me to get here, for sure. If you are quick in those series you will get noticed, and I think performing well at that level with AF Corse enabled me to get the Ferrari factory drive in WEC.&quot;</p> <p>&quot;I still love racing in all those series because they are all very serious but WEC is the top, the maximum. It&rsquo;s my biggest priority this season to do well in WEC, but equally I still enjoy racing in Blancpain because I came up from that championship to be where I am today.&quot;</p> <p>Pier Guidi, Calado and the rest of the GTE-Pro field will line up for the season-opening 6 Hours of Silverstone at 12:00 local time.</p> http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/14344http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/14344Video: 6 Hours of Silverstone qualifying highlightsSat, 15 Apr 2017 18:06:37 GMT<p>Watch highlights from a busy qualifying for the 6 Hours of Silverstone, the season-opening FIA World Endurance Championship round.</p> http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/14336http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/14336Toyota sweeps front row in Silverstone qualifyingSat, 15 Apr 2017 13:01:01 GMT<p><strong>Mike Conway recovered from a lap time deletion to secure pole position for Toyota&nbsp;at the Silverstone round of the FIA World Endurance Championship.</strong></p> <p>Conway needed to complete two extra laps behind the wheel of the #7 Toyota TS050 Hybrid after running wide at Copse, but a recovery drive ensured he and team-mate Kamui Kobayashi claimed the first pole position of 2017, and the team&#39;s first in three years.</p> <p>A record breaking 1:36.793s lap&nbsp;by Kobayashi put the #7 car almost a second up&nbsp;after the first set of runs, before Conway consolidated the time to generate a 1:37.304s average.</p> <p>That put the duo 0.289 seconds ahead of Kazuki Nakajima and Anthony Davidson, who both scored quicker than Conway&#39;s individual time but couldn&#39;t bridge the gap to Kobayashi.</p> <p>The nearest Porsche 919 Hybrid finished 1.311 seconds off the pace on average, with Nick Tandy and defending world champion Neel Jani qualifying the #1 car.</p> <p>Timo Bernhard and Brendon Hartley completed the LMP1 Hybrid order in their Porsche.</p> <p>In LMP2, G-Drive Racing clinched its second consecutive Silverstone 6 Hours&nbsp;pole with Alex Lynn and Pierre Thiriet leading the way on a 1:44.387s average score.</p> <p>Reigning class champion Nicolas Lapierre and Signatech Alpine team-mate Matt Rao qualified second, in front of Thomas Laurent and Ho-Pin Tung in the Jackie Chan DC Racing machine.</p> <p>Andy Priaulx stole the show in GTE-Pro qualifying as Ford took its third WEC pole position some eight tenths ahead of the second-placed Ferrari.</p> <p>A 1:55.858s flyer by Priaulx gave the #67 Ford GT a huge advantage before team-mate Harry Tincknell came in to record the second quickest time in consolidation.</p> <p>That left the other crews to scrap over the secondary front row spot&nbsp;on the grid, with the Ferrari 488 duo of Sam Bird and Davide Rigon recording&nbsp;a 1:57.011s average to edge out the Nicki Thiim/Marco S&oslash;rensen&nbsp;Aston Martin.</p> <p>Completing the top five in class were the Stefan M&uuml;cke/Olivier Pla Ford and the Darren Turner/Jonny Adam Aston.</p> <p>In GTE-Am, Aston Martin claimed pole position with Pedro Lamy and Paul Dalla Lana qualifying 1.046 seconds ahead of the Ferrari driven by Thomas Flohr and Francesco Castellacci.</p> http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/14333http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/14333Toyota edges Porsche in 6H Silverstone warm upSat, 15 Apr 2017 09:47:44 GMT<p><strong>Anthony Davidson struck late to give Toyota the edge heading into qualifying for the Silverstone round of the FIA World Endurance Championship.</strong></p> <p>The British driver topped the 60-minute Saturday morning session with a time of 1:39.476s behind the wheel of the #8 Toyota TS050 Hybrid.</p> <p>Porsche had been in one-two formation for most of the morning, but Davidson&#39;s late attempt put the Japanese marque in front for the third consecutive practice session.</p> <p>Second quickest was Neel Jani in the #1 Porsche 919 Hybrid, who set a 1:40.223s marker that&nbsp;Davidson eclipsed by seven tenths of a second.</p> <p><a href="http://fiawec.alkamelsystems.com/Results/07_2017/01_SILVERSTONE/154_FIA%20WEC/201704150940_Free%20Practice%203/03_Classification_Free%20Practice%203.PDF"><strong>Result: 6H Silverstone FP3</strong></a></p> <p>Third was the sister Porsche, ahead of the #7 Toyota which is currently under investigation by the stewards following an incident between Jos&eacute; Mar&iacute;a L&oacute;pez and the Aston Martin driven by Paul Dalla Lana.</p> <p>L&oacute;pez clipped the front of Dalla Lana&#39;s Am-class Aston exiting Luffield, with the resulting contact forcing&nbsp;the Canadian driver&nbsp;to limp his car back to the pits with a left-front puncture.</p> <p>The Toyota escaped without any noticeceable damage, although L&oacute;pez was close to skirting the gravel on the outside of the corner.</p> <p>In LMP2, Alex Lynn topped the order with a 1:44.485s time aboard the #26 G-Drive Racing ORECA 07-Gibson.</p> <p>GTE-Pro was led by the pair of Chip Ganassi-run Ford GTs, ahead of the two Ferrari 488s entered by AF Corse.</p> <p>Pedro Lamy paced GTE-Am in the #98 Aston Martin that ran into trouble late in the session.</p> <p>Qualifying for the WEC 6 Hours of Silverstone takes place later today (Saturday, April 15th) at 13:00 local time.</p> http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/14332http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/14332Jean-Eric Vergne calling on F1 experience ahead of WEC debutSat, 15 Apr 2017 07:27:00 GMT<p><strong>Jean-Eric Vergne believes the intricacies of driving in Formula One&nbsp;will play to his advantage at this weekend&#39;s Silverstone World Endurance Championship opener.</strong></p> <p>The 26-year-old Frenchman is set to make his prototype racing debut this weekend, having spent the past six seasons on the Formula One circuit.</p> <p>Sharing the #24 CEFC Manor TRS Racing-entered ORECA 07-Gibson with Tor Graves and Jonathan Hirschi, Vergne is hoping to call on his previous single seater experience to rank highly amongst the competitive LMP2 field.</p> <p>&ldquo;Based on the first practice session, I think the race will be won both on pace and in the pits because there seems to be quite high tyre degradation,&rdquo; Vergne told Motorsport Week.</p> <p>&ldquo;We will make the difference if all three of our drivers are able to make the tyres last longer than the other teams, and that&rsquo;s where my experience can be very useful.&rdquo;</p> <p>&ldquo;In Formula One I had to do a lot of tyre saving with the high-degradation Pirelli tyres, so I think those skills will prove to be very useful this weekend and in the rest of the WEC.&rdquo;</p> <p>&ldquo;So far I&rsquo;m very pleased with everything I have seen &ndash; ORECA has produced an amazing car but the problem is everybody has one so it is close!&rdquo;</p> <p>Vergne arrives in the WEC seeking to forge a new career in sportscars, following a long tenure carving his way through the single seater ladder.</p> <p>Having reached the heights of Formula One with Toro Rosso from 2012 to 2014, he signed on as chief reserve driver for the main Ferrari team last year.</p> <p>After one season with the Scuderia, Vergne left to pursue a new career thread, and managed to use his time in the F1 paddock to connect with Graham Lowdon and John Booth &ndash; architects of the former Manor F1 team &ndash; whose sportscar outfit is entering its sophomore year in WEC.</p> <p>That opportunity to drive in prototypes means Vergne is now open to pursuing a new works-based programme in closed-cockpit racing &ndash; an opportunity his F1 roles have forced him to reject in the past.</p> <figure class="image" style="float:left"><img alt="" height="220" src="/ckfinder/userfiles/images/WEC/jmo1714ap27.jpg" width="400" /> <figcaption>Vergne&#39;s 2017 ride with Manor</figcaption> </figure> <p>&ldquo;LMP1 would be really nice for me,&rdquo; he said.</p> <p>&ldquo;I had an opportunity to drive with Porsche two years ago in LMP1, but I couldn&rsquo;t because of my commitments with Ferrari.&rdquo;</p> <p>&ldquo;But now I have the opportunity to gain some good experience in LMP2 and hopefully a good opportunity will come back up to race in the top class.&rdquo;</p> <p>Vergne hasn&rsquo;t cut&nbsp;his single seater ties completely, having agreed a deal with the Techeetah Formula E team for the current season.</p> <p>So far, he has claimed two podiums from four races, and sits a respectable fourth in the standings heading into the next round at Monaco.</p> <p>Keeping one hand in the Formula E pie means Vergne is continuing to drive with machines that require cutting-edge technology, which he hopes can make him an ideal candidate for a seat on board an LMP1 hybrid in the future.</p> <p>&ldquo;I think my experience in Formula E will benefit me in trying to get an LMP1 drive &ndash; definitely,&rdquo; he said.</p> <p>&ldquo;Formula E gave me a lot of experience in saving energy and making the power last. That will be useful in LMP2 because we are going to have to do a lot fuel saving this year, and also with the technology in LMP1.&rdquo;</p> <p>Adjusting to a new environment brings its own raft of challenges, but Vergne is confident that he can override these and become an accomplished prototype racer.</p> <p>Although he missed the WEC pre-season test at Monza to race in the Buenos Aires ePrix, he has already accrued enough miles behind the wheel to feel comfortable with the dynamics of the Manor ORECA.</p> <p>However, there were a couple of things that required some reconfiguration, such as driving a car with a roof and an extra pane of glass in front of the visor.</p> <p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s kind of weird to be honest,&rdquo; he said.</p> <p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s much harder to see, and you can&rsquo;t feel the wind or the speed in the same way you do in single seaters. But, I&rsquo;ve got used to the sensations quite quickly, and I&rsquo;m now fully used to it.&rdquo;</p> <p>&ldquo;I think the level of driver competition is very high [in WEC LMP2], and the cars are really nice to drive. Plus, doing the WEC means doing Le Mans, which I put as one of the top three races in the world. There are lots of positives to driving in this championship.&rdquo;</p> <p>Vergne and his team-mates begin their nine-race WEC campaign this weekend at the 6 Hours of Silverstone.</p> <p>The event is scheduled to get underway at 12:00 local time on Sunday, April 16th, with qualifying bookmarked for Saturday afternoon.</p> http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/14325http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/14325Toyota gains two seconds on Porsche in Silverstone FP2Fri, 14 Apr 2017 17:32:17 GMT<p><strong>Toyota swpet the LMP1&nbsp;timesheet&nbsp;during the second free practice session of the FIA World Endurance Championship opener at Silverstone.</strong></p> <p>The Japanese marque out-paced Porsche comprehensively, with the two TS050 Hybrids finishing at least two seconds clear of the nearest Porsche 919 Hybrid.</p> <p>Kazuki Nakajima turned in a time of 1:38.210s to lead the 90-minute Friday afternoon session, which put the #8 Toyota 1.4 seconds quicker than the fastest time from last year&#39;s 6 Hours of&nbsp;Silverstone weekend.</p> <p>Backing up Nakajima&#39;s time in the sister TS050 was Kamui Kobayashi, who posted a 1:38.444s marker.</p> <p>Having matched Toyota during the opening practice run on Friday morning, Porsche&#39;s cornering speed deficit - based on a decision to run its Le Mans-spec downforce kit at Silverstone - made the 919s markedly slower over the course of a lap during the afternoon run.</p> <p>Earl Bamber set the quickest time for the German marque, but the New Zealander was still 2.290 seconds off the overall pace.</p> <p>Completing the LMP1 hybrid order was the second Porsche, driven by Andre Lotterer.</p> <p><a href="http://fiawec.alkamelsystems.com/Results/07_2017/01_SILVERSTONE/154_FIA%20WEC/201704141645_Free%20Practice%202/03_Classification_Free%20Practice%202.PDF"><strong>WEC 6 Hours of Silverstone FP2 Result</strong></a></p> <p>Alex Lynn recorded the best LMP2 figure of the day behind the wheel of the G-Drive Racing ORECA 07-Gibson.</p> <p>In the car run by French squad TDS Racing, Lynn shot to a time of 1:44.874s to head the competitive class order.</p> <p>Two tenths down on Lynn was&nbsp;the blue Signatech Alpine A470-Gibson, which recovered from an early trip into the gravel for Nicolas Lapierre that brought out the yellow flags.</p> <p>The team recovered to eclipse initial fastest lap-setter Mathias Beche in the #13 Rebellion Racing ORECA.</p> <p>In GTE-Pro, Porsche beat Aston Martin to the top spot with Kevin Estre hurdling over the two AMR Vantages midway through the session.</p> <p>Estre&#39;s 1:57.765s lap put a distance of 0.191 seconds between his 911 RSR and the Aston&nbsp;of Jonny Adam.</p> <p>Marco S&oslash;rensen rounded out the class top three in the other Aston Martin.</p> <p>GTE-Am practice was led by the Gulf Racing Porsche 911 RSR.</p> http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/14320http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/14320Sébastien Buemi leads for Toyota in Silverstone opening practiceFri, 14 Apr 2017 13:13:35 GMT<p><strong>Toyota opened the&nbsp;World Endurance Championship season by setting the quickest time during the first practice session at an overcast Silverstone circuit.</strong></p> <p>S&eacute;bastien Buemi led the way&nbsp;with a&nbsp;time of 1:40.104s behind the wheel of the #8 Toyota TS050 Hybrid, shared with Anthony Davidson and Kazuki Nakajima.</p> <p>Buemi&#39;s effort was 0.781 seconds quicker than the Porsche 919 Hybrid of Brendon Hartley, which finished second in the LMP1 order.</p> <p>Despite running with a compromised low-downforce setup against the conventional high-downforce aero package of Toyota, the #1 Porsche of Hartley, Earl Bamber and Timo Bernhard managed to split the Japanese manufacturer&#39;s two cars. Mike Conway brought the second Toyota through on a 1:40.960, with Nick Tandy rounding out the quartet of hybrid LMP1 runners.</p> <p><a href="http://fiawec.alkamelsystems.com/Results/07_2017/01_SILVERSTONE/154_FIA%20WEC/201704141145_Free%20Practice%201/03_Classification_Free%20Practice%201.PDF"><strong>WEC 6 Hours of Silverstone FP1 result</strong></a></p> <p>In the all-ORECA LMP2 category, Rebellion Racing pipped TDS Racing to the fastest time courtesy of a 1:45.913s&nbsp;effort by Mathias Beche.</p> <p>The Swiss driver edged out Matthieu Vaxiviere in the #28 TDS ORECA by 0.225 seconds, with Alex Brundle slotting slotting the best of the two Jackie Chan DC Racing ORECAs into third.</p> <p>Completing the top five in class were Roman Rusinov (G-Drive Racing) and Gustavo Menezes (Signatech Alpine).</p> <p>Aston Martin Racing led Ford and Porsche in the GTE-Pro manufacturer battle as Ferrari struggled to match the pace of its counterparts.</p> <p>Richie Stanaway set the quickest time of the opening session - a 1:59.110 - in the championship-defending AMR Vantage shared with Nicki Thiim and Marco S&oslash;rensen.</p> <p>The two Ford GTs followed up the New Zealander&#39;s benchmark with similar times: Billy Johnson rested 0.382 seconds off the pace with Andy Priaulx a further 0.008 seconds shy, with Frederic Makowiecki lapping fourth for Porsche.</p> <p>Ferrari, by contrast, ended up rock bottom in the category with its quickest car - the #51 488 GTE driven by Alessandro Pier Guidi - only managing a time of 2:00.081s.</p> <p>The prancing horse also propped up the order in GTE-Am as Pedro Lamy&#39;s Aston Martin Vantage led the category and infiltrated the Pro-class standings.</p> <p>A second 90-minute free practice session is bookmarked for 16:45 later today (UK time).</p> http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/14300http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/14300Video: Ready, set race... 6 Hours of Silverstone WEC previewTue, 11 Apr 2017 20:58:35 GMT<p>With the 2017 WEC season almost upon us, all eyes will be on Porsche &amp; Toyota, whose rivalry in the LMP1 class is set to intensify as the teams prepare to do battle on track at Silverstone this weekend. Mobil 1 The Grid met the runners &amp; riders at the official pre-season test &ndash; the 2017 World Endurance Championship Prologue, from Italy&rsquo;s famous Autodromo Monza. Toyota&rsquo;s Anthony Davison, Sebastien Buemi and Jose Maria Lopez, and Porsche&rsquo;s Neel Jani and Andre Lotterer all feature.</p> http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/14297http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/14297Robert Kubica pulls out of WEC season ahead of opening weekendTue, 11 Apr 2017 16:20:01 GMT<p>Robert Kubica has announced that he will not participate in the 2017 World Endurance Championship, despite having signed with the ByKolles team in February.</p> <p>The Polish driver had been due to make his competitive WEC debut this weekend at the season-opener at Silverstone, but confirmed in a statement that he had chosen to &quot;step down&quot; from the race seat with the privateer LMP1 team.</p> <p>&quot;After the Prologue, I have decided to interrupt my racing program with the ByKolles team in LMP1,&quot; he said.&nbsp;&quot;Therefore, I will not take part in the upcoming WEC Silverstone opening round and in the other WEC races.</p> <p>&quot;It has been a hard decision to step down and so lose the opportunity to join such a challenging and competitive championship, but I hope this will not be a definitive goodbye.&quot;</p> <p>Kubica trialled the Nissan-powered LMP1 car in November, but was unable to test during the recent Prologue when the team chose to pack up early following reliability issues.</p> <p>With the loss of Kubica, ByKolles has only one confirmed driver in&nbsp;Oliver Webb.</p> http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/14291http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/14291Porsche 'not favourites' at Silverstone following aero kit gambleMon, 10 Apr 2017 16:27:48 GMT<p><strong>Porsche is taking&nbsp;a gamble with its aerodyamic configuration at this weekend&#39;s 6 Hours of Silverstone, with the German manufacturer confirming a low-downforce setup for the World Endurance Championship&nbsp;season opener.</strong></p> <p>Both 919 Hybrids will run with&nbsp;low-downforce bodywork, in a move that will almost certainly curtail their performance on the 3.6 mile circuit.</p> <p>Low-downforce aero kits are typically reserved for the 24 Hours of Le Mans, but the new LMP1 regulations have inspired Porsche to change its strategy.</p> <p>In 2017, LMP1 teams are allowed just two aero kits for the season, down from three last year. That means one high-downforce kit for the eight six-hour rounds which are held on cornering-dependent circuits, and one low-downforce kit designed specifically for the long straights at Le Mans.</p> <p>Team Principal Andreas Seidl said the decision was motivated by the new regulations, and is based on maximising development of the high-downforce kit ahead of&nbsp;its expected debut at the 6 Hours of the Nurburgring in July.</p> <p>&ldquo;With regards to reliability, we have been fine at our 30-hour test in Paul Ricard as well as at the Prologue in Monza,&quot; said Seidl.&nbsp;</p> <p>&quot;We feel well prepared for the first six-hour race. However, with regards to lap-times, Silverstone is going to be difficult.&quot;</p> <p>&quot;In the name of cost saving, the 2017 regulations permit only two aero kits per season. We have managed our resources the way that we focus on developing and testing our Le Mans aerodynamics until the third race of the season is over.&quot;</p> <p>&quot;This means low downforce for the benefit of low drag and this unavoidably will be a disadvantage in Silverstone. After the Le Mans 24 Hours in June we will consequently arm the 919 with more downforce for the remaining championship rounds.&quot;</p> <p>Seidl added that other regulation changes, most notably regarding tyre usage, would make this year&#39;s opener particulalry challenging.</p> <p>&quot;Another new challenge that is addressed by the rules is the reduced amount of tyres,&quot; he said.</p> <p>&quot;Two fuel tank fillings &ndash; in other words about 90 minutes racing &ndash; with the same set of slick tyres will be standard. This requires very sensible tyre management.&rdquo;</p> <p>Toyota confirmed at Monza that it will use&nbsp;its high-downforce kit at all rounds bar Le Mans, with the low-downforce kit making its only six-hour appearance on the additional &#39;third&#39; entry at Spa in May.</p> <p>That means the Porsches&nbsp;may struggle to match the pace of their rival Toyota TS050s at Silverstone, and potentially Spa.</p> <p>&quot;Historically, Silverstone isn&rsquo;t our strongest circuit and I don&rsquo;t see us being the favourites this year either - especially as we are aerodynamically compromised,&quot; said defending world champion Neel Jani, who shares the #1 Porsche with Andre Lotterer and Nick Tandy this weekend.</p> <p>&quot;But,&nbsp;still we want as many points as possible.&quot;</p> <p>&ldquo;Last year we only won the opening round in the aftermath of scrutineering, but it was the beginning of an incredible season,&quot;</p> <p>In 2016 Porsche won the 6 Hours of Silverstone by default after the &#39;winning&#39; Audi was handed a post-race penalty. The team went on to win six out of nine races last season,&nbsp;securing a sweep of the drivers&#39;, teams&#39; and manufacturers&#39; world titles.</p> <p>The WEC 6 Hours of Silverstone takes place on Sunday, April 16th at 12:00 local time.</p> http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/14221http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/14221WEC introduces new Balance of Performance formula to GTE-ProWed, 05 Apr 2017 10:38:59 GMT<p><strong>The FIA World Endurance Championship has released a new set of GTE-Pro Balance of Performance (BoP) regulations ahead of the 2017 season.</strong></p> <p>Initially confirmed at the Monza Prologue, the system is designed to minimise the manual altering of performance levels after each race.</p> <p>Last year, an unprecedented ten BoP changes were made during the nine-race calender, sparking dissent from the GTE manufacturers.</p> <p>The new system - dubbed &#39;Automated BoP&#39; - will be set&nbsp;between each six-hour event using performance data from the previous race.</p> <p>A different system will be deployed for the 24 Hours of Le Mans, in a bid to reduce &#39;sand-bagging&#39; - or the intentional masking of performance - at the first two WEC rounds.</p> <p>A statement released jointly by the FIA and ACO, the two bodies that run the world championship, said:&nbsp;</p> <p>&quot;A&nbsp;calculation tool has been created which will allow the targets for balancing the different car models to be met, without human interpretation or decision-making, and using mathematical formulas based on the quantified, public, specific, measured data obtained during each race.&quot;</p> <p>&quot;The gaps between the different car models will be balanced automatically from one race to the next.&quot;</p> <p>&quot;The data recorded during the race will be used and, from this, a mathematical algorithm will automatically set the adjustments for the next race.&quot;</p> <p>&quot;The mathematical tool will dictate whether the adjustment should increase the performance of slower cars or slow down the fastest cars in order to maintain the overall performance and stability of the class throughout the season.&quot;</p> <p>Automated BoP is the result of meetings between the five current GTE manufacturers - Ferrari, Ford, Aston Martin, Porsche and Corvette - plus 2018 newcomer BMW, with the FIA&#39;s technical working group.</p> <p>The new system will take data from the fastest car of each manufacturer, and will discount extreme variables such as poor weather and excessively slow pace.</p> <p>Only weight and power can be adjusted by Automated BoP, with subjected cars receiving a maximum 20kg weight penalty and 10kw power deficiency after each race.</p> <p>The WEC statement added that the new system has been tested on data from the previous two seasons, with &quot;very satisfactory results&quot;.</p> <p>It has also been confirmed that GTE-Am will use the same performance-balancing regulations as in 2016.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Why is BoP necessary?</strong></p> <p>Matching the pace of drastically different GTE-Pro cars is no easy task.</p> <p>Each model, based on a road-going derivative, has its own strengths and weaknesses and a skilled team of technicians behind it, so a form of artificial adjustment needs to be made to ensure close racing and sustained manufacturer interest.</p> <p>The WEC&#39;s decision to treat Le Mans BoP separately is hugely important.</p> <p>Le Mans is, of course, the most prestigious race of the year. It is renowned throughout motor racing, not just the endurance niche, and carries double points towards the world championship.</p> <p>That made last year&#39;s BoP fiasco particulalry farcical, with Aston Martin, Porsche and Corvette openly expressing their outrage at&nbsp;the artificial advantage given to Ferrari and eventual winner Ford. They argued that those two teams were intentionally&nbsp;sacrificing their early-season results at Silverstone and Spa&nbsp;to gain an edge at the 24 hours.</p> <p>Automated BoP is unashamedly clear on its motive for ensuring that such tactics do not reoccur in 2017. Although the system doesn&#39;t come into effect until after the 6 Hours of Spa&nbsp;(leaving room for some scheming at Silverstone)&nbsp;it should create an equitable environment that satisfies both the needs of the manufacturers&nbsp;and the fans who may have felt deprived of a &#39;true&#39; race at Le Mans last year.</p> http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/14220http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/14220Video: Toyota TS050 Hybrid in action at 2017 WEC PrologueWed, 05 Apr 2017 09:15:04 GMT<p>Watch Toyota&rsquo;s new TS050 Hybrid LMP1 machine in action at the 2017 Prologue, the FIA World Endurance Championship&rsquo;s pre-season test at Monza.</p> http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/14201http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/14201Toyota concludes Monza WEC Prologue on topSun, 02 Apr 2017 15:24:46 GMT<p>Returning Toyota driver Nicolas Lapierre set the fastest time of the two-day World Endurance Championship Prologue during the final three-hour session on Sunday afternoon at the Autodromo Nazionale Monza.</p> <p>Lapierre, who will pilot the Toyota TS050 Hybrid at Spa and Le Mans this year, recorded a time of 1:30.547, to put the #8 car on top of the timesheets.</p> <p>The #8 car ended up with the two quickest times of the afternoon session as Anthony Davidson set a 1:30.809, 0.262s behind Lapierre.</p> <p>Toyota wound up with a 1-2 to round out the Prologue, as Kamui Kobayashi set a 1:31.477 in the #7 machine, 0.930s adrift of Lapierre.</p> <p>Porsche therefore took third and fourth position, the #1 in front of the #2, with Nick Tandy setting the marque&rsquo;s fastest time of the afternoon, a 1:31.844, 1.297s down on Lapierre.</p> <p>Timo Bernhard was fourth in the other LMP1 entry, following the early withdrawal of ByKolles, while Jackie Chan DC Racing&rsquo;s Ho-Pin Tung led a closely-contested LMP2 field in the #38, 0.111s ahead of the #35 Signature Alpine entry.</p> <p>Manor newcomer Vitaly Petrov placed third in class, just 0.031s shy of Nelson Panciatici, while the #36 Signature Alpine, which took fourth courtesy of Gustavo Menezes, caused a red flag when Matt Rao went off at Lesmo 2.</p> <p>Ford took a 1-2 in the GTE Pro division, with Harry Tincknell in the #67 finishing just 0.042s ahead of Olivier Pla in the #66.</p> http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/14199http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/14199Porsche leads Prologue Sunday morning; ByKolles packs up earlySun, 02 Apr 2017 10:32:27 GMT<p><strong>Porsche set the two quickest times during a dry three-hour Sunday morning session at the FIA World Endurance Championship Prologue in Italy.</strong></p> <p>Neel Jani submitted a 1:32.020s best to put the 919 Hybrid shared&nbsp;with Andre Lotterer and Nick Tandy on top of the timesheets at the Autodromo Nazionale Monza.</p> <p>The morning run presented the busiest session of the Prologue for both Porsche and Toyota, with each LMP1 manufacturer submitting 80-plus laps to make up for the rain-soaked segment the previous night.</p> <p>Jani&#39;s time was backed up by Brendon Hartley in the sister 919, who came to within 0.004 seconds of the Swiss driver.</p> <p>The two Toyota TS050s finished third and fourth, around a half a second off the pace.</p> <p><a href="http://fiawec.alkamelsystems.com/Results/07_2017/00_AUTODROMO%20NAZIONALE%20DI%20MONZA/152_FIA%20WEC/201704020900_Morning%20Session%20Day%202/03_Classification_Morning%20Session%20Day%202.PDF"><strong>WEC Prologue Sunday morning times</strong></a></p> <p>The only non-hybrid LMP1 car running at the Prologue ended its test early with engine issues.</p> <p>ByKolles Racing arrived in Italy with a new Nissan engine package derived from the former NISMO LMP1 project, plus a raft of aerodynamic changes, but &#39;unspecified problems&#39; meant the car only ran six laps on Saturday evening.</p> <p>In LMP2, Mathieux Vaxiviere led the times for TDS Racing, with the Frenchman pedalling his team&#39;s ORECA 07-Gibson to a 1:36.078s marker.</p> <p>GTE-Pro was once again topped by Kevin Estre in the #91 Porsche 911 RSR, whilst the Spirit of Racing Ferrari 488 paced GTE-Am.</p> <p>The final three-hour session of the 2017 WEC Prologue takes place later today at 14:00 local time.</p> http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/14192http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/14192Mike Conway gives Toyota the afternoon edge at MonzaSat, 01 Apr 2017 15:33:48 GMT<p><strong>Mike Conway stormed to the top of the timesheets during Saturday afternoon&#39;s test session at the FIA World Endurance Championship Prologue.</strong></p> <p>The Toyota TS050 driver posted a best time of 1:31.332s to gain seven tenths of a second clearance at the head of the LMP1 order.</p> <p>Second quickest during the three-hour afternoon run was Kazuki Nakajima in the sister TS050 with a 1:32.062.</p> <p>Both Toyota times were enough to nudge the morning benchmark set by Neel Jani in the #1 Porsche 919 Hybrid.</p> <p>Brendon Hartley finished third in the times on board the #2 Porsche with a 1:32.146s effort.</p> <p><a href="http://fiawec.alkamelsystems.com/Results/07_2017/00_AUTODROMO%20NAZIONALE%20DI%20MONZA/152_FIA%20WEC/201704011400_Afternoon%20Session%20Day%201/03_Classification_Afternoon%20Session%20Day%201.PDF"><strong>WEC Monza Prologue session 2 result</strong></a></p> <p>The session was red flagged&nbsp;with just over an hour to go when Kevin Estre beached his GTE-Pro class Porsche 911 RSR at the second chicane.</p> <p>Prior to that the Frenchman had set the fastest time in category, and despite the spin was able to hold on to the top spot with a time of 1:47.844s.</p> <p>The #24 Manor/CEFC ORECA 07-Gibson also encountered trouble, bringing out the yellow flags at the same location following a trip into the gravel.</p> <p>LMP2 was led by reigning class champion Gustavo Menezes (Signatech Alpine), while Gulf Racing paced GTE-Am for the second session in a row.</p> <p>The only night session of the WEC Prologue is set to get underway at 19:00 local time on Saturday evening.</p> http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/14190http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/14190Brendon Hartley 'hungry for the top step' after missing out in 2016Sat, 01 Apr 2017 13:14:20 GMT<p><b>Porsche factory LMP1 driver Brendon Hartley is &#39;hungry&#39; for his crew to continue its late season form and mount a title challenge in this year&#39;s FIA World Endurance Championship.</b></p> <p>The 2015 world champion notched up four victories last season but a poor start meant he and team-mates&nbsp;Mark Webber and Timo Bernhard were&nbsp;unable to defend their title.&nbsp;Instead&nbsp;the crown went to the sister Porsche crew of Neel Jani, Marc Lieb and Romain Dumas.</p> <p>This season Hartley is&nbsp;teaming up with&nbsp;Bernhard and childhood karting friend Earl Bamber, who came into Porsche&#39;s full-time lineup following Webber&#39;s retirement.</p> <p>Despite taking a back seat in the title fight last year, the 27-year-old is optimistic that the #2 crew can deliver from the outset and mount a challenge on the other LMP1 trios.</p> <p>&quot;It&#39;s clear the championship result last season came down to our results at the opening three races,&quot; Hartley told Motorsport Week.</p> <p>&quot;At Silverstone we led the race before a crash, and at both Spa and Le Mans we were leading again but had mechanical failures. We started the season with almost no points but then the four race wins and climbed to third in the championship, so we know what could have been.&quot;</p> <p>&quot;We feel good going into this season: although the start of last season didn&rsquo;t go to plan we finished really strong with four wins.&quot;</p> <p>&quot;Despite what happened we&rsquo;re going to attack from the first race in the way we&rsquo;ve always done. We&rsquo;re hungry for the top step.&quot;</p> <p><meta charset="utf-8" /></p> <p dir="ltr">The upgraded 2017-spec Porsche 919 Hybrid was unveiled at Monza on Friday ahead of its WEC race debut next month.</p> <p>Hartley explained that the car was a natural progression of the 919 formula, using the same (but heavily modified) V4 turbocharged engine originally mounted in its 2014 machine.</p> <p>&quot;In some ways I think Porsche has stuck to its guns,&quot; he said, &quot;Because&nbsp;the 919 was a very good concept from its debut season and it&rsquo;s been evolving ever since.&quot;</p> <p>&quot;Its success was shown by other competitors [Audi] following our example with the lithium-ion battery concept. The steps taken have been gradual, but we believe in the original concept and want to keep the evolution going for it to remain successful.&quot;</p> <p><meta charset="utf-8" /></p> <p>&quot;We&rsquo;ve improved gradually in a lot of small areas which when built up should translate into a more rounded, efficient step up in performance during the races,&quot; he added, &quot;But there is reason to be careful: we can&rsquo;t draw too many conclusions yet about what Toyota&rsquo;s done until the first race at Silverstone.</p> <p>Hartley&#39;s pre-season prep routine has not been confined to LMP1 testing: in January he took part in his fourth Rolex 24 at Daytona, this time with ESM under the new Daytona Prototype International formula,&nbsp;and two weeks prior to that&nbsp;claimed his&nbsp;first-ever 24 hour race victory at Dubai driving a Porsche 911 GT3-R.</p> <p><meta charset="utf-8" /></p> <p>&quot;I&#39;ve been competing at Daytona for four years now and I&#39;ve done Sebring too; I love racing in the US,&quot; he said.</p> <p><meta charset="utf-8" /></p> <p>&quot;I&rsquo;ve done three endurance races before the season starts so I feel like I&rsquo;m already in the rhythm and ready for WEC.&quot;</p> <p>&quot;I also pushed to do the Dubai 24 Hours and Porsche were happy to let me do it, so winning that was a great achievement.&quot;</p> <p>&quot;It&#39;s hard to say if it&#39;s a trend among LMP1 drivers - a few of the guys on the WEC grid did Daytona as well - but it&#39;s definitely an environment we enjoy.&quot;</p> <p>&quot;That&#39;s set me up well for the season, and with the 30 hour endurance test we did last week for Porsche at Paul Ricard I&#39;m confident our performance and reliability can improve even further this year.</p> <p>The extra preparation - and excellent results - are boding well for 2017. The disappointment of missing out on a second WEC title may have caused an ache, but equally it has driven Hartley to bounce back harder than ever this year.</p> <p>Porsche begins its WEC campaign at the 6 Hours of Silverstone in April.</p> http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/14188http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/14188Porsche pips Toyota in WEC Prologue opening test sessionSat, 01 Apr 2017 10:22:14 GMT<p><strong>Neel Jani posted the quickest time for Porsche during the opening session of the FIA World Endurance Championship Prologue test.</strong></p> <p>The defending world champion turned in a best time of 1:32.068s&nbsp;towards the end of a dry four-hour morning run at the 3.6 mile Autodromo Nazionale Monza.</p> <p>Jani&#39;s time was approximately half a second slower than the pole figure for the 2008 1000km of Monza, which was the last race held at the circuit featuring LMP1 machinery.</p> <p>Jani is sharing the #1 Porsche 919 Hybrid with new team-mates Andre Lotterer and Nick Tandy.</p> <p>Second quickest on Saturday morning and just 0.158 seconds off the pace was the Toyota TS050 driven by Anthony Davidson.</p> <p><strong><a href="http://fiawec.alkamelsystems.com/Results/07_2017/00_AUTODROMO%20NAZIONALE%20DI%20MONZA/152_FIA%20WEC/201704010900_Morning%20Session%20Day%201/03_Classification_Morning%20Session%20Day%201.PDF">WEC Prologue Saturday morning times</a></strong></p> <p>The gap between Davidson and Jani was closer than any of the margins between Porsche and Toyota at last year&#39;s Prologue, held at Paul Ricard.</p> <p>Toyota&#39;s sister car finished third on a 1:37.491s effort, with the second Porsche sandwiching the Japanese manufacturer&#39;s two cars.</p> <p>Only the Nissan-powered ByKolles CLM P1/01 failed to set a lap time during the opening session of the two day public test.</p> <p>In GTE-Pro, Porsche&#39;s new 911 RSR topped the class timesheets courtesy of&nbsp;a 1:47.379s run by Michael Christensen.</p> <p>Only the pair of Ford GTs and the second Porsche kept to within a second of Estre&#39;s remit, with the Ferrari 488s and Aston Martin Vantages struggling to match the pace of their rivals.</p> <p>Andy Priaulx&nbsp;recorded the second-quickest time in class, two tenths shy of the pace.</p> <p>Rebellion Racing took a one-two in the LMP2 times led by a time of 1:36.094s from Bruno Senna, while&nbsp;Gulf Racing set the pace in GTE-Am.</p> <p>Saturday&#39;s second run takes place during the afternoon, between 14:00 and 17:00 local time. A night session is scheduled for later in the day.</p> http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/14180http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/14180New Porsche 919 Hybrid revealedFri, 31 Mar 2017 12:41:19 GMT<p><strong>Porsche </strong><strong>has revealed the car it will use to defend its FIA World Endurance Championship titles in 2017.</strong></p> <p>This year&#39;s 919 Hybrid is a heavily upgraded version of the car that swept the drivers&#39; and manufacturers&#39; championships last season.</p> <p>It retains&nbsp;both the two-litre V4 combustion engine&nbsp;and the lithium-ion battery recovery system jointly capable of creating around 900 horsepower.</p> <p>Like the new Toyota TS050 Hybrid, the Porsche&nbsp;has undergone an aerodynamic facelift&nbsp;in accordance with the new WEC regulations designed to control cornering speeds.</p> <p>Porsche has also adopted a new livery for 2017 that has already been seen on the manufacturer&#39;s GTE and GTLM&nbsp;cars.</p> <p>&quot;For the 2017 season, 60 to 70 per cent of the vehicle is newly developed,&quot; said Team Principal Andreas Seidl.</p> <p>&quot;The basic concept of the 919 Hybrid still offers scope to optimise the finer details and further boost efficiency.&quot;</p> <p>&quot;The monocoque has remained unchanged since 2016, but the optimisation potential of all other components was analysed and, in most cases, adjustments made accordingly.&rdquo;</p> <p>Porsche unveiled its car at Monza ahead of the official WEC pre-season test.</p> <p>Neel Jani, Andre Lotterer and Nick Tandy will campaignt the #1 this season, with Earl Bamber, Brendon Hartley and Timo Bernhard sharing the #2 machine.</p> <p>View photos of the 2017-spec Porsche 919 Hybrid below.</p> <p><img alt="" height="534" src="/ckfinder/userfiles/images/WEC/M17_0694_fine.jpg" width="800" /></p> <p><img alt="" height="534" src="/ckfinder/userfiles/images/WEC/M17_0693_fine.jpg" width="800" /></p> <p><img alt="" height="534" src="/ckfinder/userfiles/images/WEC/M17_0694_fine.jpg" width="800" /></p> <p><img alt="" height="534" src="/ckfinder/userfiles/images/WEC/M17_0696_fine.jpg" width="800" /></p> <p><img alt="" height="534" src="/ckfinder/userfiles/images/WEC/M17_0689_fine.jpg" width="800" /></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/14179http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/14179Vitaly Petrov confirmed at Manor for World Endurance ChampionshipFri, 31 Mar 2017 12:20:59 GMT<p><strong>Ex-Renault Formula One driver&nbsp;Vitaly Petrov will contest the FIA World Endurance Championship with the Manor LMP2 squad in 2017.</strong></p> <p>The 32-year-old Russian is set to join Simon Trummer and Roberto Gonzalez&nbsp;in the #25 ORECA 07-Gibson.</p> <p>Petrov competed in the WEC with SMP Racing last year, but the Russian outfit is sidelining its LMP2 programme to focus on the development of a new LMP1 car.</p> <p>The deal means Petrov will return to the 24 Hours of Le Mans after finishing on the LMP2 podium last year.</p> <p data-aria-label-part="0" lang="en">&quot;I&#39;m pleased to announce that I will join the Manor&nbsp;for the 2017 FIA WEC,&quot; said Petrov.</p> <p>&quot;Also thanks to all my fans, who were eagerly awaiting my further participation in the championship. We are waiting for everything together for the first race of the season.&quot;</p> <p>Petrov made 57 starts in Formula One between 2010 and 2012, driving for Renault and Caterham.</p> <p>Following a season in the DTM he turned his attention to endurance racing, becoming a key member of SMP Racing&#39;s prototype division.<br /> &nbsp;</p> http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/14177http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/14177Toyota unveils 2017 LMP1 racer at MonzaFri, 31 Mar 2017 09:55:04 GMT<p><strong>Toyota has taken the wraps off its updated TS050 Hybrid LMP1 racer ahead of the 2017 FIA World Endurance Championship.</strong></p> <p>The car will run with&nbsp;a new 2.4 litre V6 turbocharged petrol engine in the eight megajoule category of the LMP1 hybrid sub-class.</p> <p>The 2017 season marks Toyota&#39;s sixth year at the top level of endurance racing, with the team stating a clear aim of winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans after falling agonisingly short last season.</p> <p>A new cylinder block, cylinder head, and enhanced development of the combustion chamber to optimise thermal efficiency highlight the other improvements made to last year&#39;s model.</p> <p>&ldquo;Although the TS050 Hybrid shares the same name as the 2016 car, its performance has been greatly improved by reviewing the powertrain and enhancing efficiency in all areas,&quot; said LMP1 project team leader Histake Murata.</p> <p>&quot;The team in Higashi-Fuji has worked ceaselessly since Le Mans last year to develop a powertrain which will deliver performance over one lap and over a full race distance, enabling us to compete at the front.&quot;</p> <p>&quot;This has resulted in a new engine, plus modifications to the motor generator units and battery. The first results are very encouraging but we will continue to fine-tune so we are ready.&rdquo;</p> <p>Toyota will field three cars at Le Mans, with Technical Director Pascal Vasselon stating&nbsp;two main factors influencing the decision.</p> <p>&quot;In 2014 and 2016 we had the performance to win Le Mans,&quot; said Vasselon, &quot;but we either had incidents or mechanical issues that prevented us from winning each time.&quot;</p> <p>&quot;That gave us no doubt about the interest for a third car.&quot;</p> <p>&quot;Furthermore, the freezing of the LMP1 regulations until 2019 also contributed to our decision, with the frozen monocoque development opening up the resources to produce the&nbsp;third car.&quot;</p> <p>It is understood that Toyota&#39;s third car will run in the low-downforce Le Mans aero kit at the 6 Hours of Spa, whilst the two full-season entries will run in high-downforce configuration at every race bar the 24 hours.</p> <p>View photos of the new TS050 Hybrid below.​</p> <p><img alt="" height="450" src="/ckfinder/userfiles/images/WEC/motiv-12-final.jpg" width="800" /></p> <p><img alt="" height="451" src="/ckfinder/userfiles/images/WEC/motiv-05-final.jpg" width="800" /></p> <p><img alt="" height="449" src="/ckfinder/userfiles/images/WEC/motiv-06-final.jpg" width="800" /></p> <p><img alt="" height="450" src="/ckfinder/userfiles/images/WEC/motiv-14-final.jpg" width="800" /></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/14172http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/14172Video: Introducing Aston Martin's 2017 GTE challengerThu, 30 Mar 2017 08:21:29 GMT<p><strong>Watch the reveal of the 2017-spec Aston Martin Vantage GTE through the eyes of reigning World Endurance champion Marco S&oslash;rensen.</strong></p> <p>This year Aston Martin is aiming to defend its GTE-Pro crown against rival manufacturers&nbsp;Ferrari, Porsche and Ford.</p> <p>S&oslash;rensen will partner Nicki Thiim in the #95 car for the nine-race calendar, with Richie Stanaway joining the pair at Silverstone, Spa and the 24 Hours of Le Mans.</p> <p>Full-time drivers Darren Turner and Jonny Adam are set to share the sister #97 machine alongside Daniel Serra for the opening three rounds of the season.</p> <p>Photos of the Vantage GTE in testing courtesy of Drew Gibson.</p> <p><img alt="" height="440" src="/ckfinder/userfiles/images/012_DG_AMR_2017_PreSeasonTestA.jpg" width="800" /></p> <p><img alt="" height="440" src="/ckfinder/userfiles/images/017_DG_AMR_2017_PreSeasonTest.jpg" width="800" /></p> <p><img alt="" height="440" src="/ckfinder/userfiles/images/045_DG_AMR_2017_PreSeasonTest.jpg" width="800" /></p> <p><img alt="" height="440" src="/ckfinder/userfiles/images/046_DG_AMR_2017_PreSeasonTest.jpg" width="800" /></p> <p><img alt="" height="440" src="/ckfinder/userfiles/images/029_DG_AMR_2017_PreSeasonTest.jpg" width="800" /></p> http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/14171http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/14171Aston Martin completes Le Mans lineup with Daniel Serra and Richie StanawayWed, 29 Mar 2017 23:04:14 GMT<p><strong>Aston Martin Racing has finalised its driver lineups for the 24 Hours of Le Mans, with Brazilian GT racer Daniel Serra (pictured) and team regular Richie Stanaway&nbsp;confirmed for the French enduro.</strong></p> <p>Stanaway is placed with defending GTE-Pro champions Nicki Thiim&nbsp;and Marco S&oslash;rensen, whilst team newcomer Serra joins&nbsp;Darren Turner and Jonny Adam behind the wheel of the sister V8 Vantage.</p> <p>The Le Mans lineups will also contest the opening two rounds of the FIA World Endurance Championship at Silverstone and Spa.</p> <p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;m hugely excited to have both Daniel and Richie on-board with the team this season,&quot; said AMR Team Principal Paul Howarth.</p> <p>&quot;Both bring with them the speed and consistency that we look for in any driver here at Aston Martin Racing.&quot;</p> <p>&quot;While Richie has raced with us for many seasons, Daniel is also well known within our operation. We are a team with big ambitions following our championship successes last year and while the competition will undoubtedly be tough, it is our objective to be on the top step of the podium at Le Mans in June&rdquo;.</p> <p>Stanaway&#39;s tenure with Aston Martin includes apperances in the FIA WEC, IMSA Sportscar Championship and European Le Mans Series.</p> <p>In 2016 he partnered Turner for seven out of&nbsp;nine races, with the pair going on to win the 6 Hours of Mexico.</p> <p>&quot;It&rsquo;s great to be back at WEC this weekend and to be back with the team for this season,&quot; commented Stanaway, who is also a former winner in GP2.</p> <p>&quot;Obviously it&rsquo;s going to be a little different driving with the Danes this year, but having worked with these guys over the past few years, we already understand each other really well.&quot;</p> <p>&quot;Both Marco and Nicki are ultra-quick and I&rsquo;m hoping we can be challenging for victories straight away at Silverstone, Spa and then for the big one at Le Mans&rdquo;.</p> <figure class="image" style="float:left"><img alt="" height="220" src="/ckfinder/userfiles/images/026_DG_AMR_2017_PreSeasonTest.jpg" width="400" /> <figcaption>Aston Martin retains its British racing green livery for 2017</figcaption> </figure> <p>Serra, meanwhile, is new to the Aston Martin organisation having represented Ferrari on the North American GT scene since 2014.</p> <p>The 33-year-old from S&atilde;o Paulo drove a part-season with IMSA GT Daytona championship-winning outfit Scuderia Corsa last season, which included a fourth-place finish at the Daytona 24 Hours.</p> <p>Serra joined Aston Martin recently at Aragon for&nbsp;the testing of Dunlop tyre compounds, in preparation for his Le Mans debut with the manufacturer.</p> <p>&quot;What an amazing opportunity it is to be joining Aston Martin Racing in 2017,&quot; said Serra, whose father Chico drove in Formula One with Arrows.</p> <p>&quot;Having worked with the team last year in testing, it&rsquo;s great to now step up and have the chance to help fight for strong results, in what is going to be a really competitive field in this year&rsquo;s WEC.&quot;</p> <p>&quot;I&rsquo;d like to thank the team for this opportunity and I cannot wait to start working with Darren and Jonny. Both are real professionals on and off the track and I hope we can bring the fight to our rivals this season&rdquo;.</p> <p>Aston Martin has&nbsp;also confirmed that its cars will return to the distinctive Stirling Green and Lime livery that featured in the FIA WEC last year.</p> <p>The paint scheme recognises the colours of Aston Martin&#39;s recently formed performance brand AMR, which debuted at the Geneva Motor Show last month.</p> http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/14156http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/14156Super Formula champion Yuji Kunimoto joins Toyota Le Mans driver lineupTue, 28 Mar 2017 09:42:28 GMT<p><strong>Toyota has finalised its LMP1 driver lineup for the 2017 World Endurance Championship, with Super Formula champion Yuji Kunimoto joining Nicolas Lapierre and St&eacute;phane Sarrazin in the team&#39;s third car for Le Mans.</strong></p> <p>Kunimoto beat the likes of Porsche LMP1 star Andre Lotterer and McLaren Formula One driver Stoffel Vandoorne to win Japan&#39;s premier single seater series in 2016.</p> <p>The 26-year-old has also won races in Super GT, but this year marks his first behind the wheel of&nbsp;an LMP1 car.</p> <p>&ldquo;This is really a dream for me,&quot; said Kunimoto.</p> <p>&quot;I never imagined that one day I could race for a team like Toyota at Le Mans so I am determined to make the most of this opportunity.&quot;</p> <p>&quot;I enjoyed my first tests with the TS050 HYBRID, which is a really impressive car. LMP1 and endurance racing in Europe are new to me so I am working hard to learn as much as I can from the team; I am sure I will learn a lot from St&eacute;phane and Nicolas, who are both very experienced and quick.&quot;</p> <p>Lapierre, who won the WEC LMP2 title with Signatech Alpine last year, was confirmed in the car alongside Kunimoto having been strongly linked to one of the third car&#39;s seats.</p> <p>The Frenchman drove for Toyota on a full-time basis from 2012 to 2013, but was dropped from the team midway through the 2014 season.</p> <p>Lapierre is attempting a hat-trick of Le Mans victories this season, having won the LMP2 class trophy the last two years.</p> <p>2016 marks his tenth crack at the celebrated French endurance race.</p> <p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s great to be back with Toyota and I would like to thank the team for this opportunity,&quot; said Lapierre.</p> <p>&quot;I&rsquo;m really looking forward to racing an LMP1 car again because the cars have developed a lot since I drove the TS040 HYBRID in 2014.&quot;</p> <p>&quot;The Spa race is coming around very quickly so I am fully focused on preparing myself for the new season. I have stood on the podium before at Le Mans with Toyota so my target is clearly to do that again this year.&rdquo;</p> <p>Toyota will present its new T5050 HYBRID at the Monza Prologue on March 31st.</p> <p>The team will start the season with its two full-time entries at the 6 Hours of Silverstone, with Mike Conway/Kamui Kobayashi/Jos&eacute; Maria Lopez (7) and Anthony Davidson/Sebastien Buemi/Kazuki Nakajima (8) forming the driver lineups.</p> http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/14116http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/14116Andy Priaulx: 2017 is 'best opportunity' to become two-category world championFri, 24 Mar 2017 13:29:32 GMT<p><strong>Andy Priaulx is not holding back on&nbsp;his ambition to win the World Endurance Championship GTE title in 2017.</strong></p> <p>The Ford factory driver, who finished fifth in the standings last year with team-mate Harry Tincknell, is hoping to continue the pair&#39;s end of season&nbsp;form&nbsp;to mount a challenge on the ultra-competitive field.</p> <p>Ford made its WEC debut last season&nbsp;and achieved its primary aim of winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans, but over the course of the&nbsp;season its two full-season cars were unsuccessful in their championship bid, losing out to Aston Martin and Ferrari in both the drivers&#39; and teams&#39; stakes.</p> <p>Priaulx and Tincknell found a rhythm towards the end of the year and won at Fuji and Shanghai,&nbsp;but troublesome runs for the #67 car&nbsp;at the N&uuml;rburgring and the double-points round at Le Mans curtailed their overall effort.</p> <p>Despite coming up 38.5 points short, Priaulx is confident that he and Tincknell have the foundations for a title assault having established a competitive&nbsp;rhythm in the closing stages of 2016.</p> <p>&quot;We&#39;ve got a good chance to be right in the mix this year,&quot; Priaulx tells MotorsportWeek.com, &quot;and we need a strong team in order to do that.&quot;</p> <p>&quot;Harry and I were riding on the crest of a wave towards the end of last season and we need to use that momentum to start this year well.&quot;</p> <p>&quot;Last season was great - I feel we could have won it - but we just came up short.&quot;<meta charset="utf-8" /></p> <figure class="image" style="float:right"><img alt="" height="220" src="/ckfinder/userfiles/images/33622334855_9acd46b6a9_k.jpg" width="400" /> <figcaption>The three-time WTCC champ is eyeing a GT crown (Photo: Ford)&nbsp;</figcaption> </figure> <p>Priaulx is hungry for a world title in sportscars.</p> <p>The upcoming season marks&nbsp;his tenth since winning a third World Touring Car Championship crown in 2007 with the BMW factory team. That remains his most recent series triumph, although he has come close since.</p> <p>Priaulx remained at BMW during the manufacturer&#39;s foray into sportscars in 2009, and was instrumental in its American Le Mans Series campaign that also included a debut appearance at Le Mans. The team finished second in the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup and won its class at the Twelve Hours of Sebring.</p> <p>During that time Priaulx also recevied a tempting offer from the Peugeot LMP1 programme, but his close ties with BMW prevented a switch from materialising.</p> <p>Continuing with BMW,&nbsp;he came close to winning the European Le Mans Series title in 2015 -&nbsp;his final year with the marque -&nbsp;driving for customer outfit Marc VDS.</p> <p>Inevitably, the championship drought and the recent near-misses have given Priaulx the impetus to push harder than ever before in 2017, with the FIA&#39;s recent granting of world championship status to the GTE category marking a clear end-of-year objective.</p> <p>&quot;I really want to win the world title this year,&quot; he says.&nbsp;&quot;There&#39;s a lot riding on it for me personally.&quot;</p> <p>&quot;It&#39;s a personal ambition for me to be a world champion in more than one category, and I think this year offers the best opportunity to achieve that.&quot;</p> <p>&quot;Winning world titles in both touring cars and endurance racing&nbsp;would make me very happy - it&#39;s part of a clear aim to exceed last year&#39;s achievements.&quot;</p> <p>&quot;During my time at BMW, I was fortunate that they did turn their touring car programme into a sportscar programme, contesting the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup and ALMS. It enabled me to do things I hadn&#39;t done before. We led 23 out of the 24 hours at Le Mans - unfortunately we dropepd to third with a mechanical issue - but I have been very lucky to have had the career I&#39;ve had so far.&quot;</p> <p>&quot;Where we are now, fighting for Le Mans and potentially trying to win that race for Ford, is amazing. I never took anything for granted, and every now and again I pinch myself looking back on it.&quot;</p> <figure class="image" style="float:left"><img alt="" height="220" src="/ckfinder/userfiles/images/31735234603_d7b21b3301_k.jpg" width="400" /> <figcaption>5th at Daytona offered a promising start to 2017 (Photo: Ford)</figcaption> </figure> <p>Joining Priaulx and Tincknell for the opening three rounds of the WEC&nbsp;is Brazilian hotshot Pipo Derani, who comes into GT racing following a successful introduction to prototypes that saw him win both the Daytona and Sebring enduros in 2016.</p> <p>Derani will complement the #67&nbsp;Ford GT lineup at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, plus the two six-hour events at Silverstone and Spa.</p> <p>&quot;We need that [Derani in the team] for our title challenge,&quot; says Priaulx.</p> <p>&quot;We know he&#39;s super quick and fully capable of the job: it was music to my ears when he was confirmed in our car because we want to win the world title and he should be a great asset.&quot;</p> <p><meta charset="utf-8" /><meta charset="utf-8" />Ford gave its WEC drivers, minus Derani, a head-start for the WEC campaign by sending them to Florida for the Rolex 24 at Daytona in January.</p> <p>Priaulx, Tincknell and guest Tony Kanaan finished second best of the four-car Ford GT contingent, and fifth in class after a nose-to-tail tussle for the entire 24 hours.</p> <p>Logistical reasons meant the #67&nbsp;crew had to skip the Twelve&nbsp;Hours of Sebring&nbsp;last weekend, but the Daytona curtain raiser offered the manufacturer a valuable opportunity to run the car ahead of its WEC rivals.</p> <p>&quot;We did really well at Daytona, only finishing five seconds off the winning Ford and fifth in GTLM,&quot; reflects Priaulx.</p> <p>&quot;We were happy that our late-season WEC form could translate to a good result over in IMSA.&quot;</p> <p>&quot;Unfortunately we couldn&#39;t do Sebring: the team needed one car back at the factory and it was our car this time. The guys have been extremely busy&nbsp;stripping everything down and checking everything over so we can be&nbsp;ready for the new season.&quot;</p> <p>&quot;Of course, they need to focus on the WEC so it didn&#39;t work out for us personally on the #67 car, but there&#39;s nothing bad about that because we need to take these steps if we&#39;re going to be competitive from the start.&quot;</p> <p>&quot;I&nbsp;think we have everything in place to have a big year in WEC&nbsp;and to build on the momentum from 2016.&quot;</p> <p>Priaulx, Tincknell and Derani launch Ford&#39;s sophomore year in the World Endurance Championship with the official test days at Monza on April 1-2.</p> <p>The trio will travel to Silverstone along with Olivier Pla, Stefan M&uuml;cke and Billy Johnson in the sister Ford for the opening six-hour race on April 16.</p> <p><meta charset="utf-8" /></p> http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/14105http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/14105Former Williams aero engineer joins Ginetta LMP1 projectThu, 23 Mar 2017 14:25:44 GMT<p><strong>Ginetta has acquired the services of former Williams&nbsp;aerodynamic engineer Andy Lewis for its LMP1 manufacturer project.</strong></p> <p>Lewis joins Ginetta as Head of Aerodynamics&nbsp;for its in-build&nbsp;prototpe, which is set for a 2018 race debut.</p> <p>As a former employee of Williams Advanced Engineering, Lewis helped test LMP1 cars for three years following a stint with the Williams Martini Racing team in Formula One.</p> <p>Williams Advanced Engineering has been responsible for the development of flywheel products for several endurance racers, including the 2012 and 2013 Le Mans-winning Audi R18 etron quattro.</p> <p>At Ginetta, Lewis will liaise with former boss of Reynard cars Adrian Reynard, who is providing&nbsp;CFD development to the project through his US-based company.</p> <p>&ldquo;The opportunity to lead the aerodynamic development of Ginetta&rsquo;s LMP1 car is an exciting prospect,&quot; said Lewis, who has also previously worked for BAE Systems and Juno Racing.</p> <p>&quot;I&rsquo;m looking forward to working with Ewan [Baldry, Ginetta Technical Director] and the rest of the team he has brought together.&nbsp;I&rsquo;m sure we will be able to draw on all of our experience to deliver a strong solution for the 2018 season.&rdquo;</p> <p>Baldry added: &ldquo;We are delighted to welcome Andy to the Ginetta team.&quot;</p> <p>&quot;I worked with him for many years at Juno and his knowledge is second to none as he has worked across a multitude of motorsport platforms which will be essential for the success of the project.&rdquo;</p> <p>Ginetta confirmed that following the completion of initial CFD runs, a 50% scale model of the LMP1 design will be wind-tunnel tested on pneumatic tyres in late May.</p> <p>The car will compete in the&nbsp;2018 World Endurance Championship, including the 24 Hours of Le Mans, using a non-hybrid Mecachrome engine.</p> http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/14058http://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/14058Alex Lynn to make full-season WEC debut with G-Drive Racing in LMP2Fri, 17 Mar 2017 11:29:02 GMT<p><strong>G-Drive Racing has confirmed former Williams F1 development driver&nbsp;Alex Lynn as part of its&nbsp;2017 World Endurance Championship lineup.</strong></p> <p>The 23-year-old will make his full-season debut in 2017, having made sporadic appearances in the LMP2 category last season with Manor.</p> <p>Lynn is set to share the #26 ORECA 07-Gibson with Roman Rusinov and Pierre Thiriet at&nbsp;all nine rounds of the championship, including Le Mans.</p> <p>He tested the car at Aragon last week as part of a collecive session for Dunlop customers, which eventually led to the full-time seat.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">3 days testing over and done with <a href="https://twitter.com/GDrive_Racing">@GDrive_Racing</a>, now all attention to the <a href="https://twitter.com/sebringraceway">@sebringraceway</a> 12 hours next weekend <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/freethecaddy?src=hash">#freethecaddy</a> <a href="https://t.co/RVcGZlT0In">pic.twitter.com/RVcGZlT0In</a></p> &mdash; Alex Lynn (@alexlynnracing) <a href="https://twitter.com/alexlynnracing/status/840489560417161216">March 11, 2017</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Lynn competed in the final three races of the WEC last year with Manor, alongside a race-winning season in GP2 with DAMS.</p> <p>The former GP3 and European F3 race winner is now looking beyond single seaters to further his career, with a Nurburgring 24 Hours drive already booked for the summer and three more IMSA races (including this weekend&#39;s 12 Hours of Sebring) with Wayne Taylor Racing to look forward to.</p> <p>G-Drive Racing has radically altered its driver lineup for 2017 following a switch from Jota Sport to TDS Racing over the winter.</p> <p>Silver-rated Thiriet, who won the European Le Mans Series title in 2012 with TDS, joins forces with Rusinov who is at the helm of G-Drive Racing&#39;s operations.</p> <p>With Jota Sport running the car, Rusinov and G-Drive Racing finished third in the WEC LMP2 standings last year.</p> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>