Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Larbre Competition moves to the Michelin Le Mans Cup and applies for Le Mans

Larbre Competition has applied to the Automobile Club de l’Ouest for the entry of two Ligier JS P3s in the Michelin Le Mans Cup and will also submit a request for one Ligier JS P217 in the Le Mans 24 Hours, for what would be the French outfit’s 25th participation.

For the past 30 years, Larbre Competition built up a strong cv in the GT ranks with various manufacturers, including Porsche, Ferrari, Chrysler, Aston Martin, Saleen and Corvette. Its first and so far only appearance in a prototype class was in 2014 when Jack Leconte's team entered a Morgan LMP2 in the European Le Mans Series and the 24 Hours of Le Mans. 

The French team now switches from its Corvette C7R to a pair of Ligier JS P3s in the Michelin Le Mans Cup, the European championship offering six rounds including the two-hour Road to Le Mans race. Additionally, Larbre is hoping to partake in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June. While its two JS P3s will compete in the Road to Le Mans, the team has also requested an entry for the 24 Hours with a Ligier JSP217.

Fernando Rees has already been appointed as the designated driver for the JSP217.  The Brazilian driver has raced for Larbre on many occasions in the past with Aston Martin, Saleen and Corvette. His last outing with the team was at last seasons 24 Hours of Le Mans where he shared the "Human" Corvette with Romain Brandela and Christian Philippon. 

Whether Larbre Competition will get its entry for the 24 hours remains doubtful with already an increase in auto entries through the growing FIA WEC field and lots of teams from the European and Asian Le Mans Series applying for an entry in June.

Jack Leconte, Larbre Competition Team Manager: “Larbre Competition has competed 24 times at the Le Mans 24 Hours, but only once with a prototype in 2014. Then, we ran a Morgan LMP2, establishing a partnership with Jacques Nicolet and Onroak Automotive. Today, we wish to use our 30-year experience in endurance racing for a new adventure, heading towards the LMP2 and LMP3 classes. Choosing Ligier was obvious, as it allows us to compete in two classes, and work with Onroak Automotive again. In addition to this, we are delighted to welcome Fernando back to the team. Last year at Le Mans he set pole position in the LM GTE-Am at the wheel of our Corvette, and will be a great asset to get our Ligier JS P217 to the front of the pack.”

Monday, 15 January 2018

The new face of the European Le Mans Series

Ahead of the start of the 2018 season, the European Le Mans Series has unveiled its new identity with a brand-new logo that evokes the values of the series: European, Le Mans, Motorsport and Endurance.

This unique logo, and its strong identity, was created to reflect the dynamism of the series and to provide an instantly recognisable brand for the European Le Mans Series and also for the competitors, the media and the fans. The new logo was also designed to be used with ease across the various ELMS digital platforms and TV production.

The use of the three stars symbolises the three steps of the podium, the European values and also the three classes (LMP2, LMP3 and LMGTE) that take part in the series. 

Gérard Neveu, CEO of the European Le Mans Series: “A logo is a very important part of the identity of a brand.  The European Le Mans Series is the leading endurance motorsport series in Europe and we wanted a logo that will continue to build the brand for many years to come. The new ELMS logo is simple yet easily recognisable and dynamic. It is a modern design evoking the very important tradition of endurance competition. We hope that it will receive a warm welcome from our fans and those who follow us”

Thursday, 11 January 2018

The Ginetta G60-LT-P1 breaks cover at Autosport International

The Ginetta G60-LT-P1 has broken cover for the very first time today at Autosport International in Birmingham. As one of the most highly anticipated launches of the Autosport International schedule, the car – which is named in tribute to the 60th anniversary of the Ginetta marque - made its public debut during the opening day of this year’s trade show.

© Ginetta

Industry professionals and associated media flocked to Ginetta’s stand to be amongst the first people to catch a glimpse of the ground-breaking new prototype. The first car appears in the livery of TRS Racing Manor and is set to take part in the full, eight race 2018/ 2019 FIA World Endurance Championship, including the Le Mans 24 Hours in both 2018 and 2019.

© Ginetta

The G60-LT-P1 was unveiled by Ginetta Chairman, Lawrence Tomlinson, Ginetta Technical Director, Ewan Baldry, Manor Endurance Racing Sporting Director, Graeme Lowdon, Chairman of TRS, Zhang Yi and Vice President of TRS, Li Qiao. 

© Ginetta

Lawrence Tomlinson, Chairman of Ginetta, said: “I’m delighted to finally be able to unveil our latest machine to the motorsport industry, and what better time than at the start of our 60th year of manufacturing. Ginetta has a long history of international success in with the G55 GT4, LMP3 and G57. The LMP1 will be a strong contender in the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) and at Le Mans. We have a great team of Design Engineers in Leeds, have worked with some excellent partners on the project, and can’t wait to show you what the LMP1 is made of out on track.”

© Ginetta

© Ginetta

© Ginetta

Monday, 8 January 2018

FIA WEC: TF Sport confirm intentions for the 2018/2019 "Super Season"

Since its inception in 2014, TF Sport has enjoyed phenomenal success in GT Racing with championship honours in the Blancpain Endurance Cup, Michelin Le Mans Cup, British GT as well as wins and a title challenge in the European Le Mans Series (ELMS). Now the British-based team, which continues to enjoy factory support from Aston Martin Racing, is delighted to confirm that it will compete in the 2018/19 FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) ‘super-season’ in the GT-Am category subject to entry acceptance.

The successful partnership of Salih Yoluc and Euan Hankey is set to continue, the pair stepping up to WEC from ELMS, alongside UK rising star Charlie Eastwood.

Yoluc and Hankey have competed together with TF Sport with great success, winning the teams’ championship in 2016 in the Michelin Le Mans Cup on the back of two wins. In 2017 they raced in ELMS, taking victory in the opening round at Silverstone and then securing multiple podium positions on the way to a fighting second position in the championship.

Eastwood joins TF Sport having wrapped up the Porsche Carrera Cup in the UK in 2017. The Belfast born driver enjoyed a successful karting background from 2004 – including the Rotax World Championship in 2012 and the European championship in 2013. He then started his single seater career in Formula 4 in 2014 before taking on the challenge of the Toyota Racing Series in New Zealand. A move to Formula Renault followed but it was the move to the Porsche Carrera Cup that brought him onto the GT radar in 2016.

With everything now in place, TF Sport, Yoluc, Hankey and Eastwood are set to embark on a programme at the very pinnacle of GT racing as they prepare for the eight-round 2018/19 championship which gets underway in May 2018 at Spa Francorchamps. This is followed by no less than two races at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, as well as rounds in Japan, China and the US in what really is a super-season at the very highest level in motorsport.

Tom Ferrier, TF Sport Sporting Director
"It’s a huge honour to be competing in the World Endurance Championship next year; it’s by far our biggest ever programme and it underlines the strength of our team at every level. We have had huge success in the past two years in very tough championships such as Blancpain and ELMS so I feel we are ready to move up. "We have a really big challenge in WEC but we’re confident that we will be competitive and deliver the results that we, our supporters and partners, now expect from us."

Salih Yoluc
"As a team, it is very exciting for all of us to be on the very highest stage of sports car racing. I'm really looking forward to exciting races and of course our first WEC win! We've been quite unlucky in ELMS this year in so many ways, but I hope we were just suffering a little to make the future victories even sweeter, with a change in fortune. “Being able to fight to be a world champion and also a 24 Hours of Le Mans winner is something very special and we'll do our best and make sure we enjoy the journey.”

Euan Hankey
“Myself, Salih, Charlie and TF Sport are really on a fantastic journey and it’s great to be a part of this programme. We’re under no illusions as to how hard WEC will be as it’s the very very top category of racing in the world. But in saying that, we’ve got a great track record, a mega team, so there’s no reason why we can’t build and continue to show what we can do, even in WEC!”

Charlie Eastwood
“It’s going to be a big challenge to step up to what is the very top in GT Racing; it’s a big old step. With the line-up we have, we’re confident we’ll be quick in each of our driver categories. I won the Carrera Cup in 2017 but remain Silver, so it’s the ideal partnership with Salih and Euan.

“I met with Tom (Ferrier) and some of the guys in the team five weeks ago for the first time and it was a great meeting. It really kick-started the talks and the Friday before Christmas it was all confirmed. It’s great to know so far in advance what you’re doing for the coming season and with Tom’s amazing record with TF Sport and the driver combination we have, we’re all pretty buzzed up and raring to go.

“There’s a lot of unknowns for all of us obviously, but we’re looking forward to the challenge. I know Silverstone and Le Mans and we’re planning on a good test programme. So as a team we all have the same desire and I can’t wait to get started!”

Thursday, 28 December 2017

FIA WEC: TDS Racing returns to the "super season" with Loïc Duval

French Team TDS Racing will return to the FIA WEC in the upcoming super season with a full French line-up, lead by Loïc Duval who returns to the FIA WEC paddock since Audi's departure at the end of 2016.  The LMP2 class for next season is starting to take shape now with confirmation of the first two teams and more expected in the upcoming weeks. 

© JellyBaby.Media
In their second season in the FIA World Endurance Championship, Xavier Combet and Jacques Morello's team will be joined by Loïc Duval.  The Frenchman replaces Emmanuel Collard who has been racing with François Perrodo in the past years.  Duval shortly returned to the FIA WEC at Bahrain this year, where he raced alongside Roman Rusinov and Léo Roussel in the G-Drive Oreca.

After his first year in prototype racing, François Perrodo has shown improvement race after race and is very motivated to build on his 2017 LMP2 experience. Matthieu Vaxivière, who showed some quality racing last season, is now eager to carry on his experience of the WEC and hopes to score some strong results. The third member of TDS Racing will be French driver Loïc Duval. Winner of the 2013 24 Hours of Le Mans and WEC Champion that same year, Loïc has a strong and valuable endurance racing experience (most notably on the Peugeot 908 HDi and the Audi R18), and will be team captain and an example to follow for François and Matthieu.

So far there is no word or confirmation about TDS Racing running a second car again for Roman Rusinov and G-Drive Racing as they did this season.

Xavier Combet, Team Manager: “During our 2017 WEC season, François and Matthieu have shown continuous improvements in LMP2 racing, they have consolidated their driving skills and race craft in what has proved to be an extremely competitive environment. Building on this experience, we have decided to go on and to take a new step by entering an LMP2 car in the 2018/2019 WEC Super Season. Teamed with Loïc Duval, who has a very strong experience in endurance, this second WEC season for us promises to be very exciting. We can’t wait to get back on the World Endurance Championship circuits, and challenge the other LMP2 teams and drivers.”

© JellyBaby.Media

François Perrodo: “The 2017 season was very exciting, but to be honest, it was also difficult. I not only discovered prototype driving but also a very strong competition, the challenge was huge and definitely up to my expectations. At the end of the season, I considered seriously ELMS or even a return to GT racing, but after the ACO decisions regarding the new WEC and considering the pleasure I’ve had driving these wonderful cars, I decided to stay in WEC for another season. And what a season we will have! To race twice the Le Mans 24 Hours and discover Sebring in just over a year’s time is the stuff of dream for a gentleman driver. In addition, I will have Matthieu and Loïc on my side. Not only Matthieu is a very fast driver, but he is also one of my best friends. Loïc has a solid endurance racing experience; he is a great race driver who shares our values: cohesion and team spirit which to us, are the keys to pleasure and competitiveness. My objective is clear: Improve my LMP2 racing skills, have fun, and hopefully score a few podiums.”

Matthieu Vaxivière
: “I have known François since we started motorsports and we experienced some great moments together, including two WEC seasons. It will be a pleasure and an honour to share this new project together as well as with Loïc and TDS Racing. The Super Season promises to be a milestone in the history of motorsports, and I will do all I can to achieve good results. I can’t wait to work and learn from Loïc’s experience, and I already feel that this human adventure will be very special.”

© JellyBaby.Media

Loïc Duval: “I am very happy to come back to the WEC and the 24 Hours of Le Mans alongside my Audi program, and more over I am very excited about the environment in which I will compete. TDS Racing is a very professional race team, but with strong family values, not only is this season going to be great fun, I am looking forward to help Francois improve and be Matthieu’s wing man. I would like to thank both of them for this great opportunity. I can’t wait to race in the LMP2 category which has shown some classic fights last season.”

Kristof Vermeulen.
Pictures: JellyBaby.Media

Friday, 22 December 2017

FIA WEC: Racing Team Nederland enters 2018/2019 Super season

Racing Team Nederland announced they will enter the FIA World Endurance Championship, making it the first Dutch team to compete in the world championship for sportscars since its inception in 2012.

© JellyBabyMedia

Racing Team Nederland debuted in this year’s European Le Mans Series, running a Gibson powered Dallara P217 in the LMP2 class, driven by team owner Frits Van Eerd and Le Mans legend Jan Lammers.  The team also made its debut at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, where Rubens Barichello joined the 2 Dutchmen behind the wheel of their Dallara, finishing in 13th place overall, 11th in its LMP2 class. 

The team has now submitted its entry for the 2018/19 FIA World Endurance Championship "super season", including 2 times the 24 Hours of Le Mans.  They will hold on to their Dallara P217 which makes them the first team to enter the FIA WEC with another chassis than Oreca in the LMP2 class.  

More information about the team's entry and the announcement of the two drivers joining Frits Van Eerd behind the wheel of the Jumbo sponsored car will be given early February 2018. 

Frits van Eerd, founder and one of the drivers of Racing Team Nederland: “I am truly proud that following our debut year we will be making such a significant and ambitious step. With our participation in the FIA World Endurance Championship, The Netherlands will be represented at the highest level of sportscar racing.”

The coming weeks, Racing Team Nederland will orientate itself regarding the drivers who will race its LMP2 Dallara P217 alongside Frits. Subsequently, the team will present all details of its FIA World Endurance Championship 2018/19 during its official press launch next year.

Kristof Vermeulen.
Picture: JellyBaby.Media

Tuesday, 19 December 2017

FIA WEC: Toyota confirms commitment to FIA WEC and Le Mans

Toyota Gazoo Racing officially confirmed their commitment to endurance racing today, ahead of its entries for the FIA WEC Super Season and the 24 Hours of Le Mans.  The Japanese manfacturer will compete in the 2018/2019 FIA World Endurance Championship after reaffirming its commitment to the development of hybrid powertrain technology through motorsport.

Following the publication of the LMP1 regulations for next season, which Toyota has played an active part in defining, the team can commit to enter its TS050 HYBRID race cars for at least the 2018-19 season.

The WEC project has contributed to Toyota’s global target of making ever-better cars, particularly in the development of hybrid powertrains which has benefited from regulations which give manufacturers the freedom to innovate. For example, the fundamental technology behind a 35% fuel consumption improvement since 2012 for Toyota LMP1 cars is contributing to the continuous improvement of Toyota road cars.

As well as technology, the WEC project has also contributed to Toyota’s ever-better cars target by enhancing the knowledge and experience of road car powertrain engineers. Since the project began road car engineers have been seconded to the WEC team to learn new processes and working methods in a high-pressure environment.

More details of the team's plans for 2018/2019 and its driver line-up is expected early next year. 

© Toyota Gazoo Racing gmbh

Akio Toyoda, President, Toyota Motor Corporation: “More than 100 years have passed since the birth of the automobile. As we approach times of tremendous change represented by electrification, automation and other developments, I am strongly determined to make sure that cars will be fun for the next 100 years.

"Since 2012, we have taken up the challenge of the FIA World Endurance Championship, including the Le Mans 24 Hours, with race cars equipped with hybrid technologies. Of course, we have always approached this challenge with a desire to drive faster than any other car and to win. Yet our cars carried our desire for more than just that.Not only did we want to heighten environmental performance in terms of fuel efficiency and such, we also had a very strong desire to create hybrid cars that made drivers feel that driving is fun, and that made them want to keep at it and want to let the cars keep on going."

"This year, I went to Le Mans for the first time and heard people cheering for Toyota. I also heard many people saying that they would like to see Toyota come out with a hybrid sports car like our cars in the race. I, too, would like us to produce just such a car, and I think it would be one that would help make cars fun for the next 100 years."

"This year, our cars were extremely fast on the roads of Le Mans. But they were not able to combine speed with the strength needed to keep at it for 24 hours. While wanting to provide cars that our customers will want to ride in and drive, I keenly realized that we have a long way to go."

"It is highly regrettable that our rival in honing technologies on the roads of Le Mans has left. Yet the World Endurance Championship, in which cars of different categories race at the same time, and particularly Le Mans, where the battle goes on for 24 hours, including on public roads, still represents the optimal proving ground for achieving the goal of making cars fun for the next 100 years."

"TOYOTA GAZOO Racing will continue to race in this competition again next season. And, from here on as well, so that we will be able to provide our customers with cars that are fun to drive and cars that they want to let keep on going, we will continue to build on our skills and technology gained thus far. We would be happy to receive everyone’s continued support. Thank you very much."

Kristof Vermeulen.