Saturday, 11 March 2017

FIA WEC: 27 cars for the prologue at Monza & driver line-ups

In three weeks time, 27 cars will be on track for the 2-day prologue at the Autodromo Nazionale in Monza, Italy. After five years at Paul Ricard, the FIA World Endurance Championship will visit the Autodromo Nazionale Monza  for the first time. All but one full season entries have been confirmed, but there are still some drivers who haven't been announced yet.

In LMP1 both Porsche and Toyota will arrive in Monza with two cars, plus the sole privateer entry of ByKolles.

© Porsche


Porsche recently had a successful tests at Aragon in Spain, where the 919 Hybrid in 2017 spec has been tested for the first time. All six drivers were present at the test, and managed 7200 km over 7 days. André Lotterer will make his official debut in the #1 Porsche 919, teaming up with Neel Jani and Nick Tandy. The #2 car will be driven by Timo Bernhard, Brendon Hartley and Earl Bamber. Tandy and Bamber return to the LMP1 team after their win at Le Mans in 2015. 

© Toyota
Toyota hasn't reveiled much about their upgraded TS050 Hybrid for the new season, but already ran a very intensive testing program. The Japanese team will be in Monza with 2 cars, and 4 drivers lined up for testing duties. Mike Conway and Kamui Kobayashi will drive the #7 car, behind the wheel of the #8 car will be Anthony Davidson and Kazuki Nakajima. Newcomer, and WTCC champion Jose Maria "Pechito" Lopez and Sebastian Buemi won't be able to test the cars in Monza as they have to race with Formula E in Mexico the same weekend. Buemi is expected though to be in Monza for the presentation of the new car on Friday.  Stéphane Sarrazin has moved from the full season WEC squad to be the lead driver in the third car at Le Mans. 


ByKolles is the only privateer team in the LMP1 class this season. The CLMP1/01 will get some major upgrades for this new season. First and foremost is the engine. As from this season ByKolles will use the Nismo V6 Turbo engine which was used in the Nissan GTR-LM in 2015. As a result of the changes in regulations for 2017, the car will get lots of aero updates on the front and the rear too. As announced earlier Oliver James Webb returns to the Austrian team, and will be joined by former F1 ace Robert Kubica. Kubica tested the car already during the rookie test at Bahrain last season. The third driver still has to be announced. 

All five teams in LMP2 will be present at Monza too. Just 1 car will be missing in the pitlane, as CEFC Manor TRS Racing will only bring 1 Oreca07 to Italy.



Defending LMP2 champions Signatech Alpine Matmut will have their 2 rebadged Alpine A470's on track. At this time, only Nicolas Lapierre has been confirmed by the French team, with 5 driver still to be named in the upcoming weeks. 

© Rebellion Racing

Rebellion Racing steps down form the LMP1 privateer class into LMP2, with a stellar driver line-up and their cars in a Vaillant-Rebellion livery. Mathias Beche and David Henemeier Hansson will drive the #13 Vaillante Rebellion, the #31 will be driven by Julien Canal and Bruno Senna. Nelson Piquet Jr and Nicolas Prost won't be in Monza, due to their commitments in Formula E the same weekend. 

© G-Drive Racing


TDS Racing is the new kid on the block in LMP2, heading into the FIA WEC after several succesful seasons in the European Le Mans Series. The French team will also run the 2017 G-Drive car, who are making the switch from Jota Sport. The #28 TDS Oreca will be driven by last years GTE-Am champions François Perrodo & Emmanuel Collard, joined by Matthieu Vaxivière.  Roman Rusinov teams up with Pierre Thiriet in the #26 G-Drive, the third driver to be named shortly. Rusinov has already hinted a few times for an experienced F1 driver, but given the last test of the team in Aragon, it seems like Alex Lynn has the best cards in hands right now to join the team. 

© Jota Sport


Jota Sport returns to the FIA World Endurance Championship with 2 cars this season. The British squad will run both Jackie Chan DC Racing Oreca's. The #37 will be driven by team owner David Cheng, together with Alex Brundle and Tristan Gommendy. Brundle already raced with Jota last year, Gommendy is making the move from Eurasia Racing. Ho Pin Tung moves up from the European Le Mans Series last season, and will race the #38 together with Audi ace Oliver Jarvis and Frenchman Thomas Laurent. 



CEFC Manor TRS Racing is the only team in LMP2 that will bring only one car to the Monza prologue. 4 drivers have been announced on the provisional entry list: Roberto Gonzalez, Tor Graves, Jonathan Hirschi and Simon Trummer. Gonzalez and Graves raced with Manor last season in the FIA WEC, both Swiss drivers Hirschi and Trummer are new faces to the team. Jonathan Hirschi returns to sportscar racing and the FIA WEC after competing four times at Le Mans. Simon Trummer has raced with Rebellion in the LMP1 privateer class in the past 2 seasons. 

2 more driver still have to be announced before the start of the season. 


LMGTE

In both LMGTE Pro and Am, all full season entries will be on track in Monza. 8 cars in the Pro class and 6 cars in the Am class.



Leading the GTE Pro entries is the #95 Aston Martin Vantage of last years champions Nicki Thiim and Marco Sorensen. Both Danish drivers will be joined by Richie Stanaway, who will probably be the third driver for the car at Le Mans. The #97 Aston will have Darren Turner and Johnny Adam behind the wheel. Earlier this week, at the Geneva motor show, Aston Martin confirmed its commitment for another five years. 



Ford returns to the FIA World Endurance Championship with 2 Ford GT's and after winning the 24 hours of Daytona in January. No driver changes at the blue oval with Stefan Mücke & Olivier Pla in the #66 and Andy Priaulx & Harry Tincknell in the #67 Ford GT.  Billy Johnson will join Mücke & Pla in the #66 car  for the races at Spa and Le Mans, as will Pipo Derani in the #67.



The new Porsche 911 RSR will make its European debut on track with the driver pairings who have been announced earlier this week by Porsche. Richard Lietz and Frederic Makowiecki will drive the #91 (red Porsche lettering on a black windscreen banner and on the rear wing as well as red wing mirrors), the #92 will be driven by Michael Christensen and Kévin Estre (white background on the windscreen and the rear wing as well as white wing mirrors). 



Alessandro Pier Guidi will make his debut as Ferrari factory driver in the  #51 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GTE, replacing Gianmaria Bruni who has left the Prancing horse for Porsche. Pier Guidi teams up with James Calado. The #71 AF Corse will be in the hands of Davide Rigon. Sam Bird is on the entry list, but is on of the driver who is racing Formula E in Mexico.



2 Ferrari's will race in the Am class this year. The first one is a new team in the FIAWEC: Spirit of Race from Switzerland. 2 drivers have been confirmed so far: Thomas Flohr and Francesco Castellacci, with a third one still to be named. For Castellacci this is a return to the World Endurance Championship after racing with Aston Martin in 2015. The second Ferrari in the Am class is the F488 of Signapore based Clearwater Racing. Matt Griffin, Weng Sun Mok & Keita Sawa will be behind the wheel of this car.  Both cars of Spirit of Race and Clearwater racing will be run by AF Corse in the championship. 



Next to both Ferrari's, 2 Porsches will be at Monza.  Dempsey-Proton Racing returns with their #77 911 RSR. Team co-owner Christian Ried is leading the driver line-up again and will je joined by youngsters Matteo Cairoli & Marvin Dienst. Porsche junior driver Cairoli is the 2016 Porsche Supercup vice champion, and already raced with the team in ELMS last year and will do so again this season. Marvin Dienst is a young German driver who made his GT debut last year in the ADAC GT masters. UK team Gulf Racing is in for its second season in the FIA WEC with their orange & blue livered #86 Porsche 911. Michael Wainwright and Ben Barker are already confirmed for this season, the third driver should be announced ahead of the prologue.



The final entry in the Am class is the #98 Aston Martin Vantage of Paul Dalla Lana, Pedro Lamy and Mathias Lauda. Dalla Lana's car will be upgraded to the 2016 spec, to ensure good competition against the Ferrari F488's which are eligible for the Am class as from this year. 

Access to the prologue is free on both days, with an autograph session for the fans planned on Sunday.

Provisional entry list

Provisional timetable:
Saturday 01 April
09:00 – 12:00    Session 1
14:00 - 17:00     Session 2
19:00 – 21:00    Session 3 (night testing)

Sunday 02 April
09:00 – 12:00    Session 4
13:15 – 13:45    Driver Autograph Session
14:00 – 17:00    Session 5


Kristof Vermeulen.

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

European Le Mans Series announces partnership with Rebellion Timepieces

The European Le Mans Series is proud to announce a three-year partnership agreement with Rebellion Timepieces. The famous Swiss watchmaker will become the Official Timing Partner of the ELMS. 

Rebellion Timepieces has a long history with Motorsports, and especially Endurance Racing, as the watchmaker has its own racing team, REBELLION Racing, the leading private LMP1 team to challenge the works entries from Porsche, Toyota and Audi in the FIA World Endurance Championship. Performance and passion is the shared brand values of both the ELMS and Rebellion Timepieces, so it is then very relevant for the watchmaker to become the Official Timing Partner of the European Le Mans Series.

As the Official Timing Partner, Rebellion Timepieces will scrutinise every second of the six rounds to help to determine who will be the 2017 ELMS champions. The drivers who win the championship will each receive a Rebellion branded watch as well as being called 2017 European Champion. 
The fans will also be able to see one of the Rebellion Racing cars that will be on display in the ELMS Village at each round in 2017. 

The first round of the 2017 European Le Mans Series will be held at Silverstone, the home of British motorsport, on Saturday 15 April. 

Calim Bouhadra, Rebellion Timepieces Senior Vice-President: “We are proud to be the Official Timekeeper and to showcase our brand through the ELMS which is an extremely competitive championship with high level teams. In the Endurance Racing world, we are at home. As the Endurance cars push the limits our watches are doing the same. The T-1000 was the first watch to have more than 1000 hours of power-reserve. We are glad to participate and to collaborate in this new adventure and to make it a success. The partnership will bring a lot of visibility to our brand, we will increase and enhance our reputation and present our product to a well-informed public in various European regions. The high level of competition certifies our timepieces for both technical and design aspects and gives us the opportunity to show our “Swiss precision” side with no compromise.”

Gérard Neveu, CEO of the European Le Mans Series: “It’s with great pleasure that we are welcoming Rebellion Timepieces as Official Timing Partner. Rebellion, already invested in Endurance Racing with its team, bring with this partnership a new dimension to their involvement in Motorsport. The timekeeping in motor racing is a question of accuracy and precision, values that characterise well Rebellion Timepieces. We invite all our fans on the weekend of the 15th April in Silverstone for the first meeting of the ELMS season with Rebellion Timepieces as Official Timing Partner.”

Tuesday, 28 February 2017

ELMS 2017: Norma presents the M30 LMP3

After months of hard work in the conception of the brand new LMP3, the Norma M30, the car was on track last week at French race tracks Pau and Nogaro, two circuits close to the Norma Auto Concept factory in the South of France.

© DPPI


As announced, French Endurance World Champion and winner of the last 24 Hours of Le Mans with Porsche LMP1, Romain Dumas was the very first driver to take the wheel and complete the very first tests of the Norma M30 LMP3. These ended up being very successful and clearly responding to the ambitious requirements of Norbert Santos (Norma Auto Concept Founder) and his team.

A first Norma M30 LMP3 was sent to Florida (USA), where it will prepare Sebring on different racetracks. Within a few days, additional other Norma M30's will be delivered to the teams preparing European races and championships, such as VdeV Championship and European Le Mans Series.

© DPPI


Norbert Santos was happy and proud to finally see his new car on track: "Most of all I am proud of the full Norma team that worked so hard in the last months and also happy for our partners who are engaged in that great project from the beginning." The car was supposed to be finished by the end of 2016, but only came on track for the first time last week. "When you build a brand new car from scratch, you have to be precautionary and respect the objectives of quality you have set to start with. Ours were very important. Yes, we are a little late compared to our initial calendar, but we did respect our ambitious objectives. At Norma Auto Concept, we have always privileged quality, performance and safety to quantity of cars to be sold. It’s true, we wanted to put the car on track earlier, but our will to reach the highest level of performance and reliability and to offer a car that rapidity suits the exigencies of the teams was stronger. Romain Dumas completed the first test sessions, and it clearly looks like we are on the right path to obtain competitiveness and consistency, thus matching our goals, in the very near future."

© DPPI


Demands are high for the new LMP3 prototype, with more orders than production capacity in the short term. The priority for Santos and his team is to deliver the cars that have been ordered first. So far, more than ten cars have to be delivered by the end of April.  Norma will be present on eacht ELMS and VdeV race to support their clients. At the end of the day, the goal is to see the Norma M30 on the podiums in all the championships on every continent. For other championship all teams can count on a well organised assistance to supply a quality service to them.

Romain Dumas tested the car in France on the Nogaro and Pau racetracks in the South of France last week: "These tests were great and very positive, I can’t say any other way. The car’s reliability is just exemplary and impressive. We run without any stops in order to find possible youthful mistakes. In addition, even if I knew the full project and the ambitions of Norma, I was really impressed and surprised to see the high quality of finish of the car."

© Porsche
"I was stunned about how the car feels. The front-end of the M30 reminded me the one of the LMP2s a few years ago. It has a wonderful mechanical grip and we did not experience any traction issues, whether with new or old tires." "I am very very happy to have been able to discover Norbert’s car. He has said so much about it, and we have talked it over and over, that I feel very close to it too. Now it's here and I am sure the car will have the success it deserves.

The Norma M30 LMP3’s first official race will take place in Sebring, Florida (USA) and soon after in Barcelona Spain on the first VdeV championship and the European Le Mans Series in Silverstone.


Kristof Vermeulen.

Monday, 20 February 2017

FIA WEC: Bruni confirmed at Porsche, Pier Guidi to race with Ferrari

After several months of rumours and speculation, Gianmaria Bruni now has been officially confirmed as a new Porsche works pro driver. With the signing of Bruni, Porsche has now bolstered its GT works driver squad for their return to the FIA WEC with the new mid-engined 911 RSR. As one of the most successful and experienced sports car pilots, the 35-year-old Italian will undertake tests from June and contest races in the USA from July for Porsche. Bruni won't (be able to) race in the FIA WEC or the 24 Hours of Le Mans this season.

© Porsche



The Italian driver, who has been racing with AF Corse since 2012 celebrated his greatest success at Le Mans as well as in the World Endurance Championship WEC. Bruni won the GT class at Le Mans in 2008, 2012 and 2014. In the WEC he won the GTE-Pro championship title in 2013 and 2014. He was also successful at Sebring, Spa, the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup and the Le Mans Series. 

“We’re delighted to welcome Gianmaria Bruni, one of the world’s top GT pilots, into our squad,” says Head of Porsche Motorsport, Dr. Frank-Steffen Walliser. “He fits perfectly into our strong circle of works drivers and will join us for the second half of the season.

© Ferrari


Alessandro Pier Guidi will replace Gianmaria Bruni in the FIA World Endurance Championship this year. Pier Guidi has been racing with Ferrari for several years, as from this year as a factory driver. He will join James Calado in the #51 AF Corse Ferrari F488 GTE, as was announced yesterday morning by Ferrari.

Ferrari held a driver shootout with 4 possible replacement drivers for Bruni earlier this month. Pier Guidi, Alex Riberas, Nyck De Vries and Miguel Molina all took part in the test. De Vries and Pier Guidi emerged as the most suited drivers, the experience of Pier Guidi with Ferrari in the past will have landed him the final seat in the FIA WEC.


Kristof Vermeulen.

Friday, 17 February 2017

Michelin Le Mans Cup: Launch in Portimão & second race at Le Mans

The Michelin Le Mans Cup will be launched at Portimão with a collective test session on April 22 and 23. 
© 2016 Gabi Tomescu / AdrenalMedia.com
All competitors in LMP3 and GT3 will be on track together for the first time in 2017 in preparation for the season opener at Monza on May 14th. This test will also give the teams a chance to discover the Portimão track on which the final race of the Michelin Le Mans Cup and the European Le Mans Series will be held in October.

The ELMS teams are also invited to take part in this collective test, one weekend after the opening round at Silverstone. With seven hours of practice available each day, this might help the teams in preparation for their second race in Monza and for those teams invited to the 24 Hours of Le Mans. 

© 2016 Gabi Tomescu / AdrenalMedia.com
After the success of the first Road to Le Mans race in 2016, the ACO announced the return of the Le Mans Cup and the addition of a second race as a curtain-raiser to the Le Mans 24 Hours. Two races will be reserved exclusively for LMP3 and GT3 cars, with an increased number of entries to 46 cars. 

The teams racing the full Michelin Le Mans Cup will be automatically accepted for the event at Le Mans. In the selection of the other participants, the selection committee will give priority to teams entered for the European Le Mans Series, Asian Le Mans Series, Asian Le Mans Spring Cup and the WeatherTech Sportscar Championship. 

Last year, the Road to Le Mans race was held on Saturday morning, ahead of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. This year an additional race will be held on Thursday afternoon. The 2017 schedule will be as followed:
- Wednesday 14th June: Two one-hour practice sessions; 
- Thursday 15th June: Two 20-minute qualifying sessions + race 55 minutes (17h30);
- Saturday 17th June: Race 55 minutes (11h30).

2 drivers will be eligible to race, with a minimum driving time of 20 minutes in the race per driver and a pit stop lasting minimum one minute within a defined time window. To comply with the regulations of the Michelin Le Mans Cup, one gold driver is accepted in the driver line-up. The second driver has to be a bronze driver. 

The entries for the Michelin Le Mans Cup will close on March 7th.  Entries for the Road to Le Mans open on March 10th and close on April 6th. 


Kristof Vermeulen.

Monday, 6 February 2017

ELMS 2017: Beechdean & TF Sport Aston Martin driver line-ups confirmed

Reigning European Le Mans Series GTE Champions Beechdean Aston Martin Racing have announced they will return to the championship in an updated factory Aston Martin Racing V8 Vantage GTE car with Andrew Howard, Darren Turner and Ross Gunn.




Andrew Howard, Beechdean AMR team owner and driver, will be teaming back up with Aston Martin Racing Veteran Darren Turner. Howard and Turner, together with Alex Macdowall in 2016, took two race victories in their debut ELMS season on their way to championship victory.

The experienced duo will be joined in the #99 car by Aston Martin Racing Factory driver Ross Gunn. Gunn, 20, will continue with the Beechdean AMR squad for a third successive year, making his ELMS race debut at Silverstone in April.

Reigning ELMS champion Howard commented “It’s great to be back in the ELMS championship for a second year. Working with Darren in 2016 was essential to my improvement in the GTE car. The car is going to be very different, but last year is a great base to learn from.”




Experienced Aston Martin Racing Factory Driver, Darren Turner mirrored Howard’s previous statement saying “It’s very exciting to go back and race in the ELMS with Beechdean again this year. It’s always good to race with Andrew (Howard) and I’m looking forward to racing with Ross (Gunn) for the first time.  We had some good races last year and we were lucky at the last round to snatch the championship. I think this year will be equally difficult with even more competition but hopefully we will be in a position to fight for the championship when we get to the last round.”

“To be stepping up to the European Le Mans Series with the reigning champions is a dream come true”, said Gunn. “Alongside my British GT commitments in 2016, I went to all of the ELMS races bar one to shadow the team and learn as much as possible. Driving with Andrew and Darren will be invaluable. I’m really excited about this step in my career and I will be pushing hard for results.”

Michelin GT3 Le Mans Cup champions TF Sport will step up to the European Le Mans Series this season with a Vantage V8 GTE, driven by Nicki Thiim, Salih Yoluc and Euan Hankey.

© Gabi Tomescu/AdrenalMedia.com

























Championship titles at home and abroad made 2016 a breakthrough year for TF Sport, but 2017 promises to be truly momentous for the British team, which will step over to GTE-spec machinery for a dream assault on the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the European Le Mans Series. TF Sport has risen to glory relatively quickly since its inception in 2014, winning last year’s British GT Teams’ and Drivers’ titles before making history by sealing the inaugural Michelin GT3 Le Mans Cup and, in doing so, earning a coveted invitation to the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

TF Sport will therefore a V8 Vantage GTE in the ELMS for works driver Nicki Thiim, Turkish Am Salih Yoluc and British Pro Euan Hankey. Thiim joins TF Sport as the reigning FIA World Endurance GT Drivers’ Champion who also took Aston Martin Racing to the 2016 GTE-Pro Teams’ title, two years after securing the GTE-Am crowns with the British sportscar marque.

“TF Sport has had a lot of success in the UK and Europe, but it has a long-held desire to go further and it’s special that I will accompany the team as it heads into this big, new challenge,” said Thiim. “The European Le Mans Series is completely new for me and I’m not familiar with all of the tracks, but I know it is very competitive, with grids full of teams who put everything into winning it for a chance to race in the 24 Hours of Le Mans". “It’s a good step towards racing on the international scene in the FIA World Endurance Championship and I’m here to help TF Sport achieve the goals it has placed over the season. I’ll pass on to Salih Yoluc and Euan Hankey all of my knowledge and experience with the Aston Martin GTE and the tracks I have raced on to ensure we’re successful, because I’m always in it to win it.”

© Ade Holbrook/AdrenalMedia.com
At Le Mans, Yoluc and Hankey will be joined by British Pro, Rob Bell, who has contested almost every major sportscar championship and event over the course of 12 years and most recently added Blancpain Endurance and Asian Le Mans titles to his previous Le Mans Series successes.

"I'm delighted to be going to Le Mans once again with Aston Martin Racing," said Bell. "It's one of the greatest endurance races in the world, and one that every driver wants to take part in. This will be my ninth time taking on the iconic 24-hour event and, with TF Sport and a strong driver line-up, we are in a great position going into the race. Salih (Yoluc) and Euan (Hankey) had a fantastic 2016 season with TF Sport and I'm looking forward to tackling the race in June with them."


Kristof Vermeulen.




Thursday, 2 February 2017

FIA WEC 2017: Kubica, Derani and new numbers for Toyota

ByKolles signs Robert Kubica and Oliver Webb for the 2017 World Endurance Championship. 

ByKOLLES Racing will start the 2017 World Endurance Championship season with ex-Formula One driver Robert Kubica driving the CLM P1/01 Nismo together with Brit Oliver Webb. The third driver for the FIA WEC races, including the Le Mans 24 Hours 2017, will be announced at a later stage. Oliver Webb is known to the private LMP1 team ByKOLLES Racing from his commitments during last season. After many good results in Formula One and several years in Rally, Robert Kubica will return to circuit racing and make his debut in Le Mans in June.

„After my time in Rally I’ve been looking for something as close to F1 as possible. This is exactly what I’ve found in LMP1“, says Robert Kubica. „At the end of last year’s WEC-Season, I was able to do my first laps behind the wheel of the CLM P1/01. I felt comfortable in the car very quickly and was able to increase my pace accordingly. With even more experience I’m sure I will be able to extract more performance. I’m already very much looking forward to the Prologue in Monza and the season start in Silverstone. The professional team of ByKOLLES Racing will continue to make important improvements to the car during the season. I’m happy to be a part of it. The FIA WEC is racing on circuits that I know well from my time in F1, with the exception of Le Mans. I’ve heard so many good things about the event at the Sarthe. I’m very excited about my first start at this 24-Hour race.”

"I’m very happy that I will be once again competing in the FIA WEC in LMP1, together with the ByKOLLES crew and F1 legend Robert Kubica“, explains Oliver Webb. „It’s great that we have the Nismo engine in our car from now on. For 2018 it looks like it will be a good and intense competition in the LMP1 category. This year, the field of LMP1 privateers will be very modest but we will use the season to optimise our car to the new engine and improve numerous other things. To be competing at Le Mans once again, with Robert along-side us is going to be fantastic – it’s a dream come true!“

New season, new numbers for Toyota Gazoo Racing

Toyota Gazoo Racing’s TS050 Hybrids will wear some familiar numbers in the 2017 FIA World Endurance Championship. Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and José María López will race the #7 TS050 Hybrid. That number, which recalls memories of legendary Toyota 7 sportscar, was on the TS030 Hybrid when it won the team’s first WEC race in 2012.

Sébastien Buemi, Anthony Davidson and Kazuki Nakajima will compete with the #8 car. Sébastien and Anthony have a strong association with that number, having won the 2014 drivers’ World Championship at the wheel of the #8 TS040 Hybrid. The numbers seven and eight are traditionally associated with Toyota at Le Mans. Toyota cars have featured those numbers, often as #37 and #38, in 13 of the manufacturers’ 18 years of Le Mans competition.

At Spa-Francorchamps and Le Mans, a third car, led by Stéphane Sarrazin, will wear #9. A number Toyota has never races at Le Mans, although in 1998 Thierry Boutsen, Ralf Kelleners & Geoff Lees drove the #29 TS020.

Pipo Derani joins Ford GT programme

After last years win in the LMGTE-Pro class, Ford returns with 4 GT's to Le Mans in June.  The Ford Chip Ganassi Racing team’s 2016 victory came 50 years after an historic 1-2-3 finish for Ford at the 1966 Le Mans 24 Hours. Ford also won the race in 1967 when Dan Gurney (US) and A. J. Foyt (US) piloted the Ford GT40 to victory, giving the team another target to hit this time around.



The Ford Chip Ganassi Racing team will again field a strong team of drivers to defend its 2016 LM GTE Pro class win.  New to the team for 2017 is young Brazilian, Luis Felipe "Pipo" Derani, who will join Andy Priaulx (GB) and Harry Tincknell (GB) in the #67 Ford GT for the FIA World Endurance Championship races at Silverstone, Spa and Le Mans. The 23 year-old came to Ford’s attention in 2016 when he won the Rolex 24 At Daytona and the Sebring 12 Hours on his debut, marking himself as one to watch.

“I am delighted and proud to have been chosen to represent such a successful and respected manufacturer like Ford. To compete for a team like Ford Chip Ganassi Racing has been one of my aims since starting in racing and to be recognised and selected by them is a big deal for me. I especially want to thank George-Howard Chappell for his trust and belief in order to give me this opportunity", said Derani. “The way that the Ford GT has performed in endurance racing over the last 12 months has been exceptional and I am very much looking forward to working with the team to try and bring more success in the FIA World Endurance Championship and to defend the Le Mans LM GTE Pro title.”

The other driver line-ups will remain unchanged. Olivier Pla and Stefan Mücke will race the #66 and joined by Billy Johnson in Silverstone, Spa and Le Mans. The #68 Le Mans winning car will be driven again by Seb Bourdais, Joey Hand and Dirk Muller. Richard Westbrook, Scott Dixon and Ryan Briscoe will be at the wheel of the #69.



Kristof Vermeulen.