Wednesday, 25 May 2016

24 Hours of Le Mans 2016 : News roundup

Entry list 24 Hours
The official list of the competitors, drivers and cars invited to the administrative checkings and scrutineering has been updated and published. All drivers who will compete in the 24 hours are now announced.

These are the latest additions to the list :  

In LMP1, Pierre Kaffer takes his seat back in the ByKolles CLM P1/01. Kaffer was replaces by James Rossiter in the first WEC races of the season, but was scheduled to race the remainder of the season, starting at Le Mans. 

2 last-minute changes in LMP2 : Manor reshuffled its driver lineup with Matt Rao replacing James Jakes in the #44 Oreca. Rao will join Will Stevens and Tor Graves. Despite their 2 car effort in WEC, the team will only race 1 car at Le Mans because the second car was a late entry in the championship. Shinji Nakano will replace Franck Mailleux in the #34 Race Performance Oreca03 LMP2. Nakano already raced with the team in the Asian Le Mans Series earlier this year, it will be his fifth start at Le Mans. 

AF Corse completed its crews in GTE-Pro : Alessandro Pier Guidi joins James Calado and Gianmaria Bruni in the #51; Andrea Bertolini completes the crew of the #71 car, joining Davide Rigon and Sam Bird.  In the #77 Dempsey-Proton Porsche 911, Philip Eng joins season regulars Richard Lietz and Michael Chistensen. Also in GTE-Pro, the team of the #82 Risi Competition Ferrari will be completed with Mattheo Malucelli, joining Toni Vilander and Giancarlo Fisichella.

The #57 Team AAI Corvette C7 sees the return of Johnny O'Connell in GTE-Am. O'Connel, long time fan favourite and member of the Corvette hall of fame will make his 15th appearance on the grid. He will share driving duties with Oliver Bryant and Mark Patterson. The #99 Beachdean Aston Martin Vantage V8 will be driven by team owner Andrew Howard, Liam Griffin and 2015 ELMS champion Gary Hirsch. 

Entry list testday

The entry list for next weeks testday has been published by the ACO today.  Alexander Wurz has been listed as fourth driver on both Toyota's TS050-Hybrid. Simon Gachet has been added to the #23 Panis-Barthez Ligier JSP2/Nissan and Dean Koutsoumidis to the #34 Race Performance Oreca03/Judd.

Joao Barbosa (#40 Krohn Ligier), Sebastien Bourdais (#68 Ford GT) and Scott Dixon (#69 Ford GT) won't be able to attend the testday due to other racing commitments in the States. No replacement drivers have been appointed for them. 

Team livery's
Several teams announced their Le Mans livery's in the past days, here's a short overview : 

Taiwanese team AAI made the switch from Porsche to Corvette. The team wil still be run by ProSpeed and race a Corvette C7-R in this years race. The chassis they will be racing won Le Mans in 2015 in GTE-Pro. 

With the restriction of alcohol advertisement in France, ESM will race at Le Mans again in a different livery. This year Paul Mitchell  - a brand of hair care products - will join Tequila Patron ESM as the primary sponsor on both Ligiers. 
Michael Shank Racing presented the livery for their Honda powered Ligier JSP2. John Pew and Ozz Negri will be joined Laurens Vanthoor. The Belgian raced at Le Mans last year in the Honda-Ligier of OAK Racing and won the 24 Hours of the Nürburgring.

KCMG is fully prepared for their Le Mans 24 Hours comeback and have also revealed their new livery for the Oreca05/Nissan. Opting for a more streamlined and traditional look this year, KCMG’s #47 LMP2 will brandish their iconic blue, white and gray scheme that has been used for all of their entries competing in various championships around the globe this season. The car will be shared by 
Tsugio Matsuda, Richard Bradley and Matt Howson.

Pre Le Mans testing

Porsche has rounded up their final test ahead of the 24 Hours at the Motorland track in Aragon, Spain. The team did a 30 hour endurance test with 1 car and covered a total of 8,427 km. All 6 drivers shared driving duties during the test in the 919 Hybrid. 

Busy days at Monza ahead of the testday next week. 7 teams are testing in Italy at the moment : Rebellion, ByKolles, RGR by Morand, Extreme Speeds Motorsport Michael Shank Racing, Panis-Barthez Competition and Aston Martin Racin and Ford Chip Ganassi Racing. Toyota Gazoo Racing and Strakka are completing their final test ahead of Le Mans at Spa.

Algarve Pro Racing completed an 8 hour test "into the night" at Jerez. Chris Hoy had his first experience in double stinting the Ligier JSP2/Nissan and driving in night conditions.


© Andy Blackmore
Good news from Andy Blackmore Design and Spotterguides. Thanks to sponsoring from Dunlop Motorsport there will be a spotterguide at Le Mans. The first pre scrutineering version will be released on June 10th, during race week there will be additional updates with any driver or team/livery changes. is the website to watch for this essential piece of kit.

Ligier JSP217 on schedule

The development of the new Ligier LMP2 for 2017, the JS P217 is right on schedule. Onroak Automotive has finalised the construction of the first monocoque to submit it to the 21 static tests and the 2 crash tests imposed by the regulations. The crash tests are due to take place this week, after which the construction of the first complete car will take place. In August the Gibson engine will be fitted into the car so on-track testing can begin. 

Le "team du coeur" 

Panis-Barthez competition will be the "team du coeur" (team of the heart) for this edition of Le Mans. The team will defend the colors of the "Mécénat Chirurgie Cardiaque", which has a partnership with the ACO since seven years. The MCC helps children suffering from heart diseases or malfunctions, to be treated and operated in France when this is impossible at home due to a lack of technical or financial means. Since the start of the foundation, almost 2700 children have been helped. 

The French team of Olivier Panis and Fabien Barthez will be the ambassador for the foundation during race week, and the remainder of the ELMS season. Several actions and events will be held during raceweek at the MCC stand in the village of the 24 hours inside the track, some of them in presence of the drivers and Olivier Panis. The public can also show its support with buying badges, hats and other merchandising of the MCC. 

The Virtual Room
Something new in the village this year, the "Virtual Room". Total immersion in one of the most mythical races in the world is the innovative experience offered by the Virtual Room – Feel the experience, at the coming Le Mans 24 Hours. This 300m2 venue will plunge spectators into an unforgettable virtual digital technological experience through different themed zones.

The experience will begin with the innovation zone devoted to the heritage and the progress engendered by this motor racing myth. 93 years of performances, feats, records and innovations will be shown on giant screens providing the opportunity to relive the highlights of the race and learn all about it while having fun at the same time. Second stage of the virtual trip, the gaming zone. The spectator becomes a player and a driver thanks to the latest simulation games. And when there’s a competition there has to a winner. The quickest will be rewarded by numerous prizes throughout the event.

After the virtual aspect it’s time for reality - or almost. Thanks to the revolutionary Oculus Rift technology (virtual reality headset), the spectators can climb aboard an LM P1 and live 3m 20 seconds of intense thrills on the 13,629-km Le Mans 24-Hours circuit in a 360° environment. It’s a unique occasion to learn to appreciate the feats of the drivers, each of whom covers around 130 laps during the race. And why not climb up onto the topmost step of the podium like Hülkenberg, Bamber and Tandy last year?  And finally, the cornerstone of the Virtual Room, an Audi R18 e-tron Quattro aero model used to test aerodynamics in the wind tunnel will be on display in a room in the centre of the venue. This is a unique opportunity to get close to one of the most exciting racing cars that currently exists.

For all the latest news about the 24 Hours of Le Mans, head on to the Club Arnage facebook group, twitter accountjoin the discussion on our forum or stay up to date with our pictures on instagram.  

Kristof Vermeulen

Friday, 20 May 2016

39 cars on the provisional entry list for the "Road to Le Mans"

The first “Road te Le Mans” race, ahead of the 24 Hours on Saturday has a starting field of no less than 39 cars. This race combines the LMP3 prototypes racing in the ACO sanctioned series (ELMS and AsianLMS) and the GT3's of the Michelin GT3 Le Mans Cup.

In LMP3, 22 prototypes will be driving in Le Mans. 20 of those are Ligier JSP3/Nissan's, 1 Ginetta Juno LMP3 and 1 Adess03/Nissan complete the field. The grid consists of a large number of teams competing in the European and Asian Le Mans series and teams who have received an invitation from the organiser.

© United Autosports
United Autosports leads the LMP3 field, after winning the first 2 races in the European Le Mans Series this year. Martin Brundle returns to Le Mans toe race on of their Ligiers together with his son Alex. Brundle has already been testing the car at Snetterton yesterday

© Racing Team Holland
Another Le Mans “veteran” will make his return to the famous track : Jan Lammers, who won the 24 hours in 1988 with Jaguar. Lammers will race in the #9 Racing for Holland Ligier, with Bernhard Van Oranje-Nassau, member of the Dutch royal family.

Graff Racing and Duquiene Engineering will have athird car on the startgrid. Murphy prototypes will race in the Ligier, as in Imola last week. The Ave-Riley LMP3 should make its debut at the 4 Hours of the Red Bull Ring in Austria. Other ELMS regulars are OAK Racing with 2 cars, Yvan Muller racing, Silverstone polesitters 360 Racing, Race Performance, BySpeed Factory Racing and Scuderia Villa Corse. Asian Le Mans Series contenders DC Racing and Wineurasia Ltd will also be at Le Mans in their Ligiers.

Finnish team PS Racing ltd will enter its Adess03/Nissan. This will be the first time we'll see an Adess take on the Ligiers of the ELMS championship. Lawrence Tomlinson, owner of Ginatta and Team LNT and succesfull racing driver has entered a Ginetta Juno LMP3.

© Adrenal Media
GTE has a field of 17 cars, with a big diversity in models and makes : Aston Martin, BMW, Ferrari, Lamborghini, McLaren, Mercedes and Porsche for the first GT3 race in 10 years on the 24h circuit.

© Adrenal Media
Imola winners TF Sport are fielding a second Aston Martin at Le Mans. Larbre Competition and AF Corse combine the “Road to Le Mans” race with the 24 hours. Larbre is  fielding a Mercedes AMG GT3, AF Corse a Ferrari 458 Italia for Rui Aguas who's also on double duty during the weekend. All 10 full season entries for the inaugural season of the Michelin GT3 Le Mans cup are present.

© Adrenal Media
FFF Racing and Barwell Motorsport puts a Lamborghini Huracan into the mix. FFF will also race their McLaren 650S. A BMW Z4 GT3 will be fielded by DKR Engineering. The opening race of the Michelin GT3 Le Mans Cup saw 10 cars at the start, let's hope this race at Le Mans will attract more teams in this new championship.

The “Road to Le Mans” teams will have a one hour free practice session on Wednesday (20h30) and Thursday (14h30) and a 30 minute qualifying also on Thursday (18h). The race will be run on Saturday, June 18th at 11.10h.

Kristof Vermeulen.

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

24 Hours of Le Mans entry list published

Earlier today, the ACO has revealed the entry list for the 24 Hours of Le Mans 2016.

60 cars are selected to take part in the greatest endurance race of all. 9 LMP1 cars, 23 LMP2's and 27 GTE's of which 14 will race in the GTE Pro category and 13 in GTE Am. The "Garage 56" entry this year is for the French SRT41 by OAK Racing team with quad amputee Frederic Sausset.

180 drivers will be at the start next June, coming from all over the world to take part in the 24 hours. The highest number of drivers comes from Great Britain (38), France (32), USA (23) and Germany (11).

Out of the 60 cars, 12 are entered by an American team, 7 will race in the GTE Pro category. 9 cars will come from Germany, 8 cars from the UK and 6 from France.  

In the following days we'll take a closer look into the entry list for each category.  Also, keep an eye out for the 2016 Club Arnage Guide which will be published on June 10th. 

Kristof Vermeulen. 

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

European Le Mans Series - 4 Hours of Imola race recap

Sunny weather at the start of the second round in the 2016 European Le Mans Series in Imola past Sunday. Dark clouds filled with rain were expected by the end of the race, but they might pass by without losing a drop ... at least that's what the weatherforecast looked like. After two pretty eventful practice sessions and a nailbiting qualifying on Saturday afternoon, expectations were high for the race on Italian soil.

© ELMS - Adrenal Media
In LMP2, Dragonspeed started from pole after a thrilling qualifying session with the top four within 44 thousands of a second. Nicolas Lapierre put in the fastest lap, ahead of Mathias Beche in #46 TDS Racing Oreca 05. Paul Loup Chatin qualified third in the #23 Panis-Barthez Competition Ligier, which was fastest in both practice sessions.

© ELMS - Adrenal Media
Lapierre took the start on Sunday and managed to keep his first place, slightly driving away from the competition. Behind the Dragonspeed Oreca, Chatin got into second after passing the Thiriet Oreca. The battle for fourth was fierce between Simon Dolan in the #38 G-Drive Racing Oreca03, Bjorn Windheim in the #40 Krohn Ligier and Gommendy in the #33 Eurasia Oreca05. Meanwhile the #41 Greaves Ligier of Memo Rojas lost was out of the running for the podium after a puncture due to a contact with the #48 Murphy Oreca03. Rojas rejoined at the back of the field, but was out of contention for the podium.

© ELMS - Adrenal Media
During the first pitstops, Lapierre handed the car over the Hedman. Both chasing cars didn't do any driver change, allowing them to get out again before the Dragonspeed Oreca. Chatin got to the lead in the #23 Ligier, Thiriet following close until the second round of pitstops. Fabien Barthez now took over the #23, but wasn't able to hold off Ryo Hirakawa in the #46.

© ELMS - Adrenal Media
2 Full course yellows were deployed when an LMP3 car spun or got off the road and ended into the gravel trap. Both times, Hirakawa eased away and built up a comfortable lead before handing over the car to Mathias Beche for the final stint. Now it was the Gibson #38 of Simon Dolan, Harry Tincknell and Giedo van der Garde who was up to second. Tincknell took over from Dolan in sixth position, quickly got up into the order but was ultimately stopped by the saftey car. Behind him, polesitters Dragonspeed were still locked in third.

© ELMS - Adrenal Media
With just over an hour to go, dark clouds gathered over the track. Moments later the rain started to fall down, initially only on some parts of the track, but pretty soon the whole circuit was wet. Several cars struggled with the conditions, spinning off. One of them was Mathias Beche in the leading Thiriet Oreca, luckily for him, he managed to recover without losing the lead. After a while, the full course yellow went over into a safety car period, which went all the way untill the chequered flag.

© ELMS - Adrenal Media
Thiriet by TDS took its first victory of the season, ahead of the G-Drive Racing Team in the #38 Gibson and the #21 Dragonspeed Oreca 05. SMP Racing, Eurasia Motorsport and Krohn Racing rounded out the top 6.

© ELMS - Adrenal Media
Second race in the LMP3 class, second win for the United Autosports #2 of Alex Brundle, Mike Guash and Christian England. The #3 United Autosports sister car started from pole ahead of the #11 Eurointernational Ligier and the #2. Right at the start, Brundle got ahead of the #11 and settled into second place. Behind them Roman Rusinov, reigning LMP2 champion with G-Drive Racing made his first appearance in LMP3 and seemed to enjoy himself in the #12 Eurointernational Ligier.
© ELMS - Adrenal Media
He was quickly into third and took the lead during the first pitstops when both United Autosport Ligiers came in and changed drivers. Mike Patterson, who took over the #3 lost time after a drive through penalty for speeding in the pitlane, losing contact with the top 3. Both Eurointernational cars were leading the race now, Rusinov building up comfortable lead. Behind him, Mike Guash was closing in on the #12. After the next round of pitstops – due to 3 full course yellows, strategy started playing its role in the race – the #16 Panis Barthez competition took the lead. Guash was still second, but took over the lead when the leading car came in for his third stop.
© ELMS - Adrenal Media
A few laps later, the race was neutralised with the full course yellow and safety car, freezing all positions. United Autosports took its second win in a row, ahead of the #12 Eurointernational and the #19 Duqueine Engineering.

© ELMS - Adrenal Media
Proton Competition was impressive during the race in the GTE class, bouncing back from a disappointing race in Silverstone last month. Starting from pole the Porsche 911 RSR driven by Robert Renauer, Wolf Henzler and Mike Hedlund drove the perfect, faultless race in Italy. Eventually finishing an impressive 13th overall, ahead of all the LMP3 cars.

© ELMS - Adrenal Media
The yellow #66 Ferrari of JMW Motorsport took second place, although it seemed to have the speed to compete for the win. The full course yellow and safety car at the end decided differently. Completing the podium is the #56 AT Racing Ferrari. Silverstone winners Beachdean Aston Martin took fifth place, just enough to keep the lead in the championship ahead of AT Racing.

No #60 Formula Racing Ferrari at the start of the race. Christina Nielsen went hard into the barriers in the second practice session, causing a withdrawal of the car.

© ELMS - Adrenal Media
Questions have been asked if it was the right call to keep the safety car out until the chequered flag dropped. Looking at the state of the track at a certain point, yes. But – on a personal note – I'd rather see the cars race to the flag instead of finishing a race behind the safety car. With a big grid of 40+ cars and in LMP3 still a lot of drivers who aren't used to prototype racing, lacking experience of driving inbetween faster LMP2 cars, this probably was the best decision. Looking at the full course yellows this race, all of them came after a situation with an LMP3 car. In a few weeks the Le Mans frenzy starts with a lot of ELMS teams driving. It would be a shame to see an LMP2 or GTE contender miss the race after an accident in a 45' or 30' shootout in wet and tricky conditions.

The next race in the European Le Mans Series is the 4 Hours of the Red Bull Ring in Austria, mid July.

Kristof Vermeulen.

Friday, 13 May 2016

European Le Mans Series - 4 Hours of Imola preview

Round 2 of the European Le Mans Series this weekend, at the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari in Imola, Italy.

Imola is a rather special racetrack as its layout goes round the “Parco delle Acque Minerali”, just outside the city of Imola, 45 km south of Bologna. The Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari is 5,44 km long and the only anticlockwise track on the ELMS calendar. It's known as a very technical track with a high variety of fast and slow corners and high curbs.

Sadly Imola is also known as the track where Roland Ratzenberger and Ayrton Senna lost their lives during the San Marino Grand Prix.

G-Drive racing arrives in Italy as the championship leader in the Mighty#38 of Simon Dolan, Harry Tincknell and Giedo van der Garde. After an excellent opening race in Silverstone, the team returns to Imola for the second time this year after some extensive pre-season testing. Harry Tincknell insisting that the important thing is to keep attacking and build up their championship lead rater than being conservative. Tincknell has a 100% podium record at Imola since his debut here in 2014, and is eager to keep that percentage to a maximum. Roman Rusinov, racing in the WEC with G-Drive Racing is also in Imola. He will race the #12 Eurointernational Ligier JSP3/Nissan.

So24! by Lombard Racing arrives at the second round of the championship with high hopes. After their impressive start of the season, finishing on the third step of the podium in Silverstone, the newly founded French team will be looking for speed and true performance of the car, going for another podium finish. Olivier Lombard won the ILMC race in Imola back in 2011 at the wheel of the Greaves LMP2. Vincent Capillaire and Jonathan Coleman respectiveley ended the ELMS last year on the second step of the podium and in sixth place in LMP2.

2 driver changes at Krohn Racing this weekend. Tracy Krohn won't be racing in Imola due to an injury. He will be replaced by reigning ELMS champion Bjorn Windheim, who also raced the #40 Ligier at Silverstone. Olivier Pla makes his return to the team, Pla raced with the Ford GT in the WEC Silverstone. A strong and very fast line-up in the green machine, they may well be in contention for the win this time.

No Frank Mailleux at Race Performance this weekend. His place has been taken by Shinji Nakano who will also race at Le Mans for the Swiss team.

Murphy Prototyopes has a revised line up for the race in Italy. After his Silverstone debut, Sean Doyle returns in the Oreca03/Nissan. He will be joined by Gary Findlay and and Patrick McClughlan. Findlay made his ELMS debut in the final round of the 2015 season, securing a podium finish in the Graff Racing Ligier JSP3. McClughlan from Northern Ireland started his career in the Ginetta Junior series and drove a very succesfull Radical Sprint Championship last year (12 wins out of 21 races !!).

In LMP3, their Ave-Riley isn't deliverd yet, as its currently undergoing homologation inspection and test procedures in the USA. The car is expected to be available for the third round of the ELMS in Austria. In the meantime the team is using alternative cars. After racing the Ginetta in Silverstone, they will race a Ligier JSP3 in Imola. The car will be driven by a different crew than in Silverstone, with Rob Garofall, Alex Kapadia and Barry Baxter.

After Silverstone, we're missing 2 cars on the grid in Imola. The second SMP Racing BR01 is absent and the Morgan of Frédéric Sausset will return at the Le Mans 24 Hours.

20 cars will race in LMP3 in Imola, all Ligier JSP3's this time with Murphy switching from Ginetta to Ligier.

Compared to Silverstone there will be 1 extra car on the grid, Eurointernational fielding their second car for the first time. The #12 will be driven by Andrea Dromedari and Fabio Mancini and reigning WEC LMP2 champion Roman Rusinov.

United Autosports will be out at Imola to repeat their perfect weekend in Silverstone with a 1-2 finish. Although only 2 drivers only raced before at Imola, the team has clocked up around 1500 miles on the track in pre-season testing.

Eight cars will race in the GTE class, 1 less compared to Silverstone. The #96 ROFGO Aston Martin won't race in Imola this weekend. The #99 Beachdean Aston Martin defends his lead in the championship with the same crew as in Silverstone : Andrew Howard, Alex MacDowell & Darren Turner.

JMW Motorsport will be eager for revenge after losing their Silverstone victory due to not being in compliance with the homologation papers. Andrea Bertolini will surely want to win in his home country. The JMW Ferrari will be joined by two AF Corse Ferrari's on their home soil. WEC driver Rui Aguas joins the team of the #51.

The fourth Ferrari (#56) will be fielded by Austrian team AT Racing. Davide Rigon will be replaced here by Allesandro Pier Guidi. Rigon having other driving duties in the Blancpain series. Wolf Henzler returns to the #77 Proton Porsche, probably for the last time with Renger van der Zande taking over for the rest of the season.

Track action started this afternoon with the first practice session. On Saturday the second practice and qualifying is scheduled. The 4 hour race race will be green flagged on Sunday at 14.00h local time.

Kristof Vermeulen.

Useful links :

Thursday, 12 May 2016

Porsche presents first images of the new 911 RSR GTE

This morning, Porsche presented the first images of the 911 RSR successor which will make its debut in 2017. 

The most successful GT race car of the 2015 season will be replaced by a completely new race car in 2017. The successor to the 911 RSR has already completed a successful rollout on the test track in Weissach. Now begins the test phase on selected racetracks around the world.

At its first test runs at Weissach, the majority of the Porsche works drivers were able to get a first impression of the new 2017 GTE race car. “It is definitely unusual to put several drivers behind the wheel at a rollout,” says Marco Ujhasi, Overall Project Manager GT Works Motorsport. “But since all of our works drivers are involved in the development of the new car, the ones who could fit it into their schedules came to Weissach and turned a couple of laps.”

The first outing of the RSR successor is planned for January 2017 at the 24-hour race at Daytona. “The race debut of a completely new vehicle at a 24-hour race is a big challenge. But we are right on schedule,” explains the Head of Porsche Motorsport, Dr Frank-Steffen Walliser.

No technical details of the car have been revealed so far.

Kristof Vermeulen