«

»

Jun 18

Le Mans 24 Hours: A 19th victory for Porsche at the 24 Hours of Le Mans (updated)

2017 24 Hours of Le Mans

2017-06-15-0176After a race full of surprises and upsets, the #2 Porsche 919 Hybrid driven by Bernhard, Bamber and Hartley clinches its 19th victory at the Circuit des 24 Heures. A historic win! The second and third places go to two LMP2s Orecas fielded by Jackie Chan DC Racing (#38) and Vaillante Rebellion (#13).

Flagworld photo album

The three Toyota TS050 Hybrids were expected to play a key role in the race, but the Japanese team once again fell foul of the cruelty of competition. In the lead from the start, the #7 Toyota (Conway/Kobayashi/Sarrazin) and the #9 (Lapierre/Kunimoto/Lopez) retired before the halfway stage due to a mechanical issue for the #7 and a race incident for the #9. Porsche were ready to pounce and the #1 Jani/Lotterer/Tandy took control in the ninth hour. Heading towards victory with less than four hours to go, the crowd gasped as the car ground to a halt in the Mulsanne Straight and announced its retirement a few minutes later. It was down to the #2 Porsche 919 Hybrid (Bernhard/Bamber/Hartley) to defend the manufacturer’s chances. The crew fought back magnificently from 55th place and accomplished their mission. A third victory in a row earns the German marque the right to keep the 24 Hours of Le Mans trophy. The remaining Toyota, the #8, finished second in class but in 9th place overall.

In LMP2, the #13 and #31 soon dominated the class, swapping from first to second depending on pit-stops. However, the reliability of the #38 Oreca 07-Gibson (Tung/Laurent/Jarvis) was a force to be reckoned with. The #38 overtook the #13 in the 16th hour and with the LMP1s in trouble, it was leading the race with 3 hours to go. It finished the race in second place overall, just ahead of the #13 Oreca 07 – Gibson (Piquet/Heinemeier Hansson/Beche). For the first time ever, there are two LMP2s on the podium of the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

LMGTE Pro promised fireworks and did not disappoint. The sparks certainly flew between Aston Martin, Corvette, Ferrari, Ford and Porsche. For several hours, the #97 and #95 Aston Martins were in first and second place, staving off attacks from Corvette, Ferrari, Ford and Porsche. The closing stages were enthralling – the #63 Chevrolet Corvette C7R (Magnussen/Garcia/Taylor) finally succumbing to the #97 Aston Martin (Turner/Adam/Serra).

LMGTE Am was well-balanced in the early stages, with a tussle between Ferrari 488 GTE, Aston Martin and Porsche 911 RSR. However, in the end the Italian flexed its muscles and the class was won by the #84 Ferrari 488 GTE (Smith/Stevens/Vanthoor), followed by two other Ferraris.

The 85th running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans was fraught with emotion with 258,500 spectators witnessing a record 19th victory for Porsche in this legendary race.

source: Automobile Club de l’Ouest, lemans.org

 

United Autosports records amazing top-five LMP2 finish on Le Mans 24 Hour race début   

  • United records fifth place in one-off 2017 FIA World Endurance Championship race
  • Albuquerque & Le Mans “rookies” Owen and de Sadeleer in scintillating form
  • Ligier JS P217 runs like clockwork in twice-around-the-clock marathon

United Autosports scored an amazing top-five class placing – sixth position overall – on the Anglo-American team’s Le Mans 24 Hour and FIA World Endurance Championship début today (18 Jun). Filipe Albuquerque (P)/Will Owen (US)/Hugo de Sadeleer (CH) steered their Ligier JS P217 home to an LMP2 category fifth position in the world-famous twice-around-the-clock marathon. The trio clocked-up 362-laps, over 3,000-miles, around the 8.47-mile circuit consisting of closed public roads, finishing just over 30-miles behind the class-winners in the record 25-car LMP2 field competing in this year’s 85th running of the famous Le Mans 24 Hours in France.

It was the first-time Owen and de Sadeleer had raced at Le Mans while Albuquerque was making his fourth 24 hour appearance. For United, with previous 24 hour race experience from Daytona (US), Dubai (UAE) and Spa (B), it marked only its third-ever race with its 600bhp Nissan-engined Ligier sports-prototype. The #32 Ligier started from the eighth-row of the record 25-car LMP2 field, Albuquerque having posted the 15th fastest LMP2 time after six-hours of qualifying on Wednesday and Thursday evenings held in very hot ambient temperatures.

From the initial test at Le Mans two weeks earlier, it was immediately evident that the Silverstone European Le Mans Series race winning Ligier JS P217 was not ideally suited to the fast, sweeping French circuit. Nevertheless, the United Autosports car was, as in the Monza ELMS race when it finished sixth, consistently the best-placed Ligier at Le Mans. It ultimately finished the race as the highest-placed non Oreca.

In hot sunshine and in front of an estimated crowd of almost 260,000, Albuquerque got United’s maiden LM24 underway and following stints by Owen (1731-1942) then de Sadeleer (1942-2237) – the car only taking on tyres at the driver changes – the Portuguese was back in the Ligier and at one-third distance lay eighth. The Ligier moved up to sixth during Owen’s next stint (0115-0410) – the American driving supremely during the night hours. De Sadeleer was back behind the wheel as the sun rose, the Swiss gaining a further place during his stint (0410-0701) and like Owen, drove with maturity and consistency in his maiden 24 hour race.

A trouble-free run and consistent lappery by all three drivers combined with attrition in the more powerful LMP1 class placed the United car an amazing fifth overall – fourth in class – in the classification with 5.5hrs to run with Albuquerque, who set a searing pace throughout, back in the Dunlop-shod car. Owen (0935-1046) then de Sadeleer (1046-1241) completed their final stints without drama – the former’s harmless spin the only problem to affect the United Autosports Ligier all race – with Albuquerque bringing the car home to the finish – the former Audi “factory” driver’s best ever Le Mans overall race result.

United now reverts to its ELMS LMP2 & LMP3 campaigns after its one-off WEC appearance. The third round of the ELMS is at the Red Bull Ring (A) on 23 July. The four-hour race will see Albuquerque/Owen/de Sadeleer bidding for LMP2 success having placed first (Silverstone) and sixth (Monza) in the opening two races with John Falb (USA)/Sean Rayhall (USA) – winners of last Thursday’s Road to Le Mans race – plus Wayne Boyd (GB)/Christian England (GB)/Mark Patterson (SA) aiming for LMP3 success in the four-hour race.

LMP2: #32 Albuquerque/Owen/de Sadeleer.
Qualified: 15th LMP2 / 21st o/a, 3m29.151s (FA). Race: POS.
Filipe Albuquerque (P): Born/Lives: Coimbra, Portugal. Age: 31
“It was a hard one but I am really happy with P5. I don’t think we could have squeezed any more from our car.  I think the whole team should be proud as they did an amazing job all week. The rookie boys [Hugo and Will] did a fantastic job. It was very hot throughout, we didn’t have the pace to match the winners but still we managed to put the car in the top-five. I set my grid time in Q3. On my first attempt I was in traffic but the second lap was pretty good. I extracted everything I had from the car.”

Will Owen (US): Born: Plano, Texas. Lives: Denver, Colorado. Age: 22
“As far as the event goes, I am just blown away and it was sad getting out of the car after my last stint on Sunday morning. I’ve been very happy with my stints, picking up my pace compared to practice and qualifying. I felt very comfortable generally but in my last stint I made a mistake, touched a kerb, spun and went through the gravel which wrecked the tyres. The team has done a fantastic job and made no mistakes. So minus that one error I’m extremely happy with the weekend.”

Hugo de Sadeleer (CH): Born: Lausanne, Switzerland. Lives: Monaco. Age: 19
“What an achievement! I have been preparing so long for this race and to claim this result is like a dream coming true. I’ve driven a lot of hours this weekend and I am very pleased with my performance and proud to have participated in this legendary race. To get this kind of result is a bonus.”

Zak Brown, Team Owner and Chairman, United Autosports:
“Awesome! When Richard [Dean] and I started the team back in 2010, Le Mans was something we both wanted United Autosports to enter one day and what a way to open account. All three drivers were faultless, consistent and fast but my sincere thanks go to the entire United Autosports crew. They’ve all worked incredibly hard for months leading up to this event and if it wasn’t for their combined efforts, I don’t think such a result could have been achieved.”

Richard Dean, Team Owner and Managing Director, United Autosports:
“To achieve this result in what is the world’s toughest race makes me delighted for everyone in the team. The amount of work and planning that has gone into it has been colossal. Fifth place, just five laps behind the outright winning LMP1 car is truly incredible. Although our car didn’t have the outright pace, everything else went according to plan and great reliability. We only came in the pits for tyres when we needed them and fuel when it was about to run out. I’m massively proud of the team who were magnificent in pit-stops.”

2017-06-15-0163

source: United Autosports, unitedautosports.com

 

 

Alpine A470s fight right to the bitter end in epic Le Mans race

  • Both of the Signatech Alpine Matmut team’s Alpine A470s made it to the end of this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans.
    • Running in the top three of the overall standings with less than an hour to go, the no.35 car (Panciatici/Ragues/Negrão) ended up finishing fourth in the LMP2 category and fifth overall.
    • After a superb comeback, the no.36 car (Dumas/Menezes/Rao) finished in the top 10 of its category.

Packed with excitement and incident from start to finish, the 85th edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans will certainly go down as one of the most memorable races in the event’s long history. In stiflingly hot conditions, the 258,500 spectators witnessed a seemingly never-ending series of dramatic racing incidents, leading to the retirement of most of the favourites for outright victory. The LMP2s therefore found themselves in the limelight, since two of them finished in the top three of the overall standings.

On Saturday afternoon, the first bit of drama involved the no.36 Alpine A470. With around twenty minutes gone, Gustavo Menezes ran off onto the gravel at the end of the Mulsanne straight. The American was unable to get out of the gravel and had to wait for the stewards to help him on his way again. The team decided to alter their race strategy at this point and asked Matt Rao to complete a quadruple stint.

Comparatively speaking, the early stages of the race were much calmer for the no.35 car. Eighth on the starting grid, Nelson Panciatici immediately grabbed seventh place. Sticking religiously to the plan drawn up by the team, he established himself among the LMP2 frontrunners.

In the evening, the no.36 car was held up again. Romain Dumas had to come into the pits for half an hour whilst the mechanics changed the gearbox oil pump, which was damaged when Gustavo ran off onto the gravel. Then at around 11pm, Matt Rao also had to stop so that the team could fix an electrical issue.

At midnight, the no.36 was running in twentieth position in the LMP2 class. Meanwhile, the no.35 crew’s consistency was being rewarded with fifth place at that point. On the same lap as the category leaders, the trio of Panciatici, Ragues and Negrão were still in with a chance of victory!

Full of crashes and racing incidents leading to the activation of slow zones and safety car periods, the night went well for the Signatech Alpine Matmut team. By sunrise, the no.35 car had moved up into fourth position, whilst the no.36 had fought back to twelfth.

The heroic fightback continued throughout the morning: Panciatici, Ragues and Negrão managed to get past both the Vaillante Rebellion cars, which had set the pace in the first half of the race. With two hours to go, the no.35 car was not only running second in the LMP2 category, but was third in the overall standings!

In spite of the pressure put on him by his fellow countryman Nelson Piquet, André Negrão managed the situation perfectly. However, just 40 minutes from the end, the Brazilian’s front brakes failed, resulting in him running off onto the gravel. He was able to rejoin and then came into the pits, so that the mechanics could change the brake discs. The no.35 car ended up finishing fourth in the LMP2 category and fifth overall.

In the no.36 car, Romain Dumas grabbed ninth position in the LMP2 class, thanks to a strong pace in the closing stages and a perfectly scheduled and executed final pit stop. This result secured additional points, which might yet be vital in the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) at the end of the season.

Bernard Ollivier, Alpine Deputy Managing Director
“We won’t be forgetting this race in a hurry, that’s for sure. In the space of twenty-four hours, we experienced every possible emotion. Despite the difficulties, the team really stuck together to defend the values of Alpine, such as fighting spirit and panache. Right to the bitter end, we never gave up, as shown by the place gained by Romain Dumas in the closing laps. The mechanics, engineers and drivers, everyone did an absolutely amazing job. At the end of the day, the final result falls short of what we came here hoping to achieve, but sport can often be a humbling experience and we’ll be all the more determined at the next few races.”

Philippe Sinault, Signatech Alpine Matmut Team Principal
“We experienced something of almost surreal moment when we saw our Alpine A470 in second position outright at the 24 Hours of Le Mans on the timing screens. Sadly, the dream didn’t last until the end and obviously, I’m frustrated by the final result. But we can have no regrets about the way in which we managed this race. We realised very quickly that we weren’t the fastest in the category. So we had to come up with solutions to stay in touch with the leaders. By saving fuel and looking after the tyres, we managed to switch our strategy to ten-lap stints instead of nine-lap stints. I have to congratulate the engineers who came up with this new strategy, as well as the mechanics who were absolutely brilliant during the unscheduled pits stop and repairs. I’m mainly disappointed by the fact that the result doesn’t fairly reflect the commitment and performance of the team.”

Signatech Alpine Matmut no.35 car

Nelson Panciatici
“It would have been fantastic to finish third overall in an LMP2, especially as we might not get another opportunity like this for some time. We weren’t the fastest on track in the category, but we drove without making any mistakes and our approach was beginning to pay dividends. I had a very good weekend with Pierre and André; we form a good crew and I think we have the potential to get other good results.”

Pierre Ragues
“It’s a bit hard to take just missing out on a podium spot in the overall standings. It would have been a very special moment, for us as drivers and for the team. We knew that we were a bit slower during the day, when it was very hot, and we tried to push during the night. We also knew that the brakes were a critical point, but that we had to push. There was no indication that they were going to give up like that.”

André Negrão
“I’ll always remember this race, with this fantastic team. We didn’t make any mistakes: the driver and tyre changes, refuelling, everything went well until the brake problem cost us a place on the podium. It’s a shame, but we have to use this experience to be even stronger in future. I’m already looking forward to being at the Nürburgring to show what we can do again.”

Signatech Alpine Matmut no.36 car

Romain Dumas
“It’s always good to finish the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Our crew had a frustrating race, since we were fell behind in the opening minutes. We fought right to the very end, for the mechanics, for Alpine and also to support the no.35 car which had an incredible race. These things are part and parcel of racing, you just never know how things are going to turn out. It has nonetheless been a positive experience with Alpine, because the team has values that I hold very dearly.”

Gustavo Menezes
“The twenty-four hours of this year’s race seemed longer than last year! I feel really sorry for all the members of the team, they deserved a better result. I made a minor mistake at the start of the race, but it proved to be a very costly one. We then had other technical issues, but we refused to become disheartened. We were almost last at one point and yet we managed to finish in the category top 10 following a genuinely marathon effort!”

Matt Rao
“Clearly, I feel a bit disappointed after our problems at the start of the race. But I’m pleased with our level of performance: we were consistently one of the fastest cars and I think we have the potential to challenge at the front. Everyone has worked tirelessly over the last few weeks and I would like to congratulate each and every member of the team.”

Final LMP2 standings (subject to confirmation)
1. Jackie Chan DC Racing no.38 – 366 laps
2. Vaillante Rebellion no.13 +2 laps
3. Jackie Chan DC Racing no.37 +3 laps
4. Signatech Alpine Matmut no.35 +4 laps
5. United Autosports no.32 +4 laps
6. Graff no.40 +5 laps
7. CEFC Manor TRS Racing no.24 +6 laps
8. Cetilar Villorba Corse no.47 +13 laps
9. Signatech Alpine Matmut no.36 +15 laps
10. Tockwith Motorsports no.34 +15 laps…

2017-06-15-0064

source: renault.com

 

Pierre Ragues and Signatech Alpine Matmut cruelly denied podium in late drama at Le Mans

A dramatic final hour of the 24 Hours of Le Mans saw the #35 Signatech Alpine Matmut crew of Pierre Ragues, Nelson Panciatici and André Negrão drop from an outright podium position to fifth place and fourth in LMP2 due to an unexpected brake-related issue.

The #35 crew had been in strong contention not only for an LMP2 podium but also an outright Le Mans podium after impressive performances from all three drivers, as well as a cohesive team performance throughout the 24-hour event.

With technical gremlins causing upsets in the LMP1 class, it was a day on which LMP2 teams had the chance to shine, and the Signatech Alpine Matmut crew truly stepped up. Holding a comfortable third place overall heading into the final hour of the race, the team were on course for a deserved result defying expectations.

Unfortunately, the team were to endure late heartbreak as Negrão experienced a sudden long brake pedal due to excessive brake wear, sending him off track at Mulsanne. The team had been meticulously checking brake performance at each pit stop knowing the demands of the 13.629km Circuit de la Sarthe, and the hot temperatures endured this weekend.

There was nothing that the driver could do, but he reacted professionally to get the #35 Alpine A470 back to the garage. The team’s mechanics performed an extraordinary job to change the front nose and get the car back out to complete the race, ending a positive weekend in fifth place overall and fourth in class. Despite the cruel final blow, there are plenty of positives for Pierre and the team to take away from this Le Mans weekend.

Pierre said: “What a cruel way for our race to finish. In any other event, we would have been satisfied with a fourth place finish in class, but we were so close to something so special. The entire team has worked hard all week to prepare the Alpine A470 for battle. We had a competitive car underneath us, and we managed to get ourselves in the fight for the overall podium. It would have been beyond our expectations, but at the same time truly deserved after our faultless teamwork. I would like to extend my thanks to the whole Signatech Alpine Matmut team for their peerless work ethic this weekend; from the great race strategy of the engineers to the tireless work of the mechanics, as well as the close co-operation between myself, Nelson and André. We deserved that podium today so it’s a hard knock that we just missed out right at the end. That’s Le Mans, it’s why love racing here each year, and why it gives us the motivation to come back better, stronger and more determined than ever. Thanks also to my personal partners for their support.”

2017-06-14-0193

source: pierreragues.com, quadrasports.com

 

Magic debut for Cetilar Villorba Corse at the 24 Hours of Le Mans

Thanks to a very consistent race the Italian team brings the Dallara P217 in the top-ten overall with Lacorte/Sernagiotto/Belicchi. Amadio: “Incredible race, we gave everything and our dream came true”

Dream came completely true. Cetilar Villorba Corse ended an incredibly hot edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans bringing under the chequered flag the Dallara P217 Gibson with racing drivers Roberto Lacorte, Giorgio Sernagiotto and Andrea Belicchi. The great adventure in the third round of the World Endurance Championship that Lacorte, Sernagiotto and the all Italian team have been preparing together since 2015. In just two years they jumped from LMP3 to LMP2, always with a “deb” car, and then to Le Mans, where they made thier debut this week clinching an unexpected ten place overall, finishing also eighth in the LMP2 class. Despite several inconveniences, started on Wedneday (electrical issues in free practice and in qualyfying 1) and continued in the race. Italia crew started the 85th edition of the legendary French endurance race from 24th on the grid (18th LMP2 car). The team was protagonist of a very competitive race thanks to their Dallara’s renowed reliability, their consistency and their perfect strategy. But drivers had to make three comebacks during the 24-hour distance. The first until Saturday’s evening, when they reached the LMP2 top-ten and then, on their 72nd lap, Lacorte, without fault, was touched by another car finishing into the gravel of the first corner, recovering just after about 4 minutes. Again in the top-ten a few hours later, at around 02:35hrs (team’s 166th lap), in the first part of the Hunaudierès Dallara’s rear left tyre blew forcing Sernagiotto to slowly return to pits where the team fixed everything (total time loss: 13 minutes). Rejoined the top-ten again, this time everything went well and after the cequered flag all the team could celebrate their stunning result, being also third between the European Le Mans Series teams and first between the team on Dallara’s entered in the race

Team Principal Amadio says: “It was an unbelievable week all together. An incredible debut all together. And then an exhausting race all together. A great Italian Spirit of Le Mans as we often have repeated for the last few months. All the guys in the team were extraordinary, the gave everything the had all time long, even when we feared the worst. And now the dream of that cequered flag, chased for years, is going even further than we expcted. Now, yes, we can celebrate. We deserve it all.

2017-06-18-0077

source: Agenzia ErregìMEDIA

 

Le Mans 24 – Ferrari 1-2-3 in GTE-Am class

Clean sweep for 488 GT

Ferrari monopolises podium in GTE-Am class with victory for Stevens-Smith- Vanthoor in the car of JMW Motorsport, with 2nd place for Cioci-Cameron- Scott of Spirit of Race and 3rd for Sweedler-Bell-MacNeil of Scuderia Corsa

In GTE-Pro class, the 488 no. 71 of Rigon-Bird-Molina finishes fifth. An accident halts no. 51 on its race to victory. Risi Competizione no. 82 pulls out

The 85th edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans brought Ferrari a clean sweep of the podium, a fifth place and two disappointments in the two GT classes. Victory for the third consecutive year came in the GTE-Am class where the 488 GTE literally dominated. The car of JMW Motorsport won with a lap advantage over everyone. The British team was making its debut with the new berlinetta, driven by Robert Smith, Dries Vanthoor and Will Stevens. Marco Cioci, Duncan Cameron and Aaron Scott came second with the 488 GTE no. 55 of Spirit of Race, while third place went to the 2016 winners, Bill Sweedler and Townsend Bell, along with Cooper MacNeil in the 488 GTE of Scuderia Corsa. Things went less well in the GTE-Pro class where only the Ferrari no. 71 of AF Corse, driven by Davide Rigon, Sam Bird and Miguel Molina, finished in the points. James Calado, Alessandro Pier Guidi and Michele Rugolo in car no. 51 were entirely out of luck, knocked out due to a misunderstanding with a lapped car that destroyed a radiator. The same held for the 488 no. 82 of Risi Competizione driven by Toni Vilander, Giancarlo Fisichella and Pierre Kaffer, which was struck and put out of action due to a crazy manoeuvre by Mathieu Vaxiviere in the Oreca of TDS Racing. The class win went to the Aston Martin of Turner-Adam-Serra, while the overall laurels were taken by the Porsche no. 2 of Bernhard-Bamberg-Hartley.

GTE-Pro

Alessandro Pier Guidi pulled off a lightning start in the 488 GTE no. 51 of AF Corse to overtake the Aston Martin of Turner-Adam-Serra and lead the group. In contrast, Sam Bird lost a position in no. 71, while Toni Vilander began well in 11th and started to make up ground. However, the Aston Martins, with their much faster speed on the straight, soon took the lead with Thiim-Stanaway-Sorensen in no. 95 pulling away from their teammates. The first major incident struck on the fifth hour when a ridiculous manoeuvre by Mathieu Vaxiviere at the second Hunaudières chicane literally smashed the 488 GTE of Risi Competizione and its current driver Pierre Kaffer, into the barriers. Miguel Molina in 488 no. 71 only escaped the accident by a whisper. However, this car really experienced a very difficult night firstly with a drive-through for exceeding track limits, then with a puncture that lost it valuable seconds and finally two slow zones, which were introduced when the first half of the GT group had already passed, thus only penalising the cars that were already behind. A series of Safety Cars in the night left both Ferraris in the leading group by the morning with no. 51 in the third place and no. 71 further behind. As the seventeenth hour of racing approached a misunderstanding between Calado and the Aston Martin no. 90, put an end to the race of car no. 51. James came into contact with the lapped car, damaging a radiator that took an hour to replace. Ferrari 488 no. 71 found itself in a fight for fourth with Ford no. 67 and Porsche no. 91. The positions remained unchanged over the final hour and so the no. 71 of Davide Rigon, Miguel Molina and Sam Bird came fifth in the race won by the Aston Martin of Darren Turner, Jonny Adam and Daniel Serra.

GTE-Am

Ferrari had everything to celebrate in the GTE-Am class, where Maranello enjoyed a clean sweep of the podium with three 488 GTEs from three teams: JMW Motorsport, Spirit of Race and Scuderia Corsa. The Aston Martin of Dalla Lana-Lamy- Lauda dictated the pace from the start, but as darkness fell its front right tyre exploded to put it out of the running. At that point first place went to the 488 of JMW Motorsport that had been the only one to vie with the British car for first place. The youthful Dries Vanthoor, a former Formula One driver like Will Stevens and the experienced Robert Smith drove impeccably to pull off an extraordinary result for the British team that a few weeks ago in Monza had won its last race with the 458 Italia GTE (in the European Le Mans Series). At Le Mans it embarked upon the new 488 GTE era in the best possible way. Second place went to the sister car of Spirit of Race crewed by Marco Cioci, Duncan Cameron and Aaron Scott. A Prancing Horse car also took third. The 488 GTE of Scuderia Corsa driven by the 2016 winners, Bill Sweedler and Townsend Bell, alongside Cooper MacNeil. Also worth mentioning is the fifth place of the Ferrari of Clearwater Racing driven by Matt Griffin, Keita Sawa and Mok Weng Sung, which notched up some very important points for the GTE-Am title of the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC). The championship resumes in mid-July at the Nurburgring.

Post-race quotes

Antonello Coletta, head of Ferrari Competizioni GT: “The 2017 edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans was one of highs and lows for Ferrari. Starting from the negative things we can only be disappointed by the two accidents that affected the performance of two of our cars in the GTE-Pro class. Risi Competizione’s car was hit by a prototype in the early stages of the race and suffered irreparable damage, while in the early hours of the morning a misunderstanding with a lapped driver caused James Calado to damage car no. 51 of AF Corse. It took a 20-lap pit stop to replace the radiator and so the crew was out of the hunt for victory. Thus only the 488 no. 71 of

Davide Rigon, Miguel Molina and Sam Bird scored important points. However, we are very pleased with the GTE-Am class result where Ferrari was the marque with the biggest presence and where the 488 GTE monopolised all three steps of the podium. It is a result that is even more valuable because the cars on the podium represent three different teams and three different areas of origin, a sign that the 488 is particularly suited to the needs of gentlemen drivers, always a customer target dear to Ferrari. Congratulations go to JMW Motorsport, who deployed the 488 for the first time, to Spirit of Race and to Scuderia Corsa.”

Davide Rigon, driver AF Corse car no. 71: “It wasn’t a lucky race for us right from the start. We lost a position at that point and then there were loads of little things that contributed to making our race so difficult. Twice the slow zone started practically as we went by and so anyone ahead of us gained 15 seconds each time. Then we suffered a drivethrough and finally a puncture. The only good thing is the championship points.”

Sam Bird, driver AF Corse car no. 71: “We are not happy with the result. We were expecting to be more competitive while on the straight the Aston Martins, but also the other cars, overtook us too easy. This meant we had always to push to the very limit and the consequence of this is making mistakes like the ones I committed in terms of track limit in the first part of the race.”

Miguel Molina, driver AF Corse car no. 71: “Obviously the result in absolute terms cannot be satisfactory, because a Ferrari usually takes to the track solely in order to win. But on my side, I’m happy to have completed my first 24 Hours of Le Mans and at the same time my first race in the GTE-Pro category.” Dries Vanthoor, driver JMW Motorsport car no. 84: “Before we came here it was a new car, not what we had used before, but none of us made mistakes and it was a really pleasant race. It was a mega feeling to cross the line first. Of course, I still cannot believe that we won it, it has to sink in a little bit, but I am more than happy. I don’t really know what to say”.

Will Stevens, driver JMW Motorsport car no. 84: “Coming into this weekend, the 488 GTE was new to this team, and new to us drivers as well so we had to fit a lot of learning in a short time. We had a great car the whole race, no issues, the car has been really nice to drive the whole time. I wanted to come back into a competitive environment, and when I got the opportunity to do this, it was very exciting. I knew this was a strong line up and we did everything right from the start.”

Robert Smith, driver JMW Motorsport car no. 84: “What can I say, we passed the checkered flag in front of all of the other GTE-Am cars. The car was magic the whole time, and this morning it really came alive. It’s a huge step up from the 458 Italia GTE, in terms of aero, brakes, drivability and comfort. Every area has been improved. Today it was just a pleasure to drive.”

2017-06-15-0146

source: ferrari.com

 

Stevens records sensational GTE-AM debut victory at Le Mans  

Briton achieves second consecutive podium in world famous twice-around-the-clock marathon

Will Stevens recorded an emphatic GTE-Am début class victory in the Le Mans 24 Hour race which finished today (18 Jun). Stevens, and co-drivers Rob Smith (GB) and Dries Vanthoor (B), brought their JMW Motorsport Ferrari 488 GTE home two-laps ahead of their closest rivals in the GTE Am category. The trio clocked up 333-laps, almost 3,000-miles, around the 8.47-mile circuit. The Ferrari led the record 16-car GTE Am field in this year’s 85th running of the famous Le Mans 24 Hours in France for the final 16 hours having been in contention throughout.

Will racing for JMW in the GTE category and in a Ferrari for the very first time this year, had finished second in the LMP2 class with JOTA/G-Drive Racing on his Le Mans début 12 months earlier. It was an especially fine achievement as co-drivers Smith and Vanthoor were making their first appearances at Le Mans while British team JMW had only taken delivery of its new 488 late last month with brief “acclimatisation” runs for the three drivers in Adria before arriving at the Le Mans test day earlier this month.

The yellow and black #84 Ferrari started the famous race on Saturday afternoon sixth on the GTE Am grid, Stevens having posted the cars fastest time after six-hours of qualifying on Wednesday and Thursday evenings. With Will starting the race and covering nine of the stints – including a triple in the middle of the night – the car ran at the front from the eighth hour. The race was run in intense heat in front of an estimated crowd of almost 260,000 with the JMW Motorsport Ferrari finishing ahead of two other Ferraris.

Will Stevens (GB): Lives: Surrey, England. Aged 25.
“I’m delighted to have won the Le Mans 24 Hours this year. Going one step higher on the podium than my second place last year is really special. I’m so pleased to have won it for JMW Motorsport and I want to thank the guys in the team who worked tirelessly to give myself, Dries and Rob a winning car. It’s an incredible race and an amazing event which I enjoy immensely. I hope to return next year and try to continue my good form in it.”

2017-06-15-0105

source: Martyn Pass

 

Larbre happy with performance in 2017 Le Mans 24 Hours

Qualified on pole position, after a record-breaking lap (LMGTE Am). The Val de Vienne-based team lead at the beginning of the race.

Larbre Competition added another Le Mans 24 Hours finish to its roll of honours (June 17/18), qualifying on pole position and enjoying a promising start, before various race incidents dropped the #50 ‘Human’ Corvette C7.R to 15th in the LMGTE Am class.

In its 24th participation of the French endurance classic, the Val de Vienne-based outfit was amongst the front-runners early on, but a number of issues throughout the night for its drivers, Fernando Rees, Romain Brandela and Christian Philippon, dropped the #50 out of contention.

The French GT experts starred with its Ramzi Adek-designed ‘Human’ Art Car during the Le Mans build-up, and confirmed its potential when Brazilian ace Rees stormed to pole position, Larbre’s first since 2007.

Starting the 85th edition of the twice-around-the-clock event was Rees, who held the class lead during his opening stint under the blistering heat of the French sun. The former single-seater driver remained amongst the front-runners, but at the first driver change the team were forced to replace the damaged driver-side door and they lost time.

Brandela then took reigns of the #50 ‘Human’ Corvette, returning to the 13.629km circuit on the edge of the top 10, but was unable to make significant inroads because of the ‘slow zones’ and yellow flags.

A full stint by Philippon followed, before Rees return to the cockpit as night gradually fell over the Circuit des 24 Heures. The Brazlian was comfortably quickest in class during this period and began to carve his way through the field.

Then, French duo Brandela and Philippon both completed error-free and consistent stints as darkness settled around the historic venue.

The #50 ‘Human’ Corvette was on the cusp of the top 10 in the hands of Rees as they approached half-race distance, before the first of a series of issues ensued, starting with a wishbone clevis failure.

Rees returned to the circuit and continued to run strongly, before a slight mistake in Mulsanne saw the #50 stranded in the gravel trap. The car was recovered and drove back to the pits for the Larbre mechanics to check over.

After getting the all clear, Brandela was then sent out but the gravel damaged the belt and caused increased temperatures in the cockpit. The experienced endurance racer returned to the pits to have it replaced, before he went back out once again.

It was then Philippon who had an issue, crawling back to the pits on Sunday morning after picking up a slow puncture. This dropped the #50 ‘Human’ Corvette out of contention and forced Leconte to change his tactics at two-thirds distance, in order to achieve a smooth run to the finish and avoid any driver mistakes due to overtiredness.

The three drivers did exactly as they were instructed and produced clean, error-free single stints throughout the morning and early afternoon, whilst also managing a gearbox issue that affected downshifts.

Philippon had slight contact with the #65 Ferrari at the end of his stint in the first chicane, before Brandela stepped inside the #50 machine to take the chequered flag and hand Larbre Competition another finish in the world’s biggest endurance race.

Fernando Rees: “The race started really well! I managed to hold onto the lead and open up a gap in my first stint. I had a good fight with the other cars in my second stint and the pace was still strong. After that we lost a bit of ground and it turned into a race of patience.

“I was happy to get to the finish and I think it’s important that my team-mates were able to complete a whole race and to do as many laps as possible during the 24 hours. That’s the only way to learn and get better, so it was a positive step for everybody.

“I’d like to extend my thanks to Jack [Leconte] and the team for all their hard work and for giving me this opportunity.”

Romain Brandela: “It was a very physical race. Because of how it all panned out Christian and I had to do more stints than we initially discussed. We had quite a few problems through the race, with the gearbox issue making the driving particularly difficult in the final five hours. On top of all this, it was extremely hot!

“We are delighted to have got through to the end despite all of these issues and I would like to thank all of the Larbre team, who have been working non-stop for weeks to provide us with a top car. It’s my third participation at Le Mans and my third finish, which is great.”

Christian Philippon: “I am delighted to have done the Le Mans 24 Hours. This has been a dream of mine for a while and it has been achieved. The level is very high and I will have to think about and work really hard before committing to next year. The other amateur drivers actually have a lot of experience and are generally quite fast.

“I’m so thankful for Jack to have gotten me through this. We started from a long way back and I didn’t expect to have come so far. The race was a huge challenge, but to watch the car cross the line was a massive relief!

“The heat made it tough. I experienced everything I possibly could: a crash, a full 360-degree spin, a puncture, contact with another driver, absolutely everything! Joking aside, I will treasure every single moment of this week and I want to thank my wife, who was there for me throughout it all.”

Jack Leconte, Team Manager: “The heat was just like it was here in 2006. I don’t think our drivers knew exactly how difficult it was going to be. When you go off in the gravel trap it can create a number of issues for the car, such as cut belts, punctures, bodywork damage and so on. When you have two or three of these like we did, then it all adds up.

“Our job here was to look after the inexperienced drivers and provide them with our technical know-how. I am quite satisfied with this edition of the Le Mans 24 Hours and the Art Car was an incredible project, which was received extremely well by the media and fans alike. At a time when we are looking to graduate to the Pro class, we have further highlighted our performance and demonstrated a fine understanding of the car set-up.

“There were a few bumps along the way, but overall we can be proud of our result.”

2017-06-14-0138

source: Larbre Competition Press Office, polepressoffice.uk.com

 

Alex Lynn – Le Mans 24 Hours review

“I had one chance and luckily that’s all I needed: pole in class for my first Le Mans!….”

It was absolutely heartbreaking to retire from the Le Mans 24 Hours in just the second hour of the race, before I even got to drive, but still I and the whole G-Drive Racing team have to take a lot of satisfaction from how we performed throughout practice and qualifying, which ended up with me putting the car on pole position in our class.

It was my first ever Le Mans, and our G-Drive ORECA-Gibson was one of 25 cars in the incredibly competitive LMP2 class. I have to say that, from the day I arrived on Sunday before the race, I was enjoying each and every day as it went on because there’s so much fanfare and pageantry. But the advice from Alex Wurz, who’s one of my managers and has won Le Mans himself, is that you always have to remain mindful, although the occasion is monumental, that it’s just another motor race and you can’t change your preparation at all. You need to make sure you sit down a lot, walk slowly from place to place, and don’t go anywhere in a rush, just to conserve energy.

Right from the word go, when free practice started on Wednesday, the car seemed a step forward from the Le Mans Test Day 10 days earlier. We’d done a lot of work with David Leach our engineer, working on the balance and making sure everything was spot-on. We were a good chunk quicker than most of the other cars at that stage, and I set the quickest time of the four-hour session – a second and a half faster than the rest on a ‘race’ run.

For Wednesday qualifying, which ran from 10pm until midnight, we wanted to see how many stints we could do on one set of tyres. The temperature that day was outrageously high and we knew Thursday would be cooler, and better for qualifying runs. Our long runs – with me, Pierre Thiriet and Roman Rusinov driving – were really competitive, and we got four stints out of both the medium and the soft Dunlop compound quite easily, which I don’t think many of our rivals did.

Sure enough, most of the quick times came on Thursday, which was split into two sessions, from 7pm to 9pm, and then from 10pm until midnight. The first session got interrupted by a crash and delayed for quite a long time, and Vitaly Petrov had gone out early and done a huge lap time. To match that lap, I knew I couldn’t do it at night because of the commitment and minimum cornering speeds needed – I needed some daylight, so we’d have to do it right at the start of the final session at 10pm. It was a bit of a risk, but we timed it perfectly – five minutes later and it would have been too dark. I had one chance and luckily that’s all I needed: pole in class for my first Le Mans!

I’ve been fortunate enough to have a few good pole positions in my career but this one was right up there with my debut Macau Grand Prix in 2012. You’re on a lap, and you know it’s a good one before it even pops up on the dash. It was really nice, not just for the ego but for my personal development. Being my first Le Mans, it was important for my career to show what I’m capable of – something like that pole can be pivotal, and I’m very proud of it.

We had the driver parade in Le Mans city on Friday – great fun! – and then it was the warm-up at 9am on Saturday. I did two laps and we were two seconds quicker than anyone, on old tyres and high fuel. The car was absolutely perfect. I said to the team, ‘Lads, polish it, put a cover over it and leave it until the race at 3pm. It’s mint.’

Roman started the race. He did a brilliant job doing the same thing at the Spa 6 Hours last month, but it just started to unravel as soon as it began at Le Mans. He lost some places on the first lap, and then when things start to go wrong it just spirals. Finally our race ended with contact with a GT Porsche in the second hour, before Pierre and I even got behind the wheel.

I was totally stunned, especially when you consider what happened to all the LMP1 cars, which meant an LMP2 very nearly won the race outright. It could have been incredible because we could at least have had an overall podium, and it does make it hard to swallow. We had a fantastic race car, and the G-Drive crew have to be thanked for that. They’ve worked brilliantly all season and it’s up to Roman, Pierre and I to turn it around for them in the remaining races, because I can see a lot more success ahead for us.

2017-06-14-0044

source: alexlynnracing.com

 

Bryant and Beechdean AMR storm to fourth at 2017 Le Mans 24 Hours

Experienced British GT racer Oliver Bryant marked his return to the Le Mans 24 Hours with an impressive fourth place in the LMGTE Am class, driving the #99 Beechdean AMR-ran Aston Martin V8 Vantage GTE.

On his second attempt of the twice-around-the-clock event, the Buckinghamshire-based star quickly adapted to his new machinery and produced a clean and consistent drive to better his 2016 result of ninth.

The 31-year-old successful GT racer used the practice and qualifying sessions to reacclimatise to the Circuit de la Sarthe and get a feel for the #99 car, with help from team-mates Aston Martin protégé Ross Gunn and team owner Andrew Howard.

Temperatures remained high throughout the week and soared on race day, as the Beechdean AMR trio geared up for the French endurance classic, starting eighth on the grid in an incredibly tight LMGTE Am class.

Gunn took the start in his Le Mans debut and had a clean getaway to remain inside the top 10, before handing the #99 to Howard.

The two-time British GT champion completed another clean run, with Bryant taking over to keep the Beechdean AMR outfit well in contention with an error-free double stint, as the evening sun hung low over the 13.629km circuit.

With the darkness settling around La Sarthe, the 2016 European Le Mans Series champions climbed the order and were on the brink of the top five when Bryant jumped behind the wheel to complete a triple-stint during the night.

The British ace demonstrated his experience and was consistently amongst the quickest in class in one of the most challenging periods of the gruelling 24-hour event.

The #99 continued to rise through the order in the hands of the three drivers, and by Sunday morning the Beechdean AMR squad was in a solid fourth place.

A close top-five battle followed in the final quarter of the race, with the British team getting the better of the #61 Ferrari and taking the chequered flag on the cusp of a podium position in fourth.

Oliver Bryant: “It was great! Even to finish the race is an incredible achievement in itself. This year it just ran like clockwork. We didn’t have any excursions and the car is in mint condition, it was a fantastic effort from the team.

“This was my first event driving the Aston Martin, so I started on the back foot, but when it came to the race I was doing some good average lap times and kept out of trouble.

“It was hot, but the car has air conditioning and it really wasn’t that bad! Driving alongside Ross was great, he’s only 20 years old and has a promising future ahead of him. Andrew didn’t put a foot wrong during his stints, it was a great performance.

“We were close to a podium finish, which is fantastic. I absolutely want to come back and do it again!”

2017-06-15-0211

source: Oliver Bryant Press Office, polepressoffice.uk.com

Share