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Jun 18

Le Mans 24 Hours: Porsche leads after disaster for Toyota

12 Hour report

2017-06-18-The RaceAt the mid-way point in the 85th running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, 3rd round of the 2017 FIA World Endurance Championship, the No.1 Porsche 919 Hybrid is leading after a disastrous night for Toyota Gazoo Racing.

Flagworld photo album

As the sun set on Saturday, and the afternoon’s high temperatures began to fall slightly, several dramas unfolded and two Toyotas were forced to retire within 30 minutes of each other.

The No.7 TS050 HYBRID of Conway-Kobayashi-Sarrazin was holding a strong lead over the No.1 Porsche when, just towards the end of the 10th hour, the car suffered a clutch problem. Kobayashi at the wheel and the team in the pits tried everything to bring it back to pitlane for repairs but eventually had to park the car at the exit of the Porsche Curves and retire.

The complete article here on FIAWEC.com

source: FIAWEC.com

2017-06-18-0048

24 Hours of Le Mans – Hour 12 Recap

Calm returns with early morning hours at Le Mans.

LMP1

All is quiet in the LMP1 class after the Toyota drama that kicked off Sunday and left the Japanese manufacturer with only one of its three cars running.

The #1 Porsche continues to lead with Nick Tandy at the wheel. The #2 Porsche is P16 overall, 18 laps behind its sister car.

The lone remaining Toyota (#8) is 47th overall and 29 laps down from the leader.

LMP2

The #31 ORECA from Vaillante Rebellion continues to lead the category and is looking for an overall podium finish. It’s teammate, the #13 ORECA, has dropped to third after pitting and now chases the #38 ORECA run by Jackie Chan DC Racing.

The #49 ARC Bratislava Ligier made a trip to the gravel trap and continued, while the #47 Cetilar Villorba Corse Dallara had to limp its way back to the pits for a punctured tire.

The complete article here on lemans.org

source: lemans.org

2017-06-15-0186

After 16 hours – Signatech Alpine Matmut pushes for podium spot

The no.35 Alpine A470 (Panciatici/Ragues/Negrão) kept out of trouble overnight at the 24 Hours of Le Mans to emerge this morning in fourth position in the LMP2 category. Quick and consistent, the no.36 car (Dumas/Menezes/Rao) gradually improved in the standings: by seven o’clock on Sunday morning, it had moved up to twelfth.

Following a spate of dramatic incidents among the contenders for outright victory, the LMP2 category cars gradually moved up the overall standings. By the halfway stage of the race, the no.35 Alpine A470 was running in fourth place overall, and third in its category.

This position was nonetheless related to the staggered pit stops of the cars challenging for the podium places. As sun rose at Le Mans, the Alpine was fourth of LMP2 class, less than thirty seconds adrift of the podium places.

Having enjoyed an error-free race thus far, Nelson Panciatici, Pierre Ragues and André Negrão displayed their fighting spirit as they fought for a place on the podium with great determination.

Shortly after 11pm, the no.36 car stopped in the pits for around ten minutes, enabling the Signatech Alpine Matmut team to solve an electronics issue that was causing the engine to cut out.

Afterwards, Matt Rao, Romain Dumas and then Gustavo Menezes were able to set quick laps and gradually move up the standings. They went from being twentieth in the LMP2 category at midnight to twelfth seven hours later…

As the sun came up, the stands started to fill up again and the temperature also began to rise sharply. There are still eight hours to go – a third of the race – before the outcome of this 85th edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans is decided!

Philippe Sinault, Signatech Alpine Matmut Team Principal
“The night was reasonably calm, despite a host of incidents leading to the activation of the slow zones. The drivers had to deal with these safety periods, but we have been patient and held onto our position with the no.35 car. The three cars ahead of us in the standings are a little bit quicker for the time being, but we are managing to maintain the gap thanks to a good strategy. We are in contention as the race moves towards its conclusion. The no.36 car was very quick overnight, managing to record a fine comeback. We will now need to rely on our rivals running into problems, however, in order for this car to move further up the standings.”

Signatech Alpine Matmut no.35 car
André Negrão
“It was a long night, during which we had no issues whatsoever. We had good pace and we were pushing to try and get into the podium places. In the early hours of the morning, the track is especially quick, but the danger is that you can easily make a costly mistake due to tiredness or being blinded by the sun. There are still eight hours to go and we are going to keep fighting.”

Signatech Alpine Matmut no.36 car
Matt Rao
“We managed to show some good pace throughout the night. I found it pretty difficult because there was a lot of traffic to manage. Having said that, we didn’t want to take any risks after our misfortune at the start of the race. We hope to make it to the end and finish as high up the standings as possible.”

LMP2 standings after sixteen hours
1. Jackie Chan DC Racing no.38 – 37 laps
2. Vaillante Rebellion no.13 +1:31.808
3. Vaillante Rebellion no.31 +1 lap
4. Signatech Alpine Matmut no.35 +1 lap
5. United Autosports no.32 +2 laps
12. Signatech Alpine Matmut no.36 +15 laps

After 8 hours – Alpine among the frontrunners

With a third of 24 Hours of Le Mans completed, the Signatech Alpine Matmut team is among the frontrunners in the LMP2 category.
The no.35 Alpine A470 (Panciatici/Ragues/Negrão) were in fifth place at 11pm. Still in the race, the no.36 car of Dumas/Menezes/Rao was ten laps adrift of the leaders.

As night draws in at the famous Le Mans track, the 85th edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans takes on a whole new dimension. Before the sun set, however, the first eight hours of the race saw a host of racing incidents and plenty of drama.

After losing two laps in the early stages of the race (Gustavo Menezes’ run-off into the gravel), the no.36 Alpine A470 ran into problems again. During Romain Dumas’ third stint, the team noticed a gearbox issue and asked the driver to stop. In the pits, the Signatech Alpine Matmut mechanics changed the gearbox’s oil pump and the car rejoined the track after half an hour, ten laps adrift of the leaders. The no.36 then suffered further problems with the engine cutting out and Gustavo Menezes had to stop so that the team could try to repair the issue.

The chances of the French team therefore rest solely with the no.35 Alpine A470, whose progress proved to be more straightforward during the evening. After Nelson Panciatici, André Negrão and Pierre Ragues demonstrated the same fighting spirit to consolidate a top five spot, remaining on the same lap as the leaders.

Some time was lost with an additional pit stop caused by a faulty alarm during André Negrão’s stint. This was however largely mitigated by the succession of slow zones activated.

Philippe Sinault, Signatech Alpine Matmut Team Principal
“It would seem that the gearbox oil pump problem on the no.36 car was caused by Gustavo’s run-off onto the gravel at the start of the race. The fact of trying to get out of the gravel in reverse gear seems to have caused some damage, which worsened over time. We took advantage of the stop to change the ECU, because the drivers were having to deal with the power cutting out. Unfortunately, that hasn’t resolved the problem altogether. Our chances now lie with the no.35 car. We will remain focused and attentive. There is still a very long way to go.”

Signatech Alpine Matmut no.35 car
Pierre Ragues
“We’re in a reasonably good position. In the car, I found it difficult to maintain my concentration: with all these slow zones, it’s not easy to manage the temperature of the brakes and the tyres, and manage fuel consumption… It’s all a little bit stressful, which was partly why I ended up making a few mistakes. The main thing is to keep in touch with the leaders. We are going to do everything we can to stay in the hunt!”

Signatech Alpine Matmut no.36 car
Romain Dumas
“Obviously, we are all very disappointed. These twenty-four hours may end up feeling very long. Gustavo made a small mistake, which can happen. Unfortunately, the consequences were much bigger with the gearbox problem. There is nothing left for us to race for, but we are going to keep driving for the team, which has done a great job. It would be good to make it to the finish.”

LMP2 standings after eight hours
1. Vaillante Rebellion no.13 – 122 laps
2. Vaillante Rebellion no.31 +19.499
3. Jackie Chan DC Racing no.38 +1 lap
4. CEFC Manor TRS Racing no.25 +1 lap
5. Signatech Alpine Matmut no.35 +1 lap
6. Graff no.40 +1 lap
7. CEFC Manor TRS Racing no.24 +2 laps
8. United Autosports no.32 +2 laps
19. Signatech Alpine Matmut no.36 +11 laps

After 2 hours – A frantic start to the race for Alpine

The 85th edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans got off to a dramatic start, with a series of racing incidents in all of the categories.
With two hours of the race completed, the no.35 Alpine A470 of Panciatici, Ragues and Negrão was seventh in the LMP2 category.
Meanwhile, after overshooting at a corner and losing a couple of laps, the no.36 car of Menezes, Dumas and Rao was staging an epic comeback!

The 24 Hours of Le Mans starting grid was baking hot as the race got underway, with the temperature close to 30°C. At 3 o’clock sharp, official starter Chase Carey, CEO and Chairman of the Formula One Group, waved the flag to start this year’s race.

The Signatech Alpine Matmut team was immediately into its stride. By the end of the first lap, the French team’s cars had improved upon their starting positions: Nelson Panciatici (no.35 Alpine A470) was seventh, whilst Gustavo Menezes (no.36 Alpine A470) was up to ninth position.

However, the first moment of drama struck 21 minutes into the race, when Gustavo Menezes drove straight on and into the gravel at the Mulsane Corner! The car suffered no damage, but assistance from the stewards was needed to get it back onto the track. The American came into the pits to hand over to Matt Rao.

After rejoining in 59th position overall, the British driver wasted no time in chasing down and passing all the GTs. With two hours of the race gone, the Alpine A470 was up to 24th place overall (19th in LMP2). This spectacular comeback was combined with careful tyre management, allowing Matt to complete four stints with the same set of hard tyres.

In comparison, the no.35 car enjoyed a much calmer opening two hours. Nelson Panciatici completed a triple stint at the start of the race. He then handed over driving duties to André Negrão, who held onto seventh position in the category.

Philippe Sinault, Signatech Alpine Matmut Team Principal
“The opening two hours have seen a number of racing incidents, but it’s still too early to see how the race is going to pan out. The top four have started at a very strong pace. It could be tempting to go after them, but we prefer to stick to our plan. The no.35 is where we expected it to be: Nelson had a very good start and now André has taken over. As regards the no.36, the situation is more complicated after Gustavo ran off onto the gravel. We have altered our strategy as a result and Matt did a good job with a quadruple stint.”

LMP2 standings after two hours
1. Vaillante Rebellion nr.31 – 31 laps
2. Vaillante Rebellion nr.13 +17.936
3. Jackie Chan DC Racing nr.38 + 20.368
4. CEFC Manor TRS Racing nr.24 +1 lap
5. Jackie Chan DC Racing nr.37 +1 lap
6. CEFC Manor TRS Racing nr.25 +1 lap
7. Signatech Alpine Matmut nr.35 +1 lap
19. Signatech Alpine Matmut nr.36 +2 laps

source: alpinecars.com, renault.com

Pierre Completes Competitive Night Stints At Le Mans 24

Pierre Ragues has completed trouble-free and competitive night stints inside the Alpine A470, with the Signatech Alpine Matmut team at the sharp end of the LMP2 field.

The team is fighting inside the top-five overall, and holds fourth in LMP2 class at the conclusion of Pierre’s latest quadruple stints – his second of the race.

The 24 Hours of Le Mans took a significant turn after midnight as several leading contenders ran into trouble following a safety car period, to the benefit of the LMP2 challengers.

Having established themselves inside the top-five in class in the first six hours of the race, Nelson Panciatici and André Negrão continued the team’s momentum into late Saturday evening. Both drivers did a good job, moving up as high as third place as the pit stop strategies varied.

Negrão completed his final stint approaching 2.20am before handing over to Pierre at the race’s halfway distance. Putting in more competitive lap times, Pierre completed four stints, a clever change of race strategy, which keeps the #35 crew in the hunt for a top-three result in class and top-five finish overall.

With less than ten hours still to run, there are no doubt plenty more twists and turns to come in this race, which is fast becoming one of the most unpredictable and dramatic in recent memory.

Pierre said: “I always enjoy driving at night at Le Mans. It’s an experience and a thrill like no other. Of course, it’s not easy but we have completed another successful phase of our race. With the LMP1 incidents we’ve seen, there is a great chance for LMP2s to challenge for the outright podium later today. We are in a strong position, fifth overall and fourth in class, after good runs for Nelson, André and myself. We adopted the strategy, running another quadruple stint to maintain our fourth place in class. The car continues to be competitive; we have seen from our lap times that we can fight with the best in LMP2. We now have to use the final ten hours to keep up this approach, and see what we can do about moving into the class podium. We know there are likely to be more developments to come in this race so who knows what opportunities might come our way.”

6h Update: Pierre Ragues And Signatech Alpine Matmut Pushing Hard In The Top-Five After Strong Start To Le Mans 24 Hours

French endurance racer Pierre Ragues has enjoyed a generally encouraging start to his 11th Le Mans 24 Hours, with the #35 Signatech Alpine Matmut crew fighting inside the top-six after the first quarter of the race.

Nelson Panciatici was on starting duties in the Alpine A470, and had a series of good opening laps to move into the top-six. In extremely hot conditions, the first hour saw plenty of action as the race settled into a rhythm.

Handing over to André Negrão in the second hour, which was dominated by a slow zone period, the team continued to maintain their pace. Negrão was forced to pit unexpectedly in the third hour with a fuel sensor issue, losing 1m11s in total.

As the race entered its fourth hour, Pierre took over the reins inside the top-six as he embarked on an ambitious and impressive four-stint run. He was immediately on the pace and set times among the quickest in class, as he set about making up ground.

Unfortunately, his strong stints were undone during a pit lane incident, when a competitor braked heavily as he entered the pits. While monitoring his own speed under the pitlane limit, Pierre sustained front-end damage that needed changing during the stop. The team reacted quickly, losing just 30 seconds.

As Pierre set out on his fourth stint, under a lengthy slow zone period, he resumed the race firmly intent on making up more positions. In his final stint, he pushed the engine kill switch mistakenly after becoming frustrated stuck behind a slower car in a slow zone period, which cost an additional 56 seconds.

With the equivalent of a World Endurance Championship race completed, Pierre handed over to Panciatici fifth in LMP2 and ninth overall.

Pierre commented: “We have had a decent start to the race, with some encouraging pace and a few frustrating moments. We are still at just over one-quarter race distance, and we have shown the pace needed to gain more positions. Nelson and André put us in a good position from which we could develop as the race unfolded. I was generally happy with my quadruple stint, and particularly with the pace I showed on track. The conditions are extremely hot but the Alpine A470 has been very responsive and we’ve been able to push when we need to. There have been a couple of frustrating incidents, which have lost us time but overall, we’re establishing ourselves in the early phase of this fantastic race.”

source: pierreragues.com, quadrasports.com

2017-06-18-0037

Larbre Competition: Race update 3, Larbre aiming for smooth run to Le Mans 24 Hours finish

It was a busy night and early morning in the 85th edition of the Le Mans 24 Hours for Larbre Competition, as the French GT experts now target a smooth run to the finish after enduring a number of issues.

The #50 ‘Human’ Corvette C7.R and its drivers Fernando Rees, Romain Brandela and Christian Philippon, were making steady progress but suffered a setback when a ball joint on the wishbone failed in the middle of the night.

Rees, who was on board the #50 car at the time, came into the pits with the Val de Vienne-based team also opting to replace the abnormally worn brakes to minimise the time lost. The Brazilian then made a slight error in Mulsanne and had to be recovered from the gravel trap.

Once the car returned to the garage, Brandela took over for a double stint, having a smooth run before the cockpit temperature began to rise and the battery lost power. Jack Leconte’s mechanics fixed a belt and sent the Frenchman back out.

With tiredness now kicking in, Brandela had a small spin before his fellow countryman Philippon jumped into the cockpit as track temperatures began to increase.

A slow puncture forced Philippon into the pits and the team took the opportunity to put Rees back in the #50 ‘Human’ Corvette for a single stint.

Brandela then replaced the 32-year-old to complete another double stint, as the twice-around-the-clock event now enters the final quarter with Larbre in 15th position.

Fernando Rees: “It was a tough night for us. The mechanics had to fix a couple of issues and then I got caught in the gravel trap later on in my double stint. We could have lost a lot more time, but the aim for us is to now get to the finish without any further problems.”

Romain Brandela: “We had a couple of issues during my early-morning stint. It’s one of the most difficult periods to drive in, with the sun coming up you think you’re almost home, but there’s still a long way to go. Hopefully the worst is behind us and we can have a smooth run to the finish.”

Christian Philippon: “It seemed that we all had a problem of some sort during our early morning stints. The guys in the garage saw that there was an issue with my right-rear tyre and I was called into the pits. The team are working overtime to make sure we have a cleaner run from now on. We have to put the issues behind us and focus on getting to the chequered flag.”

Larbre Competition: Race update 2, Larbre make progress with Le Mans 24 Hours night shift underway

With night well and truly upon the Circuit de la Sarthe and track temperatures plummeting, Larbre Competition continue to make steady progress in the 85th edition of the Le Mans 24 Hours.

The #50 ‘Human’ Corvette C7.R and its three drivers, Fernando Rees, Romain Brandela and Christian Philippon, now lie 13th in the LMGTE Am class and are confident of making further progress through the long night shift.

Brazilian driver Rees got behind the wheel for a double stint as the sun set over the 13.629km circuit and matched the pace of the LMGTE Pro cars to close the gap on those ahead.

By the time the 32-year-old got out of the #50 ‘Human’ Corvette, the Val de Vienne-based squad were on the edge of the top 10, as Brandela took over for his double stint in the dark.

Despite the Frenchman’s lack of clear running in the practice and qualifying sessions during the night, Brandela produced a clean and consistent double stint to keep the car well in top-10 contention.

The Le Vigeant-based squad took advantage of a lengthy safety car period just after 00:30 CET to swap its drivers, with Philippon replacing his fellow countryman to tackle the La Sarthe circuit at night.

Fernando Rees: “The car is really well balanced, I’ve had a lot of fun driving it so far. We have made some good progress and the aim for us is to ensure we make it through the night without any issues. The track temperatures have dropped a lot, so it will be interesting to see how that affects our competitors.”

Romain Brandela: “I felt comfortable in the car and it was good to get some clear laps in. The safety car came out, which the team used as an opportunity to make a driver swap and put the Art Car door back on, as we had to replace it with the original one when it was damaged earlier in the race.”

Christian Philippon: “We’re making good progress and the team’s doing a great job. Personally, I’m looking forward to getting back in the car and the aim is to make it smoothly through my night shift!”

Larbre Competition: Race update 1, currently fastest in class at Le Mans 24 Hours

After several hours of action in the 85th edition of the Le Mans 24 Hours, Larbre Competition currently holds the fastest lap in a tight LMGTE Am class, with drivers Fernando Rees, Romain Brandela and Christian Philippon, having enjoyed positive stints.

The #50 ‘Human’ Corvette C7.R, which started on pole position for the first time since 2007 at the Circuit de la Sarthe, remained at the helm of the field during Rees’ controlled opening stint.

Following the first round of pit stops, the Brazilian racer continued to fight amongst the front-runners, before handing the car over to Romain Brandela.

The Val de Vienne-based team took this opportunity to make repairs to the driver-side door of the ‘Human’ Corvette and changed the tyres, with the Frenchman returning to the 13.629km circuit on the cusp of the top 10.

After circulating under ‘slow zones’ for much of his run, Brandela handed the car to fellow countryman Christian Philippon, who completed a smooth double stint on his Le Mans 24 Hour debut.

Rees then returned to the cockpit as the sun began to set over the La Sarthe venue and is comfortably the quickest in the LMGTE Am class, running in 14th.

Fernando Rees: “I’m very happy with the performance of the #50 ‘Human’ Corvette C7.R.  We had an issue with the door and I had to come in for it to be replaced. The team took this opportunity to make a driver change as well. It’s a long race and we have to be patient, anything can happen throughout the remaining hours!”

Romain Brandela: “The car felt good, but I was unable to get much clear running in because of the ‘slow zones’. I’ve been quite unlucky all week with this, which is frustrating, but I’m happy with the performance and the class is still fairly close. There’s still some way to go yet.”

Christian Philippon: “I am very pleased with my first experience of the French endurance classic. The car feels great and I’m constantly improving both my pace and my traffic management, which is very important.  I look forward to getting back out there.“

Larbre Competition: Final countdown to Le Mans 24 Hours 

Positive and smooth warm-up for the French GT experts. The Val de Vienne-based team line up on LMGTE Am pole. The countdown to the 85th running of the Le Mans 24 Hours is almost over, with Larbre Competition and its three drivers successfully completing the Drivers’ Parade and warm-up.

After qualifying the #50 ‘Human’ Corvette C7.R on pole position, courtesy of Fernando Rees’ record-breaking lap on Thursday, the Val de Vienne-based outfit’s driver trio; Rees, Christian Philippon and Romain Brandela, enjoyed the Le Mans crowd on Friday evening, as they toured the city during the traditional Drivers’ Parade.

Unfortunately, the parade’s late running time meant the three drivers weren’t able to return to the paddock until after 22:00 CET having not had dinner and disrupted their preparations.

Frenchman Brandela, who’s making his third start in La Sarthe, was the only Larbre driver to circulate the 13.629km circuit in this morning’s warm-up and was able to make up for his lack of clear running in the practice and qualifying sessions.

The #50 has starred during the Le Mans 24 Hour build-up, with its Ramzi Adek-designed ‘Human’ livery, and has certified itself as a contender in a race that the Le Vigeant-based outfit has recorded five class wins (1993, 1994, 2010, 2011, and 2012).

At 15:00 local time, Formula 1 chairman Chase Carey will wave the famous Tricolore as the grandiose music “Thus Spoke Zarathustra” rings out, which signals the start of the French endurance classic.

Fernando Rees: “It’s always great to see all of the fans during the traditional Drivers’ Parade. The weather made the atmosphere even better! In the warm-up, Romain provided us with some good feedback and the lap times look solid, so now I’m just counting down the minutes until the start of the race at 15:00!”

Christian Philippon: “I’ve seen the Drivers’ Parade as a fan a number of times and it’s amazing to now be on the other side of the barriers. The crowd was fantastic! I spoke to a lot of people who were really enthusiastic about the car and the race itself.

“The warm-up went smoothly for Romain and its good that he was able to finally get some clear laps in! Now, we’re getting ready for the race and I can’t wait to get in the #50 Corvette for my first experience of the main event.”

Romain Brandela: “I enjoyed the parade yesterday. The sunny weather and very enthusiastic crown made it a great event. It ran over a little late, which is not ideal, but it was still good to meet fans, old friends and some new people.

“It was important for me to do some running in the car this morning. I’ve been very unlucky with the flags during practice and qualifying, but I was happy with how the #50 felt. I’m really looking forward to the race now and hope we can build on our great start.”

Jack Leconte: “The warm-up allowed Romain to get some daylight running in, as he only managed four clear laps during practice and qualifying because of yellow and red flags. He ran at a competitive pace, albeit whilst not pushing too hard and confirmed that we are in a great position for the race.

“We’ve shoved the wet tyres into the corner of the garage! There’s no chance of rain according to the forecast. Tyre management will be key, with the track temperature set to vary a lot. Fernando will start for us, then Romain, before Christian jumps in for his first taste of the Le Mans 24 Hours.

“As for the Drivers’ Parade, it’s just completely unacceptable. Our drivers returned to the paddock at 22:00 and had to eat and sleep much later than we had planned. This is not good at all for the athletes before such a challenging event.”

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

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