|19.7.2012||FIA GT1 and GT3 dropped for 2013(FIA GT)
SRO finally announced that they would not be promoting the GT1 World and GT3 European Championships next year, which effectively means they will ceased to exist as the current season ends. It is explained mainly by economic climate but considering how successful current Blancpain Endurance Series at the same time is, it is clear that the format which was Ratel pressing against the will of many really does not work and could not work in longer term. Return to three-hour endurance races with the BES clearly proved that.
|16.6.2012||Lotus will build own LMP2(Le Mans)
Recent announcement from Kadewa, the team currently campaigning Lola-Lotus, confirms they will develop a new LMP2 for the 2013. Along with the factory outfit, there will be also full customer programme with paddock support in WEC races. The new car is a coupe and it was also announced that a new LMP1 cars will follow. The new LMP1 cars from 2014 will be mandatory as coupes but their width will be reduced to 1900 mm.
|16.6.2012||Mazda LMP2 Sky-Active engine(Le Mans)
With the announcement of the new LMP rules earlier this week, one of the significant changes was an option to run a diesel powerplant in a LMP2 chassis, which would be followed by a notable manufacturer announcement on Saturday. Our immediate thought was the new Mazda Sky-Active engine used in the coming generations of road going Mazdas. And it was really confirmed today. Mazda along with Speedsource will make the new production-based Sky-Active Diesel 2.2 liters engines available to customer at the beginning of the 2013 season when the new LMP2 rule change will be applied. It will be initially tested in a Lola chassis.
|21.4.2012||Le Mans Series accepts GT3 cars(LMS)
Most of the latest news here are related to the struggling Le Mans Series. This time in a bit positive way as they finally accepted the GT3 class, something we suggested a long time ago... The aim is to have 25 cars on the grid, which should be now fulfilled as there are apparently number of GT teams interested in entering the Le Mans Series in this class.
|2.4.2012||Le Mans Series in crisis?(LMS)
While it was clear that the entry for the European Le Mans Series was not satisfactory and original claim of additional 6-8 LMPC cars did not materialize, so during the first meeting with only 21 involved in the race, it was decided that only 19 entries is not sufficient number for a 6 hour race and the race, scheduled in Zolder, was cancelled. Entrants were encouraged to take part in the Spa WEC 6 hour race, with the LMP2 teams receiving a financial support. But Le Mans Series remained with only 4 races in 2012 and generally unclear future despite ACO seems to have a real interest in the series and its prosperity. However there is an aim to have at least 25 cars for the currently second race in Donington. While there is no word of an inclusion of LMP1 cars, the other mistake, the GT Cup class, might be slightly revised and allow new type cars.
|10.2.2012||LMS entry list released(LMS)
ELMS released today entry list for the coming season along with their press release. This states it is the first season of the new European Le Mans Series championship, something that was here already in 2001 under the same name but different organisation. The entry seems good in the premier LMP2 class with 13 full season entries. Another 6 to 8 prototypes are expected in the LMPC class (former FLM) but the final entries will be known after testing in Paul Ricard, which was postponed because of snow to 23th and 24th February. Then the final LMPC entries would be known. While the prototype entry looks generally strong by current standards, the GT part is largely disappointing. Only 9 full season entries in three (!) classes is well under the expectations. A complete failure seems to be the new GT Cup entry, which was criticised by us since the rules were released and were not based on currently most popular GT3 class. Some race by race entries are expected so the average grid should consist of about 35 cars, which would be OK. ELMS should become a feeder to the new WEC championship and we wish them and hope a great future with entries near the track limits as it has been over the past few seasons before splitting with ILMC/WEC. It seems generally that there are more Prototype entries available than ever.
|8.2.2012||New entry to World GT Championship(FIA GT)
SRO announced today a fifth team to enter their premier championship. It will race Ferraris, the team name is to be announced yet. Thus the World GT1 Championship has 10 cars entered and there is a prospect of a few more.
|18.1.2012||Peugeot announcement(Le Mans)
Peugeot announced today they are stopping their Endurance programme with an immediate effect. There will be no factory car either in the new WEC or in Le Mans.
|16.1.2012||Morgan back to Le Mans(Le Mans)
According to today's press news from OAK, the 2012 OAK-Pescarolos will be entered as Morgans trying to emulate the achievement of the Morgan Super Sport that took class victory at the 1962 Le Mans 24 Hours. The cars will be manufactured by Onroak Automotive, OAK Racing’s constructor department. One Morgan LMP2 will be entered in this year’s FIA World Endurance Championship. From the press release is not quite clear how the customer cars will be branded, but in any case another manufacturer with a long history is officially joing the LMP field.
|2.12.2011||World GT Championship goes GT3 route(FIA GT)
Despite Stephane Ratel claimed two years ago that it was needed to have unique cars in the World Championship, which are not raced in common national championships to make it worth the title and attract spectators, now he released quite opposite idea: "The unification of the GT1 World and GT3 European Championships' technical and sporting regulations is the best solution to guarantee the growth of the sprint format for GT cars and progress toward the ultimate goal of 10 teams representing 10 brands in the World Championship". This means that GT1 cars are no more and the GT3 specification cars would race next year for the World Championship crown. This seems to be a good idea, though GT2/GTE would probably be better, however all that could have been in place two years ago, had Ratel listened to arguments of all other interested parties. Similar clearly wrong decision was made by the SRO head already in 1999 when he claimed that it is better for the FIA GT Championship to field just one class (following a demise of his GT1/LMP Sprints). This did not work well and after a single season a new N-GT was added along with quite contradicting arguments he had had a year before. Can you remember anybody making such obviously bad decisions requiring such opposite corrections, and at the same time keeping himself at the top sports car business for so many year more or less successfully? Other announced change is that the unbeloved Qualifying/Championship Race format will be adopted also for the FIA GT3 European Championship. The reason might be an expected lack of entries in both championships and possible joint race meetings. Should this kind of changes continue for several more seasons, we may expect even more teams opting for Blancpain Endurance series, which has already become the most interesting SRO championship in its first season anyway.
|12.11.2011||WEC calendar published(Le Mans)
Recently published race calendar of the new FIA World Endurance Championship revealed a few surprising things which may not have been expected. We would say that only positive change is increase of the number of races from sever to eight. But apart from that, it is very disappointing not to have the Petit Le Mans race there. Moreover it is clashing with a WEC race in Bahrain, which has absolutely no tradition in the world of endurance racing, similarly as several other venues. We also expected that if there is a Brasilian race, it would be the Mil Milhas with a tradition longer than half century, not a completely new 6 hours of Sao Paolo. China could also see a race on a new (to endurance racing) track in Shanghai, though it is not yet confirmed. On the other side, another highlight of the calendar is a return of Fuji 6 Hour race in Japan, which was part of the WEC since 1982 and usually faced best WEC entries outside the Le Mans 24 Hour.
Generally, despite a good news about establishing the new World Endurance Championship after 20 years, we have some mixed feelings about the selection of the races. Back in 1953 when the first World Championship was started, it was based on great, well established and visited events, while now it seems they are trying to establish some of the events by inclusion them into the championship, while some widely established races are ignored. Time will tell whether this was a good decision.
|11.11.2011||LMS race in Brno confirmed(LMS)
The Le Mans Series race in Brno is now confirmed and it will be held on 9th September 2012.
|14.10.2011||Toyota announced LMP1 programme today(Le Mans)
Japanese manufacturer Toyota announced today that they will enter 24 Hours of Le Mans next year along with additional selected races of the World Endurance Championship. The operation will be based on Toyota Motorsport GmbH in Cologne, Germany, where the car is already being designed as a hybrid powered LMP1 Coupé.
|4.9.2011||Le Mans Series to Brno in 2012?(LMS)
According to the Czech local press there are currently negotiations between the Brno circuit and LMS organisation regarding a race in 2012. The decision should be made by middle of this month. The race would replace the WTCC race in Brno which will be discontinued next year.
|19.8.2011||Fuji 1000 Kilometres?(International)
According to some rumours in Japan, the former traditional Japanese Endurance race may return next year as a part of the new World Endurance Championship. It would be a good news, as inclusion of this race in 1982 led to an increased Japanese involvement in sports-prototype racing during the 80's in general, but we will have to wait yet whether this is confirmed or not.
|27.7.2011||MG officially returns(LMS)
Another manufacturer will be officially present in endurance racing. MG Motor UK today announced that they will return to sports car racing by supporting existing team RLR Msport, racing older MG Lola EX265 in the Le Mans Series. MG will have official presence with team RLR in Silverstone and Estoril, the last two races of the Le Mans Series.
|22.7.2011||LMS plans for 2012 announced(LMS)
Le Mans Series revealed today their plans for the 2012 season. Basically said, LMP1 is dropped completely, which is probably the only bad part of the statement. Back in 1979-1981 three-litre sports car were allowed and nobody cared if none, one or five of them were running. And the races were really more attractive than without them. On the other hand, having several LMP2 cars running for overall wins may also help the development of the sports car scene in the near future. Apart from existing GTE and FLM classes, a new GTC formed by one-make series will be added. Expected entry is about 20-25 prototypes and similar number of GT's. Another good thing is that the races will be still pure endurance events, 6 hours long, and they will be held on famous tracks around Europe. None of the track or date will be shared with the WEC races, so there is a good prospect for endurance sports car racing future in Europe.
|21.7.2011||Level 5 Motorsport switch to HPD(LMS)
The team that almost won the LMP2 in the last ILMC race at Imola with their Lola Spyder announced today that they switch to the latest HPD chassis called ARX-01g. First two cars built will be reserved for the Level 5 team. The new car will conform with the latest ACO cost-capped rules that were introduced this season, which gives the team better chances for class victories. Two cars will be fielded in two American Le Mans Series races, Petit Le Mans and 6 Hours of Laguna Seca. The plan is, of course, to continue this partnership with Honda in 2012. Does it mean the end of coupe cars in LMP2, or will Lotus LMP2 emerge soon? So far, information is that Lotus coupe project, which was due by end of the year, is delayed.
|3.7.2011||Peugeot wins 6 Ore di Imola(LMS)
Endurance racing returned to Imola this weekend after more than a quarter of century (last 1000 km race here was held in 1984 and was won by a famous group C Porsche 956 driven by Stuck/Bellof ahead of seven identical cars and a Lancia LC2). This year it was part of the new ILMC cup, which joint with the Le Mans Series attracted a full grid of 48 cars. One more was withdrawn following a crash in practice. Several other cars were also withdrawn, already before the meeting. This allowed all reserves to take part in the race. The Imola track is shorter than for example Spa, so both championships originally attracted larger entry than Imola can accommodate. The most notable early withdrawal was the Oreca Peugeot, which was not fully prepared after the Le Mans race and the team opted to skip this race despite starting the ILMC season with an overall win at Sebring. Peugeot and Audi, both took two cars and they were of course clear favourites for the podium. Both makes originally seems to be well matched and they ran ordered as #7, #1, #8 and #2 from the grid and early in the race. Unfortunately Audi were not able to keep the pace in the middle of the race, so Peugeots lapped Audi #2 during the 3rd hour and the remaining Audi #1 in the next hour and it was decided. At least between Peugeot and Audi. Both manufacturers then provided some close inter-marquee battles, which finally saw Bourdais and Davidson as winners. Rebellion Lola took other two places after some early battle with an OAK Pescarolo #15, which later disappeared from TOP10 but still finished 33rd. Factory Pescarolo was a bit outpaced but still gathered nice seventh position in the finish.
The LMP2 class was long led by Oreca TDS #46 but they suffered troubles in the fifth hour. This resulted in a surprising leader of the class - the Level 5 Motorsport Lola Spyder, which replaced their usual nice but slow coupe (low because of the rules handicap it). Unfortunately some 30 minutes before the finish the car suffered engine problems and after couple of pit stops slowly finished the race but Bouchut at the wheel was happy to secure the third place in class ahead of another Lola Spyder. First place belonged to the Zytek of team Greaves ahead of Signatech Oreca Nissan, the only surviving Oreca 03 after having dominated early stages of the LMP2 race.
The GTE class was originally controlled by the two factory BMWs but later they faded away to allow two Ferraris of AF Corse take the honours. One BMW grabbed remaining podium finish ahead of Porsche duo (Felbermayr & IMSA Matmut). The amateur part of the class had two Porsches at the top followed by a lone Corvette in the race. Sadly both nice new Lotuses Evoras retired within the first hour of the race after keeping the very last positions.
Further reports and photos from the race meeting will follow at the end of the next week.
|1.7.2011||Porsche announces LMP1 factory programme(Le Mans)
Yesterday Porsche officially revealed they are planning to entered sports prototype racing with a factory LMP1 car and the target is another win in Le Mans - officially 17th, though three of the wins counted to Porsche were scored by other makes - twice TWR and once Dauer. So more correctly Porsche make won Le Mans 13 times followed by ten Audi and nine Ferrari victories.